John Carter of Mars Covers by Michael Whelan

In 1979, Del Rey/Ballantine Books commissioned Michael Whelan to paint new covers for Edgar Rice Burroughs’ John Carter of Mars novels, succeeding Gino D’Achille‘s 1973 series.

Following in the footsteps of previous illustration greats like Roy G. Krenkel and Frank Frazetta, Whelan brought his considerable skill in research and detail to give us a more fully-realised view of Barsoomian life than we had seen before.

Collected below are the 11 wraparound cover paintings without text, and four sketches.


Michael Whelan John Carter of Mars

A Princess of Mars

Michael Whelan John Carter of Mars

The Gods of Mars

Michael Whelan John Carter of Mars

The Warlord of Mars

Michael Whelan John Carter of Mars

Thuvia, Maid of Mars

Michael Whelan John Carter of Mars

The Chessmen of Mars

Michael Whelan John Carter of Mars

The Master Mind of Mars

Michael Whelan John Carter of Mars

A Fighting Man of Mars

Michael Whelan John Carter of Mars

Swords of Mars

Michael Whelan John Carter of Mars

Synthetic Men of Mars

Michael Whelan John Carter of Mars

Llana of Gathol

Michael Whelan John Carter of Mars

John Carter of Mars


Michael Whelan John Carter of Mars

Character studies

Michael Whelan John Carter of Mars

Sketch for The Warlord of Mars

Michael Whelan John Carter of Mars

Sketch for The Warlord of Mars

Michael Whelan John Carter of Mars

Sketch for The Master Mind of Mars


Michael Whelan A Princess of Mars

Michael Whelan The Gods of Mars
Michael Whelan The Warlord of Mars

Michael Whelan Thuvia Maid of Mars
Michael Whelan The Chessmen of Mars

Michael Whelan The Master Mind of Mars
Michael Whelan A Fighting Man of Mars

Michael Whelan Swords of Mars
Michael Whelan Synthetic Men of Mars

Michael Whelan Llana of Gathol
Michael Whelan John Carter of Mars

Michael Whelan A Guide to Barsoom

Updating the logo to make it dimensional, and using high-quality scans of the original paintings to bring back vibrancy to the Del Rey editions.

Del Rey Ballantine Books Edgar Rice Burroughs Martian Tales Logo

Del Rey Ballantine Books Edgar Rice Burroughs Martian Tales Logo

Michael Whelan The Gods of Mars

Michael Whelan Thuvia Maid of Mars

Michael Whelan Synthetic Men of Mars

Michael Whelan Llana of Gathol


And here are a couple with a new type scheme, one that puts the emphasis on the image as opposed to the JCoM branding. I did the series up for personal ebooks.

Michael Whelan John Carter of Mars

Michael Whelan John Carter of Mars

Design © Scott Dutton 2011

Scott Dutton

Scott Dutton is a graphic designer and illustrator with experience in marketing, publishing and information design

  1. George left a comment on April 9, 2012 at 5:21 pm

    For the updated covers you made, for the personal ebooks…you wouldn’t be able to share them privately would you? I’ve been scouring the web for nicely formatted epub versions of the series, or for a complete series epub. If you can, please let me know. I’m a fellow fan and I really like what you did with the cover art (as well as your epub formatting for the books you have available on the site – superb).

    Thanks!

    • Scott Dutton left a comment on April 9, 2012 at 6:26 pm

      Hi George –

      First off, thanks for the kind words about the ebook work.

      As far as making these covers available – publicly or privately – as part of ebooks, I’m afraid that the artwork is copyright protected by ERB Inc.

      While many of the Barsoom texts are now in the public domain and available from sites like Project Gutenberg, I cannot legally distribute ebooks with Whelan’s art attached to them without a licence agreement.

      Nothing stops you from sourcing cover art scans and adding them to your own files, but if the artwork is under copyright, they have to be for your reading pleasure only.

      Take care –

      Scott

      • George left a comment on April 9, 2012 at 8:11 pm

        No worries, thanks for the reply Scott. Any tips on where I could find such high-res artwork? Feel free to email me, so I’m not cluttering your blog comments with idle requests. : )

        George

        • Scott Dutton left a comment on April 9, 2012 at 10:51 pm

          Seek, and ye shall find. ๐Ÿ˜‰

          And I’m always happy to talk publicly or privately about books and design. That’s why I set up the blog part of the site.

  2. Sparky left a comment on May 8, 2012 at 10:21 pm

    Thanks – the JCoM branding looks sweet. Nice design choices. Thanks for the reference.

    • Scott Dutton left a comment on May 9, 2012 at 10:11 pm

      You’re entirely welcome.

  3. Scott Hughes left a comment on July 12, 2012 at 6:48 am

    Hi Scott

    Thanks for this post, really enjoyable and great to see these pictures. I remember buying this series when it came out and I was really impressed with the covers then.

    I love what you have done with the covers, very impressive and I agree that they bring the covers to the forefront.

    While I understand that you can’t share a complete set with us is there any chance you could share the technique? i.e. Font choice, transparency level etc.

    Even better would be a template psd ๐Ÿ™‚

    Thanks again.

    Scott

    • Scott Dutton left a comment on July 12, 2012 at 11:49 am

      Hi Scott –

      The font is a compressed Helvetica. Opacity is less than 100% obviously, but it varied a bit depending on the image underneath.

      The cover images were cleaned up in Photoshop, but I do all my layout/typography work in InDesign.

      I’m sure a resourceful individual like yourself – appropriately named no less – can create something outstanding.

      – The other Scott

  4. Scott Hughes left a comment on August 3, 2012 at 5:37 pm

    Scott,

    Thanks for the feedback ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Stu left a comment on July 23, 2014 at 8:13 pm

    Great work!

    Some of my favorite books (I have the full set of Del Rey releases) and Whelan covers.

    Thank you for sharing the love & talent!

    Best Regards

    Stu

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: