Australian western publisher Cleveland set to sell off its original Cover Art Library

Cleveland Publishing Cover ArtCleveland Publishing, Australia’s pre-eminent publisher of genre pulp fiction novels, is closing its doors – to the dismay of avid fans of westerns and other action genre who have been buying their books for decades.

Now, the company, its closure the result of increased production costs, is selling its collection of cover art, including illustrations by the likes of acclaimed Australian artists Walter Stackpool and Stanley Pitt.

Cleveland Publishing - Recent TitlesFounded in Sydney, Australia, in 1953 and continuing to publish quality pulp fiction, Cleveland’s novelettes and comics proved exceptionally popular right through the period of peak pulp writing.

Cleveland Publishing Cover ArtCleveland Publishing Cover Art

Cleveland Publishing has over 10,000 titles in its extensive catalogue, but last year it announced that due to an increase in production costs involved in bringing Cleveland Western novels to its customers, the December 2018 release of eight Westerns would be the company’s final publication.

“It has been Cleveland’s great honour and privilege to bring to our readers in Australia and throughout the world the best Western genre novels in the market for more than sixty-five years,” the company said in a statement.

“Please know that the decision to close the batwing doors on Cleveland and cease trading was not at all an easy decision for us to make.

“Unfortunately the trend toward electronic sources of news and reading material away from the traditional bricks and mortar newsagents has seen a sharp decrease in sales over recent years which, coupled with increased production costs from our third party suppliers, has made our business model unsustainable.

“Cleveland is incredibly grateful for the many years in which it has been able to produce superior Westerns for our audience and, most of all, we are beholden to you, our loyal readers, for making sixty-five years in the business possible.”

Cleveland Publishing Cover ArtCleveland Publishing Cover Art

In addition to their Western genre, Cleveland also printed detective, war, mercenary, romance and crime novelettes.

American Detective Magazine was a product of the Cleveland Publishing Company
American Detective Magazine was a product of the Cleveland Publishing Company

This week, Cleveland announced it is looking for customers anxious to have a genuine pulp collectible in their home who would like to acquire a piece of its cover art along with the accompanying pulp fiction title.

Some of the genre artwork available includes art used as covers for American Westerns, detective, war, mercenary, romance and crime novelettes, by such masters in their field as Walter Stackpool and comic artist Stanley Pitt.

Each piece of cover art is extraordinarily reasonably priced at an average of AU$250.

Art by Walter Stackpool
Art by Walter Stackpool

One of Australia’s most prolific illustrators, Walter Stackpool was born and grew up on a grazing property in Queensland, working on topographic drawing while serving in the army during World War Two, returning to civilian life to become an illustrator of both pulp fiction and over 100 children’s books.

His work for Cleveland is probably the best known, but his many credits included dramatic cover illustrations for the ‘Invincible Mysteries’ series of British, American and Australian crime novels between 1950 and 1953.

Hugely influential, he is cited as listing the three essentials of illustrating as “sound draughtsmanship; accuracy of detail; and good clear technique in rendering, whether in colour or black and white, for good reproduction in the printing”.

Art by Stanley Pitt
Art by Stanley Pitt

Stanley Pitt, creator of the Australian SF comic hero Silver Starr, was an Australian cartoonist and commercial artist.

Silver Starr #1
Silver Starr #1

He was the first Australian comic artist to have original work published by a major American comic book company, including drawing episodes of Al Williamson’s newspaper strip “Secret Agent Corrigan”. Often working with his brother, Reginald, During his time at Cleveland Press, he produced over 3000 pulp fiction covers.

• If you are interested in buying any of the art, or see more examples, get in touch via Cleveland’s Facebook page or via Cleveland’s website www.clevelandpublishing.com.au

• Visit Cleveland’s website or contact them on (07) 5523 1466 or at stacey@clevelandpublishing.com.au should you have any questions or concerns or should you wish to place an order for any books on their back-catalogue

More about Walter Stackpole

More about Stanley Pitt on Wikipedia

With thanks to Colin Noble

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John Freeman

The founder of downthetubes, John works as a comics editor, writer, as Creative Consultant on the Dan Dare audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing for over 30 years, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood for digital comic 100% Biodegradable.

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