Tom Adams is an artist best-known for his cover artwork for books by Agatha Christie, Raymond Chandler, Kingsley Amis, and John Fowles during the 1960s and 1970s. He also produced posters for the likes of the Jimi Hendrix Experience and Soft Machine and album covers for Lou Reed and Iron Maiden. You may not know the name but you will certainly recognize one of the many book covers he has designed, in particular, those for Christie and Chandler.
Adams’ covers for Christie’s classic whodunnits? were usually painted as collages that featured key scenes (and sometimes clues) from the book. These paintings were macabre, unsettling, and very often surreal. Adams continued this style with his covers to Chandler’s novels where two or three storylines are woven into one dream-like image. Lou Reed was such a fan of Adams’ Christie covers, he asked him to provide a painting for his self-titled debut solo album.
Born in in Providence, Maine, in 1926, Adams studied at the Chelsea School of Art and then Goldsmith’s College where he graduated with a diploma in painting. Adams went onto work on a variety of comics including Eagle where he wrote and illustrated Regimental Histories. In 1958, he co-founded a design company producing murals for various institutions and then furniture for the likes of Harrods. In 1962, he was asked to design the cover for Christie’s A Murder is Announced, which led to Adams designing covers for Christie’s back catalog. However, it should be noted that Adams’ covers for the UK print run differ considerably from the US editions. UK publishers Fontana allowed Adams free reign to create his own designs. PocketBooks in the US commissioned Adams to produce only one scene for the cover. Prints of Adams “alarmingly realistic’ covers are available here.
More dark and disturbing covers, after the jump…