03 April 2018

From Harlequin Romance to Canada Post

Thursday will see Canada Post release "Great Canadian Illustrators," five stamps celebrating the work of Will Davies, Blair Drawson, Gérard DuBois, James Hill, and Anita Kunz.

Though all five supplied art for books and magazines, the Will Davies stamp will be of particular interest to bibliophiles in that it features one of the more than 500 cover illustrations he did for Harlequin.

Curiously, Canada Post doesn't identify the book in question, but seconds of sleuthing reveals it to be Neptune's Daughter, a 1987 novel by British reporter and romance writer Jay Blakeney (published under her "Anne Weale" nom de plume).

I think Canada Post chose well. Of the Davies covers I've seen – admittedly, nowhere near 500 – it's by far my favourite. Viewed one after another, there's a sameness to his Harlequin work.

That Dear Perfection
Alison York
Toronto: Harlequin, 1988
Fortunes of Love
Jessica Steele
Toronto: Harlequin, 1988
No Angel
Jeanne Allan
Toronto: Harlequin, 1991
Anything for You
Rosemary Hammond
Toronto: Harlequin, 1992
This is no criticism of Davies; Harlequin is famous for placing limitations on authors and illustrators. Of all Davies' Harlequin covers, the one I most want to read is the one I find most disturbing:

Unfriendly Proposition
Jessica Steele
Toronto: Harlequin, 1990
Here one month, gone the next, Harlequin covers barely have time to lodge in the brain. Unsurprisingly, the one Davies cover that has remained in mine came from an entirely different Toronto publisher. A fixture of my teenage years, I saw it everywhere:

The Canadian Caper
Jean Pelletier and Claude Adams
Toronto: PaperJacks, 1982
Recommended, The Canadian Caper is an account of the 1980 smuggling of American embassy staff through Canadian Ambassador Ken Taylor's Tehran residence. Argo, Ben Affleck's Academy Award-winning film based on the same events is a piece of revisionist, jingoistic garbage.

I'm getting sidetracked.

Davies died two years ago. Everything I've read has it that he was a kind man with a passion for cars. I don't much care about automobiles myself, and yet can't help but be drawn to illustrations like this:

No pun intended.

Canadians, shall we celebrate the day by writing a love letter? What better way to send it than with a stamp born of a Harlequin Romance.

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