H. Tom Hall
Tom Hall A Paperback Cover Pioneer
Early Life & Education
Hall was born in 1932 and grew up in Prospect Park, Pennsylvania. Hall and his wife of 54 years, H. Janet Scott met at Ridley Park High School, from where they both graduated.
He went on to study at Temple University’s Tyler School of Fine Art and received his BFA from Philadelphia College of Art, now the University of the Arts.
Children’s Books & Magazine Illustrator
While in the U.S. Army, Hall wrote and illustrated a children’s book, The Golden Tomba, published by Knopf. When he returned back to the USA, he became an illustrator of children’s books as well as magazines for many years.
Hall’s magazine work includes Readers Digest, Saturday Evening Post, and National Geographic magazine. While working for National Geographic, he was part of a research team in Honduras and later Peru to gather background for his pre-Columbian illustrations.
Book Cover Phenom
He then went on in his career to do book covers. Hall’s work has graced some of the biggest best sellers of all time, like Anne Rice’s Interview with a Vampire, and some Colleen McCullough works, including The First Man in Rome and The Thorn Birds.
Hall’s career was so varied and successful that he was commissioned to do the reprint of John Steinbeck’s Cup of Gold and illustrated the cover of Kathleen E. Woodiwiss’s blockbuster, Shanna. The latter having sold millions.
Hall was among the most innovative cover artists of the 1970s. He was called the “leading paperback artist in the country” and “a giant in the industry” by New York art directors. It was surprising to me was that there was no Wikipedia page on this particular artist. Hopefully some Wiki editor will remedy that soon.
A Tom Hall cover was a symbol of elite status as he only worked with the top publishing houses. No Tom Hall would be gracing a schlocky Zebra, Pinnacle, or Playboy Press. He worked for the big names: Avon, Warner Books, Ballantine, Bantam, Fawcett (only after they’d been bought out by CBS Publications & Ballantine), or Reader’s Digest. Among the top-tier authors that he produced covers for were Laurie McBain, Kathleen E. Woodiwiss, Jennifer Wilde, and Shirlee Busbee.
Death & Legacy
Hall passed away in 2010, leaving behind a wife of over 50 years, a loving family, and a legion of paperback book fans who loved his artwork.