Tom Blood Highwayman – Blog #004 of the 160 “Pretty Faces” book cover Challenge

This is book #034 on the list of 160 books that Gardner Francis Fox wrote from 1953 to 1986. This is the sixth book cover I scratched.

Meet the gallant Irish patriot who vanquished his enemies, tumbled the ladies and stole England’s Crown Jewels, all with equal daring!

Tom Blood Highwayman Gardner F Fox scratchboard cover art Kurt Brugel historical fiction England and Ireland
Blank bookcover with clipping path

Mr. Fox wrote Tom Blood Highwayman in 1962. I transcribed this book in 2019 with Richard Fisher.

The story takes place during the late sixteen-hundreds when England was all raled-up. The story is a historical fiction/romance. This is what the original back cover had to say about Tom Blood, Highwayman:

 The men behind bars in Dublin Gaol were innocent of wrongdoing—hostages, who would die like common felons at the end of the hangman’s rope, unless Tom Blood could carry out his mission.

 In England, in 1669 a wave of sympathy had arisen for the people of Ireland, hunted and hounded as they had been for the past hundred years by Tudor greed and Cromwellian fanaticism, and Tom Blood found friends there who were sympathetic to his cause. But all their assistance could not save the Dublin prisoners if Tom Blood were late for his appointment.

 The self-styled highwayman rode swiftly through the drizzling English countryside as the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland made preparations to return to Dublin to superintend the executions.

original Tom Blood Highwayman Gardner F Fox scratchboard cover art Kurt Brugel historical fiction England and Ireland

Originally published in August 1962 by Avon Books

The cover Artist: Unknown

Was Tom Blood a real person?

etching of the real Captain Tom Blood

He certainly was! Now I don’t want to spoil any of this historically fictitious version of Blood’s life, but Hollywood could have done a trilogy with Braveheart, Rob Roy, and called his story; BLOOD! And have Robert De Niro play Colonel Blood.

Captain Blood as he was called, was quite the adventurous type. He fought in the English Civil War as an espionage agent.  It is thought that he worked as a Double-Agent, playing both sides against each other. In 1671 came the most famous of Blood’s adventures – the stealing of the Crown Jewels from the Tower of London. His treasonable act should have led to his death but he found favor with King Charles and had his Irish Estates restored to him. His reputation for trickery was such that his body was later exhumed by the authorities to verify the fact that he had died.

The Crown Jewels have never been stolen since that day – as no other thief has tried to match the audacity of Colonel Blood!

Why is he being referred to as a highwayman? A highwayman was a robber who stole from travellers. Blood went for the crown jewels. That’s not as short sighted as going for a ladies purse. I’m sure using the word highwayman was a trendy word for the times. This story is also centered around one specific event in Blood’s life, not a telling of his whole life.

The fictional hero, Captain Blood, created by Rafael Sabatini, may have been based on this larger than life character.

Here’s what one Amazon reviewer had to say:

Problem with it is: Protagonist Tom cannot make a mistake, and moves seamlessly from one outrageous feat to another. From one romantic conquest to another. And all of it without any consequence whatever. And his escapades keep on getting more and more unbelievable.

  • Pre-Krypton Superman

These vintage paperbacks are worth the ride. They might not go into the psychological depth we are so privileged to nowadays, but it’s nice to just sit back and go on an adventure.

Tom Blood Highwayman Gardner F Fox scratchboard cover art Kurt Brugel historical fiction England and Ireland

I create the cover illustrations to size. I work on 6 x 6 black Ampersand Scratchboard. The book covers are 6 x 9, which leaves 3 inches for text. I want a clean, “Penguin Books” look and feel to the covers. I’m using the pretty faces motif to keep a unified look and feel to the whole library. The back cover has an image of the original cover, the date it was originally printed, and the original story description.

I used a photo from a Deviant Art stock photographer: Dandystock.

photo reference of a woman outside with vintage style hat

I felt this image caught both the mood and times of the story. She might not be in the historically correct dress, but it worked for my creative intuition.

Here’s a short video I put together of me working on the scratchboard process.

I have had many positive comments about the “new” covers. I feel pretty positive I will be able to do all 160 book covers.

Stay tuned in and find out. Join my Newsletter to get notifications of when I’ve posted a new blog entry.

I will not be working on books in the order as Mr. Fox wrote them. I am doing the book cover designs based on when the transcribers who are assisting me, finish one. As they complete a book, it will be the newest release, so it will get a new book cover design. I also have to go back and replace the photo-bashed covers I made when I first started the Gardner Francis Fox Library in 2017.

Thank you for stopping by and finding out more about what I’m doing. If you are interested in reading Tom Blood Highwayman, please click over to The Gardner Francis Fox Library to read Chapter One.

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Kurt Brugel

Custodian & Illustrator