In early February, 2002, I was pleasantly surprised to receive an email with the subject "Book Designer" sent by a Jackie Vedovato. I knew immediately that I was hearing from Jackie Corner/Jackie Mabli, the woman whose name appears on the copyright page of Three Investigators Random House Hardbound books #7, #9, #10, #11 and #12. (She also designed books #5, #6, and #8 although her name is not in them.) Here is her message:
How odd it is that I found your web site, by putting my former name into a search!
I worked for Random House as a book designer from 1966 to 1970....and yes, I designed several of The Three Investigators books. As you stated in the last paragraph of the "Hardbound Formats & Editions" page on your site, I was JACKIE CORNER and married in 1967 and became JACKIE MABLI.
For years, I kept my copies of all the books that I designed for Random House. Unfortunately, when I moved away from New York, I gave all the many books away. (Gee, I wish now that I could have kept them!)
Your web site brought back many wonderful memories and I thank you for that!
Yours truly, Jackie (Corner-Mabli) Vedovato
Of course, I had to email right back with several questions concerning her job as a book designer, Random House in general, and any Three Investigators authors, artists, or editors she may have known. Here is her response:
It was so exciting for me to hear of your interest in my Random House job (so many-many years ago)!
Let me tell you some background information: When I started to work for Random House, I was fresh out of college the end of 1965 (State University of NY/Farmingdale....."Advertising Art & Design" assoc. degree). I think my first salary at Random House was about $80 per week (amazing, huh?). I started as "assistant art director". My job was in the children's book art department, as a book designer. Being "green" right from college, it was quite an experience! As I recall, The Three Investigators series was one of my first assignments. It seems that every six months or so there was a new title. Many times I would design a book and it would be published but not distributed until a specified date.
Let me go into what was involved in designing a book. Please be aware that in the year of 1966, this was WAY before computer design...this was all done by scratch. This is an example of what I would do:
The head of production would give to me printed galleys of the manuscript, along with the specs of the final product such as size of book, number of pages, photostats of any artwork (as from Harry Kane, illustrator). I, as the designer, would submit various lay-outs for the cover, title page, contents page, chapter pages, etc. These lay-outs (sometimes 3 or 4 different designs) would be submitted to the production manager and/or editor. Their choice of lay-outs would then be approved and returned to me. I then would talk to the type-setter with the specs of the job, in other words the font, the size, etc. The printer, then, would send to me via messenger the set type on photo paper. I would then create a "mechanical" that would be camera-ready. These of course, would have to go through the same approvals of the production department and the editor. The whole process (for me, anyway) would take about one week. I, as a designer, would have at least three or four different projects working at the same time. As for my designer credit on the copyright page, it wasn't unusual for a designer's name to be credited but the designer had to have the type-setter insert it.
Harry Kane . . . I don't remember too much about him. I recall seeing him several times. He would come and go in a flash and I did not have any direct contact with him. He seemed pretty old to me - at least to a 20-year old! I just have vivid memories that he was old and smelled like smoke! I always admired his art, and thought that he was a very gifted illustrator. At Random House, it was not uncommon to see famous illustrators or authors walking down the hall - people such as Andy Warhol, Ted Geisel (Dr. Seuss), or even the head honcho himself, Bennet Cerf.
I don't remember, personally, Walter Retan [the first editor of the Three Investigators series]. In the art department we didn't meet face to face with many of the editors as they had offices at a different location. We mainly worked directly with the production department, they were kind of a middle man between editors and art.
I have thought of a few names that maybe, somehow, you could locate to get further information. Art directors during the four years that I worked for Random House were: Tracy Sutton, David Paul, and Bill Cummins. Production Supervisor: Ada Vine.
I worked at Random House from 1966 to 1970 and then did a few years of free-lance work for them from my home, due to the birth of my daughter. Those were very different times . . . the industry has changed so much and I truly am an antique. Never-the-less, it was a wonderful time, a fast moving time and a wonderful experience.
Thank you, again, for your interest. Feel free to share the contents of this email to anyone who may be interested.
Yours truly, Jackie (Corner-Mabli) Vedovato
Jackie reports that she and her husband live in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She has two grown children and one grandchild. She is 56 years old ("but I feel like I'm 21!"), owns a Travel Agency and is constantly on the go.
I want to thank Jackie for sharing her candid memories of her work on The Three Investigators series. She has offered a rare first-hand glimpse into some of the early history of this series.
- STS 4/28/02
Below is a recent photo of Jackie in Bora Bora, Tahiti.