Monday, June 20, 2011

The many sides of Sandy Kossin

Poster art by Sandy Kossin for "Don't Drink the Water". A prime example of the poster being far better than the film. When Woody Allen finally saw this film version adapted from his play, he vowed to never again let Hollywood "adapt" any of his work.
Sanford (Sandy) Kossin is an illustrator I've admired for many years, ever since I first saw his work on the cover of the paperback edition of my dad's play "Steambath". Kossin's signature tended to blend into his work, so it wasn't till several years later that I connected the dots and realized he was the same talented artist that created some of my favorite film poster images and paperback covers. The amazing thing about his work was his deft ability to shift styles, depending on the particular assignment. He had the rare talent to create stunning, vivid, sometimes intensely realistic images, at the same time also creating fun/funny delightful cartoony images. An "Illustrator's illustrator". As one renowned artist once summed him up: "There are many Sandy Kossins". Here are some of my favorite samples of his work, mostly from the sixties & seventies, when his artwork was omnipresent.

many of the images, mainly of Sandy's paperback book covers, came from this flickr set:

photo of Sandy Kossin in 2014 by Ken Farrell
1969 interview with Sandy Kossin for American Artist magazine

Kossin was one of he most in-demand paperback cover artists of the sixties. heres some of his most stunning covers.

Perhaps Kossin's most well known work was illustrating the invasion of the Bay of Pigs for LIFE magazine in 1963, including the cover.

Poster art for the film satire: "Oh! What a Lovely War"


foreign poster by Kossin
"The Devil's Brigade"
Paperback cover art by Kossin for "The President I Almost Was" by "Mrs. Yetta Bronstein",
who had been a write-in candidate for president and
actually received enough votes to warrant a book deal.
Poster art for the legendary Clint Eastwood Spaghetti western "Hang 'Em High"

The Train
Cover art for the 1969 movie tie-in paperback

Cover for the 1972 bantam paperback edition of "Steambath". Kossin created this wraparound cover art, and when PBS presented a production of Steambath in 1973, the art (in B&W, with a black bar over her boobs) was used in Hollywood trade publications and newspapers to advertise the show (scroll down).
Steambath Back cover

Kossin poster art for: "Hannibal Brooks". Yes, there once was a day when Michael J. Pollard actually starred in films!

Kossin poster art for "Cold Turkey"

Closer detail

Second version by Kossin

SK poster art for What's Up, Doc?
More realistic Kossin paperback covers.

Add for the 1973 TV production of Steambath using Kossin's earlier paperback artwork.
Poster art for Billy Wilder's poorly received Jack Lemmon comedy: "Avanti!" To this day I haven't seen this film, but always loved his MAD-like poster art.
Some hip, cool Kossin paperback covers from the seventies.

And you thought M*A*S*H only took place in Korea? Think again. In the mid-seventies, Kossin illustrated the covers for a series of M*A*S*H paperbacks, where "M*A*S*H", somehow took to the road for a series of "zany adventures".
Even though M*A*S*H was filmed in Hollywood, they even got to visit Hollywood!
Kossin illustrated just a few assignments for MAD magazine. Here are 2 spreads from the seventies. (click to enlarge)

Kossin poster art from 1975. Jack Rickard also created a poster image for this film.

2 1970's humorous hardcover book covers by Sandy Kossin.

another foreign film poster by Kossin
 film poster art created by Sandy Kossin, 1980
Sandy Kossin posed in 1969. He's alive and well, still working and teaching illustration near his home on Long Island.

Here's a recent photo of Sandy and his good friend Mike Lynch.


  1. Hey! I know Sandy Kossin! Wonderful guy, talented artist (SUPER talented) and a great dancer!

  2. Thanks for hipping me to Kossin. I'd seen a lot of his work but never realized it, probably because he is so versatile. Great stuff!

    If you enjoy stuff like this, check out Illustration magazine. I think it's the nicest magazine being published today.

  3. And this note from Sandy Kossin himself...

    Drew Friedman; I must tell you, and thank you for using your blog to finally show
    a cross section of my career. I've had quite a few illustrator friends
    alert me to your blog and confess they had no idea I worked in so many disciplines,
    for which I, again, thank you much!
    Maybe I should have my own web site or blog to take advantage of the coverage....except
    I don't have the "computer know-how" or the energy to pursue. So I leave it to people
    such as you to do the dirty work.

  4. I looked up "Kossin" because I'm reading a book for which he did a superb cover illustration. It's Melville's The Confidence-Man, in the 1964 Signet Classics edition. I just bought the 2003 Modern Library Classics edition today as a replacement, since the older one is falling apart - but the cover is so inferior. I was very glad to see the work of Mr. Kossin above, some of which I remember.

  5. Love your work, Drew! First spotted your stuff in Heavy Metal in the 80's, you taught me about Frank Sinatra Jr. and I've been a fan since.

    As for Sandy Kossin, I hold dearly an edition of Richard Matheson's 'I Am Legend' for which Kossin produced a fantastic cover, and was also my introduction to his art.

  6. Love his cover for Michener's Caravans as well.

  7. I sure got here in a roundabout way. I'm in Grand Marais, MN and found a copy of, A View From The Bridge, with Kossin's cover at the library paperback exchange shelf. Then back at the cabin I started looking for a download of the Hollywood version, which ended up with a link to this blog. I already see you on FB. Anyway, found a stage version from England to download, but not the movie with Stapleton.

  8. Many of these illustrations are scans of my books from my flickr set:

  9. My apologies. If you tell me which ones, I'd be happy to remove them.

  10. Credit would be fine. It's quite a few of them. Thanks. No biggie.