After 33 successful hardcover titles were published in the Tom Swift Jr. series by Grosset & Dunlap between 1954 and 1971, there were two paperback editions offered.  The first group of four from 1974 were large digest-size paperbacks.  New cover art was made but the original printing plates were used, complete with the Graham Kaye illustrations inside.  Two of the books had new titles.

In 1977, another set of six books were issued, in a smaller pocket book size.  Once again a few titles were changed for the covers.  These books had no illustrations inside.  The cover art was completely new.

Tom Swift and His Rocket Ship (1954) in a 1977 paperback reprint.

The illustrator for the 1977 editions was George Barr.  Several scenes were considered for each book, usually quite different from the original Grosset & Dunlap illustrations by Graham Kaye.  

Proposed cover illustrations were sketched out on tracing paper with pencil and felt-tip marker.  This is one of several preliminary illustrations in our collection.  It differs substantially from the original Grosset & Dunlap cover or the illustration actually used on the 1977 paperback copy.

It shows Tom’s ship, the Star Spear, leaving Earth and being pursued by a rival’s rocket.

Once the desired layout was selected, a final illustration, usually acrylic on illustration board, would be made for reproduction on the book covers.

A preliminary sketch for Tom Swift and His Rocket Ship that was not selected for final illustration by Ken Barr.