Vintage Pulp Nov 25 2015
Mid-century paperback art and the race to judgment.

Science has given humanity a lot over the centuries. What will turn out to be one of its most important gifts is its conclusion, widely disseminated beginning in 1950 but by today firmly proven thanks to DNA sequencing, that race doesn’t exist in any scientific way. Of course, many don’t consider that fact a gift—but many people also had serious problems with the revelation that the Earth wasn’t flat. The concept of anti-black racism came entirely from the human imagination within about the last five-hundred years, principally as a means to justify the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Seen in that light, scientific proof that race doesn’t exist represents not new knowledge, but a return to knowledge that existed before the drive for riches caused men to deliberately warp human thought as a means to cover for mass cruelty.

As an imaginary construct, however, race is persistently powerful, which the collection of paperback fronts above and below strongly illustrate. We weren’t around when any of these were written, but their existence reveals a surprisingly (to us) lively market in such material. Were all the books you see here of great worth? Certainly not. But even with their flaws—particularly woman-blaming for rape—these books are artifacts of a fascinating racial dialogue that we suspect, on balance, was beneficial. We have forty-nine examples and there are at least a couple dozen more we didn’t include (Black Dicks for Marcie was just a bit too out there). Some of those pieces will pop up later in a slightly different themed collection. In addition to what you see here, we also put together a related group last year featuring an Asian theme and you can see that here. 


Vintage Pulp Nov 24 2015
I already knew you weren’t married, silly. No self-respecting wife would let her man out wearing such an atrocious tie.

Above is a beautiful and lighthearted cover for No Time for Marriage by David Charlson for Venus Books, 1951, featuring a smiling femme fatale and her homme with his garish pin-up girl tie. The art isn’t attributed and Gary Lovisi’s reference book Dames, Dolls and Delinquents lists it as by unknown. But we think it’s by George Gross. Compare it to a cover confirmed as painted by Gross—One Wild Night, which you see just to the right. The general style is close if not identical, and the female figures on both covers wear drawstring puffsleeve blouses, necklaces, an assortment of gold bracelets, and the always popular ankle strap pumps. We sound like we’ve been watching Project Runway for the last ten years, we know, but this is what obsessing over paperback art does to you. You also notice that the pose, facial features and hairdos on both covers are nearly identical too. While it’s true Rudy Nappi also painted in this general style for Venus, his hairstyles were usually less sculptural than what you see here. We also think the similarities of No Time for Marriage to other Gross covers are too great to ignore. In any case, we hope whoever painted it was well paid at least, because the same art was reused for Joan Tucker’s 1954 novel Young Secretary


Vintage Pulp Nov 23 2015
Josep Renau Berenguer cooks up a classic poster for a classic film.

Arroz Amargo, with Silvana Mangano, Vittorio Gassman, and Doris Dowling, was originally made in Italy and called Riso Amaro, or Bitter Rice. We already delved into this particular rice paddy, but we wanted to show you this beautiful alternate Spanish poster painted by Catalan artist Josep Renau Berenguer. The movie premiered in Spain four years after it opened at the 1949 Cannes Film Festival and had a long run in Italy. That was today in 1953. If you’re interested you can read our original write-up and see the Italian poster here


Vintage Pulp Nov 23 2015
Get off me, you gorilla! Don’t you girl-pimping drug dealing thieving gangsters know how to take no for an answer?

Above, a nice front for Frank Smith’s Back Alley, for Beacon Signal. A lonely call girl named Judy falls in love with a racketeer who by various vicious means has made his way from the gutter to the penthouse. Things go sour between the two and it’s clear gangster sees moll as merely another disposable babe—but she has plans to make him see her differently. 1958, with George Geygan art. 


Vintage Pulp Nov 22 2015
This one’s a real Scream.

The two posters you see here, both amazing, were made for Scream of Fear, which showed in France and Belgium as Hurler du peur and Spain as El sabor del miedo. We checked it out. Susan Strasberg stars as a wheelchair bound woman who returns to her father’s estate and keeps seeing his corpse around the property. Each time this happens she unleashes a piercing scream—hence the title of the film. But is she really seeing her father? Or is she merely hysterical? Well, it wouldn’t be much of a thriller if it were all in her head. The question really is who’s trying to drive her mad. Possibly her stepmother. Possibly the chauffeur. Maybe even her father, since he’s not dead, but only away on business. With several late twists, you’ll have a hard time figuring it out. This was from Hammer Studios and they hit the nail squarely on the head. Scream of Fear opened in France today in 1961, and had already played Spain a few weeks earlier.  


Vintage Pulp Nov 22 2015
Some say being a big fish in a small pond is better than being a small fish anywhere. They may be wrong.

Hakkin nikubuton, aka Banned Book: Flesh Futon, for which you see a poster above, has one of those strange titles you come across occasionally in Japanese cinema. “Banned book” seems straightforward enough. But “flesh futon”? Hmm… Based on an erotic novel by Chinese writer Li Yu and starring Hajime Tanimoto, Maya Hiromi, Terumi Azuma, and Rei Okamoto, the movie tells the story of a poor writer named Mio who unexpectedly authors a bestselling erotic novel called—and this will clear up the title weirdness—Flesh Futon. See? Mio takes to fame quite easily, living in the fast lane and generally having a good time.

But his wonderful life begins to fall apart due to various unexpected misfortunes. These run the gamut from having a prostitute spread a rumor that his penis is “like a guppy,” to having to his house robbed and (now that we understand the title, we know this next part is coming) his book banned. When Mio later encounters the house thief this dodgy character reveals that it’s possible to have one’s penis enlarged. How? Let’s just say it’s a pretty ruff procedure. Mio opts for the surgery, but alas, quickly learns that being a big fish isn’t everything, as his previous misfortunes turn out to be only a taste of what is to come. Hakkin nikubuton premiered in Japan today in 1975.


Vintage Pulp Nov 21 2015
That’s just my name for them. Everyone else still calls them men.

Above, another winner from Greenleaf Classics, Don Holliday’s The Lust Pigs, 1962, for the Midnight Reader line. The real author behind this one was David Case, who wrote ten books total for Greenleaf, including Lust Circuit and Luster’s Lane. Clearly he had a thing about lust. As do we all. The art is unattributed. 


Femmes Fatales Nov 21 2015
What are you staring at, chérie? Have you never seen a hat before?

French burlesque dancer Yvonne Ménard is all smiles, and why not? That thing she wears between her legs probably tickles. Ménard also may be smiling because when these photos were taken she was about as famous as a dancer could be. She had started as a nude mannequin at La Cigale, then joined the cast of Folies Bergère as a replacement for a departing Josephine Baker after understudying the great American star during the 1949 season. Ménard was twenty when she took the lead role—the photos above were made backstage at the Folies shortly afterward. One of the acts Ménard developed showed her struggling against the lure of opium. She wore only her famous glittering leaf, and battled dark male figures only to be eventually carried by them into a smoking pit.  

Ménard’s performances were a bit different from Baker’s—she couldn’t sing as well, and her dancing was a work in progress, but she would eventually master various flips and aerial maneuvers, which she once demonstrated for a photo feature in Life magazine. She toured the U.S. numerous times, making stops in New York, Miami Beach, and Las Vegas, and also performed in South America. Somewhere in there she made time to appear on the cover of the third issue of Playboy, in February 1954, and writer Georges Tabet said inside the issue, “Yvonne is the crystallization of Paris. She’s got a petit quelque chose—a little something—that you have to be born with. Chevalier, he has it in his smile. Edith Piaf has it in her voice. This one—she has it all over.”


Vintage Pulp Nov 20 2015
Feeling the need to hit the road.

Folies de Paris et de Hollywood rarely identifies its cover models, which is a shame, as the front of this issue spécial published today in 1966 treats readers to a vision of a sleek and slick motorcycle rider wearing a red—what is it?—faux snakeskin made from vinyl, we’re guessing. While it probably isn’t great for safety, it does make her look a bit like a superhero. The image fits, because she has a superpower—the ability to inspire us to take to the road, for a day, anyway. Which means we’re headed out to enjoy the sun and warmth and, somewhere along the way we’re sure, a nice bottle of cold white wine. We suggest you do something similar.


Vintage Pulp Nov 20 2015
A Rampage of epic proportions.

Lots of skin this week. Don’t blame us. It’s all a matter of publishing randomness. You know we like to share items on the date they originally appeared, and it seems the stars have aligned for a naked mid-November. Above you have a Rampage published today in 1973, with rare photos of German actress Alice Arno and men’s mag fave Joyce Gibson. The monster referenced on the cover is Dean Corll, a serial killer who abducted, raped, tortured, and murdered at least 28 boys in and around Houston, Texas, from 1970 to 1973. He had been killed two months earlier by his accomplice Elmer Wayne Henley during a showdown over two potential victims, and terrifying details of the crimes had been laid bare for the American public, which was still trying to wrap its head around the concept of serial killers. We may get into the Corll murders a bit later. This is our eighth issue of Rampage, and you can see the others at our trusty tabloid index. 


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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
November 25
1947—Hollywood Blacklist Instituted
The day after ten Hollywood writers and directors are cited for contempt of Congress for refusing to give testimony to the House Committee on Un-American Activities, the group, known as the "Hollywood Ten," are blacklisted by Hollywood movie studios.
November 24
1963—Ruby Shoots Oswald
Nightclub owner and mafia associate Jack Ruby fatally shoots alleged JFK assassin Lee Harvey Oswald in the basement of Dallas police department headquarters. The shooting is broadcast live on television and silences the only person known for certain to have had some connection to the Kennedy killing.
1971—D.B. Cooper Escapes from Airplane
In the U.S., during a thunderstorm over Washington state, a hijacker calling himself Dan Cooper, aka D. B. Cooper, parachutes from a Northwest Orient Airlines flight with $200,000 in ransom money. Neither he nor the money are ever found.
November 23
1936—First Edition of Life Published
Henry Luce launches Life, a weekly magazine with an emphasis on photo-journalism. Life dominates the U.S. market for more than forty years, publishing scores of iconic photographs that remain some of the most recognizable ever shot, and peaking at one point with a circulation of more than 13.5 million copies a week.
1963—Doctor Who Debuts on BBC
The BBC broadcasts the first episode of Doctor Who, starring William Hartnell as a mysterious alien who time travels in his spaceship, the TARDIS. With his companions, he explores time and space while facing a variety of foes and righting wrongs. The show would become the longest-running science fiction series ever broadcast.

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