Oh, that's hot, baby. Take your bra off real slow. Just like that. Now tell me you're gonna shank me in the shower.
Last week we shared a collection of Bill Edwards paperback covers, but this piece of his needed to stand alone, if for no other reason than its absurdity. A prison built within feet of an apartment building? A scantily clad woman encouraging a convict to seek an early release? Possibly right in her window if his aim is good enough? This one is sublime. 1965 copyright.
Bill Edwards paperback art gains new recognition.
Bill Edwards' profile as a paperback illustrator has risen considerably in recent years. Like others who painted for sleaze imprints, it is not so much his technical ability that has garnered the attention, but rather the subject matter and a strong style. Edwards is a guy whose work you can identify in a millisecond. His women almost always have sharp cheekbones, ski jump noses, and a prominent beauty mark. The cover above for Rick Rand's New Girl in Town shows you all three elements up close. Edwards was also prolific like few other painters, which makes finding his work easy. Below are many more illustrations, some for novels with subject matter well beyond the pale, and we have other Edwards pieces populating Pulp Intl., for example here, here, and here.
Mid-century paperbacks and the many sides of erotic dance.
We've seen more paperback covers featuring dancers than we can count. No surprise—they are after all an essential element of crime fiction, and many of the covers depicting them are excellent. But as you might imagine, novels that feature strippers, showgirls, and burlesque dancers as characters also fall into the sleaze genre quite often, which in turn makes for a lot of low budget cover work. So we have the full range for you today in a collection depicting the kinetic art of stage dancing, with illustrations from Mitchell Hooks, Bernard Safran, Robert Maguire, Robert McGinnis, Gene Bilbrew, Doug Weaver, and others, as well as numerous unknowns. Enjoy.
It's going to be a tight fit but I think I can find just enough space to squeeze you in.
Here's a beautiful art piece we saw on an auction site a while back, 1963's Sexual Interlude from Europa Books, Ltd., which was a U.S. publisher that specialized in sleaze novels with fold-out covers. The illustrator isn't credited, but we know Bill Edwards painted some Europa fronts and in fact this looks very much like his work—so much so that we're going to say it's him and await confirmation or correction. The author likewise isn't noted on the cover but the book was written by Fred Dessiers, who doesn't appear anywhere else in the literary record that we can find. Europa fold-outs are rare because the company was short-lived, but this discovery shows that their novels are worth seeking, at least for the art.
These between-the-legs shots are safer with you than with my previous partner. He was something, lemme tell you.
Above, the cover of Stella Gray's lez sleaze classic The Naked Archer, for Vega Books, 1966. We haven't read this one—it sells for way too much money. But the cover blurb gives the gist, and typically, because the readers were mostly male, lesbians in these books didn't stay lesbian for long, so we're pretty sure we know how this one goes. The art is by the underrated Bill Edwards.
The court announces a sixty-minute recess so it can have—er, I mean speak—with the defendant in its chambers.
Sleaze from 1966, Sex Racket, from Saber, written by Mark Lucas. You wouldn’t think so, but he wrote other books. The mole on the defendant’s cheek gives this cover away as Bill Edwards art.
Come here, baby. You sprint out there and draw his fire while I cover you from back here.
We love Vega Books. Nearly everything they released was patently terrible, but the cover art was sometimes quite funny. You can thank Bill Edwards for that. 1961 on this.
Trust me, this is the last place they’ll look for us.
Above, a Vega Books front for Frank Cannon’s Hide in Hell, with art of a fugitive and his female companion, who’s probably wondering why they can’t hide in the Bahamas or Bali. Cannon, by the way, also wrote Satan in Malibu, so apparently even the Prince of Darkness didn’t like spending time in Hell. 1964 on this, with uncredited art (but it's Bill Edwards).
I’m glad you think they’re pretty, but they’re not my underwear—they’re yours. One of my red dresses got mixed in with your laundry.
It’s been a while, so here’s another cover from Saber Books, Jack Moore’s Call of the Flesh, published in 1963, with art by Bill Edwards. You can see another cover from Saber here.
Sigh. Maybe I would’ve had better luck selling aluminum siding.
We haven’t read this book, so we don’t know what’s in the suitcase, but clearly it’s not a product many people want. Whizzinator anyone? Automatic banana peeler? Mary Fletcher was almost certainly a pen name, but one that was used perhaps only for this effort, so we can’t tell you who the author really was. But we can tell you we think this is Bill Edwards’ cover art. He painted many of Vega’s covers, and this looks very much like his work. You can compare for yourself by looking at an Edwards collection here.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1914—RMS Empress Sinks
Canadian Pacific Steamships' 570 foot ocean liner Empress of Ireland is struck amidships by a Norwegian coal freighter and sinks in the Gulf of St. Lawrence with the loss of 1,024 lives. Submerged in 130 feet of water, the ship is so easily accessible to treasure hunters who removed valuables and bodies from the wreck that the Canadian government finally passes a law in 1998 restricting access.
1937—Chamberlain Becomes Prime Minister
Arthur Neville Chamberlain, who is known today mainly for his signing of the Munich Agreement in 1938 which conceded the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia to Nazi Germany and was supposed to appease Adolf Hitler's imperial ambitions, becomes prime minister of Great Britain. At the time Chamberlain is the second oldest man, at age sixty-eight, to ascend to the office. Three years later he would give way to Winston Churchill.
1930—Chrysler Building Opens
In New York City, after a mere eighteen months of construction, the Chrysler Building opens to the public. At 1,046 feet, 319 meters, it is the tallest building in the world at the time, but more significantly, William Van Alen's design is a landmark in art deco that is celebrated to this day as an example of skyscraper architecture at its most elegant.
1969—Jeffrey Hunter Dies
American actor Jeffrey Hunter dies of a cerebral hemorrhage after falling down a flight of stairs and sustaining a skull fracture, a mishap precipitated by his suffering a stroke seconds earlier. Hunter played many roles, including Jesus in the 1961 film King of Kings, but is perhaps best known for portraying Captain Christopher Pike in the original Star Trek pilot episode "The Cage".
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