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.
1967—First Space Program Casualty Occurs
Soviet cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov dies in Soyuz 1 when, during re-entry into Earth's atmosphere after more than ten successful orbits, the capsule's main parachute fails to deploy properly, and the backup chute becomes entangled in the first. The capsule's descent is slowed, but it still hits the ground at about 90 mph, at which point it bursts into flames. Komarov is the first human to die during a space mission.
1986—Otto Preminger Dies
Austro–Hungarian film director Otto Preminger, who directed such eternal classics as Laura, Anatomy of a Murder
, Carmen Jones
, The Man with the Golden Arm
, and Stalag 17
, and for his efforts earned a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame, dies in New York City, aged 80, from cancer and Alzheimer's disease.
1998—James Earl Ray Dies
The convicted assassin of American civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., petty criminal James Earl Ray, dies in prison of hepatitis aged 70, protesting his innocence as he had for decades. Members of the King family who supported Ray's fight to clear his name believed the U.S. Government had been involved in Dr. King's killing, but with Ray's death such questions became moot.
1912—Pravda Is Founded
The newspaper Pravda, or Truth, known as the voice of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, begins publication in Saint Petersburg. It is one of the country's leading newspapers until 1991, when it is closed down by decree of then-President Boris Yeltsin. A number of other Pravdas appear afterward, including an internet site and a tabloid.
1983—Hitler's Diaries Found
The German magazine Der Stern claims that Adolf Hitler's diaries had been found in wreckage in East Germany. The magazine had paid 10 million German marks for the sixty small books, plus a volume about Rudolf Hess's flight to the United Kingdom, covering the period from 1932 to 1945. But the diaries are subsequently revealed to be fakes written by Konrad Kujau, a notorious Stuttgart forger. Both he and Stern journalist Gerd Heidemann go to trial in 1985 and are each sentenced to 42 months in prison.
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