What happens in the sticks stays in the sticks.
More hicksploitation from Hallam Whitney, aka Harry Whittington—Backwoods Shack, for Carnival Books, digest format with great cover art by Rudy Nappi. A love triangle in the Florida outback is centered on hot-to-trot “backwoods trash” Lora and her two suitors, uptight Roger and proudly countrified Cliff. 1954 copyright.
In your culture girls kill after mating? Hmmph. How strange. What do you kill?
Whit Harrison’s Native Girl was first published in 1952 as Savage Love, received a name change later that year, then was reissued four years later in 1956 under the author’s real name Harry Whittington. The book is set on the island of Maui and opens, first sentence, with lead character Coles Cameron seeing his best friend’s Hawaiian wife Lani completely nude. From there it’s just matter of time before he gets himself a little jungle love—and of course only a matter of a little more time before he’s boiled in a pot and eaten. Well, not really, but things go almost that badly. Steamy stuff, if a bit overwrought.
If your life seems too good to be true it probably is.
Here’s something we came across that we love. It’s a rare 1959 Red Seal edition of Harry Whittington’s thriller You’ll Die Next!, which originally was published by Ace Books in 1954. It’s the story of a solid everyman who slowly descends into a nightmare of mistaken identity—he’s punched in the face by a thug, fired from work, accused of crimes about which he has no idea, and later framed. But this unremarkable everyman has a wife so beautiful and vivacious even he could never believe she married him, and therein may lay the key to the mystery. This is considered one of Whittington’s best. Cover art is by unknown.
Here’s a pop quiz for you, since you think you’re so damn clever. Is it better to be a live tramp or a dead loudmouth?
Harry Whittington’s The Lady Was a Tramp, aka Murder at Midnight, is the story of a man who hires a detective to solve the murder of his angelic daughter only to have the detective discover that the daughter was not such an angel after all. The book features Pat Raffigan, who is a character Whittington used often. 1951 on this, with uncredited art.
Vintage paperback violence gets up close and personal.
We have another collection today as we prepare to jet away on vacation with the girls. Since the place we’re going is known for rowdy British tourists (what place isn’t known for that?), we thought we’d feature some of the numerous paperback covers featuring fights. You’ll notice, as with our last collection, the preponderance of French books. Parisian publishers loved this theme. The difference, as opposed to American publishers, is that you almost never saw women actually being hit on French covers (we’d almost go so far as to say it never happened, but we’ve obviously not seen every French paperback ever printed). The French preferred man-on-man violence, and when women were involved, they were either acquitting themselves nicely, or often winning via the use of sharp or blunt instruments.
Violence against women is and has always been a serious problem in the real world, but we’re just looking at products of the imagination here, which themselves represent products of the imagination known as fiction. Content-wise, mid-century authors generally frowned upon violence toward women even if they wrote it into their novels. Conversely, the cover art, stripped of literary context, seemed to glorify it. Since cover art is designed to entice readers, there’s a valid discussion here about why anti-woman violence was deemed attractive on mid-century paperback fronts, and whether its disappearance indicates an understanding of its wrongness, or merely a cynical realization that it can no longer be shown without consequences. We have another fighting cover here, and you may also want to check out our western brawls here.
What do you call forty dead men? A good start.
Two years ago we shared five covers of women standing over men they had just killed and mentioned that there were many examples in vintage cover art of that particular theme. Today we’ve decided to revisit the idea in order to reiterate just how often women in pulp are the movers and shakers—and shooters and stabbers and clubbers and poisoners and scissorers. Now if they do this about a billion more times they’ll really be making a difference that counts. French publishers, interestingly, were unusually fond of this theme—so egalitarian of them. That’s why many of the covers here are from France, including one—for which we admit we bent the rules of the collection a bit, because the victim isn’t dead quite yet—of a woman actually machine gunning some hapless dude. But what a great cover. We also have a couple of Spanish killer femmes, and a Dutch example or two. Because we wanted to be comprehensive, the collection is large and some of the fronts are quite famous, but a good portion are also probably new to you. Art is by the usual suspects—Robert Maguire, Barye Phillips, Alex Piñon, Robert Bonfils, Robert McGinnis, Rudolph Belarski, et al. Enjoy.
The way out of nowheresville is long and hard.
Above, a truly excellent Rudolph Belarski cover for Shack Road by Hallam Whitney, aka Harry Whittington, for NYC-based digest publisher Star Novels. What you get here is a hayseed sharecropper named Juba who is surrounded by highly sexual hayseed women, including a soon-to-be runaway daughter, a wife that draws men like flies, and a mother-in-law only fifteen years older than Juba’s wife and who was once the fastest girl around. Juba owned a car once, but sold it twenty-six years ago to pay maternity ward bills. He finds another one by the side of the road and decides to hitch his mule to it, pull it home, and get it running. If he can manage it life will be sweet again, but complications, of course, arise. Simple people and countrified prose, in a book that was part of a popular sub-genre of mid-century hick novels.
Sexiness is a warm gun (on a book cover anyway).
This cover of Peter O’Donnell’s Sabre Tooth, part of his popular Modesty Blaise series, shows Italian actress Monica Vitti as the title character, and it got us thinking about all the paperback covers that feature photos of women with guns. Of course, we realize that, as far as the gun-crazed U.S. is concerned, thinking of armed people as enticing or artistic may seem a little tone deaf, but we're talking about book covers, that's all. So we decided to put together a collection. We should mention that the Blaise series is worth reading if you’re looking for something along the lines of light thrills. It’s breezy and sexy as only 1960s spy literature can be, and Blaise herself is an interesting character, born in Greece, raised by a Hungarian scholar, trained in martial arts, and proficient in piracy, theft, and all around sneakiness. In Sabre Tooth she finds herself trying to thwart an invasion of Kuwait by an Afghan warlord. Below we have a dozen more photo covers featuring heat-packing women. As always with these collections, thanks to the original uploaders, most from Flickr, but particularly Muller-Fokker and Existential Ennui.
It’s not their fault—it’s a jean-etic disorder.
In pulp and sleaze fiction there are many types of bad women—vamps, golddiggers, black widows, you name it—but women who wear jeans, or even jean shorts, are destined for a special brand of trouble. Some of these women are already corrupt while others are merely at the gateway, but they all end up in the same place—Calamity City, daddy-o.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1911—Team Reaches South Pole
Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen, along with his team Olav Bjaaland, Helmer Hanssen, Sverre Hassel, and Oscar Wisting, becomes the first person to reach the South Pole. After a celebrated career, Amundsen eventually disappears in 1928 while returning from a search and rescue flight at the North Pole. His body is never found.
1944—Velez Commits Suicide
Mexican actress Lupe Velez, who was considered one of the great beauties
of her day, commits suicide by taking an overdose of sleeping pills. In her note, Velez says she did it to avoid bringing shame on her unborn child by giving birth to him out of wedlock, but many Hollywood historians believe bipolar disorder was the actual cause. The event inspired a 1965 Andy Warhol film entitled Lupe
1958—Gordo the Monkey Lost After Space Flight
After a fifteen minute flight into space on a Jupiter AM-13 rocket, a monkey named Gordo splashes down in the South Pacific but is lost after his capsule sinks. The incident sparks angry protests from the American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, but NASA says animals are needed for such tests.
1968—Tallulah Bankhead Dies
American actress, talk show host, and party girl
Tallulah Bankhead, who was fond of turning cartwheels in a dress without underwear and once made an entrance to a party without a stitch of clothing on, dies in St. Luke's Hospital in New York City of double pneumonia complicated by emphysema.
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