Vintage Pulp May 1 2017
BREEDING MATERIAL
Fancy meeting an Aryan like you in a place like this.

We've talked about French author Louis-Charles Royer and mentioned the staying power of his novels, which enjoyed many English language reprints throughout the 1950s. Love Camp is Royer doing what he does best, which is exploring sexual niches and conjuring up romance in far flung locales. The story is as the art depicts—women are chosen for the honor of attempting to mate with Nazi soldiers in order to breed a master race. The program was known as Lebensborn, or Fount of Life, and was under control of the SS. The book interweaves the lives of characters brought to a lakeside monastery for some state sponsored bonin'. Some of them fall in love, others struggle with shame, one fights to preserve a female friend's virginity, and so forth, while the doctor who runs the show manages to knock up an eager young recruit only to later reject her and blame her pregnancy on another soldier. It's all exactly as titillating as it sounds, with women paraded naked before men, a lesbian matron having her way with rejected recruits, nude exercise sessions, and other indulgences, all under the dark Nazi aegis. There were many naziploitation books written during the mid-century period, and while it's probably a good thing the trend died, it really did lend itself quite well to exploring perversion and evil. But considering the Nazis' real world toll, such lightweight books can only minimize the horror. The Pyramid paperback you see here is from 1953 with art by Julian Paul.

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Vintage Pulp Nov 25 2015
BLACK AND WHITE IN COLOR
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 was the norm 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 fifty 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. 

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Vintage Pulp Aug 24 2015
A CLAIRE DAY
A new woman for a new era.


This issue of Paris Magazine features a beautiful Louis-Charles Royer cover of Ziegfeld star Claire Luce, one of the most popular celebrities of her time. Her heyday was the 1920s and ’30s, a period during which—though this is little remarked upon today—substantially more women began to have sex before marriage. By the time the first surveys took place in the 1940s about 50% of women admitted to having pre-marital sex. Anecdotally, during the 1920s probably at least one in four women had sex as singles. Claire Luce was a pioneer of the female right to choose. A mere eight-year span of her diary describes sixty lovers.

Luce very much personifies a seismic shift in the values of Western women. Many scholars say it happened because they moved into the university and the workplace around that time, and that was indeed an important factor because it brought women and men into mutual contact outside of family and church situations. But it’s clear the prime mover was the trauma of World War I and the loss of 37 million lives in a conflict that taught those who came of age around then that life could be short and joy could be fleeting. This factor is nearly always downplayed in studies of that time, though we have never understood why. It is too obvious?
 
Even with their numbers increasing, relatively few women were in the university and workplace. But virtually no Western family went untouched by the war. Those 37 million deaths reached deep into every town, every enclave, every social class. Nearly everyone had lost a father, a brother, an uncle, or at least a family friend. And if a loved one actually survived battle, they often returned to preach the futility of war to the generation below them—or by their mere broken presence serve as a warning. Ernest Hemingway captured this in The Sun Also Rises, which focuses on Jake, prevented by a war wound from having sex, and Lady Brett, who loves Jake but must constantly seek lovers elsewhere.

Of course, there are many factors behind any social shift, but rapid change typically derives from chaos. Ask any neo-con or disaster capitalist. The primary effect of war or warlike events upon society is to alter how it views life, death, and personal freedom. In the past, the spectre of death made people want more freedom to live as they saw fit; in our present era, traumatic events have resulted in people agreeing to sacrifice their personal freedom (thanks to powerful suggestions and hard work by opportunistic governments).

Anyway, just an interesting digression concerning Paris Magazine’s cover star. Like predecessors such as Dorothy Parker, and peers like Tallulah Bankhead, she was a sexual trendsetter, a new type of woman for a radically reordered Western world. She’s also about as pulp as it gets. We may get back to Claire Luce a bit later, but in the meantime we have a bunch of interior scans from Paris Magazine below, and more issues available at the click of a mouse. This edition, number 34, appeared in 1934. 

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Vintage Pulp Jun 11 2014
THE TOWERS THAT BE
Hey everybody—get an Eiffel of these!

If you’ve been visiting the site for a while, you perhaps remember the cover we shared for H.R. Lenormand’s Renée, which shows a lonely woman staring out of her room at the majestic—and in that context clearly metaphorical—Eiffel Tower. Since then we’ve seen the tower pop up on many covers, including Passion in Paris by Harrison Stone, above, so today we’ve compiled a collection. Most of these examples view the tower as just an innocent civic landmark, but take it from us—once the idea that it stands for something else gets into your head you really can’t get it out. Interestingly, while the tower appears on many U.S. book fronts, we found it on only two of the hundreds of French covers we have. Perhaps they consider it too banal. Nineteen scans below.

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Vintage Pulp Apr 11 2013
SERAIL ADULTERER
The lady of the harem is in.

Above is a pretty cover for Louis-Charles Royer’s 1931 romance Le Sérail, aka The Harem. You may remember a reader sent in a front for this a year ago. This alternate version, which we stumbled across just yesterday, appeared in 1954, and the cover art is by the brilliant French painter and portraitist Jean-Gabriel Domergue. His work was used for several Royer covers, and though they aren’t pulp influenced, they’re so good we decided to share a few below.

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Vintage Pulp Jun 18 2012
MONSIEUR LE CURE
It seems, cherie, zat you have ze heart murmur. And what does it murmur? Ooh la la.

That old rascal Louis-Charles Royer is at it again, this time with French Doctor, which appeared as a Pyramid paperback in 1951 and was popular enough to be reprinted multiple times. Originally published in 1942 as Le désir, it’s the story of a French doctor and the internal medicine he provides to three women named Magoune, Elise, and of course, Kitty, because no French sleaze novel would be complete without a Kitty. Royer wrote beginning in the 1920s, and his work proved enduringly popular, with both new novels and English translations of his old books appearing throughout the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s. It’s interesting that as widely read as he was, there’s virtually no info on him. There isn’t even a web page—French or English—listing his full bibliography. Maybe we’ll step up to the plate on that one later. The cover of French Doctor was painted by Hunter Barker, as was the one immediately below. We also found a third American version. And finally, in panel four we thought we’d show you the French paperback, with art by the genius painter Emile Baes. 

Update: there is now, a couple of years after we originally wrote the above, a French Wikipedia page, which you can access here.

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Reader Pulp Apr 16 2012
TRANSLATED FROM THE FRENCH
Early '50s paperbacks—when "French" was the byword for erotic.

A delightfully decaying cover from what remains of my collection.

submitted by scorzonera

Even our girlfriends liked this one. Thanks a million, sir. We gather that this was written by French author Louis-Charles Royer in 1931, near the beginning of his prolific career.

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
June 26
1936—First Helicopter Flight
In Berlin, Germany, in a sports stadium, Ewald Rohlfs takes the Focke-Wulf Fw 61 on its first flight. It is the first fully-controllable helicopter, featuring two counter rotating rotors mounted on the chassis of a training aircraft. Only two are ever produced, and neither survive today.
1963—John F. Kennedy Visits Berlin
22 months after East Germany erects the Berlin Wall as a barrier to prevent movement between East and West Berlin, John F. Kennedy visits West Berlin and speaks the famous words "Ich bin ein Berliner." Suggestions that Kennedy misspoke and in reality called himself a jelly donut are untrue.
June 25
2009—Farrah Fawcett Dies
American actress Farrah Fawcett, who started as a model but became famous after one season playing detective Jill Munroe on the television show Charlie's Angels, dies after a long battle with cancer.
June 24
1938—Chicora Meteor Lands
In the U.S., above Chicora, Pennsylvania, a meteor estimated to have weighed 450 metric tons explodes in the upper atmosphere and scatters fragments across the sky. Only four small pieces are ever discovered, but scientists estimate that the meteor, with an explosive power of about three kilotons of TNT, would have killed everyone for miles around if it had detonated in the city.
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