Vintage Pulp Jul 20 2017
HOMICIDE BLONDE
She's not bad. She's just painted that way.

Peter Driben illustrated relatively few book covers compared to his magazine output. We showed you a rare paperback from him a few years ago, and above you see another—his work on W. T. Ballard's 1943 thriller Say Yes to Murder, for publisher Martin Goodman. The book is part of a series starring Ballard's character William Lennox, who was a detective-like troubleshooter for fictitious General Consolidated Studios. He investigates the murder of an actor found stabbed and lying under the bed of actress Jean Jeffries, who is the granddaughter of one of Lennox’s close friends. As a troubleshooter, Lennox's first duty is to move the body to avoid scandal for the studio (that's the difference between a detective and a troubleshooter) and only then does he try to unravel the mystery. Lennox appeared in three other Ballard novels—1946's Murder Can’t Stop, 1948's Dealing Out Death, and 1960's Lights, Camera, Murder, which he wrote as John Shepherd. Martin Goodman, you probably know already, later went on to create Marvel Comics. You can see that other nice Driben cover we mentioned here, and three brilliant Dutch covers here. We'll keep an eye out for more. 

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Vintage Pulp Jan 11 2017
RESTLESS LEG SYNDROME
That's great. Very sexy. Now why don't we—just for context, you understand—see where the legs actually attach.

Originally published in hardback in 1942, with this Red Circle paperback appearing in 1949, Leg Artist is the story of a model named Lee Martin who rises to the top of her profession only to be targeted by a con man and felled by the tabloid press. The title refers to the photographic arts but is also a double entendre, as a “leg artist” is mid-century slang for a man adept at picking up women. Harvey revisited this theme later with 1950's Leg-Art Virgin. Red Circle was part of a publishing group put together by U.S. publisher Martin Goodman, and some of these companies evolved into Timely Comics, which in turn morphed into Marvel Comics. The art for this cover is by unknown.

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Modern Pulp Oct 13 2016
CAGE HEAT
Bulletproof black man flips the script in Harlem.

So, we watched the entirety of the new Netflix series Luke Cage. Our love of blaxploitation films made it mandatory. Of course, Luke Cage isn't blaxploitation—it's serious black-oriented drama. But anyway we queued it up. For those who don't know, the series is based on a Marvel Comics character who was a bulletproof, super strong black man who lived in Harlem. The show does away with the comic book Cage's bright yellow costume, but leaves the Harlem setting, political machinations, and dealings of crime kingpins that intertwine as normal people try to get on with their lives.

Most members of the sizable cast are black except for several supporting roles, and the occasional one-off—i.e., a technician here, an office worker there. The series is basically an exact negative of about 10,000 television shows over the years that cast blacks in supporting roles. A vocal percentage of the public is not dealing well with it. Some call the show racist. It made us think of the famous unattributed quote: “When you’re accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression.” These racially sensitive critics watched How I Met Your Mother, Arrested Development, True Detective and scores of other lily white television shows in droves, but the existence of a single show like Luke Cage is threatening.

But let's put all that aside for the moment. Is the show any good? There are some of the same failings as other action-oriented series, but on the whole it's entertaining. Just be forewarned—it's akin to The Wire more than any superhero extravaganza. The characters are deeply explored. Serious comic book action fans will be disappointed. And second, the complete immersion into an African American culture will be unfamiliarto many viewers. In the end, you simply have to have an interest in the premise and the characters to enjoy the show. For us, the immersion into a nearly 100% black Harlem is one of the show's strengths. For others, not seeing characters that remind them of themselves will be alienating. And that's absolutely acceptable in terms of deciding how to spend one's hard earned free time selecting television shows. Such people should say they aren't interested in the premise. They shouldn't make phony claims that the show is racist.

We think American broadcast media need more shows that reflect reality. Here's the reality—the U.S. is both diverse and extraordinarily segregated. 75% of white Americans have zero black friends, while around 60% of blacks have zero white friends. 100% white environments and white points of view have been shown on television for decades. Luke Cage airs a black point of view, with complex relationships, romantic entanglements, ambitions, dreams, and dealings with harsh realities. There should be room for that, particularly considering television history. On a completely different note, we really are looking forward, twenty or thirty years from now, to a scholarly examination of all these damned superhero shows and movies. There's a real pathology here.

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Vintage Pulp Dec 13 2014
MAJOR CRIMES
Rage and the Machine.

Very cool Tom Palmer cover art and a few interiors from The Crime Machine. The interiors are from No. 2 (only two issues were ever printed, we think), which you can download in hi-rez here if you wish. Palmer is best known for his work with Marvel Comics, but these were put out by Skywald Publications of New York City in 1971.

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Intl. Notebook Mar 10 2012
A MOEBIUS APART
Revered French illustrator Jean Giraud dies.

Sad news just off the wire—unique, prolific, and influential French illustrator Jean Giraud has died aged 73 after a long battle with cancer. Giraud broke onto the art scene in 1965, won his first awards by 1973, and by 1975 had adopted the pseudonym Moebius and developed into a graphic arts master. He worked in the comics medium quite a bit as both a writer and artist, and in addition to nine Marvel/Epic graphic novels, and work on longrunning Marvel characters like the Silver Surfer, was also a regular in the pages of the seminal French sci-fi magazine Métal Hurlant—known in the U.S. as Heavy Metal. Aside from all that, he also worked extensively in motion picture production design, and his efforts helped shape films such as Alien, Willow, Tron and The Fifth Element. It’s been a rough week for the art world—Ralph McQuarrie died less than a week ago. We’ve gathered up a few Giraud/Moebius pieces below so those who don’t know this master can get a sense of his singular style. 

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Vintage Pulp Nov 23 2008
STAR CHILD
One man against a galactic empire—so screw you Luke Skywalker.

So many comic book characters have tangled ancestry. Star-Lord aka Peter Quill is yet another example. Under the direction of two creative teams that each had different ideas of what he should be, Peter was first a human orphan, then a man who thought he was human only to find he was the spawn of fantastic beings from a distant planet. Later it turns out being Star-Lord is a sort of rotating honor, like hosting Saturday Night Live, except with the power to fly away when the laughs don’t come. Not to be confused with the entirely distinct Starlord published by British imprint IPC in 1978, Star-Lord debuted on Marvel in 1976.

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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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