Vintage Pulp Aug 22 2017
WHATEVER IT TAKES
Tell you what—no-strings-attached sex, plus a twelve pack, and I'll order pizza. Now do you wanna come over?

Above, James Howard's I'll Get You Yet, 1954 from Popular Library's sub-imprint Eagle Books, with art by an unknown generally suspected to be Ray Johnson or Owen Kampen. The cover wraps around, and the rear gives you the gist of the plot, which involves a man trying to defend a woman and her sister from organized crime baddies. Regarding the art, we think Johnson is the more likely perpetrator, though we may never have an official answer. But you can see why we're guessing Johnson by taking a look at another of his pieces here. See if you don't agree there's a strong stylistic similarity. Also, this uncredited cover is definitely the same artist. Johnson too? We suspect so.

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Vintage Pulp Jul 24 2017
A MANNEQUIN APART
So that's where your arm went. The damsel in distress thing was just an act, wasn't it?

Dead As a Dummy is a thriller set in the unlikely locale of Tucson, Arizona, where a premiere for a horror movie called The Invisible Zombie goes completely awry when it becomes the backdrop for three murders. The main character is Ben Logan. His job is kind of hard to describe. Basically, he works for a cinema chain, and he handles whatever needs to be handled. Think of him as a troubleshooter. He puts together a lobby display for The Invisible Zombie featuring a coffin with a mannequin corpse inside, only to find the set-up put to use by a clever killer. The main attraction here besides the plot is good southwestern flavor, something author Geoffrey Homes was adept at after previous forays in the same milieu. The cover art on this is generally credited to George Fullington, but that's one of those cases of the internet replicating an error. It happens. We've done it ourselves. The art is by Ray Johnson—says so right on the second page—and the copyright is 1949.  

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Vintage Pulp Apr 23 2017
IT TAKES A VILLAGE
The whole town knew—but was what they knew right?


It's amazing how many mid-century authors were compared to Erskine Caldwell, but such was his influence that any pass at southern smalltown loving, feuding, and corruption prompted reviewers to cite him as the king of the genre. Francis Irby Gwaltney's The Whole Town Knew, originally published as The Yeller-Headed Summer, was compared by many to Caldwell. It deals with the rape and murder of a woman, subsequent efforts to find her killer or killers, efforts to keep the details of her free-spirited ways out of court, local newspaper drama, a not-too-bright lawman in way over his head, and more.
 
This lawman is the center of the book, and his problems mount tremendously—starting with the fact that he's supposed to leave influential members of the community alone and stick to policing poor and powerless folk. Art imitates life, right? The town of Walnut Creek was close kin to the burgs from Caldwell's oeuvre, as were the antics of the townspeople, but the book was well reviewed, leading to Irby—actually a protégée of Norman Mailer, whose mentorship was instrumental—becoming very famous for a time. We love the cover art on this 1955 Popular Library edition. It was painted by Ray Johnson, who always does great work, as you can see here and here.

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Vintage Pulp May 15 2016
STUDENT BODY
To take my pulse you need to put your finger in just the right spot.


Even writers of utopian sci-fi had to pay the bills. John B. Michel was a founding member of the Futurians, a group of fans, writers, and editors who became a primary influence on science fiction during 1930s and 1940s, but here he writes as Louis Richard, producing a tasty piece of sleaze for Beacon Publishing in 1961 called The Sex Pulse. A professor at fictional Maybrook College performs a survey of students and the results blow the lid off the decrepit morals and depraved sexual habits of the student body, with ripple effects upon the young prof, his hot assistant, and a particularly horny student. Michel published three other books under his Richard pseudo—And Sex Is the Payoff, Secret Lusts, and Artist's Woman, the latter of which we included in this collection. These novels were a long way from utopia, but have been called more stylish than the typical sleaze fiction. The cover art for the above, with its excellent femme fatale, was painted by Ray Johnson. 

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Vintage Pulp Apr 3 2016
SHORE ENOUGH
Seriously though—if you want to go boating, get off your ass and help me get this thing in the water.


Above, excellent Ray Johnson art for Fair Game, written by Karl Kramer for Popular Library. High maintenance publisher and scruffy pilot fly into the wilderness and get more than they bargained for. 1955 copyright. 

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Vintage Pulp Apr 20 2015
FLASHY ASHLEY
Help you drag him to the car? Are you high or did you simply not notice that my dress is Givenchy?

Artist Raymond Johnson offers up a great femme fatale on this cover for The Deadly Miss Ashley, authored by Stephen Ransome as the first entry in his Schyler Cole and Luke Speare detective series (gotta love those names). In this one Miss Ashley is actually a missing person who Cole and Speare need to locate. The book was originally published in 1950 in the U.S. under the writer’s real name Frederick C. Davis, with this Panther Books edition appearing in England in 1959. 

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Vintage Pulp Aug 21 2013
UNHEALTHY APPETITE
He decided to head over for an unannounced visit.

Above, a Monarch Books front for Don James’ 1958 novel Dark Hunger, with art by Ray Johnson. Apparently the plot concerns a rape (euphemistically referred to as “unbidden love” here) and its consequences (which includes the angry and jealous husband treating the event like an affair). Not remotely our cup of tea, but Johnson’s colorful art is excellent.

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
February 23
1945—Flag Raised on Iwo Jima
Four days after landing on the Japanese-held island of Iwo Jima, American soldiers of the 28th Regiment, 5th Marine Division take Mount Suribachi and raise an American flag. A photograph of the moment shot by Joe Rosenthal becomes one of the most famous images of WWII, and wins him the Pulitzer Prize later that year.
February 22
1987—Andy Warhol Dies
American pop artist Andy Warhol, whose creations have sold for as much as 100 million dollars, dies of cardiac arrhythmia following gallbladder surgery in New York City. Warhol, who already suffered lingering physical problems from a 1968 shooting, requested in his will for all but a tiny fraction of his considerable estate to go toward the creation of a foundation dedicated to the advancement of the visual arts.
February 21
1947—Edwin Land Unveils His New Camera
In New York City, scientist and inventor Edwin Land demonstrates the first instant camera, the Polaroid Land Camera, at a meeting of the Optical Society of America. The camera, which contains a special film that self-develops prints in a minute, goes on sale the next year to the public and is an immediate sensation.
1965—Malcolm X Is Assassinated
American minister and human rights activist Malcolm X is assassinated at the Audubon Ballroom in New York City by members of the Nation of Islam, who shotgun him in the chest and then shoot him sixteen additional times with handguns. Though three men are eventually convicted of the killing, two have always maintained their innocence, and all have since been paroled.
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