Even the Prince of Darkness needs love.
Italian illustrator Bendetto Caroselli painted this cover for Cuori per Satana, which means “hearts for Satan,” and it was written by Silver Ales for I Capolavori della Serie KKK's series Classici dell'Orrore, and published by Edizioni Periodici Italiani in 1968. Silver Ales was a pseudonym used by Silvano Alessandrini, a prolific poet, playwright, author of twenty-six detective novels, and longtime school teacher. His weird pen name sounds like a category of fancy microbrews, but we approve—it definitely sticks in the head. And of course Benedetto Caroselli was an artistic genius, which you can confirm yourself by looking here and here.
That one too! Just like the last one and the one before that! Help me, doctor—they all look like people having sex!
Whenever we say “someone” should do something that just means we’re being lazy. A couple of days ago we said we liked therapy sleaze fiction covers and someone should put together a collection. Well, that someone turned out to be us. We took a quick scuttle around the web and the result is this small group of people baring their souls—and sometimes more—to their therapists. In P.G. Wodehouse’s case, the main character of Lady Doctor is actually a medical practitioner, but since others confide in her and the awesome Dutch cover is psychoanalytic in style, we’ve included that. The last three examples come from Killer Covers, which is a site you should get into the habit of visiting regularly.
, Shane Douglas
, Sloane Britain
, Henry Lewis Nixon
, Jason Hytes
, Jill Monte
, Jay Carr
, John Knight
, Manning Stokes
, Amanda Cross
, P.G. Wodehouse
, cover art
, cover collection
Well, Freud teaches us that an uncontrollable compulsion to sexually gratify older authority figures isn't necessarily a bad thing.
We really like these psychotherapy sleaze covers. There are quite a few out there, probably enough for a collective post of them, but today we'll just go with one—Adam Coulter's 1965 sleazer Couch of Desire, about a psychologist who has a sexually disinterested wife, and several sexually interested female patients. You know the drill. Just lay back, close your eyes, and you'll start feeling very, very... creepy.
I'm sorry for bringing you here, baby. The travel guides didn't make the Day of Blood sound nearly so violent and terrifying.
William Vance's Day of Blood looks like a western at first glance, but it's actually set in Kenya against the backdrop of a looming uprising by the Mau Mau, whose “maniacal leader had vowed to kill all the whites in Kenya on sight.” What nerve, right? Some people just refuse to take invasion, land theft, and mass subjugation lying down. This one has all the hallmarks of mid-century fiction set in Africa—rugged and world weary hero, sexually desperate women ranging from rapacious to virginal, and, of course, wrongheaded tribal locals trying to ruin the colonial party. Not our thing, but for readers willing to look past the obvious shortcomings, these types of books often offer solid entertainment. 1961 copyright on this one, with nice art from Harry Schaare.
Oh, that Katherine Everard. On second thought, maybe the book isn't so bad after all.
“A first novel that holds little promise of a future.” Thus concluded one 1949 review of Katherine Everard's Cry Shame!, aka A Star's Progress. This assessment is funny because Everard was a pseudonym used by American literary treasure Gore Vidal, who'll be remembered far longer than any of his critics. Cry Shame! tells the story of a girl who becomes a stripper in New Orleans at age thirteen, a wife for a much older man at age fourteen, a Hollywood starlet as an adult, and finally—thanks to romantic misfortune—a broken woman. Today's critics claim they can see touches of Vidalian genius in various details of the book. Of course they can. This Pyramid edition comes complete and unabridged—except for the bottom half inch of the cover cut off by some shoddy work at the printer—with art by Harry Bennett.
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.
All that cutesy lovey-dovey stuff was the single me. Now that we're married let me introduce you to the real me.
Above, the cover of New Bride by Glenn Allison, written for First Niter and published in 1960. The art is by Eric Stanton, formerly obscure, but in the midst of a renaissance these last several years, and deservedly so. Check some of his astonishing pieces here.
Ever get the feeling you've met someone before?
Shuna and the Lost Tribe and Shuna White Queen of the Jungle were written by British author John King, aka Ernest L. McKeag, and reached bookstores via Harborough Publishing in 1951. Shuna is exactly what she seems to be—the archetypal Western literary fantasy of a naturalistic and uncorrupted white woman maintaining semi-sexual thralldom over black hordes who look on with wonder but never, ever get to touch. She's also a virtual copy, right down to the form-fitting leopardskin tunic, of the character Sheena, who appeared in the 1930s, and was part of a wave of lost world literature, comics, and movies that came after the runaway success of Edgar Rice Burroughs' 1912 novel Tarzan of the Apes. We're a little surprised King was able to basically steal Sheena's name. He seems to have gotten away with it, though—we found no mention in the historical record of legal trouble. Maybe it's like the whole Britney Spears vs. Britney Rears thing. The name is close, but juuust different enough to avoid a lawsuit. Anyway, the cover art is really the thing to focus on here. We love these. They're two of the most striking efforts we've seen from the incomparable Reginald Heade, and a reminder we need to feature him more.
, Harborough Publishing
, Shuna and the Lost Tribe
, Shuna White Queen of the Jungle
, Sheena Queen of the Jungle
, Tarzan of the Apes
, John King
, Ernest L. McKeag
, Reginald Heade
, Edgar Rice Burroughs
, cover art
It looks like she tried to write her killer's name. Quick—check the passenger manifest for anyone named Arrrghh...
Frank Bunce's So Young a Body has a great premise—an everyman named Peabody Humble who's tired of being normal decides while on a cruise to tell people he's a hard-boiled detective rather than a boring old accountant. But when a passenger is murdered the captain turns to Humble to solve the crime. Luckily, instant sidekick Dorit Bly is on hand to help him over the rough patches with her outgoing nature and photographic memory. Fully as fun as it sounds, but the series you'd expect to have been launched from this novel never materialized, sadly. Originally published by Simon and Schuster in 1950, this Pocket Books edition adorned with Cass Norwalsh cover art appeared in 1951. The 1952 British edition from Pocket was completely different. See below. We have to thank Monty Python for the subhead, by the way. You've all obviously seen Holy Grail like five or six times, right?
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.
, Bernard Safran
, Robert Maguire
, Robert McGinnis
, Gene Bilbrew
, Doug Weaver
, Robert Bonfils
, Bill Edwards
, cover art
, cover collection
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1914—Aquitania Sets Sail
The Cunard liner RMS Aquitania, at 45,647 tons, sets sails on her maiden voyage from Liverpool, England to New York City. At the time she is the largest ocean liner on the seas. During a thirty-six year career the ship serves as both a passenger liner and military ship in both World Wars before being retired and scrapped in 1950.
1914—RMS Empress Sinks
Canadian Pacific Steamships' 570 foot ocean liner Empress of Ireland is struck amidships by a Norwegian coal freighter and sinks in the Gulf of St. Lawrence with the loss of 1,024 lives. Submerged in 130 feet of water, the ship is so easily accessible to treasure hunters who removed valuables and bodies from the wreck that the Canadian government finally passes a law in 1998 restricting access.
1937—Chamberlain Becomes Prime Minister
Arthur Neville Chamberlain, who is known today mainly for his signing of the Munich Agreement in 1938 which conceded the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia to Nazi Germany and was supposed to appease Adolf Hitler's imperial ambitions, becomes prime minister of Great Britain. At the time Chamberlain is the second oldest man, at age sixty-eight, to ascend to the office. Three years later he would give way to Winston Churchill.
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