Are you sure I need an entire superhero outfit? I'd feel more comfortable—and frankly more fabulous—fighting crime like this.
Danny Shannon, the lead character in Peter Sinnot's 1966 sleazer Young Danny does not fight crime. We made that up. He's actually just a regular guy with no superpowers whatsoever, who gets a job working in a combo hotel/health club/steam bath where wild bondage parties are held, and becomes the favored staff member of all the guests. See what we just did there? Staff member? Anyway, by the mid-1960's sexploitation books of all types had reached the point where little was left to the imagination, and this one is a prime example, as its rear cover bluntly proclaims: “Once you enter this hotel prepare to get raped.... or rape... anything goes!”
Eric Stanton is on the cover chores here and—this is where we got the idea about crime fighting—he was strongly influenced style-wise by Jerry Robinson, the comic artist who created Robin of Batman and Robin, as well as Batman's butler Alfred, and the villain Two-Face. Stanton was also a friend of Steve Ditko, the man who illustrated the first Spider Man comics. In fact, Stanton claims that the character of Aunt Mae was his idea. Now we know exactly where the strong comic book feel of Stanton's art came from, and why Danny Shannon looks like a crimefighter having a costume fitting. Or maybe that's just us. You can see plenty more from Stanton here, here, and here.
Oh my freaking gaawd. Do you exfoliate or take milk baths or something? Your skin is so uhmazing...
If hands could have erections this is what it would look like, because to us the guy on the front of Paul V. Russo's This Yielding Flesh seems about to lose it in a messy way. But the book is not actually about a guy with overly sensitive hands—it deals with a woman who runs into some shady characters at a music festival, and who then attracts a protector determined to save her from the evil counterculture and its rampant sexual deviancy. Drugs, lesbians, and hippies—but no hand orgasms—all under the umbrella of light sleaze. Paul V. Russo was a pseudonym used by Gilbert Fox, and this effort dates from 1961, with art from Paul Rader, who outdid himself.
Traffic mishaps reach an all-time high.
Below, assorted paperback covers pairing mortal danger and automobiles, including many examples from France, where the theme was particularly popular. Thanks to all the original uploaders on these.
Caroselli bests the competition again.
Above is another beautiful piece painted by Benedetto Caroselli, a man we're going to go ahead and anoint one of the greatest paperback cover artists of all time. His work on Richard Walker's Nodo scorsoio—which means “slipknot”—is simply brilliant, with its red tressed, black dressed femme fatale, and graphic background elements. It dates from 1962 for Grandi Edizioni Internazionali's collection I Gialli dell'Ossessione, and is number ninety-seven in the series. The book was translated from Richard Walker's original English text by Domenico Vitali, and once again we suspected the translator was the author, since we're pretty sure this book was never actually released in English, thus would never have needed a translator. After some searching we confirmed our suspicions—Vitali wrote as Walker on several occasions, including two novels for Éditions S.E.P.'s P.J. Police collection. We're going to keep digging up art by Benedetto Caroselli because it's all good—every piece we've seen. You can see more of his work by clicking his keywords below.
It's time you got your hands dirty, tough guy. We'll start with a pedicure.
Above, an Ace double consisting of John Creighton's Trial by Perjury and Louis Trimble's The Smell of Trouble. Cover art is by uncredited and his twin brother unattributed. You can see another Ace double here.
I'm going to devour you like a rotisserie chicken and pick my teeth with your bones. I hope you don't find that too terribly forward.
Here's another mid-century novel for the ever growing lesbian corruptor bin, When Lights Are Low, by sleaze maestro Dallas Mayo, 1963, for Midwood-Tower. Mayo was a pseudonym inhabited by Gilbert Fox, who apparently wrote this when Midwood honcho Harry Shorten conjured the title out of thin air at lunch and told Fox to produce a book to go with it. You can read that tale at paulrader.com. Fox was super prolific, writing many books as Mayo, as well as under the names Kimberly Kemp and Paul V. Russo. The cover art is yet another brilliant effort from Paul Rader. It's inspired us to go have a snack of our own.
This is the clean side. I just finished using the other side with my Saturday through Tuesday boyfriend.
We checked online and the indications that you need a new mattress include: it's more than eight years old, you wake with aches and pains, and there's a noticeable sag. And the indications you need a new life include: your bed is in a filthy slum tenement. Such is the case with Perversity and Depravity, 1956 and 1957, in which virtually every character needs a do-over of their existence. Both books, by New Caledonian author Francis Carco, née François Carcopino-Tusoli, are set in the 1920s Parisian underworld of prostitution, crime, and poverty. Carco deals with these subjects compassionately, and his work is heavy with colloquialism and has a strong sense of place. He acquired his insight the old fashioned way—by consorting with the types of people he wrote about. Though his work is obscure in the English speaking world, he was fairly well regarded in his day and is still remembered in France. These are dark books, maybe even brutal, certainly ahead of their time. Harry Barton painted the cover of Perversity and an uncredited artist handled the chores on Depravity.
Hi! I'll be filling in for your regular wife this evening. How many times do I have to ask you to take out the damn garbage?
We saw this Robert Bonfils piece at pulpcovers.com and couldn't resist re-using it. Bill Russo's Substitute Wife, 1962, from Playtime Books. Remember—there's nothing like the real thing.
You liar! Your website promised high speed internet!
You ever stay in a place and the internet sucks? It happens to us all the time. The amenities are also sorely lacking at Guido d’Arpino's San Francisco rooming house, but at least his daughter Emma is sexually available to most of the guests that roll through, including touring saxophonist Harry Purcell. Their involvement produces an unexpected customer bonus: pregnancy! The impending arrival of the little d’Arpino sets into a motion a series of events that leads to murder. Since the story is told in flashback at Harry's trial, none of this is a surprise, but the details of how he ended up in the dock are interesting, and in the end the lesson of this Prohibition era tale is clear—never get involved with a musician. And we say that as musicians. We're the worst. Pretty good book, though. In the same way San Fran exteriors are used in some of the best mid-century noir movies, author Fred Malloy (a pseudonym too involved to work out on a perfect beach day, sorry), uses San Fran specificity to spice this one up. For people interested in the city, that alone probably is worth the price of the book. 1954 copyright on this edition, and cover art by Saul Levine.
They say this color makes a woman more desirable— *burp!* *grunt* —so you want me or what?
As usual with Fabian Books the cover for Cherita is uncredited, but their low rent house artist really scored a hit here. This is a beautiful image of a woman testing the putative phenomenon that red dresses increase one's attractiveness. As for the story, it's a drama about a woman searching for her lost sibling. The tale becomes a sort of a love story when she falls for a man different from the many she's known, a musician who plays a local nightspot. Ann Freeman—most likely a pseudonym but we don't know for whom—also authored the Fabian sleaze novels Between the Two and Emotional Jungle before fading from the literary scene. Copyright on this is 1961.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1953—NA Launches Recovery Program
Narcotics Anonymous, a twelve-step program of drug addiction recovery modeled on Alcoholics Anonymous, holds its first meeting in Los Angeles, California.
1942—Blimp Crew Disappears without a Trace
The two-person crew of the U.S. naval blimp L-8 disappears on a routine patrol over the Pacific Ocean. The blimp drifts without her crew and crashes in Daly City, California. The mystery of the crew's disappearance is never solved.
1977—Elvis Presley Dies
Music icon Elvis Presley is found unresponsive by his fiancée on the floor of his Graceland bedroom suite. Attempts to revive him fail and he's pronounced dead soon afterward. The cause of death is often cited as drug overdose, but toxicology tests have never found evidence this was the case. More likely, years of drug abuse contributed to generally frail health and an overtaxed heart that suddenly failed.
1969—Woodstock Festival Begins
The Woodstock Music & Art Fair, which was billed as an Aquarian Exposition, takes place on a 600 acre dairy farm in Bethel, New York. It would run for three sometimes rainy days and feature thirty-two acts performing at all hours of the day and night. Today the festival is regarded as one of the greatest events in popular music history.
1977—Radio Signal Arrives from Deep Space
An unidentified radio signal, nicknamed the WOW Signal for the notation a scientist made on a computer readout, is briefly detected by the SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) project's Big Ear radio telescope. Despite a month of searching the same section of space, the signal is never found again.
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