Vintage Pulp Jul 22 2014
QUICK FIXLER
Fred Fixler once again elevates Brandon House sleaze with virtuosic art.

A few years ago we shared eight Fred Fixler covers he had painted for Brandon House. Today we thought we’d fill out the collection a bit with another group of Fixlers, above. Some of these you can see elsewhere online, whereas others you can’t, but they all fall into that our-website-is-not-complete-without-them category we’ve mentioned before. Problem solved. Over time Fixler has become one of our favorite paperback illustrators, and these pieces show why. In fact, they’re probably way too good for an imprint like Brandon House, which published books like The Rape Machine and Sex on Welfare. It’s proof that even excellent artists often barely manage to make a living in this crazy world of totally upside down values. You can see the other Fixler collection at this link.

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Vintage Pulp Jul 20 2014
LADY AND THE SCAMP
Life is like a can of whup-ass—you never know what you’re gonna get.

Basil Heatter’s The Captain’s Lady is the story of a World War II vet who moves to a Florida fishing town and opens a charter boat business. It had been the dream of he and his buddy, Forrest Gump-style, and just like in Gump the buddy was killed in battle, so the protag Greg Cape has to go it alone. At least until he meets a tough woman named Billie, and it’s good she’s tough, because the local boating cartel plans to run Cape out of town. But when he decides to fight, Billie helps, and all hell breaks loose. It’s still a bit like Forrest Gump, but with Gump as a badass. The art for these editions, 1950 and 1953, is uncredited.

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Vintage Pulp Jul 10 2014
ABBETTING AFTER THE FACT
A long overdue collection of Bob Abbett covers.

We’ve compiled a collection of Bob Abbett covers, something we should have done years ago. Throughout the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, working in a couple of distinct styles, he produced some of the most striking book fronts to be found on newsstands. See eighteen pieces of evidence below. 

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Vintage Pulp Jul 7 2014
BRUSH FIRE
Blaze consumes acres of grassland. Authorities seek cause.

Above, the cover of March Hastings’ The Heat of the Day, one of many lesbian themed novels published by Midwood-Tower. It’s the story of two girls whose blackened skeletons are found in a fire-scorched field. Well, not really. It’s actually about two girls who meet at a summer camp and develop a scorching attraction for each other. 1963 on this one, with art by Paul Rader. 

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Vintage Pulp Jul 3 2014
LADY KILLERS
Sexiness is a warm gun (on a book cover anyway).

This cover of Peter O’Donnell’s Sabre Tooth, part of his popular Modesty Blaise series, shows Italian actress Monica Vitti as the title character, and it got us thinking about all the paperback covers that feature photos of women with guns. Of course, we realize that, as far as the gun-crazed U.S. is concerned, thinking of armed people as enticing or artistic may seem a little tone deaf, but we're talking about book covers, that's all. So we decided to put together a collection. We should mention that the Blaise series is worth reading if you’re looking for something along the lines of light thrills. It’s breezy and sexy as only 1960s spy literature can be, and Blaise herself is an interesting character, born in Greece, raised by a Hungarian scholar, trained in martial arts, and proficient in piracy, theft, and all around sneakiness. In Sabre Tooth she finds herself trying to thwart an invasion of Kuwait by an Afghan warlord. Below we have a dozen more photo covers featuring heat-packing women. As always with these collections, thanks to the original uploaders, most from Flickr, but particularly Muller-Fokker and Existential Ennui.

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Vintage Pulp Jun 30 2014
A SHOULDER TO SIGH ON
Sweetie, stop. I said I like sensitive men, but I meant one who puts the toilet seat down. This is too much.

Merle Miller’s That Winter is one of the better post-World War II novels, dealing with the time-honored theme of veterans struggling to fit in after their military service. One has a dead end job, another believes he can function only in the army, and another is trying to hide the fact that he’s Jewish. In the area of feeling forced to hide an essential aspect of oneself, Miller knew exactly what he was writing about. In 1971 at the age of fifty-one, during a time when he was a public intellectual of considerable stature, he came out in the New York Times Magazine as gay. The article catapulted him into the forefront of gay activism, a status he maintained the rest of his life. That Winter was his first novel, appearing in 1948, with the above Popular Library edition hitting shelves in 1950. The great cover art could be by Earle Bergey, but Christopher P. Stephens’ reference tome A Checklist of the Popular Library Paperbacks lists no illustrator, so we’ll have to go with unknown on this one for now. 

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Vintage Pulp Jun 26 2014
ONE GIANT LEAP
In case of emergency—jump.

Consider these a small subset of our collection of falling covers—call them desperate leaps. The interesting part is if the gunmen weren’t there, both women would look like they were having fun. The art is by Harry Barton, 1957, and Rudolph Belarski, 1948.
 
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Vintage Pulp Jun 23 2014
ALL'S WELLES
What is authorship, after all?


This striking paperback cover for Mr. Arkadin was put together for Britain’s WDL Books by R. W. Smethurst, a well-known illustrator of comic books during the 1950s and 1960s. The Smethurst signature you see is not an autograph, but rather part of the art, something many of his covers contained. But the fact that he claims credit at all is rather interesting, because the art isn’t completely his. He seems to have borrowed his red-skirted femme fatale from Robert Maguire, who painted her for John D. MacDonald’s April Evil, below. It’s quite possible the other figures are borrowed as well. How strange.  

Or is it? Maybe Smethurst was simply following Orson Welles’ lead. Though Welles is credited as author of Mr. Arkadin, he never wrote it. He developed a story for the film version, and wrote the script for it, but after the film he farmed out the novelization to a French film critic named Maurice Bessy. That screenplay adaptation was published in French in 1955, then translated from French into English a year later and released as what you see above. So in the end we have Welles taking credit for another’s writing, and Smethurst borrowing another’s art. And to think, all this derived from a film Welles never finished.
 
Yet, it’s fitting. Welles was consumed by the question of fakery. His documentary F for Fake discusses the subject in absorbing detail, even focusing on his own work. In short, he suggests that authenticity is a chimerical concept because it is subject to human error and fraud. While Welles slyly avoided explicitly claiming authorship of the Mr. Arkadin novelization, Maurice Bessy’s role, if it was ever widely known, was reconfirmed only in 2007. It’s easy to suspect that Welles knew the role of his ghostwriter would be forgotten. We’re talking about a man, after all, whose career caught fire thanks to one of history’s ultimate fakes—his panic inducing War of the Worlds broadcast.

We’re pretty sure, Smethurst, however, is not actually playing with the concept of fakery. John D. MacDonald was not obscure and neither was artist Robert Maguire, so there was no attempt at theft when Smethurst painted a close duplicate of Maguire’s femme. His cover falls into the category of pastiche—work in the style of another. What we’d really enjoy is if someone out there identified the other figures on the cover. But if those are Smethurst’s that would prove interesting too. In the meantime, if you want to know about Welles’ F for Fake and learn more about his attitudes toward authenticity, go here.

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Vintage Pulp Jun 19 2014
OMICIDAL THOUGHTS
Murder by any other name.

As long as we’re on Italy today (see below), here’s another top effort from the Italian genius Benedetto Caroselli. Il suo nome era omicidio, aka His Name Was Murder was written by Mary Steel, who is in reality a pseudonym of author and editor Laura Toscano, and it appeared in 1971. See more amazing Caroselli covers by clicking his keywords below. 
 
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Vintage Pulp Jun 18 2014
BOND POSSIBILITIES
Two Fleming covers offer opposite visions of how to Live large.

Sometimes we get in the mood for a true classic, so at top is the excellent 1966 Macmillan Publishers edition of Ian Fleming’s Live and Let Die. It’s possible the James Bond books have had more cover iterations than any other series, and most of them are high quality, often trending toward the sort of luridness we love, but we also like the simple, elegant graphics of Macmillan's deep green masterpiece. On the other hand, if we were to go lurid then there’s no better art to be found than on the 1964 cover Vivi e lascia morire from the Italian imprint Garzanti. The variations on Live and Let Die are practically infinite, but the Garzanti edition is our other favorite (though this one is great too). There is no artist info on these, which is criminal, we think. We’ll dig, though, and see what we can find. As a matter of taste, it’s interesting to contemplate which of the two books we would buy, assuming we could buy only one. Tough choice. What do you think? 

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
July 26
1945—Churchill Given the Sack
In spite of admiring Winston Churchill as a great wartime leader, Britons elect Clement Attlee the nation's new prime minister in a sweeping victory for the Labour Party over the Conservatives.
1952—Evita Peron Dies
Eva Duarte de Peron, aka Evita, wife of the president of the Argentine Republic, dies from cancer at age 33. Evita had brought the working classes into a position of political power never witnessed before, but was hated by the nation's powerful military class. She is lain to rest in Milan, Italy in a secret grave under a nun's name, but is eventually returned to Argentina for reburial beside her husband in 1974.
July 25
1943—Mussolini Calls It Quits
Italian dictator Benito Mussolini steps down as head of the armed forces and the government. It soon becomes clear that Il Duce did not relinquish power voluntarily, but was forced to resign after former Fascist colleagues turned against him. He is later installed by Germany as leader of the Italian Social Republic in the north of the country, but is killed by partisans in 1945.
July 24
1915—Ship Capsizes on Lake Michigan
During an outing arranged by Western Electric Co. for its employees and their families, the passenger ship Eastland capsizes in Lake Michigan due to unequal weight distribution. 844 people die, including all the members of 22 different families.
1980—Peter Sellers Dies
British movie star Peter Sellers, whose roles in Dr. Strangelove, Being There and the Pink Panther films established him as the greatest comedic actor of his generation, dies of a heart attack at age fifty-four.

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