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.
Looks like she's well past the tipping point.
Any successful concept has the potential to become a cage for a crime author. Jack Dolph wrote the successful 1948 mystery Odds-On Murder about race tracks and their associated environs, and returned to that milieu for 1950's Murder Makes the Mare Go. In 1952's Hot Tip, for which you see the 1957 Phantom Books cover art above, Dolph is still hanging around the track, where a jockey dies in a sweatbox trying to make weight for a race, and his buddy Doc Connor sets about proving it was murder. There are suspects—the wife who stood to inherit insurance bucks, the estranged brother, and shady gamblers, while artsy Broadway types provide extra color.
Dolph used Doc Connor for all his horse books, with the character's interest in racing legitimizing his constant moonlighting as a sleuth when he probably should have been inoculating babies and reading x-rays. We described these concepts as a cage for authors, but that's our personal bias intruding. Dolph might have loved writing about racing. But either he or the public tired after his fourth foray and fifth novel overall, 1953's Dead Angel, at which point Dolph went out to pasture.
The art on the 1957 edition from Australia's Phantom Books is interesting but uncredited. The British edition from Boardman Books, just above, has nice cover art as well, painted by Denis McLoughlin. And the original art was reconstituted by Horwitz Publications, also Australia based, for usage on the front of Carter Brown's The Tigress, from 1961, below. Though actually, based on the quality of the art, Phantom's Hot Tip art looks like the copy, but the publication dates we have say Phantom was first.
… blah blah blah … free you from sin and save you … name of the lord ... amen. Okay, all done, guys. Cook him.
En deux manches et une belle... translates to, “In two sleeves and a beautiful..." offering us no idea of its actual meaning. Doubtless this is another French colloquialism. The author is Patrick Rock, an obvious pseudonym. These can be difficult to untangle, but in this case the main clue comes from the fact that the translator Louis Valgrand is listed on the cover. That sort of attribution is somewhat rare. And considering the fact that this book was almost certainly never actually written in English, but rather was part of the wave of French language imitations of American crime novels, we suspect Valgrand was the author. Probably the publishers Éditions Flamme d'Or wanted to Americanize the novel with an appropriate sounding pseudonym, but Valgrand couldn't forego seeing his name on the cover. Don't cite us on that. It's still just a guess, but one that makes sense. The cover art is by René Brantonne and the copyright is 1952.
Maybe it fell behind the cabinet. If you get on your knees and look back there I bet you can see it.
This cover for Rock Anthony's 1963 novel Fringe Benefits was painted by Paul Rader and ranks as one of his most famous pieces. You see it everywhere. But as far as we know, nobody posting the art has bothered to read the story, so we bought a copy of this Midwood Books classic and sat down with some cold white wine. It took just over three hours to read, which was perfect timing because we were out of wine by then. Basically, you have a corporate drone who has his pick of women but isn't inspired by any of them. There's Adele, the society woman who's the major shareholder of the company. There's the boss's smoldering cougar secretary Mildred. There's the drab but sweet office assistant Nina. There's Gladys, the always available member of the steno pool. And eventually there's the eighteen-year-old new girl Dolly. We have no idea which one is supposed to be depicted in Rader's cover art. Probably Mildred, though she's a redhead in the book.
Anyway, the protagonist's continual scheming to get laid leads to him landing an executive position, and from there he finds himself in the middle of a takeover war. If he makes the right moves he'll end up as company president, and if not—well, at least he still has love. And is there any doubt who he'll end up with? Take a guess. Of course it's the drab but sweet Nina—but only after she transforms herself into a super hotty. Fringe Benefits may be a classic in the pantheon of mid-century sleaze art, but don't be fooled into reading it. There isn't enough humor or sex to maintain interest, and with vocabulary like “sarcasmed” and “sideglanced,” the writing might make you wonder if Rock Anthony got his break because he had an uncle in Midwood's executive suite. You know what the real fringe benefit is? We read the bad books so you don't have to.
As soon as I hear, “That's a wrap, Diane,” the clothes are coming off and I'm streaking out of this joint.
Yes, it's Diane Webber on the cover of this Horwitz second edition of Carter Brown's No Future Fair Lady, and amazingly, she's fully clothed, a phenomenon we've never seen from the most famous nudist model of her generation. Looking closer, though, the dress could be painted on. Wouldn't surprise us. You don't become a nudist icon in the buttoned down 1950s by letting the Man tell you what to do. At any rate, this is yet another example of Horwitz using unlicensed (we suspect) celeb photos on their Carter Brown paperbacks. Since we feature a lot of tabloids on Pulp Intl., we have to point out that the protagonist in this story works for a tab called Smear. We love that. The copyright here is 1960, and we have several other examples of Horwitz celeb covers you can see by clicking this link.
Tall, dark, and dangerous.
We don't share many photo covers, but this novelization caught our eye because it's one of the better images we've seen of Cleopatra Jones star Tamara Dobson. As we've mentioned before, promo images for blaxploitation performers, with a few exceptions, tend to be rare. Dobson was one of the first we ever featured, way back in 2009, and we're sharing this image because Cleopatra Jones opened in the U.S. today in 1973. The screenplay for the film, by the way, was co-written by Max Julien, who was the star of the blaxploitation classic The Mack. The guy was multi-talented. So was Dobson—the 6' 2” former model could look both lethal and deadly.
Grrrr... That shameless slut. If I hadn't seen her with my own two eyes—and the other two eyes on my chest—I would never have believed it.
There's nothing quite like carny pulp, and this one has one of the better tag lines in sleaze history. The basic idea here is innocent Curtis Bryan joins a carnival only to find it a hotbed of sex, sin, and spouse swapping peopled by lesbian trapeze artists, a sex freak equestrienne, and more. Pretty soon he's in danger of being corrupted by all the crazy goings-on. The tagline: Enter normal... exit abnormal... That is inspired. The artwork is inspired too. It's by the uniquely great Eric Stanton, and the copyright is 1965.
It was fun. Next time just try to remember that being a fast shooter is only good for gunfights.
Above, cover art for War at Bluestem Basin by John Nemec, the prolific author behind books such as Naked in the Night, The Spy Who Came to Bed, and The Case of the Naked Nympho. This one is about two brothers who end up on opposite sides of a land war, and the copyright is 1962 for Vega Books. The art is signed Chesnutt, but we have no info on who that might be.
I've reformed. I still smoke, drink and sleep around, but I don't feel guilty about it anymore.
Would you believe someone was asking $900 for this copy of Felice Swados's Reform School Girl? It went unsold, but we've seen it go for around $400, which is an indication how rare it is. The story deals with assorted free spirits on lockdown at a home for wayward girls. It was published by Diversey in 1948, but originally appeared in 1941 as a Doubleday hardback called House of Fury. Diversey had the genius idea to rework the cover art and ended up putting Canadian ice skater Marty Collins on the front, dressed far less demurely than in her competitive routines. Despite the look of the novel, Swados was a serious writer, which is why Reform School Girls focuses its plot on racial oppression and the dangerous decision by two of the cruelly treated black girls to bust out. There's also a nod to lesbianism, though not explicitly. Swados cooked up a classic with this incendiary debut, but her rare skills—which even scored her an editorial gig at Time magazine—were never broadly showcased due to a case of cancer that killed her in 1945 when she was only twenty-nine. Way too early for someone who drew comparisons to William Faulkner and Carson McCullers.
Whoever told me Tappa Tappa Ass is the nice guy frat was wrong!
We really should put together a group of frathouse sleaze covers sometime. The pervasive trope in mid-century fiction of educated women somehow still being mere male property is worthy of deeper examination. For instance in this book female characters are literally given away to horny fraternity boys. Of course, there's little we can add to what's already well known: these books were seriously sexist. We still may put together something on this. In the meantime consider Campus Chippies an entry in the collection (along with this example from last year). It comes from Playtime Books, 1964, was written by Monte Steele, author of numerous novels along the same lines, and the cover art is from Robert Bonfils.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1992—Cocaine Baron Escapes Prison
Pablo Emilio Escobar Gaviria, imprisoned leader of the Medellin drug cartel, escapes from a posh Colombian jail known as La Catedral after he learns authorities intend to move him to a real prison. His taste of freedom doesn't last—he's killed in a shootout a year-and-a-half later.
1925—Jury Decides the Teaching of Evolution Is a Crime
In the famous Scopes Monkey Trial, American schoolteacher John Scopes is found guilty of violating the Butler Act, which forbids the teaching of evolution in schools. The sensational trial pits two great legal minds—William Jennings Bryan and Clarence Darrow—against each other. Ultimately, Scopes and Darrow are destined to lose because the case rests on whether Scopes had violated the Act, not whether evolution is fact.
1969—First Humans Reach the Moon
Neil Armstrong and Eugene 'Buzz' Aldrin, Jr. become the first humans to walk on the moon. The third member of the mission, command module Pilot Michael Collins, remains in orbit in Apollo 11.
1972—Chaos in the Big Apple
In New York City, within a span of twenty-four hours, fifty-seven murders are committed.
1944—Hitler Survives Third Assassination Attempt
Adolf Hitler escapes death after a bomb explodes at his headquarters in Rastenberg, East Prussia. A senior officer, Colonel Claus Schenk von Stauffenberg, is blamed for planting the device at a meeting between Hitler and other senior staff members. Hitler sustains minor burns and a concussion but manages to keep an appointment later in the day with Italian leader Benito Mussolini.
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