Always digging up trouble.
We really like this 1944 Dell paperback cover for Dashiell Hammett’s A Man Called Spade. The book contains three Sam Spade stories, plus two other tales. The art is by Gerald Gregg, an illustrator who avoided titillation in his work. While some of his pieces don’t catch the eye the way typical good girl art did, certain pieces—like this one—are really good. The map back by Ruth Belew and four-page Introduction “Meet Sam Spade” by Ellery Queen make this edition highly collectible.
You know, in my country they’re clear-cutting forests at an alarming rate.
Above, Sucked into Sin, written by Curt Aldrich and published by Greenleaf Classics in 1968 for their Companion Books set. Typical sleaze here, with a story revolving around a woman whose husband leaves for Germany on a business trip for three weeks, prompting the horny neighbors to use the time to corrupt her. It doesn’t take much, and within days wifey's letting the whole neighborhood get on it. But what will she tell her husband? The cover artist for this is Ed Smith.
Jean de la Hire’s truth is stranger than fiction.
The French sci-fi novel L’Invisible was written by Jean de La Hire, aka Espié Adolphem, for Éditions Jaeger et Hauteville’s Fantastic series in 1953. The set-up is ingenious here—basically, H.G. Wells’ famous novel The Invisible Man was a disguised factual account, and this book reveals the truth about the man Wells fictionalized. He develops an invisibility potion, uses it to make a fortune, and later faces a choice between continuing on his path or giving it up for love. The cool cover art is by René Brantonne.
But he wasn’t all bad. Before him I had a pimp named Cletus and he was really terrible.
Cough, cough, hack, wheeze. We’re back from oblivion. Above you see the cover of Joe Castro’s Satan Was My Pimp, 1964, from Playtime, with cover art by Robert Bonfils. This is of course one of the great sleaze titles ever.
Hah! That was your last bullet! You’re out! You’re utterly screwed! Now what are you gonna—
On this amusing cover from Graphic Books a surprised P.I. narrowly avoids a serious beaning from a woman who definitely doesn’t want to be his valentine. 1953’s Post-Mark Homicide originally appeared as The Widow Gay in 1950 with the same art, painted by unknown on both editions, sadly. The novel is these days published with the author credited as Arthur A. Marcus. So what happens here? A crooked D.A. needs to recover a set of incriminating letters, hires a studly P.I. to do it, who in turn has to deal with a recently widowed—like, earlier that day—but not exactly grieving gangster’s moll. This pistol-slinging move never worked in the movies, and it doesn’t work here either, but we always love to see it.
Actually, my husband already came home. But don’t worry. Except for getting fresh beers he might as well be in Mongolia until WWE Raw is over.
Above, a nice Tom Miller cover for Suburban Lovers, Jay Carr’s tale of various married suburbanites bedding their neighbors, published 1962, for Monarch. Carr, who was in actuality James P. Duff, must have done okay with this theme, because he also published Crack-Up in Suburbia for Monarch, also in 1962.
For better or worse, in sickness and health, women in pulp don’t have a heck of a lot of choice about it.
Pulp is a place where the men are decisive and the women are as light as feathers. We’ve gotten together a collection of paperback covers featuring women being spirited away to places unknown, usually unconscious, by men and things that are less than men. You have art from Harry Schaare, Saul Levine, Harry Barton, Alain Gourdon, aka Aslan, and others.
, John B. Thompson
, Bernard Mara
, K.H. Helms Liesenhoff
, Bruno Fischer
, Verne Chute
, Jean de la Hire
, Robert O. Saber
, Brett Halliday
, Robert Martin
, John Dickson Carr
, Edgar Rice Burroughs
, Clyde Allison
, Charlotte Armstrong
, Victor Hugo
, Marcus Miller
, Jean Ford
, Mary Roberts Rinehart
, Richard S. Prather
, Saul Levine
, Harry Schaare
, Keith Vining
, Barry Perowne
, Walker A. Tomkins
, Jack Williamson
, Norman Saunders
, George Gross
, Harry Barton
, Alain Gourdon
, cover art
Sweet Homicide? The song is called “Sweet Caroline.” What is this new singer of yours, Vinny, some kind of friggin’ smart aleck?
Bad times never felt so good, so good, so good, especially for an ambitious newspaper reporter investigating a murder in Prohibition-era Chicago. The novel Sing Out Sweet Homicide is a tie-in to the 1960-1962 television series The Roaring 20’s, and you get all the elements here—mobsters, molls, and money by the fistful. The cover art is by Mort Engle.
What a strange country. I was arrested for baring my breasts but called a hero for carrying a gun.
Bersaglio a 5 was published in 1968 by E.P.I./Ottimo as entry fifty in their series Agente Segreto. The title means “Target 5,” and the art by Benedetto Caroselli hits the target too.
Take a walk on the wild side.
Above are three cover treatments for Sugar-Puss on Dorchester Street, written by Al Palmer, and first published in 1949 (many sources say 1950, but Palmer’s current day publisher Véhicule Press says 1949). Sugar-Puss was set in Montreal in the debauched red light district centered around Dorchester Street (now René Lévesque Boulevard), and spiced with firsthand observations from Palmer, who was a night-crawling columnist for the Montreal Herald and later the Montreal Gazette. His main character, Gisele Lepine, leaves her small farming town, is swept up in bright lights and big city, and pulled into various dramas involving a newspaper man, a cabaret owner, drug-dealers, and chorus girls. Gisele’s situation soon devolves, bringing her up-close and personal with organized crime, murder, and white slavery (always, in mid-century novels, taken to be somehow worse than mere slavery). The novel was Palmer’s only one, but it has managed to endure among collectors, maybe because it has possibly the best title ever. He also wrote a city expose entitled Montreal Confidential. We like all three of these covers, but even if the first two seem of higher quality, with their splashes of purple and yellow, we think version three manages to capture a feeling of loneliness and alienation. The top piece is by Syd Dyke, the middle one by D. Rickard, and the last is by unknown.
, Montreal Gazette
, Montreal Herald
, Sugar-Puss on Dorchester Street
, Montreal Undercover
, Al Palmer
, Syd Dyke
, D. Rickard
, cover art
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1922—Challenge to Women's Voting Rights Rebuffed
In the United States, a conservative legal challenge to the nineteenth amendment to the U.S. Constitution establishing voting rights for women is rebuffed by the Supreme Court in Leser v. Garnett. The challenge was based partly on the idea of individual "states rights" to self determination. The failure of such reasoning as it applied to basic human rights created a framework for later states rights losses involving the denial of voting rights to African-Americans.
1917—First Jazz Record Is Made
In New Orleans, The Original Dixieland Jass Band records the first ever jazz record for the Victor Talking Machine Company in New York. The band was frequently billed as the "Creators of Jazz", but in reality all the members had previously played in the Papa Jack Laine bands, a group of racially mixed performers who helped form the basis of Dixieland while playing under bandleader George Laine.
1947—Prussia Ceases To Exist
The centuries-old state of Prussia, which had been a great European power under the reign of Frederick the Great during the 1800s, and a major influence on German culture, ceases to exist when it is dissolved by the post-WWII Allied Control Council comprised of the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union.
1964—Clay Beats Liston
Heavyweight boxer Cassius Clay, aged 22, becomes champion of the world after beating Sonny Liston, aka the Dark Destroyer, in one of the biggest upsets in boxing history. It would be the beginning of a storied and controversial career for Clay, who would announce to the world shortly after the fight that he had changed his name to Muhammad Ali.
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