Vintage Pulp Apr 27 2015
MINIMUM WAGE
It could be worse, I guess—I could be working at Wal-Mart.

Georges Arnaud’s 1952 thriller Le salaire de la peur, aka The Wages of Fear has one of the great set-ups in literary history—four desperate men agree to drive two truckloads of nitroglycerine through the treacherous Guatemalan mountains to where it’s needed to put out an oil well fire. Mud, rain, potholes, steep inclines, hairpin turns, and fallen boulders are bad enough on their own, but for men strapped into rolling bombs each of these is a deadly test of both luck and nerves. Arnaud’s masterpiece sold more than two million copies worldwide, which is why if you seek out a vintage copy you’ll find many versions, including this Corgi edition from 1960 with uncredited but excellent cover art. This book has always resonated for us because we lived in Guatemala for two years, which made it mandatory reading. But you’ll appreciate it even if you’ve never been there. 

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Vintage Pulp Apr 24 2015
HIGH DIVE
Get back in here you lunatic! You’ll wake the neighbors screaming on the way down.

Above, Robert Bonfils at his best, with cover art for Wanton D.O.A. written for Greenleaf Classics’ Leisure imprint by Andrew Shay, 1964.

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Vintage Pulp Apr 20 2015
FLASHY ASHLEY
Help you drag him to the car? Are you high or did you simply not notice that my dress is Givenchy?

The artist isn’t credited, but what a great femme fatale on this cover for The Deadly Miss Ashley, authored by Stephen Ransome as the first entry in his Schyler Cole and Luke Speare detective series (gotta love those names). In this one Miss Ashley is actually a missing person who Cole and Speare need to locate. The book was originally published in 1950 in the U.S. under the writer’s real name Frederick C. Davis, with this Panther Books edition appearing in England in 1959.

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Vintage Pulp Apr 16 2015
HANGING IN THERE
Okay, okay, I owe you five bucks—you can do more pull-ups than me.

John Richards offers up striking cover art for UK imprint Corgi Books’ edition of Bill S. Ballinger’s The Longest Second. The story concerns a man who wakes up in a hospital bed with amnesia and a slashed throat who must go about finding his identity and situation. Unable to speak, and with no way to tell who is friend or foe, he digs for clues. He discovers his name is Vic Pacific, he was found naked save for his shoes—one of which contained a thousand dollar bill—and things just get weirder from there. Two women quickly become involved, but one of them… well, she ends up hanging around a bit too long. The Longest Second was originally published in 1957, was nominated for an Edgar Award in 1958, and the Corgi edition above is from 1960. It’s considered one of Ballinger’s best. 

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Vintage Pulp Apr 15 2015
H TOWN
Needle and threat.

A Taste of H is supposed to be a cautionary tale, but of course coming from the author of Swap ’n Sisters, Whore from Maupin Street, and Hotel Playgirls, it’s really just a sleaze romp. Basically, a party girl is kidnapped and forcibly addicted to heroin so her captors can have their way with her. The cover art is uncredited. 1966 copyright.

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Vintage Pulp Apr 12 2015
LEGALLY BOND
Bond—James Bond. But Jimmy is fine. Some people call me Jim, Jimbo, J-Man, J.B. My mom calls me Jimminy Cricket. I’m cool with whatever.

The story is well known—Popular Library insisted upon changing the title of Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale to what you see above. They even went so far as to call 007 “Jimmy Bond” on the rear cover blurb. Fleming retaliated by selling the U.S. publishing rights to Signet at first opportunity, leaving only a small run of very collectible copies of You Asked For It on the market. Fleming must have learned from the episode, though, that titles don’t really matter, because he later wrote Chitty-Chitty Bang Bang: The Magical Car. Anyway, You Asked for It appeared in 1955, with unsigned and uncredited cover art. The blog Killer Covers has a bit more info about the book here

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Vintage Pulp Apr 4 2015
BRING ME A DAIQUIRI
You’re going to have fun on this vacation or you’re in serious trouble, do you hear me buster?


We managed to sneak this one in, but like we said above, we’re on vacation now. The Pulp Intl. girlfriends insisted. And by insisted we mean that after years of reading the website they’ve learned to use violent means to get their way. 1959 on this cover, incidentally. 

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Vintage Pulp Apr 3 2015
CHOKE AND DAGGER
Please don’t! *gasp* I’ll tip more! I’ll rate you a 10 on the hotel evaluation form! *wheeze* Really! Let me get a pen!

Above, an unusually violent but very effective cover from Oliver Brabbins for Manning O’Brine’s Dagger Before Me, Corgi Books. If you look out the window you see that the novel is set somewhere in the East. At a glance we would have guessed Istanbul, but it turns out to be Cairo and Damascus, with spies, agents, murder, and mayhem, 1958. 

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Vintage Pulp Apr 2 2015
FEDERAL CASES
Need the FBI? Talk to ERP.

FBI Fichiers Secrets was a series of crime novels published in France by Rome-based Editions ERP during the early 1960s. The authors’ names are all pseudonyms—the books were really written by guys like Pino Belli, Aldo Crudo, Gualberto Titta, Nino Giannini, Gianfranco Parolini, and others. Above you see ten covers with top art from Mario Ferrari. You can see more masterworks from Ferrari here, here, and here

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Vintage Pulp Mar 30 2015
THAT DARN CAT
Okay, okay, I get it—you refuse to eat the dry food.

llustrator Denis McLoughlin had a seven-decade career during which he produced close to 800 paperback covers and dust jackets. His front for Nancy Rutledge’s, aka Leigh Bryson’s, Blood on the Cat is one of more unusual efforts you’ll see. It depicts the moment a small town newspaper editor finds that his cat Smoky has tracked blood into the house. A search outside turns up not the expected disemboweled unfortunate from lower on the feline food chain, but a beautiful woman passed out in a blood-splattered car. The mystery races onward from there, with suspects that include the town librarian, the bookish schoolmarm, a rich man’s disinherited son, and numerous other smallville types. Blood on the Cat was published initially in 1946, with this Boardman paperback appearing in the UK in 1950. 

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
April 28
1947—Heyerdahl Embarks on Kon-Tiki
Norwegian ethnographer and adventurer Thor Heyerdahl and his five man crew set out from Peru on a giant balsa wood raft called the Kon-Tiki in order to prove that Peruvian natives could have settled Polynesia. After a 101 day, 4,300 mile (8,000 km) journey, Kon-Tiki smashes into the reef at Raroia in the Tuamotu Islands on August 7, 1947, thus demonstrating that it is possible for a primitive craft to survive a Pacific crossing.
1989—Soviets Acknowledge Chernobyl Accident
After two days of rumors and denials the Soviet Union admits there was an accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine. Reactor number four had suffered a meltdown, sending a plume of radioactive fallout into the atmosphere and over an extensive geographical area. Today the abandoned radioactive area surrounding Chernobyl is rife with local wildlife and has been converted into a wildlife sanctuary, one of the largest in Europe.
April 27
1945—Mussolini Is Arrested
Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, his mistress Clara Petacci, and fifteen supporters are arrested by Italian partisans in Dongo, Italy while attempting to escape the region in the wake of the collapse of Mussolini's fascist government. The next day, Mussolini and his mistress are both executed, along with most of the members of their group. Their bodies are then trucked to Milan where they are hung upside down on meathooks from the roof of a gas station, then spat upon and stoned until they are unrecognizable.
April 26
1933—The Gestapo Is Formed
The Geheime Staatspolizei, aka Gestapo, the official secret police force of Nazi Germany, is established. It begins under the administration of SS leader Heinrich Himmler in his position as Chief of German Police, but by 1939 is administered by the Reichssicherheitshauptamt, or Reich Main Security Office, and is a feared entity in every corner of Germany and beyond.
1937—Guernica Is Bombed
In Spain during the Spanish Civil War, the Basque town of Guernica is bombed by the German Luftwaffe, resulting in widespread destruction and casualties. The Basque government reports 1,654 people killed, while later research suggests far fewer deaths, but regardless, Guernica is viewed as an example of terror bombing and other countries learn that Nazi Germany is committed to that tactic. The bombing also becomes inspiration for Pablo Picasso, resulting in a protest painting that is not only his most famous work, but one the most important pieces of art ever produced.

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