Formal occasions in Mogadishu are murder.
Jef de Wulf works in a somewhat different mode with this cover illustration for Roger Vlatimo's, née Roger Vilatimo's 1963 spy novel Terreur en Somalie. His art is usually quite spare, often with a lot of negative space, but here he's produced something chaotic that fills the frame and draws the eye to various elements—gun, lipstick, a splash of color that gives the impression of flames, and of course the snake. The contrast with his work at its cleanest is stark. Look here or here to see what we mean.
Vlatimo wrote a stack of spy capers set in exotic places like Morocco, Iran, Turkey, and Vietnam. He also wrote a series as Youcef Khader, and those all starred a franchise character, Algerian special agent Mourad Saber. Additionally, Vlatimo wrote as Jean Lafay, Tim Oger, Roger Vlim, and Gil Darcy, which was a pseudonym invented by Georges J. Arnaud and used by several authors. Vlatimo's books were quite popular and some are even available today as e-books, which is the surest sign of success we can imagine. Vlatimo, though, died back in 1980.
What do you mean my squirming is throwing off your aim? Screw you! I hate this idea! When do we switch places?
French illustrator Jef de Wulf painted so many covers for Editions de l'Arabesque that he was almost an in-house employee, and here we see him again on the art chores for Paul S. Nouvel's 1960 thriller Crapahut. You also see the original art, and can see the hole left for the publisher's logo, because why waste paint when you don't have to? Crapahut, of course, translates into English as “outhouse.” Actually, that's not correct. We don't know what crapahut means. We think it's a place. A place you can smell from miles away.
Update: We got two answers on this, the first from Jo:
About the book named Crapahut, I can tell you it's a soldier's training, very hard and difficult. It's a slang word used first by military people (warrior's path?). You can use it also to speak about a long and difficult hiking in the mountains without any military sense.
The second answer came from Jean-Marie:
«Crapahut» from military slang, we have the verb «crapahuter» that means: walk, during war or battle if possible… with haversack very heavy, with arms, with enemy all around, into jungle, for 5, 10, 20 kilometers. Very hard. «Ha! qu’est-ce qu’on a crapahuté avant d’arriver à Danang,,, »
Thanks, Jo and Jean-Marie. Another mystery solved.
I won! I knew I would once they restricted track and field to beautiful French actresses! Eat my dust Anouk Aimée!
Catherine Deneuve absolutely flew in this race. It wasn't nearly as close as the art makes it look. Espions!.. à vos marques was written by Paul S. Nouvel, aka Jean-Michel Sorel, and published in 1964 by Éditions de l'Araesque. The cover is unsigned, but it's probably by Jef de Wulf. If we get more info we'll update this. We can't wait for the triple jump. Hopefully, Catherine will win that too.
Sing? Are you serious? I can barely breathe in this outfit.
We never want to go too long without an offering from the great French pin-up and paperback artist Alain Gourdon, aka Aslan, so above we have his cover for Macadam Sérénade, a thriller written by Paul S. Nouvel for Éditions de l'Arabesque. Nouvel was a pseudonym. The man behind it was French journalist/author/translator/editor Jean-Michel Sorel, who also wrote as Larry Layne, Arnold Rodin, Silvio Sereno, Tugdual Marech, Jan Mychel, Jean-Michel, Yvon Brozonech, Swani Abdul Hamid (we love that one), and many other identities. In all he produced more than one-hundred forty novels—and probably could have squeezed in a couple more if he hadn't been so busy thinking of pen names. 1955 on this.
You can check in any time you like.
Moving away from the hard-boiled for a moment, here’s a beautiful cover for Nina Antony’s L’hôtel des chimères, aka Hotel of Chimeras, 1960, from Editions de L’Arabesque’s collection Colorama. As you probably know by now, Antony was a pseudonym, because that’s just what French authors did. This time the owner is an author named Jeannine Rubia who also wrote under Cora del Rio and possibly other names. Another version of L’hôtel des chimères appeared with different cover art, but this breezy effort from Jef de Wulf is sublime.
Would you believe her name is Svetlana Carrunova?
Above, a very cool Éditions de l’Arabesque cover for Dick Barnett’s, aka Georges Heil’s, 1967 thriller Nettoyage par le vide, volume 367 of the publisher’s long running Collection Espionnage. Nettoyage par le vide means “vacuum cleaning,” which we suppose is how they’ll scrape the ballerina off the pavement once she’s flattened by that sedan. She isn’t named Carrunova, by the way, but it’d be better if she were. The art is by Jef de Wulf, who apparently despised the ballet. See more of his work by clicking his keywords below.
If they were trying to avoid being remembered, they quite possibly succeeded.
Above is cover art for Nikou Dobry’s La griffe du démon, aka The Devil’s Claw, published 1956 for Editions de l’Arabesque’s Parme collection. Dobry published several other books, but it’s likely the name was a pseudonym. With these French pulp writers, that’s often the case. One website suggests Dobry was a person named Pruneyrol, but we got zero hits on that name, so a real identification may be hoping for too much. And the art? It’s signed simply M. Boero. With all the false and incomplete identities surrounding French mid-century literature, you’d almost think they were ashamed of their work, but remember that American authors played the same tricks. For instance, sleaze pulps were often written by moonlighting popular authors. The same is probably true with the French. But we will keep digging, and eventually we will unmask them.
Crazy legs Peck gets a lower body transplant.
As long as we’re on the subject of Stanley Donen movies, here are two one-sheets painted by Robert McGinnis for the 1966 caper Arabesque, starring Gregory Peck and the great Sophia Loren. Donen was trying to capture the mod magic of his earlier feature Charade, which had starred Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant. We can’t say he fully succeeded there, but he did make an adventure romance full of joie de vivre that’s well worth seeing. The two posters differ in one fascinating aspect—Gregory Peck’s lower body has been transplanted in the bottom version. We know the dancing pose at top was the original, but we think the upright stance in the re-do is an improvement, as is the cool magenta background. It’s killer art for a killer flick, and we recommend you check it out.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1916—Einstein Publishes General Relativity
German-born theoretical physicist Albert Einstein publishes his general theory of relativity. Among the effects of the theory are phenomena such as the curvature of space-time, the bending of rays of light in gravitational fields, faster than light universe expansion, and the warping of space time around a rotating body.
1931—Nevada Approves Gambling
In the U.S., the state of Nevada passes a resolution allowing for legalized gambling. Unregulated gambling had been commonplace in the early Nevada mining towns, but was outlawed in 1909 as part of a nationwide anti-gaming crusade. The leading proponents of re-legalization expected that gambling would be a short term fix until the state's economic base widened to include less cyclical industries. However, gaming proved over time to be one of the least cyclical industries ever conceived.
1941—Tuskegee Airmen Take Flight
During World War II, the 99th Pursuit Squadron, aka the Tuskegee Airmen, is activated. The group is the first all-black unit of the Army Air Corp, and serves with distinction in Africa, Italy, Germany and other areas. In March 2007 the surviving airmen and the widows of those who had died received Congressional Gold Medals for their service.
1906—First Airplane Flight in Europe
Romanian designer Traian Vuia flies twelve meters outside Paris in a self-propelled airplane, taking off without the aid of tractors or cables, and thus becomes the first person to fly a self-propelled, heavier-than-air aircraft. Because his craft was not a glider, and did not need to be pulled, catapulted or otherwise assisted, it is considered by some historians to be the first true airplane.
1965—Leonov Walks in Space
Soviet cosmonaut Aleksei Leonov leaves his spacecraft the Voskhod 2 for twelve minutes. At the end of that time Leonov's spacesuit had inflated in the vacuum of space to the point where he could not re-enter Voskhod's airlock. He opened a valve to allow some of the suit's pressure to bleed off, was barely able to get back inside the capsule, and in so doing became the first person to complete a spacewalk.
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