Vintage Pulp Jul 18 2022
PSYCHEDELIC METAL
The Metal Monster is science fiction as a mind-altering trip.

We usually read novels from the ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s, but we took a trip to the heart of the pulp era with Abraham Merritt's The Metal Monster, which made its first appearance as a serial in Argosy All-Story Weekly in 1920. The above paperback came in 1946 from Avon Publications' Murder Mystery Monthly #41, and has cover art by the always interesting Paul Stahr, who worked extensively with Avon during this period. You can click his keywords at bottom and see all four of the covers by him we have in the website. There are also interesting covers by other artists on later editions of The Metal Monster. We'll try to show you a couple of those later.
 
In Merritt's tale, four explorers travel into an uncharted Himalayan valley and subsequently are trapped by what lives in the area—Persian soldiers seemingly stuck in time, or whose traditions have gone unchanged for two thousand years. There's something else in the valley too—a shimmering goddess creature named Norhala and her metal swarm, which is usually a blizzard of small geometrical shapes, but can collect into forms as needed, for example a towering monster with six whiplike arms that scythe through the ranks of the Persians, ripping them to shreds. While Norhala has some control over the swarm, we later learn that the creatures came from the stars, feed on sunlight, and eventually eradicate biological life on every planet they colonize. So that's not good.
 
Merritt's prose brings to mind H.P. Lovecraft, because he similarly tasks himself with describing the indescribable. Lovecraft fans know what that means—the creatures in his mythos are so mindbending as to drive humans insane merely to gaze upon them. Lovecraft challenged himself to describe those beings, and much of the horror in his writing derives from those attempts. But he sometimes took his built-in escape hatch too, ultimately saying the creatures simply were so inhuman they couldn't be described. Merritt faces the same challenge, and in his descriptions usually manages to be vivid yet vague:
 
Where the azure globe had been, flashed out a disk of flaming splendors, the very secret soul of flowered flame! And simultaneously the pyramids leaped up and out behind it—two gigantic, four rayed stars blazing with cold blue fires. The green auroral curtainings flared out, ran with streaming radiance—as though some spirt of jewels had broken bonds of enchantment and burst forth jubilant, flooding the shaft with its freed glories.
 
The tale is filled with psychedelia like the example above, though it does get more concrete in parts, like here:
 
[They] lifted themselves in a thousand incredible shapes, shapes squared and globed and spiked and shifting swiftly into other thousands as incredible. I saw a mass of them draw themselves up into the likeness of a tent skyscraper high; hang so for an instant, then writhe into a monstrous chimera of a dozen towering legs that strode away like a gigantic headless and bodiless tarantula in steps two hundred feet long. I watched mile-long lines of them shape and reshape into circles, into interlaced lozenges and pentagons—then lift in great columns and shoot through the air in unimaginable barrage.
 
Honestly, all these hyper-detailed descriptions get tedious at times, as does the pervasive incredulity of Merritt's narrator Dr. Walter T. Goodwin. We get that he's dumbfounded, but the human mind has an amazing capacity to normalize that which it sees constantly, therefore we'd prefer if Goodwin weren't repeatedly floored by everything he encounters. That way, when he finally learns what form the metal swarm actually takes—that of a vast city—we readers can finally be truly amazed. However, when we think of The Metal Monster as an Argosy serial circa 1920, it's visionary, and we imagine it must have been intensely gripping. Merritt may merit more exploration.
diggfacebookstumbledelicious

Vintage Pulp Jul 7 2022
WITNESS FOR THE EXECUTION
When you promise to carry a secret to the grave make sure nobody takes you literally.


We didn't know Robert L. Pike's Mute Witness was the source material for the film classic Bullitt when we picked it up, but indeed it is. In the book the main character is named Clancy not Bullitt, and the lead villain is named Rossi not Ross, but the central idea remains—a mob turncoat figures out a clever way to escape free and clean from his employers by using the police as unwitting accomplices. We checked online and someone was selling the first edition hardback of this for $2,000. To which we say dream on. While Mute Witness is a notable book because of the movie it spawned, it isn't a particularly brilliant one. Solid, we'd say. Entertaining. Fast paced. But it also has lines like, “Clancy felt the old familiar tingle run along his spine like barefoot mice,” as if mice usually wear stiletto heels. But as far as it being a fun read, the requirement was met. We recommend it. It was originally published in 1963, with this edition from Avon coming in 1966 with Ron Lesser cover art.

diggfacebookstumbledelicious

Vintage Pulp Apr 6 2022
READY, WILLY AND ABLE
It's about time you got here Clarence Joe—I'm like to die of desperation.


We can't tell you for sure, since Jack Houston's 1952 novel Waiting for Willy dates from well before were born, but we suspect “willy” was a slang term for penis even back then. We think so only because we keep finding what we thought were contemporary slang terms in these old books. We wish we'd thought before now to make a list. You'd be surprised. Apart from some hip-hop expressions—and even including many of those—the slang already existed and was used in the same context. Of course, authors often borrowed terminology from early- and mid-century African American vernacular, which makes the whole process circular, sort of. We'll wait for a comprehensive study on the subject from you linguists out there, and as the cover shows, anticipation is the best part. The art on this is by George Erickson, who you can see more of by clicking his keywords below. 

diggfacebookstumbledelicious

Vintage Pulp Feb 20 2022
THE NIGHT IS LOOKING UP
Well, well. I never really believed the stories, yet here you are in the flesh—the fifty foot woman.


Above: interesting perspective and wonderful execution from artist Fred Irvin for Avon Publications' 1957 paperback edition of Peter Cheyney's 1944 novel Dark Street Murders, aka The Dark Street. Other sites have this cover as unattributed, but we're sure it's Irvin. His signature is dim, but visible. We grabbed one from another piece of his for confirmation.

diggfacebookstumbledelicious

Vintage Pulp Nov 1 2021
GENERALLY PEEKING
Focus on the job. Eyes forward. Carry and walk. Walk and— Shit! Visually stripped her again.


This cover for Paul Cain's long neglected but rediscovered pulp classic Fast One fronts the 1952 edition of the book, the second printing, following up the 1948 first paperback edition we showed you a few years ago. This was painted by Victor Olson. The book is interesting, well worth a read, as we describe at this link

diggfacebookstumbledelicious

Vintage Pulp Oct 27 2021
CHANGING HER TUNE
It's not short for Louanne. It's short for Louis. She went to one of those fancy clinics. And I gotta say they did a beautiful job.


This is an interesting nightclub style cover painted by Victor Olson for Donald Henderson Clarke's A Lady Named Lou. It would be amazing if it were actually about an entertainer who began life as a male, like mid-century trailblazers Coccinelle, Abby Sinclair, or Roxanne Alegria (if you've followed Pulp Intl. for a while you know we've written about all three—links supplied). In any case, the book is actually about a woman named, not Louanne or Louis, but Lulu Finn, who tries to make it big but marries a racketeer and gets into heaps of trouble. The cover blurb makes reference to her specialty, and you may be wondering what that is. Lulu has that intangible quality that makes people believe she can dance brilliantly, though she can't, and sing like a thrush, though she's average at best, and converse like a great wit, though she's not that bright. In short, Lulu is a woman who manages to fail upward, but—unlike in the hundreds of real world examples out there—only for a while before it falls apart. This was originally published in 1946 in hardback, with this Avon paperback coming in 1952. 

diggfacebookstumbledelicious

Vintage Pulp Aug 18 2021
AGONIZING DESIRE
What she thinks is written all over her face.


Above is an uncredited 1951 cover for The Agony Column by Earl Derr Biggers, a book we read a couple of years ago solely because of its strange title. It was originally published in 1916, turned out to be a sort of romance rather than the thriller we expected, and taught us that big city newspaper sections where people wrote anonymously to other readers were called “agony columns.” Example: “Dear Pulp Intl. girlfriends. Don't you know I'd treat you better than those two glib losers? I'm funnier than those guys too. Anonymous admirer.” To which we'd reply, for example, you'd better stay anonymous, or we'll teach what agony really is. You can read what we wrote about the book here.

diggfacebookstumbledelicious

Vintage Pulp Jun 29 2021
MAY JUST HAPPEN
I gather there are some doubts about me, so let me clear those up. Georgie will. Every time.


This is a cheery cover for Maxwell Bodenheim's Georgie May, which is actually a mostly dark story about a prostitute trying to survive in the pre-Depression American south. The art is uncredited. Bodenheim was a literary light in his prime years, but he isn't widely known today, though his books remain in circulation. During his turbulent life he became destitute, was homeless, panhandled for cash, and finally was infamously the victim of a double murder along with his much younger wife in 1954. Maybe we'll get back to that story a bit later. Georgie May was originally published in 1928, with this Avon edition coming in 1948. 

diggfacebookstumbledelicious

Vintage Pulp Jun 16 2021
WATERY PROOF
You can't keep a dead man down.


Ann Cantor once again does excellent brushwork, this time with a sinister cover for Avon Publications and the 1949 novel Night Cry by William Stuart. We talked about this one a while back. It's the story of a cop who kills a suspect, does to the body what you see in the art, then struggles to keep proof of his crime concealed. It's an atmospheric tale capped with an unexpected ending. We haven't watched the movie based on it, the 1950 film noir Where the Sidewalk Ends, but we'll get to it. See more art from Cantor here and here,

diggfacebookstumbledelicious

Vintage Pulp May 15 2021
GAME STOP
Alarms, security, police... As a master jewel thief I thought I'd considered every possible obstacle. Just goes to show.


This Avon Publications cover for The Deadly Game by Norman Daniels was painted by Bob Abbett. The book has a promising premise, though there's no nude that interrupts a safe cracking. The story concerns a high society jewel thief who's being constantly dogged by a determined police detective, and who decides to get revenge by bedding the cop's wife, then, for good measure, implicating her in his next heist. It's revenge to the nth degree—cuckold the cop, further humiliate him by succeeding with the crime, then railroad his wife to prison. We're talking cruel. Too bad this one is undone by substandard writing. But it wasn't bad enough to stop us from sticking with it until the end and finding out how it all resolved. If you find it for five bucks or less, it's probably worth taking the plunge.

diggfacebookstumbledelicious

Next Page
History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
September 29
1916—Rockefeller Breaks the Billion Barrier
American industrialist John D. Rockefeller becomes America's first billionaire. His Standard Oil Company had gained near total control of the U.S. petroleum market until being broken up by anti-trust legislators in 1911. Afterward, Rockefeller used his fortune mainly for philanthropy, and had a major effect on medicine, education, and scientific research.
September 28
1941—Williams Bats .406
Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox finishes the Major League Baseball season with a batting average of .406. He is the last player to bat .400 or better in a season.
September 27
1964—Warren Commission Issues Report
The Warren Commission, which had been convened to examine the circumstances of John F. Kennedy's assassination, releases its final report, which concludes that Lee Harvey Oswald, acting alone, killed Kennedy. Today, up to 81% of Americans are troubled by the official account of the assassination.
Featured Pulp
japanese themed aslan cover
cure bootleg by aslan
five aslan fontana sleeves
aslan trio for grand damier
ASLAN Harper Lee cover
ASLAN COVER FOr Dekobra
Four Aslan Covers for Parme

Reader Pulp
It's easy. We have an uploader that makes it a snap. Use it to submit your art, text, header, and subhead. Your post can be funny, serious, or anything in between, as long as it's vintage pulp. You'll get a byline and experience the fleeting pride of free authorship. We'll edit your post for typos, but the rest is up to you. Click here to give us your best shot.

Pulp Covers
Pulp art from around the web
https://noah-stewart.com/2018/07/23/a-brief-look-at-michael-gilbert/ trivialitas.square7.ch/au-mcbain/mcbain.htm
theringerfiles.blogspot.com/2018/11/death-for-sale-henry-kane.html lasestrellassonoscuras.blogspot.com/2017/08/la-dama-del-legado-de-larry-kent-acme.html
lasestrellassonoscuras.blogspot.com/2019/03/fuga-las-tinieblas-de-gil-brewer-malinca.html canadianfly-by-night.blogspot.com/2019/03/harlequin-artists-xl.html
Pulp Advertising
Things you'd love to buy but can't anymore
PulpInternational.com Vintage Ads
trueburlesque.blogspot.com
pre-code.com
schlockmania.com
carrefouretrange.tumblr.com
eiga.wikia.com
www.daarac.org
www.jmdb.ne.jp
theoakdrivein.blogspot.com
spyvibe.blogspot.com
zomboscloset.typepad.com
jailhouse41.tumblr.com
mrpeelsardineliqueur.blogspot.com
trash-fuckyou.tumblr.com
filmstarpostcards.blogspot.com
www.easternkicks.com
moscasdemantequilla.wordpress.com
filmnoirfoundation.tumblr.com
pour15minutesdamour.blogspot.com
www.pulpcurry.com
mundobocado.blogspot.com
greenleaf-classics-books.com
aligemker-books.blogspot.com
bullesdejapon.fr
bolsilibrosblog.blogspot.com
thelastdrivein.com
derangedlacrimes.com
www.shocktillyoudrop.com
www.thesmokinggun.com
www.deadline.com
www.truecrimelibrary.co.uk
www.weirdasianews.com
salmongutter.blogspot.com
www.glamourgirlsofthesilverscreen.com
creepingirrelevance.tumblr.com
www.cinemaretro.com
menspulpmags.com
killercoversoftheweek.blogspot.com
About Email Legal RSS RSS Tabloid Femmes Fatales Hollywoodland Intl. Notebook Mondo Bizarro Musiquarium Politique Diabolique Sex Files Sportswire