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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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,
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.
It's not just your eyes or your lips that thrill me. It's the entirety of your head.
Above, an amusing cover for 1954's Forbidden by Leo Brattes, painted by an unknown artist. Brattes was a pseudonym for Leslie Raddatz, and this seems to have been his/her only book.
Crook and cop play hide and seek in Maurice Procter's Brit crime thriller.
1954's Murder Somewhere in This City by Maurice Procter was originally published as Somewhere in This City, and it turns out it was the source material for a movie we saw last year called Hell Is a City. We didn't know that when we started the book. We just liked the cover (which it turns out is uncredited). The plot deals with a criminal and cop who have been enemies for so long their feud is personal. A robbery, a kidnapping, and a murder pit them against each other for what both suspect will be the decisive last time. But the cop has to actually find his nemesis, who's in hiding somewhere in the big city, making plans, achieving objectives, laying groundwork for his final escape overseas. The plot began to seem familiar pretty quickly, and no wonder the movie was good, because the book is too. Procter writes an entertaining story that is part detective procedural, part heist thriller, and part domestic drama. The film tracks it closely, which means you can find out more about the novel at our write-up on the movie here. |
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1958—Workers Assemble First Corvette
Workers at a Chevrolet plant in Flint, Michigan, assemble the first Corvette, a two-seater sports car that would become an American icon. The first completed production car rolls off the assembly line two days later, one of just 300 Corvettes made that year.
1950—U.S. Decides To Fight in Korea
After years of border tensions on the partitioned Korean peninsula, U.S. President Harry Truman orders U.S. air and sea forces to help the South Korean regime repel an invasion by the North. Soon the U.S. is embroiled in a war that lasts until 1953 and results in a million combat dead and at least two million civilian deaths, with no measurable gains for either side.
1936—First Helicopter Flight
In Berlin, Germany, in a sports stadium, Ewald Rohlfs takes the Focke-Wulf Fw 61 on its first flight. It is the first fully-controllable helicopter, featuring two counter rotating rotors mounted on the chassis of a training aircraft. Only two are ever produced, and neither survive today.
1963—John F. Kennedy Visits Berlin
22 months after East Germany erects the Berlin Wall as a barrier to prevent movement between East and West Berlin, John F. Kennedy visits West Berlin and speaks the famous words "Ich bin ein Berliner." Suggestions that Kennedy misspoke and in reality called himself a jelly donut are untrue.
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