Vintage Pulp Aug 31 2023
DRESS FOR SUCCESS
Well, you both meet the basic requirements, but a job like this also hinges on having a big personality.


It's been a couple of years since we featured paperback illustrator Gene Bilbrew, so above you see a piece he painted for Hugo Paul's novel Topless Waitress, from Chevron Books in 1967. Paul allegedly wrote as many as 700 sleaze novels under more than forty pseudonyms. That level of output usually makes for rushed and mediocre final results, which was worry enough, along with a thirty dollar price tag, for us to pass on this book. Then we found an electronic copy going for virtually nothing, took the leap, and found ourselves reading the tale of Jody Moran, virginal and headed toward marriage, and her mother Marian, far from virginal and headed toward divorce.

The heart attack death of their father/husband followed by financial need brought on by a business scam sends mother and daughter into the San Francisco nightclub scene, with mom eventually taking a job as the topless waitress of the title, and daughter becoming a topless “a-go-go dancer” in the same club. Along the way they deal with many opportunistic men, including one nightclub owner who manages to bed down both women, pitting them as rivals. Does decadent San Francisco ruin the pair? We won't say. They're sufficiently taken advantage of to satisfy prurient readers. Paul goes lyrical rather than graphic with his sex scenes, which is fine we guess. He's a competent storyteller. In the end, though, we wouldn't say Topless Waitress is anything more than a typical mid-century sleaze novel built on various sexual (and a few sexist) tropes.

The cover art, on the other hand, is far from typical. It features one of Bilbrew's more striking scenes, with his trademark pneumatic women and almost comic book-style execution. He had a singular vision—clearly, considering one woman has a beehive and the other a bucket hat—and was, significantly, one of the only black paperback illustrators during the mid-century period. Since we've seen books with his art go for a hundred dollars, pricewise thirty is actually okay, even enticing, if we were inclined to resell one day. But somehow we never get around to reselling, so we think the cheap e-book route was a good decision. You can see more Bilbrew by clicking here.

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Vintage Pulp Apr 12 2021
OVERDUE BIL'
Better late than never is our motto around here.


We're finally getting back to paperback artist Gene Bilbrew, whose odd style, with its scantily clad women and their muscular butts has become collectible in recent years. We didn't get it at first, but like a lot of art, once you're exposed to it regularly you begin to appreciate its unique qualities. There's clear intent in Bilbrew's work, a deliberate attempt to approach illustration from a different angle, and we've grown to understand that his cartoonish, chaotic, often humorous, and often bondage themed aesthetic is purposeful. In fact, his imagery has become so intertwined with the bdsm scene that in 2019 the National Leather Association International established an award named after Bilbrew for creators of animated erotic art. While it's not exactly a Pulitzer Prize, the point is that Bilbrew's bizarre visions keep gaining wider acceptance. So for that reason we've put together another group of his paperback fronts. You can see more of them here, here, and here, and you can see a few rare oddities here, here, and here.

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Vintage Pulp Feb 3 2017
SHARING THE LOAD
You know, I don't see any reason why I can't appoint both of you secretary of human services.

In case you're wondering, human services is an actual function of the U.S. government. The department is called Health and Human Services, and there's no healthier human service than sex. You can guess the plot of 1967's Lust Candidate without too much trouble. An honest politician squares off for a governorship against a slick media star, while all sorts of craziness goes on behind the scenes with wives, mistresses, and a hot young stepdaughter.

We love the art. It's often attributed to John Duillo, but Doug at the (now mostly defunct) blog whatgetsmehot suspected Elaine Duillo was behind this one, and back in 2010 sent an image of the cover to her. The answer she gave was revealing. Apparently, she painted the blonde on the right because the people at Chevron Books didn't didn't like the figure the first artist had produced. “They asked me to paint the blonde again. Then they stripped it in and paid me well to do this for them.”

To our eyes it looks like one artist wielded the brush here, but we presume Elaine Duillo knows her own work. We also presume she knows whether she replaced her husband's work, so it looks like those John Duillo attributions could be wrong. We'll put this in the two-thirds-unknown bin for now. That's a new bin, but there you go.

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Vintage Pulp Feb 24 2016
SOMETHING BREWING
He cooked up a different formula for paperback art.
 
Gene Bilbrew is one of those illustrators whose art seems at first glance below the usual standard, but he had a strong style, and the more you look at it the more you see it as the purposeful product of a unique talent. Like the work of leftfield illustrator Eric Stanton, Bilbrew's paintings eschew realism of any sort and instead strive to catch the eye, achieving the ultimate goal of commercial art. Check out the assortment below. 
 
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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
April 12
1945—Franklin Roosevelt Dies
U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt dies of a cerebral hemorrhage while sitting for a portrait in the White House. After a White House funeral on April 14, Roosevelt's body is transported by train to his hometown of Hyde Park, New York, and on April 15 he is buried in the rose garden of the Roosevelt family home.
April 11
1916—Richard Harding Davis Dies
American journalist, playwright, and author Richard Harding Davis dies of a heart attack at home in Philadelphia. Not widely known now, Davis was one of the most important and influential war correspondents ever, establishing his reputation by reporting on the Spanish-American War, the Second Boer War, and World War I, as well as his general travels to exotic lands.
April 10
1919—Zapata Is Killed
In Mexico, revolutionary leader Emiliano Zapata is shot dead by government forces in the state of Morelos, after a carefully planned ambush. Following the killing, Zapata's revolutionary movement and his Liberation Army of the South slowly fall apart, but his political influence lasts in Mexico to the present day.
1925—Great Gatsby Is Published
F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel The Great Gatsby is published in New York City by Charles Scribner's Sons. Though Gatsby is Fitzgerald's best known book today, it was not a success upon publication, and at the time of his death in 1940, Fitzgerald was mostly forgotten as a writer and considered himself to be a failure.
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