Caroselli chooses wisely for Italian book cover.
Inspiration is everything. Always draw from the best. Italian artist Benedetto Caroselli used a photo of svelte Austrian model Susan Denberg, aka Dietlinde Zechner, for this cover of Sonnie Hale's La donna bianca. That would translate as “the white woman,” but we think of her as the right woman. So did Playboy magazine, which made her its August 1968 Playmate of the Month. We doubt Denberg ever knew she was on this paperback, but we imagine she'd have been pleased with the result. It appeared in 1967 from Grandi Edizioni Internazionali as part of their I Romanzi Diabolici series. See plenty more from Caroselli, including other pieces he painted for this particular book series, by clicking his keywords just below.
I'll run for help! Have you seen my red slingback pumps?
Our ongoing showcase of Italian artist Benedetto Caroselli continues with the above cover for Crise Pounds' novel Faust “61,” a horror update of the classic German folk legend. It was published in 1961 by Grandi Edizioni Internazionali for its series I Capolavori della Serie KKK Classici dell’Orrore. Pounds was a pseudonym used by Maria Luisa Piazza, who wrote three other novels for Grandi Edizioni Internazionali. Caroselli's cover work here shows his command of both subject matter and color. And fashion, as his stylish bystander looks on in terror.
Caroselli bests the competition again.
Above is another beautiful piece painted by Benedetto Caroselli, a man we're going to go ahead and anoint one of the greatest paperback cover artists of all time. His work on Richard Walker's Nodo scorsoio—which means “slipknot”—is simply brilliant, with its red tressed, black dressed femme fatale, and graphic background elements. It dates from 1962 for Grandi Edizioni Internazionali's collection I Gialli dell'Ossessione, and is number ninety-seven in the series. The book was translated from Richard Walker's original English text by Domenico Vitali, and once again we suspected the translator was the author, since we're pretty sure this book was never actually released in English, thus would never have needed a translator. After some searching we confirmed our suspicions—Vitali wrote as Walker on several occasions, including two novels for Éditions S.E.P.'s P.J. Police collection. We're going to keep digging up art by Benedetto Caroselli because it's all good—every piece we've seen. You can see more of his work by clicking his keywords below.
Where there's a will-o'-the-wisp there's a way.
We probably should have shared this cover from Grandi Edizioni Internazionali's series KKK Classics around Halloween, because it's a bit scary. Then again, maybe now is better, because Christmas is possibly even a little scarier. The art here, from Benedetto Caroselli, has a red-eyed cover figure sitting atop what is supposed to be a giant skull, which, again, is a bit scary. However, if you look at it the right way she could be sitting on a giant nose. Again, possibly even scarier.
Inside the book you get two tales—the introductory “Welcome to Blackstone, Mister Clift,” by Silvano Alessandrini, followed by the full length title story. Fuochi fatui, by the way, translates as “fatuous fires.” What the hell does that mean? Fuochi fatui are basically analogous to will-o'-the-wisps, alluring lights in the wilderness that prove eternally elusive and lead to frustration and possibly danger. You can fill in your own Christmas shopping metaphor here.
Author Sean Alexander was aka Silvano Alessandrini. The pseudonym thing with French and Italian authors back in the day is a bit strange. Since they were selling to their home markets you'd think indigenous names would be an advantage, but it's clear that the type of mayhem and terror they were going for were thought to be more credible if written by Americans. Which when you think about it is possibly the scariest thing of all. Anyway, the copyright on this is 1969, and it's beautiful.
“The Thing” that wasn't there.
We've shared several covers from Grandi Edizioni Internazionali's horror collection I Capolavori della Serie KKK but this one is kind of special. Translated into Italian by Fernanda Adami, this is a collection of horror master Robert Bloch's early short stories. In case he isn't familiar to you, he wrote Psycho. This book is called La Cosa, or The Thing because Bloch's first story, a piece called “The Thing” appeared in his school magazine in 1932 when Bloch was only fourteen. But guess what? “The Thing” isn't one of the stories in The Thing. Instead the book consists of four tales—“Colui che apre la via,” “Ritorno a Sabbath,” “Il segreto di Sebek,” and “Enoch.” In English these are “The Opener of the Way,” “Return of the Sabbath,” “The Secret of Sebek,” and “Otis.” Just kidding—it's “Enoch.” Lovecraft fans probably already know of the first three stories because they appeared in Bloch's Lovecraft inspired collection The Opener of the Way in 1945 and remain widely read pieces of Lovecraftian lore. So that makes this paperback a bit of a collector's item. As if the great art by Benedetto Caroselli didn't already do that. Yes, he painted a misleading illustration for a horror anthology but Caroselli and Grandi Edizioni Internazionali specialized in that. Want to see a particularly brazen example? Check here.
I usually wear floor length hoop skirts but for certain occasions this crimson mini is just the number.
Sometimes when classic literature was remarketed for mid-century audiences the pulp style makeovers were stretches. But in this case it works. Le amicizie pericolose is a 1964 Italian translation of Pierre Choderlos de Laclos's 1782 French epistolary novel Les Liaisons dangereuses, aka Dangerous Liaisons. The story features one of history's greatest femmes fatales—Marquise de Merteuil, whose pride and sexual vanity is the seed of an unspeakable tragedy. There's also an homme fatale—the serial seducer Vicomte de Valmont, whose dick eventually gets him in a crack so tight he can't escape.
The book has been filmed six times, and cinephiles argue which version is the best. While Glenn Close as the Marquise in 1988's Dangerous Liaisons was astounding, and Annette Bening's turn as the character in 1989's Valmont was also good, we recommend checking out Roger Vadim's 1959 adaptation, which was set in modern day Paris. Actually, even the 1999 Gen-X version Cruel Intentions is pretty good, which just goes to show how rich the source material is. There are also Korean and Chinese versions from 2003 and 2012 respectively.
The amazing femme fatale in red mini-dress and spike heels on the Grandi Edizioni Internazionali edition above—who of course looks nothing like the hoop skirted and white-powdered Marquise de Merteuil described by Laclos—was painted by the abundantly talented Bendetto Caroselli. Repackaging classics in this way (such as we've shown you before here and here) is usually a form of false advertising, but in this case we suspect many readers came away satisfied.
This is a mean old world, baby, to live in all by yourself.
Above, the cover of Gli Amante Perduti, which means “the lost lover,” published 1962 by Grandi Edizioni Internazionali. The author, Horace Robinson, was in reality the prolific Maria Luisa Piazza, and the evocative cover art, showing a woman distressed and alone against a backdrop of blackness, is by the incomparable Benedetto Caroselli.
You can eat an apple a day but it won’t keep this doctor away.
Above is I Capolavori della Serie KKK Classici dell’Orrore number 127, entitled Gli esperimenti del Dott. Hass, aka The Monster, published in 1969, written by Patty North, who was really Franco Marotta. And of course the brilliant art is by Benedetto Caroselli, whose work you probably recognize by now. Marotta also wrote Il robotto maledetto, which means so far he’s written about an evil doctor and an evil robot. The book also has a short story beginning on page 121 called “Violenza,” which was penned by Roland Greaves, who was really Renato Carocci. That’s a lot of entertainment for just a few euros, and well worth it.
A tongue is worth a thousand words.
Is it time for another Caroselli? Of course it is. So above we have his art fronting Grandi Edizioni Internazionali’s 1971 book Troppe donne per Casa… which means Too Many Women for Casa… Casa is of course the adventurer Giacomo Casanova, and he always had time for women, especially ones like these that get all Miley Cyrus with their wandering tongues. You know, we had forgotten how much we appreciate a blatantly visible female tongue until she reminded us. So we owe her thanks for that. But we still want every piece of music she’s ever made to be rocketed into the center of a quasar. Historical note: Casanova trysted with a mere one-hundred-twenty-two women during his life. Wilt Chamberlain probably did that in a slow year. But it’s all about quality, not quantity, right? See another Caroselli/Casanova pairing here.
Oscar Wilde was an okay writer and all, but you know what his fiction really needed? Women in catsuits.
Believe it or not, this book entitled Il vizio che brucia (translation: “The Vice that Burns”) is Oscar Wilde’s macabre classic The Picture of Dorian Gray, sexed up for the Italian reading market. Who is this supposed to be on the cover? Sybil Vane, the innocent young actress? The country girl Hetty Merton? Neither, we suppose, since they didn’t wear backless catsuits, as far as we remember. But even if this pulpification of Wilde’s classic has no relationship to the actual text, the Benedetto Caroselli art makes it collectible. The edition was published by Grandi Edizioni Internazionali as part of their I Romanzi Diabolici series and appeared in 1964. See more Caroselli here.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1943—Conrad Veidt Dies
German actor Conrad Veidt, who starred in films such as The Man Who Laughs and The Thief of Baghdad, but was most famous for playing the Nazi antagonist Major Strasser in the all-time cinema classic Casablanca, dies of a heart attack on a golf course in Los Angeles, just six months after Casablanca was released.
1930—Selassie Becomes Emperor
Haile Selassie I, whose birth name Tafari Makonnen and title "Ras" give the Rastafarian religion its name, is proclaimed emperor of Ethiopia. Selassie would become one of the most important leaders in African history, and earn global recognition through his resistance to Italy's illegal invasion of Ethiopia in 1935. Selassie died in August 1975 under disputed circumstances.
1984—Marvin Gaye Dies from Gunshot Wound
American singer-songwriter Marvin Gaye, who was famous for a three-octave vocal range which he used on hits such as "Sexual Healing" and "What's Going On," is fatally shot in the chest by his father after an argument over misplaced business documents. Gaye scored forty-one top 40 hit singles on Billboard's pop singles chart between 1963 and 2001, sixty top 40 R&B hits from 1962 to 2001, and thirty-eight top 10 singles on the R&B chart, making him not only one of the most critically acclaimed artists of his day, but one of the most successful.
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