Vintage Pulp Jul 29 2023
A PERFECT PITCH
Hey there, stranger. You look like a man of impeccable taste and no small amount of disposable income.


Above: a little sleaze to brighten your day, or maybe darken your night. Street of Dark Desires was written by Mark Reed and published in 1951 by Rainbow Books. We've read Reed, aka Norman A. Daniels, before. He was not special, but he often wrote for digest publishers like Rainbow that had brilliant cover art, like this effort by Howell Dodd, therefore his books are collectible, and sometimes expensive. We may try him again at some point. 

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Vintage Pulp Aug 31 2022
RED LINES
Long story short, I said a lot of hateful shit about people, and as my agent I need you to make me look like the victim.


We're dying to read this. Certainly the possibilities for quips and puns based on the cover were endless, even though the type of cancellation referred to is murder, not banishment. We'll put this on our Holy Grail list and if it ever pops up we'll grab it. You see this cover all around the internet, but we first noticed it at the one and only Sleazy Digest Books. The copyright is 1952, and the art is by Howell Dodd.

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Vintage Pulp Oct 25 2021
MISS LABELED
Free and easy is the basic package. I'm the VIP package and I cost a bundle.


Above is another great paperback digest cover by Howell Dodd, this time for 1951's Free and Easy by Luther Gordon—no relation to June Wetherell's Free and Easy. Thinking about seeing a book rack with this kind of material for sale can only make you regretful to have missed out on the era. Though to be honest, you couldn't pay us to live in 1951—no offense to those who did. We love the promo art, the fiction, and the movies, but everything that has to do with real life... we wouldn't have done so well with that. So we're happy here in 2021. We'd like to own more of these old digests, but they aren't free or easy either. Our collection grows monthly, though. We have no idea to what end, but it does. But this one did not add to the clutter, because we borrowed it from online. More digests to come. 

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Vintage Pulp Nov 20 2020
SWEET MUSIC
The truth is I only listen to classical, but all the guys at those concerts are too old and frail to risk taking to bed.


Last stop for the scum of humanity on the road to hell? Sign us up! But 1953's Honky Tonk Girl isn't the throwaway novel you'd expect. The premise is unique—a Dixieland jazz musician named Johnny Nickles fears he's recorded a haunted album. The platter, The Ghost Album, is so titled because it's a tribute to dead jazz kingpins, and seems to have heralded a series of misfortunes: the band's arranger dropped dead of a heart attack; Johnny's girlfriend stole his money and car; his band lost the cushy house gig they'd been promised; and now, playing nightly in a dive bar in nowheresville, the band's drummer has been murdered. Nickles decides to solve the case and gets help from a hooker, a chanteuse, a cop, and some obvious clues. We thought the idea of a haunted album would be the launch pad for a memorable book, but Beckman doesn't quite get this one airborne because—despite his extensive pulp pedigree—he's middling as a writer. But what does come through is his musical knowledge and familiarity with the hand-to-mouth existence of ambitious young jazzmen. We give it a 5 for prose and an 8 for atmosphere. The cover art, on the other hand, is a solid 10. It's by the always amazing Howell Dodd.

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Intl. Notebook Nov 11 2020
FIGURE 8
Dodd doodles a set of beautiful nudes.


We have something a bit different today, eight figure studies by the great artist Howell Dodd, who started as an Associated Press illustrator, before graduating to pulp and adventure magazines. This is not the first time we've featured Dodd's drawings. Remember the Spanish Civil War piece we shared? It's a tour de force. But we like him best as a crime magazine illustrator, such as here, and on paperbacks, here and here. We'll have more from Dodd later.

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Intl. Notebook Feb 6 2019
THE PAIN IN SPAIN
Howell Dodd shows his political side.


Here's something unusual. This is a piece by legendary men's magazine and paperback illustrator Howell Dodd, obviously political in nature, titled “Danse Macabre” and commenting on Francoista fascism in post civil war Spain. Francisco Franco, like other former European dictators, continues to loom large over the country he ruled. Laws were only recently passed that might allow for his body to be exhumed from the massive mausoleum he had built for himself, for finally making a census of the estimated 500,000 victims of the Spanish Civil War, for investigations into the fates of tens of thousands who disappeared under fascist rule, and to find out what happened to 300,000 children who between 1939 and 1975 were stolen from their parents and adopted by—i.e. sold to—well-connected families. Some of those children even ended up with childless couples in the U.S. and Latin America. So it was quite a danse indeed. We aren't sure how much Dodd was aware of when he painted this item, but the visual is encompassing regardless. You see a couple of close-ups of the piece below, and you can see Dodd in completely different mode here and here.

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Vintage Pulp Sep 16 2018
DOUBLE WHIPPED
Aussie publisher beats the life out of a classic Howell Dodd cover.


Didn't we just share a cover for Whip Hand? We did, but that was a totally different book. That was Whip Hand by W. Franklin Sanders, 1961, and this one is Whip Hand! by Hodge Evens, 1952. And as you can see below, this is yet another book for which the art was copied by a foreign publishing company—Sydney, Australia based Star Books, in 1953. It may seem impossible that Dodd didn't know of this, but back then it was indeed likely he had no clue. And even if he did know, there's little he could have done. Whoever painted this was not credited, and why would they be? Compared to Dodd's original it's pretty limp.

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Vintage Pulp Jul 17 2018
DODD SQUAD
Howell Dodd's fox force five.


Above, five beautiful original paintings from Howell Dodd, early 1950s. These are from assorted true crime magazine covers, except for the top image, which fronted Mark Reed's 1952 paperback Lay Down and Die! Top notch stuff.

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Vintage Pulp Apr 30 2018
MEN'S MISS-ADVENTURES
In mid-century action magazines trouble always has a woman at its center.


Adventure for Men is new magazine for us, part of a group a friend couriered over from the U.S. last year. The art in this April 1968 issue is uncredited in the masthead, but two spreads are signed by Howell Dodd. The stories range from tales of wild 1890s San Francisco to uncharted Madagascar to your nearby nudist camp. And of course, par for the course for such publications, all the adventures seem to revolve around women, which makes them miss-adventures, so to speak. But we'll admit we haven't read all of the magazine yet. The piece “Sex Mistakes Most People Make!” for example. We figured we're better off not knowing.
 
But we did read the story on the sex camps of the Red Chinese. In times of stress people will believe anything, and there was no greater time of stress than the Cold War, a period during which most people feared they were seconds away from nuclear incineration. We're all still potentially seconds away from nuclear incineration, but back then those fears were openly exploited for political gain and monetary profit by con artists as diverse as the U.S. government and the New York City tabloid industry. Adventure for Men joins in the fun with its China sex camps tale.

During the 1960s, when Chinese were already suffering from both famine and widespread state violence, many were sent to prison camps to work and be re-educated. Conditions were generally awful, and often life threatening. Inmates were cold, underfed, besieged by vermin, and physically abused. As terrible as all that is, it still isn't enough for Adventure for Men, as journalist Alexander Ford takes the harrowing story of Chinese dissident Kuo Chung-hsaio and his wife and inflates it into sleaze fiction. Oh yeah. Political imprisonment can be erotic. All Reds are perverts. But the “sex camps” trumpeted on Adventure for Men's cover refers not to any state sanctioned sexual abuse. That accusation is never made. No—it refers to a specific voyeuristic prison official.
 
This official would not let Chung-hsaio see his wife unless the couple had sex while he was in the room watching. Chung-hsaio describes through Ford how humiliating and horrible the experience was, though he neglects to explain how he and his wife were even able to sexually function with their tormentor staring from the corner. Naturally, in the end it's the official's deviancy that creates the opportunity for the couple's daring escape. Do we buy this titillating tale of how a jailer got his rocks off, let his guard down, and ended up permanently cooled by Chung-hsaio's righteous hand? Not even a little bit. It's right from Hollywood's b-movie playbook—smash cut and they're out. But we'll admit that for short form sleaze it's actually pretty good. Scans below.

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Vintage Pulp May 21 2017
AUTO MOTIVES
Just let me out! I know a little about cars and I don't think that's what four-on-the-floor really is.


Four-on-the-floor. Too easy, right? What can we do? We're only human. 1959's Night of Shame deals with anonymous partners in a one night stand whose lives are complicated by their constant desire for each other. Later, they meet again by chance and rekindle their affair, only to discover, as Mr. Spock once so eloquently put it, that having is not so pleasing a thing after all as wanting. The beautiful cover on this is unattributed, but it could be Rudy Nappi. We reached that conclusion because it's very similar stylistically to this cover, which is identified as Nappi's work in Gary Lovisi's Dames, Dolls and Delinquents: A Collector's Guide to Sexy Pulp Fiction. Problem is, we don't actually think that cover is Nappi either. We think it's Howell Dodd. This wouldn't be the first time we've doubted Lovisi, but what do we know? We didn't write a whole book on the subject. So, okay, call this one Nappi.*
 
*psst—it's Dodd. 

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Next Page
History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
July 23
1984—Miss America Resigns
Vanessa Williams, who had been crowned Miss America and was the first African American woman to win the prize, resigns her title after Penthouse magazine purchases and slates for publication a series of lesbian-themed nudes Williams had posed for when she was younger. After resigning she files a $500 million lawsuit against Penthouse publisher Bob Guccione but later drops the suit.
July 22
1992—Cocaine Baron Escapes Prison
Pablo Emilio Escobar Gaviria, imprisoned leader of the Medellin drug cartel, escapes from a posh Colombian jail known as La Catedral after he learns authorities intend to move him to a real prison. His taste of freedom doesn't last—he's killed in a shootout a year-and-a-half later.
July 21
1925—Jury Decides the Teaching of Evolution Is a Crime
In the famous Scopes Monkey Trial, American schoolteacher John Scopes is found guilty of violating the Butler Act, which forbids the teaching of evolution in schools. The sensational trial pits two great legal minds—William Jennings Bryan and Clarence Darrow—against each other. Ultimately, Scopes and Darrow are destined to lose because the case rests on whether Scopes had violated the Act, not whether evolution is fact.
1969—First Humans Reach the Moon
Neil Armstrong and Eugene 'Buzz' Aldrin, Jr. become the first humans to walk on the moon. The third member of the mission, command module Pilot Michael Collins, remains in orbit in Apollo 11.
1972—Chaos in the Big Apple
In New York City, within a span of twenty-four hours, fifty-seven murders are committed.
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