It looks amazing, baby. Er... aaaand should look even better on my lovely wife. Thanks for letting me test it on your neck.
Sometimes when you're caught you're caught. You can try and brazen the moment out, but it usually does no good, at least in mid-century fiction. From there it's just a short distance to mayhem, murder, trials, prison, and all the other fun stuff that makes genre fiction worth reading. From James M. Cain's iconic The Postman Always Rings Twice to J.X. Williams' ridiculous The Sin Scene, infidelity is one of the most reliable and common plot devices. What isn't common is cover art that depicts the precise moment of being caught. Of all the cover collections we've put together, this was the hardest one for which to find examples, simply because there are no easy search parameters. We managed a grand total of sixteen (yes, there's a third person on the cover of Ed Schiddel's The Break-Up—note the hand pushing open the door). The artists here are L.B. Cole, Harry Schaare, Tom Miller, Bernard Safran, and others. And we have two more excellent examples of this theme we posted a while back. Check here and here.
It wasn't until I met you that I realized what marriage really meant. I'll demand a divorce from my wife tomorrow.
Tropical night, sea shore, full moon, convertible roadster, and sneaky adultery. This is a pretty nice cover for Perry Lindsay's, aka Peggy Gaddis's digest paperback Shameless Woman, which was published in 1948 for Knickerbocker Books' sub-set Regular Books. It originally appeared as Sin Cinderella, which is maybe a better title. It's about a divorcée who wants to get back at the millionaire husband who cast her aside, so she recruits an unsuspecting sixteen-year-old, teaches her how to be alluring, and sends her to ruin the ex. Of course, with a ’48 copyright date you know this doesn't get too crazy, but that didn't stop us from buying five more. We'll give them careful reads and report back in more detail a bit later. The art on this, by the way, is uncredited.
I know it's high. It used to be lower, but I spent a summer in D.C., and lemme tell ya, those guys taught me a lot about whoring.
We featured a Charles Rodewald cover last year and loved it, so we're bringing him back today, this time on the front of Ecstasy Novel Magazine, which is showcasing Paula Has a Price!, written by Perry Lindsay, aka prolific pulp author Peggy Gaddis. There's confusion online about the copyright on this, but it was published in January 1949. Top effort from Rodewald, and you can see another here.
There's nothing quite like a roll in the hay.
You'd think we'd eventually run out of themes in mid-century paperbacks, but the possibilities are seemingly endless. We can add illicit love in the hayloft to the many other time honored subjects exploited by paperback publishers. We've already shared several covers along these lines, such as this one, this one, and this one, but today we have an entire set for your enjoyment. Personally, we've never had sex in a hayloft—in fact, we've never even had the opportunity—but we imagine that once you get past the smelly manure and the scratchy hay and the jittery animals it's pretty fun. Or maybe not. There are also numerous books, incidentally, that feature characters trysting by outdoor haystacks, but for today we want to stay inside the barn. Thanks to all the original uploaders of these covers.
My pa shouldn't be back for hours. But just in case he does show up, do you prefer burial or cremation?
A double shot of rural sleaze today, Norman Bligh's Once There Was a Virgin, 1950 from Exotic Novels, and Gail Jordan's The Affairs of a Country Girl, 1952 from Cameo Books. George Gross provided the art for these covers, which are cropped differently, but between the two you see pretty much the entirety of the original piece. We think this is one of his better efforts. We're putting together a small collection of paperback covers set in barns and haylofts, so consider this a preview, along with the covers here, here, and here.
And as for you leaving... *gulp* *swallow* ...we'll discuss that in twenty-four to seventy-two hours.
If you swallow a key does it become a pass key? Just wondering. Whatever you call it, you won't be seeing it again for up to three days, according to what we read about human digestion. But we digress. Above is a beautiful cover for Call Girl by Gail Jordan, aka Peggy Gaddis, for Quarter Books, copyright 1949 with uncredited art. If you've never visited the blog Sleazy Digest Books, we suggest heading over there for a look at this cover and many others in the same style.
Forget it. I hate being constantly poked by small pointy things. And I'm not very fond of hay either.
Have you ever had sex in hay? We haven't, but it seems like it would stab and stick, possibly even lodge and wedge, necessitating careful removal from bodily crevices. We could be wrong. Passion's Harvest, which features hay prominently on the cover, along with a man who has no apparent qualms about its drawbacks, was written by the prolific Peggy Gaddis and published in 1956. It was a revised re-issue of her 1952 Cameo Books paperback Woman of Fire. Basically, you get a May-December marriage, which is without fulfillment for the young wife/mother, but is secure and stable until she meets a local stud and finds herself irresistibly attracted to him. The attraction for us is the George Gross art with its unusual backward signature. As far as hay goes, we're dubious. But we live not far from farmland, so we'll maybe explore this with the Pulp Intl. girlfriends and report back.
What’s in a name? Everything, if it’s the title of a vintage paperback.
Above and below you will find a large collection of pulp, post-pulp, and sleaze paperback fronts that have as their titles a character’s first name. There are hundreds of examples of these but we stopped at thirty-two. The collection really highlights, more than others we’ve put together, how rarely vintage paperback art focuses on male characters. The prose is virtually all male-centered and male-driven, of course, but because the mid-century paperback market was male-driven too, that meant putting women on the covers to attract the male eye. We tell our girlfriends this all the time, but they still think we just don’t bother looking for male-oriented vintage art. But we do. For this collection we found two novels that have male characters’ names as their titles, and we looked pretty hard. If we had to guess, we’d say less than 5% of all pulp art is male-oriented. In any case, the illustrations come from the usual suspects—Barye Phillips, Robert McGinnis, Jef de Wulf, Paul Rader, et al., plus less recognized artists like Doug Weaver. Thanks to all the original uploaders for these.
Maybe you shouldn't look, but sometimes you just can't help yourself.
A couple of months ago we mentioned the popularity of keyhole themed pulp art and said we’d gather some examples. Well, today’s the day. Below are fifteen pieces of keyhole cover art for your enjoyment.
A zebra amongst the lions.
Erolie Pearl Gaddis Dern wrote as Joan Sherman, Joan Tucker, Pearl Gaddis, Peggy Dern, and for this 1951 romance Painted Lips decided to use her best known moniker—Peggy Gaddis. Gaddis was prolific, publishing dozens of romances and nurse novels between 1929 and 1966. This particular book follows the various dramas of a habitual homewrecker. We love the cover femme fatale, with her zebra skirt and wacky bodice. This would have been an absolutely insane outfit for 1951, so we wonder if the artist simply dreamed it up. We can’t answer that, though, because the art is uncredited. We think that was the modus operandi at Venus Books, because we’ve seen quite a few of their releases—including a couple with covers obviously by this same talented painter—with no attribution. Shame. But we’ll try to dig up more info on a possible artist anyway. There’s always someone out there who knows.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1933—Prohibition Ends in United States
Utah becomes the 36th U.S. state to ratify the 21st Amendment to the United States Constitution, thus establishing the required 75% of states needed to overturn the 18th Amendment which had made the sale of alcohol illegal. But the criminal gangs that had gained power during Prohibition are now firmly established, and maintain an influence that continues unabated for decades.
1945—Flight 19 Vanishes without a Trace
During an overwater navigation training flight from Fort Lauderdale, five U.S. Navy TBM Avenger torpedo-bombers lose radio contact with their base and vanish. The disappearance takes place in what is popularly known as the Bermuda Triangle.
1918—Wilson Goes to Europe
U.S. President Woodrow Wilson sails to Europe for the World War I peace talks in Versailles, France, becoming the first U.S. president to travel to Europe while in office.
1921—Arbuckle Manslaughter Trial Ends
In the U.S., a manslaughter trial against actor/director Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle ends with the jury deadlocked as to whether he had killed aspiring actress Virginia Rappe during rape and sodomy. Arbuckle was finally cleared of all wrongdoing after two more trials, but the scandal ruined his career and personal life.
1964—Mass Student Arrests in U.S.
In California, Police arrest over 800 students at the University of California, Berkeley, following their takeover and sit-in at the administration building in protest at the UC Regents' decision to forbid protests on university property.
1968—U.S. Unemployment Hits Low
Unemployment figures are released revealing that the U.S. unemployment rate has fallen to 3.3 percent, the lowest rate for almost fifteen years. Going forward all the way to the current day, the figure never reaches this low level again.
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