Vintage Pulp Jul 2 2024
A LONG KISS GOODBYE
I see. So we'd be like good cop-bad cop, except one of us has sex with them and the other murders them. Can I be the good cop?


Charles Binger, whose work we don't see often enough, created this great cover for Richard Deming's 1960 novel Kiss and Kill. The book is about a couple of grifters who graduate from bunco scams to serial murders, first luring lonely women into marriage before offing them for their money. The two then skedaddle to other parts, rinse, and repeat. They never get too greedy in choosing their victims, as that would draw attention. They garner maybe $10,000 profit per murder. Actually, at one point they score $67,000, which would last normal people in 1960 half a lifetime, but they lose most of the money in Monte Carlo. Their fatal flaw—other than being murderers—is that they like to live high, so cash goes fast, which means they generally need to kill every three or four months. This goes on for five years, from Los Angeles to Miami Beach and points between, before complications arise. The main complication? Love. This is our second Deming, and our second success with him.

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Vintage Pulp Jun 27 2024
ONE MAN'S JOURNEY
Infancy, adulthood, and death in twenty-four years.


This issue of Man's Magazine hit newsstands this month in 1963 with Mel Crair cover art we suspect is cropped from a larger piece. In the past the magazine had featured paintings that occupied its entire front, but by this time it was experimenting with a tabloid look, giving more space to blocked text with sensational messaging, and reducing the dimensions of art acquired from Crair and others. More cover changes would come. From fully painted fronts, to the tabloid style you see here, it shifted to photo covers, which happened in 1969 and saw cheesecake and adventure imagery alternating, until the early ’70s when cheesecake took over and adventure was relegated entirely to the interior. Man's Magazine was by that point publishing nude and semi-nude women on all its covers. Other men's adventure magazines were doing the same.

This shift happened quickly, but had been in the wind for a long time. Private publications had crossed all red lines much earlier, though they hadn't been openly available. Producing and selling them was to risk prison. But it was understood that men wanted more eroticism, wanted it at high quality, and would buy it even if it wasn't behind the fig leaves of art and literature. However, art and literature were needed in above-ground publications because they helped avoid obscenity convictions. Otherwise, erotic content had no “redeeming qualities,” and legal troubles were guaranteed. Mainstream men's publications were largely articles, fiction, and cartoons for that reason—and to attract advertisers.

Man's Magazine had launched in 1952 and operated in reasonable health for at least fifteen years. But by the mid-1960s social repression and censorship were in retreat. Language was changing. Racier novels could be published without legal concerns, and more revealing cinematic content was possible. In the magazine realm, brands that foregrounded women's nudity more than previously were prospering. The erotic but coy Modern Man had launched in 1951. Playboy had arrived in 1954 and been willing to push the standards of what was possible. Penthouse arrived in the UK in 1965, in the U.S. in 1969, and began to show pubic hair. When Hustler arrived in 1974 the floodgates weren't just open, suddenly, but gaping.

Man's Magazine is a classic example of a publication that was swept away by all that change, but refused to go down without a fight. Its attempts to adapt failed and it folded in 1976. Interestingly, by the end, during the latter half of that year, it moved to personality covers. Cover stars included Richard M. Nixon, Muhammad Ali, and even Paul McCartney and Larry Csonka. We don't know what prompted that move—a final attempt to appear more highbrow, perhaps? We haven't bought any of those last gasp issues to seek clues, but nothing could help Man's Magazine retain market share in a landscape that featured publications with more nudity and gloss.

But it wasn't only explicitness and printing quality that pushed Man's Magazine and its ilk slowly off newsstands. With their tighter operating budgets when compared with Playboy and cohort, they generally had lower quality fiction, profiles, essays, and cartoons. By contrast Playboy would eventually interview some of the most important people in the world, and its fiction would feature the most acclaimed authors. Man's Magazine never had a prayer of keeping pace. But today's issue appeared before the decline. There's fiction from the well known Richard Deming, non-fiction by the respected Richard Hardwick, and many excellent illustrations. All of that and more are below.

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Vintage Pulp Feb 22 2021
SPEEDING KARMA
No matter how hard you try you can't outrun destiny.

Richard Deming's 1960 novel Hit and Run, which came as the above Pocket edition with uncredited cover art, is a fast and easy read about three people who attempt to evade blame for a hit and run accident. How's that for a literal title? It doesn't happen often. Anyway, an unlucky pedestrian was left with a broken hip, which would be a simple insurance company problem if the trio weren't so keen to cover up an extramarital affair. So they embark on their clever scheme, but when the hospitalized victim unexpectedly dies they're suddenly on the hook for manslaughter instead of reckless driving. It gets worse—as it always does in crime fiction—when one of trio turns out to be not exactly on the same page as the other two. We enjoyed this tale. It has classic bad-to-worse momentum, and got from A to Z with a minimum of fuss. Simplicity wins sometimes. 

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Vintage Pulp Oct 1 2019
GOING, GOING, GONE
Nobody will suspect murder! You've told everyone you'd literally die if the Red Sox missed the playoffs!


Above, a September 1956 issue of Murder! magazine, which was the first issue ever published. It was put together by the same people who did Manhunt, was similar in content, with crime, procedural, and adventure tales, but lasted for only five issues. The action cover was painted by Frank Cozzarelli to illustrate Lionel White's “To Kill a Wife,” and it looks like the wife wins out definitively. Other contributors include Richard Deming, Carroll Mayers, Jack Ritchie, et al. And to Sox fans, better luck next year. 

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Vintage Pulp Jan 5 2016
SHADOW AND FRIGHT
The shape of bad things to come.

Above and below are assorted covers featuring yet another fun mid-century paperback art motif—the looming or threatening shadow. The covers are by the usual suspects—Rader, Phillips, Gross, Caroselli, Nik, as well as by artists whose work you see less often, such as Tony Carter’s brilliant cover for And Turned to Clay. That's actually a dust jacket, rather than a paperback front, but we couldn't leave it out. You’ll also notice French publishers really liked this theme. We’ll doubtless come across more, and as we do we’ll add to the collection. This is true of all our cover collections. For instance, our post featuring the Eiffel Tower has grown from fifteen to twenty-two examples, and our group of fronts with syringes has swelled from thirteen to twenty-six images. We have twenty-four twenty-six—see what we mean?—more shadow covers below, and thanks to all original uploaders.

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Vintage Pulp Jul 10 2014
ABBETTING AFTER THE FACT
A long overdue collection of Bob Abbett covers.


We’ve compiled a collection of Bob Abbett covers, something we should have done years ago. Throughout the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, working in a couple of distinct styles, he produced some of the most striking book fronts to be found on newsstands. See eighteen pieces of evidence below.

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
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.
July 20
1944—Hitler Survives Third Assassination Attempt
Adolf Hitler escapes death after a bomb explodes at his headquarters in Rastenberg, East Prussia. A senior officer, Colonel Claus Schenk von Stauffenberg, is blamed for planting the device at a meeting between Hitler and other senior staff members. Hitler sustains minor burns and a concussion but manages to keep an appointment later in the day with Italian leader Benito Mussolini.
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