These two are just dying for a vacation.
Yes, it's another book about people stranded on a boat. We just finished the excellent Dead Calm a few days ago, and wrote about it yesterday, and afterward we read all of Return to Vista in time to write about it today. Yes, it literally took one day to blaze through, and we even mixed in a few glasses of white wine and assorted interactions with the Pulp Intl. girlfriends. Return to Vista is not as ocean bound as Dead Calm. In fact, most of it takes place on dry land. Well, semi-dry—the action starts in New Orleans, moves to Vista Island, and stars a cynical journalist back home from some tough years covering the Korean War.
Various online sources say Return to Vista led to an obscenity bust for publisher Sanford Aday. We came across mention of it more than once. But we dug a bit deeper and as far as we can tell it isn't true. It can be difficult to keep track of this stuff, because Aday had run-ins with legal authorities everywhere from his hometown of Fresno to Grand Rapids, Michigan, and all the way out to the Hawaiian Islands. Today in 1961 police raided his facility on North Lima Street in Burbank, empowered by a search warrant that specifically mentioned the novel Sex Life of a Cop, discussed here.
However, the warrant also said police could gather additional relevant material, so they loaded up other books, as well as mail, packages, cartons, bank statements, checks, bills of lading, work records, labels, rubber stamps, et al. They basically emptied Aday's offices with the intent of depriving him of the ability to conduct business. Return to Vista was seized in the raid, but it was part of a haul that included sixty-two titles comprising an astonishing 400,000 paperbacks. Thus we don't think it's accurate to say Return to Vista specifically resulted in an obscenity bust. Unless there's more info out there than we know about—which is always possible.
Return to Vista's purplest passages deal with interracial sex. Also, the two characters you see on the cover decide one last romp is in order before they starve at sea. Sex must bring them luck, because they survive to fight commies. Or at least, they think they're dealing with commies. Turns out the people they're up against are actually even purer utopians than the political sort. Return to Vista wasn't good, exactly, but it was fun. Author John Foster, whose actual name was John West, showed some imaginative touches. He went on to write 1961's Campus Iniquities before fading from the literary scene. The above is from 1960 with uncredited cover art.
Bill Edwards paperback art gains new recognition.
Bill Edwards' profile as a paperback illustrator has risen considerably in recent years. Like others who painted for sleaze imprints, it is not so much his technical ability that has garnered the attention, but rather the subject matter and a strong style. Edwards is a guy whose work you can identify in a millisecond. His women almost always have sharp cheekbones, ski jump noses, and a prominent beauty mark. The cover above for Rick Rand's New Girl in Town shows you all three elements up close. Edwards was also prolific like few other painters, which makes finding his work easy. Below are many more illustrations, some for novels with subject matter well beyond the pale, and we have other Edwards pieces populating Pulp Intl., for example here, here, and here.
I'll have both your badges for this outrage. In the meantime, either of you got a condom?
Pretty tame by today's standards, 1959's Sex Life of a Cop is the book that turned into a legal nightmare for publisher Sanford Aday when he shipped copies out of California, was indicted in Arizona, Michigan, and Hawaii in 1961 of interstate trafficking of obscene material, and finally convicted in Michigan in 1963. The story deals with two small town cops named Dempsey and Thorne who give a fat helping of nightstick to any woman whose path they cross, everyone from the hot new dispatcher to a female reporter who goes for a ride along. Ahem. The action starts right on page one outside the police station and doesn't let up. Aday, who was also the author of this as Oscar Peck, earned himself a $25,000 fine and twenty-five years in prison, a sentence that was eventually overturned.
Sex Life of a Cop later caused legal reverberations all the way to the Supreme Court, where it was ruled not obscene in 1967. This was a stroke of good luck for publisher Reuben Sturman (the genius behind It's Happening), because he too was arrested and charged with obscenity when Cleveland police liberated more than 500 copies of the book from his warehouse. The Supreme Court ruling cleared him of wrongdoing. All this for a book that differs little from other sleaze of the era save that it stars two cops. But therein lies the lesson. When you cast aspersions upon law enforcement they'll move heaven and earth to punish you, first amendment be damned. We have covers for the original 1959 edition and the 1967 reprint.
Hi, babe, I'm back early from— Aw, shit. Not again.
Twice a Fool was published by Vega Books, above, and by Fabian Books, a version that was identical in every way except the company logo. That's because both Fabian and Vega, along with Saber Books, were owned by Sanford Aday, as we've mentioned before. Bunny Strand was in reality sleaze author Bernie Strahn, who also wrote such highbrow classics as Reaching High, The Bedroom Imposter, and Sex Party: The Rape of Lori Grant. Info on him is scarce, but we'll keep digging. Twice a Fool is copyright 1960 with uncredited cover art.
Whew. I'm bushed. You know, when you said you needed your field plowed I was thinking along totally different lines.
Above, a typically low rent cover from Sanford Aday's sleaze imprint Fabian Books, uncredited but probably by Bill Edwards. Dolores Dee was actually an author named Delores Cardwell, and Passionate Lovie, which seems to be the only book she wrote, fits squarely into the sub-genre of farm sleaze where a sexually precocious hayseed wants out of hickville. “What goes on in the big towns?” she wonders constantly. The only way to find out is to work her charms on several hapless men. 1959 copyright.
I’ll kick your ass with one arm tied behind my back, bitch!
Like any art form, pulp illustration runs the gamut from scintillating to disastrous. Today, with Mark Lucas’ lesbian sleaze novel Suzanne, we’re confronted with a cover from the latter category. The book was published by the low rent imprint Saber, which was owned by Sanford Aday, and if you take a look at the art, you see a woman whose right arm is on backwards. Or who has two left arms, depending on how you prefer to describe it. Just about the time you start wondering if she has two left feet, too, everything suddenly resolves like an Escher and you see that the bizarro arm actually belongs to her adversary. But what an amusing failure this cover is. We have no idea who to blame, though. It’s uncredited.
Actually, you’re drinkin’ the kerosene I use for my lantern. The moonshine’s over yonder. But I am duly impressed.
Above, the cover of Clouded Passion by Arthur A. Howe, for Fabian Books, 1962, with Bill Edwards cover art of a country girl chugging booze like a Zeta Tau Alpha. Fabian, as well as Vega Books and Saber Books, was owned by Sanford Aday, who made himself a constant target for various morality groups, including Citizens for Decent Literature, which was headed by that paragon of virtue Charles H. Keating. Aday was eventually convicted of obscenity, along with his associate Wallace de Ortega Maxey, for shipping a single copy of the book Sex Life of a Cop to Michigan. Aday got twenty-five years, but the conviction was overturned by a Supreme Court decision. The novels from Adey’s three publishing houses are somewhat collectible today, and most of the covers were exactly like this one—amusing but low quality. If you’re interested, you can see a group here.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1954—Communist Party Outlawed
In the U.S., during the height of the Red Scare, President Dwight Eisenhower signs the Communist Control Act into law. The new legislation bans the American Communist Party, and prohibits people deemed to be communists from serving as officials in labor organizations.
1968—France Explodes Nuke
a two-stage nuclear weapon, codenamed Canopus, on Fangataufa, French Polynesia.
1942—Battle of Stalingrad Begins
The Battle of Stalingrad, perhaps the most pivotal event of World War II, begins. It lasts for more than six months, spread across the brutal Russian winter, and ends with two million casualties. The Russian sacrifice reduces the powerful German army to a shell of its former self, and as a result Nazi defeat in the war becomes a simple matter of time.
1979—Alexander Gudonov Defects
Russian ballet dancer and actor Alexander Borisovich Godunov defects to the U.S. The event causes an international diplomatic crisis, but Gudonov manages to win asylum. He joins the famous American Ballet Theater, where he becomes a colleague of fellow-defector Mikhail Baryshnikov, and later earns roles in such Hollywood films as Witness and Die Hard.
1950—Althea Gibson Breaks the Color Barrier
Althea Gibson becomes the first African-American woman to compete on the World Tennis Tour, and the first to earn a Grand Slam title when she wins the French Open in 1956. Later she becomes the first African-American woman to compete in the Ladies Professional Golf Association.
1952—Devil's Island Closed
Devil's Island, the penal colony located off the coast of French Guiana, is permanently closed. The prison is later made world famous by Henri Charrière's bestselling novel Papillon, and the subsequent film starring Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman.
1962—De Gaulle Survives Assassination Attempt
Jean Bastien-Thiry, a French air weaponry engineer, attempts to assassinate French President Charles de Gaulle to prevent Algerian independence. Bastien-Thiry and others attack de Gaulle's armored limousine with machine guns, but after expending hundreds of rounds, they succeed only in puncturing two tires.
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