Vintage Pulp Feb 24 2012
GOING NATIVE
This woman is useless, brother. She can’t even gut a fish. What are we to do with her? And stop saying “schwing” when I ask that. I have no idea what that means.

Above, a cover for Walter D. Edmonds’ frontier novel The Captive Women, which appeared in 1950 as a paperback, 1949 as a hardback, and had been serialized in 1937 in the Saturday Evening Post as In the Hands of the Senecas. Basically, what you get here are separate accounts of whites, mostly women, who have been captured by Native Americans, circa 1776 to 1784. Edmonds, who wrote the acclaimed Drums Along the Mohawk, specialized in historical novels set in the American northeast. The right of white men to invade the land is presumed, but you still have to consider this fairly balanced writing for the time period. The Indians have personalities and motivations, which is the most you can hope for in 1930s-era pop fiction on this particular subject. The captive whose odyssey is followed most closely is that of a newlywed named Delia, who ends up wife to an Indian chief and bears him a child. Edmonds also wrote about fifteen books for children, including Bert Breen’s Barn, which won the National Book Award for Children’s Literature in 1976. The art here is by Denver Gillen, whose work you can see much more of at this blog. 

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Vintage Pulp Jan 30 2012
A FINE WHINE
Um, anytime you’re finished with the pity party…

This fun cover of Kate Nickerson’s 1952 novel Street of the Blues, is by Herb Tauss, who wasn’t just a painter, but also a sculptor, and was inducted into the Illustrator’s Hall of Fame. He was self-taught, but even without a pedigree earned assignments with magazines as diverse as National Geographic, Good Housekeeping and The Saturday Evening Post. Later in his career he moved into fine art and did some teaching. His work is hard to find, but we'll keep an eye out for more.

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The Naked City Jul 1 2009
NO REASON Y
Forty-three years ago this month Richard Speck shocked America.

This July 1, 1967 cover of The Saturday Evening Post shows mass murderer Richard Speck, who, a little less than a year earlier on July 13, 1966, broke into a Chicago townhouse where he raped and killed eight student nurses in a single horrific night. The crime stunned America, and questions about how any man could be so monstrous soon focused on Speck’s brain. At the time of this cover, some genetic researchers thought he was an abnormal 47,XYY karyotype, which was thought to cause hyper-aggression. But Speck was ruled competent to stand trial, was convicted of the murders and sentenced to death, then to life in prison when the U.S. Supreme Court cited irregularities in jury selection during his trial.
 
Thirty years later, in 1996, Richard Speck burst into public consciousness again when an investigation into Illinois prison conditions uncovered a 1988 video of Stateville Prison inmates—most notably Speck—consuming drugs and alcohol with no fear of being caught. Speck also was shown in a pair of silk panties, performed oral sex on another prisoner, and had grown what appeared to be breasts, reportedly from consuming contraband hormones. Stateville had become a giant, orgiastic party. At one point Speck said, “If they only knew how much fun I was having, they’d turn me loose.”
 
By now doctors had proven Speck didn't possess an extra Y chromosome, so most experts focused on his childhood as a cause of his murderous rampage. His youth had been marked by abandonment, abuse, and at least three serious blows to the head. When he finally died of a heart attack—in 1991, five years before the infamousStateville videotape surfaced—an autopsy revealed that his brain was abnormal after all. His hippocampus and amygdala—the latter of which helps regulate rage and emotional reactions—had fused. Speck was cremated and his ashes were scattered by a newspaper columnist, a fieldhand, and two country employees, who all agreed to keep the location secret forever.
 
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Vintage Pulp Jun 8 2009
POST IMPRESSIONISM
Cuban firebrand graces the cover of one of America’s oldest magazines.


This Saturday Evening Post cover, with an article about worsening conditions inside Cuba, features one of the most dynamic Fidel Castro images from the 1960s. The story qualifies as propaganda, because it fails to mention the U.S. embargo as a cause of the problems, instead blaming them on corruption, administrative incompetence, and, ultimately, an inferior political system destined for collapse. The collapse never happened, and Castro remains a polarizing figure on the world political scene. He has appeared on thousands of magazine covers, both respectable and trashy. This issue of the venerable Saturday Evening Post first hit newsstands today, forty-six years ago.

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The Naked City | Vintage Pulp May 11 2009
ASKING FOR TROUBLE
With this ring, I thee dread.


Today’s eye-catching cover from Confidential Detective Cases, May 1965, features a story about a Park Avenue couple and their failed attempt to disappear a body. If it was the wife asking for help, we aren’t surprised the scheme went awry—most men won’t help with the dishes, let alone a cadaver. However, it’s possible the husband was the one asking for help. If so, this story might be referring to the Mark Fein case. It seems to fit—Fein was a jet-setter with a palatial apartment on Park Avenue. In 1965 he killed his bookie, stuffed him in a trunk and, with the help of his wife and two others, dumped him in the East River. The trunk bobbed to the surface days later and soon the cops came knocking on Fein’s door. According to a Saturday Evening Post article, Fein’s wife said to him in disgust, “Didn’t you ever hear of cement?” As punch lines to one’s own arrest rate, it doesn’t quite approach, “And it would have worked, too, if it wasn’t for you pesky kids!” but it’s pretty close. We’ll have more Confidential Detective Cases covers down the line.

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
January 30
1933—Hitler Becomes Chancellor
Adolf Hitler is sworn in as Chancellor of Germany in President Paul Von Hindenburg's office, in what observers describe as a brief and simple ceremony. Hitler's first speech as Chancellor takes place on 10 February. The Nazis' seizure of power subsequently becomes known as the Machtergreifung.
January 29
1916—Paris Is Bombed by German Zeppelins
During World War I, German zeppelins conduct a bombing raid on Paris. Such raids were rare, because the ships had to fly hundreds of miles over French territory to reach their target, making them vulnerable to attack. Reaching London, conversely, was much easier, because the approach was over German territory and water. The results of these raids were generally not good, but the use of zeppelins as bombers would continue until the end of the war.
January 28
1964—Soviets Shoot Down U.S. Plane
A U.S. Air Force training jet is shot down by Soviet fighters after straying into East German airspace. All 3 crew men are killed. U.S forces then clandestinely enter East Germany in an attempt to reach the crash but are thwarted by Soviet forces. In the end, the U.S. approaches the Soviets through diplomatic channels and on January 31 the wreckage of the aircraft is loaded onto trucks with the assistance of Soviet troops, and returned to West Germany.
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