Vintage Pulp Apr 20 2024
GIVING AT THE OFFICE
No, darling, I'm not screwing my secretary. I have a new boss, and she's screwing me.


Bee Line Books was one of the imprints that transitioned from painted covers (examples here and here) into photo fronts, as you see with Roy Battle's 1974 novel Something for the Boss. We wanted something to read on a train ride and this fit the bill. The story deals with a suburban wife and her banker husband, and how his ambition to ascend the corporate ladder leads him to press her to have sex with the branch president. She does, and this leads to a full fledged swapping lifestyle, not only with the president and his wife, but with their two depraved collegiate children. Yeah, it's pretty kinky, but that's no surprise for a sleaze novel published during the ’70s. By then there were no limits. Despite the raunch, Something for the Boss isn't anything you can bank on for entertainment. Next. 

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Vintage Pulp Apr 18 2024
MISPLACED CONFIDENCE
You're upset I betrayed your trust. But if I hadn't, all the publishers calling about your scandals would have been even more upset.

It's election season in the U.S., so above we have a cover for Harriett H. Carr's Confidential Secretary, originally published in 1958, with this Berkley paperback arriving in 1961. It's about a woman who takes a job in a Washington, D.C. corporation and is drawn into congressional intrigue, over the course of which she finds true love. This isn't one we'd read, but it does fit into our cover collection featuring the U.S. Capitol building—soon to be belching smoke and flames, the way things are going over there. The art is uncredited. 

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Vintage Pulp Apr 17 2024
SENIOR MOMENT
Why, thank you, ladies, I am a goat, and proud of it. Um—you mean greatest of all time, right?

We've been having an ongoing conversation with the Pulp Intl. girlfriends about the word, “cougar,” when used to refer to older women who chase younger men. They say there's no male equivalent. If you're an older man chasing after young women, you're just a man, we were told. We think cougar is kind of a fun slang term, but then we are neither women, nor women in that age range, so our opinion doesn't actually count.

Anyway, we came across this cover for Tiffany Thayer's 1950 novel The Old Goat, and we're going to go with "goat" as a term for a male cougar. And no, not “greatest of all time.” Just goat. We'd like it to catch on, but sports fans have a firm hold on it at the moment. However, we'll do our part to change that if you do yours. The art on this, by the way, is by an unknown, but the rear cover and several interior illustrations are by Lyle Justis.

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Vintage Pulp Apr 14 2024
ONLY FANS
You don't mind if I keep the blinds up, do you? The guys in the building across the street like to watch.


Above: a cover for the 1963 novel Bachelor Girl by Francis Loren. This was painted by acknowledged master Robert Maguire. As for Loren, we'll soon find out about him. We have one of his novels on deck. We've put together a couple of collections of covers featuring Venetian blinds. You can see those here and here

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Vintage Pulp Apr 12 2024
DAMN YANQUI
Baby, if God had meant for you to cover yourself he'd have given you three hands.


We've shared so many covers of unfortunate women being surprised while bathing in ponds and streams that we can't believe we missed this one by James Meese for George McKenna's 1958 novel Yanqui's Woman. Well, consider it an addition to the group, which is scattered in posts here, here, here, and here

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Vintage Pulp Apr 11 2024
A HELPING HANDSCHOEN
Eight! Nine! Nine and a half! Nine and five-eighths! Get up! I'm bought off but I can't be obvious! You think I'm a Supreme Court justice or something?


This Dutch paperback cover was painted by an unknown, but we love it. It fronts Judson P. Philips' De gouden handscheon. “Handschoen” is a pretty easy translation if you think literally—handshoe. But what the hell is a handshoe? *checking internet* In Dutch it means “glove.” Makes perfect sense. What do they call a condom? *checking internet* Sadly, it isn't “dickshoe.” Anyway, Philips was a pseudonym for Hugh Pentecost, and this was published by Uitgeverij de Combinatie in 1948.

Update: Same day update, actually, which should give you an idea how much time we spend poking around for information. Turns out the above cover was adapted from a 1936 issue of the pulp magazine Argosy. The art is signed by John A. Coughlin. Also note that Judson P. Philips has a story in the issue. That leads to the reasonable conclusion that De gouden handschoen is a Dutch translation of that story typeset to paperback length.
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Vintage Pulp Apr 8 2024
WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS
Fear and loathing are the least of his problems.

Jerry Allison art strikes a menacing note on the cover of William R. Cox's 1960 novel Murder in Vegas, in which Cox's gambler hero Tom Kincaid from 1958's Hell To Pay, which we recently discussed, returns to the written page to find more trouble. The first murder in the book actually occurs in Los Angeles, but someone is later knocked off in Vegas and as a direct result Kincaid is elevated from silent partner to full owner of a casino called the White Elephant. Simultaneously his girlfriend Jean Harper is in town filming a movie, and the murder and film production seem tied together. Kincaid is as interesting as before, but the fun creation here is down-on-her-luck party girl Carry Cain, who mixes sexiness and vulnerability with a beatnik mentality. She's an aspiring actress and gambling addict who thinks Kincaid might finally bring her the luck she's been seeking. Instead she finds herself in the middle of a Vegas-sized mess. Cox has talent, as we've noted before. It shines bright in Murder in Vegas.

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Vintage Pulp Apr 6 2024
CURTAIN CALL
Before we go in, I should warn you that Isa might jump out from somewhere. Act surprised. She'll leave you alone after that.

Above: a cover for the 1953 adventure Isa, written by René Roques and published by his Paris-based company Éditions R.R. Their cover art was often by Jef de Wulf, but this one is signed YB. We have no idea who that is, nor have we ever seen his or her work elsewhere, but it's an interesting effort. R.R. produced attractive covers even in collaboration with obscure artists, so some of the credit for their consistency probably goes to the company's art director—René Roques himself. Click his keywords below to see more. 

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Vintage Pulp Apr 4 2024
PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN
Relax, honey. They must be from that boat with the skull flag. I bet they're spring breakers on a booze cruise.

The 1960 Fontana edition of Peter Cheyney's Dark Bahama, with its unlucky man being mauled by a shark, is one of the craziest mid-century paperback covers you'll see. By contrast, the earlier 1957 edition above from Pan Books goes a bit more traditional. It was painted by Henry Fox, easily recognizable thanks to his unique signature at lower left. The book is unique too. Feel free to read the earlier write-up to find out how. 

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Vintage Pulp Apr 1 2024
CRIMSON TIDE
If you jump without looking you might get swept away.


The book you see above, a 1958 Popular Library edition of The Red Room by Belgian author Françoise Mallet-Joris, was picked up for us by a friend who thought he was buying a pulp novel. He was attracted by the cover, and it's indeed fine work, from the skilled brush (and possibly ink quill and charcoal pencil) of Mitchell Hooks. As for the novel, it was originally published in 1955 as La chambre rouge and was a sequel to 1951's Le rempart des Béguines.

When someone buys us a book we always read it out of appreciation and respect, even romance novels, and in reading The Red Room we were reminded once again of the skill gap between literary and crime fiction. There are obviously excellent, transcendent crime writers (and literary fiction that misses the mark), but Mallet-Joris—even translated—spins evocative phrases as deftly as a weaver with a loom. Like this one:

The presence of winter—vulgar winter, befurred and jangling her crystal adornments—was scarcely felt in the small white and gold drawing room.

Isn't that nice? It's not Hammett describing a gangster popping off shots in a crowded bar, but it's still fun to read. The tale is a coming of age breast-beater set in Gers, France in which the main character, eighteen-year-old Hélène Noris decides to steal the dashing young film director her hated stepmother Tamara has earmarked for extra-marital games. That actually sounds kind of pulp, doesn't it? Well, just wait.

At some point it becomes clear that Hélène had been Tamara's young lover (probably this is the central plot of the previous book). Tamara and Hélène had been carrying on, but in order to secure for herself a stable existence Tamara decided to marry Hélène's father. Thus, The Red Room charts Hélène as she impulsively steals her stepmother's crush, only to find herself getting in too deep with someone who's more experienced and decisive than any man she's known.

Needless to say, that plot sounds like some of the sleaze novels we highlight here, which would make you wonder, in terms of public perception, at which point the lowbrow becomes highbrow. And the easy answer to that is: when you can write like Mallet-Joris and critics adore you. Overall, The Red Room is probably a little too genteel and interiorized for most pulp readers, but we liked it. Consider that less a recommendation than an acknowledgment of talent.
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Next Page
History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
April 21
1918—The Red Baron Is Shot Down
German WWI fighter ace Manfred von Richthofen, better known as The Red Baron, sustains a fatal wound while flying over Vaux sur Somme in France. Von Richthofen, shot through the heart, manages a hasty emergency landing before dying in the cockpit of his plane. His last word, according to one witness, is "Kaputt." The Red Baron was the most successful flying ace during the war, having shot down at least 80 enemy airplanes.
1964—Satellite Spreads Radioactivity
An American-made Transit satellite, which had been designed to track submarines, fails to reach orbit after launch and disperses its highly radioactive two pound plutonium power source over a wide area as it breaks up re-entering the atmosphere.
April 20
1939—Holiday Records Strange Fruit
American blues and jazz singer Billie Holiday records "Strange Fruit", which is considered to be the first civil rights song. It began as a poem written by Abel Meeropol, which he later set to music and performed live with his wife Laura Duncan. The song became a Holiday standard immediately after she recorded it, and it remains one of the most highly regarded pieces of music in American history.
April 19
1927—Mae West Sentenced to Jail
American actress and playwright Mae West is sentenced to ten days in jail for obscenity for the content of her play Sex. The trial occurred even though the play had run for a year and had been seen by 325,000 people. However West's considerable popularity, already based on her risque image, only increased due to the controversy.
1971—Manson Sentenced to Death
In the U.S, cult leader Charles Manson is sentenced to death for inciting the murders of Sharon Tate and several other people. Three accomplices, who had actually done the killing, were also sentenced to death, but the state of California abolished capital punishment in 1972 and neither they nor Manson were ever actually executed.
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