Vintage Pulp Oct 29 2014
LA VIA BENVENUTI
Giovanni Benvenuti shows the way.

We thought we’d revisit the awesome work of Italian illustrator Giovanni Benvenuti. We shared a set last month, but just had to do another. These are once again part of the La Chouette collection published by the French imprint Ditis during the 1950s and 1960s.

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Vintage Pulp Oct 28 2014
IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE
La Vie Parisenne offers readers an enticing mix of cinema, illustration and photography.


Above, La Vie Parisienne #202 of October 1967—more than one hundred years into its existence by this point—with an uncredited cover star, and interior photos of Gina Lollobrigida, Dany Carrel, Terry Martine, Jane Fonda, Slovenian actress Sceila Rozin, aka Spela Rozin, and other celebs. There’s also a shot of Talitha Pol from Barbarella, and some of you may remember she married the fast living John Paul Getty, Jr. (he of the kidnapped son, though not Pol’s) and later died of a heroin overdose. You also get some truly excellent ink illustrations by the diverse James Hodges, not to be mistaken for contemporary artist Jim Hodges. James Hodges was a French pin-up artist of the 1960s who also became a magician and illustrated magic books, painted playing cards, and designed stage sets. See more from La Vie Parisienne here.

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Vintage Pulp Oct 26 2014
A LESSON IN MANNERS
Keeping his eyes on the objective.

We love this cover. It looks very much to us like the man who’s being choked was staring at a woman’s breasts and can’t take his eyes off them—even while being choked. That’s dedication. Y’en a marre… p’tite tête, by the way, means something like “fed up… little head.” Presumably that’s another of those French terms you have to be French to really understand. We'll await illumination via e-mail.

Update: Jo B. comes to the rescue again: "Petite tête" means that you have no brain, that you forget everything you've got to do or that you've been told. It means also that you're absent minded. On the contrary, "forte tête" which means "strong head" is used to design a person with a rough character, who doesn't like rules, who contests everything, doesn't like discipline and is always against the law. In roman noir, he's a bad boy, quite a gangster, the guy who doesn't tell anything to the police even if he's tortured or beaten. As the expression is used on a roman noir cover, I would say that the "petite tête" is used to design a bad guy who ain't got any future in gangster life, who will never be a "forte tête," who will be a loser and say everything to the police if he's arrested. It's pejorative and insulting.

Thank you again, Jo. You've been a great help, and thanks so much for continuing to visit the site.

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Vintage Pulp Oct 24 2014
MANINA AT SEVENTEEN
A young Bardot perfects her precocious style in Manina, la fille san voiles.

Brigitte Bardot took a while, like Marilyn Monroe, to morph into a bleached blonde, internationally famous sex symbol. The Girl in the Bikini, aka Manina, la fille sans voiles, presents a chance to see her just as she had begun to embark on that road. It was her second film and it opened when she was eighteen, but was shot while she was seventeen. The U.S. poster above doesn’t offer much in the way of style, but the film is another matter entirely.

Bardot plays a lighthouse keeper’s daughter who meets two men determined to find a treasure myth says was lost at sea after the Peloponnesian War. She appears about halfway through the film, sun spangled and filled with energy, frolicking on a rocky shore while almost—but never quite—losing her bikini. One of the treasure huntersmakes time for romance, while the other schemes to steal the loot. Bardot seems oblivious to the effect she has on men, and this innocent sexiness would be a style she’d hone to razor sharpness in later movies. It’s high on style and light on substance (and acting ability), ultimately quite watchable (and in true egalitarian French fashion, the guys also spend much of the movie barely clothed).
 
Just above you see two production stills, one of which was the basis for the American poster, followed by a very famous promo photo from the film showing a nude Bardot at the seaside. And below we have a few more posters—first, the original French promo by Guy Ferard Noël, followed by an alternate version by Clément Hurel. Below those are two more, including a French-language Belgian poster. Manina, la fille sans voiles premiered in France in December 1952, and in the U.S. today in 1958.

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Musiquarium Oct 16 2014
SEXUAL HEARING
Spread-eagled Aslan art helped cure the guilt of buying pirated music.

We said we were done with France for the moment, but we’re veering back there briefly today to show you this Cure album sleeve featuring art from the French painter Aslan. Live at Paradiso is a bootleg, same as the other Aslan-fronted Cure record we showed you back in January. The people who pressed this weren’t messing around, either—they opted for one of the artist’s more explicit paintings. No complaints here, but we bet Aslan was a bit annoyed when he saw his work appropriated yet again. It wouldn’t be the last time. We’ll get to more bootleg sleeves a bit later.

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Vintage Pulp Oct 14 2014
NOUS WORLD
Out of the fires of war came romance.


We’re sharing one last item from our France trip before moving on to other items. We haven’t run out of Parisian purchases, though—we’re just saving the rest of our finds for later. Above is another cover of the photo romance publication Nous Deux, which we mentioned was a French version of an Italian magazine put together by the brother of the two Italian publishers. That brother was Cino Del Duca, who was a major cog in the French Resistance during World War II, and earned the Croix de Guerre for his efforts.
 
After the war he launched a small publishing house in Paris and built that into a successful business. Later he diversified into cinema, and extended his publishing arm into West Germany, Great Britain, and his native Italy, building an empire in the process, and using his ample profits for philanthropic pursuits. When he died in 1967 streets were named for him in Paris and Biarritz, and today a major French literary award bears his name—the Prix Mondial Cino Del Duca.

The cover of this Nous Deux, with its happy and colorful holiday theme, is by Aslan, a prize-winner in his own right (he was given the prestigious Commandeur des Arts et Lettres in 2003). Some online sources say his covers appeared on the magazine only in the early 1960s, but 1968 is the date on this, and it’s one of his more beautiful pieces, we think. Now it’s time to put our French material aside and focus on other countries the way Cino Del Duca did. We’ll have more from him and Nous Deux later.

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Vintage Pulp Oct 13 2014
VENUS DE PARIS
French cover model earns her stripes.

This is the first issue of the Parisian art deco magazine Vénus we’ve had on the site. There’s a reason for that—they’re rare. And there’s a reason for that—they’re amazing. We think it’s the prettiest mid-century French art magazine ever made, and that’s really saying something, because plenty were published. This one survives from January 1937 and when we saw it at one of bouquinistes adjacent to the Seine it seemed to leap out from all the publications on offer. And no wonder—the cover photo-illustration of a woman dressed as a sort of theatre usher riding a carousel zebra is an instant classic. We’ve already made a high resolution scan of it and are thinking of having it framed. Our website (and other vintage websites) implicitly ask whether we are today living in a less artful age. Vénus answers that question definitively, especially when you consider that it was only one (but the best in our opinion) of a dozen or more French magazines of similar stripe (heh, because of the zebra). For a refresher on what was going on in Paris during the mid-century era check here, here, here, here, and here, but only after you scroll down and enjoy the interior of Páris, including a stunning overleaf, a great rear cover, and photography from Schostal, Caillaus, and others.

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Vintage Pulp Oct 11 2014
A REAL MOUTHFUL
Not only is she fun—she’s easy to swallow.

Souris à croquer means “chewable mouse.” Nothing more to add there, really, except to speculate that maybe it’s a slang phrase. French friends help us out. Moving on, you may already know the master illustrator Jean David, who signed his work J. David. Did he write this book? We have no idea, and neither did anyone else we asked. Considering J. David painted from the 1940s onward, and this book by Jean David appeared in 1958, it’s certainly possible they’re the same person. Note to selves: more research. Souris à croquer, by the way, means “chewable mouse.” Did we mention that already? Well, it bears repeating. The cover art here is not by J. David, but by Jihel, aka Jacques Leclerc. 

Update: Jo B. from Marseille has the answer, writing: "Souris à croquer" means "a mouse to eat."  "Mouse" is a little slang term (not vulgar) to designate a pretty girl. "Croquer" is the way you eat an apple, a bar of chocolate or something like that. I don't know the real word in English (munch, crunch?). Maybe we have two mice to crunch on the cover as "souris" can be one mouse or many mice.

Thanks so much Jo.

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Vintage Pulp Oct 11 2014
FATAL BALLET
Who can’t walk and chew gum at the same time now, smartass?

Above, another cool comic book cover, this one featuring a woman dressed vaguely like a ballet dancer seeming to scratch her ankle and shoot her enemy at the same time. Or maybe that’s just a normal French shooting pose, because they do everything with a bit more style. Actually, this is the French version of the Italian comic Satanik, created by Max Bunker and Magnus, and the character is Marny Bannister, a woman who develops a formula to make her beautiful, but with the side effect of turning her into a murderous criminal. The screen version starred Magda Konopka, who needs no formula of any sort to look good.

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Intl. Notebook Oct 10 2014
TIME TO FLEA
Bargains are few when the best flea market in Paris becomes the trendiest, but there's always hope for pulp diggers.


Vintage book seekers in Paris often focus their efforts on Le Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen, or the Saint-Ouen Flea Market. Operating since 1870, as you see in the vintage postcard above, the seventeen-acre site is located north of the 18th arrondissment, outside the Boulevard Périphérique encompassing the historic center of the city. Here thousands of vendors sell every item imaginable—furniture, board games, musical instruments, électrodomestiques, vinyl records, jewelry, art and more. There are also many cafés on site, and the combination of all this makes the market a popular destination. If you’re headed to Paris we recommend the place. Some unfavorable reviews focus on the prices, which we agree are not low, but this is less a true flea market than a rarities market—i.e., bargains are thin on the ground. But for pulp diggers it’s nice. Even sellers who don’t specialize in vintage publications sometimes keep a stash of books and magazines around because they’re just the sort of low cost items that bring browsers into the stalls.

Also on the subject of reviews, we saw some suggesting the market is unsafe. You have to scratch your head at some people’s fears. 120,000 people visit the Saint-Ouen during its busiest weekends and in no part of it could you manage to be more than twenty feet from other shoppers. It’s possible pickpockets may lurk, but that's true in any crowded spotin any big city in any country. Take the standard precautions, and then enjoy yourself—that's the only advice needed here. Oh, and bring good shoes. If this is indeed a flea market—disputed, as we mentioned earlier—then it's the largest in the world.

So, what did we buy? We came across a huge stack of Paris-Hollywood magazines, several tattered issues of Ciné-Revue, and plenty of old books. Budget mattered, but luckily the books and magazines were reasonably priced and every vendor we interacted with bargained willingly, even cheerfully. In the end we managed several good purchases, supplemented by crisp digital photos of the covers of items we couldn’t afford to acquire. A tweak in Photoshop and they’re almost as good as scans. We’ll share all of those in upcoming days.


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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
November 01
1938—Seabiscuit Defeats War Admiral
At Pimlico Racecourse in Baltimore, Maryland, the thoroughbred stallion Seabiscuit defeats the Triple Crown champion War Admiral in a match race that had been promoted as "The match of the Century" in horse racing. The victory made Seabiscuit a symbol of triumph against the odds during the dark days of the Depression, and his story became the subject of a 1949 film, a 2001 book, and a 2003 film, Seabiscuit, which was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture.
October 31
1984—Indira Gandhi Assassinated
In India, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi is assassinated by two of her own Sikh security guards in the garden of the Prime Minister's Residence at No. 1, Safdarjung Road in New Delhi. Gandhi had been walking to meet British actor Peter Ustinov for an interview. Riots soon break out in New Delhi and nearly 2,000 Sikhs are killed.
October 30
1945—Robinson Signs with Dodgers
Jackie Robinson, who had been playing with the Negro League team the Kansas City Monarchs, signs a contract with the Brooklyn Dodgers to become the first African-American major leaguer of the modern baseball era.
1961—Soviets Detonate Super Nuke
The Soviet Union detonates an experimental nuclear weapon called Tsar Bomba over the Arctic Circle, which, with a yield of 100 megatons of TNT, was then and remains today the most powerful weapon ever used by humanity.

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