Vintage Pulp Aug 16 2015
OSTRICK RECIPE
J. Oval’s style was as clean and vivid as a master chef’s.

Illustrator J. Oval was a Brit named Ben Ostrick who painted under both his pseudonym and real name. His crisp illustrations helped make Pan Books, which debuted in 1944, one of the most eye-catching mid-century imprints. Pan is still around as part of Britain-based Macmillan Publishers, which is in turn owned by the Georg von Holtzbrinck Publishing Group of Germany. Many of Oval’s pieces for Pan were paired with works so obscure they’re almost impossible to find today, but above you see a good-sized collection, including a few we managed to turn up that haven’t been widely seen. With few exceptions they all use the same formula, though he would occasionally deviate by painting a fully rendered background, or populating a scene with more than one or two figures. You can see a couple more Oval covers in our collection of Asia-influenced paperback art here, and we also shared a small collection of his work back in 2011 that you can find here. 

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Vintage Pulp Sep 11 2014
ALPHA BEST
Faced with this position surrender is the only option.

Here you see a pose that appears over and over in vintage paperback art—one figure looming menacingly in the foreground as a second cowers in the triangular negative space created by the first’s spread legs. This pose is so common it should have a name. We’re thinking “the alpha,” because it signifies male dominance and because of the a-shape the pose makes. True, on occasion the dominator isn’t male, sometimes the unfortunate sprawled figure is depicted outside the a-shaped space, and sometimes the art expresses something other than dominance, but basically the alpha (see, that just sounds right, doesn’t it?) has been used scores of times with only minor variation. You’ll notice several of these come from subsidiaries of the sleaze publisher Greenleaf Classics. It was a go-to cover style for them. We have twenty examples in all, with art by Bob Abbett, Robert Bonfils, Michel Gourdon, and others.

 
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Vintage Pulp Nov 15 2012
HONEY DO TIMES TWO
Clean the toilet? Take out the trash? Sigh. I was expecting twice the sex, not twice the chores.

Here’s a nice cover for Patrick Quentin’s, aka Hugh Wheeler’s murder mystery The Man with Two Wives, which was published in hardback in 1955, and appeared in this paperback edition in ’59. In the story, a man’s wild child first wife reappears to complicate his orderly existence with his second. His problem gets worse when his first wife’s lover is killed, and the only way he can get her off the hook is by admitting to the police—and his current wife—that he was with the first wife when the murder happened. Complicated? No doubt. An interesting bit of trivia: the flim rights were bought by David Niven, but he never managed to get the project made. The art here is by Robert McGinnis.

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Vintage Pulp Aug 20 2012
DEATH BECOMES HER
Die young and leave a good-looking corpse.

Above, five excellent if morbid paperback covers showing a favorite pose of pulp artists—the beautiful supine dead woman with staring eyes and—just to make it a little creepy—nice cleavage. Art by Maurice Thomas, Rudolph Belarski, Willard Downes, George Geygan, and uncredited. 

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Vintage Pulp Nov 1 2010
EXCRUCIATING STAIN
Gasp! How on Earth will I ever get that out of the rug?

Samuel Cherry cover art for Q. Patrick’s Cottage Sinister, published in 1933. Patrick is yet another one of those pseudonyms for multiple authors. Writing under that name—as well as the names Patrick Quentin, Quentin Patrick, and Jonathan Stagge—was a quartet of authors consisting of Hugh Callingham Wheeler, Richard Wilson Webb, Martha Mott Kelly, and Mary Louise White Aswell. We know. This pulp stuff gets really complicated sometimes. 

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
March 23
2011—Elizabeth Taylor Dies
American actress Elizabeth Taylor, whose career began at age 12 when she starred in National Velvet, and who would eventually be nominated for five Academy Awards as best actress and win for Butterfield 8 and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, dies of congestive heart failure in Los Angeles. During her life she had been hospitalized more than 70 times.
March 22
1963—Profumo Denies Affair
In England, the Secretary of State for War, John Profumo, denies any impropriety with showgirl Christine Keeler and threatens to sue anyone repeating the allegations. The accusations involve not just infidelity, but the possibility acquaintances of Keeler might be trying to ply Profumo for nuclear secrets. In June, Profumo finally resigns from the government after confessing his sexual involvement with Keeler and admitting he lied to parliament.
1978—Karl Wallenda Falls to His Death
World famous German daredevil and high-wire walker Karl Wallenda, founder of the acrobatic troupe The Flying Wallendas, falls to his death attempting to walk on a cable strung between the two towers of the Condado Plaza Hotel in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Wallenda is seventy-three years old at the time, but it is a 30 mph wind, rather than age, that is generally blamed for sending him from the wire.
2006—Swedish Spy Stig Wennerstrom Dies
Swedish air force colonel Stig Wennerström, who had been convicted in the 1970s of passing Swedish, U.S. and NATO secrets to the Soviet Union over the course of fifteen years, dies in an old age home at the age of ninety-nine. The Wennerström affair, as some called it, was at the time one of the biggest scandals of the Cold War.
March 21
1963—Alcatraz Closes
The federal penitentiary located on Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay closes. The island had been home to a lighthouse, a military fortification, and a military prison over the years. In 1972, it would become a national recreation area open to tourists, and it would receive national landmark designations in 1976 and 1986.
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