Vintage Pulp Nov 25 2015
Mid-century paperback art and the race to judgment.

Science has given humanity a lot over the centuries. What will turn out to be one of its most important gifts is its conclusion, widely disseminated beginning in 1950 but by today firmly proven thanks to DNA sequencing, that race doesn’t exist in any scientific way. Of course, many don’t consider that fact a gift—but many people also had serious problems with the revelation that the Earth wasn’t flat. The concept of anti-black racism came entirely from the human imagination within about the last five-hundred years, principally as a means to justify the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Seen in that light, scientific proof that race doesn’t exist represents not new knowledge, but a return to knowledge that existed before the drive for riches caused men to deliberately warp human thought as a means to cover for mass cruelty.

As an imaginary construct, however, race is persistently powerful, which the collection of paperback fronts above and below strongly illustrate. We weren’t around when any of these were written, but their existence reveals a surprisingly (to us) lively market in such material. Were all the books you see here of great worth? Certainly not. But even with their flaws—particularly woman-blaming for rape—these books are artifacts of a fascinating racial dialogue that we suspect, on balance, was beneficial. We have forty-nine examples and there are at least a couple dozen more we didn’t include (Black Dicks for Marcie was just a bit too out there). Some of those pieces will pop up later in a slightly different themed collection. In addition to what you see here, we also put together a related group last year featuring an Asian theme and you can see that here. 


Vintage Pulp Nov 24 2015
I already knew you weren’t married, silly. No self-respecting wife would let her man out wearing such an atrocious tie.

Above is a beautiful and lighthearted cover for No Time for Marriage by David Charlson for Venus Books, 1951, featuring a smiling femme fatale and her homme with his garish pin-up girl tie. The art isn’t attributed and Gary Lovisi’s reference book Dames, Dolls and Delinquents lists it as by unknown. But we think it’s by George Gross. Compare it to a cover confirmed as painted by Gross—One Wild Night, which you see just to the right. The general style is close if not identical, and the female figures on both covers wear drawstring puffsleeve blouses, necklaces, an assortment of gold bracelets, and the always popular ankle strap pumps. We sound like we’ve been watching Project Runway for the last ten years, we know, but this is what obsessing over paperback art does to you. You also notice that the pose, facial features and hairdos on both covers are nearly identical too. While it’s true Rudy Nappi also painted in this general style for Venus, his hairstyles were usually less sculptural than what you see here. We also think the similarities of No Time for Marriage to other Gross covers are too great to ignore. In any case, we hope whoever painted it was well paid at least, because the same art was reused for Joan Tucker’s 1954 novel Young Secretary


Vintage Pulp Nov 23 2015
Get off me, you gorilla! Don’t you girl-pimping drug dealing thieving gangsters know how to take no for an answer?

Above, a nice front for Frank Smith’s Back Alley, for Beacon Signal. A lonely call girl named Judy falls in love with a racketeer who by various vicious means has made his way from the gutter to the penthouse. Things go sour between the two and it’s clear gangster sees moll as merely another disposable babe—but she has plans to make him see her differently. 1958, with George Geygan art. 


Vintage Pulp Nov 21 2015
That’s just my name for them. Everyone else still calls them men.

Above, another winner from Greenleaf Classics, Don Holliday’s The Lust Pigs, 1962, for the Midnight Reader line. The real author behind this one was David Case, who wrote ten books total for Greenleaf, including Lust Circuit and Luster’s Lane. Clearly he had a thing about lust. As do we all. The art is unattributed. 


Vintage Pulp Nov 19 2015
Baby, you are something special. And to imagine I once thought a quality spread only referred to the stock market.

They say money can’t buy love, but it can certainly buy a reasonable facsimile. That’s not our opinion—that’s empirical reality. It works even if you’re even as old as this guy. Gordon Semple, aka William Neubauer, Norman Bligh, et al, explores the theme of love-for-money in Love-Crazy Millionaire, as a rich man gets tangled up with a woman who’s decided it’s time to get ahead in life. It comes from Croydon Publishing Company, and the excellent cover art is by Bernard Safran, who we need to feature more often. 1954 copyright on this.
And now, the top 20 financial terms that sound sexual but aren’t:
20: Backup withholding
19: Tender offer
18: Liquidity put
17: Horizontal acquisition
16: Gypsy swap
15: Usufruct
14: 30-day wash rule
13: In-service withdrawal
12: Leptokurtosis
11: Open position
10: Jointly and severally
  9: Receipt of deposit
  8: Underperformance
  7: Pump and dump
  6: Naked straddle
  5: Escheat period
  4: Fallout risk
  3: W-type bottom
  2: Front-end load
  1: Endowment 


Vintage Pulp Nov 17 2015
They were like shipments passing in the night.

Above, a classic piece of good girl art by illustrator Frank Cozzerelli for Si Podolin's Devil's Cargo, 1955, from Pyramid-Giant. The book is about a solder of fortune and an “Arab bellydancer” who team up in Marseilles to smuggle stolen weapons into French Morocco. It was written around the time of a lot of unrest there, which gives it some extra spice, and Morocco finally gained independence a year later. 


Vintage Pulp Nov 16 2015
Avon Publications dared to ask—will readers pay to be turned on?

Avon Publications launched in 1941 as a direct competitor to the revolutionary Pocket Books. But while Pocket was basically a literary house, Avon directed itself toward the popular market, working with lesser known authors focused on pure entertainment, and promoting books by featuring more visually arresting covers. The company veered further in the mass market direction when it launched a subsidiary called Novel Library, which saw it begin experimenting with racier fiction. Jack Woodford, born in 1894 as Josiah Pitts Woolfolk, was one of the early practitioners of what would later become sleaze fiction. His books, mostly written during the 1930s and 1940s, were pretty chaste by later standards, but helped prove that pulp readers would pay for sexual thrills. Above are seven of the eight Woodford books published by Novel Library between 1948 and 1950. Some originally appeared under other titles, for example Free Lovers, which was aka Fiddler's Fee. The cover artists here are, top to bottom, J. Biernacki, Perlowen (not Perl Owen, as seen on many sites), D. Trager-Phillips, Ann Cantor, and unknowns. You can see Woodford's eighth Novel Library book in this group.


Vintage Pulp Nov 14 2015
Hello? I’m from next door! If you don’t turn down that infernal music I swear I’m going to shoot you!

Charles Williams’ A Touch of Death (published in Britain as Mix Yourself a Redhead) had several different covers, but this 1963 Gold Medal edition with uncredited art is easily the best. It’s a bit strange, though. It almost seems as if it depicts a blind woman. And it does—a woman who’s blind drunk. An intruder is sneaking up on her as she gets loaded and plays her record collection. Don’t worry though. The hero saves her and once she sobers up she reveals herself to be one of mid-century fiction’s greatest femmes fatales—the immortal Madelon Butler. This is a really good book. 


Vintage Pulp Nov 10 2015
Hmm… an Englishman to gut with my new blade. And here I was planning to go home and shave my monobrow.

We were talking recently about Harlequin’s early days as a publisher of more than romance fiction. Above is another example—Bats with Baby Faces by W. Stanley Moss, a former British Army officer who wrote such best sellers as Ill Met by Moonlight and A War of Shadows. Bats with Baby Faces, the title of which references bat-like masks rather than actual bats, deals with intrigue and smuggling in the Deir-ez-Zor region of Syria, and in Cairo, where Moss lived in a villa that became a hub for the British social set. The most famous of his numerous real-life adventures occurred during that period, and that time also served as inspiration for much of his fiction. Harlequin’s edition of Bats with Baby Faces was published in 1952, and the cover art, with its mean caricature of an Egyptian who’s so swarthy he’s—bizarrely—purple, is uncredited. More Harlequin here and here.


Vintage Pulp Nov 9 2015
Aren’t you a little old for this sort of thing?

Bernard Wolfe is known for several reasons, not least of them for being Leon Trotsky’s personal secretary in Mexico City, but he was also a novelist of wide-ranging interests. Come On Out, Daddy was his Hollywood book, about a New York author who moves out west to cash in on an easy screenwriting job. While making a couple thousand dollars a week for doing very little he runs into the usual assortment of jaded Tinseltown characters—from big stars to little wannabes—and trysts with an assortment of disposable beauties before of course meeting the woman of his dreams. It’s episodic due to it being partly cobbled together from short stories published in Playboy and Cavalier, but reasonably well regarded as a cultural satire. Life described it as “garrulously and surrealistically told by a huge cast of people in varying stages of corruption.” 1963 on the hardback, and 1964 on the above, with cool cover art by James Meese.


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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
November 25
1947—Hollywood Blacklist Instituted
The day after ten Hollywood writers and directors are cited for contempt of Congress for refusing to give testimony to the House Committee on Un-American Activities, the group, known as the "Hollywood Ten," are blacklisted by Hollywood movie studios.
November 24
1963—Ruby Shoots Oswald
Nightclub owner and mafia associate Jack Ruby fatally shoots alleged JFK assassin Lee Harvey Oswald in the basement of Dallas police department headquarters. The shooting is broadcast live on television and silences the only person known for certain to have had some connection to the Kennedy killing.
1971—D.B. Cooper Escapes from Airplane
In the U.S., during a thunderstorm over Washington state, a hijacker calling himself Dan Cooper, aka D. B. Cooper, parachutes from a Northwest Orient Airlines flight with $200,000 in ransom money. Neither he nor the money are ever found.
November 23
1936—First Edition of Life Published
Henry Luce launches Life, a weekly magazine with an emphasis on photo-journalism. Life dominates the U.S. market for more than forty years, publishing scores of iconic photographs that remain some of the most recognizable ever shot, and peaking at one point with a circulation of more than 13.5 million copies a week.
1963—Doctor Who Debuts on BBC
The BBC broadcasts the first episode of Doctor Who, starring William Hartnell as a mysterious alien who time travels in his spaceship, the TARDIS. With his companions, he explores time and space while facing a variety of foes and righting wrongs. The show would become the longest-running science fiction series ever broadcast.

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