Always digging up trouble.
We really like this 1944 Dell paperback cover for Dashiell Hammett’s A Man Called Spade. The book contains three Sam Spade stories, plus two other tales. The art is by Gerald Gregg, an illustrator who avoided titillation in his work. While some of his pieces don’t catch the eye the way typical good girl art did, certain pieces—like this one—are really good. The map back by Ruth Belew and four-page Introduction “Meet Sam Spade” by Ellery Queen make this edition highly collectible.
You know, in my country they’re clear-cutting forests at an alarming rate.
Above, Sucked into Sin, written by Curt Aldrich and published by Greenleaf Classics in 1968 for their Companion Books set. Typical sleaze here, with a story revolving around a woman whose husband leaves for Germany on a business trip for three weeks, prompting the horny neighbors to use the time to corrupt her. It doesn’t take much, and within days wifey's letting the whole neighborhood get on it. But what will she tell her husband? The cover artist for this is Ed Smith.
Jean de la Hire’s truth is stranger than fiction.
The French sci-fi novel L’Invisible was written by Jean de La Hire, aka Espié Adolphem, for Éditions Jaeger et Hauteville’s Fantastic series in 1953. The set-up is ingenious here—basically, H.G. Wells’ famous novel The Invisible Man was a disguised factual account, and this book reveals the truth about the man Wells fictionalized. He develops an invisibility potion, uses it to make a fortune, and later faces a choice between continuing on his path or giving it up for love. The cool cover art is by René Brantonne.
But he wasn’t all bad. Before him I had a pimp named Cletus and he was really terrible.
Cough, cough, hack, wheeze. We’re back from oblivion. Above you see the cover of Joe Castro’s Satan Was My Pimp, 1964, from Playtime, with cover art by Robert Bonfils. This is of course one of the great sleaze titles ever.
Why thank you. I’ll put this right into my secret account at HSBC.
It’s been a while since we shared any Mexican pulp art, so here’s a nice example—it’s entitled “Líderes aprovechado,” which means “exploited leaders,” and it depicts the buying off of a politician. How unsophisticated—don’t they know if they follow certain procedures this becomes a perfectly legal campaign donation? They need to look north for inspiration. Anyway, this painting and others we’ve shared were made for Mexico’s cheapie paperback market during the seventies and eighties. You can see a few other examples here, here, and here.
Hah! That was your last bullet! You’re out! You’re utterly screwed! Now what are you gonna—
On this amusing cover from Graphic Books a surprised P.I. narrowly avoids a serious beaning from a woman who definitely doesn’t want to be his valentine. 1953’s Post-Mark Homicide originally appeared as The Widow Gay in 1950 with the same art, painted by unknown on both editions, sadly. The novel is these days published with the author credited as Arthur A. Marcus. So what happens here? A crooked D.A. needs to recover a set of incriminating letters, hires a studly P.I. to do it, who in turn has to deal with a recently widowed—like, earlier that day—but not exactly grieving gangster’s moll. This pistol-slinging move never worked in the movies, and it doesn’t work here either, but we always love to see it.
Actually, my husband already came home. But don’t worry. Except for getting fresh beers he might as well be in Mongolia until WWE Raw is over.
Above, a nice Tom Miller cover for Suburban Lovers, Jay Carr’s tale of various married suburbanites bedding their neighbors, published 1962, for Monarch. Carr, who was in actuality James P. Duff, must have done okay with this theme, because he also published Crack-Up in Suburbia for Monarch, also in 1962.
For better or worse, in sickness and health, women in pulp don’t have a heck of a lot of choice about it.
Pulp is a place where the men are decisive and the women are as light as feathers. We’ve gotten together a collection of paperback covers featuring women being spirited away to places unknown, usually unconscious, by men and things that are less than men. You have art from Harry Schaare, Saul Levine, Harry Barton, Alain Gourdon, aka Aslan, and others.
, John B. Thompson
, Bernard Mara
, K.H. Helms Liesenhoff
, Bruno Fischer
, Verne Chute
, Jean de la Hire
, Robert O. Saber
, Brett Halliday
, Robert Martin
, John Dickson Carr
, Edgar Rice Burroughs
, Clyde Allison
, Charlotte Armstrong
, Victor Hugo
, Marcus Miller
, Jean Ford
, Mary Roberts Rinehart
, Richard S. Prather
, Saul Levine
, Harry Schaare
, Keith Vining
, Barry Perowne
, Walker A. Tomkins
, Jack Williamson
, Norman Saunders
, George Gross
, Harry Barton
, Alain Gourdon
, cover art
Sweet Homicide? The song is called “Sweet Caroline.” What is this new singer of yours, Vinny, some kind of friggin’ smart aleck?
Bad times never felt so good, so good, so good, especially for an ambitious newspaper reporter investigating a murder in Prohibition-era Chicago. The novel Sing Out Sweet Homicide is a tie-in to the 1960-1962 television series The Roaring 20’s, and you get all the elements here—mobsters, molls, and money by the fistful. The cover art is by Mort Engle.
What a strange country. I was arrested for baring my breasts but called a hero for carrying a gun.
Bersaglio a 5 was published in 1968 by E.P.I./Ottimo as entry fifty in their series Agente Segreto. The title means “Target 5,” and the art by Benedetto Caroselli hits the target too.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1912—First Parachute Jump Takes Place
Albert Berry jumps from a biplane traveling at 1,500 feet and lands by parachute at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri. The 36 foot diameter chute was contained in a metal canister attached to the underside of the plane, and when Berry dropped from the plane his weight pulled the canopy from the canister. Rather than being secured into the chute by a harness, Berry was seated on a trapeze bar. It's possible he was only the second man to accomplish a parachute landing, as there are some accounts of someone accomplishing the feat in California several months earlier.
1932—Lindbergh Baby Is Kidnapped
The twenty-month-old son of aviator Charles Lindbergh, Charles Augustus Lindbergh III, is kidnapped from the family home in East Amwell, New Jersey. Over two months later the toddler's body is discovered in woods a short distance from the home. A medical examination determines that he had died of a massive skull fracture. A German carpenter named Bruno Hauptmann is arrested, tried, and convicted for the crime. He is sentenced to death and executed in April 1936.
1953—Watson and Crick Unravel DNA
American biologists James D. Watson and Francis Crick tell their friends that they have determined the chemical structure of DNA. The formal announcement takes place in April following publication in Nature magazine. In 1968, Watson writes The Double Helix, a non-fiction account of not only the discovery of the structure of DNA, but the personalities, conflicts and controversy surrounding the work.
1922—Challenge to Women's Voting Rights Rebuffed
In the United States, a conservative legal challenge to the nineteenth amendment to the U.S. Constitution establishing voting rights for women is rebuffed by the Supreme Court in Leser v. Garnett. The challenge was based partly on the idea of individual "states rights" to self determination. The failure of such reasoning as it applied to basic human rights created a framework for later states rights losses involving the denial of voting rights to African-Americans.
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