Wild time leaves man with splitting headache.
The cover of this September 1970 issue of Australia's Adam magazine illustrates W. A. Harbinson's story “The Swinging Hep-Cat,” in which a man and woman spend most of their brief marriage fighting. He eventually strangles her. Or thinks he does. She actually survives and he only learns of this fact in jail from the cops who arrested him, as they laugh about it and reveal that she's fled for Paris—and the arms of another man. Much of the fiction in men's adventure magazines is disposable, for lack of a kinder term. We love it, of course. Men's magazine fiction would be nothing without hack writing. But Harbinson actually shows some skills in “The Swinging Hep-Cat,” as well as a muscular style. A sample:
We fought considerably during those early days of our marriage, bouts of most regal proportions, plates, knives, hair-brushes and antiques flying across the bedroom on fierce winds of abuse, she raging naked against the French windows in full view of the tourists below, me crouching back toward the door wondering how to tackle this bitch who had eaten my peace—a farce, a pantomime, a lunatic performance on both sides, always dissolving in the bed.
Or this little description:
Francisco Antonio D'Costa Pegado, a glorious dark beast of a man, rich as sin, tight as a drum, an incredible neurotic lover.
We checked after finishing the story, fully expecting Harbinson to have an extensive bibliography and we were right. He's written several dozen novels, mostly sci-fi, under his own name and that of Shaun Clarke. Not every good wordsmith manages to carve out a strong career—or any career, for that matter—so we were pleased Harbinson did well, because he actually knows how to use language in a way that brings it to three-dimensional life. At least he did in “The Swinging Hep-Cat.” He's still around and was last published in 2012, but we'll probably mine his earlier material, his stuff from the 1970s. We have high hopes. Elsewhere in Adam is fiction from Jack Ritchie, Austrian actress Senta Berger on the table-of-contents page, and plenty of cartoons. We have twenty-eight scans below, including a mega Berger in the final panel for your enjoyment.
Damn. Nothing but fifties and hundreds in here. Oh, and my diamond ring too. I wondered where that went.
Second book in Ed McBain's famed 87th Precinct series, The Mugger deals with a smug purse snatcher (he bows and thanks each of his victims before slapping their faces) who eventually hospitalizes one target and kills another. Or at least is suspected of the killing. The murder victim turns out to be a cop's sister-in-law, which brings Patrolman Bert Kling into play—though the book actually details a large cast of precinct detectives McBain would write about repeatedly during the series. The Mugger is a procedural, so you get an inside look at detecting techniques, banter, etc. The book was adapted for a 1958 film of the same name starring Kent Smith and Nan Martin. The art for this 1956 Perma Books paperback, showing a prospective robbery victim who seems to have chosen the most secluded bus stop in New York City, was painted by Lou Marchetti.
To a hammerer every problem looks like a nail.
In Dorothy Salisbury Davis's A Gentle Murderer a man visits a confessional and reveals murdering someone with a hammer and flees into the night before the priest knows what to do. The dismayed padre decides to search for the mysterious man who burdened him with this terrible knowledge, thus taking on the role of detective in the story, though the police are on hand to conduct a parallel investigation. Naturally, another murder will soon occur if the killer isn't caught. The plot is similar to that of Alfred Hitchcock's 1953 film I Confess, but appeared in hardback two years earlier. However, the Hitchcock movie was actually based on Paul Anthelme Bourde's 1902 play Nos deux consciences, so perhaps Davis was inspired by either the play or Hitchcock's adaptation. Whatever the genesis, the result was a highly regarded mystery, considered by some to be among the best of the era. The cover art on this Bantam paperback edition is by Charles Binger, and dates from 1953.
, I Confess
, A Gentle Murderer
, Nos deux consciences
, Dorothy Salisbury Davis
, Alfred Hitchcock
, Paul Anthelme Bourde
, Charles Binger
, cover art
In the end I have to admit this minimalist look is kind of depressing. Maybe I should buy an ottoman.
Robert McGinnis does his usual flawless work on this cover for Erle Stanley Gardner's The Case of the Bigamous Spouse. Many summaries of this online, but briefly, it's about a door-to-door saleswoman who is implicated in the murder of her best friend's new husband, who was married to two women. Rest assured, Perry Mason sorts it all out as perfectly as McGinnis sorted out this cover.
Hey, Sarge, I'm ready for those nocturnal maneuvers you mentioned.
Not long ago we put together a large collection of lesbian paperback covers from the mid-century period. This one—Harry Whittington's Rebel Woman, 1960, from Avon Publications—we held back. It was just too awesome to mix in with the fifty or so we posted earlier. As we mentioned before, since these were mainly written by men, they reflected male fantasies and assumptions, and this one is prototypical anti-lesbian sleaze. An American mercenary gets involved in a Latin American revolution and is captured by a squad of female rebels. When he realizes the leader of the group is an old flame he figures he has nothing to worry about. But when he “saw the way she looked at the girl Dolores [he knew] the twisted path she had taken.” He decides she'll need to be reconverted to the hetero team, but that may be harder than it seems at first glance. Whittington may have gone to hell for writing this one.
Hi, babe, I'm back early from— Aw, shit. Not again.
Twice a Fool was published by Vega Books, above, and by Fabian Books, a version that was identical in every way except the company logo. That's because both Fabian and Vega, along with Saber Books, were owned by Sanford Aday, as we've mentioned before. Bunny Strand was in reality sleaze author Bernie Strahn, who also wrote such highbrow classics as Reaching High, The Bedroom Imposter, and Sex Party: The Rape of Lori Grant. Info on him is scarce, but we'll keep digging. Twice a Fool is copyright 1960 with uncredited cover art.
Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.
We love this Walter Popp cover art for Graphic Books' 1954 edition of Milton Ozaki's Dressed To Kill. He painted a couple of favorite covers, including A Time for Murder and New York Model, which we showed you here and here. In Dressed To Kill a private eye takes a job repossessing cars, and the first one he goes after is driven by a beautiful blonde and has a corpse in the trunk. The corpse of course leads to loot, and the loot of course attracts the villains—a bunch of Chicago mobsters. Generally well reviewed, but not Ozaki's best, according to most sources.
These are people who definitely pay attention to the poles.
When you look at lots of paperbacks sometimes a common thread suddenly jumps out at you that went unnoticed before. Such was the case a few weeks ago when we noticed the large number of characters on mid-century covers leaning against poles—light poles, telephone poles, sign poles, etc. We suggested someone should put together a collection, but of course we really meant us, so today you see above and below various characters deftly using these features of the urban streetscape as accessories. Art is from Benedetto Caroselli, Harry Schaare, George Gross, Rudolph Belarski, James Avati, et al. You can see a couple more examples here and here. Robert O. Saber
, Michael Croft
, Sloan Britton
, Edward Anderson
, Peter Cheyney
, William Ard
, Franz Silberman
, Lynton Wright Brent
, Bart Michaels
, Leslie Charteris
, Orrie Hitt
, Mark Reed
, Arthur Miller
, Robert Bloch
, Jay de Bekker
, Joan Ellis
, James T. Farrell
, John D. MacDonald
, Harmon Bellamy
, Geoffrey Pardoe
, John Lodwick
, Francis Carco
, Benedetto Caroselli
, Harry Schaare
, George Gross
, Rudolph Belarski
, Tom Howe
, Stella Wyngarde
, Bernard Malamud
, Eric Lambert
, Herbert Simmoms
, Roy Huggins
, cover collection
, cover art
It ain't your lucky day anymore, is it, mister, “Wow, can you believe it? Another straight flush.”?
Mafia is a non-fiction rundown of the Italian organized crime rackets up to 1952, which is when the book first appeared in hardback. The above edition from Signet appeared in 1954. Author Ed Reid, who was an associate of organized crime crusader Charles Kefauver, covers cosa nostra personalities such as Vito Genovese, Lucky Luciano, the Fischetti Brothers, Albert Anastasia, and many others. Though non-fiction, Reid presents the information as a narrative, and we gather he took a bit of license. But he was a Pulitzer Prize winning reporter and Mafia was an eye-opener when it was published. Cover art is by James Avati, and serves as a reminder that the person with the pistol always has the best hand.
, Pulitzer Prize
, Ed Reid
, Vito Genovese
, Lucky Luciano
, Fischetti Brothers
, Albert Anastasia
, Charles Kefauver
, James Avati
, cover art
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1941—Williams Bats .406
Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox finishes the Major League Baseball season with a batting average of .406. He is the last player to bat .400 or better in a season.
1964—Warren Commission Issues Report
The Warren Commission, which had been convened to examine the circumstances of John F. Kennedy's assassination, releases its final report, which concludes that Lee Harvey Oswald, acting alone, killed Kennedy. Today, up to 81% of Americans are troubled
by the official account of the assassination.
1934—Queen Mary Launched
The RMS Queen Mary, three-and-a-half years in the making, launches from Clydebank, Scotland. The steamship enters passenger service in May 1936 and sails the North Atlantic Ocean until 1967. Today she is a museum and tourist attraction anchored in Long Beach, U.S.A.
1983—Nuclear Holocaust Averted
Soviet military officer Stanislav Petrov, whose job involves detection of enemy missiles, is warned by Soviet computers that the United States has launched a nuclear missile at Russia. Petrov deviates from procedure, and, instead of informing superiors, decides the detection is a glitch. When the computer warns of four more inbound missiles he decides, under much greater pressure this time, that the detections are also false. Soviet doctrine at the time dictates an immediate and full retaliatory strike, so Petrov's decision to leave his superiors out of the loop very possibly prevents humanity's obliteration. Petrov's actions remain a secret until 1988, but ultimately he is honored at the United Nations.
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