Vintage Pulp Sep 4 2012
BEACH BOYS
She’s picking up hood vibrations.

Nice cover art by Brendan J. Lynch for the September 1958 cover of True Detective. True crime magazines, unlike men’s and tabloid publications, generally didn’t feature high-quality art inside, however we’ve scanned a few pages and posted them below.

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Vintage Pulp Aug 9 2012
A NOT SO SUPERCUT
Everybody get back or my hairdresser dies!

The above Special Detective-Crime from August 1972 promises tales of thrill-seeking wives and more, but how can we possibly get past the cover? Look at this poor guy. He told his hairstylist to turn him into Rod Stewart but instead she turned him into a Ukrainian field hockey player. The cops are screaming at him to let the woman go, and he’s screaming back that he wants his bangs redone. It’s not going to end well.

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The Naked City Jul 31 2012
MASTER PLAN
A little ingenuity goes a long way.

Above, a cover of Master Detective from July 1949, inside of which is a story on Ruth Snyder. In March 1927 Snyder garroted her husband with the help of her lover, a corset salesman named Henry Judd Gray. The couple had been after insurance money, but instead they were caught, tried, and sentenced to death by means of electrocution. On the day of the event, which took place at Sing Sing Prison, a photographer named Tom Howard entered the execution chamber as a witness. He was under assignment for the New York Daily News, but was actually based in Chicago, which meant he was unknown to prison authorities in the New York area. That was important, because Howard’s assignment was to illegally take a photo of Ruth Snyder’s execution, which had considerable tabloid value because she would be the first woman put to death at Sing Sing since 1899. Howard was ingeniously prepared—he had strapped a camera to his ankle, and had fed a shutter release up one pant leg to an accessible point inside his suit jacket. At the moment the executioner threw the switch, Howard lifted his pant leg and snapped the blurry photo below, which appeared the next day in the New York Daily News under a huge header that read simply: Dead! The issue was a sensation, the image became iconic, and Howard became nationally famous. 

 
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Vintage Pulp Mar 21 2012
PAGES OF SIN
Naughty girls need love too.

Above, Front Page Detective with two great cover models that reappear in panel nine below, posing for Stanley Harrison’s exposé “The Story Behind the Texas Girl Racket,” which, as you might guess, has to do with prostitution (specifically, in and around the Fort Worth and Trinity River area). Inside the magazine you find more models posing for more crime stories, a few actual perp shots, and a couple of nice illustrations. All below, March 1955. 

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The Naked City | Vintage Pulp Feb 16 2012
BAD ALBERT
Albert Nussbaum was good at almost everything—but what he really enjoyed was crime.

Above is an Inside Detective published February 1963, containing a feature on Albert Nussbaum and Bobby Wilcoxson, a pair of armed robbers who were among the most sought after fugitives of their time. Nussbaum was the brains of the operation, and was adept at chess and photography, and was a locksmith, gunsmith, pilot, airplane mechanic, welder, and draftsman. With his spatial and mechanical aptitude, many careers would have been available to him, but he chose instead to become a bank robber. Predictably, he was good at that too.  

Nussbaum and Wilcoxson knocked over eight banks between 1960 and 1962, taking in more than $250,000, which back then was the equivalent of more than two million. During a December 1961 Brooklyn robbery, Wilcoxson got an itchy trigger finger and machine-gunned a bank guard. The killing landed him on the FBI’s most wanted list. But even after the Feds distributed more than a million wanted posters and involved upwards of 600 agents in the case, they could locate neither him nor the elusive Nussbaum. The pair were just too smart.

But brains are not the same as intuition. Nussbaum was clever enough to arrange a meeting with his estranged wife right under the authorities’ noses, but apparently had no clue his mother-in-law was capable of dropping a dime on him. What followed was a 100 mph chase through the streets of Buffalo that ended only after a civilian rammed Nussbaum’s car.Wilcoxson was arrested soon afterward in Maryland, and both robbers were convicted of murder. But where Wilcoxson got the chair (a sentence which was commuted to life upon appeal), Nussbaum got forty years, which made him eligible for parole.

Before being arrested Nussbaum had begun corresponding with mystery author Dan Marlowe, who encouraged him to put his experiences into fiction. He suddenly had plenty of time on his hands, so he wrote some short stories, and of course, he had an aptitude for that, too. With Marlowe’s help, he scored a gig writing film reviews for the Montreal magazine Take One, and after being paroled years later, wrote fiction that appeared in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Alfred Hitchock’s Mystery Magazine, and other places. He and Marlowe eventually lived together, with Nussbaum acting as a sort of caretaker for his mentor, who was in failing health and suffering from amnesia. Marlowe died in 1987 and Nussbaum continued to write, as well as host workshops, and get himself elected president of the Southern California chapter of the Mystery Writer’s Association.

Truly, Albert Nussbaum’s story is one of the most interesting you’ll ever run across, and there’s much more to it than we covered here. Perhaps a suitable summation would be to say that before there was such a term as “street cred” Nussbaum had it in spades. His crimes resulted in a man’s death, and his later fame traded on the very experiences that led to that tragic event—unforgivable, on some level. But still, he proved that, given a second chance, some people are capable of making the most of it. Albert Nussbaum died in 1996, aged 62.

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Vintage Pulp Jan 4 2012
FIRST DEGREE BURNS
That’s the sound of the men working on the chain gang.

Dalton Stevens’ cover for this January 1931 issue of True Detective looks a bit like a horror illustration, but it's actually supposed to represent Robert E. Burns, who in 1922 helped rob a Georgia grocery, earned himself 6 to 10 at hard labor, but escaped and made his way to Chicago, where he adopted a new identity and rose to success as a magazine editor. Years later, when he tried to divorce the woman he had married, she betrayed him to Georgia authorities, and what followed was a legal battle between Georgia courts and Chicago civic leaders, with the former wanting Burns extradited, and the latter citing his standing in the community and calling for his pardon. Burns eventually went back to Georgia voluntarily to serve what he had been assured would be a few months in jail, but which turned into more hard time on a chain gang.

Angered and disillusioned, Burns escaped again, and this time wrote a book from hiding, which True Detective excerpts in the above issue and several others. This was a real scoop for the magazine—it was the first to publish Burns’ harrowing tale. The story generated quite a bit of attention, and Vanguard Press picked it up and published it as I Am a Fugitive from a Georgia Chain Gang, which led directly to Warner Brothers adapting the tale into a hit 1932 motion picture starring Paul Muni. The movie differed somewhat from the book, of course, which differed somewhat from reality (Burns himself admitted this later), but his account cast a withering light on the chain gang system. The exposure helped chain gang opponents, who claimed—with some veracity—that the practice was immoral because it originated with the South's need to replace its slave labor after defeat in the U.S. Civil War.

Burns continued to live life on the run, but was eventually arrested again, this time in New Jersey. However, the governor of the state refused to extradite him. The standoff meant Burns was, in practical terms, a free man. That practical freedom was made official in 1945 when he was finally pardoned in Georgia, and his literary indictment of the chain gang system helped bring about its demise. Well, sort of—it returned to the South in 1995, was quickly discontinued after legal challenges, but may yet be reintroduced as politicians push for more and more extreme punishments to bolster their tough-on-crime credentials. 

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The Naked City | Vintage Pulp Dec 17 2011
WRONG BEACH, CA
Jealousy and murder on the waterfront.

December 1949’s Front Page Detective offers up numerous tales of vice and murder. Each story begins with an art spread, some photographic and some hand drawn. We thought they were nice, so we posted several below. The playgirl referred to on the cover is Eddis Mae Reed, a Long Beach 40-year-old who was murdered in a shack on Seaside Avenue. The cover model, with her cigarette holder and fur wrap, is nothing like the Eddis Mae Reed described in the story. That Eddis Mae was a working class woman who liked the rough hewn men that populated Long Beach, back then a seemingly endless landscape of oil derricks. After she was found strangled, beaten, and with a bra stuffed down her throat, detectives questioned oilworkers, longshoremen, and dockworkers, as well as the bartenders and cooks in the waterfront saloons she frequented, before finally focusing their attention on a sailor named William Dryman. When police picked him up he confessed right away to killing Reed. His motive? Jealousy. Even though he was at sea for months at a time, and he knew Reed was not a one-man woman, he became obsessed with her. When he visited her shack unannounced one night he heard her entertaining another man and became furious. He didn’t confront her then, though. He came back the next day, when she was alone and unprotected. He told police: “I told her what I’d do if I caught her cheating. I’d do it all over again.” Front Page Detective attributes Reed’s death to “too many men.” Well, that’s one way to look at it. The judge, on the other hand, blamed the killer, not the victim, and sent William Dryman down for five-to-life.

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Vintage Pulp Dec 11 2011
FASS TIMES
Once upon a crime in America.
Myron Fass knew how to sell magazines, especially violent, lurid, depraved magazines. Crime Does Not Pay (not the same as the identically named comic book) is a perfect example. Basically it was just a true crime magazine, but with a focus on iconic American crimes and criminals, with a liberal dose of splatter thrown in. Some of the covers were crime scene photos, but examples we’ve seen from 1969 featured beautiful (if extremely gory) paintings that we suspect appealed to readers younger than those who normally bought crime mags. Above, for example, you see the cover of the December 1969 issue (no artist info appears in the masthead, sadly). Below are twenty-five images, including shots of Charles Starkweather, John Dillinger, Al Capone, Bonnie Parker, Lester Gillis on a slab, and more. You can read a bit more about Myron Fass here.
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Vintage Pulp Dec 1 2011
OVER HIS DEAD BODY
Thirteen classic stories of girl meets corpse.

The woman who finds herself standing over a dead (or possibly drugged) man is a classic motif in pulp magazine cover art. Sometimes the woman is responsible for what's happened, while other times she simply has the bad luck to stumble into the situation. Covers of this type, you're probably already aware, fall under the category of Good Girl Art, with the “good” referring to the woman’s appearance, rather than her morals. Above and below are unlucky thirteen examples from mid-century true crime magazines, with art from Barye Phillips, Jay Scott Pike, George Gross, Jack Rickard, and others. We borrowed one of these from Fringepop, and most of the rest we culled from online auctions where they’ve been languishing for months if not years. Feel inclined to collect a few classic true crime magazines? There are plenty of choices out there right now. Thanks to the original uploaders. 

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The Naked City | Vintage Pulp Nov 14 2011
DEATH COMES TO DINNER
An inconvenient acceptance of a casual invitation.

Above is a cover of True Detective from November 1958 and inside is a story on the murder of Irene Morey, a Los Angeles woman who was found strangled along with one of her two young sons. The murder was eventually pinned on a gas station attendant named Charles Earl Brubaker who had met Morey a few days earlier when she had car trouble. Either in gratitude or because she was romantically interested in him, Morey invited him to her place for dinner a few nights later, and the date went wrong. When Brubaker was in the middle of choking the life out of Morey, the older of her two sons walked in, so Brubaker strangled him too. Brubaker confessed to the murders and was tried, convicted, and sentenced to death in the gas chamber. That sentence was later overturned by Judge Joseph A. Wapner (who would become famous on his 1980s television show The People’s Court), and instead of seeing the inside of the death chamber Brubaker served hard time until his parole in 1976. After his release he faded from public view, but his crime never will because its aftermath is part of the USC Digital Library’s collection of more than 200,000 Los Angeles Examiner negatives. Irene Morey and her son appear below, in life and in death. We highly recommend you take a spin around USC's Examiner collection. There’s more dark and forgotten history in there than you can imagine. 

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
August 21
1911—Mona Lisa Disappears
Leonardo da Vinci's masterpiece, the Mona Lisa, aka La Gioconda, is stolen from the Louvre. After many wild theories and false leads, it turns out the painting was snatched by museum employee Vincenzo Peruggia.
August 20
1940—Trotsky Iced in Mexico
In Mexico City exiled Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky is fatally wounded with an ice axe (not an ice pick) by Soviet agent Ramon Mercader. Trotsky dies the next day.
1968—Prague Spring Ends
200,000 Warsaw Pact troops backed by 5,000 tanks invade Czechoslovakia to end the Prague Spring political liberalization movement.
1986—Sherrill Goes Postal
In Edmond, Oklahoma, United States postal employee Patrick Sherrill shoots and kills fourteen of his co-workers and then commits suicide.
August 19
1953—Mohammed Mossadegh Overthrown in Iran
At the instigation of the CIA, Prime Minster of Iran Mohammed Mossadegh is overthrown and the Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi is installed as leader of the country.

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