Hi, this is Elke calling from Down Under. Can I speak to my agent? There's been a trademark infringement.
As usual the Aussie publishing company Horwitz has used a film star on one of its book covers—this time German goddess Elke Sommer on the front of 1959's Terror Comes Creeping. She was a favorite of theirs—we've seen her on four covers, including this one, and we've speculated that they're all unlicensed, for reasons discussed here. This one stars Carter Brown's, aka Alan G. Yates's franchise sleuth Danny Boyd, who's hired by a woman named Martha Hazelton who thinks her father is killing off his children—with her next in line—in order to avoid losing his dead wife's inheritance. The father, when confronted by Boyd, says that insanity runs in the family and his daughter is paranoid and probably nuts. It certainly seems that way when Boyd meets his client's loopy, danger obsessed little sister, but of course matters soon begin to look far more complicated than they seemed at first. On one level it's amazing Carter Brown sold something like 120,000,000 books, because his work is not special. But on the other hand it's fast, sometimes funny, and hits the right notes for detective novels. So maybe his success isn't so strange after all. We'll probably read another, because we have a few.
What happens next could be great or terrible, depending on how well you distinguish subtle shades of color.
Since we just saw Cleo Moore why not bring her right back? Here she is on the front of Carter Brown's Slaughter in Satin, 1954, from the Australian publisher Horwitz. We've long documented this publisher's usage of minor celebrities on its covers, and pondered whether it was copyright infringement. What caught our eye about this example, besides Moore, was the typesetting. Notice how the “s” in the title disappears into Moore's red jammies, so at first glance it reads as, “Laughter in Satin,” which is almost an opposite outcome from slaughter, like the difference between being lain or slain. Probably when the book was first printed the two shades of red stood out from each other more. Or maybe this visual trick was intentional. Or maybe it was a miscalculation that couldn't be repaired. We'll never know. See the other Moore here, and see the celeb Horwitz covers by clicking here and scrolling.
What is it with men? Why can't I find one who likes cats?
Like clockwork we return to master illustrator Robert McGinnis, as any paperback art site must. Here you see a cover for The Hellcat by Australian author Carter Brown, aka Alan Yates, for Signet Books, 1962. We showed you a Dutch cover for this years ago, which you can see here.
I'm going to kill myself because I can't have you! You always ignored me, but you can't ignore this! Ahhhhhhhh....!
Above, a fun cover for Carter Brown Long Story Magazine. And long story short, when you make an epic gesture to your object of unrequited love, be sure she's actually watching. 1960 on this, with art by Grant Roberts.
Al Wheeler gets caught in an explosive situation.
Barye Phillips art adorns the cover of Carter Brown's The Bombshell, first published in 1957, with this Signet edition appearing in 1960. The book features his franchise police detective Al Wheeler, who's assigned a murder case where there's no body. He protests because it's really a missing persons investigation, but his boss is convinced young Lily Teal's corpse is somewhere to be found. Even so, a previous investigation came up empty and Wheeler is assigned the case with the expectation he won't get anywhere. But failure is for lesser detectives. Our favorite exchange in this one:
Femme fatale: “Maybe it's something to do with me being born in the South—a girl matures early in a hot climate.”
Al Wheeler: “And you've been carrying that climate around with you ever since.
We shared this cover as part of a collection several years ago, but hadn't read the book. The scan above is from our own copy. This is the third Al Wheeler book in the long running series, but it already feels a bit perfunctory. The narrative doesn't really take off until Wheeler is framed for attempted sexual assault. At that point, based on how far his still unknown enemies are willing to go, he realizes there's more to the case than just a possible murder. Overall, not a bad outing, but nothing special. We have more Al Wheeler mysteries we acquired recently, so we'll see how those go.
Horwitz uses its best known cover star to date.
American actress and dancer Debra Paget appears, quite strikingly, on the front of Carter Brown's Stripper You've Sinned, which was published in 1956. We've been speculating for a while whether Horwitz, headquartered 7,500 miles away from Hollywood in Sydney, Australia, licensed its celebrity covers. Our assumption has always been no. The idea of celebrity covers would be, ostensibly, to generate extra interest in the book. But if that's the case, why such obscure stars? There's really no extra publicity to gain, and a licensing fee to lose. So we've always suspected the celebs were chosen merely because they were beautiful and the shots were available as handout photos.
But now we aren't sure about that, because Paget breaks the pattern—she was pretty well known in 1956, having appeared in more than a dozen films, and in highly billed roles in a few of those productions. So now we're thinking Horwitz actually did license these images. The fees must have been tiny, though, otherwise it wouldn't make any sense fiscally. Horwitz could have put an equally beautiful Aussie model on the book covers and gotten the same result with less hassle. In any case, this is great imagery. If you want to know what the book is actually about, check the review here. And if you click the keywords “Horwitz Publications” below you'll see all our previous posts on this matter.
Aussie publisher spices up thriller with an image of Elke Sommer.
Last week we shared some images of Elke Sommer from the debut issue of the French magazine Stop. Those were a deliberate preface to today's post, which shows the cover for Carter Brown’s, aka Alan G. Yates’ mystery Death of a Doll from Australia's Transport Publishing, the paperback division of Horwitz Publications.
You can see that the designer used Sommer for his inspiration. Her normally blonde hair was changed to match the hair color of the story’s redheaded femme fatale, but what’s really interesting about this cover is the yawning pose. At least a couple of images from the Stop layout would have worked better, we think, but that’s just our humble opinion.
At first we thought the designer here was Bernard Blackburn, who made many of Horwitz-Transport’s photo-illustrated covers during the mid-1950s, but then we learned that this “reprint by demand” edition appeared in 1960. So we have no idea who created the cover, but he/she had good taste in models, though we seriously doubt Sommer received any compensation for her starring role. Check out the rest of those rare Stop images here and see if you don’t agree about the designer making a weird choice.
Red eyes at morning, Wheeler take warning.
Cover art for Dutch language pulp novel The Hellcat, circa 1962, part of the Al Wheeler series written by Carter Brown, aka Alan G. Yates. Interestingly, “hellcat” in Dutch would actually be something like “helkat”. “De helle” means “the whole” and “veeg” means "sweep". At least, that’s what Babelfish tells us.
Dood, I am so stond right now.
This Dutch issue Carter Brown novel may look like it’s about either getting paralyzingly baked, or testing the effectiveness of various upskirt angles, but no, it’s actually the detective thriller The Lady Is Available, retitled to Death Modeled because, well, we don’t know why. We’ll have to consult our Dutch friends on that question and get back to you. The cover subject here is supposed to be dead, but since he was so rude as to croak with his eyes open someone will have to shake him, then see if he steams up a spoon, maybe even give him CPR. Anyway, the novel is one of Australian author Carter Brown’s, aka Alan G. Yates’, bestselling Al Wheeler thrillers. When we say bestselling, we mean they spread like brush fire. Certain sources credit him selling an astounding fifty million novels. So maybe the dood here isn’t dead, just stund by Carter’s good fortune.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1967—Boston Strangler Convicted
Albert DeSalvo, the serial killer who became known as the Boston Strangler, is convicted of murder and other crimes and sentenced to life in prison. He serves initially in Bridgewater State Hospital, but he escapes and is recaptured. Afterward he is transferred to federal prison where six years later he is killed by an inmate or inmates unknown.
1950—The Great Brinks Robbery Occurs
In the U.S., eleven thieves steal more than $2 million from an armored car company's offices in Boston, Massachusetts. The skillful execution of the crime, with only a bare minimum of clues left at the scene, results in the robbery being billed as "the crime of the century." Despite this, all the members of the gang are later arrested.
1977—Gary Gilmore Is Executed
Convicted murderer Gary Gilmore is executed by a firing squad in Utah, ending a ten-year moratorium on Capital punishment in the United States. Gilmore's story is later turned into a 1979 novel entitled The Executioner's Song by Norman Mailer, and the book wins the Pulitzer Prize for literature.
1942—Carole Lombard Dies in Plane Crash
American actress Carole Lombard
, who was the highest paid star in Hollywood during the late 1930s, dies in the crash of TWA Flight 3, on which she was flying from Las Vegas to Los Angeles after headlining a war bond rally in support of America's military efforts. She was thirty-three years old.
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