Venus shows her dark and light sides.
Above are two versions of a piece of Alain Gourdon art first used on Yann R. Patrick’s Vénus des neiges by Éditions de l’Arabesque in 1955, then repurposed by Antwerp based Uitgeverij Eros for Mickey Spencer's Geen tijd voor Kusjes. Everyone's an aka here. Gourdon painted under the moniker Aslan, Patrick was really Jacques-Henri Juillet, and Spencer is an obvious pseudonym, though we don't for whom. Whether dark or light, this is lovely work.
Formal occasions in Mogadishu are murder.
Jef de Wulf works in a somewhat different mode with this cover illustration for Roger Vlatimo's, née Roger Vilatimo's 1963 spy novel Terreur en Somalie. His art is usually quite spare, often with a lot of negative space, but here he's produced something chaotic that fills the frame and draws the eye to various elements—gun, lipstick, a splash of color that gives the impression of flames, and of course the snake. The contrast with his work at its cleanest is stark. Look here or here to see what we mean.
Vlatimo wrote a stack of spy capers set in exotic places like Morocco, Iran, Turkey, and Vietnam. He also wrote a series as Youcef Khader, and those all starred a franchise character, Algerian special agent Mourad Saber. Additionally, Vlatimo wrote as Jean Lafay, Tim Oger, Roger Vlim, and Gil Darcy, which was a pseudonym invented by Georges J. Arnaud and used by several authors. Vlatimo's books were quite popular and some are even available today as e-books, which is the surest sign of success we can imagine. Vlatimo, though, died back in 1980.
What do you mean my squirming is throwing off your aim? Screw you! I hate this idea! When do we switch places?
French illustrator Jef de Wulf painted so many covers for Editions de l'Arabesque that he was almost an in-house employee, and here we see him again on the art chores for Paul S. Nouvel's 1960 thriller Crapahut. You also see the original art, and can see the hole left for the publisher's logo, because why waste paint when you don't have to? Crapahut, of course, translates into English as “outhouse.” Actually, that's not correct. We don't know what crapahut means. We think it's a place. A place you can smell from miles away.
Update: We got two answers on this, the first from Jo:
About the book named Crapahut, I can tell you it's a soldier's training, very hard and difficult. It's a slang word used first by military people (warrior's path?). You can use it also to speak about a long and difficult hiking in the mountains without any military sense.
The second answer came from Jean-Marie:
«Crapahut» from military slang, we have the verb «crapahuter» that means: walk, during war or battle if possible… with haversack very heavy, with arms, with enemy all around, into jungle, for 5, 10, 20 kilometers. Very hard. «Ha! qu’est-ce qu’on a crapahuté avant d’arriver à Danang,,, »
Thanks, Jo and Jean-Marie. Another mystery solved.
I won! I knew I would once they restricted track and field to beautiful French actresses! Eat my dust Anouk Aimée!
Catherine Deneuve absolutely flew in this race. It wasn't nearly as close as the art makes it look. Espions!.. à vos marques was written by Paul S. Nouvel, aka Jean-Michel Sorel, and published in 1964 by Éditions de l'Araesque. The cover is unsigned, but it's probably by Jef de Wulf. If we get more info we'll update this. We can't wait for the triple jump. Hopefully, Catherine will win that too.
Sing? Are you serious? I can barely breathe in this outfit.
We never want to go too long without an offering from the great French pin-up and paperback artist Alain Gourdon, aka Aslan, so above we have his cover for Macadam Sérénade, a thriller written by Paul S. Nouvel for Éditions de l'Arabesque. Nouvel was a pseudonym. The man behind it was French journalist/author/translator/editor Jean-Michel Sorel, who also wrote as Larry Layne, Arnold Rodin, Silvio Sereno, Tugdual Marech, Jan Mychel, Jean-Michel, Yvon Brozonech, Swani Abdul Hamid (we love that one), and many other identities. In all he produced more than one-hundred forty novels—and probably could have squeezed in a couple more if he hadn't been so busy thinking of pen names. 1955 on this.
You can check in any time you like.
Moving away from the hard-boiled for a moment, here’s a beautiful cover for Nina Antony’s L’hôtel des chimères, aka Hotel of Chimeras, 1960, from Editions de L’Arabesque’s collection Colorama. As you probably know by now, Antony was a pseudonym, because that’s just what French authors did. This time the owner is an author named Jeannine Rubia who also wrote under Cora del Rio and possibly other names. Another version of L’hôtel des chimères appeared with different cover art, but this breezy effort from Jef de Wulf is sublime.
Would you believe her name is Svetlana Carrunova?
Above, a very cool Éditions de l’Arabesque cover for Dick Barnett’s, aka Georges Heil’s, 1967 thriller Nettoyage par le vide, volume 367 of the publisher’s long running Collection Espionnage. Nettoyage par le vide means “vacuum cleaning,” which we suppose is how they’ll scrape the ballerina off the pavement once she’s flattened by that sedan. She isn’t named Carrunova, by the way, but it’d be better if she were. The art is by Jef de Wulf, who apparently despised the ballet. See more of his work by clicking his keywords below.
If they were trying to avoid being remembered, they quite possibly succeeded.
Above is cover art for Nikou Dobry’s La griffe du démon, aka The Devil’s Claw, published 1956 for Editions de l’Arabesque’s Parme collection. Dobry published several other books, but it’s likely the name was a pseudonym. With these French pulp writers, that’s often the case. One website suggests Dobry was a person named Pruneyrol, but we got zero hits on that name, so a real identification may be hoping for too much. And the art? It’s signed simply M. Boero. With all the false and incomplete identities surrounding French mid-century literature, you’d almost think they were ashamed of their work, but remember that American authors played the same tricks. For instance, sleaze pulps were often written by moonlighting popular authors. The same is probably true with the French. But we will keep digging, and eventually we will unmask them.
Crazy legs Peck gets a lower body transplant.
As long as we’re on the subject of Stanley Donen movies, here are two one-sheets painted by Robert McGinnis for the 1966 caper Arabesque, starring Gregory Peck and the great Sophia Loren. Donen was trying to capture the mod magic of his earlier feature Charade, which had starred Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant. We can’t say he fully succeeded there, but he did make an adventure romance full of joie de vivre that’s well worth seeing. The two posters differ in one fascinating aspect—Gregory Peck’s lower body has been transplanted in the bottom version. We know the dancing pose at top was the original, but we think the upright stance in the re-do is an improvement, as is the cool magenta background. It’s killer art for a killer flick, and we recommend you check it out.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1941—Lou Gehrig Dies
New York Yankees baseball player Henry Louis Gehrig, aka The Iron Horse, who set a record for playing in 2,130 consecutive games over the course of fourteen seasons, dies of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's disease, two years after the onset of the illness ended his consecutive games streak.
1946—Antonescu Is Executed
Ion Antonescu, who was ruler of Romania during World War II, and whose policies were independently responsible for the deaths of as many as 400,000 Bessarabian, Ukrainian and Romanian Jews, as well as countless Romani Romanians, is executed by means of firing squad at Fort Jilava prison just outside Bucharest.
1959—Sax Rohmer Dies
Prolific British pulp writer Arthur Henry Sarsfield Ward, aka Sax Rohmer, who created the popular character Fu Manchu and became one of the most highly paid authors of his time writing fundamentally racist fiction about the "yellow peril" and what he blithely called "rampant criminality among the Chinese", dies of avian flu in White Plains, New York.
1957—Arthur Miller Convicted of Contempt of Congress
Award-winning American playwright Arthur Miller, the husband of movie star Marilyn Monroe, is convicted of contempt of Congress when he refuses to reveal the names of political associates to the House Un-American Activities Committee. The conviction would later be overturned, but HUAC persecution against American citizens continues until the committee is finally dissolved in 1975.
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