Hey, since you need cheering up, wanna split this Toblerone bar with me? It's got nougat in it.
James Hadley Chase was a double winner in 1951. That year You're Lonely When You're Dead was published in paperback by both Popular Library, which we showed you here, and by the Canadian imprint Harlequin, as you see above, and both received top notch cover art. Popular Library went literal and showed a body on a deserted nocturnal beach. Harlequin's art is more general, with a woman under a looming shadow. Subliminally the shadow seems to carry a gun, but it really could be anything. It could be a letter, or a ruler, or a candy bar. In fact, on the subject of nonspecific, the painting could have been used for virtually any crime novel. There's nothing that definitively ties it to this particular story. But it's still a great effort. Unfortunately, it's uncredited.
Those dirty bushwhackers done hung him. And nobody else in the entire territory's got feet delicate enough to walk on my back when it acts up.
When we saw this paperback at the blog canadianflybynight we immediately had to share it because it serves as an addendum to our cover collection of unfortunates who've been hanged. We gather the story here deals with a corrupt syndicate ganging up to steal the land of a stubborn rancher. Somewhere in there the cowpoke with the daintiest feet in the west is cruelly strung up. The novel is originally 1939, and this Harlequin paperback with curious cover art by D. Rickard appeared in 1950. See our hanging collection here.
Hmm… an Englishman to gut with my new blade. And here I was planning to go home and shave my monobrow.
We were talking recently about Harlequin’s early days as a publisher of more than romance fiction. Above is another example—Bats with Baby Faces by W. Stanley Moss, a former British Army officer who wrote such best sellers as Ill Met by Moonlight and A War of Shadows. Bats with Baby Faces, the title of which references bat-like masks rather than actual bats, deals with intrigue and smuggling in the Deir-ez-Zor region of Syria, and in Cairo, where Moss lived in a villa that became a hub for the British social set. The most famous of his numerous real-life adventures occurred during that period, and that time also served as inspiration for much of his fiction. Harlequin’s edition of Bats with Baby Faces was published in 1952, and the cover art, with its mean caricature of an Egyptian who’s so swarthy he’s—bizarrely—purple, is uncredited. More Harlequin here and here.
Good morning, students. Let’s get right to it, shall we? Lesson one will cover how to look fuckable.
Canadian publishers Harlequin are known these days as romance specialists but in the company’s early days it had more range. Exhibit A: Oliver Anderson’s School for Love, which deals with a learning institution where guys are taught to score babes, and upon graduation each automatically earn the affections of a wealthy widow. Why are there so many widows around? No idea. The war or something. When is a strapless leopardskin mini-jumpsuit appropriate? Anytime you want, when you have the whip skills to back it up. 1953 copyright.
Whatever gets you through the night.
Paul Anna Soik is another great pulp artist who we hadn’t gotten to previously, but better late than never, especially when we’re talking about this particular cover. The scene is London's Soho district near Charing Cross Road, and he presents an image of two listless souls in an urban night infused with streetlight glare, marquee glow, and a sort of carnivalsque seediness. We know the location because the Palace Theatre is in the background. The book is a realistic look at vice and prostitution, and we can assume the woman here is a hooker, though an improbably upscale one to be soliciting. But Soik lived in Canada, so maybe he wasn’t all that familiar with London street trade. This is a Harlequin book, and Soik was basically a Harlequin house artist who painted numerous covers during the company’s early years. This one, which we think is one of his best, appeared in 1955. We’ll have more from him later.
Where there’s smoke there’s desire.
Above is a cover for Ronald J. Cooke’s The House on Craig Street, produced by an artist known only as D. Rickard for Harlequin in 1949. That’s the year Harlequin was launched in Toronto, Canada, and we gather that Rickard painted many of the company’s early covers. We had actually seen his work around quite often without knowing who painted it. But we always took note of it, and now that we've attached a name to the output, we’re officially on Rickard's bandwagon. His style reminds us of many of the French covers we share—i.e., verging on impressionistic, as opposed to the realistic work you see from many of the top American artists.
Moving on to the fiction, Ronald J. Cooke’s tale here involves a young advertising man who wants to make it big, and the action is set mainly in Montreal of the 1930s. Though there is a love interest, or even two, this book isn't one of the romances with which Harlequin earned its enduring fame. Cooke went on to write two more novels, and some non-fiction, including books like the popular Money-Making Ideas for Retirees. He also wrote tons of business articles for magazines and trade publications, exciting stuff like “How To Get Better Results for Your Mail-Order Business” and “Labour-Management Ideas That Yield Big Dividends.”
D. Rickard painted another cover for The House on Craig Street for News Stand Library’s U.S. run of the book, which you see at right. Depicting the same scene, this alternate version, also from 1949, seems to us a bit less evocative than the Harlequin cover, almost cartoonish. Anyway, we’ll have more work from this interesting artist later, but if you want to see some now, follow the link to this small collection. |
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1945—Churchill Given the Sack
In spite of admiring Winston Churchill as a great wartime leader, Britons elect
Clement Attlee the nation's new prime minister in a sweeping victory for the Labour Party over the Conservatives.
1952—Evita Peron Dies
Eva Duarte de Peron, aka Evita, wife of the president of the Argentine Republic, dies from cancer at age 33. Evita had brought the working classes into a position of political power never witnessed before, but was hated by the nation's powerful military class. She is lain to rest in Milan, Italy in a secret grave under a nun's name, but is eventually returned to Argentina for reburial beside her husband in 1974.
1943—Mussolini Calls It Quits
Italian dictator Benito Mussolini steps down as head of the armed forces and the government. It soon becomes clear that Il Duce did not relinquish power voluntarily, but was forced to resign after former Fascist colleagues turned against him. He is later installed by Germany as leader of the Italian Social Republic in the north of the country, but is killed by partisans in 1945.
1915—Ship Capsizes on Lake Michigan
During an outing arranged by Western Electric Co. for its employees and their families, the passenger ship Eastland capsizes in Lake Michigan due to unequal weight distribution. 844 people die, including all the members of 22 different families.
1980—Peter Sellers Dies
British movie star Peter Sellers, whose roles in Dr. Strangelove, Being There and the Pink Panther films established him as the greatest comedic actor of his generation, dies of a heart attack at age fifty-four.
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