He didn't even bash craniums with his rivals before mating with the female. Romance is truly dead.
Above, something a little different, a cartoonish cover for the 1967 sleaze novel Hardy O'Toole's Swap Ranch Assignment, by Matt Clarke. It's a ridiculous piece of art, with its ram in the background casting a jaundiced eye toward two humans in mid-rut, but we couldn't resist sharing it. If you actually want to read this doubtless silly novel check Ebay. It was still for sale as of this morning.
Low expectations can be a reader's best friend.
It must be offensively awful. A sleaze novel about slavery? With a focus on the harrowing middle passage that killed millions? But surprise—H.B. Drake's Slave Ship isn't sleaze. Though the uncredited front cover art suggests it, and the rear cover blurb says, “She used all the darkest arts of Africa to win the white sailor,” what you actually get here is an attempt at real literature in a Conradian vein, well written, even if the only true concern on display is for said white sailor. Slave Ship was originally written in 1936, which strikes us as a bit late for a tale with such a narrow emotional focus, but good prose counts for something.
Despite the book's inadequate helping of empathy for the enslaved, descriptions of the trade will send shivers through your body. Particularly vivid is the bit describing slaves kept below decks in heat and filth for days at a time, chained together on their left sides, with knees drawn up to accommodate the knees of the man behind, three hundred of them, lamenting their terrible fortune at white devils having targeted their coast. But of course Drake is more concerned with his hero, as bad luck befalls the endeavor and everything that can go wrong does, including incompetence, disease, British anti-slavers, and more.
What is Drake's point with this book? He seems to be saying that slavery is destructive for everyone involved. Hmm... well, eventually, maybe, but as of today, if you tally the fortunes made by southern slavers and northern banks, and consider the later generations that gained from this murder money, the universal suffering seems to be extremely late in coming—let alone the universal recognition of the slave trade as one of Amerca's two unforgivable foundational crimes. In any case, if your stomach is strong enough to endure violence and cruelty you might actually find Slave Ship worth a read.
Hurray! It's a whole new decade!
It's been a long time since we featured Japanese actress Yayoi Watanabe. While she wasn't the most important pinku star of her era, she appeared in an absolute mass of cool promo photos, one of which appears above. This one captures our sense of optimism for the upcoming decade. We expect huge leaps of progress, wider horizons, amazing new discoveries, and limitless fun. We mean on our website. What—did you think we meant the world? No, that's totally screwed. Let's not think about that at all.
Are you sure he's been murdered? Sometimes he's just too damned lazy to move.
Above, a cover for A Man Lay Dead, written by New Zealand born author Ngaio Marsh, a heavyweight in whodunnits, which is exactly what this book is. A house full of people, a harmless game of murder mystery where a person somehow ends up actually stabbed to death with a priceless dagger, and sleuth Roderick Alleyn called upon to solve the crime. We're not big fans of these types of books, but they can be interesting, and this one manages to achieve that, though it drags toward the end. 1934 originally, with this Fontana Books edition appearing in 1960.
Let's split up here! And in case I get killed, nice ass! Forgive the objectification, but I couldn't leave it unsaid!
Above are thirty-five scans from a December 1976 issue of Adam magazine, with a cover illustrating Mike Rader's story “Die As the Romans Do.” We made contact with Rader a while back, and he updated us on his career, and told us some fun stories about working with Adam editors back in the day. The tale he weaves in this issue concerns an Australian tourist in Rome who helps a damsel in distress, and for his kindness gets ensnared in a murder plot. The scene in the painting occurs when he and the damsel, named Claudia, flee the Roman catacombs during a Mafia-on-Mafia shootout—but only after Claudia has had her dress ripped off by the villains.
Rader's fiction is always interesting, but the highlight of this issue is a photo feature of Daisy Duke herself—Catherine Bach, three years before she became world famous on The Dukes of Hazzard—who you see just above. Since she isn't identified in the shots, it isn't like Adam knew who they had on their hands. To them, they simply had some nice handout photos of a minor actress. But that stroke of luck gives this issue extra value, at least as far as we're concerned. Believe it or not, after posting sixty-two issues of Adam we still have forty more we haven't scanned yet. Will we get to them all? We'll certainly try.
The view is amazing but the amenities are sorely lacking.
Charles Williams has made us love seagoing thrillers, so whenever see a book that seems to be along those lines, we grab it. When we saw this Robert McGinnis cover for Basil Heatter's Virgin Cay, we were immediately sold. And in fact, the novel feels like a lost Charles Williams tale, thanks not only to its aquatic focus, but the fact that it's written to a nearly Williamsian skill level.
The set-up is great. A guy washes up on a chi-chi Caribbean Island after his sailboat sinks, and his appearance from out of the sea, a stranger in a community where everyone knows each other, gives one resident the idea to entice him into a foolproof murder plot by promising him enough money to buy another boat. Since the castaway is not rich, and it would take him a lifetime to save for a replacement vessel, he's mightily tempted. It's from there that things get complicated.
The art on this Gold Medal paperback, in addition to its obvious beauty, reveals an important aspect of the plot—woman alone on an isolated hump in the sea with little more than a can of water. But how do we get from a shipwrecked sailor to a woman marooned on an island? Well, that murder thing. We won't say more. Nice effort from Heatter, definitely worth a read.
The more things change the more they stay the same.
Above is a cover of the U.S. tabloid Inside Story published this month in 1955. There's a lot in this magazine, but since we keep our write-ups short we can't cover it all. One story of note concerns Betty Furness, an actress and pitchwoman whose squeaky clean image Inside Story claims is false. This is a typical angle by mid-century tabloids, the idea that a cinema or television sweetheart was really a hussy, lush, ballbreaker, or cold fish. Furness receives slander number four, with editors claiming she has “ice bound emotions,” “a cold, cold heart,” and is, “tough and tightfisted.” It's interesting that sixty years later resistance to a woman being anything other than a nurturer really hasn't diminished all that much, as many women with high public profiles would confirm.
Another story concerns the death of actress Virginia Rappe and the subsequent arrest of Fatty Arbuckle. In short, Rappe died after attending a party thrown by Arbuckle, with the cause of death attributed to either alcohol induced illness or rape and sodomy with a Coke bottle. Arbuckle went to trial three times before winning a final acquittal, though certain details of the death remained murky. The case was muddied by the influence of sensationalistic journalism, as publishing mogul William Randolph Hearst's nationwide chain of newspapers deemed sales more important than truth. The Coke bottle, for example, was entirely fabricated, but Hearst was unrepentant. He'd fit into the modern media landscape perfectly today, because for him money and influence justified everything.
And speaking of money, a final story that caught our eye was the exposé on the record business, namely the practice of buying spins on radio. The term for this—“payola”—was coined in 1916 but not widely known until the ’50s. Inside Story helps spread the terminology with a piece about pay-for-play on national radio stations. Like the previous two stories, this one feels familiar, particularly the idea that the best music rarely makes it onto the airwaves. Those who engaged in payola understood that people generally consumed whatever was put in front of them, therefore what was the point of worrying about quality or innovation? This remains a complaint about entertainment media today, but repetition still rules. To paraphrase the famed colloquialism: If you ain't going broke, don't fix it. We have thirty-plus scans below.
Explain shareholder one more time. Who exactly am I holding and what if I don't want to share him?
This pretty orange cover for Ken Barry's Executive Boudoir is better than average, we think, which is fitting because the book is better than average sleaze. Often these tales are terribly written, but Barry tries and succeeds in building a realistic backstory dealing with a battle over a corporate presidency between a patriarch's inexperienced daughter, Lisa, and Jim, the VP who always expected the role would be his one day. Complicating matters is the fact that the two are in a long term relationship. When Lisa supersedes her ambitious boyfriend he's greatly dismayed, but things go from bad to worse when an oily opportunist begins super seeding Lisa. It turns into musical beds with a big business flavor, but some fairly realistic emotion to carry the concept off. The book's main flaws are its presumption that women can't run businesses, and its stupidly pat ending. But you can't ask for too much in this genre. It works fine, for the most part. The copyright on this is 1962 and the cover is uncredited.
Polish painter turns pain into an abstract concept.
This Polish promo poster was made for the 1965 Japanese psychodrama Utsukushisa to kanashimi to, which in Poland was called Piekno i ból. That translates to “beauty and pain,” whereas the Japanese translates as “with beauty and sorrow.” Both translations are apt descriptions of the movie, which is just as bizarre and twisted as the poster art. We talked about it a while back, so if you're interested have a look here. The poster was painted by Maciej Hibner, a well regarded illustrator active during the ’50s and ’60s whose output is considered collectible today. A lot of his stuff has this same fine art look, which is very different than what we usually share here, but worth a gander just for the sake of its stark contrast with the Japanese poster. We may try to dig up more on Hibner later.
Lee provides the style, Laffin provides the substance.
We're back to Horwitz Publications and its appropriation of Hollywood stars for its covers. If you haven't seen those they're all worth a look because of their usage of rare images. On the above cover from 1957's Hired To Kill, the face belongs to Belinda Lee, and as always the taste of Horwitz editors is impeccable. But Lee wasn't long for this world. She was just establishing herself as one of Britain's best exports when she became a road casualty during an ill-fated 1961 drive from Los Angeles to Las Vegas.
Moving on to John Laffin, he was one of those authors whose brand was being a real-life adventurer. He was supposedly an ex-commando who was an expert with rifles, martial arts, and throwing knives, and who also spoke five languages. He'd visited thirty-two countries at the time of publication of this novel and was busy adding to the number, according to the rear cover text. And apparently he had been published in fourteen countries and five languages, which makes it a bit embarrassing we'd never heard of him.
We checked out his bibliography and sure enough, the guy wrote a pile of books. Many of them were war biographies and political analyses. He mainly focused on the British experience in World War I, but wrote everything from adventure fiction to an “expert”—i.e white guy's—analysis of the Arab mind. He sounds like an interesting fella, so we may look what's out there that we can acquire for a reasonable price and see what his fiction is like. If we do we'll report back.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1915—Claude Patents Neon Tube
French inventor Georges Claude patents the neon discharge tube, in which an inert gas is made to glow various colors through the introduction of an electrical current. His invention is immediately seized upon as a way to create eye catching advertising, and the neon sign
comes into existence to forever change the visual landscape of cities.
1937—Hughes Sets Air Record
Millionaire industrialist, film producer and aviator Howard Hughes sets a new air record by flying from Los Angeles, California to New York City in 7 hours, 28 minutes, 25 seconds. During his life he set multiple world air-speed records, for which he won many awards, including America's Congressional Gold Medal.
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.
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