The best hired guns never miss the mark.
Like clockwork, it's time once more for Jef de Wulf, one of the most reliable paperback illustrators of the mid-century era. Every cover he painted, for whatever company employed him, was stylish and unique. He was automatic. Here's an example of him at his best on this 1952 cover for Faudra cracher au bassinet, by André Helena writing as Kathy Woodfield, for Éditions la Dernière Chance's series Le Roman Noir Féminin. We don't know anything else about the novel except that the title translates as “you'll have to spit in the bassinet,” which is French slang meaning to give reluctantly. It only makes sense once you know that “bassinet” doesn't just mean a baby's bed, as it does in English, but also a church collection dish. Eew. We give unreluctantly more de Wulf here, here, and here.
No secrets here—de Wulf is de best.
Above is a cover from French publisher Éditions R.R., for Secrets, by author René Roques. Easiest way to get published: own the publishing company. We discuss that and other things about Roques in a bit more detail at this link. The art here is by Jef de Wulf, whose work we've shared numerous times. We love him. There's a lightness and ease to his pieces that few paperback artists achieve. We'll have more from him later.
Who needs a man when you have technology?
Éditions R.R. specialized in beautiful covers, and this one continues the trend. The art is by Jef de Wulf, and it fronts Dit oui, Madame by René Roques. You can't tell, but this is about a woman who falls in love with a robot. And he's a French robot, so he shares his feelings, which is more than you do. Roques actually got racy enough here that the book was banned shortly after publication in 1957. Still, we bet it wasn't as wild as this mechanical lover novel. Or for that matter this one. They say robots are going to take all our jobs. Add sex to the list.
Lady, if you don't stop blocking my view I'm going to strangle you and leave you buried with the pharaohs.
We never go long without sharing art from French illustrator Jef de Wulf, and here he is again doing cover work for publisher Éditions de la Flamme d'Or and author Jacques Destier, whose Egyptian adventure Nioussia l'insaisissable was published in 1954. Destier was a pseudonym used by Jacques Thinus. If your French is rusty, Nioussia, l'insaisissable means “Nioussia, the elusive.” See de Wulf at his best here and here, and we'll have more from him a bit later.
This bikini is about as plein as they come.
The word “plein” means “full” in French, and indeed when looking at this cover the female figure's bikini is not only nicely full, but looks like it's strained to the point of breaking. Plein son bikini was written by Jean Normand, aka Raoul Lematte, Fernand Petit, Jacques Lienart, et al, and it appeared in 1954 from Éditions Roger Seban for its Pigall collection. Really, we're just interested in the art here, which is by the always adept Jef de Wulf. We have numerous entries on him, including this winner. Click his keywords below if you want to see more.
Traffic mishaps reach an all-time high.
Below, assorted paperback covers pairing mortal danger and automobiles, including many examples from France, where the theme was particularly popular. Thanks to all the original uploaders on these.
Ready for some stimulating reading?
Above, a beautiful pin-up style cover painted by Jef de Wulf for Tania et le démon by Yvan Nikitine, published by Brussels based Éditions Aphrodite. This is a collection of romantic verse from the Russian poet Yvan Nikitine, not to be confused with the famous 19th century Russian poet Ivan Nikitine, nor the 17th century Russian painter and author Ivan Nikitin. We had trouble figuring all this out, because apparently Nikitine/Nikitin is like Johnson or Jones in Russia, but we think our Nikitine wrote eighteen volumes of poetry over the years, was made a knight of L'Ordre des Palmes Académiques, and is alive and retired in Agen, France. Maybe we should just just focus on the art. Nice, yeah? 1959 copyright.
This next drink is going right to his head.
Above, a cover for Un Cinzano pour l'ange noir, aka A Cinzano for the Black Angel, written by Frédéric Dard in 1953 for Éditions de la Pensée Moderne's collection Les confessions de l'ange noir. The series comprised four books, with this one being the last. Plotwise, the Black Angel gets involved with an heiress who is intent on robbing her industrialist father's vault, which is presumably filled with riches. He does actually get hit over the head with a bottle of Cinzano, which makes for a hell of a hangover. You may not know Frédéric Dard, but he was one of France's most successful authors, publishing more than 300 novels and selling 250 million copies. 173 of those books starred his signature creation Detective Superintendent Antoine San-Antonio. The above novel is not considered one of his best, but when you write books faster than Taco Bell churns out crunchy cheese core burritos there will be a few duds. The cover art is by the always reliable Jef de Wulf.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1969—Manson Followers Continue Rampage
A day after murdering actress Sharon Tate and four others, members of Charles Manson's cult kill Leno and Rosemary LaBianca. Manson personally orchestrates the event, but leaves the LaBianca house before the killing starts.
1977—Son of Sam Arrested
The serial killer and arsonist known as Son of Sam and the .44 Caliber Killer, is arrested in Yonkers, New York. He turns out to be 24-year-old postal employee David Berkowitz. He had been killing people in the New York area for most of the previous year.
The United States detonates a nuclear bomb codenamed Fat Man over the city of Nagasaki. It is the second atomic bomb dropped on Japan. 40,000 to 75,000 people are killed immediately, with tens of thousands more sickening and dying later due to radiation poisoning. The U.S. had plans to drop as many as seven more bombs on Japan, but the nation surrendered days later.
1969—Manson Followers Murder Five
Members of a cult led by Charles Manson murder pregnant actress Sharon Tate and coffee heiress Abigail Folger, along with Wojciech Frykowski, Jay Sebring, and Steven Parent. The crimes terrify the Los Angeles celebrity community, and even today continue to fascinate
the worldwide public.
1963—Gang Pulls Off Great Train Robbery
A fifteen member gang robs a train of £2.6 million at Bridego Railway Bridge, Ledburn near Mentmore in Buckinghamshire, England. Thirteen of the fifteen are later caught, but some subsequently escape from prison, and one, Ronnie Biggs, is only recaptured in 2001 after voluntarily returning to England.
After two years of public outcry over the Watergate scandal, U.S. president Richard M. Nixon announces to a national television audience that he will resign, effective the next day. Vice President Gerald R. Ford completes the remainder of Nixon's term.
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