What’s in a name? Everything, if it’s the title of a vintage paperback.
Above and below you will find a large collection of pulp, post-pulp, and sleaze paperback fronts that have as their titles a character’s first name. There are hundreds of examples of these but we stopped at thirty-two. The collection really highlights, more than others we’ve put together, how rarely vintage paperback art focuses on male characters. The prose is virtually all male-centered and male-driven, of course, but because the mid-century paperback market was male-driven too, that meant putting women on the covers to attract the male eye. We tell our girlfriends this all the time, but they still think we just don’t bother looking for male-oriented vintage art. But we do. For this collection we found two novels that have male characters’ names as their titles, and we looked pretty hard. If we had to guess, we’d say less than 5% of all pulp art is male-oriented. In any case, the illustrations come from the usual suspects—Barye Phillips, Robert McGinnis, Jef de Wulf, Paul Rader, et al., plus less recognized artists like Doug Weaver. Thanks to all the original uploaders for these.
Let your love take flight.
Jef de Wulf really outdid himself here. This cover is from 1958 for René Roques’ romance novel La Fille de Monseigneur, and we think this is by far the best we’ve seen from de Wulf. The central balloon reads “love,” of course, and all the others have the two syllables making up the French word “rire,” or laugh, creating an image of heartlifting joy. Sublime stuff. Check out some of de Wulf’s other covers by clicking his keywords directly below.
Finally, after a lifetime's work—the condiment that will revolutionize how the world eats greenery.
Above, Drôle de salade written by Al Caussin, aka Alex Caussin de Perceval, Percy Wall, and Allan Blyth, published 1952 by France's Éditions de la Flamme d’Or, with awesome cover art from Jef de Wulf. Drôle de salade actually means “funny salad,” so you have to wonder what this book is about. In any case, what a bummer it’ll be for the main character when he finds out the term “French dressing” is already in use.
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.
Look out! The phallic symbol is about to blow!
Slim Harrisson, whose Chute Libre was published in 1963 by Éditions Atlantic for their Top Secret series, was in reality a French writer named Jacques Dubessy. He had many other pseudonyms as well, and under those and his own name he wrote an absolute pile of books, but today we’re not going down the rabbit hole of pen names and publication dates. Mainly we wanted to show you the cool cover from Jef de Wulf, one of the more interesting French illustrators from the period, who we imagine must have smirked all the way through painting this one. Of course, the French do, after all, have the world’s most famous phallic symbol overlooking their capitol. That has to affect the thoughts. It affected ours last time we were there. You can see more Jef de Wulf here.
He had dogged determination to produce high quality art.
A couple of times we’ve shown you the distinctive work of French illustrator Jef de Wulf, and today we’re back with four more of his pieces in a slightly different vein. Rather than his usual textured backgrounds, here he works with negative white space while producing three covers for Editions de la pensée moderne’s 1950s-era Collection tropique, and one for Editions Armand Fleury’s Collection Le crépuscule. These, we think, showcase de Wulf at his best. We’ll have more later, and you can see those other covers here and here.
How do you publish novels when millions of people want to see you hanged? Very carefully.
Interesting cover here from Jef de Wulf for the 1954 Georges Brass erotic novel Le plaisir est plus chaud dans l’ombre, aka, Pleasure Is Hotter in the Shade. De Wulf has a unique style, and we like his use of color, especially on this woman that registers to us as part sleepy-eyed temptress, part hungry spider in her lair. We’ll get back to de Wulf later. Today we’re focused on author Georges Brass, who was in actuality René Bonnefoy. Bonnefoy wrote as Brass, Roger Blondell, Roger Fairelle, Marcel Castilian, and published about fifty science fiction novels as B.R. Bruss. French pulp authors often wrote under pen names, so Bonnefoy’s collection of alter egos is hardly surprising. What is surprising is that the false identities were a matter of life and death.
Beginning in 1942, Bonnefoy served as Secretary-General for Information in France’s nazi-collaborating Vichy government, and after the war was forced to go into hiding. He was tried and sentenced to death in absentia, but still managed to write and publish under his pseudonyms, including his first and most famous sci-fi novel, 1946’s Et la planète sauta… (And the World Jumped…). He finally surrendered to authorities in 1955 during a period of amnesty designed to convince fugitive collaborators to comeforward. His death sentence was communted to d’indignite nationale, a form of shunning coupled with the loss of voting rights, exclusion from public office, and a ban from holding any management positions in corporations, banks, media, unions, and educational institutions. Sounds like a punishment that should be adopted in the U.S. for a lot of people, don’t you think?
Anyway, Bonnefoy became extremely prolific, publishing the bulk of his sci-fi novels within the next two decades, sometimes three or four a year, and if you visit French websites they tend consider his literary output with a surprising amount of objectivity. Later some of Bonnefoy’s personal writings from his fugitive years came to light, and in them he had outlined his defense should he ever stand trial for his wartime activities. Basically, he claimed that while he had held an important position, and in that role had overseen the censorship of countless publications, he never made any policy decisions. Pretty safe to say that defense would not have worked. René Bonnefot died in Paris in 1980, aged 84 years old.
The eye of de Wulf.
These covers for 1952’s Une âme perdue and 1953’s La passé de Khatmandou and La défaite des radars by prolific French author Jack Screen, aka Charles-Antoine Gonnet, were all illustrated by Jef de Wulf. De Wulf, who was born Joseph de Wulf, painted more than 500 covers during a career in Belgium and France that lasted forty years. You can see more of his art at a French blog dedicated to him here, and we'll have more from Gonnet/Screen later.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1920—The Nazi Party Is Founded
The small German Workers' Party, or DAP, which was under the direction of Adolf Hitler, changes its name to the National Socialist German Workers' Party. Though Hitler adopted the socialist label to attract working class Germans, his party in fact embraced mainly anti-socialist ideas. The group became known in English as the Nazi Party, and within the next fifteen years expanded to become the most powerful force in German politics.
1942—Battle of Los Angeles Takes Place
A object flying over wartime Los Angeles triggers a massive anti-aircraft barrage
, ultimately killing 3 civilians. Initially the target of the aerial barrage is thought to be an attacking force from Japan, but it is later suggested to be imaginary and a case of "war nerves", a lost weather balloon, a blimp, a Japanese fire balloon, or even an extraterrestrial craft. The true nature of the object or objects remains unknown to this day, but the event is known as the Battle of Los Angeles.
1945—Flag Raised on Iwo Jima
Four days after landing on the Japanese-held island of Iwo Jima, American soldiers of the 28th Regiment, 5th Marine Division take Mount Suribachi and raise an American flag. A photograph of the moment shot by Joe Rosenthal becomes one of the most famous images of WWII, and wins him the Pulitzer Prize later that year.
1987—Andy Warhol Dies
American pop artist Andy Warhol, whose creations have sold for as much as 100 million dollars, dies of cardiac arrhythmia following gallbladder surgery in New York City. Warhol, who already suffered lingering physical problems from a 1968 shooting, requested in his will for all but a tiny fraction of his considerable estate to go toward the creation of a foundation dedicated to the advancement of the visual arts.
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