Vintage Pulp Aug 17 2023
BENNY TIME, BENNY PLACE
So that whole brains over brawn thing? I gather you're not a big believer.


Above you see a cover for Peter Rabe's 1955 thriller Benny Muscles In. Rabe had previously debuted with Stop This Man! and would go on to write thirty novels, but he's still green here, and it shows. In the story, Benny Tapkow, a collector for the mob, decides to kidnap his boss's daughter Pat for a rival mobster. Everything goes ridiculously wrong, starting with the rival's henchmen making off with the wrong woman, and continuing with Pat getting hooked on heroin. Overall the book felt like Rabe, early in his authorial career, didn't know quite where to go with these ideas. There's plenty of grit, but not enough precision. We did like the bit, though, where Benny got all quantum: [She] isn't dead. And she isn't alive. She's right between, and the more Pendleton stalls, the worse it'll be for her. Well, maybe that isn't exactly quantum, but it's close, if unintentional. But Rabe would make legit quantum leaps with later works. The art on this Gold Medal edition is by Lu Kimmel.

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Vintage Pulp Jan 1 2022
SO NERA, YET SO FAR
The beasts of the jungle are dangerous, savage, and human.


You'd never guess, but this cover for U.S. writer Jonathan Latimer's L'avventura nera is the 1956 Italian translation of his 1940 African safari novel Dark Memory. It was painted by Lu Kimmel, possibly borrowed from something he originally painted for a U.S. novel or magazine. We recently talked about this book in detail—a lot of detail—but long story short, it's about Yanks in Africa, and a difficult, dangerous safari that brings out the beast in its participants. It was great. Learn more? Click here.

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Vintage Pulp Dec 20 2019
JURY TRIAL
And the verdict is—indispensable, as charged.


Above is a second Lu Kimmell cover for Mickey Spillane's hard-boiled Mike Hammer thriller I, the Jury, notable because you don't usually see the same artist paint different covers for the same paperback. But we're actually sharing this not just for the art, but because holiday travel season is here again, and it seems like a good time to reiterate the fact that if you're flying inside of or to the U.S. pulp novels can be a travel necessity. We're giving you pearls of wisdom. Check here.

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Vintage Pulp Jul 21 2019
A MAN OF MEANNESS
Owning a whorehouse has been fun, ladies, but a man of my wickedness has a destiny. I'm running for Congress.


Above is a cover by Lu Kimmel, an artist we've featured only once before, but who painted many paperback fronts, and delved as well into advertising, portraiture, and fine art. We'll see him again later. Joseph Millard's The Wickedest Man was originally published as The Gentleman from Hell and was based on real-life figure Ben Hogan—not the golfer. So what did the evil Hogan do? He was a con man, a murderer, a spy for both the Union and Confederate armies during the U.S. Civil War, a brawler, a jury tamperer, a whorehouse proprietor, and worst of all—as indicated by our subhead—a politician. There are several books about the guy, but Millard's is probably the best known. This Gold Medal edition came in 1954. 

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Vintage Pulp Nov 16 2018
JURY RIGGED
Spillane solves a tough case in more ways than one.


If you're on this site you almost certainly know already about Mickey Spillane's I, the Jury, so instead of talking about how it's a trailblazing hard boiled detective novel with a sledgehammer ending that's one of the most famous in pulp history, we'll share a true story with you. You know one of us went to the U.S. recently. Well, the one of us who went—PSGP—has had lots of problems getting into the country. We're talking baggage searches, being conducted to the special room for questioning, the whole deal.

Customs agents always say these stops are random but when it happens three times in five trips that's an obvious lie. Probably—and this is a guess, because we have no idea what customs agents see when they scan a passport—these stops have to do with PSGP's travel history, which includes visits to such dubious countries as Russia, Honduras, and various nations and islands in the vicinity of Cuba. One time an agent even asked him casually, “So how did that trip to Cuba work out for you?” even though there was no visa—obviously—to that effect in PSGP's passport. Columbo these agents are not.

Anyway, during one of these searches the agent in charge saw a giant
pulp anthology in PSGP's luggage and immediately got all friendly, like, “Oh, you dig this kind of stuff, do you?” PSGP: “Of course.” Agent: “What do you like about it?” PSGP: “Cops, crooks, corruption, violence, you know.” Agent: “Well, you can close your bag up. I think we're done here.” Ever since then whenever PSGP goes Stateside he carries a pulp novel prominently placed on his person. And there have been no problems in customs since. Coincidence? Maybe.

But it's best to be equipped anyway, so this time he carried the above edition of I, the Jury sticking out of the breast pocket of his jacket, and customs was even smoother than usual. Also a beautiful Lufthansa flight attendant on one of the planes was even like, “Oh, passion, crime, and suspense, eh? Sounds like fun.” Yes, customs agents are soothed and even the most jaded of stews gets flirtatious when those words are sticking out of your breast pocket. So consider this a piece of advice: if you're concerned with customs carry a pulp novel, and if you carry a pulp novel, carry Spillane


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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
June 20
1967—Muhammad Ali Sentenced for Draft Evasion
Heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali, who was known as Cassius Clay before his conversion to Islam, is sentenced to five years in prison for refusing to serve in the military during the Vietnam War. In elucidating his opposition to serving, he uttered the now-famous phrase, “I ain’t got no quarrel with them Viet Cong.”
June 19
1953—The Rosenbergs Are Executed
Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who were convicted for conspiracy to commit espionage related to passing information about the atomic bomb to the Soviet spies, are executed at Sing Sing prison, in New York.
June 18
1928—Earhart Crosses Atlantic Ocean
American aviator Amelia Earhart becomes the first woman to fly in an aircraft across the Atlantic Ocean, riding as a passenger in a plane piloted by Wilmer Stutz and maintained by Lou Gordon. Earhart would four years later go on to complete a trans-Atlantic flight as a pilot, leaving from Newfoundland and landing in Ireland, accomplishing the feat solo without a co-pilot or mechanic.
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