Vintage Pulp Jul 9 2016
BEGGING FOR IT
Getting what you want is all in how you ask.


It seems as if no genre of literature features more characters in complete submission to others than mid-century sleaze. And how do these hapless supplicants express their desperation? They break out the kneepads. Above and below are assorted paperback covers of characters making pleas, seeking sympathy, and professing undying devotion. Though some of these folks are likely making the desired impression on their betters, most are being ignored, denied, or generally dumptrucked. You know, psychologists and serial daters say a clean break is best for all involved, so next time you need to go Lili St. Cyr on someone try this line: “I've decided I hate your face now.” That should get the job done. Art is by Harry Barton, Barye Philips, Paul Rader, et al.

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Vintage Pulp Jul 10 2015
GIRL MEETS CORPSE
What do you call forty dead men? A good start.

Two years ago we shared five covers of women standing over men they had just killed and mentioned that there were many examples in vintage cover art of that particular theme. Today we’ve decided to revisit the idea in order to reiterate just how often women in pulp are the movers and shakers—and shooters and stabbers and clubbers and poisoners and scissorers. Now if they do this about a billion more times they’ll really be making a difference that counts. French publishers, interestingly, were unusually fond of this theme—so egalitarian of them. That’s why many of the covers here are from France, including one—for which we admit we bent the rules of the collection a bit, because the victim isn’t dead quite yet—of a woman actually machine gunning some hapless dude. But what a great cover. We also have a couple of Spanish killer femmes, and a Dutch example or two. Because we wanted to be comprehensive, the collection is large and some of the fronts are quite famous, but a good portion are also probably new to you. Art is by the usual suspects—Robert Maguire, Barye Phillips, Alex Piñon, Robert Bonfils, Robert McGinnis, Rudolph Belarski, et al. Enjoy. 

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Vintage Pulp Jun 2 2015
DEATH BECOMES THEM
Spillane decides to kill everybody.

Mickey Spillane’s Dites-le avec des tueurs was published by Presses de la Cité in 1961, and comprised four stories translated into French by G. Morris-Dumoulin—“Stand Up and Die!,” “Tomorrow I Die,” “I'll Die Tomorrow,” and, just for variety, “Me, Hood!” Don’t worry, though—lots of people die in that one too. All four tales originally appeared in the American men’s magazine Cavalier, a publication that embraced writers such as Thomas Pynchon, John D. MacDonald, and Theodore Sturgeon, and was instrumental in helping launch the career of Stephen King. We really like the cover art on the above collection, but we don’t know who did it. We’ll dig into that and maybe report back later. 
 
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Modern Pulp | Vintage Pulp Mar 20 2015
GETTING HAMMERED
Three Italian covers offer three visions of Mickey Spillane’s hard-boiled Mike Hammer classic.

The top cover for Mickey Spillane’s Ti ucciderò was painted by the excellent Giovanni Benvenuti for Garzanti in 1957. You can see the artist’s signature more or less in the middle of the cover. The title Ti ucciderò means “I will kill you,” which is considerably less evocative than the original title I, the Jury, but maybe that just doesn’t translate well in Italy for some reason. The second cover is also from Garzanti and dates from 1972. The shifty eyes at top were a design element on all the Spillane covers from Garzanti during the period. Last you see a 1990 edition of I, the Jury published by Oscar Mondadori, and though we don’t know the artist, it’s interesting to see a book appear so late with a painted cover. The detective on that one, if you take a close look, is the actor Stacy Keach. He was starring as Mike Hammer on an American television show called The New Mike Hammer, from which you see a still at right, and the Mondadori book was a tie-in for when the show hit Italian television. All three covers are nice, but Benvenuti is tops, as always.

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Vintage Pulp Jul 3 2014
LADY KILLERS
Sexiness is a warm gun (on a book cover anyway).

This cover of Peter O’Donnell’s Sabre Tooth, part of his popular Modesty Blaise series, shows Italian actress Monica Vitti as the title character, and it got us thinking about all the paperback covers that feature photos of women with guns. Of course, we realize that, as far as the gun-crazed U.S. is concerned, thinking of armed people as enticing or artistic may seem a little tone deaf, but we're talking about book covers, that's all. So we decided to put together a collection. We should mention that the Blaise series is worth reading if you’re looking for something along the lines of light thrills. It’s breezy and sexy as only 1960s spy literature can be, and Blaise herself is an interesting character, born in Greece, raised by a Hungarian scholar, trained in martial arts, and proficient in piracy, theft, and all around sneakiness. In Sabre Tooth she finds herself trying to thwart an invasion of Kuwait by an Afghan warlord. Below we have a dozen more photo covers featuring heat-packing women. As always with these collections, thanks to the original uploaders, most from Flickr, but particularly Muller-Fokker and Existential Ennui.

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Vintage Pulp Jun 1 2014
FAST SPILLANE
The books are lovely, dark, and deep.


Below, four evocative covers from the French imprint Editions Les Presses de la Cité for, top to bottom, Mickey Spillane’s En quatrième vitesse (Kiss Me Deadly), Dans un fauteuil (The Big Kill), Charmante soirée (One Lonely Night), and Nettoyage par le vide (The Long Wait). Does that last one sound familiar? Look here. Artist or photographer unknown on these. You can see more excellent Presses de la Cité Spillane covers on Müller-Fokker’s blog.

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Vintage Pulp Jun 8 2013
BEAST IN HUMAN SKIN
Mike Hammer lets his inner predator come out.


Mickey Spillane's iconic private dick Mike Hammer is a lethal weapon and he wants everyone to know it. He constantly tells others and the reader how tough he is, how willing he is to kill, how afraid others are of him, and why they're right to be afraid. At some point that changed in crime novels and these days the toughest characters almost never boast about their abilities, or it's done in a leftfield way, such as in Lee Child's novels, in which Jack Reacher sometimes explains clinically how he's going to get the better of somebody. But Hammer just comes out with it: “I'm mean, I'm tough, I'm better than you, I have a code you can't possibly understand, and I'm going to kill you and everyone who tries to help you.”

This is never more true than in 1952's Kiss Me, Deadly, which revolves around Hammer accidentally becoming the patsy in a murder plot and seeking revenge, not only for the murdered woman (who's Swedish and has the awesome name Berga Torn), but also because anyone who would dare try to put him on the spot, and anyone who would wreck his custom built car, simply deserves to die. Spillane is great. This is still genre fiction, so it's never perfect, but the writing is visceral and the tightness of the plotting is unbeatable. When Hammer gets violent it's serious business. He rips a guys eyes out. He rips another guy's jaw loose. The man is a hammer alright, only his first name should be Jack.

Film buffs should note that Kiss Me, Deadly diverges significantly from the 1955 film version. There's no suitcase of— Well, if you haven't seen the movie we won't tell you what there's no suitcase of, but those who've seen it will know what we were going to say. Here the MacGuffin is drugs with a street value of two million dollars. Kiss Me, Deadly is fast, clever, unexpected, and quite a pleasure to read. It's basically preposterous, of course, the male antipode to the romance novel, with Hammer fulfilling male desires to be tough, unbeatable, irresistible, still basically a good guy, but never, ever to be fucked with. But we don't care if it's male wish fulfillment. It's a ton of fun.

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Vintage Pulp Mar 29 2012
STARING DOWN THE BARREL
Stop whining. You deserve this bullet and you know it.

We love vintage paperback covers featuring armed women. But we especially love them when the women are directing their attention toward the viewer. Since pulp style literature is read primarily by men, such illustrations speak implicitly about a man’s thwarted expectations, and conversely of threatened women turning the tables to become empowered. We see this above, where a beleaguered woman defends her helpless man against an enemy we can't see because we're living inside his body. Below are thirteen more examples of women menacing you the viewer, with art by James Avanti, Robert Maguire, Harry Schaare, Rudolph Belaski, Harry Barton, and others. Thanks to flickr.com for some of these.

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Vintage Pulp Aug 9 2010
FRAGMENTS OF FEAR
Be afraid... be very afraid.


Below, fifteen pieces of pulp art with terror as their central theme. The cover in panel three from Erle Stanley Gardner is the German version of 1948's Perry Mason and the Case of the Vagabond Virgin, retitled Perry Mason und die Unschuld vom Lande, or Perry Mason and the Innocence of the Country.

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Vintage Pulp Aug 26 2009
RUBY BABY

We tend to throw superlatives around quite a bit, but this time we really mean it: this Dutch edition of Mickey Spillane’s Everybody’s Watching Me has one of the coolest covers we’ve ever seen. From the supersaturated red shade, to the handlettered text, to the brunette in a bikini and Roman sandals, this one is picture perfect. Definitely our new favorite, and we’re not just saying that because we’re in Amsterdam this week. Interestingly, there is not a lot of Dutch-language pulp. At least, we haven't spotted much thusfar. But we'll keep digging and see what turns up.

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
September 20
1946—Cannes Launches Film Festival
The first Cannes Film Festival is held in 1946, in the old Casino of Cannes, financed by the French Foreign Affairs Ministry and the City of Cannes.
September 19
1934—Arrest Made in Lindbergh Baby Case
Bruno Hauptmann is arrested for the kidnap and murder of Charles Lindbergh Jr., son of the famous American aviator. The infant child had been abducted from the Lindbergh home in March 1932, and found decomposed two months later in the woods nearby. He had suffered a fatal skull fracture. Hauptmann was tried, convicted, sentenced to death, and finally executed by electric chair in April 1936. He proclaimed his innocence to the end
September 18
1919—Pollard Breaks the Color Barrier
Fritz Pollard becomes the first African-American to play professional football for a major team, the Akron Pros. Though Pollard is forgotten today, famed sportswriter Walter Camp ranked him as "one of the greatest runners these eyes have ever seen." In another barrier-breaking historical achievement, Pollard later became the co-head coach of the Pros, while still maintaining his roster position as running back.
1932—Entwistle Leaps from Hollywood Sign
Actress Peg Entwistle commits suicide by jumping from the letter "H" in the Hollywood sign. Her body lay in the ravine below for two days, until it was found by a detective and two radio car officers. She remained unidentified until her uncle connected the description and the initials "P.E." on the suicide note in the newspapers with his niece's two-day absence.
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