Modern Pulp Jun 12 2022
CLASH BY NIGHT
Caught between a rock and an ugly place.


A few days ago we wrote about the 1950 film noir Night and the City, and our poking around led to the discovery that the Blu-Ray edition comes with a box cover by one of our favorite modern artists Owen Smith. He first came to our attention because he painted covers for the Daniel Chavarría crime novels Adios Muchachos and Tango for a Torturer, and we see that he remains a unique stylist, perhaps even a modern pulp master. His depiction of star Richard Widmark trapped between tough guys Mike Mazurki and Stanislaus Zbyszko captures the essence of the movie without being an actual scene from it. We like the choice.

While Night and the City revolves around wrestling, it seems that Smith has been busy with another ring art—boxing. He's created quite a few works along those lines, and we've uploaded several below. We'd say he has the subject of men who've had the snot beaten out of them pretty well conquered. Finally, since we brought it up, we'd like to recommend—for adventurous readers—the aforementioned Chavarría novels. Due to our time living in Guatemala and traveling around the region we developed an interest in all things Cuba. He brings that island to life in a way few authors do. Read what we wrote about him here, and see more Smith here and here.

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Modern Pulp Dec 22 2014
NEW YORK VISIONS
Owen Smith’s pulp influenced creations are modern masterpieces.


We don’t spend as much time as we should on what we like to call modern pulp, but we very much like contemporary artist Owen Smith, so above and below are some of his unique, pulp-style covers for The New Yorker magazine. He also created two brilliant Dashiell Hammett posters that we shared back in 2009, and you can see more from him on his website.

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Modern Pulp Mar 24 2009
PEAK SMITHOLOGY
Painter Owen Smith is at the top of his form.

These may look like new Dashiell Hammett book covers, but they’re actually promotional posters painted by the brilliant Owen Smith for the San Francisco Arts Commission’s Art on Market Street 2008 Program. If you read our post on author Daniel Chavarría you know we love Smith’s work. When we see it we immediately think pulp, but we aren’t particularly reminded of any other pulp artist’s work. To be fair, we don’t know if Smith considers himself a pulp artist, but we do think his paintings are lurid and mysterious in way that make them a fit for the genre.

Moving on from the Hammett pieces, the painting chosen for the cover of Maureen Dowd’s Are Men Neccesary?
is also great, though we don’t think it belongs on a collection of essays. Below that, The Forgotten Arm is an Aimee Mann album, and the pairing is also a bitsquare peg/round hole. If it has to be music, we’d rather see Smith’s work on a José James cd; if on a book, then where better than on the next James Ellroy? But the art remains brilliant regardless, and we look forward to Smith’s future creations. You can see more here, and the write-up we mentioned on Chavarría is here.

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Modern Pulp Jan 17 2009
BEAUTY AND THE BIKE
Daniel Chavarría's Cuban crime novels evoke the island as only a longtime resident could.

Uruguayan author Daniel Chavarría was a miner, a model, and a museum guide, before landing in Cuba and launching a literary career. He’s since won the Dashiell Hammett Award for his novel Gijón and the Edgar Award for Adios Muchachos. His fiction is political, comical, and suspenseful, but most of all it is palpably tropical, the product of a languid and overheated island where material riches are few but passions run high. Read Chavarría and you’ll immediately perceive the difference between fiction written by foreign authors who maybe spend six weeks in Cuba, and a man who has lived there for decades and calls it home. For instance, what foreign author could hope to explain the concept of bicycle hookers, and all the subtleties associated with their trade? Chavarría does exactly that in Adios Muchachos. In fact, he writes primarily about hookers. They’re his obsession, his muses, and he depicts them both unflinchingly and reverently. We won’t tell you more—except that we very much enjoyed the above two books. The English versions commissioned from Carloz Lopez and the award winning translator Peter Bush have all the flavor of the originals. And as a bonus, illustrator Owen Smith’s cover paintings serve as perfect encapsulations of the strange, dark beauty of Chavarría’s prose. More on Smith later.

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
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.
June 17
1939—Eugen Weidmann Is Guillotined
In France, Eugen Weidmann is guillotined in the city of Versailles outside Saint-Pierre Prison for the crime of murder. He is the last person to be publicly beheaded in France, however executions by guillotine continue away from the public until September 10, 1977, when Hamida Djandoubi becomes the last person to receive the grisly punishment.
1972—Watergate Burglars Caught
In Washington, D.C., five White House operatives are arrested for burglarizing the offices of the Democratic National Committee in the Watergate Hotel. The botched burglary was an attempt by members of the Republican Party to illegally wiretap the opposition. The resulting scandal ultimately leads to the resignation of President Richard Nixon, and also results in the indictment and conviction of several administration officials.
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