Sunday, December 28, 2008

Paperback 182: The Gay Bandit of the Border / Tom Gill (Popular Library 190)

[Even though I didn't do a proper write-up for this book, I've decided to count it as complete - your insightful comments make it scarily apparent that I'm not as essential to the smooth functioning of this blog as I'd once imagined]

Title: The Gay Bandit of the Border
Author: Tom Gill
Cover artist: Uncredited

Yours for: $12

Hey folks - I'm on vacation, working from an unfamiliar computer, and I cannot get Blogger to publish correctly. It's All kinds of screwed up. So ... patience. I'll be back with more as soon as I can. Til then, enjoy this random cover, which I may or may not be able to blog in the near future:

Friday, December 26, 2008

Paperback 181: Guns Roaring West / Peter Field (Pocket Books 6212)

Paperback 181: Pocket Books 6212 (1st ptg, 1963)
Title: Guns Roaring West
Author: Peter Field
Cover artist: Uncredited

Yours for: $8

Best things about this cover:

  • "Guns Roaring West ... I said 'West' ... 'WEST!' ... aw hell, just leave it."
  • That is an arrow, right? Not some malformed cactus or a duck footprint?
  • "Powder Valley" sounds like the setting for a saga about babysitting cheerleaders
  • This main dude is quite elegant and suave in his erect bearing and mysterious, darkened eyes. His lime green neckerchief with white polka dots kinda undercuts the whole evil vibe.

Best things about this back cover:

  • From the looks of that boot, I'd have to say this is a story about the Western fashion industry. I expect some kind of fabulous dance-off at the end.
  • "His words rustled dryly in the heavy quiet" - I wish I had audio files of you all uttering "What yuh after here?" in such a fashion. I just can't imagine anyone Making Those Words Rustle Dryly in a Heavy Quiet! I'm trying to do it now, at my desk, and I sound like a combination of Clint Eastwood and pervert on the subway.
  • This is like a menu of the writer's choicest phrases - "Let's see ... I'll take the Rattlesnake Blur, with a side of Gun Roaring Hollowly"

Page 123~
Sloan's ordinarily vacuous countenance went wooden.

OK, I am beginning to fall in love with the daring, loopy, teenage prose of your average vintage paperback. I want to set up some kind of story project where I challenge people to write Very Short stories (under 500 words) using sentences culled from these books as the first line. I need to know more about Sloan. Any Sloan.


Thursday, December 25, 2008

And the award for Best Repurposing of Comics goes to ...

My Wife, for this (a custom-made meditation shrine, just for me!)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Paperback 180: Hunters of the Red Moon / Marion Zimmer Bradley (Daw UJ1713)

Paperback 180: Daw UJ1713 (9th ptg, 1973)

Title: Hunters of the Red Moon
Author: Marion Zimmer Bradley
Cover artist: Carl Lundgren

Yours for: $6

Best things about this cover:

  • O dear god if he lifts that left knee any higher... First rule of warfare: protect your junk
  • Whose blood is on that sword? Or is he posing in triumph after winning the jelly application portion of the PB&J Olympics?
  • Are they on some team? Why are they wearing the same uniform?
  • "Manitoba Curling Champions, 2210"
Maughta, over at "Judge a Book by Its Cover," very coincidentally featured this very book just last week. I even delayed writing about the book because I didn't want it to be the subject of the one write-up a week that I crosspost on her site. She likened the cover to the movie poster for "Star Wars." I'd like to provide two other movie posters for your consideration:

And now, the back cover:

Best things about this back cover:

  • Boring!
  • This plot sounds like the plot of "The Most Dangerous Game"
  • "This is how adventure should be written" - this is not, however, how book reviews should be written: "Excellently evoked settings and characters"? Who says that??

"You know what I think of her characters?"
"No, what?"
"They are excellently evoked."
"I want to kill you right now."

Page 123~

Dane stood looking after her for a moment, then bent, on a strange impulse, and lifted the long, silky coil in his hands. It clung there, fine and smooth and springy; he coiled it into a roll and thrust it inside his tunic next to his skin. A favor from my lady, he thought.

This is from the chapter entitled "Creepy Guy at the Renaissance Faire."


Sunday, December 21, 2008

Paperback 179: Kill Now, Pay Later / Robert Kyle (Dell First Edition B178)

Paperback 179: Dell First Edition B178 (PBO, 1960)

Title: Kill Now, Pay Later
Author: Robert Kyle (pen name of Robert Terrall)
Cover artist: Robert McGinnis

Yours for: $9

Best things about this cover:

  • Nearly everything. It's quintessential. It expresses everything I love about this era - a sense of cool combined with a sense of something fading, something ending ... a kind of twilight. These two look like their best days are behind them, just behind them, and it is only beginning to dawn on them. Look, she's already forgotten how to hold a martini glass. And he seems bemused by his gun. Poor, poor, hot people.
  • "Remember when we used to find wandering daughters, fight thugs, and have hot sex in my mid-century modern apartment? ... good times ..."
  • Love the whimsical font - great contrast with the smoky, languid, gin-laden miasma of grief and nostalgia that pervades the bar scene
  • Robert McGinnis could draw the hell out of a woman when he wanted to. He and Maguire are the kings of Great Girl Art. That bare foot ... I'm not a foot man, myself, but man that is cute bordering on adorable.
  • Honey, I officially want a padded white semicircular wet bar for Christmas. I'll take up drinking and shooting, and you take up cigarettes, and we'll be in business. I'm not sure what we do about the kid ...

Best things about this back cover:

  • Ben Gates is Looking At You
  • "Dacron and worsted" - wtf? That sounds like a buddy cop show waiting to happen.
  • "Contact was total" - HA ha. That kind of writing takes balls.
  • So ... she tasted like a caterpillar soaked in champagne? I don't want to know how anyone would know what that tastes like.
  • The back cover is ... continued on page 1!? That's a very interesting sales technique that I've seen only once before.

Page 123~

What she saw in her living room cured her of the giggles.

That is a great line - the opening line of a new chapter. How could you not read on?


PS Thanks to Duane Swierczynski for pointing out that McGinnis also painted the cover for the recent reprint of this title (published by Hard Case Crime). I prefer the original cover, but the new one definitely has its charms:

Friday, December 19, 2008

Paperback 178: The Curious Facts Preceding My Execution / Donald Westlake (Ballantine 3307)

Paperback 178: Ballantine 3307 (1st ptg, 1973)

Title: The Curious Facts Preceding My Execution
Author: Donald Westlake
Cover artist: photo cover

Yours for: $22

Best things about this cover:

  • "The Curious Crap I Found In My Closet"
  • This is in contention for the single ugliest cover in my collection. Exhibit A: Mustard. Exhibit B: a mass of objects pulled in one lump from the bottom of some (crazy) lady's storage chest. Case closed.
  • Somehow the wig makes the whole object lump much, much worse. Who thought this was artful!?
  • And yet, while ugly, this is also a very memorable cover. Indelibility: The Up-Side of Ugly.
  • That is a stubbed out cigar in the middle of the rubber mask's forehead. There's also a wig, a diamond necklace, three guns, and a blue thing (gum wrapper?)

Best things about this back cover:

  • "a-burgling"

Page 123~

From "Never Shake a Family Tree"

"Ah," he said. "Forgive my telephoning, please, Mrs. Buckley. We have never met, but I noticed your entry in the current issue of Genealogical Exchange -"


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Paperback 177: The Sex Education Racket / Phoebe Courtney (Free Men Speak, Inc, unnumbered)

Paperback 177: Free Men Speak, Inc, n.n. (PBO, 1969)

Title: The Sex Education Racket - An Exposé
Author: Phoebe Courtney
Cover artist: a purveyor of nightmares

Yours for: SOLD (Feb. 09)

Best things about this cover:

  • Oh, god, who are these kids and what are they doing on this cover? Are they all hopped up on sex ed?
  • "After receiving sex education in school, Peter looked at his stepsisters Marcia and Cindy in a whole new light..."
  • These kids are so much more horrifying than Anything you'll find inside this book (which is mostly specious anti-communist and anti-"Negro" nutjobbery - don't ask me what either has to do with sex education, because I just can't tell you)
  • "Phoebe Courtney" went on to inspire the sitcom "Friends."
  • This book is in amazing condition. Appears never to have been read. Shocking.
  • I love the idea that sex ed is a "racket." All those sex ed fat cats, rolling in all that sex ed money. Say no to Big Sex Ed! (Hey, I knew a guy named "Big Sex Ed" once ... so that's what his name meant)

Best things about this back cover:

[late addendum - this woman is famousish in the history of radical right politics in America: see here. Why oh Why is there no mention of her husband on this book cover!? Thanks for the reference, Steve]
  • Oh ... my. Hello, Misssssss Courtney. Don't you look ... happy.
  • What is her hair doing!? Maybe Miss Courtney is a perfectly reasonable human being whose mind is being controlled by some kind of parasitic mock-hair creature.
  • I love that she wrote a "series of pamphlets" (who is she, Thomas Paine?) called "TAX FAX," many years before "FAX" was a household term.
  • Like any good, husbandless, sexually repressed woman with hair pulled so tight on her head that her face is contorted into a permanent smile, she likes to keep a "massive German Shepherd dog" around the house.
  • How much would you like to bet that Phoebe Courtney was into some seriously kinky shit.
  • There is a section of blank pages at the back of the book marked "Your Notes"

Page 123~

If you oppose sex education in the schools, then you will want to do something about it.

There's a "handling the media" guide and everything. This book is awesome in that it represents early evidence of the albatross that now hangs around the neck of the Republican party: it's anti-science, anti-black, anti-public education, anti-union, anti-masturbation (seriously). It's also very much pro-ugly/scary book covers. Further, it's apparently responsible for ushering in the 70s' lamentable obsession with earth tones.


Sunday, December 14, 2008

Paperback 176: The Irish Beauty Contract / Philip Atlee (Gold Medal D1976)

Paperback 176: Gold Medal D1976 (PBO?, 1966)

Title: The Irish Beauty Contract
Author: Philip Atlee
Cover artist: uncredited

Yours for: $10

Best things about this cover:

  • Well, Joe Gall, obviously. Look at his tough-guy mug up there in the corner. "I Approve This Counterespionage Adventure"
  • I was hoping and praying that the picture of Joe Gall in the corner meant that there was some TV show or something that featured his character ... but no. Not that I can see. Just some model ... ? Which is weird. I want to say "unprecedented." It's like they want you to think he's some kind of TV star, or that the book might be a TV tie-in. I guess that was a selling point in the 60s.
  • The tagline for this non-existent TV show would be someone saying: "You've got some gall!" and then Joe would turn and smile knowingly into the camera. Magic!
  • I'm guessing the dead girl is the "Irish Beauty." I say this because of her lush, cascading red hair. Something tells me those ruins are not in Ireland. Meanwhile, our hero is dressed oddly like Joan Crawford. Cross her with Norma Desmond descending the staircase at the end of "Sunset Boulevard." Now cross that with Frankenstein's monster. That's our hero.
  • Love the blurb from Chandler. Legitimacy! The quote kind of trails off there. There's a longer one inside that continues: "... the hard economy of style, the characterizations ..." but that one trails off too. I'll be kind and assume that Chandler doesn't introduce a "but" in the next phrase.

Best things about this back cover:
  • Joe Gall montage! See the many sides of Joe Gall! Wry look, followed by slightly less wry look, followed by the same look at a slightly different angle, followed by the cool pleasures of Chesterfield, followed by exhale. Joe Gall!
  • "The Nullifier," HA ha. Best name ever. It's very non-terrifying.
  • Joe is not afraid of "hairy ones." I've heard of guys like that. I think they are called "bears." Or "cubs," I forget.

Page 123~

Screw that, here's page 1, line 1:

"You're most depressing," the Irish Beauty said. She was nude except for a solar topi and a riding crop.

Topi (n.): A pith helmet worn for protection against sun and heat.

At least I assume he means the pith helmet. The other "topi" is an antelope.


Friday, December 12, 2008

Paperback 175: Murder After Hours / Agatha Christie (Dell 5922)

Paperback 175: Dell 5922 (1st ptg, 1965)

Title: Murder After Hours
Author: Agatha Christie
Cover artist: William Teason

Yours for: $9

Best things about this cover:
  • Worst Weapon-Hiding Place Ever
  • "Hey, watch me make the horse shoot bullets out his butt!"
  • This cover was painted using primarily leftover "Exorcist" vomit
  • Teason specializes in these odd little still lifes featuring unlikely groupings of objects. There appears to be, in addition to the horse sculpture/gun, a riding crop, a rag, a tabloid story about someone who was "MURDERED," and a bent playing card (King of Hearts)

Best things about this back cover:

  • They always suck me in with their geometry teasers: "It looked like an ordinary triangle ... but it was scalene!"
  • Apparently the "triangle" is a sculpture of human flesh
  • "Sculptress"! Remember when the idea of a woman's doing anything of note outside the home, especially anything creative, was so unusual that it required flagging with a suffix? Why they don't call Christie an "authoress," I don't know.

Page 123~

Oh no, thought Midge, it can't be true. It's a dream I've been having. John Christow, murdered, shot - lying there by the pool. Blood and blue water - like the jacket of a detective story. Fantastic, unreal ...


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Paperback 174: The Night of Long Knives / Max Gallo (Warner 78-231)

Paperback 174: Warner 78-231 (1st ptg, 1973)

Title: The Night of Long Knives
Author: Max Gallo
Cover artist: Don Punchatz

Yours for: $10

Best things about this cover:

  • Way out of my normal collecting time period, but man oh man this cover is astonishing. Super Gothic Horror Nightmare. That heap of contorted flesh is like a composite being - a monster, bleeding to death - though the guys up top kind of look like they're doing yoga
  • That Eagle crown looks like it's pinching him a little

Best thing about this back cover:

  • "Orgy of blood" - yes, that's what the cover looks like
  • This book is non-fiction, it appears, and has interior photos of all kinds of Nazi-esque stuff, though most of it is just guys in overcoats walking from here to there. I guess I'll take boring over gruesome.
  • OK, this book is making me feel dirty, so I'm done thinking about it

Page 123~

There's really nothing even remotely funny to quote, so I'm gonna pass. The first sentence I looked at had "Dachau camp" in it, to give you an idea of the material I'm dealing with here.


Sunday, December 7, 2008

Paperback 173: Too Many Clients / Rex Stout (Signet J2334)

Paperback 173: Signet J2334 (1st ptg, 1962)
Title: Too Many Clients
Author: Rex Stout
Cover artist: Bill Johnson

Yours for: $12

Best things about this cover:

  • "I love my blankie!"
  • This is more mustard than any one cover should have to endure.
  • The floating head of Nero Wolfe looks none too pleased with this flirtatious, naked hussy. It's as if he's thinking "So this is what selling books has come to - PFUI!"
  • Good example of how paperback sellers learned to develop brand recognition - the whole left panel, with huge author name and logo Nero head, will get repeated on a whole series of Rex Stout mysteries. Thus cover art gets squished - the title seems almost irrelevant.

Best things about this back cover:

  • "Sex wasn't Nero Wolfe's specialty" - yeah, we can pretty much tell from his expression on the cover
  • Someone should win an award for the phrase "satin-upholstered bower of carnality."
  • An ad for a John O'Hara book! I Love John O'Hara, and he used to be Ridiculously popular.
  • Bantam is one of the few publishers I can think of who would use their back covers to advertise books Not by the author of the book itself - though this ad seems oddly placed and poorly demarcated, with nothing but a font color change and a black bar to let you know the bottom half of the back cover is unrelated to the top.
Page 123~

"They killed him. That's obvious. They killed him."

Well of course they killed him. That's obvious.


Friday, December 5, 2008

Paperback 172: Operation Octopus / James Dark (Signet P3303)

Paperback 172: Signet P3303 (1st ptg, 1968)
Title: Operation Octopus
Author: James Dark
Cover artist: McGinnis or some imitator

Yours for: $9

Best things about this cover:

  • Before there was "Octopussy," there was ... "Operation Octopus"! Starring ... Mark Hood, the world's tiniest spy.
  • "Why is that star logo shooting the book number and the price at me!? I'll just duck down between the author's first and last names for protection..."
  • That's a lot of bare back. Looks a little ... gaunt.
  • Also, that's a lot of hair. Looks a little ... blue.
  • "Submarine city?" Guess I'll have to turn the book over to see what the hell's going on...

Best things about this back cover:

  • Boring:
  • Adjectives:
  • Large:
  • Red:
  • "Half-man, half-fish" - they called him: "Mafish!"
  • "Intertrust" is a front! Worst fake business name Ever.
  • "a body built for treason" - "Hey baby, you know who you remind me of? Benedict Arnold. That traitor was one shapely bastard."
  • "A string of hard-core-convicts, all skilled divers" - first, this copywriter is overfond of hyphens. Second, "all skilled divers?" What are the odds? "Damn, why did we ever put S.C.U.B.A. lessons on the prison continuing education schedule!?"
  • I can't tell if this is scifi or not. And I have absolutely no desire to investigate further.

Page 123~

"You haven't seen him," he went on tersely. "You didn't know him; you don't know what he is now. The damage is irrevocable. He'd be a moron forever. He'd want it this way. Wouldn't you? He'll be saving mankind. The dreadful pity of it," Hood said bitterly, "is that the poor guy will never know."

OK, two things

1. "Moron forever" - that's a memoir title that'll sell right off the shelves
2. No way, no how, does a whisky-swilling tough guy (which Mark Hood is supposed to be) begin a sentence with "The dreadful pity of it ..." Unless he is in some kind of time warp movie where he keeps switching back and forth from modern spy to 19th-century British Inspector.


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Paperback 171: Hell on the Pecos / Ed Earl Repp (Western Novel of the Month 4)

Paperback 171: Western Novel of the Month No. 4 (1st ptg, n.d.)

Title: Hell on the Pecos
Author: Ed Earl Repp
Cover artist: [A. Leslie Ross?]

Yours for: $15

Best things about this cover:

  • I love how excited the book is that it's "FULL-LENGTH"
  • This early western version of polo never caught on, for some reason
  • Impossibly positioned horses engaging in some kind of horse ballet while ruddy-cheeked young men with fancy neckwear fire over yonder.
  • What is that cloud under the horse's snout? Is that his breath? Given what the cowboys are wearing, I don't think it's cold enough out to see a horse's breath. Maybe Jim's bullets release a little burst of perfume midair to cover the stench of manure / death.
  • Seriously, their cheeks are ruddy. Either they're very ashamed of something or they both insulted the same dame. Or their gigantically-lipped grandmother just kissed them both goodbye.

Back cover, shmack cover. It's the same boring word pattern that all Western Novel Classics have.

Page 123~

"Kelton - Burt Kelton!" panted the old man laboriously. "He come t' the house about a half hour ago! Knocked me out, but I come t' pronto an' sneaked away t' find yuh! That jasper's gone plumb loco, Montany! Yuh better go there!"

Behold the majesty of Western Dialogue! Not surprisingly, this guy is addressing someone named "Montana." Apparently old men in the west were required to change terminal "a"s to "y"s. "That jasper's gone plumb loco!" may take over as the subtitle of this blog some day.


Monday, December 1, 2008

Dear God, Buy Them All!

Life Magazine photo database strikes again. I can only imagine standing in front of this many MINT (not-yet) vintage paperbacks. I think my head would literally explode. From joy.


Sunday, November 30, 2008

Paperback 170: A Korean Tiger / Nick Carter (Award Books A248X)

Paperback 170: Award Books A248X (PBO, 1967)

  • Title: A Korean Tiger
  • Author: Nick Carter (who is also the main character...? and who is also, btw, a Backstreet Boy)
  • Cover artist: Some McGinnis imitator

Yours for: $17

Best things about this cover:

  • Bring me the floating head of Nick Carter! Oh, nevermind. It's right there.
  • The disembodied head of Nick Carter thinks you're a swell-looking doll. {wink!}
  • If the book is trying to suggest to me that that lady is "Korean," I challenge. She looks like Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, only with somewhat smaller boobs and no shirt.
  • I like how she is taking a sidelong glance at the title, as if thinking "WTF?"
  • How is it possible that no rapper has picked up the name "Killmaster?" That would be my handle for sure. That, or "Optimum Slim" (a name I derived from the cereal I eat every morning)
  • Fake Korean Post-op Elvira Impersonator needs a refill, dammit!

Best things about this back cover.

  • Text! Who doesn't like ... that?
  • Oh my god, I am in love with this book - any book that features the word "slatternly" is hottt with three t's.
  • I hope the "dark underbelly of Asia" is just some really hairy Laotian guy.
  • Paragraph indentations are for suckas!

Page 123~

The wide green stare did not waver. Behind those basilisk eyes he thought he could detect a hint of something warmer. Desire? Plain old-fashioned lust? Was this creature really so human?

Oh please dear god don't let him be talking about the "Korean" woman. "Though she was Korean, she seemed oddly human."


P.S. this book is immaculate. As crisp and new and bright as the day it first hit the shelves. Maybe there's a tiny amount of scuffing, but it's quite negligible. Paperbacks rarely hold up this well.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Paperback 169: The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze (Red Seal 17)

Paperback 169: Red Seal 17 (1st ptg, 1937)

Title: The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze
Author: William Saroyan
Cover artist: N/A

Yours for: $22

Best things about this cover:

  • The red seal makes a nice pattern, but ... that's really all there is to say about this cover, aesthetics-wise.
  • Modern Age Books - which includes Red Seal, as well as Blue and Gold Seal books - are remarkable only for their historical importance. This book is from the pre-mass market era (i.e. before Pocket Books started up in 1939). So novel was the idea of issuing books in paper covers (in much bigger printing runs and at much lower prices) that the publisher has printed an entire page at the back of the book explaining the rationale for the whole enterprise. I reprint that page here, in lieu of the back cover, which is just more seals (as always, just click to enlarge):

Page 123~

For there is some grace in dying quietly amid some fragment of a fragment of another's death and there is some grace in standing in the mazdalight our noblest contribution to sleeplessness our offering to children dying standing in the mazdalight awake and awake and dying and alive and the grace is a form of immobility as of quiet death and it is of the dance and the dance is of stone hard rock and never of fluid never of waves in motion and the dance is of smash of mountain graceful sky beloved pointlessness.

And you thought Joyce was inscrutable. "Beloved pointlessness" would be a nice title for something. My life story, perhaps. Saroyan is my homeboy, after all.


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Paperback 168: Tales of the Flying Mountains / Poul Anderson (Collier 01626)


Truth be told, this book was not scheduled to be written up today. There was an interesting but visually bland book on tap for today, but I decided I needed something spicy to help me celebrate my birthday, so I skipped forward two books in line and found this. Enjoy!

Paperback 168: Collier 01626 (1st ptg, 1971)

Title: Tales of the Flying Mountains
Author: Poul Anderson
Cover artist: Uncredited

Yours for: $8

Best things about this cover:

  • "Tales of the Flying Mountains," Or, "Psychedelic Ape Men Visit the Boob Museum"
  • I've heard them called a lot of things. "Flying Mountains" is not one of those things.
  • More proof that everyone in the early 70s was high. How I survived my infancy is a miracle.

Best things about this back cover:

  • How many papers does Washington have?
  • This book is apparently a collection of short stories, each of which originally appeared in Analog magazine between the years 1963 and 1965. Anderson published them under the pseudonym "Winston P. Sanders." They are all set in a common futuristic universe in which mankind has colonized the solar system. One of the reviews at amazon starts with the phrase, "Taking his cue from Chaucer..." (!?)

Page 123~

... and yet that spark, together with the dwarfed sun, reached across to grip this orb on which she dwelt and lock it fast for eternity.

This book should be called "Grip This Orb" (see cover painting)


Sunday, November 23, 2008

Paperback 167: The Private Life of Julius Caesar / William Marston (Universal Giant no. 6)

Paperback 167: Universal Giant no. 6 (1st ptg, 1953)

Title: The Private Life of Julius Caesar
Author: William Marston
Cover artist: George Geygan

Yours for: $25

Best things about this cover:

OK, stop. Hammer time. This book was written by the creator of "Wonder Woman." I Am Not Kidding. And yet none of the booksellers at abebooks mention the connection between this book and "Wonder Woman." You'd think that fact would be one of the main selling points. As I looked at the book, I thought "William Marston" sounded familiar, and then I looked inside and saw the author's middle name (Moulton), which rang even more bells. Then I googled. Holy Krap. From Wikipedia:

Dr. William Moulton Marston (May 9, 1893May 2, 1947) was an American psychologist, feminist theorist, inventor, and comic book author who created the character Wonder Woman. Two women, his wife Elizabeth Holloway Marston and Olive Byrne, (who lived with the couple in a polyamorous relationship), served as exemplars for the character and greatly influenced her creation.[1][2]

He was inducted into the Comic Book Hall of Fame in 2006.

  • "Polyamorous" pretty much describes this cover - I count five different sexual permutations on the front cover alone - and wait til you see the back cover (and the spine!)
  • I love that a "feminist theorist" inspired this (awesome) cover. I guess she who reclines on the bed with the chalice of viscous mauve goo makes the rules. "OK, you kneel! Now you, you kneel more! Kneel wheel!"
  • I love how the whipping scene is strategically placed for her (our) viewing pleasure.

Best things about this spine!!!!:

  • I love how the kinkiest (albeit minutest) scene in the whole tableau is on the spine - no matter how it's shelved, You Will See Flesh.

Best things about this back cover:

  • I know this is an odd thing to say, given the rampant nudity, but those are some well-drawn horses.
  • "Your calves are so smooth..." "Oh, that's just the satyr urine. It works wonders. Here, let us pour some on your back..."
  • Jeez, a crucifixion, too? It's like the painting's running out of ways to exploit the female form.

Page 123~

from a chapter titled, I swear to god, "Ladies' Night"

The pretty young neophyte walked straight to the golden gate, as she had been told to do, and gave her name and that of her sponsor to the door-slave who stood behind the golden bars.

And thus began the first recorded A.A. meeting.

P.S. "door-slave"?


Friday, November 21, 2008

Paperback 166: Wild Wives / Charles Willeford (RE/Search, unnumbered)

Paperback 166: RE/Search nn (unknown ptg, 1987)

Title: Wild Wives
Author: Charles Willeford
Cover artist: Terri Groat-Ellner

Yours for: $25

Best things about this cover:
  • "Go on, big boy. Do your worst! I ain't ascared of your gun."
  • Something about her pose makes her look not sexy but lopsided. Like her torso is the upper layer of a cake that is shifting.
  • I don't know what you call this style of dress, but it is hot. Hott.
  • I need a word for "gun/crotch" interaction. Wait. I think I just coined it.
  • It's weird / disturbing the lengths to which the gun/phallus connection can be taken in cover art

This is a late 80s reprint of a 1956 paperback ("Wild Wives" was first published as a special bonus story within the covers of another Willeford novel, "High Priest of California").

Charles Willeford is a Noir Fiction god. Coincidentally, I just finished teaching his "Pick-Up" in my crime fiction class (seriously, just finished ... yesterday). Smart, beautifully (clearly) written, often funny, and, in parts, genuinely shocking. I have a strong hankering now to read as much of his stuff as I can.
This reprint is surprisingly rare, hence the price. Willeford is pretty collectible in any form (except, perhaps, the Library of America version I used in my class - that volume ("Noir Fiction of the 1950s") is gold: Highsmith, Thompson, Himes, Goodis, and Willeford. Here's a review by Terry Teachout (another weird coincidence - I just mentioned Teachout, specifically his bio of Mencken, in my last post for this blog)

Best things about this back cover:

  • Blurbs from actual people / media outlets you might have heard of
  • What is with the insane, jagged, fire-licking design?
  • This book is dated 1987 ... and yet we are told that Willeford died in 1988 ... That's foresight.
Page 23~

I gathered the heavy tweed of her skirt in my hands, and lifted. The heat of her body reached out for my hands. The flesh of her was firm and yet oddly relaxed.

The rest of the quote you can see in bold on the back cover of the book (!).


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Paperback 165: Omnibook, August 1945 (incl. excerpt of "Black Boy" by Richard Wright)

Paperback 165: Omnibook, August 1945

  • Includes: "Authorized abridgments of four best-selling books," including "Black Boy" by Richard Wright - plus a "Back of the Book" essay by Bennett Cerf
  • Cover artist: Stefan Salter
Yours for: $12

Best things about this cover:

  • He's cyanotic! Clear! Stat! Seven cc's of ... something (my 1990s "e.r." lingo has run out)
  • This painting is eerie and gorgeous. That kid is scaring the hell out of me, though. He does not look happy. He looks like he wants his lunch money back.
  • I don't know if Salter intended for the kid's collar (the open neck part) to sort of kind of look like an outline of Africa, but either way - awesome.
  • I have a student who looks just like this kid. Well, he's just dark black, not blue, but that combination of menace and wonder in the eyes - the likeness is startling. Sadly, said student is currently in maximum security prison.

Best things about this back cover:

  • Hey, Bennett Cerf - I may know him from such game shows as "What's My Line?"
  • This article is actually really engaging - too bad it's "to be continued" inside the magazine (where you can't see it).
  • The cartoons in the corners are fabulous.
  • This article is reminding me that I have Terry Teachout's bio of Mencken still waiting for me, unread, on the bookshelf downstairs. I basically live my life surrounded by books that are staring at me, disgusted at my never having read them.

Page 123~

from "Coming Home," By Lester Cohen:

There was something about Stell, he thought, if she kissed you, if it was the real thing to her, the rest just came with it.

"The rest?" What? Her lungs? Her lunch?


LIFE magazine - searchable photo database

I just discovered (via writer Duane Swierczynski's "Secret Dead Blog") that LIFE magazine has a giant, easily searchable photo database - tons of classic greatness, which I will surely pillage for my blog(s) in the future. Here's a gem: crime fiction legend Mickey Spillane proudly posing with paperback versions of his (exceedingly popular) books:

And this ... this is just one of the greatest photos ever taken:


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

New Site Design Possibilities #1

Sometimes I take reader requests...

Now he just needs a name. Ideas?


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Paperback 164: The Boomerang Clue / Agatha Christie (Dell D340)

Paperback 164: Dell D340 (1st ptg, 1960)
Title: The Boomerang Clue
Author: Agatha Christie
Cover artist: William Teason

Yours for: $10

Best things about this cover:

  • Well, there's something you don't normally associate with Agatha Christie: BONDAGE.
  • I love love love how her arms coupled with the back of the chair form a (very ironic) valentine! The red background only heightens the effect. Don't even get me started on how she kinda looks like a Catholic school girl who is at least mildly ashamed of the predicament she has gotten herself into... Or is that a look not of shame, or fear, but of coyness? Clearly, I have my own, private version of the story of how she came to be in that chair.
  • Most of my Teason covers (lots of late 50s/60s Dells) don't have people on them. Clearly he should have done more people. The hands alone are gorgeous.

Best things about this cover:

  • More broken windows!
  • Random rope - did she escape!?
  • I love how the copy on the back cover is typeset as if it were a poem

Page 123~

"To begin with," said Bobby, plunging [ed.: !?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!], "I'm not really a chauffeur although I do work in a garage in London. And my name isn't Hawkins - it's Jones - Bobby Jones. I come from Marchbolt in Wales."

The story of a golfing legend gone deep, deep undercover.


Friday, November 14, 2008

Paperback 163: Hungry Dog Murders / Frank Gruber (Avon Murder Mystery Monthly 12)

Paperback 163: Avon Murder Mystery Monthly 12 (1st ptg, 1943)

Title: Hungry Dog Murders
Author: Frank Gruber
Cover artist: [William Forrest]

Yours for: $14

Best things about this cover:

  • Well, I guess they weren't that hungry ... this guy's corpse looks in pretty good shape
  • "If only I had used the leash and collar ... right ... there ... so close!"
  • This guy's face is gruesome.
  • The scariest part of this cover: The risen skeleton of Andy Warhol! Wearing academic regalia?! That is the weirdest logo you are likely to see in the world of paperbacks (or anywhere)
  • This book is really well made - it's beat to hell but still completely solid: no loose pages, very square. It's an early, digest-sized paperback, produced during wartime, in the first five years of the existence of the mass-paperback market. Lots of experimenting still going on in terms of design, packaging, promotion, etc. Check out these features:

On the inside flap, an explanation of how important the activity of READING is during wartime:

Reminds me a little of the recent idea that we could fight terrorism by shopping. Precedent!

The first page actually looks remarkably similar to that of many modern, hardbacked, "literary" books of today - tons of blurbs:

A War Bonds ad at the end - "Yeah, we're talkin' to you too, Canada!":

A miniature drawing at the beginning of each chapter!

And then there's the back cover:

Best things about this back cover:

  • "Thrillers" used interchangeably with "Mysteries" - interesting in the history of genre nomenclature. Slippage! Conflation!
  • A. Merritt was a big deal scifi writer, and "Creep Shadow Creep" is one of the greater titles I've ever seen
  • Avon was clearly really, really big on getting you to get on board - "Order! Ask your Newsdealer! Do it! Creep Shadow Creep!"

Page 123~
"Ha-ha," Johnny laughed mirthlessly.
"It just struck me as funny, Johnny. That fat slob, Maggie. I never had a fight with a woman before. But you - you treated her just as if she'd been a man."

Ah, the '40s. Following a precedent (precedent!) set by Dick Tracy (it's true), Johnny Fletcher liked to smack broads around and then laugh about it afterward. "Women these days ... sometimes you just gotta hit 'em!"