Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Other Books, Other Covers: The Antigua Stamp / Robert Graves (Random House, 1937)

Hello. Your regularly scheduled program of vintage paperback covers + commentary will resume shortly, but I wanted to take a little time to showcase some covers of other books I have lying around my house—hardbound books (w/ and w/o dust jackets) and paperbacks that fall outside the purview of my main collection. My cover-love knows no (or few) bounds. So let's get ready for random!

Title: The Antigua Stamp
Author: Robert Graves
Cover artist: Saul Steinberg

Estimated value: $100-$125

"Robert Graves' First Modern Novel"

I own this 1st U.S. edition of The Antigua Stamp, in very nice condition. I don't know why. This was probably a book sale purchase from some years back. I was probably thinking, "First edition by a famous author with the dust jacket still in fantastic shape? And it's how much? 50 cents? Uh … oh why not?!"

Back cover features notices for other RH books, including James Joyce's Ulysses. "Complete in one volume, including Judge Woolsey's historic decision; $3.50"

Page 123~
"Funny sort of novel my brother seems to be writing. Diet of Worms, twin noblemen, and modern scientists."

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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Paperback 825: The Radio Planet / Ralph Milne Farley (Ace F-312)

Paperback 825: Ace F-312 (PBO, 1964)

Title: The Radio Planet
Author: Ralph Milne Farley [Roger Sherman Hoar]
Cover artist: John Schoenherr

Yours for: $8


Best things about this cover:

  • Flash Gordon cosplay just got Real.
  • Myles Cabot: Ant Barber!
  • Are those ants? Beetles? Entomologists—little help?
  • Yeah, get that "Milne" name in there. Someone might take a chance.


Best things about this back cover:

  • "Radio transmission of matter"—is that like a 3D printer!?
  • First paragraph is about as dull as one can make a (return!) trip to Venus sound.
  • "Untapped resources." Nice fudge.
  • "But Myles Cabot didn't know the meaning of the word impossible—or "dearth," or "fecundity," or "peripatetic," or "spatula," or a host of other words. But he could build an electronic device from raw rocks and untapped resources, so suck on that, fancy word knowledge people!"

Page 123~

"For Builder's sake, man!" Cabot cut in. This is not time to quibble over words! Give us the plane, if you would save Theoph, yourself, and Arkilu."

Man, Myles Cabot really does have a thing against words. And he worships Bob the Builder. What a character!


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Thursday, October 9, 2014

Paperback 824: Bullet Proof / Amber Dean (Popular Library SP294)

Paperback 824: Popular Library SP294 (1st ptg, 1964)

Title: Bullet Proof
Author: Amber Dean
Cover artist: Uncredited

Yours for: $15


Best things about this cover:

  • Wow, turns out you can do A Lot with a fairly monochromatic palette. This is fantastic.
  • For a simple cover, it's amazingly suspenseful. Great use of light, especially on her face. Her face is the key—the craning around and the look of wide-eyed horror really sell the idea that something terrible is just on its way, just out of view.
  • The creepiness of the bondage is amplified ten-fold by the simple, naked mattress. How can a cover be so elegant and so sleazy at the same time?


Best things about this back cover:

  • I still hate this logo. It does not look like "CRIME." It looks a poorly executed fertility statue.
  • "Virginia Kirkus calls it 'non-stop'"—that made me LOL: "Seriously, it wouldn't stop. I as like 'Stop! Why won't this story stop!?' But it just kept going!"
  • "Readable!"—these just get better and better. "… in that it was made out of recognizable words, which were arranged in vaguely grammatical patterns…"

Page 123~

"It was their job, Hallie. Police have to learn how to destroy human dignity, or they'd never break through the really calloused, the hardened."

I'm just gonna leave that there.


[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Tumblr]

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Paperback 823: Last of the Breed / Les Savage, Jr. (Dell First Edition 37)

Paperback 823: Dell First Edition 37 (PBO, 1954)

Title: Last of the Breed
Author: Les Savage, Jr.
Cover artist: Stanley Borack

Yours for: $12


Best things about this cover:

  • "I told you I didn't know nothin' 'bout birthin' no calves! I told you!"
  • Mysterious stranger just wants to borrow a bucket.
  • Wardrobe malfunction in 5, 4, 3 ...
  • We get it, Stan Borack—you are good at drawing hands. Stop showing off.
  • "I don't know, Les, I think this tale might be a bit too savage. Do you think you could make it …?"


Best things about this back cover:
  • Looks like this book was in Brian Sheridan's back pocket when he got into whatever he got into on the front cover. Books with war wounds!
  • He came alive as a man. It was a good feeling. If this isn't a tale of sexual awakening, I'm gonna be very disappointed.
  • What is up with the design on this cover? "The blue arrow going round and round symbolizes life's twists and turns, while the sloppy gray daubs that frame the arrow symbolize the artist's not giving a shit."

Page 123~

Jess Miller was helping a pair of bonneted women near the rear.

Because bonnets make it practically impossible to see back there.


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Friday, October 3, 2014

Paperback 822: Human? / ed. Judith Merril (intro by Fredric Brown)

Paperback 822: Lion Books 205 (PBO, 1954)

Title: Human?
Editor: Judith Merril
Introduction: Fredric Brown
Cover artist: Rafael DeSoto [R. DeSaint??] [signature in bottom right corner, hard to make out—I read it as "R. DeSoto" because Rafael DeSoto is a famous cover artist. The Internet Speculative Fiction Database has "R. DeSaint," but I can't find any other mention of such a person on the Internet, so …?]

Yours for: $18


Best things about this cover:

  • And that's when the 2213 Miss Glotron-X swimsuit competition got a little weird …
  • "Um … sir? … your mankini top … it's just … if you could … maybe pull it … a little …"
  • "This device allows me to speak to my own jugular veins directly!"
  • "'Human?' The game show where you … decide what the answer to that question is. Are you ready, Bill? Let's bring out our first set of subjects!"
  • Bill does not look confident. Or else that's just his "ill-fitting mankini-bottom" face.
  • I'm all for body modification, but I think I draw the line at chicken-fishing.


Best things about this back cover:

  • don marquis is the e. e. cummings of paperback scifi anthologies.
  • Some heavy hitters in there. Also, Graham Doar. "My friends call me 'Trap'!" Sure they do, Graham.
  • Just how many anthologists are there, Boucher? That's about as ringing an endorsement as "Sammy Hagar is among the very best Van Halen frontmen."

Page 123~
Immediately the room seemed to shake itself; things wavered uncomfortably; then I realized Drip was astigmatic.

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Sunday, September 28, 2014

Paperback 821: Tiger Street / Trevor Elleston (Lion Books 207)

Paperback 821: Lion Books 207 (PBO, 1954)

Title: Tiger Street
Author: Elleston Trevor
Cover artist: Uncredited

Yours for: $25


Best things about this cover:

  • Richie: "Whaddya think of my left thigh, lady? See this tendon on my inner thigh, here? It's been gettin' a pretty good stretch in my yoga classes. This is kinda how I do Warrior 2. I got good form, don't ya think? And my sweater's pretty nifty too."
  • Richie: "Jimmy, she ain't sayin' nothin.'" Jimmy: "Hey lady, he's showin' ya his yoga thighs. Tell him he looks nice. That's just common courtesy. Hey, you got a light? These matches don't work so good."
  • She doesn't have "fear hand" so much as "backing away as far as I can hand."
  • The original version of this painting just had the one trashcan, but then the art director was all, "Needs more trashcan." And thus the viewed-through-the-legs trashcan was born.
  • Tiger Street! The Musical! "Walk up a staircase / Make out in a doorway / Pick fruit from a trashcan / Show off your firm thighs … Tiger Street!"
  • Love the background. Street design is pretty stylized, but still has tons of nice detail. I especially like the awnings and fire escapes.
  • This cover features ten people. Find them all. Go!


Best things about this back cover:

  • This was their HOUR of HELL!—that one time they interrupted "Real Housewives" for some stupid Presidential Address. Worst Hour Ever!!!
  • Sorry, no, I am not buying that a human being has the name of "Vosper." Maybe he's literally an "animal," 'cause I might buy "Vosper" as a pet's name. Maybe.
  • First there were dark rumblings, then there were quiet rumblings. What other kinds of rumblings might this novel contain!? Start reading at once, before you stop caring.

Page 123~
"Quietly, mate—push the door to—you saw the blood, yes, where?"
"Over there by—"
"All right, stay there will you … yes, I see, and this in the crack, too, eh? What else, Cliff?"
First, this guy's super-bossy. Second, there's something painfully anticlimactic about "Cliff."


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Friday, September 26, 2014

Paperback 820: Strangers on a Train / Patricia Highsmith (Bantam 905)

Paperback 820: Bantam 905 (1st ptg, 1951)

Title: Strangers on a Train
Author: Patricia Highsmith
Cover artist: Stanley Zuckerberg

Yours for: $17


Best things about this cover:

  • That dude wins Best Everything at the Paperback Cover Art Oscars. Best Eyes, Best Facial Expression, Boniest Hands, Best Gun-Caressing, Best Damned Trousers On The Planet, etc.
  • What year is it? She looks she just walked out of a saloon circa 1889.
  • This cover reminds me that I really need a flask. Bourbon is never close enough at hand.


Best things about this back cover:

  • Even the handwriting is "tense and frightening."
  • "Superbly Revolting" is my new go-to ambiguous pseudo-compliment.
  • You can't really see what the original hardcover art was like, but I assure you, it's pretty bleeping ugly. And no Demented Trouser Guy, so … I'll stick with the cheap stuff, thanks.

Page 123~
He longed to merge his life with hers.
And the winner for Best Euphemism goes to …


[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Tumblr]