Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Paperback 70: Our Flesh Was Cheap / Eve Linkletter (Fabian Z-128)

Paperback 70: Fabian Z-128 (PBO, 1959)

Title: Our Flesh Was Cheap
Author: Eve Linkletter
Cover artist: Uncredited

Best things about this cover:

  • "Are you depressed? Is your apartment a dank, run-down hovel? Is your flesh, well, cheap? Then why not join the movement that's sweeping the nation - Knit Your Way to Happiness!"
  • This cover is decidedly unsexy. Coverless bed, cracked walls, naked lightbulb, portrait of Dear Old Grandma (or Man With Enormous Beard). And yet some kind of Cézanne-esque still life appears to have broken out on the book's western border...
  • "Our Flesh was Cheap" - starring Illeana Douglas!

Best things about this back cover:

It's the same as the last back cover - clearly the country was in the grip of Eve-mania.


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Paperback 69: The Gay Ones / Eve Linkletter (Fabian Z-124)

Paperback 69: Fabian Z-124 (PBO, 1958)

Title: The Gay Ones
Author: Eve Linkletter
Cover artist: "Chuck"

Yours for: SOLD! (4-28-08)

Best things about this cover:

  • Absolutely nothing about this cover screams "Gay" except the text. Am I supposed to believe that dancer is a man? No way. Am I supposed to believe that female spectator is turned on? Come on. What I see is Captain Smoky Bowtie ogling the gam of a rather voluptuous female dancer. "Where is the gay?," I ask. Is the hazy shade of purple supposed to suggest gayness? I have a right to know.
  • "The third sex" was a not-uncommon way to refer to homosexual folk in the mid 20th century. "Pranks of nature," however, is a new phrase to me.
  • I can only hope that Eve Linkletter has some relation to Art "Kids Say the Darnedest Things" Linkletter.

Best things about this back cover:

  • I've just ... never seen anything like this. So ahead of its time - using the back cover not to provide information about the book, but to market the image of the author. Nice faux signature at the bottom, too. "Eve ... just Eve."


PS Check out G's site - its banner is basically a collage of images from this site. It's so beautiful that I want to steal it (and / or hire her to make me one like it).

Monday, January 21, 2008

Paperback 68: High Pillow / Betty Short (Fabian Z-122)

Paperback 68: Fabian Z-122 (PBO, 1958)

Title: High Pillow
Author: Betty Short
Cover artist: Uncredited ["Chuck?"]

"Uh, hi, we're here to judge the Joan Crawford look-alike contest..."

Best things about this cover:
  • "High Pillow!" Like there's a caste system or pack hierarchy in a whore house, HA ha.
  • We are now getting into the creamy center of my collection: the sleazy publications of Sanford Aday's Fresno-based publishing empire: Fabian Books, Vega Books, and Saber Books. These books are so low-rent that I can't believe they really exist. They are produced on the cheapest of paper, with covers as frail as magazine pages. The cover paintings are uniformly hilarious - ditto the back and front cover copy. And the content is as wide-rangingly sexual as anything published in this time period. Aday is the first mass-market publisher I know of to go into the realm of transvestism, bisexuality, and other forms of, let's say "non-normative" sexuality, and to do so in an astonishingly sympathetic fashion. Aday was an outsider in his industry, and he specialized in books about outsiders - sexual outsiders in particular. He was at the forefront of the pro-gay movement in the 50's and 60's - a major figure (along with his partner Wallace de Ortega Maxey) in the Mattachine Society, and ultimately the object of an obscenity lawsuit that got him sent to federal prison. After the trial, his imprints went south very quickly, losing their overtly political edge (which included pleas to the reader, reprints of Supreme Court cases, etc. in the backs of his books) and degenerating into mere porn. I aspire to write a book about this guy - that's how interesting and important I think he is in the history of publishing and civil rights. But for now, I will just admire the beautiful badness of his publishing output.
  • This artist did a Lot of Sanford Aday-published books. I have another book with a visible signature, "Chuck," so that's what I'm going to call ... him?
  • I should add that the quality of these books - mostly horrible. I mean ... Horrible. Sometimes laugh-out-loud horrible. The back cover copy should give you some indication:

Best things about this back cover:

  • Mid-century modern abstract art meets middle-school-level prose.
  • I love how the underlines make absolutely no sense.
  • "Figuratively speaking" - HA ha. Good to know she wasn't chewing on an actual red light.
  • "She was firmly racket" is actually a very original, tantalizing sentence.


Thursday, January 17, 2008

Paperback 67: Law from Back Beyond (Chuck Martin) / Vengeance Valley (Roy Manning)

Paperback 67: Ace Double D-46 (PBO / 1st ptg, 1954)

Title: Law from Back Beyond / Vengeance Valley
Author: Chuck Martin / Roy Manning
Cover artist: Norman Saunders / John Leone

Best thing about this cover:

  • This man is practicing the little-known art of rock phrenology.
  • Jane has to ride out to retrieve her mentally-deranged brother, who suffers from the perpetual delusion that he is at the Alamo. Good thing his gun is merely an incense burner.

Best things about this other cover:

  • I feel as if I could cut-and-paste this guy into another scene and he would look far more like a guy dancing than a guy falling off a demon-possessed horse (look at its eyes! vacant!)


Sunday, January 13, 2008

Paperback 66: Strange Desire / Wayne Wallace (Brandon House 743)

Paperback 66: Brandon House 743 (PBO, 1965)

Title: Strange Desire
Author: Wayne Wallace
Cover artist: Uncredited

Yours For: $27 (SOLD - 4/18/08)

Best things about this cover:
  • Those panties look like a very late add-on - not part of the original design. Perhaps, amazingly (and ironically), someone at Brandon House had some qualms about the good taste of the cover... and yet the overlaid underwear only makes the picture seem lewder.
  • What causes someone to want to lounge around in a state of near-complete undress ... in heels?
  • The dripping title is So disturbing. Why would a novel about lesbians feature a title that appears to have been written in ... a fluid not normally associated with lesbians?
  • These are the most bored-looking naked lesbians I've ever seen. Either they are in between takes at a porno film shoot, or they are discussing Sartre's Being and Nothingness. "You know nothing of Jean-Paul's work. I turn my back on you!"

Best things about this back cover:
  • So sleazy. I hate the photo covers because they just seem so sad and exploitative. This poor woman looks like the photographer found her in some kind of whore house / opium den and told her he'd give her $25 if she pulled her dress down. Kind of reminds me of ... did you ever see "Fame?" If so, then you know the scene I'm talking about. Irene Cara ... weeping ... ugh. I like my exploitation painted (i.e. fictional), thank you very much.
  • "Conquest" is the best euphemism ever. It's got all the relevant letters in it, though.


Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Paperback 65: Wild to Possess / Gil Brewer (Monarch Books 364)

Paperback 65: Monarch Books 364 (2nd ptg, 1963)

Title: Wild to Possess
Author: Gil Brewer
Cover artist: Robert Maguire

Yours for: $35 (SOLD - 4/18/08)

Best things about this cover:

  • I have nothing snarky to say - this cover is one of my favorites. This was one of the first books I was lucky enough to come across when I was just starting my collection. Gil Brewer is a very decent crime fiction writer, and Monarch Books is one of the best of the lurid, sex-oriented paperback publishers of the late 50s and 60s. This cover is Gorgeous. A naked redhead with a gun? And it's pointed at me? Dreamy. It's the third Robert Maguire painting I've featured, and possibly the best one yet. Check out the others (see label in the "Labels" for this entry). Doing this blog has given me a renewed appreciation for his mastery of this form. It's remarkably spare and simple, but quite beautiful and evocative - from the look in her eyes to the drape of the striped curtain to the fade-to-white right border. Stunning.
  • OK, I'll say one snarky thing: it looks as if she is emerging from a circus tent.
  • Oh, I almost forgot - I Love the literary pretension of this title. In case you didn't catch the reference, I hereby present, for your delectation and edification, Sir Thomas Wyatt's "Whoso List to Hunt"
W HOSO list to hunt ? I know where is an
hind !
But as for me, alas ! I may no more,
The vain travail hath wearied me so sore ;
I am of them that furthest come behind.
Yet may I by no means my wearied mind
Draw from the deer ; but as she fleeth afore
Fainting I follow ; I leave off therefore,
Since in a net I seek to hold the wind.
Who list her hunt, I put him out of doubt
As well as I, may spend his time in vain !
And graven with diamonds in letters plain,
There is written her fair neck round about ;
' Noli me tangere ; for Cæsar's I am,
And wild for to hold, though I seem tame.'

Best things about this back cover:

  • I have always been partial to redheads named FLO
  • "Kidnaper" is a horrible-looking word. It looks as if it describes someone who goes around grabbing kids by the napes of their necks.
  • "Aroused females on his hands"
  • "AMORAL" is a word that my two passions have in common - the paperbacks I collect often tout the AMORAL behavior of their characters, while crosswords simply feature the word AMORAL a whole lot.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Paperback 64: Hill Girl / Charles Williams (Gold Medal s1138)

Paperback 64: Gold Medal s1138 (9th, 1961)
Title: Hill Girl
Author: Charles Williams
Cover artist: Uncredited

Best things about this cover:

  • Ponderosa pine!
  • I didn't know creepy, hunched-over, wraith-like men could have such slick rockabilly haircuts.
  • Is this woman:
a. doing hillbilly calisthenics?
b. looking for her hillbilly contact lens?
c. disappointed at her inability to make a sandcastle out of hillbilly dirt? OR
d. holding perfectly still in the hopes that the elderly zombie behind her will mistake her for a pig trough and walk on by?
This book is in near perfect condition. Tiniest crease on the back cover, but otherwise, unread and extremely well preserved (why else would I buy a 9th printing, for god's sake?). This novel is by a more- than- respectable writer, though it appears to be trying to bank on the strange vogue in hillbilly sex stories that Erskine Caldwell somehow set in motion. Caldwell's novels were about much more than sex, but you'd never know it by looking at most of his paperback covers (you'll see his work in future write-ups).

Best things about this back cover:

  • I love how, out of nowhere, this guy's shirt attacks him.
  • You gotta love a book that's so willing turn underwear-free poverty into something steamy.


Thursday, January 3, 2008

Paperback 63: Sophisticated Sinner / Tony Trelos (Brandon House 918)

Paperback 63: Brandon House 918 (PBO, 1965)

Title: Sophisticated Sinner
Author: Tony Trelos
Cover artist: sadly, uncredited

Best things about this cover:

  • Another trashy Tony Trelos masterpiece (click on his name in the "tags" to see the other)
  • Is it wrong that the things that excite me most about this cover are 1. the lamp shade, and 2. her (discarded) dress?
  • Another thing that excites me: Unread / Fine Condition!
  • "She looked like a lady ... but her lovers knew better!" - was the cover copy writer here aware that the opposite of "lady" is not just "slut" but also "dude?" "Her" torso is rather mannish (boobs aside).

Best things about this back cover:

  • Boobs!
  • Smoke!
  • Those horizontal lines! If you stare at the actual book too long, you get a dizzy headache.
  • "Narda," ha ha.