Monday, August 12, 2019

Paperback 1055: In Comes Death / Paul Whelton (Graphic 49)

Paperback 1055: Graphic 49 (1st ptg, 1952)

Title: In Comes Death
Author: Paul Whelton
Cover artist: Uncredited

Condition: 7/10
Estimated value: $15

Best things about this cover:
  • Death looks kinda down-at-the-heels. Reduced to doing cheap hits. Must need the money.
  • I'm obsessed with whatever she's wearing. Is that a ... housecoat? It looks too dressy for a nightgown, but too slovenly for outdoor wear. Lack of undergarments also suggests an indoors-only context, but ... yeah, what is this?
  • She is very pretty and beautifully painted and I hate when there are no artist credits!
  • Love the way she's wound the cord around her right hand. Nice touch. Fear hand (variation)!
  • This scene looks very (Very) familiar ... 
... which is weird, since the movie came out two years *after* this book
and now the back cover:

Best things about this back cover:
  • There is nothing intriguing, compelling, or even interesting about this description. Ooh, a "mysterious death." Aah, a "deadly game of wits." How ... specific and not-at-all boiler-plate.
  • I want it to be Lonely Frog Lane, named after an actual lonely frog who lived there all alone, froggily
  • This "describe the plot in complete but annoying vague sentences" really is bottom-of-the-barrel cover copy.
Page 123~
"Peace!" I intoned, making an exit.
Very slangy! Just like the kids intone it.


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Monday, August 5, 2019

Paperback 1054: The Raft / Robert Trumbull (Dell 26)

Paperback 1054: Dell 26 (1st ptg, 1944)

Title: The Raft
Author: Robert Trumbull
Cover artist: George Frederiksen
Back cover artist: Gerald Gregg

Condition: 6.5/10
Estimated value: $10

Best things about this cover:
  • Everything above the author's name seems very pleasant. Serene, even. Perhaps, as your eyes move down the page, you can even maintain the illusion that these fellows are just out for a weekend jaunt of fun & sun. But that "DELL WAR BOOK" (a kind of book I can't remember seeing before) drives the more dire context home pretty thoroughly.
  • I like early Dell covers, and early covers in general, which are far more tied to abstract expressionism than later, more naturalistic covers (which I also love, obviously)
  • I also like the early Dell EYEBALL IN THE KEYHOLE logo. "You don't read Dell Books, Dell Books read you!"
Best things about this back cover:
  • What is happening here? Why are they spaced so far apart? Why have their arms fused together? Does the dude in the middle need propping up? Is this some kind of Weekend at Bernie's situation?
  • The italicizing concept here is ill-conceived. I know alliteration has its charms, but choose parallel construction every time. 
  • War bond ads appeared inside early paperbacks with a great deal of regularity. On the outside of early paperbacks?? Far less so.
Page 123~
He seemed more interested in the boat than in his natural prey.


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Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Paperback 1053: La Dolce Vita / Federico Fellini (Ballantine S 517 K)

Paperback 1053: Ballantine S 517 K (PBO, 1961)

Title: La Dolce Vita
Author: Federico Fellini (trans. Oscar DeLiso and Bernard Shir-Cliff)
Cover artist: photo cover (Anita Ekberg!)

Condition: 7/10
Estimated value: $12-15

Best things about this cover:
  • Best things? I'm going to be polite and say "her armpits! they're breathtaking!"
  • I think the stylized color title font against the black-and-white still works very nicely
  • Like many paperbacks of the era, this book seems to be promising more hot action than it is going to be able to deliver. "Over 96 pages of photos!" (most of them not showcasing the ample figure of Ms. Ekberg)
Best things about this back cover:
  • Only Fellini may wear that hat
  • Really laying the sex on thick here. I guess '60s audiences were really titillated by "decadence"
  • Holy shit I was so distracted by the hat that I almost missed the KITTEN
Page 123~


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Friday, July 19, 2019

Paperback 1052: Gold Comes in Bricks / A.A. Fair (Erle Stanley Gardner) (Dell 84)

Paperback 1052: Dell 84 (1st ptg, 1945)

Title: Gold Comes in Bricks
Author: A.A. Fair (pseud. of Erle Stanley Gardner)
Cover artist: Gerald Gregg

Condition: 5/10
Estimated value: $15

Best things about this cover:
  • Gold comes in testicles
  • It looks like honey, and if you gotta go, I say asphyxiated by honey is the way!
  • Really love the early Dell covers, which had no pretensions to realism. Much more interested in evoking feeling with shape and color than in getting the perspective or anatomy right
  • Check out the jaunty cursive on the author's name. The early pb was the wild west, from a design perspective. Everyone still experimenting, going nuts.
  • This is the Platonic ideal of the "Reading Copy." Beat to hell, but still tight and complete and unfragile. They don't make 'em like they used to!

Best things about this back cover:
  • Mapback!
  • Uh ... this could be more interesting. Two nondescript hotel rooms! Thrill to the architectural possibilities!
  • LOL "Corridor," thanks, map
Page 123~
The machine shops had moved. The office stood deserted. There was an air of funereal despair about the town. Those who were left went dejectedly about their business, moving with the listless lassitude of persons who have lost their chance at winning big stakes and are plugging away simply because they can't figure out how to quit.
Ouch. I feel seen. And accused.


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Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Paperback 1051: The Big Sqeeze / Christopher Athens (Chicago House A102)

Paperback 1051: Chicago House A102 (PBO, 1962)

Title: The Big Squeeze
Author: Christopher Athens
Cover artist: Uncredited (!!!?)

Condition: 9/10
Value: $15-20

Best things about this cover:

  • Billy woulda taken first place at the 9th grade art show for sure but the judges said his rad painting, which is obviously a commentary on free speech, had "sexual content" and they totally disqualified him, like what is this, Soviet Russia? Bogus.
  • Seriously, though, what is happening?
  • The dude ... did the dude forget his ... shoe? Is that a shoe? A tipped over bag of groceries? A melted turntable? I know I should be focused on the naked ladies, but...
  • Are they going up or down? Also, why? Also, is Red dead? Also, why?
  • Protip: cover one of the most important visual elements of your cover with giant block letters so the reader has no idea wtf is going on. It's avant-garde!
  • This book is in perfect condition ... is the best thing I can say about this book.

Best things about this back cover:

  • OK, right off the bat, I can tell you the cover copy writer has limited experience with what we in the writing business call "verbs."
  • BRB, relabeling all my booze "Parts Cleaner"
  • "Three-and-a-half bells?" Are we at sea?
  • "This pair of chicks tried to pick me up once and ... what? You don't know them. They live in Canada. ANYway, these totally real chicks..."
  • Who the f is "Tom Anthony"?

Page 123~
"Brush my teeth," I said, holding a hand in front of my mouth.
"Oh," exhaled Barbara. "When you said 'oral' I thought ... well, nevermind what I thought ..."


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Monday, July 1, 2019

Paperback 1050: Bogus Lover / Hy Silver (Newsstand Library U136)

Paperback 1050: Newsstand Library U136 (PBO, 1960)

Title: Bogus Lover
Author: Hy (ho?) Silver
Cover artist: Robert Bonfils

Condition: 8/10
Estimated value: $15

Best things about this cover:
  • I love her girl-about-town, devil-may care look. I'm not sure who's throwing bras and mannequin heads at her, but she doesn't seem fazed.
  • That blue is exquisite.
  • They've certainly, uh, made sure to emphasize her torso profile. The extensive boob shadow is kinda overkill. It's like, yeah, we see. They're lovely.
  • The valentine on the mannequin's face is so freaky. What is even happening here!?
Best things about this back cover:
  • Argh, too much text!
  • I'm pretty sure that "crunched" is the wrong word for what casting couches do when you put your lustful weight on them, but admittedly this isn't really my bailiwick. Maybe someone got sloppy with corn chips?
  • "Hey boss, how many 'm's in Peggy's "'Mmmmmmmm?'" "That depends. Is she lustful?" "Oh, yes, sir. Very." "Then ... Eight!" "But, sir, that's ... that's two more than we've ever done. Are you su—" "I'M TRYIN' TO SELL BOOKS HERE, MAN, JUST DO IT!" (/scene)
  • Wait. Peggy? Then who's Wanda? We lost gentle Wanda somewhere between paragraphs two and three. Oh, the boss is not gonna be happy about this...
Page 123~
"I guess we're both stupid," he said as he started the engine.
Real talk.


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Friday, June 28, 2019

Paperbacks 1047, 1048, and 1049: A Doc Savage trio (Bantam, 1969 (2) and 1976 (1))

Paperbacks 1047-49: Doc Savage 35, 38, and 83 (1969, 1969, 1976)

Titles: The Squeaking Goblin, Red Snow, The Red Terrors
Author: Kenneth Robeson (Lester Dent, Lester Dent, Harold A. Davis)
Cover artists: James Bama, James Bama, Boris Vallejo

Condition: 7/10
Estimated value: $20 for the lot

[Gift to the collection from a Western NY Reader]

Best things about this cover:
  • "It ain't me what's squeakin', it's me musket!" squeaked Goblin Davy Crockett

Best thing about this cover:
  • It's like if Hawkman and Hulk had a pin-headed monster baby

Best thing about this cover:
  • Doc Savage tried to start his life over as a crossing guard at Mystical Orb High School for Avian Cosplay, but it didn't take
Page 123~
One of the hired men pointed. "Red was a-meanderin' over thot way, last I seed a' him."
These books are all of astonishingly uniform length (~130pp.) and not at all badly written (at least on a basic grammatical level). They were originally published in the Doc Savage pulp magazine (in the '30s) and then were reprinted by Bantam roughly 30-40 years later, which puts them just before and toward the tail end of / just after the main time frame of my paperback collection (1939-69). Lester Dent (how wrote a ton of the "Kenneth Robeson" Doc Savage stories) was an accomplished crime fiction writer from the heydey of hardboild crime fiction. I covered one of his books back at Paperback 741.

Anyway, thanks to the lovely human who sent me these books in the mail today—individually wrapped! So thoughtful.


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