Sunday, August 31, 2008

Paperback 132: With Sirens Screaming / Ernest Booth (Pyramid Books 121)

Paperback 132: Pyramid Books 121 (1st ptg, 1954)
Title: With Sirens Screaming
Author: Ernest Booth
Cover artist: looks like Robert Stanley, but it's technically "uncredited"

Yours for: $11

Best things about this cover:

  • "Who is it, Steve? Is the pizza here?"
  • "They PAID the PRICE for a PREMARITAL indiscretion" - a PYRAMID PAPERBACK, featuring ... POLICE, and ... other "P" words you may have heard of
  • "With Sirens Screaming" - Would have been better if the Sirens had been Screaming "Sin, Sin, Sin!"; what kind of alliteration-inducing dope were the copywriter guys smoking?
  • What is she doing with that sheet? It's a little late for modesty, sweetheart.
  • The lady looks concerned not, as you might expect, because the police have come to stone her to death for being a harlot, but because in attempting to rise from bed, she has broken or otherwise done something horrible to her left wrist
  • Hey, Steve. Little advice. If you are trying to peer through a window discreetly, you might not wanna pull the curtains apart so wide.

"Hey, coppers, look at the hot piece of tail I got up in here! Yeah, you wish your wives were this hot!"

"[tee hee], oh Steve... you're funny, and not nearly as creepy and sadistic as my friends said you were"

Best things about this back cover:

  • You had me at "merciless penal code."
  • This back cover brought to you by "Adjectives 'R' Us" - where we believe that every shocking noun deserves a reckless adjective. If you aren't happy with our merciless service, we'll give you your vicious money back

Page 123~

His shoulder had become a burning area whose throbbing was cadenced to each step he took ...

"Uh ... that's not my shoulder."


Thursday, August 28, 2008

Paperback 131: This Violent Land / William H. Jacobs (Monarch Books 163)

Paperback 131: Monarch Books 163 (1st ptg, 1960)

Title: This Violent Land
Author: William H. Jacobs
Cover artist: again, uncredited

Yours for: $9

Best things about this cover:

  • "Stop right there, Henry Fonda! Now ... give me my scarf back, nice and easy."
  • "Raw" and "earthy" means people are doin' it.
  • Now that I look at her hands more closely, I'm not convinced she aims to fire it. She's sort of ... stroking the ... underside of the ... shaft? "Oh, is this big thing yours?"
  • She is undeniably hot. I mean - fantastic. Everything a rifle-toting cover girl should be. I have a Girls with Guns collection, so I ask you, how was I supposed to not buy this book?

Best things about this back cover:
  • OMG the names of these people! Genius!
  • "'Joanna' doesn't sound ... I don't know, exotic enough." "How about ... Zoanna, sir?" "Brilliant!"
  • I love a good Malabar every now and then. "Hard-bitten?" When I get through with them, yes.
  • "Earthy" again! Unless they literally smear soil on themselves, I'm going to be very disappointed in this book.

Page 123~

He saw again the woman with the scarred face, her white legs parting, the black devil's cup beckoning. "Make me a woman! Make me a woman!" Soft, warm, melting. He was on the road to hellfire.

"Black devil's cup?!" That's a new one to me.



Sunday, August 24, 2008

Paperback 130: You Kill Me / John D. MacDonald (Popular Library - Eagle Books G507)

Paperback 130: Popular Library - Eagle Books G507 (2nd ptg??, 1961)
Title: You Kill Me
Author: John D. MacDonald
Cover artist: uncredited

Yours for: $12

Best things about this cover:

  • The former title - which tells you everything about the difference between selling hardbacks and paperbacks. "You Live Once" = subject intransitive verb adverb = "zzzzzzz," whereas "You Kill Me" = subject transitive verb object = entire lurid plot in three words = sales gold
  • She has a wasp waist and is wearing vaguely waspish colors
  • "I am crazy for the salsa dance!"
  • She has that ambiguous look of reckless abandon / sadistic glee
  • John O'Hara is straight-up awesome - many paperbacks by him in my collection, some we've already seen.

Best things about this back cover:

  • Well, not much. Another image retread.
  • For once, the copy writers got it right: "a go-to-hell" look. Nice.

Page 123~

"I put my shoes on and stood by the car in the darkness. Soon I heard the sounds of his dying."


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Paperback 129: Negative Minus / R. L. Fanthorpe (Badger Books SF88)

Paperback 129: Badge Books SF88 (PBO?, ca. late '50s)

Title: Negative Minus
Author: R.L. Fanthorpe
Cover artist: uncredited

Yours for: $15

Best things about this cover:

  • Is "Negative Minus" a thing? I need a math ruling.
  • Shouldn't this book just be called "plus?" That, or "The Night I Went Trick-or-Treating Dressed as an Owl and Those Hippies Put LSD in the Candy Corn and The Great Uncle of The Great Gazoo Coaxed Me Into Killing People By Scratching My Nose and Promising Me More Candy Corn..."

Best things about this back cover:

  • I believe this write-up was written under the influence of the aforementioned Gazoo juice. It's really vague ... and features a character with the most improbable name of "Stelgen"
  • Alpha Centauri?! It's always Alpha Centauri with these people! Pick a new place!
  • If "Stelgen" was "born" from a "star," I'm going to barf.
  • New title for the book: "Stelgen Was Not a Genius." It would explain a lot about the cover (whichever one of those two folks "Stelgen" is...)

Page 123~

"I've never wanted anything so much," answered Suessydo. "I'm a normal, healthy, red-blooded male, but I've never met any attraction anywhere to equal the power, the pull of that voice. By the eight purple stars of Qoink, I've never heard such melody and such sweetness. By the seven blue dragons of Bfup, there was never such a melody before."

"You are using some strong oaths," returned Suhcolyrue.

"I use them as an expression of strong thoughts," replied the Captain.

I swear to you that none of that is made up. I'm just not that good. And now, inspired by the "Captain's" fantastic name, I leave you with Phil Collins.

Good day.


Thursday, August 14, 2008

Paperback 128: A Touch of Inifinity b/w The Man With Nine Lives / Harlan Ellison (Ace Double D-413)

Paperback 128: Ace D-413 (PBO / PBO, 1960)

Titles: A Touch of Infinity / The Man With Nine Lives
Author: Harlan Ellison / Harlan Ellison
Cover artists: Ed Valigursky / Ed Emshwiller

Yours for: $40

Best things about this cover:

  • Harlan Ellison is a legend. A pop fiction legend. Smart, funny, imaginative, and just a great, great, page-turning writer. Hence the price of this book (he's super duper collectible).
  • That said, this cover is not the most imaginative scifi cover I've ever seen. By a longshot. Spaceship that looks like prototype for Doctor Octopus shoots its oddly fiery gun at some unseen enemy / turkey buzzard while befuddled and square-jawed man with slinkies on his limbs looks on in what I'm guessing is disgust.
  • The front part of the main ship's underside doubles as a waffle iron.

Best things about this cover:

  • Scratch that. Eight lives.
  • "I'd like to thank the Emmy voters for AAAAAAAAARGH!"
  • This is how each episode of "American Idol" will end in Season 116. In fact, this is very much how I remember the moment that Kelly Clarkson beat Justin Guarini in Season 1.
  • This painting looks like a still from a futuristic Christian rock video.
  • The design and concept here are a mess. He mastered a maze ... but his head is being electrified by a giant statue and some eerily headphoned judges ... and he also is a cat or owns a lot of cat food.

Page 123~

"I still need that job done on my face, Patooch," Cal Emory said to the little cellulist.

-from "The Man with Nine Lives"


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Paperback 127: The Up-Tight Blonde / Carter Brown (Signet P3955)

Paperback 127: Signet P3955 (PBO, 1969)

Title: The Up-Tight Blonde
Author: Carter Brown
Cover artist: Robert McGinnis

Yours for: $9

Best things about this cover:

  • The phrase "naked chicks"
  • The McGinnis girl in the painting; the one holding the painting, on the other hand, is a hot mess and / or a transsexual.
  • What has she got in her left hand? Some kind of orb or yo-yo? Is she trying to hypnotize me? That orb, coupled with the expression on her face, is freaking me out.
  • I don't know what you call the "color" of this book, but it's Hideous. I think I'm going to name it "cheap luggage" or "walrus"

Best things about this back cover:

  • Oh yes, the girl from the painting looks much better in stark isolation like this.
  • The back cover copy goes from making every naked reference and pun in the book until finally devolving into a ... Monopoly metaphor?
  • "A new kind of flesh game" - remind me - What was the old kind?
  • Is that what they call "negative space?" All that ... emptiness in the top half of this cover? Bold aesthetic choice. Or else the printer just wasn't centered. Who knows?

Page 123:
Her eyes rolled listlessly as she turned away. I backhanded her against the nearest side of her face, and her head jerked upright again.

Thus answering the question: What do you do with a blonde who's UP-TIGHT? (A: You smack her in the face so that her head jerks UPRIGHT). Read all about it in "Al Wheeler's Man's Man's Guide to Manhandling Naked Chicks."


Saturday, August 9, 2008

Paperback 126: Plan for Conquest / A.A. Glynn (Badger Books SF90)

Paperback 126: Badger Books SF90 (PBO [?], 1963 [?])
Title: Plan for Conquest
Author: A. A. Glynn
Cover artist: My Hero

Yours for: $14

Best things about this cover:

  • Robot head doubles as coffee pot.
  • He's like a walking tamale - those are corn husks, right?
  • Love the midnight background scene!: "Everybody was kung fu fightin'!"
  • This book is clearly the beta version of "Battlestar Galactica" - just with Far Less Frightening robots
  • Multiple choice quiz!: This robot is sad because:
  1. he killed his owner lady
  2. he is not programmed to "love"
  3. his girlfriend robot rejected his Valentine's Day gift: tasty human corpse

Best things about this back cover:
  • His arms are in the same position as on the cover ... but Where Is The Lady!? It looks like he's playing charades and the answer he's going for is "Gondolier"
  • "Bath the baby?"
  • "Aunt Edie"
  • I used to belong to the New (Chaucer) Society

Page 123:

So they made their cautious way through the moorland, ever watchful for the glint of dawn-light on domed metal heads which would betray the presence of the brain's robot warriors.

I would like to announce that my next album will be titled "Dawn-Light on Domed Metal!"


Friday, August 8, 2008

Paperback 125: Sad Cypress / Agatha Christie (White Circle n.n.)

Paperback 125: White Circle [no number] (1st ptg, undated, c. 1944)

Title: Sad Cypress
Author: Agatha Christie
Cover artist: Who Knows?

Yours for: $25

Best things about this cover:

  • It's like Art Deco meets Evil - "Help, I'm being attacked by the Chrysler Building!"
  • I like how "Sign of a good / detective novel" is so shabbily printed. Did they not have the technology to, say, center things in the 1940s?
  • White Circle books are really hard to get hold of in the States. They are Australian, I think. There seems to have been a White Circle publishing out of Canada too. Maybe it's a Commonwealth imprint. At any rate, this book was published in Sydney.
  • So basically this is a story about two ghosts who really hate trees ...

Best things about this back cover:

  • EVERYTHING - do you know how rare it is to get a full-page ad on the back cover? Very. I think I have one other book with such a cover - that cover has an ad for men's belts (!?). This one, however, has cartoonery and poetry and disease paranoia and I'm gonna say quackery. So so so awesome.
  • I can't decide if that officer is breaking up a fight or enforcing a quarantine.

Page 123:

Poirot waved a hand.
"There is nothing much to that! It might easily have been written by an educated person who chose to disguise the fact. That is why I wish you had the letter still. People who try to write in an uneducated manner usually give themselves away."


Thursday, August 7, 2008

Paperback 124: Mark of the Beast / John E. Muller (Badger Books SF 105)

Paperback 124: Badger Books SF 105 (ed. unknown, ca. late 1950s)

Title: Mark of the Beast
Author: John E. Muller
Cover artist: Are you kidding? These damned British imprints give you Zero info - see (missing) publication info, above. You really think they're going to bother telling you the cover artist? Hah. Or maybe the cover artist deliberately had his name withheld so that he could avoid the shame of having to account for such a (literal) monstrosity of a painting. [update: Lionel Fanthorpe; see PS, below]

Yours for: $18

Best things about this cover:

  • Note: if you are going to cave in and give the gorilla chocolate, do not, I repeat, do not give him that cheap Toblerone crap from the Duty-Free shop.
  • Oh my God that cackling rhombus-headed simian is going to haunt my dreams for Months!
  • This book seems to be some kind of cross between Frankenstein and King Kong - but the monster design seems to have serious Coneheads influence
  • Check out the teeny "N.Z." sticker. I normally hate price stickers on my books, but this one is Adorable.
  • That's one convincing badger.

Best thing about this back cover:

  • The monster returns, and though he appears to be electrified / radioactive, the pink background really softens his overall image: "The Mark of the Beast ... for Ladies"

Page 123:

Sprinting as though he were Britain's last hope in the Olympics, the Security man threw everything he had into reaching a doorway on the far side of the ape.


PS it's April 2018 and I just got the following email:

Re Mark of the Beast - Badger Books 105 and your entry 124 [Aug 7 2008]:  The cover artist is Lionel Fanthorpe — aka R.L. Fanthorpe, who also wrote some of the Badger titles.  In fact, this is one of his titles — John E. Muller was one of his pseudonyms.  
I recently obtained a printer’s proof of the cover, signed by Fanthorpe.
You may now sleep easier.
Nice blog by the way.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Returning from NZ

In case you didn't know, I've been out of the country for the past three weeks. I return today, which means ... a day or so from now, I think. I'm too tired to care. At any rate, expect a rash of new write-ups, including analyses of the hilarious Badger Books (from the UK) that I just pulled out of little bookshop here in Devonport (N. Auckland). I left So Many books in that shop because the prospect of putting them in my already crowded luggage was just too daunting. And if you all are ever in Devonport, you are encouraged, nay commanded, to visit Evergreen Books. I walked up to the counter with $32NZ worth of pbs and I put a $20 down and started to get some other bills out and he just waved me off: "$20's fine. I'm just glad these books have found a home." It was like being in a Frank Capra film or something. I wanted to hug the guy for being so awesome.

See you in a few days.