Wednesday, August 9, 2023

Paperback 1080: Maharajah / Richard Cargoe (Popular Library 451)

Paperback 1080: Popular Library 451 (1st ptg, 1952)

Title: Maharajah
Author: Richard Cargoe
Cover artist: [Raymond Johnson]

Condition: 5/10 (intact, but with split spine)
Value: $6-10

[Another book from the recently acquired Larry D Collection]

Best things about this cover:
  • At first it looks like he's scratching his chin as he's contemplating his next move, but then you look closer and realize he is nibbling. On a grape. And cupping a whole bunch of grapes in his other hand. And she's like "Yes, you like nibbling on my grapes ... there is much more fruit where that came from ... but I'm going to hold it over here out of view ... I know you are hungry for my fruit, but I will not simply give you the fruit; you are going to have to work for my fruit? I withhold the fruit until you are good and hungry. You are hungry, yes?" Fruit doing a Lot of work on this cover.  
  • Dude's eyes are intense, predatory, vaguely insane. They are almost enough to distract you from the bright white shaving brush growing out of his forehead. Almost.
  • I love these covers where intense desire is conveyed in a backward glance that totally defies the laws of physics (no way she can see him even peripherally from that angle) but still *feels* smolderingly real.

Best things about this back cover:
  • Ah, Orientalism. How I don't really miss you. The "exotic" natives doing their carnal things in fancy garb, served up for westerners to gawk at. Like the fruit on the front cover, "exotic" is doing a lot of work here (as well as on the front cover!)
  • I see how "INTRIGUE IN INDIA" might seem to have some inherent alliterative appeal, but it's really rather dull.
  • Tbh I'm kinda invested in the storyline now. Team Tegra, for sure. That Halim guy seems like a jerk I would not like to have a beer with.

Page 123~
They are blackmailing us into a state of perpetual fear. I keep remembering how the tiger clawed off the monkey's limbs one by one. They may murder one person each day—every day they may murder a little closer to the throne. Have you thought of that?
Have I thought of what? I'm still thinking about the monkey. Is he OK? Did he get revenge? You can't just start a tiger/monkey story and then abandon it like that, man. You gotta see it through. Now bring me some fruit and start over.


P.S. the cover artist is Raymond Johnson. This exact painting was on the cover of Illustration #77, which contains a big article on Johnson:

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J. Kingston Pierce said...

I'm pretty sure that cover art is by Raymond Johnson.

DemetriosX said...

Great cover. The body language on both of them is perfect. They're both a little paler than they probably should be, but that's obviously a marketing decision.

At first glance, I thought this might be an under the counter book, but Popular didn't delve into that genre, and nothing is "frank" or "shocking." According to Wikipedia, Richard Cargoe was the pseudonym of Robert Payne, who was best known as a biographer who wrote well but not always accurately. He seems to have been super popular under his real name.

Larry said...


Another way you can tell something is not smut, is the price. 25¢ was about standard in the early 50s, and I would guess a sex book would have been 50-75¢ in that era.

Rex Parker said...

All useful information, thank you.


Rex Parker said...

The artist is indeed Raymond Johnson. I changed the credit and added a postscript. Thanks, J.K. Pierce.


Larry said...

Thanks for the link to the excellent article on Raymond Johnson. I wasn't award of the magazine Illustration so I'm prepared to do a lot of reading of back issues. I have a sub to which allows you access, online, to a couple hundred periodicals.

Incidentally, the original oil painting of the Marajah and his fruit bearing Frail sold at Heritage Auctions for $2700 in April, 2022.

I took up oil painting in my retirement and am self taught. When I started out, for practice exercises, I copied in larger format lurid pulp paperback covers (which led me to this website). I painted a Raymond Johnson without even knowing it -- Jailbait Street-- which is pictured in this article.

Special sauce said...

Larry, thanks for the tip on Never knew of it's existence.

Bladder said...

It is always a pleasure to dive into a new book, and "Maharajah" sounds like a captivating read. Historical fiction has a unique way of transporting us to different times and places, allowing us to experience history through the eyes of its characters. The blend of rich storytelling and a vivid historical backdrop often makes for an enriching reading experience just like a good peristaltic pump. Exploring the world of Maharajahs, with all its opulence and intrigue, promises to be a journey worth taking.

Joe said...

This is one of the most provocative covers.

Joe said...

When is the next blog entry?