Mar 022014

Paperback 748: Graphic 142 (PBO, 1956)

Title: Fair Prey
Author: Will Duke [pen name of William Campbell Gault]
Cover artist: Oliver Brabbins

Yours for: $22


Best things about this cover:
  • Will duke for food.
  • She is sporting some pretty serious shoulder muscle definition. 
  • It’s like fair play. Only it’s prey. Get it?
  • It’s all kind of chaotic. Too crowded, too many things happening. Like some reality show where people compete to see who gets to be the actual cover subject. Dead man is very convincing, but the lady is going full axilla … that’s going to be hard to beat. But wait, here comes a cop … with a drifter in his wake, trying to impede him … this is tough to call, Jim.


Best things about this back cover:
  • Golf. Huh. Didn’t see that coming.
  • “Out of my way, baby. That breakfast buffet’s calling my name.”
  • This is some pretty low-grade cover copy. I’m at least vaguely familiar with golf terminology, but … can you be “in” par? Is that a recognizable play on words, or just faux-sensational nonsense?

Page 123~

I remember the gulp and the moisture in my eyes, but I don’t remember what I said. 

“The Gulp and the Moisture” was, of course, Norman Mailer’s far, far less successful follow-up to “The Naked and the Dead.”


[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Tumblr]

Paperback 714: The Violent Hours / Frank Castle (Gold Medal 554)

 1956, Bed, Candles, Crime Fiction, Dead Woman, Frank Castle, GGA, Gold Medal, Lingerie, Lu Kimmel  Comments Off on Paperback 714: The Violent Hours / Frank Castle (Gold Medal 554)
Oct 242013

Paperback 714: Gold Medal 554 (PBO, 1956)

Title: The Violent Hours
Author: Frank Castle
Cover artist: Lu Kimmel

Yours for: $14


Best things about this cover:
  • “Hi, Murder? Hi! I was wondering, if you weren’t too busy, maybe you’d like to come over for some love? …. You would!? Great! I’ll put on something red and light a candle. See you soon!”
  • There is a whole subgenre of cover art that involves Girls Spilling Over The Edges Of Beds. Here’s one. I know I’ve seen Many, many more.
  • This position offers Optimal Breast Viewing but does pretty terrible things to every other part of the body. Her hair looks like a wasp’s nest.


Best things about this back cover:
  • “Ooh, it’s half past murder. Time to look in my pants again!”
  • “Sheeted.”
  • “Webb Grayburn” is not a name that inspires confidence. Sounds like a guy who owns an above-ground pool dealership.
  • OK, it’s mostly text, but I still love the asymmetrical, crayon-like design with the whimsical, face-free clock hands. 
  • The book comes pre-distressed, so the actual wear and tear around the edges of the book fits right in with the book’s original aesthetic.

Page 123~

It became so quiet in the room that the distant clatter of a teletype became loud.

It’s not the most elegant sentence, by a longshot, but I do like the aural experience it provides.


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Paperback 544: Nightfall / David Goodis (Lion Books 131)

 1956, Aldo Ray, Anne Bancroft, Chair, David Goodis, Embrace, Fear Hand, Lion Books, Movie Tie-In, Uncredited  Comments Off on Paperback 544: Nightfall / David Goodis (Lion Books 131)
Jun 282012

Paperback 544: Lion Books 131 (1st thus, 1956)

Title: Nightfall
Author: David Goodis
Cover artist: Uncredited

Yours for: $50

Best things about this cover:
  • There are really too many things going on on this cover for it to make any kind of visual sense. It’s like I”m watching a stage play about some woman who was hurt in a tragic accident and is now, through the love of one strong man, learning to walk … but then the soul of the dead body represented by the chalk outline on the ground is so disgusted by the false pathos of the scene that he rises up in horror and flees … and immediately has a heart attack. Nightfall!
  • David Goodis was good at writing. His books are pretty collectible, and this one, despite some bumps and bruises, is clearly unread. Gorgeous. One of my earliest two-figure (i.e. it cost me more than $10) purchases, and probably the first that made me realize “holy shit, you are really collecting these things now.”
  • I do love the unusual, if creepy, color of this cover, and the bright, nutso font on the title.
  • Movie tie-in! Collectible subgenre! Hey, is the ghost of the corpse … is that … fear hand?! Behind the “A” and the “L”!? Judges say …. ding ding ding!


Best things about this back cover:
  • Bancroft! So early …
  • Aldo Ray sounds like a prog rock band.
  • “Taut” … “swift” … “searing” … nope, sorry, no “frank.” 

Page 123~

The type he was dealing with was the most dangerous and clever of them all. On the surface a soft-voiced innocence, an unembroidered sincerity. Beneath the surface a chess player who could do amazing things without board and chessman.

“What are you doing?” “Playing chess in my mind.” “Amazing.”


[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Tumblr]

Jun 152012

Paperback 538: Signet 1326 (4th ptg, 1956)

Title: Nightmare Alley
Author: William Lindsay Gresham
Cover artist: James Avati

Yours for: $21

Best things about this cover:

  • A noir classic. Early editions (Signets, like this one) are pretty rare. New York Review of Books reissued this book a couple years ago.
  • “Nightmare Alley, or The Carny’s Ennui”
  • “I’m so ashamed that Eddie Munster has to see me in this get-up.”
  • Not just “frank”—”Brutally Frank!” This book is so frank, it hurts my eyeballs.
  • No lie, I love her outfit. Pants could be a little lower-waisted, but the bra is a total win.


Best things about this back cover:

Ooh, the rarely seen “Double Frank” paperback. Nice. Whoa, triple … though that SF Chronicle quote is really just a callback of the front cover copy.

William Lindsay Gresham is not happy with how this photo session is going.

Page 123~

Under that brilliant stare she began to simper and found it difficult to control her hands.

This explains why she’s looking away from him and anchoring her hands on the edge of the, let’s say, dunk tank.


[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Tumblr]