Category Archives: Pulp fiction in the 70s and 80s

Pulp Friday: Klute the novel & William Johnson, master of the paperback tie-in

Klute paperback frontI had a lot of interest in my post earlier this week on Alan J Pakula’s wonderfully atmospheric 1971 movie, Klute. Given this, I thought Pulp Curry readers may be interested in having a look at this artefact from my pulp collection, the paperback tie-in for the film. It was published by Paperback Library in July 1971, a month after the film was released. I like the tag line on the cover, which reduces what is a remarkably sophisticated film to a classic, 1950s sounding pulp novel: ‘A small-town cop and New York call girl run a collision course with murder’.

I thought this would be a relatively straight forward post, but as is often the case there is a story behind the author of this book. Paperback tie-ins were a massively popular form of entertainment before the advent of VHS, as a way for fans to re-live their favourite films and television shows. The author of Klute, William Johnston, appears to have been somewhat of a master of the paper-back tie in.

According to an article on this site, much of which was taken by a longer piece by author, Lee Goldberg, Johnston penned a large number of them. The best known of these were numerous books for the Get Smart series.… Read more

Designing pictures for words: Interview with book cover designer, W H Chong

Image 2 The Left Hand of Darkness, Orbit Books, 1991From his first cover design job, a souvenir booklet to mark 1990 Collingwood AFL Grand Final victory, Melbourne-based book cover designer W H Chong, Design Director for Text Publishing, has won multiple awards for his covers for young adult fiction, crime, classics and literature.

I interviewed Ching about what makes a good cover design and his favourite cover designs from the science fiction reading of his youth. You can access the piece in full  at Spook Magazine here.

You can check out Chong’s personal website, with all his book cover design work here.

Pulp Friday: Christopher Lee's "X" Certificate

LeeI’ve been holding onto this gem of a horror anthology for a while now with the intention of eventually posting it as one of my Pulp Friday offerings. The death last week of the great Christopher Lee makes this an opportune time to share it.

Christopher Lee’s “X” Certificate was published by Star Books in 1975. The book includes an introduction by the late actor, although it’s doubtful Lee had anything to do with the anthology, which includes stories by Fritz Leiber, Robert Bloch, Richard Matheson, Robert E Howard and Bram Stoker. I’d be surprised if he even knew it existed.

As pulp fiction aficionados will be aware, numerous anthologies like this appeared in the late sixties and seventies, under the imprimatur of well known personalities involved in suspense and horror film, such as Alfred Hitchcock and French director, Roger Vadim.

The cover image may be familiar to fans of Jame Bond movies. It’s from the 1974 film, The Man With the Golden Gun, in which Lee played the hitman, Francisco Scaramanga.

Pulp Friday: The Chain Reaction

The Chain ReactionLast week I posted on the paperback tie-ins for the first three Mad Max films. Continuing my Australian dystopian road movie theme, today’s Pulp Friday offering is the rare paperback tie-in to the 1980 Australian film, The Chain Reaction.

I wrote about The Chain Reaction in a recent piece for the British Institute on Australian dystopian road films. Not every movie mentioned in that article had, in my opinion, necessarily aged well, but this one certainly had. Billed in some places as Mad Max Meets the China Syndrome (George Miller was associate producer and apparently worked on an early draft of the script), not only is it a great road movie, it’s also an interesting artefact from the time when Australia was less enamoured with being part of America’s nuclear state than we are now.

An earthquake in rural Australia causes a dangerous leak at a nuclear waste disposal site, contaminating the surrounding ground water. A scientist, badly injured in the accident, escapes with knowledge about what has happened and is rescued by a holidaying couple, Larry, an ex-Vietnam Vet mechanic (Steve Bisley, who got the role off the back of his performance as Goose in Mad Max) and his wife, Carmel (Arna-Maria Winchester). The shadowy American company that own the facility dispatch a couple of hired killers to track down and eliminate the scientist and anyone he has had contact with.… Read more

Pulp Friday: The Zebra-Striped Hearse

The Zebra Stripped Hearse

To celebrate the 100th birthday of iconic crime author, Ross Macdonald, today’s Pulp Friday offering is the stunning cover of the 1964 Bantam edition of The Zebra Striped Hearse.

The Zebra Striped Hearse was one of eighteen novels written by Macdonald, a pseudonym for the Canadian writer Kenneth Miller, to feature the private investigator, Lew Archer. The story, first published in 1962, is a decided bent tale of murder and potential multiple identities, set amid the supposed idyllic suburbs of California.

Since his death in 1983, Macdonald’s fame as a writer of hard boiled private investigator tales has tales has reduced somewhat. That’s a pity because in books like The Zebra Striped Hearse, Macdonald, through Archer, interrogated the sin and depravity that existed in the suburbs of San Francisco and Los Angeles.

I have no idea who did the striking cover to this book and would be keen to hear from any Pulp Curry readers who do.