Category Archives: Pulp paperback cover art

Pulp Friday: The Day of the Locust

Day of the LocustMost people are familiar with the 1975 John Schlesinger film, The Day of the Locust, starring Donald Sutherland, Burgess Meredith and Karen Black.

But long before it appeared in cinemas, The Day of the Locust was an influential novel by US author, Nathanael West. Today’s Pulp Friday offering is the 1957 edition of the novel by Bantam Books. I have no idea who did the stunning cover image for this paperback version.

Both the novel and the film are set during the Great Depression and focus on a young artist who comes to Hollywood and is soon sucked into a nightmare world of hustlers, struggling actors and actresses and various other low life denizens on the fringes of the movie business. It is often viewed as one of the best books written on the underbelly of the American dream.

Nathanael knew of what he was writing about in The Day of the Locust, having worked for a time as a screenwriter for RKO pictures.

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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

Book review: American Pulp – How Paperbacks Brought Modernism to Main Street

American Pulp, Princeton University Press 2014

I’ve always been fascinated by how relatively insignificant objects you’ve lost in the course of moving around in life can later come to hold important meaning. An example for me is a black and white photograph of my father on holiday in Queensland’s Surfers Paradise in the early 1960s. It was destroyed when my friend’s shed, in which I stored all my possessions while travelling overseas, burnt down. I find it hard to recall what else was lost, but I remember that photo. Dad is sitting in a chair on the beach, wearing dark sunglasses and reading a paperback by the prolific Australian pulp writer Carter Brown.

Two things gave me cause to think about this picture recently. The first was the hype around the Anzac Day centenary commemorations – I’ll explain that connection later. The second was reading US academic Paula Rabinowitz’s beautifully written, highly original work, American Pulp: How Paperbacks Brought Modernism to Main Street.

Most people view pulp as either exploitative lowbrow culture or highly collectable retro artefact. Yet pulp has a secret history which Rabinowitz’s book uncovers. Her central thesis is that cheap, mass-produced pulp novels not only provided entertainment and cheap titillating thrills, but also brought modernism to the American people, democratising reading and, in the process, furthering culture and social enlightenment.… 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.