Category Archives: Pulp paperback cover art

Pulp Friday: ‘The godfather of the airport novel’

Have you ever noticed, whenever someone pens one of those articles listing the most influential books of the second half of the 20th century, how worthy the titles are? You’ll usually find books like Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird, Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago, Richard Bach’s Jonathan Livingston Seagull or E. M Forster’s Maurice, published in 1971, a year after the author’s death. But no one ever mentions influential books I suspect people were actually reading in large numbers, Peyton Place, Jacqueline Susan’s Valley of the Dolls, Mario Puzo’s The Godfather or the subject of today’s Pulp Friday offering, the novels of Harold Robbins.

Growing up in the 1970s, when popular culture was still mass rather than the niche individual choice it is increasingly now, Robbins was still a big deal. I don’t know about your household, but prominently placed amongst the Alistair Maclean and Ian Fleming thrillers, Desmond Morris’s The Naked Ape and Erich von Daniken’s 1968 sensation, Chariot of the Gods, were a large number of paperback books by Robbins.

Robbins has been called ‘the godfather of the airport novel’ and the ‘Onassis of supermarket literature’. He wasn’t a good writer by any stretch of the imagination but starting with his debut novel, Never Love A Stranger, in 1948, he produced fast paced, meaty narratives with larger than life characters, corporate executives and adventurers, accompanied by lashings of drama and explicit sex.… Read more

Pulp Curry: A Clockwork Orange

It has been a while between posts, I know. This site, as well as a number of other things in my life, has taken a back seat in order for me to meet a few pressing deadlines, in particular, working on a monograph for a English publisher on Norman Jewison’s 1975 dystopian science fiction classic, Rollerball.

While Jewison was not a great fan of science fiction he was impressed by two science fiction films, both of them made by Stanley Kubrick: 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and A Clockwork Orange, released in 1971 (although it was not released in Australian until 1988). It is this latter film that is the subject of today’s Pulp Friday post.

Published by Anthony Burgess in 1962, A Clockwork Orange is set in a near future dystopian England suffering from an epidemic of extreme youth violence and economic stagnation. The book’s teenage protagonist, Alex, narrates the story of his various criminal exploits and the subsequent efforts of the conservative state authorities to rehabilitate him, in a made up language Burgess called ‘Nadsat’.

Burgess’s own politics were conservative, with a streak of anarchism running through his thinking. He wrote A Clockwork Orange in three weeks, influenced by his views of the growing youth culture in early sixties England.… Read more

Pre-orders open for Girl Gangs, Biker Boys, and Real Cool Cats: Pulp Fiction and Youth Culture, 1950 to 1980

Girl Gangs Jpeg

Here is the updated cover for the book I have edited with my friend, Iain McIntyre, Girl Gangs, Biker Boys & Real Cool Cats: Pulp Fiction & Youth Culture, 1950-1980. This beauty will be out through PM Press in October.

It is available for pre-order here.

Long terms readers of Pulp Curry may remember this book was originally scheduled to appear, with a different publisher and under a slightly different name, in late 2016. But the publisher concerned experienced finance problems which resulted in the book being pulled from their schedule.

Thanks to PM Press that project is a going concern again.

The book is the first comprehensive account of how the rise of postwar youth culture was depicted in mass-market pulp fiction. As the young created new styles in music, fashion, and culture, pulp fiction shadowed their every move, hyping and exploiting their behaviour, dress, and language for mass consumption and cheap thrills. From the juvenile delinquent gangs of the early 1950s through the beats and hippies, on to bikers, skinheads, and punks, pulp fiction left no trend untouched. With their lurid covers and wild, action-packed plots, these books reveal as much about society’s deepest desires and fears as they do about the subcultures themselves.

Girl Gangs features approximately 400 full-colour covers, many of them never reprinted before.… Read more

Pulp Friday: The Thing From Another World

The Thing 1951Today’s Pulp Friday is an absolute thing of beauty.

The Australian edition of John W Campbell’s The Thing From Another World, published by Malian Press in Sydney, in 1952. The wonderful cover is by the prolific local artist, Stan Pitt, who illustrated comics and pulp paperback covers for a number of Australian pulp publishers over a lengthy career that stretched form 1942 to the 1970s.

This edition is particularly interesting because it is the first to anywhere in the world to reference the 1951 film, The Thing From Another World, directed by Howard Hawks. I originally saw it when it was posted by a chap called Morgan Wallace on the Vintage Paperback and Pulp site on Facebook.

Investigating Campbell on the Internet, I discovered a host of terrific images associated with this particular work.

The story was originally known by the title Who Goes There?, and first appeared in the August 1938 edition of Astounding Magazine under Campbell’s pen name, Don A Stuart.

It was published in hard cover as part of a collection of Campbell’s short fiction by Shasta Books in 1948. And then appeared in various editions, with various titles, leading up to the last one below, Bantam paperback tie-in to the 1982 film version by John Carpenter, The Thing.Read more

Pulp Friday: Weird stories & terrifying tales

Weird storiesA belated happy 2017 to Pulp Curry readers. I have had a very busy start to the year, with my PhD studies and various writing projects, hence the first post of the year has taken me a while to get around to.

The first Pulp Friday of 2017 is a stunning collection of horror themed 1960s pulp titles by Horwitz Publications. These are a mixture of titles I own and books from other collectors.

While horror tales were a staple of American and British pulp fiction in the 1950s and 1960s, they failed to achieve similar popularity in Australia. Australia’s censorship regime – both at the state and federal levels – were far stricter and, as a result, our publishers were much more timid. According to Canberra based scholar, James Doig, horror never had the commercial appear amongst Australian pulp buyers of other genres, such as crime and romance.

That’s not to say there was a total absence of local horror pulp. Influenced by the US magazine Weird Tales, Currowong published a series of horror titles in the 1940s. And Cleveland and Horwitz published some novelettes and pocket books in the 1950s and 1960s.

The earliest Horwitz effort in the 1960s appears to be Weird Stories, published in 1961, part of an anthology series edited by Charles Higham, which was most likely a response to the very successful Pan Book of Horror Stories series that began to appear under the editorship of Herbert Van Thal in 1959.… Read more