GALS WITH GUNS! – EARLY LARRY KENT COVERS
In the flood of faux American crime digests and paperbacks by Australian publishers, such as those in the Carter Brown, Marc Brody and Larry Kent series, in the late 1950s and early 1960s, authors often used a variety of terms to describe women in their titles. Dame, cutie, lady, wench, sweatheart, darling, sister, madam, baby, miss, broad and, of course, wanton, were frequently found in titles; as were descriptors based on hair colour: blonde, brunette, redhead and even bottle blonde.
More exotic terms were also used, such wahine, chorine and fraulein, and, reflecting the time, some less complimentary ones, such as siren, vixen, temptress, nymph and witch.
One which did not appear a lot was gal. I had not seen gal used before, until I recently came across two early Larry Kent novelettes.
The Larry Kent series of crime digests originated in 1954 and ran until 1983. The books were originally based on the Sydney radio show ‘I Hate Crime’, about an American reporter, Larry Kent, who moved to Australia and set himself up as crime busting private investigator. The novelettes (around 50 pages) and books (which were under a hundred pages each) moved the hard drinking, tough talking Kent to New York, but kept the ‘I Hate Crime’ tagline on most of the covers. Published by Cleveland Publications, the Larry Kent books were a rival to Carter Brown and were churned out each month.
Red Sweater Gal (#98) was an early fifty page novelette (1961) and was probably written by Don Haring.
Walter Stackpole did most of the Larry Kent covers from this early period and the illustration for Red Sweater Gal certainly looks like one of his. Nicely composed, with clever use of darker colours on one side, contrasting with the bright yellow and red on the other side, to highlight the girl works really well and draws your eye to the girl and the eponymous red sweater. I also like her stylish (late 1950s) striped pants.
Gun Totin’ Gal would have appeared about four months before Red Sweater Gal, probably in early 1961.
It is another nice Stackpole illustration, with lots of good detail and the usual Stackpole focus on long legs. The green hat is a curious touch, and the girl does seem to have an incredibly narrow waist when you look closely at the drawing.
I have also included below a Larry Kent Blonde and Cutie and another early cover by Stackpole and a classic Wench from Carter Brown.
Links to some earlier articles on Larry Kent can be found here: https://murdermayhemandlongdogs.com/trashy-tuesday-larry-kent-covers/; https://murdermayhemandlongdogs.com/trashy-tuesday-larry-kent-covers-2/