TRASHY TUESDAY: A TRIO OF WANTONS!
Wanton is not a word you see a lot of these days. Back in the glory days of pulpy paperbacks, however, it found its way onto covers to suggest the wild sexuality of the women to be found inside the covers.
The above 1965 Horwitz edition of Carter Brown’s The Wanton, certainly gives a strong sense of sexuality with the semi-naked girl on the cover and the 1960’s red psychedelic backdrop. It is more provocative than the covers on the earlier editions of the book, such as the 1961 photographic cover by Horwitz below, but lacks the class of the McGinnis drawings that frequently graced the American editions of Carter Brown’s books. The artist is not identified. It is not a great drawing, but it would have attracted attention, as would have the reference on the cover to “Two beautiful nude corpses.”.
More classy, is this 1959 Pan edition of Peter Cheyney’s Dark Wanton. Featuring a nice drawing by Henry Fox, who became closely associated with Badger Books in the 1960s, it suggests sexual allure without resorting to the explicitness of the Carter Brown book. It is very typical of the restrained Pan covers of the period and has a strong 1950s look to it. The drawing is quite good, although the woman’s hand seems out of proportion, and is of a higher quality than the covers that Fox did for Badger Books.
The Patrick Quentin nom de plume was used by a quartet of authors, who also wrote under the name Q. Patrick. They mainly wrote ‘Golden Age’ murder mysteries. Puzzle For Wantons (1945) is the fourth book in their series about Broadway Director Peter Duluth, who keeps stumbling across corpses and solving mysteries. Barker Dragon Books were a smallish British publisher that sprang up after World War II and were subsequently acquired by a larger firm. In America, Puzzle For Wantons was published under the more interesting title of Slay The Loose Ladies.
The Duluth books were frequently re-printed, but rarely received a cover as good as this. The cover features a very alluring lady, more of the type you would find on a PI novel than a classic murder mystery. The backwards glance over a bare shoulder is nicely done, and is well balanced by the blood soaked arrow. No artist is acknowledged, although the drawing is similar to some Peter Cheyney covers I have seen.
The below copy of Carter Brown’s The Wanton was published in 1961 by Horwitz.