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Posted by on 31 Dec, 2022 in Australian POW fiction, Australian Pulp, Classic PI, Men's Adventure, Pulp, trashy covers, Trashy Tuesday, War novel, Westerns | 0 comments



After the COVID imposed restrictions of the previous two years, it was very nice to get and about in 2022 and do some vintage paperback hunting in the wild, rather than over the internet.

I did not discover any particularly rare books, but I did find some very nice covers, especially some early Australian ones. The early Cleveland westerns produced some great overlooked covers, as did the Larry Kent digests I acquired. There were also some memorable Japanese POW covers from the 1960s and 70s, which certainly attracted attention. I have set out below ten of my favourite acquisitions and covers from 2022.

Savage Season by Joe R. Lansdale (Bantam, 1990)

I have always admired this Alan Ayers cover for Joe R Lansdale’s Savage Season and was pleased to get a new copy of it. In my view it is one of the most striking covers I have ever seen.

Slaves Of The Samurai by Ray Slattery (Horwitz, 1963)

Australian publishers Horwitz enthusiastically ventured into the realm of POW novels in the 1960s, with several series that sensationally focused on the fictional experiences of Australian POWs, particularly nurses, under the Japanese. Ray Slattery was a prolific writer in this field, under his own name and the John Slater pseudonym, and this 1963 entry is very typical of the books that were produced.

It also features a stunningly brutal cover by Australian cover art maestro Col Cameron. Although a bit tatty, the forcefulness of the cover is easy to see.

Bamboo Guerillas by Guy N. Smith (NEL, 1977)

British horror writer Guy N. Smith, Night Of The Crabs, ventured into POW novels in the 1970s with the violent and sadistic Bamboo Guerillas, which featured lots of blood, graphic sex and torture. It also had the sort of exploitive eye catching cover that NEL became famous for in the 1970s.

The Camp On Blood Island by J M White and Val Guest (Mayflower, 1972)

The lazy photographic cover on The Camp On Blood Island falls into that category of being so bad, that it is actually good. I like how it manages to include the two main tropes of any Japanese POW cover – a mean looking guard and a samurai sword.

High Fire by Marshall Grover (Cleveland, High Brand #200, 1956?)
Malloy by Clint McCall (Cleveland, Bison #403, 1967?)

Early in the year I came across a batch of early Cleveland westerns from the 1950s and 1960s. These have been largely overlooked by collectors of vintage paperbacks and digests, but they featured some very nice covers, usually uncredited. Above are two of my favourites. High Fire is a very early novel by Marshall Grover (Leonard F Meares) and has a nice innocent 1950s cover, which is in stark contrast to the covers from the late 1960s and 1970s, which were more violent and sexual (see below). Malloy has a classic gunfighter cover, even down to the cigarette hanging casually from the gunfighter’s mouth.

Here is a link to some of the articles I have done on Cleveland westerns:

All Woman, All Bad by Emerson Dodge (Cleveland, Bighorn Western, #398)

This late 1960s, early 1970s entry in Cleveland’s Bighorn Western series nicely illustrates how the portrayal of women changed on the Cleveland covers during the 1960s. The cover is uncredited, but I think it is a syndicated cover from the Spanish art agency Nova Bossa.

Red Sweater Gal – Larry Kent #98 (Cleveland, 1961?)

Over the course of the 300 odd Larry Kent digests produced between 1954 and 1983 there were many great covers, including this early one by Walter Stackpole.

The Filthy Ones Larry Kent #752 (Cleveland, 1974?)

As with their westerns, Cleveland started using the services of Spanish syndicated art agency Nova Bossa in the late 1960s. These covers were usually more violent and sexualised in their approach. They featured generic illustrations, which could be used on a range of covers around the world, and often drew on movies and actors for their inspiration.

The above cover for The Filthy Ones by renowned Spanish artist Fernando Fernandez draws heavily on Tom William Chantrell’s poster art for Steve McQueen’s Bullitt for its inspiration!

The Diamond Smugglers by Ian Fleming (Pan, 1960)

I like the composition and busyness of David Tayler’s illustration for the 1960 Great Pan cover of Ian Fleming’s The Diamond Smugglers

Bedrooms Have Windows by A. A. Fair (Dell, 1952)

I have good collection of Erle Stanley Gardner paperback novels and I was pleased to pick up a cleaner copy of this Dell edition of A. A. Fair’s Bedrooms Have Windows, with its Mike Ludlow cover.

So that is it for 2022! Have a great New Year’s Eve and happy book hunting in 2023!

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