TRASHY TUESDAY: SMOKING LADIES!
It is not terribly politically correct these days, but for many years images of women smoking cigarettes were a stable ingredient of paperback cover art. A quick scan of my collection found many such examples, some of which I have pulled together for this post.
The above 1950 cover for John Evans’ Halo In Brass (Dell, 1950) is one of my favourites and one of the first I collected. John Evans was a pseudonym used by Howard Browne and Halo In Brass (1949) was the third in the series about PI Paul Pine. They were very much in the hardboiled school and were notable for their treatment of controversial topics at the time. Halo In Brass touches on female homosexuality in a manner typical of the time and is a solid detective novel.
Cover Details: The cover is by Mike Ludlow who is known for his glamour illustrations and pin-ups. He did a lot of work for Esquire magazine and many mainstream magazines in the 1950s and a host of paperback covers. Halo In Brass is typical of his covers with the central focus on a sexy, well drawn blonde. It is a nice pin-up picture and it is only in the reflection in the mirror and the tagline at the top that we get a sense of menace.
A A Fair was the pseudonym used by the prolific Erle Stanley Gardner for his series of books about Los Angeles Private Eyes Bertha Cool and Donald Lam. Top Of The Heap is typical of the series with its brisk pace, frequent wise-cracking by Lam and the inevitable blow-ups between him and Bertha.
Cover Details: The cover is a classic Robert McGinnis one and probably helped the sale of cigarette holders at the time. All of McGinnis’ covers are notable for their sexy women and Top Of The Heap is no exception and probably one of his better known ones.
Long Time No Leola by Australian bestselling phenomena Carter Brown is typical of his 1960s series featuring Rick Holman “the discreet fix-it man of Hollywood’s intimate troubles”. This time Holman is on the trail of a missing movie star, Leola Smith, and finds himself caught up in a murderous plot.
Cover Details: I am not sure who did cover, but it is fairly typical of those which accompanied the ‘The Carter Brown Mystery Series’ by Horwitz in the 1960s. It is not a great cover, and is mainly interesting for the disinterested look on the girl’s face. Unlike the cover that Robert McGinnis was to do for the American Signet edition, there is little sense here of the glamorous movie star, which the book is supposed to be about. Instead of a fabulous actress, the image is more of a tired lady of the night.
A more classy image is provided for this 1956 cover of Peter Cheyney’s You’d Be Surprised (1940). This was the fifth book in the series by British writer Cheyney about FBI agent Lemmy Caution, who ventures to Paris during the opening months of World War II disguised as a Private Investigator in pursuit of the wayward daughter of a millionaire. As with a lot of Cheyney’s work it does not make a lot of sense and the writing has not stood up well to the passage of time.
Cover Details: the cover is done by Barrow who did a few covers for Pan in the 1950s. He is virtually forgotten today and I could find no details about him (or her). It is a nice clean cover with good portraits of Caution, and presumably the heiress Geraldine, and a picture of the Eiffel Tower in the back to locate the story. Fairly typical of the conservative Pan covers of the 1950s which tended to have pictures that reflected the story or illustrated a scene from the book.
A good cover by Ted Coconis adorns this 1959 crime novel by Bruno Fischer. It is quite a striking illustration, with Coconis modestly matching the cover to the title. It is nicely proportioned and the cigarette draws the eye down to the bottom tagline: “She was a third-rate actress but she made headlines … as a corpse.”