Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Two-fer Tuesdays: What Are the Odds?

A twice-monthly pairing of book covers that just seem to go together. Click on either of these images to open up an enlargement.

Sometimes the books I highlight in this continuing series have little in common save for their titles. The two covers above are a good example of such coupling.

The image on the left shows The Oddballs, a “daring” 1965 work released in the States by Beacon Books (one of the mid-20th-century’s most successful publishers of sexually oriented mass-market paperbacks), but in Canada by Softcover Library; the image here is from the Softcover edition. Listed as the author of this tale about a beautiful young woman who “shunned healthy sex as if it were poison” (in other words, she became a--gasp!--lesbian) is one Stacey Clubb, who also produced such risqué wonders as The Middle Sex (1963), Left of Sex (1964), Young Lust (1965), and Girl High (1966). Let’s just say that it’s unlikely any of these books would have been conveniently found on drugstore spinner racks available to impressionable American youngsters.

Unfortunately, that also meant only adult readers had the chance to appreciate the (sadly uncredited) cover art from The Oddballs, which--although it certainly offers some oddities of its own--would have caught my attention; there’s no question about that. It was evidently a favorite, as well, of the Beacon Books designers, for they’d previously featured the same artwork on the front of a “show business novel” titled The Love Goddess (1962), by Dan Temple.

Now switch your gaze to the book façade on the right. It’s from a 1959 paperback printing of the science-fiction semi-classic, Odd John--coincidentally, also produced by Beacon Books (which included SF among its titles). That novel first saw print in 1935 and was penned by British author Olaf Stapledon. As Wikipedia explains, Odd John “explores the theme of the Übermensch (superman) in the character of John Wainwright, whose supernormal human mentality inevitably leads to conflict with normal human society and to the destruction of the utopian colony founded by John and other superhumans.” Hmm. From simply glancing at the Beacon cover--painted by Robert Stanley--I would have pegged it as just another soft-porn work. Which confirms that old and too-oft trotted-out adage about never judging a book by its cover.

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