Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Two-fer Tuesdays: Have Lust, Will Travel

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

There should be no question in your mind as to why I think these two paperback fronts go together. The artwork for both comes from George Gross (1909-2003), who produced hundreds of cover illustrations for U.S. pulp publications in the mid-20th century (such as Mystery Novels Magazine, Baseball Stories, and Detective Book Magazine), as well as for men’s adventure mags (Male, Cavalcade, Argosy, Man’s Illustrated, Saga, and True Adventures).

The Dubrovnik Massacre was published by Ace Books in 1981. It’s one of more than 250 entries in the popular Nick Carter-Killmaster spy-adventure series, released between 1964 and 1990. As Wikipedia explains, the title character “is an update of a pulp fiction private detective named Nick Carter [who first appeared] in 1886. … [Here he] serves as Agent N3 of AXE, a fictional spy agency for the United States government. The novels are similar to the literary James Bond novels--low on gadgets, high on action. Sexual encounters in particular are described in detail.” That male-enticing sex element is much in evidence in Gross’ illustration, the foreground of which shows a man and a woman in most amorous embrace, while the larger figure of an armed agent Carter looms in the background. Although these novels credit “Nick Carter” as star and author, they were actually penned by a wide variety of writers, among them Michael Avallone, Manning Lee Stokes, Craig Nova, Dennis Lynds, and Robert J. Randisi. The Dubrovnik Massacre was reportedly produced by Henry Rasof and Stephen Williamson.

At first glance, you might suppose the Dubrovnik version of Gross’ illustration came first, and that it was trimmed some to be used for Love Hunters (above, right). But you’d be wrong. In fact, Love Hunters was published by Softcover Library in 1966, a decade and half before the Nick Carter adventure reached print. The artwork on Love Hunters shows a young couple making out on a beach somewhere, both of them attired in bathing suits (rather than the underwear the pair seem to be wearing on The Dubrovnik Massacre), with a surfboard in the background. Again, sex is reflected in both the illustration and the cover lines (“The surfing crowd started early and loved fast--as if love were going out of style”).

Love Hunters carries the byline “Dean McCoy,” but that tale was actually written by Dudley Dean McGaughey, a Californian who, according to this short biography on the Mystery*File site, was born in 1906 (or perhaps 1909) and died in 1986. Quite prolific, he produced primarily crime and western fiction, using noms de plume such as Dean Owen, Dudley Dean, and Owen Dudley. However, “to make ends meet, one must assume, in the 1960s he turned to the genre of adult fiction, churning out a long list of ‘sleazy’ but non-explicit novels for Beacon under the name of Dean McCoy.” (Softcover was apparently an imprint of Beacon, one of the mid-20th-century’s most successful publishers of sexually oriented mass-market paperbacks). Love Hunters ranked among almost two dozen Dean McCoy novels, others carrying names such as No Empty Bed for Her (1962), The Love Pool (1964), Free-Loving Wives (1965), and Group Sex (1965).

Hmm. The Beacon/Softcover editors weren’t even remotely subtle with their book titles, were they?

READ MORE:Killmaster Art by George Gross,” by Christopher Mills (Atomic Pulp and Other Meltdowns).

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