Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Two-fer Tuesdays: We’re Goin’ Deep

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

Maybe it’s because I watched far too much of Lloyd Bridges’ Sea Hunt TV adventure series when I was still a little tyke, but I have always thought scuba diving was a subject to be taken with great seriousness. Certainly, I have friends who take it seriously. And on those occasions when I’ve been traveling through the Caribbean or to Hawaii, and have been offered the opportunity to learn to scuba dive, the instructors have stressed the seriousness of learning proper diving procedures. Which may be why I haven’t yet tried scubaing, but have been quite content snorkeling, instead.

There’s nothing serious about the two scuba-related covers shown above, though. The one on the left comes from a 1961 Epic Book release, The Case of the Naked Diver. Its byline reads “Olin Ross,” but that was one of many pseudonyms used by W.E.D. Ross (1912-1995), a playwright, performer, and prolific author born in New Brunswick, Canada. During his fiction-writing career (which began with short stories in the 1950s, but expanded into novels in the ’60s), Ross penned works of romance, Gothic and Western fiction, and erotic narratives. Most of his noms de plume seemed to be female, but as “Olin Ross” he produced at least two soft-porn works, The Case of the Naked Diver and 1962’s Lust Planet (the front of which could have been included with my recent gallery of “wanton” fronts). I haven’t been able to find much on the Web about Naked Diver’s plot, but it’s cover line offers what’s probably a concise explanation of the book’s titillating contents: “They found passion at the bottom of the sea … but the trail led to sunken treasure and murder!!”

Why the pair portrayed on the front of this book are swimming au naturel, save for their diving gear, isn’t clear. Neither are the parameters of the “case” involving their aquatic antics. (I love this comment made by the author of the Airport Books Tumblr page: “Whoever had naked underwater homicide under their purview? I pity them and the very silly-seeming paperwork they must’ve had to fill out.”) I can tell you, however, that the artist responsible for that eye-catching cover painting was Darrel Millsap, who took on quite a bit of work during the mid-20th century for male-appeal sleaze publishers such as Greenleaf Books. (Examples of his paintings can be seen here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. Compared with some of what he did on Greeleaf’s behalf, his effort on Naked Diver is a masterpiece.) Millsap is also credited with having painted covers for Barry Sadler’s Casca series of historical/fantasy novels. I’m not absolutely sure that the Darrel Millsap associated with The Case of the Naked Diver is the same one who died in San Diego, California, in April 2012, but Web sources lead me to believe it is.

Sadly, the illustrator behind our second cover this week--from a paperback titled The Scuba Set, by John Carver (Beacon, 1964)--remains a mystery. I don’t spot a credit given anywhere on the front or back of this book. But the cover line provides adequate distraction from such a deficiency. “For the first time,” it declares, “a scathing novel unmasking the sensual excesses of today’s aqualung elite!” (Sleaze-fiction publishers just loved exclamation points, didn’t they?) And the back-jacket copy gives some plot details:
Can the body beautiful hide lack of morals?

CHARLIE CROWN, spark plug of the fast-buck scuba crowd, definitely thinks so. So does his niece …

PAMELA CROWN, whose seductive figure and predatory sexual habits blend perfectly with Charlie’s scheme of things. But …

LAURA INGSTROM, realizing the game is stacked, acquires an aqualung kit--and playmates--of her own. They include …

DWIGHT O’FARRELL, the irresistible health-seeker. And after he finishes with Laura, his lesbian wife Betty moves in …

Hotly cultivating money, muscles and no-limit pleasures, how long could they get away with it? In the climax of this wholly frank, wholly different novel, you will find answers both astonishing and shocking!

A spellbinding glimpse into the private lives of scuba divers--stimulated by underwater dangers and fanatic body worship into frenzied amoral adventure.
Hell! There are enough badly suggestive terms in that short write-up to bring out flop-sweat on a priest.

“John Carver,” by the way, was one of several pen names employed by American author Richard M. Gardiner; he also wrote as “Clifford Anderson” and “Richard Orth.” Under the Carver moniker, he published such literary non-classics as The Shame of Jenny (1963), Campus Nymphs (1964), and Suburban Hotbed (1967).

No comments: