Sunday, January 23, 2011

Danger, Dicks, and Damsels in Distress

Acting on the suggestion of a reader, I recently added to Killer Covers’ right-hand column a link to the Pulp Fiction Collection at the University of Otago, New Zealand. If you haven’t taken the time yet to explore that resource, you really should. It includes pulp titles produced in Australia and the United States, arranged according to their genres, from detective stories to westerns, science fiction, sports, war tales, and romance.

While it’s interesting to read about the pulps, what’s most enjoyable is simply paging through the site, gawking at the colorful book fronts. As the exhibition’s introduction says,
The covers are memorable. They are remembered for their feverish depictions of ‘high-octane’ moments. They are famous for their half-dressed damsels in distress, the scantily clad dame. It didn’t matter that the crime series were about male detectives, the covers lovingly depicted sexually idealized women who posed, pouted and promised more than the stories ever delivered. There were also the guys, with their smoking guns, the fedoras, and the inevitable cigarette. Importantly, the covers communicated the type of book it was. At one glance, the buyer (reader) could easily recognize what he or she was getting: a sci-fi book, a crime story, romance, horror, etc. And if the lurid covers didn’t grab your attention, then the titles would. Who could resist Nude in a Boat, The Curse of Blood, Designed to Deceive, Blind Date with Death, or Nemesis for a Nude?
Begin your tour of the site here. You won’t be disappointed.

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