Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Two-fer Tuesdays: Triple Plays

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

Marijane Meaker was born in 1927 and, as “Vin Packer” (one of her several pseudonyms), composed 20 novels, most of which fit into the crime and mystery fiction field. She also penned 1952’s Spring Fire, which has been deemed the first lesbian pulp novel and was apparently inspired by an affair Meaker had as a teenager attending a boarding school. That same year, 1952, brought a second Packer work, Dark Intruder--about “an even more taboo topic: incest”--to stores and squeaky spinner racks.

Meaker/Packer’s 1957 novel, 3 Day Terror, sounds rather more pulpy and shocking than either of those other works. When, in 2013, Prologue Books reissued the novel in paperback and e-book versions, it offered the following plot teaser:
She was hurrying past the field on her way home when the man stepped out from behind a tree and stood spraddle-legged in her path. Ginny Lee was uncommonly pretty, a small girl with unusually long legs for someone her size, good legs with finely molded ankles; and her breasts above the rounded hips and very thin waist were large and full, not in a way that gave her a top-heavy look, but a proud, feminine look. Ginny Lee was happy about her looks except for one thing: she needed glasses. She stood there blinking and squinting, trying to recognize the man who stood there so menacingly. “Who are you” she asked, suddenly frightened. He laughed, took her roughly, and threw her down.
Prologue’s modern cover for 3 Day Terror (seen here) is a meager imitation of Gold Medal Books’ original 1957 paperback edition, which I’ve embedded above. Credited with creating the older, more dramatic artwork is Louis S. Glanzman (1922-2013), a Baltimore-born, Virginia-reared painter who--after contributing some of his earliest efforts to comic books--put his talents to work for the U.S. military’s Aero Time magazine during World War II. He later illustrated stories for periodicals such as Life, The New Yorker, The Saturday Evening Post, Reader’s Digest, True, and National Lampoon. In addition, Glanzman painted 29 covers for Time, among them a famous one showing Neil Armstrong on Earth’s moon in 1969, and illustrated the Pippi Longstocking books for children. You can find his artistry on display in Reader’s Digest Condensed Books as well as on the fronts of novels intended for adult audiences, such as these. In 2009, the design-oriented blog Today’s Inspiration published this fine four-part look back at his career: Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV. More examples of Glanzman’s work are here.

Now shift your attention to the other façade atop this post, the one from Three Day Pass--to Kill (Berkley, 1958). The ever-prolific Paul Rader was responsible for the sexy/shocking image on this novel set in Occupied Germany after World War II. “Marty Hunter had only three days to clear himself of murdering his best friend and of raping the all-too-willing Wanda,” reads the back-jacket copy. “Here is a slashing story of occupied Frankfurt by the famous author of The Big Rape--a story of Frauleins who would do anything for a pair of American nylons, and of the men who hated them for it.”

There seems to be some question regarding the authorship of Three Day Pass. Top billing in the byline goes to James Wakefield “J.W.” Burke (1904-1989), who is said to have covered the post-World War II Nuremberg trials for Esquire magazine and to have subsequently reported on the notorious Berlin Blockade for the evening Indiana newspaper, The Indianapolis News. Burke produced a controversial but nonetheless respected novel, The Big Rape (originally published in Germany in 1951), which recounted the dire, even horrific conditions that faced women after the Soviet army conquered Adolf Hitler’s capital, Berlin, in 1945. He later penned such novels as The Blazing Dawn (1975) and non-fiction works on the order of David Crockett: The Man Behind the Myth (1984).

But Allen J. Hubin, in his authoritative volume, Crime Fiction II: A Comprehensive Bibliography, 1749-1990 (revised 1994), suggests Burke didn’t actually deserve credit for writing Three Day Pass. “[T]he sole author of the work,” Hubin notes, was the man awarded second billing on the novel’s front: “Edward Grace.”

Grace was a nom de plume employed by Chicago-born Edward de Grazia (1927-2013), who would eventually become a political activist, a professor of law at New York City’s Yeshiva University, and a playwright. A Web site composed by de Grazia’s brother Alfred contends that Edward penned Three Day Pass--to Kill during what “free time” he was given while training as a pilot with the Army Air Force, but it was “published under the name of an author whom he did not know and for a flat sum without rights.” How such a thing could have happened is not explained anywhere on the site, but if the story is true, then it must have galled Edward de Grazia to see his own contributions disregarded, while Burke’s reputation was burnished on the rear side of Berkley’s softcover edition of Three Day Pass with quotes such as these: “Burke’s stories of World War II have the sock of Hemingway and the shock of Maupassant” (John B. Crane, Europe Day by Day) and “Mr. Burke leaves precarious little erotic detail to the imagination” (The New York Times).

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