Blog Archives

Design: Dime Mystery

Dime Mystery Magazine started publication in 1932 (as Dime Mystery Book) featuring a full novel and a few short stories. After 10 unsuccesful issues it was changed to it’s current title and featured novelettes focusing on, what became known as “Weird Menace” stories. Demented doctors, crazed pirates, bad priests, evil spiders, etc. became the standard. By the looks of these if you were a woman during this time you didn’t stand a chance.  This format worked much better and had a pretty good run until it closed shop in 1950. Garishly designed with lurid cover paintings, Dime Mystery Magazine certainly stood out on the crowded magazine racks of the 30’s-50’s.

Dig Your Own Murder

Hell Comes in Bottles

Dance of the Death Doll

The Seven Arms of Terror

The Beauty Shop of Horrors

Mistress of the Worm-Men

Beware the Boneless Death!

Maker of the Faceless Ones

Lure of the Fox-Woman


Painting: Book Covers without Titles

If I should have probably researched this further and identified all the artists and the books these painting were used for. Instead I’ve decided to go the easy route and simply post them – as is. They are really beautiful paintings all on their own. A high degree of talent and skill have gone into these pieces – great brush style, great color, interesting subject-matter. As the title of the post suggests; these are paintings commisioned for use as cover art for various pulp novels, mostly in the 50’s and 60’s. They may have been used for a specific book or different editions of the same book (with an altered type or color treatment), or even different books altogether.

The Art of Packaging: D is for Dope

"She traded her body for drugs and kicks"

Not a lot needs to be said about these books – they pretty much speak for themselves. Most of these are from the 50’s with a couple obvious 60’s titles – “Those Who Lust”, “Home is the Humper” (?). Cool seedy art, cool sordid tags, cool bright type. The last book – “Junkie” by William Lee, 1953, is actually William S. Burroughs’ first book. He published under the name William Lee so his mother wouldn’t be upset (or so the story goes). This is the Holy Grail of pulp fiction and goes for about $800. The whiter version of the book is the British publication.

"The searing novel of dope addicts..."

"They sailed on boiling seas of depravity"

"A Revealing Story of Dope, Sin and Shattered Dreams"

"He brought a new vice to a sin-ridden town"

Confessions of an unredeemed drug addict"

Packaging: Popular Library Pulp Covers – Women in Peril

Popular Libray was a New York publishing company in the 40’s and 50’s that specialized primarily in mysteries. By the looks of things they liked to terrorize the ladies. Great titles, great artwork, great taglines – “An illicit love turns into multiple murder”. Popular Library published other genres, western, sea adventures, etc, but these Women in Peril covers are their best – though I still am a bit troubled by the Campus Town cover – “She defied their moral code”?


The Art of Packaging: Dell Mapbacks

Dead Yellow Women by Dashiell Hammet, 1947

The Mapback series of of paperbacks was put out by Dell Publishing from 1943 to 1951. The books are known as mapbacks because the back cover of the book contains a map that illustrates the location of the action. Dell books were numbered in series, starting (for some reason) at number 5 and extending to 550. A variety of themes and topics were represented by Dell – romance, space, short stories – but mostly crime fiction.