Black Garters of Death

startling detective feb 1949 copy

Anyone thinking things were safer back in the ‘good ol’ days’ oughta think twice. Evidently a fellow couldn’t even go the picture show back in 1949 without running into a movie-mad blonde wearing black garters of death. So, just keep walkin’, dude…

Live And Love (With Guns & Bullets)

Live And Love Plank 69

“PlanK-69”? You got me, but that is the name for the concept, gaming and all-around digital artist master, whose work is mostly in the SF/Fantasy/Gaming arena. If you like that sort of thing, check out his/her DeviantArt page, which is huge and overflowing with samples. But tucked right in the middle of countless gaming/superhero characters and SF/Fantasy scenes are a series of intriguing magazine covers, two of which, Live And Love and Guns & Bullets, are shown here. They’re quite different from the rest of PlanK-69’s body of work, and I wish there were more.

Guns And Bullets

The Best Of Manhunt

The Best of Manhunt

I pre-ordered my copy of The Best of Manhunt – A Collection of The Best of Manhunt Magazine edited by Jeff Vorzimmer earlier in the summer. The book arrived weeks ago, but eager as I was to dive right in, I was already committed to other reading, and reluctantly set it aside. Typically juggling two books at once, anthologies often find their way to my car. Short stories are ideal for a quick read over the AM coffee-to-go, during workday breaks or while waiting for an appointment. With 39 stories to devour in this nearly 400-page book, I figured it would hold me for a week or more for sure. Once I got around to it, that is.

The hell with that…I blew through this book in two days, and feel like I’ve just been given an incredibly humbling how-to course in the craft of mystery and crime fiction writing from some of the genre’s masters, and all for a little over twenty bucks instead of a fat tuition check.

Yes, I was puzzled about the story sequence and why Mr. Vorzimmer decided not to put them in chronological order. And yes, I was a teeny-tiny bit disappointed that the book wasn’t illustrated (excluding two small sample page reproductions and one amusing illustration in the editor’s intro). That’s not me grousing about anything, just wondering aloud. This handsome volume from Stark House Press more than makes up for it by not skimping on other extras, including an entertaining anecdotal foreword from Lawrence Block, an explanatory story selection front piece from the editor, Vorzimmer’s 9-page introduction, a reprint of Scott & Sidney Meredith’s introduction from the 1958 The Best From Manhunt paperback (see below) and a reflective afterword from Barry N. Malzburg to close the book.

The author list reads like a rogue’s gallery of postwar mystery and mid-twentieth century short fiction luminaries, including: Nelson Algren, Lawrence Block, Gil Brewer, Erskine Caldwell, Harlan Ellison, Fletcher Flora, David Goodis, Evan Hunter, Frank Kane, John D. MacDonald, Richard Prather, Mickey Spillane, Donald Westlake and Harry Whittington…and that’s only about a third of the roster.

Favorites? Don’t ask, there are too many. Okay, twist my arm and I’ll say that David Goodis’ 1953 “Professional Man” just might be my fave, a dark tale about an always-reliable hit man forced to kill his own lover. And for me, Gil Brewer’s 1955 “Moonshine” was far and away the most disturbing tale in the anthology, dealing with a cuckolded husband driven to murder…make that murders, plural. The closing scene, after he’s killed one of his wife’s lovers, surprised yet another (literally hiding in the bedroom closet) and shot him, murdered his wife, and then, with the still smoking .45 automatic in hand, calls his two children into the room. I’m still getting chills picturing that grim closing scene.

If you think you know the crime pulps based on the 1930’s-40’s detective magazines – and I’ve read and enjoyed my share of those via reprints as you may have noticed from material appearing here – trust me when I tell you than the stories in Manhunt were quite different. Oh, there are some rogue cops, hard-boiled detectives, gunsels and femmes fatales, of course. Some familiar postwar private eye series characters even make appearances, including Richard Prather’s Shell Scott and Frank Kane’s Johnny Liddell. But they’re hardly indicative of the creatively diverse stories you’ll find here. I’m neither an expert nor an authority on postwar mystery/crime fiction, only an avid fan. But I can think of no better book to provide an overview of what the genre was capable of in the 1950’s than this The Best of Manhunt – A Collection of The Best of Manhunt Magazine as put together by Jeff Vorzimmer. And you’ll just have to indulge me for a few subsequent posts while I celebrate the magazine’s 14-year run with some random covers worth viewing.

Below is the 1958 ‘Best of’ paperback, with its Ernest Chiriacka cover:

best from manhunt 1958 ernest chiriacka cover

 

Fernando Vicente

When She Was Bad

Fernando Vicente Sanchez, born in Madrid in 1963, largely self-taught and who usually goes by Fernando Vicente, is among Spain’s most popular illustrators, doing everything from book covers to editorial caricatures, magazine and book interiors to fashion illustration, and some rather provocative (and by that, I don’t mean sexy) fine arts work. A sampling of his work is shown here, but there’s much more to be seen at the artist’s site and linked blog, which has both Spanish and English versions.

Artist’s Site Link: https://www.fernandovicente.es/en/

Fernando Vincente Bond?Megan AbbottPhoto IllustrationLa Voluptuosa WahineBABBBN001SSS251210CLPL_M000000000000Fernando Vincenet Bond 2?Fernando Vincente

And Some More Suarez…

fernanda suarez 2

Some more work from Santiago, Chile concept artist and illustrator Fernanda Suarez, who may be familiar to many for her intriguing artistic rethinks of famous Disney characters. Suarez’ gorgeous work is easily located at Art Station, Tumblr, DeviantArt and elsewhere (a couple links are below to get you started). Now, much of the work is quite witchy, mystic and fantasy oriented, along with some very fetching vampiric looking ladies of the night, but all quite stunning, even if that’s not your thing.  You have to dig deep to locate the slightly more ‘noir-ish’ among the pieces, but its’ well worth the search.

fernanda suarez 1

fernanda suarez 4

fernanda suarez 5Fernanda suarez 3

fernandasuarezartstation.com

fdasuarez.tumblr.com

 

Cruel Summer

criminal number six cover

Issue number five of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips’ always magnificent Criminal commences a new storyline called “Cruel Summer, apparently planned from the very beginning of the Criminal series. It opens here with private investigator Dan Farraday’s pickup lines rebuffed by an attractive single woman in a hotel lounge. When she cautiously relents, we discover that this ‘Jane Hanson’ is actually Marina Kelly, the very woman Farraday’s been hired to locate. Things don’t go precisely as planned with the hotel bar pickup, any more than Farraday’s investigation did, but then this is an Ed Brubaker story, so of course things don’t go precisely as planned. Evidently, issues six and seven will switch gears and zero in on other familiar Criminal characters, notably Teeg Lawless, before bringing things back full circle with Farraday and Marina. Phillips’ art is brilliant, as always. Brubaker’s script doesn’t exhibit one wasted word that I can see. Like every issue of Criminal before, I’m hungering for the next installment the moment I close the comic’s back cover. Phillips’ cover art for that issue – Issue Number Six – is shown above.

Like most (all?) issues of Criminal, this one includes excellent extras, here a roundtable discussion on crime fiction (and media) series characters with Ed Brubaker, Jason Starr, Alex Segura and Sara Gran. Heck, even if you didn’t care for crime comics, the issue’s worth buying for that alone.

criminal number 6

Hughes, Heels And A Rodent Or Two.

adam hughes 2014

Full color photo-realistic comic covers are where you look for Adam Hughes’ work. Black and white and so utterly simple is not what you expect. Maybe someone’s not expecting her to be packing a lethal looking automatic either. As for the rats (yes, they’re there, just look in the shadows) in this stylish piece of art from 2014…well, you’ll have to explain them to me.

Frazetta’s Femmes Fatales

Frazetta 2

Just how many late 20th century budding artists first started scribbling their own muscle bound barbarians and sword wielding valkyries after ogling Frank Frazetta’s (1928 – 2010) Conan paperback and early Warren magazine cover paintings, who’ll ever know. For many, the man’s work was the look of dark fantasy for decades. But he was more than Cimmerians and death goddesses, and had a flare for 50’s-60’s style bad girlz when given the chance. There’s not a broadsword or wizard in sight among these.

Frazetta 1Frazetta 3

L.A., 1990.

Jennifer Tilly 1990

She’d be a fully accredited film noir goddess for her performance in 1996’s Bound if nothing else, though she’s played her share of other femmes fatales and bad girlz. Above is Jennifer Tilly looking languid but still dangerous in an L.A. hotel room from 1990.

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