Name Your Poison.

Robert Stanley

“Name Your Poison,” the intro to the 1955 anthology Dangerous Dames instructs the reader. “Or maybe you don’t care for poison. Maybe you’d rather be shot full of holes, or tossed over a high balcony, or ripped apart by dogs…there are twelve dames in this book, and they supply a lot more in the way of sex, savagery and surprises than a man usually bargains for.”

It’s pretty rare for to find a vintage paperback (or retro pulp magazine or even many Golden Age comics) with a credit for the cover artist inside, but “Cover Painting By Robert Stanley” is right there at the bottom of the copyright page of Dangerous Dames, edited by Brett Halliday (David Dresser), though the cover says “Selected by Mike Shayne”. (Non-nod, wink-wink).

In the anthology’s foreword, Halliday shares a pretend conversation he had with his own fictional hard-boiled hero, private-eye Mike Shayne, about choosing the dozen stories for this book, which date from 1936 through 1955 and include work from Bruno Fischer, Anthony Boucher, Harold Q. Masur and Day Keene (Gunard Hjertstedt 1904 – 1969). Keene’s “A Better Mantrap” from 1947 opens the anthology, and aside from a few period anachronisms, you’d think it was a newly written domestic noir. When a wife’s had it with years of subtle and not so subtle abuse from a boorish husband, there are all kinds of ways to get rid of him. It’s a treat, and if it’s any indication of the quality of the tales in Dangerous Dames, one of the first books to begin replenishing my previously empty to-be-read spot on the writing lair’s endtable, then my shelter-at-home reading drought is over.

Dangerous Dames

Elaine And John Duillo, Continued…

john duillo 2

More about the husband and wife team of 20th century illustrators, Elaine and John Duillo:

Meanwhile, husband John was an in-demand illustrator for PBO’s as well, known most for westerns and doing some 500+ covers during the 1950’s and 60’s. It’s estimated that his Zane Grey, Max Brand and Louis L’Amour books sold over 100 million copies. Late in his commercial career, Duillo also did numerous covers and interior illustrations for the men’s adventure and so-called men’s sweats market, including a number of notorious women-in-peril pieces typical for that market (and the kind we’ll skip here). He retired from commercial illustration in the mid-1970s to focus on western art and historical Civil War painting and etchings. John was a President of The Society Of American Historical Artists.

See a prior post for art and info from Elaine Duillo.

John Duillo 1John Duillo 4john duillo 3

Over 6,000 Books Per Day.

The Loong Wait 1

Just over 6,000 books per day. Every single day. For the last 102 years, since the day he was born on March 9, 1918, in fact. That’s how many books you’d have to sell to equal Mickey Spillane’s estimated tally.

That’s not just a successful writer. That’s a pop culture phenomenon.

Born Frank Morrison Spillane in Brooklyn, New York, Mickey was writing for comics in the 1940’s, a career he’d started while still a Gimbels basement salesman before enlisting in the Army Air Corps the day after the Pearl Harbor attack. The comics scripts led to writing two-page prose shorts used as filler in some titles. Newly married after the war and looking to buy a country house in exurban Newburgh, New York, Spillane decided to write a novel for some added income, blasting out I, The Jury in just 19 days. Accepted by Dutton, it sold over 6.5 million copies in its initial hardcover and paperback releases. Pre-Amazon, pre-eBook.  I, The Jury introduced postwar crime fiction readers to an entirely new type of hard-boiled private eye: Mike Hammer, adapted from Spillane’s earlier Mike Danger comic scripts, a rough, tough loner dispatching vigilante justice with his fists and his .45 on single-minded vengeance filled quests against organized crime in the earliest novels, and Communist spies in later works. Spillane wrote 13 Hammer novels (and a number of short stories) between 1947 and 1996, some unfinished manuscripts later completed by Iowa writer Max Allan Collins in recent years. I’ve got ‘em all, some in different editions, along with Primal Spillane, collecting his early shorts, Collins and James Taylor’s One Lonely Night – Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer and From The Files Of Mike Hammer – The Complete Dailies And Sunday Strips from the mid-50’s and others. A scan of my more-or-less demolished (slightly cleaned up for use here) 1952 first printing of Spillane’s The Long Wait paperback is the image up above. I want to get the edition below, and will inevitably when I spot one going for less than collector prices.

The ong Wait 2

The Long Wait is a non-Hammer novel, though with some minor tweaks it easily could be, and I suppose Spillane scholars debate whether it started out as one. In the tradition of Ross MacDonald’s 1947 Blue City and a host of similar crime fiction novels, a drifter who’s much more than he seems stirs up trouble in a lethally crooked town, not arriving as a hero on a quest, but seeking vengeance. When the dust settles – or the gun smoke clears, the blood stops flowing and the screams finally fall silent, this being a Mickey Spillane novel – there’s a brief bit of ‘gotcha’ at the very end as in most Spillane tales, though they all (like so many postwar crime fiction novels) could do with expanded denouements, IMHO. Also shown here is a foreign (French?) edition which adapts the original U.S. hardcover’s dustjacket art. The other is an Orion UK paperback edition, which is what you get today if you order a new paperback online, and what the hell that cover art is about, I don’t know.

The Long Wait 3

I cherish Spillane’s first wave of Mike Hammer novels from 1947 through 1952 (before he became a Jehovah’s Witness, putting his writing temporarily on hold): I, The Jury, My Gun Is Quick, Vengeance Is Mine!, One Lonely Night, The Big Kill and Kiss Me, Deadly. Still, I have a particular but inexplicable affection for The Long Wait, every bit as hard-boiled, gritty, violent and retro-sexy as any of his early Hammer books, if not more so.

The Long Wait 4

It was made into a film starring Anthony Quinn and Peggie Castle in 1954, which I’ve never seen, though it sounds like it uses at least the core of Spillane’s novel. It doesn’t seem to be available on disk or download, and the only sites I see offering the film have “dot-ru” at the end, so you’ll understand if I’m not ready to click away on those.

The Long Wait 5

Mickey Spillane’s popularity was lamented by intellectuals. He was reviled by literary critics, envied by fellow writers, and adored by readers (he called them customers) and paperback rack-jobbers. For good or bad, he added a new chapter to the evolving twentieth century mystery/crime fiction genre and to the paperback book pop culture revolution.

So, happy 102ndbirthday, Mickey Spillane. Say hello to Velda and Pat Chambers for me.

More From Eileen Walton

Shadows Dont Bleed - E Walton 1967

More work from talented British artist and illustrator Eileen Walton, sister of fellow artist Barbara Walton, both women enjoying prolific periods from the late 1950’s through the late 1970’s. As the examples show here, and in the preceding posts, it’s interesting to see how their work evolved and became increasingly ‘graphic’ vs. the more traditional illustrative styles of the earlier work. Be sure to browse backwards through the preceding posts to view their stunning work.

Miss Turquoise - E WaltonA Real Killing - E Walton 1976Accessory To Murder - E Walton 1968Conquest In Ireland - E Walton 1969

Eileen Walton

Death And The Dark Daughter - E Walton 1966

How intriguing that two sisters broke into the same business, around the same time, pursued such similar paths and saw their work evolve in similar ways. British artist and illustrator Barbara Walton’s sister Eileen Walton began working in advertising art and magazine editorial illustration in the mid-50’s. There are some examples of her early work to be seen online, but mostly un-postable teeny-tiny thumbnail files (one image is right below). Not sure, but I get the feeling that Eileen may be the elder sister, and started her career before Barbara.

E Walton 1956

The Foolish Gentlewoman - E Walton 1960

Eileen Walton’s 1960’s era work is fairly traditional, but as you’ll see in the next post, became increasingly graphic as time went on. Sadly, as with her sister Barbara, I can’t tell you if she left the commercial illustration field and if so, when. Did she retire and pursue more personal fine arts endeavors? Is she or her sister Barbara still with us? If you know of reliable sites, books or sources on either of these two talented women, I’m all ears (particularly you UK readers and followers!).

More of Eileen Walton’s work follows in the next post…

Death Came With Flowers - E Walton 1966Funeral For A Physicist - E Walton 1966

More From Barbara Walton

Shadow of Katie - B Walton 1977

More intriguing covers from UK illustrator Barbara Walton, a prolific cover artist of late 1950’s through late 1970’s British paperback and hardcover books, who’s not nearly as well known to contemporary art/illustration fans here in the U.S. as she ought to be. (I didn’t know abut her!) Scroll back to the preceding posts for more Barbara Walton info and covers, and go ahead to the next posts to see work from Barbara’s sister, Eileen Walton.

Murder With A Kiss - B Walton 1963Prey For The Dreamer - B WaltonThe Evergreen Death - B Walton 1968The Zebra Striped Hears - B WaltonWhere Is Janice Gentry - B WaltonShot At Dawn - B Walton 1964

Barbara Walton

Tell It To The Birds - B Walton 1963

So, just who is Barbara Walton?

If you read the preceding post, you know that I really can’t tell you. All I can say is that this British artist/illustrator did some striking paperback cover art and hardcover dustjacket design and illustration from the late 1950’s through the late 1970’s, her most active period being the mid-1960’s. It’s particularly intriguing to see how Walton’s style evolved from relatively traditional full-bleed illustration to a more ‘designerly’ vignetted style, later work almost more graphic design than pure illustration.

The Schults Money - B Walton 1960

I read that Barbara Walton was almost an unofficial ‘house artist’ for Robert Hale Ltd., though she also did work for other UK publishers. See the next post for additional examples of Barbara Walton’s work, and then keep going to view covers from her sister, Eileen Walton.

Label It Murder - B Walton 1963False Witness - B Walton 1964Count-Down - B Walton 1962

Who Are The Walton Sisters?

Label It Murder - B Walton 1963 - Art

Seems like I only stumbled across a previously unseen (by me) edition of John D. MacDonald’s One Monday We Killed Them All this morning or the day before (image below). But I’ve already forgotten where, and scrolling backwards through my WordPress Reader, Tumblr feed, Pinterest and BlogLovin’ hasn’t revealed the source. (So, if it was you posting this provocative cover art, please shout out so I can say thanks…at least, thanks for sending me on a merry goose chase!)  Wherever it appeared, the signed cover illustration intrigued me enough to go rooting around, hoping to learn more about British artist and illustrator Barbara Walton. And as I then soon discovered, about fellow British artist and illustrator, her sister, Eileen Walton.

One Monday We Killed Them All - B Walton

Biographical info on the Walton sisters is sparse. Make that nearly non-existent, at least from what I could find, though I’m no vintage pulp/paperback cover art archeologist. If a reliable go-to source like J. Kingston Pierce’s Killer Covers Of The Week blog could only yield sketchy details, a rank amateur like me could do no better.

When were they born? Are they still with us? Who came first? Sorry, I don’t know. All I can deduce from dated work is that Eileen Walton began working in advertising and editorial illustration in the mid-1950’s, her sister Barbara in book cover illustration in the late 1950’s, both of them the most prolific throughout the 1960’s, with their intriguingly evolving art seeming to vanish altogether by the late-1970’s. But then, they wouldn’t be the only illustrators who migrated from the rapidly shrinking cover art marketplace around that time, as photography and image-free graphic design swiftly dominated the industry.

THis Is For Real - B Walton - Art

Both Barbara and Eileen Walton did contemporary and historical romance titles and even children’s books, but it’s their exciting work for Fontana Books, Robert Hale Ltd. and other UK publishers’ mystery, thriller and crime fiction titles that fit here. So browse the next few posts to discover (as I did) some truly intriguing work from two women you may not have even known about, perhaps overshadowed for many retro illustration enthusiasts by the likes of Reginald Heade or David Wright among the UK artists, and a long list of faves from Maguire to McGinnis and others among American illustrators.

Accessory To Murder - E Walton 1968 - Art

Happy Birthday To The Master: McGinnis.

mcginnis exit dying art 1960

Exit Dying, 1960

A very happy birthday to Robert McGinnis, born today in Cincinnati back in 1926 and still with us at 94. Apprenticed at Walt Disney Studios and studying art at Ohio State, McGinnis served in the Merchant Marine, then worked in advertising after WWII, where a chance 1958 meeting with illustrator Mitchell Hooks led to work at Dell Publishing. The result? In addition to editorial work for glossy magazines and over 40 movie posters, he’s credited with over 1,200 book covers, his well-known series work for Mike Shayne and other detective novels a key part of those books’ branded marketing. McGinnis is a member of the Society Of Illustrators Hall Of Fame, and after ‘retirement’ (if we want to call it that) has focused on non-commercial western themed art fine art painting.

There are too many ‘favorite’ Robert McGinnis cover illustrations to count, much less post here, and so many are already familiar to any visitor to this site. Still, I’ll post a few particular ‘faves’ I’ve always cherished, even before I knew they were McGinnis works, in some cases.

Too Hot To Hold

Too Hot To Hold, 1959

mcginnis never kill a client shayne 1963

Never Kill A Client, 1963

kill now pay later 1960

Kill Now, Pay Later 1960

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