"Vintage Paperback & Pulp Fiction Cover
Art Products"

Pulp Notes #2

Novel Library 45 - 1950
cover artist: Peter Driben?

previous Pulp Notes newsletter: #1

Quarter Books 56 - 1950
cover artist: Rodewald

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Welcome to the second issue of my Pulp Notes newsletters! I had intended to put together another newsletter sooner than I have; my part-time postcard publishing business, plus a move or two, has kept me busy. A number of new products for PC Design and my line of Pulp Fiction postcards (postcard images are referred to here as "pulp images") warrant passing along some information though to those interested of you in the Pulp Fiction genre and to the mid-century era of the vintage paperback, so time to get to issue #2. I also promised in my first Pulp Notes newsletter to describe the beginnings of my own vintage paperback collecting hobby and how that evolved into publishing a line of postcards. I'll get to that, as well as briefly describe where future issues of this Pulp Notes newsletter are going and include something about the two covers featured at the top.

PC Design and Pulp Fiction Postcards news: Two recent licensees of PC Design's are featuring Pulp Products with many of our pulp images:
-- PODGallery/PODGallery.com in New York City has released 150 of our pulp images as PULP POSTERS in various sizes and paper types. All retail and wholesale inquiries, go to PODGallery's website, or click on a category icon on my POSTERS web page.

-- ZENNOR/KillerCards.com (sorry, no longer online) in Great Britain has just released 80 of our pulp images on blank PULP NOTE CARDS. For U.S. wholesale inquiries about these note cards, visit my wholesale/dealer web page for more information. All other sales (all retail and non-U.S. wholesale) kindly go to the KillerCards website directly, or click on a category icon on my NOTE CARDS web page.

We are also very excited about our own online PULP ART PRODUCTS store!! We're now open and currently have many products available -- like t-shirts, coffee mugs, mousepads, lunch boxes and tote bags, among other products -- all adorned with many of our most popular Pulp Fiction postcard images. Now we can offer many of the products customers have often requested but been unable to find. We're fully online now in a secure shopping cart environment on CafePress' website. CafePress will handle ordering, payment and shipping, so contact them (or click on the CafePress Help menu item on my store pages) for any issues. PC Design will continue to add new products and pulp images as time goes by, and if you see a certain product in my online store without your favorite pulp image, let me know via email and I'll see that it gets up there!

It's safe to say that my line of Pulp Fiction Postcards began in a garage sale in the Fall of 1991, where I found some 400 vintage paperbacks (pbs) in unread condition laid out, face up, on a garage floor on blankets. I remember many of them as being Gold Medals, some Dell and Popular Library, a handful of the valuable 'digest-sized' paperbacks, and quite a few 'sleaze-types'. (It's where I found my copy of PC-008 Nautipuss, now a postcard. )

I was fascinated and began to pick up the books that I wanted. After the first row, I saw that I'd grabbed all of them, so asked: "How much for the paperbacks?"  "10 cents each," was the reply. We counted the books and found that there were 400. $40.00 for the entire lot of books!?! How could I pass that up? Needless to say, I bought all of them, took them home and that evening had great fun going over that day's 'boodle' of paperbacks. I was 'bitten' by the collecting 'bug,' and realize in retrospect that it was that critical mass of 400, all at once, that started it all.

Thus began a paperback collecting frenzy that spanned the 1990s, took me up and down California in search of used bookstores, and -- because I was doing onsite software training at the time in various cities around North America -- allowed me to visit many bookstores in other areas in the Great Search for vintage paperbacks. (I would often fly home Friday eve. from an onsite class with 2-3 boxes of vintage paperbacks as extra baggage!) The Hunt for more books became an all-consuming hobby that got me in touch with new fellow-collector friends, book dealers, and got me out of my hotel rooms evenings during those weeks when I was onsite teaching a class. I was "booking" (out searching for books) and it was great fun! Anyone who's done it can tell you: finding a book gives you confidence that there are more out there. Even not finding a book is still an incentive! "There has to be one at the next store!"

Within a year I'd amassed more than a thousand books and realized I needed to know what I had. Using the software tools I was teaching, I wrote a database program to manage my book collection: book code #, title, publisher, author, edition and pub. date info., plus genre (the 'theme' of the book, like sci-fi, mystery, lesbian, cartoon, etc.) and condition allowed me to input the information and create a printed report of what books I had. This report I took on my booking quests to keep from buying duplicates, or to buy a book I already had knowing that what I'd just found was in better condition. And since I used an SQL relational database, I could 'compose' different ways of looking at the book data: reports by publisher/code #, by author or genre were all possible. I couldn't have build up a collection of 20,000 books without being able to keep track of them like this.

(A good side-effect for me of inputting all those book data was the chance to look more closely at what I had purchased. Among my 'finds' after buying and bringing theses books home, were several that had been signed by the author, a Dell dust-jacked pb called Go Down To Glory  -- the only such d-j paperback from Dell -- that I didn't even know had a dust-jacket! and a few 'dogs' without a title page, missing a few of the front or back pages, or with tears inside. Or, heaven forbid, I already had the book because I'd mistyped in the code #, title, what have you and didn't see it in my book list!)

Within a few years I'd filled my living room with my book collection of, by then, a few thousand. Friends would come over and really enjoy going through the bookshelves, laughing at the titles and covers and letting me know that there was a large public audience, outside of fellow pb collecting 'nuts' like myself, who were unaware of these great old paperbacks. Thus began the germ of an idea to get some of these covers on postcards so that others could enjoy them too. I spent a year or more with this idea on the back-burner.

Finally, my New Year's Resolution for 1995 was to go ahead with my idea of publishing some postcards. It took approximately 6 months to work out copyright/licensing issues, decide which covers to put on postcards, learn about scanning, touch-up and printing issues, and release an initial set of 24 postcards. You can see those first 24 postcards HERE, the first web page of my postcard line. Notice what my initial thoughts were in terms of which genres to include: those first 24 had a wide range like Girlie, Romance, Sci-Fi, Mystery, Cartoon, Lesbian, soft-porn Sleaze (Nautipuss), Drug, Juvenile Delinquency and a few of the off-beat, zany titles too tough to categorize, like PC-014 Confessions Of A Psychiatrist, or PC-023 I Married A Dead Man (a very popular postcard -- actually a mystery -- written by the renowned Cornell Woolrich, under the pseudonym of William Irish. Woolrich is probably best known as the author of the short story Rear Window, forever made a classic by the Hitchcock film.)

I even included a Western, PC-019 Arizona Round-Up, in my first 24 postcards!

So that's how the Pulp Fiction Postcard line began: As a very lucky find of 400 paperbacks in a garage sale (run by my mother, by the way, who at the time thought I was crazy to spend $40 on some 'old paperbacks.' BEST $40 I've ever spent!), as a quickly-developing hobby with travel around the U.S. and Toronto, Canada in search of more books, and by the good fortune to listen to my friends' chuckles as they looked through my latest paperback discoveries. ('Plug' time, I guess, but let me also extend praise to Fred Buck and Linotext, the printing company I use, who helped nurse me along on my road to understanding the details of the 4-color printing world.)

Another lucky 'find' for me was the offer in 1998 to purchase a collection of an estimated 20,000 photos and negatives of paperbacks photographed by a vintage paperback dealer before he sold each book. A large labor effort and a daunting task on his part that spanned some 12 years of his sales! I couldn't say "no" to buying such a collection (I was and am in the business of paperback covers, after all) and bought the entire lot. This mass of visual material arrived in some 15 boxes that year and after many, many evenings of sorting and selecting the best photo of each , many with many duplicates, I have finally organized the collection into some 20 large binders of pb cover images (18 photos, front and back, to a plastic pocket sheet. Photos are the same size as baseball cards.) The photos are mostly organized by publisher and code #, though I have a binder of Girlie digests, another of Mystery digests, Western, and so on. The collection isn't every book published during the Golden Age of Paperbacks (considered to be 1939 - 1959 here in the U.S.) by any means, but the (I estimate) 11-12,000 photos of U.S., Canadian, British and Australian paperbacks from 1939 to the early 1970s does represent a very good slice of those  Golden Age of English-language, mass-market publications that brought inexpensive reading to a very large market, during and after World War II.

As I've gone through these photos, I've kept notes on a great many genres, titles, publishers, authors and of course, artists, which could make for good future Pulp Notes newsletters. A simple case in point are all the paperbacks with "Blonde" in the title, two of which are shown above. Whether blondes had (and still do have) more fun is debatable; they were certainly a popular title and cover art subject, though, as I've found some 80 or more among the photo collection! My first postcard, a coincidence only, was a "blonde" cover: PC-001 Gentlemen Prefer Blondes !

I plan on doing that, then, in future Pulp Notes newsletters: sharing some highlights of this paperback cover photo collection and vintage paperback in general, and extending the pb collecting hobby and the subject of vintage paperback to a more general audience.  I plan on getting a Pulp Notes out every 4-8 weeks.

And if you find a vintage paperback book in your wanderings -- at the Goodwill, a garage sale, flea market, or used bookstore -- remember: it's one of the increasingly fewer 'survivors' of an art and publication form that is long gone!

Comments or questions are welcome, as are  suggestions for future Pulp Notes topics.

Thank you for your continued interest and support for my business venture, and for the 'good eye' that you have to recognize the beauty and humor in these old vintage paperback covers!

- Jeff Luther / PC Design

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  Pulp Fiction Postcard Images copyright 1995-2004Jeffrey Luther / PC Design. All Rights Reserved.
  Pulp Notestm and Text copyright 2002-2020 Jeffrey Luther / PC Design. All Rights Reserved.

PC Design,  P.O. Box 4336,  Palm Springs, CA 92263  U.S.A.
email is welcome:
PC Design

The Fine Print: To the best of my knowledge and ability, I'll be as accurate as I can in these Pulp Notes newsletters. However, Jeffrey Luther / PC Design shall not be liable for any errors, factual or otherwise, which may creep in. And while I may solicit information from other sources, any errors in these Pulp Notes are my own.
Publishers' names and logos, whether by reference or by cover image, are trademarks of their respective holders.

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