Friday, October 02, 2015

Friday's Forgotten Book: Old issues of Paperback Parade

Paperback Parade is (was?) a periodical magazine devoted to the study of old paperbacks and the culture surrounding them. It is (or was) published by Gary Lovisi, author and the head honcho of Gryphon Books. One could actually call it a fanzine, since there are lots of fannish elements in the magazine, such as a long letter column in the start of each issue. It's an interesting magazine, full of intriguing info and tit-bits on obscure authors. Some of the articles in Paperback Parade were the first ones to praise such now classic authors such as Peter Rabe and Bruno Fischer.

I've had six issues on loan from my friend Tapani Bagge for several years now, and taking a break from work, I decided to finally read them. I think I've read some of the articles earlier and used them in my books Pulpografia and Kuudestilaukeavat (Six-Guns). There's stuff in the articles that I don't recall reading, though, so it was good to go back to them anyway.

Popular Library reprint
Paperback Parades are a mixed bunch. Some of the articles are very well done and thorough, others are mere scratches, with bibliographical listings (they are sometimes pretty difficult to follow, but I know it's difficult to do a good bibliography). Some of the texts really don't tell much about the books themselves, as they deal more with dates, editions and cover illustrations. Same goes for the authors. There's a short review by Lovisi of a book called Shadow of a Hero by Allan Chase (Popular Library, 1951). We learn nothing about Allan Chase, we get only a synopsis of the book and a recommendation: "an exceptionally well-written book, hardboiled, fascinating - and a very plausible look at big-town politics." Maybe there wasn't much information on Chase available in 2001, when the issue #55 came out. (BTW, I'm wondering if this is our Chase.)

One thing kept sticking in my eye: Lovisi and other contributors often refer to paperback reprints of the earlier hardcover editions as if they are the true first editions. This happens for example in the interview with crime writer Henry Slesar, Lovisi seems to be more interested in the Zenith reprint of Slesar's crime novel The Gray Flannel Shroud than the fact it's not really paperback fiction. Luckily Slesar steers Lovisi on the right route and mentions the book came out first from Random House in hardcover. (The Zenith reprint has a great cover, though!) And Shadow of a Hero was also a reprint, hardcover coming out in 1949.

The Zenith reprint
But aside from this, it's an absolute delight to have interviews with writers such Peter Rabe, Bruno Fischer, Jonathan Latimer, William F. Nolan, A. S. "Sid" Fleischmann, Ted Gottfried (AKA Ted Mark, the writer of The Man from O.R.G.Y.) and Slesar. Also the British paperbacker and editor Laurence James is interviewed.

There's also a fascinating look at writing for lower markets in the interview with Morris Hershman. The interview with Peter Rabe by George Tuttle was very interesting and possibly one of the first instances where Rabe was taken seriously. Rabe mentions in the interview that he wrote some short stories in his later years, but didn't aim for publication. I started to wonder whether the manuscripts have survived and could be publishable. There's also Tuttle's essay on Rabe. By the way, Rabe mentions he really appreciated Donald Westlake's essay on Rabe in Murder Off the Rack, a very good book with ten essays on paperback crime writers. Get it if you don't already have it. Alongside Rabe there are also essays on Jonathan Latimer and W. R. Burnett. The interview with Bruno Fischer mentions his socialist affiliations (he was the editor of Socialist Call), but doesn't go further into the issue, I'd really like to hear more about this.

Some other points of interest: Graeme Flanagan's article on the Australian paperback series Marc Brody (though nothing I hadn't read before, must be noted that there probably wasn't much info on the Brody books before this), interviews with illustrators Gil Cohen and Bertil Hegland (the Swedish paperback artist), a look at Holloway House (containing lots of info, though it's a bit too fannish to my taste), an article on the Gold Eagle headquarters (they seem to be closing down, not sure if I knew this before). I also enjoyed Philip Harbottle's articles on British western paperbackers and how Harbottle got them back in print through Robert Hale's Black Horse imprint, though Harbottle doesn't really say much about what the books are about and what they are like and how they compare to their American counterparts. There's also some stuff on early Australian paperbacks I could use for an upcoming book I've been planning for years.

One of the more interesting articles in Paperback Parade (in the issues I have) is "Carny Cuties and Killers" by Kurt Brokaw (he must be same guy as the film critic of The Independent, he seems to be curating the course called "Killer Movies: Lost Films"). Though the article is a bit heavy on synopses, the article is full on information on books I hadn't earlier known about. Especially Edward Hoagland's first novel Cat Man (1956, in hardcover) seems very interesting.

Paperback Parade reminds me of my own magazine, called Pulp, that I published for several years (been dead for some years now). It was smaller in size (Paperback Parade is a sturdy, almost book-like object), but I do know the effort one has to make to this kind of thing possible and to happen. Some of the articles in Pulp were not very good or even interesting, but some of them have ended in some of my books (and some still will!). There are lots of articles and essays in Paperback Parade I'd like to see reprinted in an anthology!

The issues I had in chronological order:

# 19 (1990): Bruno Fischer, Gold Eagle
# 25 (1991): Peter Rabe, Gil Cohen, Marc Brody, Arthurian saga in paperbacks,
# 29 (1992): Jonathan Latimer, William F. Nolan, Ace Capelli (British house pseudonym)
# 45 (1996): Laurence James, W. R. Burnett, Morris Hershman
# 55 (2001): Sid Fleischmann, Bertil Hegland, Holloway House
# 56 (2001): Henry Slesar, Hank Janson, Carny Cuties, Ted Mark

More Forgotten Books at Patti Abbott's blog! 


Walker Martin said...

I've been a subscriber to PAPERBACK PARADE since the first issue in 1986. It's still alive and the 85th issue was published recently. The magazine is better than ever and has recently converted to a all color format. Many back issues are still available on the Gryphon Books website.

jurinummelin said...

Thanks for the comment, Walker! I may look them up. Good to know Lovisi is still at it.