Episode 9 Dan Marlowe - Neglected Gold Medal Crime Novelist


Dan J. Marlowe is a master crime novelist who deserves to be part of the pantheon of crime writers like Jim Thompson, Richard Stark (aka Donald Westlake), and Patricia Highsmith. Why has he been forgotten? Probably because he wrote his major crime novels for a paperback publisher (Gold Medal) and never had a hardback publisher. Also, there's never been a major motion picture or tv series made from one of his books. It's primarily because readers don't know about him and there have been few reprints of his best novels. 

Episode 9 of the Paperback Show introduces listeners (and hopefully readers) to this compelling novelist whose life reflected his novels (minus the killing). We offer a short biography of Dan J. Marlowe and then a wide-ranging discussion of his masterpiece, The Name of the Game is Death (date) with crime novelist, graphic novelist, and generally cool guy, Duane Swierczynski. Thank you, Duane, for sharing your time with me (and our podcast audience). 

Author Dan J. Marlowe

NOTES

Biographical and critical information for this podcast came from an outstanding book on Dan J. Marlowe: Gunshots in Another Room: The Forgotten Life of Dan J. Marlowe (2012) by Charles Kelly. This is an excellent book that will leave you with a feeling of having lived Marlowe's life. Mr. Kelly (a veteran news reporter) is an authority on Marlowe and a very good writer himself. There's a shorter version of the biography archived at Allan Guthrie's website (he's a very good mystery writer). It's called, "Mystery Man: Dan J. Marlowe"

Jon Warren's The Official Price Guide to Paperbacks was also a good source for tracking Marlowe's novels and their publishers. And Josef Hoffman's article, PLAYING WITH FIRE: DAN J. MARLOWE, AL NUSSBAUM, AND EARL DRAKE, was indispensable in figuring out the connection between Nussbaum and Marlowe. 


COLLECTING DAN J. MARLOWE

Fortunately, collecting and reading Marlowe is not that difficult or expensive. Black Lizard paperbacks reprinted several Marlowe novels including The Name of the Game is Death. These are fairly easy to find and is probably the best place to start. Gold Medal printed a lot of copies of his books, so they are not rare. The Gold Medal editions of Marlowe (the originals) can be pricey. Expect to pay $20-$70 for most of them depending upon the condition. I've found several of his paperbacks in "good" condition at etsy.com and occasionally there are lots of Marlowe's Gold Medals at ebay.com for reasonable prices. You just have to be patient and do some comparison shopping. Look out for scalpers though. 

If you just want to read Dan J. Marlowe and believe me he can become addictive, Simon & Schuster has a page dedicated to their ebook reprints which are ridiculously cheap. This may be the way to go to get your feet wet so to speak. 

SPECIAL GUEST DUANE SWIERCZYNSKI

I discovered Duane's hard-boiled crime novel Wheel Man when it came out in 2005 and have been reading his excellent novels ever since. He lives in Los Angeles and is a frequent shopper at the Iliad Bookshop where he overhead me recommending Wheel Man to a customer. I'm delighted that he agreed to join me on the Dan J. Marlowe podcast. Thank you very much, Duane. 

You can get a link to all of Duane's links at https://linktr.ee/swierczy. He also has a newsletter which you can find at https://gleefulmayhem.substack.com and a cool twitter pageThe main Wikipedia page for Duane has a list of his works which include non-fiction (This Here’s A Stick-Up: The Big Bad Book Of American Bank Robbery sounds wonderful) and all of his novels and a ton of his work in comics/graphic novels. 



Ep 8 - The Film Guide Paperback (Cultographies & BFI Film Classics)

Show Notes

The history of paperbacks is the history of paperback fiction primarily. Little research has been done on the non-fiction side of paperback publishing. I decided to include non-fiction as part of the Paperback Show to address this missing history.

Episode 8 covers the history of the Film Guide primarily focusing on the study of a specific film. The show is divided into two parts: first, I cover the rise of the film paperback in the fifties culminating in the granddaddy of film studies, the BFI Film Classics series in paperback, and the subsequent growth of individual film studies which is represented by the Cultographies series of film guides, secondly, I bring in two guests, Kim Vodicka and Cody Goodfellow, to discuss their Cultographies book choice. Kim chose Ms 45, a 1981 film directed by Abel Ferrara and starring Zoe Lund. Cody chose Danger: Diabolik, a 1968 film directed by Mario Bava starring John Phillip Law and Marisa Mell. 

Film Guide Paperbacks

Penguin was probably the earliest publisher of film-related books in paperback. Of course, the publishing industry surrounding the American film industry is huge and followed the rise of silent film. But it wasn't until the paperback boom of the fifties and the huge growth of new colleges that the film guide paperback really took off. Students needed inexpensive books and paperback publishers started out by reprinting classics like Jane Eyre and Dante's Inferno. This worked well for publishers like New American Library because they had a targeted audience (students) and the texts were mostly in the public domain. 

One of the earliest film books that became quite popular was The Grammer of the Film by Raymond Spottiswoode, published by the University of California Press in 1950. Another big seller was The Liveliest Art: A Panoramic History of the Movies by Arthur Knight, published by Mentor in 1957. And perhaps one of the most popular early paperback film guides was Roger Manville's The Film and the Public, a Pelican book published in 1955. 

One of the most interesting aspects of film paperbacks was that their popularity helped usher in the "trade-sized" paperback. The trade paperback was larger than a mass market paperback but smaller than a hardback. The reasoning behind the increase in size was primarily one of profit. Publishers could charge more money for a larger-sized paperback and since it was for a targeted reader (the student) they felt the price increase (sometimes over 100%) would be accepted by student buyers and college bookstores. 

When film studies started becoming their own departments in colleges, the market for film books/guides really took off. BFI (the British Film Institute) series of paperbacks on classic films had a big impact on the popularity of film guides and is still going strong. 

My favorite of the modern film guides is the Cultograhies series published by Columbia University Press in their Wallflower imprint. Sadly, after 20 books were published in the series, Columbia stopped publication. Note: I mistakenly say 13 books were published, but it's actually 20. The books are short (100-125 pages) and written primarily in a non-theoretical style emphasizing the production history, popular reception, and the writer's personal response to the film. 


LINKS

The BFI film series (modern, classic) is now being published by Bloomsbury. Still in lovely trade-sized paperbacks with striking graphic design on the covers. I think the full list of titles published in both series is over 150 now. I couldn't find a complete list, screenstudies.com has a list that numbers 167 titles. 

Cultographies is still listed on the Columbia University Press Wallflower Press website. There is a complete list (with covers) of all books published in the series. 

You can find out more about Cody Goodfellow at his website, codygoodfellow.com. And Kim Vodicka has just released Dear Ted, a poetic/diatribe about/not about the infamous serial killer, Ted Bundy. 

My thanks to Kim and Cody for sharing their time and ideas with me in this podcast. 




Dashiell Hammett Paperback Covers Gallery

Paperbacks of Dashiell Hammett began in the late 1930s according to my research. Albatross edition of Maltese Falcon looks to have been published in the mid-1930s. Of course, Dell and Pocket Books started publishing Hammett in the late 1930s and early 1940s. Of course, after the famous John Houston adaptation of The Maltese Falcon appeared in 1941, paperback editions of Hammett took off. A full list can be found in Warren's Official Paperback Price Guide. I like the later 1960's versions of Hammett covers because they are designed so well. The UK editions are interesting, too. The Penguin paperback with the bulldog on the cover is pretty neat. More recent versions of Hammett (mostly in trade paperback form) either use crime photos or graphic design on the covers. I think I prefer the graphic designs.























Ep 7 Dashiell Hammett and the Hard Boiled Paperback


Show Notes

Although Hammett is a major influence in mystery fiction, his novels and stores (with the sole exception of The Maltese Falcon) are often left unread. It's a shame because they all hold up well even in 2022. I urge you to get one of Hammett's paperback novels and just sit down and read. Believe me, they will entertain you. Red Harvest (his first novel) might be a good place to start if you've never read him. 

This podcast was several months in the making. My thanks to Richard Brewer for sharing his thoughts on The Glass Key with me. He is a delight to converse with. 

I took most of the biographical information on Hammett from Nolan's excellent Shadow Man biography, but also from a lesser know biography by Sally Cline called Dashiell Hammet: Man of Mystery. A word of warning: many biographies suffer from the heavy hand of Lillian Hellmen who spun her own mythology of Dashiell Hammett, most of it made to make her (and him) look good. 

Another outstanding work, if you want to know about his political activities, is Hardboiled Activist: The Work and Politics of Dashiell Hammett by Ken Fuller. It's an eye-opening book that not only lays open Hammett's political history but looks at the novels from a political perspective. I can't praise this book high enough. 

Hammett Paperbacks

Dell was Hammett's first major paperback publisher. The covers of these books are wonderful, but also expensive in fine condition. There have been many Hammett paperbacks over the years. Currently, Random House vintage has all of his novels in quality (larger sized) paperbacks out which might be the best was to simply read Hammett. I prefer the '70s mass market paperbacks as they are easy to find and inexpensive. The British Penguin crime series (green covers) have some marvelous covers, but they are also fairly expensive. 

Be sure to look at the paperback covers gallery which is on this blog and is meant to accompany the podcast. 


LINKS

The Dashiell Hammett Wikipedia page is surprisingly good with a decent bibliography. There's a decent PBS American Masters program on Hammett, but it appears to miss some of the harsher edges of his life and it gets some details wrong. I really like 's profile of Hammett in the New Yorker (2022) which is ostensibly a review of the Library of America's two-volume set of Hammet's works. By the way, this set is fabulous (wish they'd publish a paperback version). 


Richard Brewer

My co-host on this episode is a long-time mystery reader. We first met while working at the Mysterious Bookshops back in the 90's. He is also an audiobook director having recently completed the novels of Raymond Chandler as audiobooks. Check out his Facebook page. The Chandler audiobooks (narrated by Scott Brick) can be found here. 

Ep 6 Sixties Sleaze Paperbacks, Orie Hitt, and Special Guests

 


This week we cover a type of paperback that was forgotten until the mid-nineties when dealers began to promote and sell "sleaze" paperbacks. They were (generally) soft-core novels with middle or lower-class protagonists whose lives are complicated by sex, status, and the desire for money. Sex has always sold books, but with censorship laws loosening in the late fifties and sixties, publishers began to sell novels whose primary appeal was sex and the infinite varieties of arousal.

We discuss the history of this unique paperback genre, how the books were written, distributed and the people who read them (primarily men). The era (excuse the pun) "peaked" in the 1960s when new readers and marketplaces emerges (the adult bookstore). Even established authors like Robert Silverberg and Harlan Ellison wrote (using pseudonyms) these "sleazy novels). And despite the fact that society looked down on these types of books, a lot of money was made creating and distributing these books. 


In the second half of the show, we profile one of the most prodigious authors of sleaze fiction (250 novels in 10 years), Orie Hitt. While most collectors of sleaze paperbacks look for bizarre and colorful cover art, Orie Hitt's novels are actually quite readable even though he borrowed plots and wrote them in a hot heat over two or three weeks. 

We chose his novel, Wild Lovers, to discuss with Cody Goodfellow and Kim Vodicka, both writers, and lovers of the strange and erotic. It's backwoods sleaze (a sub-sub-genre of sleaze) that takes place in the backwoods of New York and the dialogue is priceless. Cody and Kim perform a scene from the novel in a separate recording made just for these show notes (see below). 

GUESTS

CODY GOODFELLOW has written eight novels and five collections of short stories and edits the hyperpulp zine Forbidden Futures. His writing has been favored with three Wonderland Book Awards for excellence in Bizarro fiction. His comics work has appeared in Mystery Meat, Dark Horse’s Creepy and Slow Death Zero. As an actor, he has appeared in numerous TV shows, videos by Anthrax and Beck and a Days Inn commercial. He “lives” in San Diego, California.

KIM VODICKA is the author of four full-length poetry collections—most recently, The Elvis Machine (CLASH Books, 2020) and Dear Ted (Really Serious Literature, 2022). She also writes erotica and her short story, A Dirty Story as You Like It, was published in 2021 as part of the Pocket Erotica Series by New Urge Editions. Originally from South Louisiana, she lives in Memphis, Tennessee with her beloved cat, Lula.


The diminutive Orie Hitt next to a favorite car

LINKS
READING

Special Reading of a Scene from Orie Hitt's Wild Lovers by Kim Vodicka and Cody Goodfellow. Click the link below to listen. Thanks to you both for doing this!