Nestled away in the Crime, Spies and Sleaze category of our Book Department are several volumes featuring the distinctive art of Reginald Heade, described by some American afficiandos of the ‘gangster pulp digest’ genre as ‘England’s finest artist’ and indeed his finely detailed paintings that adorned the covers of hardbacks and paperbacks in the mid 20th Century were a cut above the illustrations featured on the vast majority of similar fare. Although his work ranged through many genres and subject matters, he is best remembered perhaps for the voluptuous women (often in a state of distress/undress) who graced the covers of books by Hank Janson, Paul Renin, Michael Storme, Roland Vane and countless others. Heade himself was a man of mystery about whom little is known, other than he worked in London; there are no photos of him, nor does anyone claim to remember meeting him. Fortunately, he left behind a large body of wonderful work, the legacy by which he will be remembered. Here are a few examples from our stock; although some Heade cover books turn up quite often, others are very rare indeed and command huge prices if and when they come up for sale (some it seems never do!).
*Crime, Spies & Sleaze: Hank Janson was invented by Stephen Frances. His racy detective novels of the 40’s and 50’s, generally published on a monthly basis, filled the gap formed when American pulp fiction was banned from the UK, and were immensely popular. (In fact they were so racy that author, publishers and distributors were prosecuted for obscenity in 1954). The late 1950’s Alexander Moring imprint, with red and yellow stripes across the top of the cover was arguably the most stylish of all. The front covers either featured art by the brilliant, elusive Reginald Heade, or produced in his style. Interestingly, many Alexander Moring publications have Heade covers that have been modified, usually by the addition of just enough clothing on the young ladies to avoid another prosecution for obscenity. Today we release 19 of these distinctive books, all but one Alexander Moring publications. In Hank Janson’s world things are rarely what they seem, and in this case the final book was published by George Turton, but in the Alexander Moring style. Notable amongst these books are Sweet Fury (FN/VF), Avenging Nymph (VG/FN), Bring Me Sorrow (VG/FN), Cactus (VG), Devil’s Highway (FN), Don’t Cry Now (FN), Sinister Rapture (FN), Tension (FN) and Whiplash (FN).