They don’t make ’em like they used to…

Take a good look at the cover image accompanying this post – wonderful, isn’t it? Having said that, can you imagine something as lurid and sensationalistically exploitative as this ever being commissioned in these politically-correct times? No, neither can I. As tittillating as the cover undoubtedly is, the time when it graced the newsstands (1966) was a time of contradictions: there was still a great deal of innocence abroad in the era, yet, simultaneously, there were the rumblings of radical political movements and the beginnings of women’s liberation. It was also the time of ‘free love’ and the counterculture.

One of my hobbies is to collect old pulp science-fiction, fantasy and horror books, concentrating on those hailing from the fifties and sixties almost exclusively. So far, my collection is mostly restricted to the back catalogue of the ACE publishing company who, starting in 1953 with AE Van Vogt’s Null-A and backed with the same author’s Universe Maker, still continues to publish science-fiction and genre books today (for a long time ACE published two books in one, with two separate covers). What attracted me to start collecting them in the first place were those covers, so redolent of the optimism that science-fiction in particular, and science in general, represented back then. Plus, there’s an unmistakable innocence about them, with their depictions of sleek,silver, pointy spacecraft and Robbie the Robot-style automatons, their flying cars and gleaming cities of the future, and their green, slmy, multi-eyed aliens.

The inspiration behind today’s post was two-fold: firstly, my good friend Mark West has been putting up a series of images of ‘golden-age’ erotic pulp covers on his Facebook profile (including the glorious Satan’s Sister [seen along with other equally suggestive covers if you click the link]) and secondly, I’ve been thinking enormously about my newest venture, Spectral Press, and the sort of covers I wanted created for each chapbook. I did (very briefly, I have to say) toy with the possibility this morning of finding someone who could recreate the feel and character of these pulp cover images and use those. However, fear not, I will definitely be going for the classy, clean, understated end of the spectrum for the look of Spectral Press publications.

BUT – and here’s a thing – if Spectral proves to be a success, then another possibility exists, one that could be fun in a nostlagic kind of way. It occurred to me that maybe, in tandem with Spectral Press, I could also publish Spectral Pulp – stories specially commissioned from modern authors as a homage to the golden age of pulp fiction in all its manifestations. Then perhaps that idea of the pulp-type covers could become a reality.

Okay, so I an getting ahead of myself here. My mind tends to do this – I have an idea, run wild with it and then come up with all kinds of crazy fancies. Eventually, I settle down, and get on with the task at hand, all the while having it in the back of my mind to keep on finding ways of expanding on what I am doing. You will also find me exploring ideas and pontificating on them at length, until I’ve settled down, so bear with me please. Simply put, the anticipation and excitement is probably the strongest I’ve felt in a long while for any enterprise I have ever found myself being involved in.

My original intent with this post has completely morphed into something entirely different and has got away from me (as these matters are wont to do). If nothing else, it’s probably indicative of the hyperdrive state my brain seems to be in right now. I find that, after all a while, these things tend to take on a life of their own, and an individual existence. Anyway, let’s just see where this whole thing takes me…. it’ll be interesting, to say the very least.

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3 Responses to “They don’t make ’em like they used to…”

  1. Carol Weekes Says:

    I love it, all of your ideas. I’m a big fan of the old covers too; would love to see them back again, that nostalgic, thrilling feel that they entailed before you got to the stories inside. I really look forward to your new line of books, Simon!

    • Thanks for the encouragement, Carol, it’s very much appreciated!!

      Now, I just need to step back a bit and take stock of what’s achieveable and what’s for the future – everything outl;ined is feasible, so for the moment I won’t go any further than what I have already said… I want this to be right… I want this to succeed (and by that I mean that I don’t lose money the way I did on the record label… as long as I have eough money to print the next one, I’ll be happy…) 🙂

  2. Great stuff. go for it!

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