Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Trailer Trash Frankenstein

This month being October, and the theme is Horror Month among many blogs, like Dark, But Shining, The Groovy Age of Horror and Bubblegumfink.

I guess I'm obligated to shove a few entries into the blog hole myself. My entry today will be the 'The Greatest Horror Story Of Them All'.

If there was one thing the 50's was good at, it was producing sordid cover art for paperback books.


In 1953 Lion Books re-packaged the 1818 novel by Mary Wolstonecraft Shelley as an inexpensive entry into the lurid paperback market.

A classic work of literature, the story of the mad doctor and his challenge to God was published as a cheap reprint with cover art typical of the time and genre. Lion Books was either successful with its own noir books or attempted to ride the wave of the growing detective and SF market of the 50's. Leave it to some marketing whiz to make a tale of the Modern Prometheus look like it came straight out of a play by Tenesee Williams about Southern white-trash.

While the Lion book was presented as contemporary the text is the original early-19th century prose. I can imagine that the book may have confused readers that were expecting carny-working brutes lusting after housewives who want to kill their husbands for the insurance money.

Hopefully there were a few people who picked it up and discovered the book was far more than what the cover alleged. It is likely, however, that the book was set aside with a feeling of dissapointment and put in a box in a garage where it probably remained for years, until it was discovered by some lucky kid at a garage sale.

The uncredited cover art itself is classic sordid noir and features the usual elements of a red headed dame in a yellow dress that collectors find appealing.

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