Hi! This is my attempt at starting a small blog about, what is in my eyes, the golden age of Horror Anthology Paperbacks and a huge passion of mine. Update: I've realized that what is even more important is the people have to be made aware of these wonderful stories before they disappear forever. Most the the stories I mention here haven't been reprinted in over 40 years and most likley will never been seen again. They will be lost to us once these books are gone and forgotten. How sad.
Last month I bought two books on Ebay that have two of the greatest “exploitive” covers I’ve ever seen. By looking at both covers you would think that you’ve hit the “mother load” of TRASH. This isn’t the case though. I’ll explain why.
“The Cross on the Drum”by HughB.Cave takes place on the West Indian Island of St. Joseph. St.Joseph is a fictionalized stand in for Haiti where Mr. Cave lived for 5 years after which he spent another 20 years in Jamaica running a coffee plantation. Mr. Cave’s career can be broken down into 2 parts, pre-WWII and post-WWII. Before the war he was one of the pulp writers in the fields of Horror and Weird Menace/Shudder pulps. His best horror stories were collected in “Murgunstrumm and Others”which has been brought back into print by “Wildside Press” and is available at Amazon. The newest edition still includes all of the wonderful “Lee Brown Coye” illustrations. His Pulp stories were always bloody, gory and lots of funs. During the war he made the break through to the gloss magazines like “Life” and “The Saturday Evening Post”. He was also a respected war correspondent. He has written much over the West Indies, her peoples, their cultures and their religions. The man always wrote about these subjects with respect and understanding. This set him apart and above from many of his contemporaries. Even though the cover of “The Cross on the Drum” looks pretty crazy and seem to be promising a wee bit “o” sleaze, you won’t find any hear. It’s a straight up “drama” about a missionary on the West Indian island of St. Joseph who forms a friendship with a local “Vodun” priest which later on turns into feud between the 2 men and their beliefs. It’s a great book. It’s just not horror or exploitation though. Cave has written several horror novels and many short stories with Voodoo/Vodun themes though. And these also treat their subject matter with great respect and understanding. Mr. Cave was such an amazing man that he was writing and selling stories well past his 90th birthday. He passed away in 2004 at 94 years of age!
“Cannibalism and Human Sacrifice”, which is still in print, is also extremely non-exploitive of its subject matter. I know, it’s hard to believe. And it’s exactly this lack of exploitation that made me have to lay the book down after one chapter. The subject matter is recounted in such a serious and matter of fact way that it becomes almost unbearable to turn the pages. Here’s a great example where a dab of sleaze or exploitation might have dampened the impact of what is being described on the pages. Most of the accounts are taken from reports sent back to England by missionaries and anthropologists. All of which describe horrible atrocities in such a matter of fact way that the impact is so much worse. Whether these reports are credible or not remains to be seen. The subject is still the stuff nightmares though. What’s so pandering about the cover is that there are obviously 3 African guys portrayed on the cover. And even though the book has chapters only three pertain to Africa. At least we should be happy that no one has a bone stuck through his nose.
That’s it for this week. I hope everyone had a good Easter Weekend.