Flagrantly Unsafe For Work

Before we get started tonight, it’s probably worth noting that this one’s gonna be a little raw. In fact, the contents of tonight’s post should probably be considered Flagrantly Unsafe For Work, even for a website known for throwing a critical spotlight on the work of Jim Balent.

So seriously, if you read the ISB at your job or anything, it’s probably best to just wait ’til you get home for this one, and if you’re under… let’s just say 23, this one is totally not for you. No foolin’.

In the meantime, here’s another picture of Destro:



As for just what he’s approving of, well, see below.



Those of you who were paying attention back in January might recall that there was an item in Previews Adult that caught my eye: A collection of lurid pulp novel covers from the ’50s through the ’70s called Young Lusty Sluts. It hit shelves in comic book stores this week, and after finally getting my hands on a copy and reading through it, I can confirm one thing:

It is quite possibly the greatest book of all time.

Or maybe not. After all, I have my doubts that the greatest book of all time would actually contain the phrase “Anal Planet.”

But still, given the subject matter of the ISB, it’s probably pretty obvious that I have a deep affection for the disposable pop culture of previous generations, and on that front, YLS comes through with something that’s even more entertaining than I thought it was going to be, even if it is significantly racier than, say, Bizarro Computo’s battle with the Legion of Super-Heroes.

And the best part is that it’s actually more than just the hilarious titles and their equally hilarious cover illustrations, some of which I swear were drawn by Mid-60s MAD crew. In his introduction, Goss comes right out and lets you know that the subject matter is, while charming, “considered to have no literary merit whatsoever and to be utterly without any redeeming social importance,” but the collection itself suffers from no such limitations. Before you even get to the covers, Goss has a fascinating history of the rise and fall of the sleazy pulp novel, from the explosion in the aftermath of the Redrup Decision–where he includes the covers of The Shame Agent and Lust Pool, the two books that led to the court case–through the involvement of the East Coast mobs and the eventual death of the industry at the hands of video. Which, as we all know, killed the radio star, and will kill again.

But the real attraction, of course, is the gallery of covers, and as I’ve mentioned before, they are awesome. Terrible in most cases, horrifying in some, and downright atrocious in others, but still: Awesomely so.

Here are a few of my favorites:



In addition to being the least offensive image in the entire book, this early one with art by Harold W. McCauley–who also did a lot of billboard work for Coca-Cola–combines three things I love: Zippy action, rollicking adventure, and girls with bindles.



It’s not the fact that she’s dressed like Wonder Woman that caught my eye with this one so much as the fact that she’s dressed like Wonder Woman while selling a car. And really, can you even put a car on layaway?



…or as I like to call it, The Fucking Horrible Idea.


Given the nature of the books that dealt with the then-strict taboo of interracial relationships–which tend to run the gamut from “Extremely Offensive” to “Egregiously Offensive”–I found this one to be pretty interesting:



Also, everything about it makes me laugh.


And finally, while I’ve tried to stay away from the more hardcore images in the book, I just had to point out that these guys…



…bear a pretty strong resemblance to these guys:





And then, as a special added bonus that’s only slightly less awesome than the covers and the excerpts (in which phrases like “ass globes” are thrown around way more than should be reasonable), Goss includes the House Style Manual for Greenleaf Press, which the authors hacking out porn stories were obliged to follow, thus proving that there actually were standards. Among the best bits (my emphasis added):


In fiction, we prefer to use slang terms to clinical terms in describing parts of the body and the actions in which they engage.

Do not use the following terms to describe anatomical parts (there is no need to be “cute” or evasive): his masulinity, his manhood, his avenger, her mammaries, her womanhood, her femininity.


Avenger. Wow.

So yeah, it’s a great read, and while the $34 cover price is a bit much for the 153 pages that you get, come on: Do you really want to deal with the hassle of going into your public library and telling them you’re looking for Young Lusty Sluts?

Thought so.

37 thoughts on “Flagrantly Unsafe For Work

  1. Common Trevor, just check out that mask! if that doesnt scream sexual depravity NOTHING does. Hes hoping the Baroness has a thing for whips and I am 300% sure she does. And Chris! Email me a pdf of that poster and I can hook you up. Least I can do for you for the hours of entertainment you’ve given me.

  2. A kitschy antique store nearby has a full shelf of these (including their sleazier 80s/90s counterparts, with photographic covers featuring some lovely crackwhores and ads for phone sex services). They’re great reading, and the covers… ooh boy.

  3. Be that as it may, Travis, the man does have an image to maintain. Would you want to buy your illegal weapons from some kinky pervert? Who knows what he might have done with them?! You’d have to disinfect them for hours!

  4. I was wondering if the book credits the artists used for the covers. That would push it into must buy for me.

    What is interesting about the House Style Manual is that romance publishers have almost the exact opposite rules.

  5. You know, these covers are absurd enough that I don’t even know if I should feel dirty after seeing them.
    Imaginative Tales: Is it common for KKK members to hang out on stars,waving at passing hobo swimsuit models?
    LayAway Lady: Thought balloon for the blonde:”I know she’s barely wearing anything, but Diana’s being really forward!Must be a slow sales month.”
    Eager Hot Stewardess:Why does the co-pilot look so confused? Did he not see her undressing in the pilot’s lap and get an idea of what’s going to happen?
    A sucker for Arabs: Wow, getting all that sand out is going to take days.And who knew camels were so easy going?
    I’m going to pretend I never saw that last one.Let’s just say “I can’t go for that-no can do”

  6. You realize this post is going to get you a much more interesting set of google search terms hits. I know you had some great ones before, but this should help seed an even more creative crop. Keep us informed as they come in.

  7. “His Avenger”

    If it were referred to as a “Mighty Avenger”, I might understand, because Bendis *is* kind of a dick.

  8. I’m going to take the cheap route to humor now and just list Avengers titles so that I can giggle at the implications.

    The New Avengers. The Mighty Avengers. Young Avengers. Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. And of course, Solo Avengers.

    It’s almost like Marvel knew about this and has been naming their books with it in mind.

  9. Not Hall & Oates, that’s clearly the lost Simon & Simon episode. Regarding the first cover, can someone please explain what happened to Toffee’s ankle?

  10. *snicker*

    Not to mention “Avengers Forever”, “Avengers Finale” , “Avengers: United They Stand” and “Timeslip: The Coming of the Avengers”

    And it gives an entirely new meaning to “Avengers Cross-over”. Ok, ok, I’ll stop.

  11. The most disturbing part of the “Stewardess” cover is that it looks like Jack Chick artwork. Good luck flying the plane after the copilot gets Raptured in about five seconds.

  12. I hate to say it but my dad had a ton of those Liverpool Library press books that he traded frequently with other guys in town.
    That artwork was ‘great’ and by ‘great’ I mean that it was well done and the guys that drew that stuff could have made a living drawing other stuff if they hadn’t been chained in a basement and forced to draw sexy women against their will.

  13. Greatest tag ever “skewing my google hits”. Nice. :) Plus, now I want to find me some young lusty sluts. Wonder if they’re at the forbidden planet. Hm..

  14. This entry needs a “girls with bindles” tag. Plus it should help you pull in viewers who were searching for hobo-sexual porn.

  15. Chris, thanks for the link instead of posting this one to the main page, I check out ISB every day at work, and that could have been awkward! I love your stuff, and I really appreciate the sensitivity to those of us who slack off during the day and check blogs at work!

  16. Oh, you guys SAY you like Young Lusty Sluts, but when Oprah picks it next month, you’re going to say it sucks.

  17. @Tom: As far as I can tell, she has kicked off her shoe and is just sitting on her foot. I know I should have some humorous aside, but there you go: I’m officially too pedantic to make fun of goofy smut book covers.

  18. His Avenger.

    Holy fucking crap, this post already had me on the verge of freaking out, but that tipped me over the edge.

    And imagine: yesterday I thought I couldn’t anything more wince worthy to say at a comics store than “Can I have the latest issue of Kick Ass?” But “Young Lusty Sluts” blows that the hell away…

    …maybe I’ll get it from Amazon or somewhere else on line.

  19. Oh, man. I work at a bookstore, and I hope to God we’ve got this in stock. Anything with cover art by Robert Bonfils deserves a place on anyone’s shelf. The archive at http://www.vintagepbks.com/bonfilscovers.html is pretty incredible, but I must give fair warning – one look at the cover of “Lithe and Lustful” was enough to give my girlfriend nightmares (although she was looking at it in a coffee-table art book I have, so the smaller version online might be viewable without risk to one’s mental health).

  20. Geeze Chris, posting about books with naked ladies on the covers and hetero-smut inside…why don’t you just wrap yourself in a Pride flag, you’re so clearly over-compensating for your repressed gay-osity…

  21. You think that’s funny, Dorian, but I read that comment while wrapped in a powder blue blanket with shiny snowmen on the edges. Admittedly, not quite a pride flag, but, well, you know how I am about Christmas.

  22. Resolution: I will use the phrase “Here’s zippy action!” at the office in 2008.