Friday, May 30, 2014

Coffin for a Cutie by Spike Morelli


I became acquainted with Spike Morelli’s pulp paperbacks because of the breathtaking  Reginald Heade covers. Coffin for a Cutie is a prime example why pulp magazines and paperbacks have such a devoted audience. I’ve stated before that you can indeed judge a book by its cover. The next point is that, yes, the story is just as good as the cover. That’s not always the case, but it holds true for Reginald Heade’s covers of these Archer Press paperbacks. Spike Morelli wrote lurid, gritty tales. Coffin for a Cutie dates from 1950. I know nothing about Spike Morelli except that the Fantastic Fiction website lists his pseudonyms as Francis Donaldson, Gilroy Mitcham, Macdonald Newton and Gene Ross. As for Reginald Heade, his Archer Press titles are all prized by collectors, and best of all they are neither difficult to find nor especially expensive. You can expect to pay $15 to $30 for solid copies. Coffin for a Cutie is not great literature, but it’s great pulp fun. This fellow Sam Case was raised in a Georgia swamp and is about as dangerous as a rusty razorblade in the wrong hands. That means he’s lethal and nasty. Coffin for a Cutie is “politically incorrect” by today’s standards. This is a pulp paperback and not a treatise on race relations or women’s rights. Sam and his black friend Will steal some money from people swimming in a creek and then are forced to leave town, but not before Sam has his first experience with a girl named Sanny. They flee to Atlanta, where they meet various people, including a pornographer named Mitchin who likes taking photos of naked girls. Sam hooks up with a dame named Babs, and things get complicated and sleazy. There’s a place called the Voodoo Club where girls dance naked, some double-crosses, another dame named Inga, and more murder and duplicity. Sam treats women a little rough, as in using his fists on them to get what he wants. There are no heroes in Coffin for a Cutie. This book is one long list of bad choices leading to vice, theft and murder. Fun to read, but don’t go looking for a happy ending.

5 comments:

  1. Thomas, These are great man, never heard of either and I'm sure I would have picked up on them, IF I ever ran across them! It would seem with all those pseudonyms that he wrote in the pulps, none of them show up in Fictionmags, and neither does the Spike name. Suspect they were all a fake name, maybe Larry Block, or somebody like that. Anyway, can look at my blog for some pulps>adventurecontines@theblogger.com>

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  2. Jonathan, I think he worked out of England. These show up on ebay now and again. I have an American edition of Death for a Doll but the UK editions are smaller.....I love your blog and I'm adding it to my blog list in the right column, best always, Tom

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  3. Wow Tom, Thanks about the blog! And a Brit you think? Well makes some sense. I don't look at eBay because I used to send way too much money there! I see your in Illinois, do you know John Cosgriff and Geo. Hagenouer? Used to see them guys for art, pulps, comics etc. George lives by me in Madison, WI. area now. John C a great source for paperback and cover art.

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  4. I may have met them both briefly at the Windy City Pulp and Paper Convention but I haven't attended in a few years. I'm primarily a paperback and comic book collector, although I do have some original pulps.

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  5. Tom, been on the road these 6 days, but yeah, both those guys do the Windy, me too, when I have the dough. If there is a 80 foot long red semi truck out in the parking lot, I'm there! Oh, and am a ex-comics guy too, lots of Fiction House, 50's, Blackhawk, and other interests. I got into pulps when comics got out of my money range, and what the hey, I don't see them around, but on eBay and at Wizard Con and all that, so no fun if I can't find them out at flea markets etc!

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