20 November 2023

An Alvin Schwartz Cover Cavalcade

Alvin Schwartz's debut novel, The Blowtop, was published in 1946 by Dial Press. It followed dozens of shorter works, including: "His Lordship's Double" (Batman #21), "Superman's Search for Clark Kent" (Superman #32), "The Toughest School in the World" (Superboy #10), and at least eight comic romance stories titled "A Date With Judy" (A Date With Judy #1-3).

I've not read The Blowtop, but it sounds right up my alley:

Le Cinglé, its French translation, was a bestseller overseas.

Le Cinglé
Paris: L'élan, 1950

Schwartz wrote or co-wrote six other novels, all of which were issued as "Sophisticates" by Arco, a publisher previously known for The Handy Manual of House Care and Repair (1949) and How to Win Prize Contests (1950). I've read and written about a couple of Schwartz's Sophisticates, Touchable and Hot Star, but I'm not sure I'll bother with the others. They're becoming increasingly rare, increasingly expensive, and... well, truth be told, those I have tackled haven't been terribly interesting. To be frank, I'd much rather read "The Superwoman of Metropolis!", which Schwartz wrote for Superman's Girl Friend Lois Lane #8.  

Do not be fooled by the publisher's descriptions, Arco Sophisticates promise much more than they deliver: 

Sinful Daughter
New York: Arco, 1951
SINFUL DAUGHTER is different, unlike any book Jack Woodford has ever written. Sabra is the daughter who tries to tear herself away from her mother's wickedness because she fears her own weakness and voluptuous nature. Reared amid scenes of splendor and debauchery, she has never succumbed to temptation. To avoid trouble she submerges herself in mediocrity and through error finally discovers the right way of life for her. A very exciting book.
New York: Arco, 1951
From young Arch Rader, Ruth learned of passion. From Blackie Dawson she learned of love. From Mike, the bartender, she learned of bestial lust, and its unexplainable allure. From Tony, the lesbian, she learned of the strange, exotic, frightening fasination of abnormal relations. From Bruno she learned the utter depths of degradation. And from Clare, she learned the terror, the hopeless despair of dope. And at the last, out of this inferno, which had her helpess in its grip, she learned the possibility of redemption... from herself.
City Girl
New York: Arco, 1951
You may know a number of girls in the city, but you've never met anyone like Clio Haven. Never, that is, unless you travelled with the bootlegging set of Prohibition Chicago. Clio was a bootlegger's girl; bootlegging was Clio's security. Then in walked Bob, Logan, and half the Chicago police force to help her change her mind. it would make any girl wonder if it's safe to be desirable.

Sword of Desire
New York: Arco, 1952
Big City corruption and gambling successfully withstand a Senate Committee investigation, until psychiatrist Dr. Varesi's mysterious power works to reveal the secrets of the women involved. The ironic result is as unusual as it is intriguing.
Hot Star
New York: Arco, 1952
Maybe the thing that happened to Betty Frenck could happen to any young actress. She became a star of illegitimate pictures; became, too, a creature of desire and passion, caught in the magical spell of Director Perepoint's talent, and a victim of Producer Kern's contempt for all women. Whatever your opinion of her, you're sure to agree that there's never been a HOT STAR like Betty, either in or out of pictures. 
Man Made
New York: Arco, 1952
Man Maid is a bit of a mystery; all I've ever seen is its cover. 

I like to think that Alvin Schwartz made good money with Arco, but have my doubts. Late in life, he wrote two memoirs, of a kind, which may or may not support my skepticism. The first, An Unlikely Prophet, went through two editions. Originally self-published, the second edition replaces the subtitle and cover to emphasise his work with DC.

An Unlikely Prophet: Revelations on the Path Without Form
[np]: Divina, 1997
An Unlikely Prophet:
A Metaphysical Memoir by the Legendary Writer of Superman and Batman

Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions, 2006

A Gathering of Selves: The Spiritual Journey of the Legendary Writer of Superman and Batman (Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions, 2006) was his last published work.

Alvin Schwartz died five years later. By all accounts, he left this world from his Chesterville home, roughly fifty kilometres southeast of downtown Ottawa. 

Alvin Schwartz
17 November 1919, New York, New York
28 October 2011, Chesterville, Ontario
Who am I kidding.

Researching this piece, I happened upon a Minnesota bookseller who was selling a lot of twelve "erotic" books at a price that amounts to fifteen dollars apiece. Sword of Desire and Man Maid were two of the twelve.

I bought the twelve for those two.

You knew I would.

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