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Thursday, March 4, 2010

FORGOTTEN BOOKS: JADE FOR A LADY!

FORGOTTEN BOOKS: JADE FOR A LADY!

M.E. CHABER


They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, which is quite true. However, sometimes, you can’t judge a cover by the book it’s wrapped around. In the case of the Milo March novels by M.E. Chaber, the stunning paperback covers by Robert McGinnis are worth collecting no matter what text is contained within.

In the case of Chaber, the text is entertainingly pulpya standard you might expect from an old time pulp writer who also created the Green Lama, a crime-fighting Buddhist superhero whose powers emerged upon the recitation of the Tibetan mantra, om mani padme hum.

Jade For A Lady was actually the twelfth Milo March novel, however, when the reprints bearing the beautiful McGinnis covers began appearing in the ‘70s, it bore the #1 logo designating it the first in the reprinted series. A lot of paperback original men’s adventure series were being successfully published at the time, all bearing their number in the series on the cover. Clearly, Paperback Library’s Milo March novels were trying to grab a share of the market.

The Milo March covers, with their James Coburn look-alike representing Milo March (apparently Coburn consented to have his image used by McGinnis), and their long limbed, come-hither-looking McGinnis women, contained the perfect blend of action and lurid promise to reel in ‘70s readers. Heck, they still reel me in todayso much better than the clip art, photo file, copycat state of today’s covers.

M.E. Chaber ( taken from the Hebrew word mechaber, meaning author) was one of the many pseudonyms of Kendell Foster Crossen (1910-1981), who created Milo March in the 1950s after years of prolific word spinning for the pulps, radio, and television.

March is a former OSS/CIA agent who has become an international, jet-setting, martini-drinking, poetry-quoting investigator for Intercontinental Insurance. Jade For A Lady is typical of the series in its breezy approach to both life and investigation, working almost as a ‘50s era man’s wish fulfillment featuring alcohol fueled male bonding, beautiful women, and professional success.

While somewhat dated today in this era of veneration for all things noir, desperate, and depraved, Jade For A Lady and the other Milo March novels are still a refreshing diversion.

MILO MARCH SERIES:

Hangman’s Harvest
No Grave for March
As Old as Cain
The Man Inside
The Splintered Man
The Burned Man
A Lonely Walk
Abra-Cadaver
The Gallows Garden
A Hearse of Another Color
So Dead the Rose
Jade for a Lady
Softly in the Night
Six Who Ran
Uneasy Lies the Dead
Wanted: Dead Men
The Day It Rained Diamonds
A Man in the Middle
Wild Midnight Falls
The Flaming Man
Green Grow the Graves
The Bonded Dead
Born to Be Hanged
Death To The Brides (unpublished)


TO READ BLOG BUDDY BILL CRIDER'S FORGOTTEN BOOK POST ON ANOTHER MILO MARCH CAPER CLICK HERE

11 comments:

  1. This will go great with my book for tomorrow, Paul. Another Milo March. Great coincidence.

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  2. This series looks like a great slice of cheese. By the looks - a Tillamook cheddar. Definitely not "good" for you, but tasty nonetheless.

    And let's face it - McGinnis just nails it with these stylishly simple covers.

    To my (admittedly feeble) eye, the character looks to be a cross between Coburn and Steve Holland.

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  3. I would buy this for the cover alone.

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  4. Last summer, I picked up several of this series. Great series that is pretty much forgotten. Thanks for the post!

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  5. Looks like a great series, indeed.

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  6. Two M. E. Chaber books in the same day! You and Bill Crider clearly have similar tastes. I love the covers on both Chaber books!

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  7. Thanks for the review, Bish! I've always loved the McGinnis covers and wondered about the books themselves. Sounds worth a read, even if it's nothing too special. And, yes, worth having for the covers alone...

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  8. Please make that M. E. Chaber, not "Chabers," and Kendell Foster Crossen, not "Kendall." Try to at least spell the author's name and pen name right. And yes, James Coburn agreed to being the model for McGinnis.

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  9. Kendra...Thx for your input. I have made the suggested corrections, as well as a copuple of other updates. It's cool to know Coburn agreed to allow McGinnis to use his image. Do you know if Coburn actually posed for McGinnis?.

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  10. I think McGinnis, as a skilled artist, may have been able to create the paintings without a live model, since he mentions in The Paperback Covers of Robert McGinnis that Coburn's long, lean frame was very easy to draw. Once he'd studied it, he would have been able to draw it easily. I'm sure Coburn wouldn't have sat still for that many covers! Nor would he have sat still for having his image used without permission. The only thing I don't like about it (as a book publishing professional) is that the covers seem to imply there were Milo March movies associated with the books. The only book that was made into a film was The Man Inside. It got bad reviews, but I found a DVD of it (it's an English film) and I liked it a lot. Who would have thought of Jack Palance as Milo March, but he does a good job. Anthony Newley is in it as a Spanish cabbie.

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  11. In trying to recall where I read that Coburn agreed to the McGinnis covers for Milo March, I came across another blog (http://nuts4r2.blogspot.com) that says, "...a series of books about a character called Milo March often included the likeness of Hollywood actor James Coburn on the cover and the painter makes mention to the writer of this handsome tome [The Art of Robert E. McGinnis] that he was always anxiously awaiting from a call from Coburn to find out just what was going on with that. I guess those were the days before likeness rights were an issue." I think I need to get the answer from the horse's mouth (or from the son of the horse). To be continued!

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