Friday, September 2, 2011

Fritz Leiber: Swords & Newports

One of my occasional hobbies is to collect old paperback pulp fantasy novels from bookstores, conventions and library sales. There is many books and authors I'm sure I could reading right now and all of them could easily be had on any online site, but that's not part of my experience. I'm old school. I like discovering them. It's like a quest. Anyhow this post isn't about that, it's about what else I discovered.

One of my recent purchases is Fritz Leiber's Swords & Ice Magic, which I believe was the final book in the original run of Fafhrd and Gray Mouser (a collection of stories written from 1973-1977). I hopefully don't need to explain who those two characters are since they are seminal reading for D&D players as far as I'm concerned. So, I finally got my hands on this paperback after owning nearly every other Leiber book I know of, and wouldn't you know it, this one contained a strange surprise that I had to share...

As Fafhrd and the Mouser were fleeing from Death and the ever expanding tendrils of Shadowland, I noticed something green in the middle of the novel. At first I ignored it, the book is old and yellowing. Printings back then could have had miscolored edges for whatever reason. Then my nerd-brain thought, "Hey, maybe it's a map or some interior art. Skip ahead and check that out!" To my curious disappointment this is what I found bound into the middle section of the novel:

A crummy commercial? Sonofabitch! Like I said, I don't own every dime-store novel out there, so this is a new thing for me. I'd like to know if it was common for paperbacks back in the late 70's to have full page cigarette ads in the middle, or was this just Ace Books? It seems outrageous in today's culture, but back then I'm sure these ads were all over the place.  I just don't recall them ever being in my fantasy books and certainly not in any RPG publications. I could be wrong though.

There has to be a joke about this pic by the way. Slick 70's moustache dude, Farrah Fawcett looking woman, a longbow, alive with pleasure. Hmm I got nothing.

What a distraction. What was I reading again?  


The Dave said...

I've been reading fantasy since I was a little kid and I don't think I ever came across an ad in the middle of a book before.. That really is odd. I'm curious what you think of Fritz' books? Me I've had a really hard tome reading them. I think its his writing style that I struggle with. I've finished the first two books and then I moved on to something else.

Malakor said...

I recall a lot of adventure style books in the '70s and early '80s having these ads. Various fantasy and SF titles, men's adventure (nick carter, matt helm and the like). I never really gave them much thought. I don't recall if it was from a variety of publishers or if it was just Ace, they were quite prolific back in those days.

JasonZavoda said...

Watch that bow and arrow in the ciggy add Mort, you'll shoot your eye out!!!

Yep, these were pretty damn common, but I can't swear it wasn't just ACE because I read a lot of ACE books back then.

My allowence back then was .50c a week and I could either save up and buy a Joe once a month (the big G.I. Joe's, not those little kid toys they came out with where the uniforms were molded onto them. These were the guys that fought the people from Land of the Giants and they cost $2) but paperbacks were .50c to .75c and it was always a battle of wills whether to go for the book or increase the army by another recruit.

If you were lucky the cigarette ads where perforated and you could remove them otherwise they were bound into the center of the spine and always ended up tearing raggedly or breaking the spine when you tried to remove them.

Guy Fullerton said...

There's the same kind of thing – except it's for the Kent brand – in a 1977 Pocket paperback version of Jack Vance's The Eyes of the Overworld I'm borrowing from a friend.

Theodric the Obscure said...

I have that exact ad in the copy of Flashing Swords@ #4: Barbarians & Black Magicians that I recently acquired and read!

mortellan said...

The Dave: Strangely, I got into Leiber via D&D and the Newhon mythos in D&DG when I was young. Yeah his writing can be weird at times, but is it really any worse than growing up reading Gygaxese?

mortellan said...

Malakor: Very interesting. I have a dread feeling I'm going to be seeing these ads more often in my future.

JZ: This one isn't perforated else my scan would've been straight. :P
I just noticed after writing this, there is a different cig ad on the reverse for "True" cigarettes claiming only 5 Mg of tar. Woo!

Guy: Whew! It's not just me. ;)

Theodric: Damn the luck, eh? I'm quite surprised there is a Surgeon General's warning label on the ad.

Dave G. said...

FWIW, cigarette ads were very common in many publicatios until the late 70s/80s. In my youngest days, I can still remember TV commercials for cigarettes. It was actually quite the controversy in its day, because many felt that removing such ads just openned the door to censorship. They obviously lost. Whether they were right or not, of course, remains to be seen.

James said...

Those ads were fairly common and not just in fantasy novels. Horror, mystery, action, anything aimed at a male audience. Another ad you'll sometimes run across, in the same format, is one for the Science Fiction Book Club, though that one was, naturally, limited to Science Fiction and Fantasy novels.

DRANCE said...

Wow, that's hilarious! What a different world we now live in, eh? As for old paperbacks, I am right there with you! I acquired a bunch of old copies of Moorcock's Hawkmoon and Count Brass books recently. Great stuff!

mortellan said...

Dave G: Poor Marlboro Man and Joe Camel :P

James: I guess I'm just surprised it took me this long to notice a cig ad in one of these.

DRANCE: I have every Elric related book, but haven't delved into those others yet. Cool.

Argon said...

I don't remember coming across such ads in any novels I have purchased. However many magazines always had those ads as well as billboards.

What I don't understand is why they show all these people being highly active and in great shape. Most smokers I know hack up a lung during long conversations.

Maybe the next one will be a map.

One can always hope.



Dave G. said...

I think Drance hit it on the head: what a different world we live in!