Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Ed Wood Wednesdays: The Wood Paperback Odyssey, Part Three by Greg Dziawer

The front and back covers of Sheldon Lord's Savage Lover.

The Wood Paperback Odyssey
Who Wrote Sheldon Lord's Savage Lover?

Will the real Sheldon
Lord please stand up?
If you know your vintage adult paperbacks even reasonably well, then you likely have already blurted out the answer to that question: "Why, it's Lawrence Block, of course!" Let's hang on just a second.

In the murky world of adult paperback pseudonyms, Lawrence Block did write under the pen name Sheldon Lord (one of his earliest pseudonyms, and most oft-used, upwards of two dozen titles by my quick count). Block began writing short stories for men's magazines in the late '50s, at the tender age of 19. He produced a slew of sleaze paperbacks for that market through the '60s and into the early '70s, before hitting it big in the mainstream as a writer of crime fiction.

Another early Block pen
name: Andrew Shaw
I can hear you wondering: What has this got to do with Ed Wood? As with our last Ed Wood Wednesday, we are again into Ebay territory with another lazy, spurious claim of Ed's possible involvement. The claim is the same – from the same seller – as I previously documented. For the record, and because this title did sell recently so the listing will be gonzo within a couple of months, here's the questionable piece of the auction listing:
I believe this may be an original Ed Wood Jr. book – I attempted to find out online, but found no list for his books written under pseudonyms.

A few quick searches turn up plenty of lists of Ed's paperbacks, none of which include Savage Lover or any titles by Sheldon Lord. And there are no known Ed titles (or Block titles, for that matter) published by the Softcover Library (which featured photo covers as opposed to drawn art, the latter the norm for known Wood and Block titles penned under pseudonyms). The pseudonym Sheldon Lord, as is easily verified if you can type a few simple words into a Google search, is an early pen name of Lawrence Block. Block himself admits it, as well as verifying titles. He even later reprinted some of the Lord titles under his own name.

A Lord original and its retitled Block reprint.

The plot thickens!
Alas, and here's the rub: Block did not claim authorship of Savage Lover. By 1968, the publication date of Savage Lover, Block had moved on from the Lord pen name. He's never verified the title as his own. As was common practice in the milieu of adult paperbacks, pseudonyms were often shared. Though Sheldon Lord was Block (commonly if not entirely) in the first half of the '60s, three authors are believed to have shared the pseudonym in the latter half of that decade: Peter Hochstein, Hal Dresner (who later wrote episodes of M*A*S*H) and Milo Perichitch. Take your pick. I hope the Ebay auction buyer of Savage Lover doesn't really think it's an Ed Wood book. Or even Lawrence Block title. And moreso, they paid about twice the price of a few other contemporaneous Ebay listings of the very same title!

It's the old shell game.
To reiterate our initial question: who wrote Sheldon Lord's Savage Lover? It wasn't Ed, certainly not, and it's highly unlikely it was Lawrence Block. The likely source is one of two of the three authors noted above. (Block himself shoots down Dresner.)

In the world of vintage sleaze paperbacks, that's sometimes as close as you're gonna get.

As always:

Caveat Emptor. Let the buyer be-vare.

Be-vare, take care. Be-vare....

"Most of us have our idiosyncrasies."

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