Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Ed Wood Wednesdays: Eddie Or Not? The Ed-Tribution Odyssey, Part Two by Greg Dziawer

Greg continues to navigate the strange and misleading world of Ed Wood attributions.

In previous and numerous installments of Ed Wood Wednesdays, we visited a number of paperbacks attributed falsely to Ed as author. It's a veritable game of research Wack-A-Mole. No sooner do I do a little quick research (or more simply it's a given) to rule out Ed's authorship than two more bullshit Ed-tributions rear their head in my browser. I'll allow for fair maybes with some evidentiary background or informed consensus; I'll even take a sensible inference! Given the ease at which the information is obtained to rule out Ed, I'll conclude charitably that the non-profit claimants are mostly acting in an ignorant good faith. But I'll qualify that statement by saying that the sellers – by far the most perfidious purveyors of mis-Ed-tributions – seem to have a hint of self-interest and a huckster's parsing of language and truth at play.

In other words, just go to Ebay. I've listed links to actual auctions in the past, but really there's no need. Just go search, and in no time flat you'll come across a listing of a non-Ed paperbacks, generally at about five to ten times the price of its market value. A cynic could retort, I know being one, "Ah, market value is whatever someone's willing to pay!" Alas, that's the huckster in me.

So, then, let's play a few rounds of Wood Wack-A-Lie:

Exhibit #1: Take Death For A Lover

Ed Smith's cover for Take Death For A Lover.

Take Death For A Lover (1968) by Alan Marshall; A Pleasure Reader (an imprint of the insanely prolific Greenleaf).

Marshall is a house pseudonym (known and unknown, often including Donald Westlake, as well as Evan Hunter and Lawrence Block) at Greenleaf Classics, with a whopping 150 titles indexed here. There's no concrete connection to Ed that I can discern anywhere. Admittedly, Ed did write for Greenleaf, both under his own name and a house pseudonym.

As the title melds sex and death, give a moment's reflection to it being a reprint of Orgy Of The Dead, previously published by Greenleaf. No one has suggested this, and no one should have. There's a zombie on the cover.

Seen on Ebay. "Ed Wood" ends the title listing, with no further mention or attempt at substantiation elsewhere in the listing. The Buy-It-Now price is only a hundred bucks!

Back cover: Hilda ran from one shame to another, until her life became a monolith of degradation, and the taste of countless sins grew bitter in her mouth...

Eddie or Not? Cool cover and title, but nope.

Exhibit #2: A Family Affair

The cover art for J.X. Williams' A Family Affair, as murkily displayed on Ebay (left).

Speaking of Greenleaf and house pseudonyms, this Ember Library imprint title from 1966 is credited to the impossibly prolific J.X.Williams. Leaving aside the matter of William's identity, which will only complicate matters, what we know is that Ed wrote a title credited on the cover to the mysterious, highly likely purely fictitious and pseudonymous Williams, as revealed by his name appearing on its title page.

The J.X. Williams moniker was widely shared across Greenleaf imprints, by knowns and unknowns again, Victor J. Banis, Earl Kemp, and John Jakes among them. Crossover of actual authorship occurred between the Marshall and Williams house pseudonyms in the vast world of the Greenleaf Classics. But there was that sole Wood title.

Seen on Ebay as The Affair. The seller there added to the murk by cutting off the title on the cover scan and editing it accordingly in the listing. Forty bucks and it's yours!

Eddie or Not? You know the answer.

A trio of genuine Ed Wood novels published by Greenleaf.

For the record, Ed did author three books for Greenleaf:

Exhibit #3: A Manual Of Human Sexuality, Volume 3

"She learned everything about sex from a manual. Emmanuel was their gardener."

A Manual Of Human Sexuality, Volume 3 (1973); Edusex (Gallery Press, Inc.) by Norman Bates (Charles D. Anderson).

Just when I was feeling confident that Norman Bates was solely a pseudonym used by Charles D. Anderson and not a shared pseudonym, certainly not Ed's pseudonym, I dug a little into this title. The first copyright record I found did not list a volume number, and the author was credited as Robin Y. Eagle, a fellow staffer of Ed, Leo Eaton, Bill Jones and Anderson circa 1970-71 in the Pendulum magazine office on W. Pico Blvd. But then I found a record for Volume 1, credited to Anderson and listing Bates as pseudonym. Volume 3 was/is up on Ebay now (with Norman Bates listed on the cover) and at a few places, minimally at 125 clams and always claimed to be by Ed. Three volumes (at least), the first and third by Anderson and the second by Eagle, often pseudonymously Robert Elgin, maintaining that name into the mainstream.

Pendulum and Calga dissolved in early 1973, leaving only Gallery Press, across the magazines and paperbacks. These Edusex paperbacks were the last gasp of the halcyon days of the Pendulum family of imprints, dozens upon dozens of titles in the Encyclopedia of Sex (Pendulum) and Sexual Enlightenment series (Calga), both based upon the T.K. Peters source and the frequent haunt of Ed's pen.

Eddie or Not? Really?