The British hardcover of “London, Bloody London”. The Brits aren’t so crazy about that word “bloody” on a book cover. I’m not entirely certain what this cover is about. Our boy carries a .45 1911A semi-automatic, and is that a mask? Or a very pointy nose? Submit explanations of this cover on a 3x5 index card, to my locker at Grand Central Station. You know the one.
Not Ed Noon, but another Avallone super-spy from the late sixties. This time it’s Larry McKnight, who investigates UFOs for the government. His cover? Traveling sales executive for Avon Books. (Published by Avon Books. Did you see that coming?)
The blocked “N” makes for an inside joke (intentional or not), as Michael Avallone’s nickname was “Avo”.
This painting is by Stanley Borack.
Writer’s Digest, January 1971. This was more-or-less the high watermark of Dad’s career. I think he may have had 12 new books on the stands that year, with more coming in 1972.
The Ed Noon series has three distinct “eras”. The first era is the Classic Detective Era: a down-at-his-heels Manhattan gumshoe, dealing with murderers and thieves. There’s always a hint of the surreal (Dolores is Tall, Lucille is small, Betty is Bouncing) and some flirting with the spy genre (THE ALARMING CLOCK), but still… it’s mostly a guy with a .45 wearing a Porkpie hat, and running around New York City getting beaten up and Doing Good.
The second era is the Spy to Mister President era. Not immune to the commercial forces of the James Bond Craze, the Ed Noon series swings into the sixties with our humble local detective doing a job for the President of the United States, and becoming his special, off-the-books operative. The trademark Avallone surrealism is still there, teasing at the corners of the stories as they become increasingly outlandish, as the undersea shenanigans of DEATH DIVES DEEP attest. Noon now travels the world and tangles with enemy agents on a more regular basis.
The first two eras are unique — because Avallone’s authorial voice is always unique — but they are recognizable entries in a recognizable genre.
But the third era… well, that’s something else entirely again.
What to call it? The Psychedelic Era isn’t quite right, nor is The Science Fiction Era. The Mid-Life Era? Whatever we call it, the Third Era is Apocalypse, Noon. The surrealist impulse always lurking in the background of the series comes to the fore. In SHOOT IT AGAIN, SAM (called THE MOVING GRAVEYARD in England, see above) Noon is brainwashed into thinking he’s Sam Spade, and sent to assassinate the President. In THE MOON MAIDEN (unpublished, but coming this year on Amazon), Ed Noon comes face-to-face with a murderous witch. And in the final two books in the series (HIGH NOON AT MIDNIGHT and SINCE NOON YESTERDAY) Noon fights against an alien invasion. Or he simply loses his mind. The reader can decide for him or herself.
For me, his son… I love the Classic Detective era. Those books are incredibly entertaining and really capture the Times Square world of the Fifties. The Spy to Mister President thrillers are great entertainments. But the final third of the series is my favorite: it’s where Michael Avallone finally dropped the facade and burned the rulebook of his chosen genre and expressed the pure, unfiltered madness inside him. It’s Raymond Chandler meets Philip K. Dick, and in the coming months we’ll be rolling them out: re-releasing the originals, and finally sending the unpublished work into the light of day. Fasten your seatbelts.
All sorts of foreign editions of the Ed Noon series were published, and every once in a while on eBay I’ll come across one I’ve never seen before… like this beauty here.
It’s Gary Cooper’s birthday, and that gives a good excuse to post this cover. Michael Avallone was the world’s biggest Gary Cooper fan, a trait he passed along to his fictional alter ego. That pays off in the last published novel in the series, as the above cover indicates.
We’ll be re-releasing HIGH NOON AT MIDNIGHT, and releasing the unpublished sequels SINCE NOON YESTERDAY and THE NINTH OF NEVER, as Amazon ebooks when we come to the end of the run. Stay tuned!
The Bouncing Betty had an interesting publishing history. It was part of an Ace Double Novel (with The Violent Virgin supplying the other book in the Double), and also the cover story of the magazine above.
This might be the most immortal image of Ed Noon, because the cover was reproduced as part of a series of pulp cover postcards that you can find all over the place.
Ed’s handling of his Colt .45 seems a little too casual to me, but why quibble?
About Ace Doubles: