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 In THE MOON MAIDEN (unpublished, but coming this year on Amazon), Ed Noon comes face-to-face with a murderous witch.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:
1970 was a high water mark for the Ed Noon series: the books were available in multiple languages, all over the world. Here’s the Italian cover of THE DOOMSDAY BAG, with a new title that seems to echo the (at the time) recent Bond movie ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE. The art is clearly influenced by the American cover, seen below.
Ed Noon eBooks available here: http://amzn.to/1fzvKjN
Everything old is new again: today we’re rolling out four more Noon adventures on Kindle. You can download them to pretty much any one of your space age gizmos, so no excuses. These four move Our Hero from the Kennedy era into the late sixties: spies, hippies, assassination, nuclear terrorism, and kinky sex. Ah, the Good Old Bad Old Days…
Click here for the whole catalog:
The Tall Dolores by Michael Avallone (front and back cover art, Permabooks, A Perma Star Doubleday 244, edition copyright © 1953)
The first paperback, and still one of my favorite covers.
The whole story can be had here: http://amzn.to/PylwLP