Jeff Cook, illustrator / artist

Over two decades ago, I made a conscious effort to shift from American publications to British, with a focus on wartime and postwar mushroom publishers.

While visiting the house, or, more precisely, the attic of Howard Devore, I purchased a few wartime efforts by the Mitre Press. One was “The Man Who Tilted the Earth” by Justin Atholl. The copy appeared to me desperately distressed, with worn covers and fraying, well-thumbed edges. However, this title is not the point of this article. The point is, I love the crudely executed artwork that burped into existence seemingly only during those war years.

ATHOLL The Oasis Of Sleep

The Atholl cover was not signed, but, I had read the story and began hunting further Atholl books. My next title was “The Oasis of Sleep.” This was signed by illustrator Jeff Cook, and the vibrantly bold style caught my eye immediately. I wanted more by this guy. But, what other books had he illustrated? The Internet was still young back then, I was still on dial-up, and I was on the wrong side of The Great Pond to pursue a research endeavor at the British Library. So, I did it the hard way, and learned that Jeff Cook did not simply appear during the war years.

He began much earlier….

The earliest illustrated effort by Jeff Cook appears to be actually not with books, but, on sheet music covers! His artwork can be found on pieces released by Lawrence Wright Music Company (as early as 1929), B. Feldman & Co., Gilbert & Nicholls, and Cecil Lennox Ltd., etc. The last known piece that I have traced appears in 1935, with perhaps one further in 1940. For the most part, none of the covers are exciting. So, how did he hop from sheet music to book covers? I haven’t the foggiest, but, I hold out hope that someone from his family may one day find this article and fill in the blanks.

Moving along, the earliest known book illustration occurs in 1933, with children’s books for the publishers Art & Humour Publishing:

  • Elfin Adventures
  • Woodland Fairies

He next appears handling a handful of dust jackets for Wells, Gardner & Co., illustrating the covers of the following books:

  • Alice A. Methley “Summer Hours and Summer Flowers” (1937)
  • Alice A. Methley “Winter Days and Winter Ways” (1937)
  • William Rainey “Admiral Rodney’s Bantam Clock” (1938)
  • Harold Bindloss “The Boys of Wildcat Ranch” (1938)
  • Daniel DeFoe “Robinson Crusoe in Short Words” (?)
    cover art by Gordon Robinson, with interiors by GR and Cook

From 1939 to 1941, I have found no evidence of his output. Could be I simply haven’t located them yet, or, perhaps, he enlisted. Cook resurfaces, illustrating several covers for Everybody’s Books and Mitre Press, from 1942-1944.

He then turned his hand to children’s books, illustrating covers and supplying interior art for the Walker Toy Book ‘Dinky Series’ published by Renwick of Otley, with such titles as:

  • Kitchen Capers” (#75)
  • The Old Chimney Corner” (#80)
  • The Old Mill” (#83)
  • Scarum Sam” (#87)
  • Tea Time Tale“(#91)

Also for the same publishers, “Our Boys’ Tip Top” was an omnibus loaded with tales by F. W. Gumley and others. The frontispiece was by Jeff Cook, and internally, he supplied illustrations to tales by Arthur Groom and L. E. Shorter.

Additionally, he supplied art to at least one postcard, for “The White Horse Hotel, Bampton, Devon.”

So, who is Jeff Cook?  With his earliest known piece appearing circa 1930, I wanted to believe that he got into illustrating at a fairly young age, perhaps out of high school or college. With that purely as my basis, this, below, I believe to me by man. If anyone has any further information about Jeff Cook, please contact me.

Jeffrey Cook (11 Feb 1907, died 13 Oct 1979)
son to Frederick COOK and Kate Annie ROWLAND (married 1894)
siblings:
Gladys (10 May 1900; died 1982)
Clifford (Dec 1905)
Bernard (19 Feb 1908; died 1990)
Kate (3 Feb 1910; died 1998)
Elizabeth (20 Dec 1914; died 1999)
It’s also possible he had two earlier sibs, names of Donald and Hilda.

 

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Jeff Cook, illustrator / artist

“Did This Really Happen?” by Sidney Gainsley

BERNARDS Did This Really Happen FRONT COVER I have not spent any real time investigating the identity nor the history surrounding Sidney Gainsley. If any family-members ever read this article, I should love to learn more about Sidney, his exploits in publishing, etc. However, from what little investigative efforts I have made, I know that Sidney was born in 1912 and died 1982 in Sutton, Surrey, England.

Sidney married Fanny “Fay” Goldberg during the war. She was previously married to David Lyons in 1936, then to Sidney Gainsley to in 1941 (Lambeth). Sidney and Fanny gave birth to Bruce in 1942 (Surrey).

Sidney wedded again in 1971 (St. Pancras) to Agnes Gainsley (directly related or a Gainsley by marriage, I’m not sure).  Agnes Marion Gainsley died 11 March 1979 (at 5 Wentworth Close, Long Ditton, Surrey).

BERNARDS Did This Really Happen REAR COVER

Did This Really Happen?” by Sidney Gainsley was published in 1943 by Bernard’s Ltd., based out of 77, The Grampians, Western Gate, London, W.6. The book is Number 29 in Bernard’s overall publication history, nearly all of  which are part of their Bernard’s Technical Books series. Number 27 was part of their short-lived Fiction Series (see second photo for details).

This booklet is dedicated to Fay, Judith, and Bruce. From above, we know that Fay is Fanny, and Bruce was one of their children. Was Judith? I have not found any conclusive evidence to support just where she falls among the trio.

Aside from this one fiction attempt, I know that in 1945, publishers Brown Watson released a 64-page booklet entitled “Love and Dr. Hawkins” and a further title that same year is “The Expiator, and other short stories.” The lead cover title, however, appears in this blog’s featured collection.

I decided to pursue reading our featured side-stapled 60-page pamphlet because it reportedly was a collection of weird stories. In truth, it is just that, and should not be ignored by collectors of this genre.

The booklet features the following short stories:

  • (1-12) “Did This Really Happen?
    a fictional account of the Marie Celeste and the ill-fortune of a man’s whose life
    has been haunted by his misdeeds, since the inadvertent murder of Jackson,
    during The Civil War.
  • (13-23) “The Diary
    a woman’s murder is mentally recorded in a diary by the man who worked at a
    diary-binder (publishing house). A criminous, weird tale.
  • (24-31) “The Expiator
    a war veteran is reluctant to board a night train, lest he meet the ghost
    of a murderer whom fell to his death off a train trestle
  • (32-37) “Doubling the Bill
    a crime tale, where a jeweler drafts a false bill of sale to hide stolen funds,
    and uses his 3,000 to buy a house. Only, when the bill-holder dies, the estate
    finds the bill and files a claim. Now he is forced to pay 6,000 for a house worth
    only half that, and the bill collector will wonder where all money came from….
  • (38-44) “The Vase
    a fantastic tale; a vase is bought by a wealthy lady, she places flowers inside and
    they die by the next day. However, one sort of flower never dies. They flourish.
    It is learned that the vase’s former owner ONLY adored those flowers, and her
    spirit is embodied within the vase(s) she used.
  • (45-51) “To Steal Away His Brains
    an intoxicated man drives home and believes he has slain a man, when his car
    bumps over a body. At home, he washes off the blood, but come the next day,
    a policeman knocks at the door. Our man’s soul is tainted. He blows his brains
    out. The cop was only making his rounds selling tickets to a police dance! And the
    dead body? that of a sheep that strayed from its fold.
  • (52-55) “Chinese Dragon
    an antique shop owner buys a ring, and his life is ruined by constant misfortune and ill-health. When he parts ways with the ring, late in life, he later reads in the paper that the person that sold it to him has died, bequeath much of his estate to the ring’s purchaser and only has to supply the ring as evidence. The ring was sold to a sailor, whose ship ironically went down. All hands were saved, except him!
  • (56-60) “Lethal Waters
    a ship goes down at sea and the survivors day by day vanish or die from thirst. The captain, his son, and one sailor finally remain. In a fit of delirium the Captain dips his mug into the salty sea, and drinks it all down, then, in a flash, realizes his mistake, and dies. Ironically enough, the water was NOT salt, but fresh water. They had drifted into the mouth of the Amazon river overnight!

Whether the stories are all original to this volume or possibly reprinted from obscure magazines or newspapers, is not known to me. British newspapers and magazines, unlike their American counterparts, have barely been indexed to any extent.

If you enjoy collecting obscure collections of weird stories, then I heartily recommend this publication. It is a unique title and, often overlooked, no doubt, due to its association with technical books in the series and the lackluster cover art.

 

 

“Did This Really Happen?” by Sidney Gainsley

“Road Floozie” by Darcy Glinto (1941)

ROBIN HOOD PRESS Road Floozie

I’ve been meaning to return to reading and reviewing books by Harold Ernest Kelly. Some years ago, I lucked into corresponding with a young lady that is related to the author, but, sadly, she has vanished without a trace. (If any other relatives see this, I’d love to carry on where Jayne left off)….

Now, let’s return to the blog.

Published in 1941 by Wells, Gardner & Co., this was one novel (among others) under the alias Darcy Glinto, that landed the author, Harold Ernest Kelly, a hefty fine from the English government. After his fines, Kelly abandoned the Glinto alias for five years, and began publishing stories under pseudonyms Buck Toler, Preston Yorke, Eugene Ascher and several others.

Let’s focus on the story itself, and note, that I am reading the TRUE FIRST EDITION.
IF anyone else has any of his other titles available, I would like to obtain them and read/review them for posterity, too….

Eilleen is sick and tired of working in a sweatshop. Further, she’s fed-up with the bitch supervisor, whom treats the workers like the slave labor that they are. The conditions are deplorable. The pay isn’t worth mentioning.

Eilleen bucks the owner of the business and gets into an all-out brawl with the bitch, and lands herself in jail. Earning her freedom from the cell, she bags her livelihood necessities and decides to walk across the country and take in the “freedom” of the outdoors. She’s tired of being cooped up daily. With what meager funds available, she ties up a bag of clothes and bare necessities and strikes out on the road, living life essentially as a hobo.

If she thought working the sweatshop racket was shitty-business, she’s in for an eye-opener, for her troubles are just beginning….

First, her soft feet blister from unaccustomed walking, and improper shoes for the hike. Hitting a town store, she swaps in her shoes for proper gear but is short on funds. She permits the clerk to feel her up but not any further than her thighs, all to save herself a dollars’ expense.

Next, back on the road, a trucker by the name of Cal Morley picks her up, and thinks she is a floozie (hooker), but she insists that he has her all wrong. This sorted, he’s relieved that Eilleen is not a floozie, drops her off but hopes to run across her again in the pending days. She agrees, since he was kind and did not molest her.

Parting ways, she continues her hike toward Cincinnati. It begins to rain, and she is caught unprepared for the deluge to follow. Accepting the offer from another trucker to catch a ride, she begins to doze off in the cab and awakens to the reality that he is groping her. Fending him off, she bails and realization dawns upon her that she left her bag and money in the truck. Frustrated and broke, she hikes the rest of the route to the next truck stop. However, that trucker is not there. She’s out of luck.

While at the truck cafe, she accepts the offered steak from one trucker. She’s starving and drenched, and not thinking straight. That meal ticket leads to a ride in his truck. While aboard, he gets her liquored up to the point that she isn’t fully cognizant of the fact that he is raping her. The author is rather coy about how he presents the reader to the situation, more likely trying to avoid getting in trouble than anything else:

He lifted her, swung her round and laid her down along the seat.

This is as close as we get to being informed that she is molested….

Reviving later, after intoxication has worn off, they part ways, and she is $5 richer for the rape of her body. They have arrived in St. Louis. Realizing that she is now tainted, and her body can earn her quick money, she decides to carefully play the floozie role and begins earning quick cash.

The plot cheapens into the sleaze realm rapidly; Eilleen soon becomes penniless after a massive rainstorm keeps her holed up in a motel. She is forced to accept a Denver-bound ride from a burly white beast, only to learn that he has a sidekick riding shotgun with him. As the author proclaims, a big “nigger,” by name of Sambo. Now the book has degenerated into the realms of racism, however, keep in mind that the author, English, is writing to American style.

They pull off the road and viciously rape her. To further her humiliation, they rub a can of truck gear grease up her crotch and surrounding areas, essentially hazing her. She’s then dumped along the roadside, and found the next day by a milk man, whom brings her to town and hails a cop, as he thinks she is loonie. Arrested and brought to court, she admits her whole life story and they take pity on her. Thus, she lands in a hospital and is cleaned up. However, despite being offered honest jobs, she turns them down and returns to the life of a road floozie.

Returning to the road, she robs a drunk trucker of his funds, then buys a fresh wardrobe and a revolver, for protection against brutes.

Her second victim is too damned tired to be driving. She convinces him to take to the road, and she will “prod” him if he begins to doze. This she does, mercilessly, then, during a spell when he nods off, she bails as the truck rolls off the road. She’s now made her first kill.

Eilleen makes her next kill when the drunkard she robbed earlier catches her at a trucker’s cafe. He slugs her and tells all present that she is poison. Cunningly, she later sneaks into his truck, and convinces him that she wishes to repay him. This she partially does. While on the road, she wrenches on the steering wheel and crashes the truck through a 50-foot drop. She bails out the window and awakes from unconsciousness, once again, in a hospital, and spends a month there, recuperating.

Trying to hunt up fresh game, she is kicked out of a truck station, upon recognition. Realizing that word has rapidly spread, she becomes incensed against the original pair that forced her to lead the floozie lifestyle. She tracks the burly white man and Sambo to Denver, and hooks up with them, playing the part of floozie tremendously. With her first-ever thoughts of premeditated murder coming to fruition, the only thing that could possibly derail her plans include the impressive arrival of Cal Morley, the only honest trucker that tried to help her! He insists on their pairing up again. She finally agrees, but not until the next night. That night…she has plans.

Hooking up with the evil pair, she steers them to an off-road barn, where she intends to permit the burly one first dibs at her body, but insists Sambo go blow, as she doesn’t want to be gang-banged nor watched. They agree, and while he is bullying his way onto her, she pulls the revolver and blows a hole in his chest. Sambo comes running up, thinking that she is the dead person. She shoots him and as he staggers away, screaming, she stalks him like an animal and empties the gun into him.

Cleaning up for the “date” with Cal Morley tomorrow, she finally finds Cal’s rig, and hops in while he is inside the cafe. He clambers in and is surprised to find her inside (honestly! Do all truckers leave their rigs unlocked?)

She confesses her whole life story to him, including the murders. He’s agitated. He professes he is essentially in love with her, but with THIS between them every day of their lives, how will they handle it? He dare not let her go, lest one day she kills herself or someone else, either. She takes matters into her own hands, when she spies the 50-foot drop fence that she used to kill another trucker with earlier in the novel. Eilleen wrenches on the wheel and wraps herself securely about Cal, blocking his ability to bring the wayward truck back under control.

The truck careens off the side and….. THE END !!!

 

“Road Floozie” by Darcy Glinto (1941)