By Kevin Guilfoile
Before I wrote Cast of Shadows, I spent over a decade as a creative director at the advertising, design, and interactive firm Coudal Partners. Every single word of the thousands of ads I wrote while at Coudal have been long forgotten (alas, even vegan agitators have forgotten the hate mail they sent me for the steakhouse billboard on the Kennedy with an image of Mrs. O'Leary's cow and the headline: It's Payback Time!). One of the only enduring legacies I probably have from those days is the Museum of Online Museums, a rotating collection of links to serious and oddball collections around the web that Jim Coudal and I started back in 2001. The site's been featured in the New York Times and on All Things Considered and Time magazine named it one of the internet's 50 Coolest Web Sites.
I'm still something like the MoOM's part-time co-curator emeritus or something, and today I found a great new entry, a small collection of lurid covers from Cambodian pulp novels.
Those images reminded me of the wealth of literary collections that can be found at the MoOM, especially in the pulp, sci fi and detective genres, which seem especially collectible.
A great place to start is the University of Buffalo's George E Kelley Paperback and Pulp Fiction Collection. You could spend a whole afternoon just in the Gumshoes, Sleuths, and Snoopers section. In addition to cover art, each book has plot, theme and character summaries. It's not nearly as sexy (or comically sexist) as some of the others, but I have always loved the cover of The Con Man, the first 87th Precinct novel.
Not exclusively mystery-related, but equally lurid, is this collection of men's magazine covers from the fifties and sixties. I'm not sure what we have to do to get young men reading fiction again, but anyone who is uncomfortable with the level of exploitation in Maxim should probably not click that link.
Switching gears to something more charmingly nostalgic is this extensive collection of French editions of the Saint novels.
I've spent years digging around in the catacombs of the MoOM. I promise you could easily lose a couple of hours there if you lack restraint. And if I really wanted to destroy your Friday, I'd tell you how to find the MoOM Annex where all the MoOM links, past and present, wait to be rotated in and out of the main exhibit.
I would never do that to you, though.
UPDATE: It has been pointed out by more than one astute reader that I made a mistake in my last post when I said Chicago has the "highest murder rate" in the country this year. Chicago has had the most murders of any US city in 2008, more than even New York or L.A., but smaller cities such as Detroit and New Orleans have higher per capita murder rates than Chicago. That was careless of me. I apologize.