Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Spicy Adventures and Knocked Out Loaded

A minor Dylan mystery -where did the cover art from his 1986 album, "Knocked Out Loaded" originate? - has been solved nearly 30 years after its release. Earlier this month, master researcher Scott Warmuth posted the cover of the January 1939 issue of pulp magazine "Spicy Adventure Stories" to his Facebook page without comment. But the image of a firecracker senorita about to crown a bandito with an earthen jug needed no explanation that it was the source for the album art.

Although the album cover was attributed to a Charles Sappington in the credits, Sappington was careful to distance himself from that credit in a 2009 interview with "The Houston Chronicle."
Q:Did you create the image for the album cover? Or just the design? 
A: I created the package. However, the deal was at the time … I promised them I wouldn’t talk about it. There was a reason, and it was legal. They had some legal problems with that cover. I suspect enough time has passed, but I have to stick to my word unless I get approval from the Dylan camp. (Note: Dylan’s camp had no comment.) What I can say is that Bob Dylan supplied the original image and then we distorted it from there. 
Q: Did you have much interaction with Dylan on the cover? 
A: They originally had a photographer shoot some photos of Dylan and Tom Petty. I heard Dylan took a look and threw them all in the trash. The only thing he liked from the shoot was a Polaroid test shot, which is the first thing they gave me. I fiddled with that, but they didn’t care for it, and we went in a different direction. That’s the part I can’t talk about. But on the inside there were the thank-yous …
Special Thanks To
Sappington notes in the "Houston Chronicle" interview that the extensive list of "Special Thanks To" in the album credits originally started as a manageable 20 or so names. Dylan would call every day with new names to add until the published "Special Thanks To" stretched to 121 names or places, including acknowledgements of Dylan's then-wife, Clydie King, and daughter, Desiree (Gabrielle Dennis-Dylan) and to a “baby boo boo,” urban slang for an unexpected pregnancy or child .

The first name listed in the credits may be a clue to the how Dylan found the cover art. Tony Goodstone is the editor/compiler of “The Pulps: Fifty Years of American Pop Culture.”

Given that Sappington apparently didn't do more than distort the original art, eliminate the original magazine type and artist's signature and add on the "Knocked Out Loaded." title, it's understandable why Dylan's business people may have had some concerns about the legality of using the image, even 47 years after its original publication. But since both the "Spicy" line and publisher Culture Publications had disappeared in the early 1940s, and that the artist himself died in 1962, it was probably a safe bet that no lawyers would be knocking on Dylan's door, no matter where the rights to the art had eventually landed.

Spicy Stories & H.L. Parkhurst

"Spicy Adventure Stories" was part of a group of "spicy" pulps published by Culture Publications in the 1930s, which included "Spicy Detective," "Spicy Mystery," and "Spicy Western." All the Spicy books adhered to a simple two-ingredient formula - action and sex. "Spicy Adventure Stories" ran for nine years under that title until changing its name to "Speed Adventure Stories."

The cover artist who illustrated E. Hoffman Price's "Daughters of Doom"was Harry Lemon (H.L) Parkhurst, born in July 22, 1876 in Minneapolis, MN. After the advertising illustration market collapsed during the Great Depression, Parkhurst began a new career for the pulps, a growing market even during the Depression, as pulps made their money from newsstand sales rather than advertising.

As well as "Spicy Adventure Stories," Parkhurst painted covers for many pulps, including the other members of the "Spicy" family. He passed away in 1962.  Online, Harry Lemon Parkhurst's  work is often misattributed to another  "H..L. Parkhurst," Henry Landon Parkhurst, a Tiffany designer and fine art instructor who, as far as I can tell, never had a career in pulp illustration.

Under his real or mistaken "Henry Landon" name, Parkhurst's original pulp cover oil paintings are considered highly collectable, selling in the mid- to high five figures during the rare occasions when one of his works comes up for auction. If it still exists, the location and ownership of Parkhurst's original "Daughters of Doom" painting - which would become the cover of "Knocked Out Loaded" nearly 50 years later - is unknown.


  1. The illustration has been distorted on the album cover, so it looks like a movie screen viewed from up too close, in the first row. That's why I always thought it was from a movie poster. What's your take on why the image was distorted in this way?

    1. Hadn't thought that might be why the illustration was distorted, Gary. Interesting theory.

  2. That`s interesting. I always thought, it`s a movie scene, too. The image was since the album's release so familar to me