Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Vintage Novelty Nutcase Dust Jackets

by Stephen J. Gertz

MAKANEZBUCK, Charlie. Learn Counterfeiting At Home.
The Print Press, 1959.

"Leister Game Company was first started by Reginald S. Leister in the basement of his home in 1933. He created Unique Golfer Novelties that are World Famous for over 75 years & some of the Funniest Novelty Gag Gifts Ever ! ! ! ! ! " (from their website).

Its current catalog includes Over the Hill Crotch Washers, Goofy Golf Balls, Hot Flash Fans, Polish Parking Only signs, Big Dave's Lucky Fishing Towels, Rubber Chickens, Grand Champion Bullshitter Award Ribbons, Condom Swizzle Sticks, Hillbilly Teeth, Visitor Planet Earth Parking Permits, Whoopee Cushions, Pet Farts, Bull Pens (desk set w/pen inserted into cowpie - "For the executive with a sense of humor"), Adults Only Risque Items, etc. The laffs never stop! The yuks won't quit!

In 1959, the company produced a series of novelty dust jackets. Reginald S. tells the tale:

(Image appropriately askew).
Should your checking account be populated by gnats and you need a little cash why not help yourself to five-to-ten, courtesy of the Department of Corrections?

BADCHECK, Pasha. Forgery Self-Taught.
Doubleor Nuthin, 1959.

Or, if a career as a highly skilled thief appeals to you, how 'bout this recent selection from Oprah's Book Club?

SWINDLER, Ronnie G. So You Want To Be A Safecracker.
Sing Sing Press, 1959.

The cost of health care has never been higher. If amateurs were allowed to practice medicine the magic of unfettered free market capitalism would drive doctors' fees down. Triple-bypass? Only $39.95 at Earl's Chop Shop.

SUTURE, Dr. Rudyard. Surgery...A Profitable Hobby.
Medical Press, 1959.
"All 20 Chapters of This Book, with an Extra Large Appendix,
Are Guaranteed to Keep You in Stitches"

Psychiatric treatment has become de rigueur for every red-blooded American concerned about having their head explode, ala David Cronenberg's SCANNERS, during political hunting season. Leister Game & Novelty Company was on the cutting edge of the trend:

BATTURE NOGGIN, Dr. U. Head Shrinking for the Beginner.
Missionary Press, 1959.

Below, Leister, pointedly yet with blunt pen, addresess the Civil Rights movement but the humor (such as it is) is very dark and one must read the rear panel text to "get" it: the author is an ignorant cracker, a seventh-grade drop-out in a Southern town where the role of village idiot rotates amongst its citizenry.

DUKES, P. "Biff". Lynching As a Community Project.
Simon and Rooster, 1959.

This dust jacket is a discomforting Strange Fruit hanging from the poplar book tree, and a reminder of an American sin that remains an indelible stain upon the flag. In 1959, only Lenny Bruce had the satiric chops to successfully riff on lynching, and he didn't think it was funny.

“I’ve been accused of bad taste, and I’ll go down to my grave accused of it and always by the same people, the ones who eat in restaurants that reserve the right to refuse service to anyone. I’m sorry I haven’t been funny. I am not a comedian. I am Lenny Bruce.”

Should your funny bone be completely disarticulated and your liver squirt bile by the above, recourse is provided by the below:

O'REILLY, Patrick J. How To Start a Riot.
Tripleday, 1959.

Feeling crafty?

SKINEMWELL, Dr. Ronald. 101 Things to Make With Human Skin.
Medical Hobby Press, 1959.
You may have noticed that authors Charlie Makanezebuck, Pasha Badcheck, Ronnie G. Swindler, Dr. Rudyard Suture, Dr. U. Batture Noggin, P. "Biff" Dukes, Patrick J. O'Reilly, and, presumably Dr. Ronald Skinemwell (no image for rear panel) bear a remarkable resemblance to one another. While I am not certain, I strongly suspect that the model is the ol' novelty gagster himself, Reginald S. Leister. The rubber chicken was otherwise engaged.

Don't miss this opportunity "to amaze and amuse your friends and party guests with a new and different form of subtle humor"!

Clearly, sophomores were - and are still - running the show at Leister. Exhibit A: Beer Boobs, breast-shaped beverage can toppers to drink through. Party on!

Complete sets of the Leister Game Company's Comic Book Jackets are scarce, and we don't  know  the total number of titles actually issued; in addition to the examples above, I've seen references to authors Archie Fastbuck, Ron Nofunds, Wendie Barroom. Fannie Paychek, Oscar Flugle, Edgar Penman, and Hubert Updike in connection with Leister DJs but not the covers themselves; they may have never been produced.

Individual DJs appear from time to time on EBay, etc. but rarely in fine condition. I saw the most complete set to come to market in a long time - and in beautiful condition - at the recent Santa Monica Book Fair, offered by Book Hunter's Holiday, Chris Bunje Lowenstein's online rare book shop, which, if you've yet to visit, I encourage you stop by and browse.

Each dust jacket:

Toledo, Ohio: Leister Game Co., Inc., 1959. 8 1/2" x 21". Color printed dustjacket complete with illustrated front cover, "author" photo and "publicity endorsements" on the back cover. Designed by Roger Crawford. Photography by Emily A. Leister (née Worcester), Reginald's wife.

Images courtesy Book Hunter's Holiday with the exception of 101 Things to Make With Human Skin, which is provided by Joseph Valles - Books.


  1. All I can say is "wow."

  2. When I was younger my grandmother had all of these jackets on books in her bookshelf. I loved them! Someone should do updated versions of these today. May I suggest, "Identity theft, turn your home computer into a profitable business"! or, "Roadkill cookbook, 101 recipes from quail to raccoon". Sorry about the lame attempt to copy greatness.

  3. I have four of these and where do I sell them?

  4. I have all of these...looking for buyers

    1. Hello,
      I would be interested.
      Please send details to Elevate-Ecky at gmx dot de

  5. I have 8 of these jackets would like to sell.

    1. I'm interested. Please contact me at salvagione at gmail dot com

  6. Greetings! I am looking for a buyer for these book jackets. All in good condition.


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