Black Lizard was a publisher imprint during the 1980s. A division of the Creative Arts Book Company of Berkeley, California, Black Lizard specialized in presenting rediscovered forgotten classic crime fiction writers and novels from the decades between the 1930s and the 1960s. Creative Arts Book Company was founded by Don Ellis in 1966. Creative Arts filed for bankruptcy protection in 2003.
Creative Arts was best known for its Black Lizard imprint. Founded and edited by writer
Barry Gifford, Black Lizard released over ninety books between 1984 and 1990, including reprints of classic novels by Charles Willeford, David Goodis, Peter Rabe, Harry Whittington, Dan J. Marlowe, Charles Williams, and Lionel White, as well as original novels by Barry Gifford and Jim Nisbet. Lizard is single-handedly responsible for renewing the interest in pulp master Jim Thompson in the late 1980s, long after his death, which resulted in several film adaptations of his novels. The original series were mass-market paperbacks with covers drawn by Kirwan.
Barry Gifford's relationship with Black Lizard is also sometimes credited with having first applied the term noir fiction to a certain sub-genre of hardboiled fiction. Thus, in an introduction writtern by Gifford to the Black Lizard editions of Jim Thompson's novels in 1984, Gifford writes: "The French seem to appreciate best Thompson's brand of terror. Roman noir, literally 'black novel,' is a term reserved especially for novelists such as Thompson, Cornell Woolrich and David Goodis. Only Thompson, however, fulfills the French notion of both noir and maudit, the accursed and self-destructive. It is an unholy picture that Thompson presents. As the British critic Nick Kimberley has written, 'This is a godless world,' populated by persons 'for whom murder is a casual chore.'" Gifford's use of the term noir in this context resulted in a term that is narrower in scope than that used by the French roman noir as applied to fiction.
Random House bought the rights to the Black Lizard name in June 1990 and merged it with Vintage Crime. Vintage Crime/Black Lizard was the result. Many of the originally published books were replaced by mainstream-friendly writers such as Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, James M. Cain, as well as numerous contemporary authors. The mass-market paperbacks were replaced by trade paperbacks with black-and-white photographs on the covers. Most of the series was reprinted in this new format, but practically all of the books published by Lizard before the merge, with the notable exception of books by Jim Thompson, have been allowed to fall out of print and have remained so since the early 1990s.
Catalog [ edit ]
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By the time of its acquisition by
Random House, Black Lizard had issued the following novels (cover Illustrations, with three exceptions, by Jim Kirwan):
After Dark My Sweet, Jim Thompson
Agreement to Kill, Peter Rabe
The Alcoholics, Jim Thompson
The Baby Doll Murders, James O. Causey
Black Friday, David Goodis
Black Mass of Brother Springer, Charles Willeford
Black Lizard Anthology of Crime Fiction, Ed Gorman, ed.
Second Black Lizard Anthology, Ed Gorman, ed.
Blood on the Dining Room Floor, Gertrude Stein
The Box, Peter Rabe
Burnt Orange Heresey, Charles Willeford
Carny Kill, Robert Edmond Alter
Cassidy’s Girl, David Goodis
Coffin & Co., Njami Simon
Cockfighter, Charles Willeford
The Criminal, Jim Thompson
Cropper’s Cabin, Jim Thompson
The Damned Don’t Die, Jim Nisbet
Dead Meet, Roger L. Simon
Death Puppet, Jim Nisbet
Detour, Helen Nielsen
The Devil Wears Wings, Harry Whittington
Dig My Grave Deep, Peter Rabe
Dr. Syntax, Michael Petracca
The Far Cry, Fredric Brown
Fast One, Paul Cain
Fires That Destroy, Harry Whittington
Forgive Me Killer, Harry Whittington
Frenzy, James O. Causey
The Getaway, Jim Thompson
Goodbye L.A., Murray Sinclair
The Grifters, Jim Thompson
A Hell of a Woman, Jim Thompson
His Name was Death, Fredric Brown
I Wake up Screaming, Steve Fisher
Ill Wind, W. L. Heath
It's My Funeral, Peter Rabe
Jealous Woman, James M. Cain
Kill the Boss Goodbye, Peter Rabe
The Killing, Lionel White
Lethal Injection, Jim Nisbet
Low Bite, Sin Soracco
Man on the Run, Charles Williams
Masques, Bill Pronzini
A Moment to Prey, Harry Whittington
The Name of the Game is Death, Dan Marlowe
Never Live Twice, Dan Marlowe
Nightfall, David Goodis
Night Squad, David Goodis
Nothing in Her Way, Charles Williams
Nothing More than Murder, Jim Thompson
Only in L.A., Murray Sinclair
The Out is Death, Peter Rabe
Perversity, Francis Carco
Pick-up, Charles Willeford
Pop. 1280, Jim Thompson
Port Tropique, Barry Gifford
Recoil, Jim Thompson
The Root of his Evil, James M. Cain
Running of the Beasts, Bill Pronzini and Barry Malzberg
Savage Night, Jim Thompson
Seven Slayers, Paul Cain
Shoot the Piano Player, David Goodis
Silk Stalkings, Susan Thompson and Victoria Nichols
Sinful Woman, James M. Cain
Sing me a Murder, Helen Nielsen
The Straight Man, Kent Nelson
Street of No Return, David Goodis
Strongarm, Dan Marlowe
Swamp Sister, Robert Edmond Alter
A Swell Looking Babe, Jim Thompson
A Ticket to Hell, Harry Whittington
Tough Luck L.A., Murray Sinclair
The Truth of the Matter, John Lutz
Vengeance Man, Dan Marlowe
Violent Saturday, W. L. Heath
Web of Murder, Harry Whittington
Wild Town, Jim Thompson
You Play the Black and the Red Comes Up, Eric Knight
External links [ edit ]
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