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Reginald Heade – Britain’s Greatest Pulp-Fiction Cover Artist

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'White Slaves of New Orleans' by Roland Vane, published in 1949.

‘White Slaves of New Orleans’ by Roland Vane, published in 1949.

Not much is known about the life of Reginald Cyril Heade except that he was probably Britain’s greatest pulp-fiction cover artist. Little fêted during his lifetime (and decades after) his beautifully painted buxom sirens, not unusually depicted in déshabillé, adorned many hard-boiled thrillers during the forties and fifties.

He was born Reginald Cyril Webb in 1901 (later in his career he often used the name ‘Cy Webb’) in the east end of London but by the 1930s, but as far as the electoral register was concerned and the publishers he drew for, he was known as Reginald Heade. Before the war he was living in the Holborn area of London although still with a property in Forest Gate.

Heade’s lurid covers adored pulp paperbacks of authors such as Hank Janson, Roland Vane, Michael Storme, Paul Renin, Gene Ross and Spike Morelli. The artwork often pushed to the absolute limits of what was legally allowed for the time. Heade also worked in comics and drew “The Saga of the Red”, “The Captain from Castille”, “Sexton Blake versus the Astounding John Plague” and “Robin Hood” in Knock-Out (1949), and “The Sky Explorers” in Comet (1952-53).

After the war Heade had moved to Barons Court in Westminster and this was where he died in 1957 aged just 56. There were no obituaries in the press and to this day not much is known about the English pulp-fiction cover artist.

1951; Ladies of the Red Lamp by Roland Vane. Cover art by Reginald Heade

‘Ladies of the Red Lamp’ by Roland Vane, published in 1951.

 

'White Slave Racket' by Roland Vane, published in 1952.

‘White Slave Racket’ by Roland Vane, published in 1952.

1951; Plaything of Passion by Jeanette Revére. Cover art by Reginald Heade

‘Plaything of Passion’ by Jeanette Revére, published in 1951.

 

'Curtains for Carla' by Michael Storme, published in 1952 by the Lesiure Library.

‘Curtains for Carla’ by Michael Storme, published in 1952 by the Lesiure Library.

 

Dame in my Bed Reginald Heade

Dame in my Bed by Michael Storme, published in 1950.

 

Dames are No Dice Reginald Heade

‘Dames Are no Dice’ by Slim Vincent, published in 1950.

 

Death for a Doll Reginald Heade

Death For a Doll by Spike Morelli, published by 1952.

 

Dolores Reginald Heade

Dolores by Paul Renin, published in 1940.

 

Make Mine a Shroud Reginald Heade

‘Make Mine a Shroud’ by Michael Storme, published in 1952.

 

Me and My Ghoul Reginald Heade

‘Me and my Ghoul’ by Michael Storme, published in 1950.

 

Men Women Love Reginald Heade

‘Men Women Love’ by Paul Renin, published in 1949.

 

Ming Yellow Reginald Heade

‘Ming Yellow’ by John P. Marquand, this edition published in 1957.

 

Nyloned Avenger by Hank Janson. Cover art by Reginald Heade

‘Nyloned Avenger’ by Hank Janson, published in 1953.

 

Pick-up Girl Reginald Heade

‘PIck-Up Girl’ by Roland Vane, published in 1952.

 

Plaything of Passion Reginald Heade

‘Plaything of Passion’ by Jeanette Revere, published in 1951.

 

Sinful Sisters Reginald Heade

‘Sinful Sisters’ by Roland Vane, published in 1950.

 

Spoiled Lives by Pierre Flammeche, published in 1952.

 

Sweetheart with a wreath Reginald-Heade-1

‘Sweetheart with a Wreath’ by Michael Storme, published in 1953.

 

Take it And Like It Reginald Heade

‘Take it and Like it’ by Spike Morelli (with the gloves off), published in 1951.

 

The Case of the Black Eyed Blonde Reginald Heade

‘The Case of the Black Eyed Blonde’ by Erle Stanley Gardner, published in 1944.

 

The Case of the Wicked Three Reginald Heade

‘The Case of the Wicked Three’ by Anthony Parsons, published in 1954.

 

The Lady Has a Scar Reginald Heade

‘The Lady Has a Scar’ by Hank Janson, published in 1950.

 

The Paper Palace Reginald Heade

‘The Paper Palace’ by Robert Harling, published in 1951.

 

This Woman is Death Reginald Heade

‘This Woman is Death’ by Hank Janson, published in 1948.

 

White Coolies by Betty Jeffrey. Panther 1959. Cover artist Reginald Heade (Reginald Cyril Webb)

‘White Coolies’ by Betty Jeffrey. published by Panther in 1959. Two years after cover artist Reginald Heade (Reginald Cyril Webb) had died.