One of the pioneering sleaze publishers, Fabian Books was the first of a half-dozen book lines to emerge from the Fresno-based operation of Sanford Aday and Wallace de Ortega Maxey. Along with the Fabian line, there were also Saber, Tropic, National Library Books (NLB), Paragon and Vega. Both an author as well as the chief editor and publisher, Aday established Fabian in 1952 (which was early in the realm of sleaze paperbacks), issuing tortured novels of his own for a short while, until branching out and publishing the works of others, including sleaze scribes Eve Linkletter, John Nemec, Roger Blake, nascent food critic Lou Hogan, and astrologer Sydney Omarr. Aday began running afoul of the law in the late 1950s, most famously when he was challenged in a Michigan pornography trial for shipping across state lines the notorious 1959 Oscar Peck novel SEX LIFE OF A COP (Saber #11). In response to the initial legal challenges, Aday and de Ortega Maxey enlisted several literary-community figures and (young first-amendment-rights lawyer Stanley Fleishman) to combat the the yoke of censorship in a very public manner -- via the publication of a newsstand magazine entitled SEX & CENSORSHIP (see "Reference Magazines" below). In these pages, the likes of Henry Miller, Lawrence Lipton and others described the latest US government censorship attacks, defeats and advances. This may have served to further anger the government and eventually backfired for the publishers -- as they were found guilty in the Michigan "SEX LIFE OF A COP" trial and sentenced harshly. One wonders had the titular subject had been a grocery clerk, bell-hop, or insurance saleman, if the sentence of 25 years might have been somewhat less. The Fabian books ran through 1963 while other booklines appeared as late as 1973. I have always been profoundly struck by the cover art of the Fabians with their unique sense of characters in forbidden tableaux. There is a sense of stillness -- even when the artist (?) is depicting action. Going deeper in this analysis, the cover action seems frozen, as if composed as "memory" rather than captured in mid-moment. Perhaps this distinguished Fabian feeling has to do with the lack of "cheesecake"or "girly" subject matter which was the mainstay of most of the competing early sleaze publishers like the Cameo, Venus, Carnival digest books of Hanro publications, or the Uni-books (Universal digests, and soon after, Beacon books). Also striking is the odd, darkened color palette in use (violet, greens and yellows), which captures a sense of
preserved nocturnal life -- "filled" with lonely spaces, and "lit" only by dimly distant light -- faces barely discernable as even the night-shadows have a sense of fading-out.
The books were produced with the thinnest of paper stock. Both the glossy covers and the paper pages are remarkable light-weight are unfortunately susceptible to chipping and tearing.
The publishing offices were listed as: 2919 East Belmont Avenue, Fresno 1, California
Be sure to cross-check the "Writers" and "Artists" and "Themes" areas also!
New books will be added as they become available.