Coxeman Best Laid Plan – Blog #009 of the 160 “Pretty Faces” book cover Challenge

This is book #069 on the list of 160 books that Gardner Francis Fox wrote from 1953 to 1986. This is the ninth book I scratched out a cover for.

Adventurer Rod Damon -The Coxeman – discovers it’s what’s up front that counts!  

Coxeman Best Laid Plan Troy Conway Gardner F Fox scratchboard cover art Kurt Brugel espionage secret agent

Mr. Fox wrote Coxeman Best Laid Plan in 1969 under the pseudonym Troy Conway, aka: Michael Avallone, Johannes L. Bouma, Gardner F Fox, Charles, E. Fritch, and Paul J. Gillette.

Mr. Fox wrote two books under this pseudonym. Troy Conway was a house name for the Coxeman series. I doubt he wrote the story from the first word to the last word. I’m guessing that there were manuscripts passed around and authors were paid by how much they contributed. I don’t know Fox’s writing style well enough to see which parts were actually his, but I hope to in the future.

Mr. Fox had already cut his teeth on another sexpionage agent series called: The Lady from L.U.S.T. He had written nine so far.

The original back cover description…

THE COXEMAN GETS A BUG UP HIS BRAIN — Rod Damon – The Coxeman – learns of an enemy plot to murder world leaders by planting a remote-controlled “bug” in the brain of a number of agents. The “bugs” are programmed to have the agents kill on demand.

Rod’s job is to try to join the enemy force, HECATE, in order to destroy it. But first, he must pass a series of tests, one of which is a test of virility. Rod is finally accepted and “bugged” for murder.

But HECATE has outsmarted Rod. He finds that he cannot neutralize the assassination orders. More importantly, he finds that he has lost his power to make love – except on HECATE’s orders!

He is now an enemy-controlled sex machine who threatens to screw up the whole Free World!

The story takes place during the swinging sixties. Rod Damon is an American version of James Bond, a la blunt and crude. There was a huge fad around the British Secret Agent 007.

James Bond VHS tape collection Roger Moore Sean Connery Timothy Dalton

For most, it was James Bond’s book Casino Royale (published 1953) that opened the door to the cold war espionage world, but for me, it was the 1962 movie Dr. No. My father introduced 007 to me on a summer Saturday morning when I was in my early teens. I watched him in the 80s as reruns on TV. I also had all of them, up to Timothy Dalton’s run, on VHS.

There are 36 Coxeman books. Having been written between 1967 to 1973. Originally penned by Michael Avallone, he co-wrote the first few Nick Carter/Killmaster books and penned a large number of books based on popular television shows (i.e. Man from U.N.C.L.E.)

The Coxeman books fall under a sense of satire. Poking fun at the over the top womanizing and escaping every death trap in the world style of storytelling. There were many of these characters popping up to fill the need for more of this type of men’s adventure. Spyman-heroes like: Matt Helm (played by Dean Martin in the movies), Flint (played by James Colburn in the movie), and the popular television show The Man from U.N.C.L.E..

Here’s Rod Damon’s back story:

Rod Damon, the Coxeman, is an agent for a secret U.S. government agency.

      Born in Wisconsin, Damon enjoyed a normal childhood and went on to college. At 21, he received his B.S. in Sociology before entering the service for a 3-year stint as a U.S. Army Intelligence officer. Graduate school came next but for the next few years, he was a grad student, struggling with the studies of Kinsey and getting nowhere, until he thought of a better approach.

      Finding several willing co-eds and a few ancient manuals on sexual practices, Damon set about to recreate each activity in order to determine the ’emotional responses of contemporary collegians to practices of civilizations past.’ Three months and a lot of fun later, he had enough material to finish his doctoral thesis. This research was published, became famous in academic circles, and the newly titled Dr. Damon was awarded a huge grant by a prominent research foundation to continue his excellent work.

      That is how Rod Damon, now a professor of sociology at one of America’s major university, became the founder and director of L.S.D., the League for Sexual Dynamics. This position gave Damon the chance to earn a good living and continue the constant research on sexuality that has been so important to him thus far.

      Damon got his start as the Coxeman when he was railroaded into the espionage service by a threat of criminal prosecution. It seems that an eager college co-ed, happy to assist in the study of the 20 different positions of the Saluka Goddess of Love, was not the 18 Damon thought her but actually a finely developed 16 year old genius. It was working for the government or being a guest of it. Damon chose work.

      The Coxeman title refers to his cover as a grantee of the Thaddeus X. Coxe Foundation, a cover organization for the ultra-secret American espionage group so clandestine that not even the CIA know about them.

      Using this position as camouflage, Rod Damon is able to go just about anywhere to continue his studies into something done just about everywhere: sex.

      Damon loves sex. He loves getting pleasure and he loves greatly giving pleasure. His knowledge of the history of the research this enjoyable activity is tremendous and fills the pages as he passes that learning on to the readers.

      With all the research he personally does, it would be astronomical the number of little girl and boy Damons he would have produced if he had not been ethical enough at 25 to have himself fixed.

      Though he is not ‘loaded for bear’, however, does not mean he is not ever-ready for action for Damon possesses a unique ability, or handicap, that makes him always able to answer the call for duty. What a hero!

      6′ tall and weighs 180 pounds. To help him survive his work with the League as well as staying alive during his Coxeman capers, he has maintained his body in tiptop shape and has even learned the tools of his new trade such as judo, karate, and savate as well as handling firearms.

      Oh, as if the whole concept of the series isn’t strange enough, the leader of the organization that Damon is forced to work with is never named. Instead, he is always referred to by the nickname given by Rod when they first met – Walrus-Moustache. Described as tall, thin, well groomed, and well-clothed, this head of the Coxe foundation appears in virtually every adventure. He is simply referred to as Walrus-Moustache due to his most prominent feature, the thin but long mustache he possesses.

This was some racy stuff for the 1960s and 1970s. Some damned it as pornography! Now it is relegated to being referred to as misogynistic vintage sleaze. Is there a place in the world for stories like these? Would the world rather forget about these naughty novels?

There seems to be a lot of sensitive people out there that are quick to judge something without reading it and then formulating and executing on that opinion. I’m not saying these are even close to being my favorite Fox stories, but I do appreciate them as to where they are placed in his career.

As a career wordsmith, it was the public that was dictating to the literary world what it wanted to read. For Mr. Fox, it was simply a paycheck. He enjoyed a men’s adventure story like any other red-blood American man back in the day. Would he have preferred to write another heroic fantasy like Kothar or Kyrik?

Here’s an excerpt from chapter one:

I guided her to an easy chair.  “You sit down there. I’m going to make you comfortable.”

As she sat, I knelt down and reached under her skirt, sliding my palms along her stockinged thighs.  She forgot her tears and her fright and sat up a little straighter.

  She said, “Oh!”

“I just want to take your stocking off, to check for bruises.”  I smiled up at her startled face. My fingers were working on the garter clasp, unfastening it and its two mates.  I began rolling down the black nylon.

“But—but really…”

Her thigh skin was very smooth.  Creamy. Was I mistaken, or did her leg give a little shiver where my fingertips caressed her?  She did not push my hand away, but her color heightened.

I undid the other garter and rolled down the other stocking.  With the nylons crumpled at her ankles, I slipped off her shoes and removed the stockings.  Her legs were damn shapely, naked with her skirt hem pushed to her upper thighs.

  She half laughed, “I’m showing you a lot, Professor.”

  I was putting her stockings in her shoes as I let my eyes assess her legs.  I nodded, saying, “But you aren’t worrying about what happened back there.”

  Her laughter rang out.  It was a nice laughter, a little deep and throaty.  Cleopatra might have laughed like that, or Delilah, or even Jezebel.  There is much of all those women in every female born.

  I lean forward and kissed her soft thigh, well above the knee.  Her flesh smelled good, with the faintest trace of Shalimar perfume.  Up this close, I could see beneath the skirt hem to her black girdle. Rhea Carson wore no panties, so my eyes had a treat.

If you are a fan of the vintage paperbacks and Mr. Fox’s work, I will encourage you to take Coxman Best Laid Plan for a spin. If you are interested in reading Coxeman Best Laid Plan, please click over to The Gardner Francis Fox Library to read Chapter One for free.

The original cover is a perfect example of how the paperback industry was on the cheap and not paying for as many illustrations. Photography, especially for the sleazy novels were using photos more than illustrations. And what would sell a book faster than a guy under a pile of gorgeous women, as he’s holding a pistol with a silencer on it?

original Coxeman Best Laid Plan Troy Conway Gardner F Fox scratchboard cover art Kurt Brugel espionage secret agent

Originally published in 1969 by Paperback Library

The cover Artist: Photographer Uncredited

I transcribed this book in 2019 with Richard Fisher.

Coxeman Best Laid Plan Troy Conway Gardner F Fox scratchboard cover art Kurt Brugel espionage secret agent

I create the cover illustrations to size. I work on 6 x 6 black Ampersand Scratchboard. The book covers are 6 x 9, which leaves 3 inches for text. I want a clean, “Penguin Books” look and feel to the covers. I’m using the pretty faces motif to keep a unified look and feel to the whole library. The back cover has an image of the original cover, the date it was originally printed, and the original story description.

I used this photo from a gentleman’s magazine called Salty (published 1969) I found online at Internet Archives as my reference.

photo reference from vintage sleaze gentlemen's magazine 1960s

Here’s a short video I put together of me working on the scratchboard process.

I have had many positive comments about the “new” covers. I feel pretty positive I will be able to do all 160 book covers.

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The original framed scratchboard art is for sale.

I will not be working on books in the order as Mr. Fox wrote them. I am doing the book cover designs based on when the transcribers who are assisting me, finish one. As they complete a book, it will be the newest release, so it will get a new book cover design. I also have to go back and replace the photo-bashed covers I made when I first started the Gardner Francis Fox Library in 2017.

Thank you for stopping by and finding out more about what I’m doing.

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Kurt Brugel

Custodian & Illustrator