Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Connecting dots between model Eva Lynd, artist Al Rossi, mystery writers Manning Lee Stokes and Carter Brown – and the Rocky Horror Show…

About a year ago, after I did some initial posts here about Eva Lynd, the legendary artists’ model, pinup glamour girl and actress, I got a surprise email from Eva herself.

That led to a wonderful ongoing correspondence that expanded to include my friend Rich Oberg, the men’s pulp art collector, and Wyatt Doyle, my co-editor on two anthologies of classic men’s pulp adventure magazine stories.

Almost every week, the four of us discuss or discover illustrations by Norm Eastman, Al Rossi or some other artist Eva modeled for in the 1950s and 1960s, or glamour photos of her featured on magazine covers or inside spreads.

Recently, we worked together to solve the mystery of two artist reference photos Eva shared with us.

Eva didn’t know what artwork they’d been used for. And, she no longer remembered if the photos had been given to her by Eastman or Rossi, though she was pretty sure it was one of them.

Norm and Al used Eva regularly and both took their own reference photos of models (as did most illustration artists who provided artwork to the men’s pulp adventure mags and pulp paperbacks).

One of the photos Eva sent us is a priceless piece of illustration art history. It shows her with Steve Holland, the favorite male model of Eastman, Rossi and just about every other top men’s adventure and paperback cover artist of the Fifties and Sixties.

Holland is holding a pistol to Eva’s head and looking up at something. Eva is wearing an Asian-looking dress and glancing back apprehensively at the gun.

When Eva emailed a scan of the photo to us she wrote:

“This is one of the photos Eastman or Rossi took of me and Steve Holland. I don’t know where the rendition of it got published. If you do, let me know. It does not appear to be like Norm’s usual bondage and torture stuff.”

None of us recognized it off the bat, but we began keeping an eye out for an illo that fit. Eventually, while leafing through a copy of the September 1964 issue of ACTION FOR MEN, I saw one that solved the mystery.

There, in the lower left hand part of an illustration Al Rossi created for a “Special Book Bonus” was an image that was clearly based on the photo of Steve and Eva.

The story, by Manning Lee Stokes, is titled “STRANGE SECRET OF KOREA’S NIGHTTIME NYMPH.” A note at the bottom of the page says it was excerpted from Stokes’ novel UNDER COVER OF NIGHT, which was first published in 1958.

Stokes was a prolific author of pulp fiction novels, which he wrote under his own name and at least nine pseudonyms. Most books credited to his real name are mysteries published in the 1940s and 1950s. In the Fifties, he also wrote “sleaze” paperbacks and Westerns under the name Kermit Welles and romance novels using the female pen name Bernice Ludwell

In the Sixties and up until his death in 1976, Stokes wrote dozens of novels under house names and pseudonyms, including nearly twenty of the Nick Carter spy novels, eight of the Richard Blade heroic fantasy books and eleven novels in The Aquanauts action/adventure series, under the name Ken Stanton.

When I sent Eva a scan of the Al Rossi’s illustration for the Manning Lee Stokes “book bonus” in ACTION FOR MEN it led to several revelations. It confirmed that the photo was taken by Al Rossi and helped Eva remember that the other mystery photo she’d sent us was also taken by him.

In addition, since the face of the Asian-looking woman Rossi painted in that illo doesn’t quite look like Eva, it also confirmed something else we suspected. Since Rossi sometimes changed a model’s face and hair in his paintings, some of the magazine and paperback cover illustrations he did with women who don’t look like Eva may in fact be her.

Eva told us:

“This is very exciting. I would not necessarily have thought that this was me if I didn’t have the photo. Of course, Al didn’t give me copies of all the pictures he took of me, only some. But this one certainly proves that some of the women in Rossi illustrations that I am not sure about could very well be me.

In this one, with Steve and the gun, there is no question about it. The other woman in the background is me, too. Al used me in various poses and setups at each photo session. In fact, in the Al Rossi illustration you posted a while ago [from KEN FOR MEN, May 1957], I was the model for all five women, even though only a couple of them look like me.” 

Eva recently solved a second reference photo mystery herself. She discovered the illustration it was used for while browsing eBay to find men’s adventure magazines that contained artwork by Al Rossi and Norm Eastman.

As soon as she found it, she sent me a link to the listing with a note:

“Hi Bob: Check this out. I think I was the model for the ‘naked blonde’ in this one. It is by Al Rossi and has the girl in the same pose as one of the photos I sent to you.”

Sure enough, there it was in another issue of ACTION FOR MEN, from January 1966.

The illustration shows a woman doing a striptease dance on top of a wooden crate, very similar to Eva’s dancing/balancing pose in Rossi’s reference photo.

It was used for a “Book Bonus” thriller by Carter Brown, published in the magazine under the title “NAKED BLONDE OF STRIPPER ALLEY.”

As noted on the great Killer Covers site (one of my faves), Carter Brown’s real name was Alan Geoffrey Yates. He was born in England in 1923, moved to Australia in 1948 and began his career as a writer in 1951. During the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, Brown was one of the best-selling mystery novelists in the world. He’s one of Australia’s most famous writers of any kind.

Brown was was even more prolific than Manning Lee Stokes. He churned out more than 300 books before his death in 1985. Most are mystery novels in one of his several long-running series that featured male detectives and lawmen, including Larry Baker, Danny Boyd, Paul Donavan, Rick Holman, Andy Kane, Randy Roberts and Al Wheeler.

The story in the January 1966 issue of ACTION FOR MEN, with the Al Rossi illo Eva Lynd modeled for, was taken from his novel THE BUMP AND GRIND MURDERS. It was first published by Signet in 1964 with a front-and-back wraparound cover painting by the great Robert McGinnis, who did covers for many of Carter Brown’s pulp paperbacks.

THE BUMP AND GRIND MURDERS was one of Brown’s series of novels featured the blonde bombshell female private investigator, Mavis Seidlitz. In it, Mavis goes undercover as a stripper.

Speaking of which, one of Carter Brown’s best known novels is the THE STRIPPER. It was published in 1961, with another memorable McGinnis cover painting, and is in his series of novels about California homicide investigator Al Wheeler.

Somewhat incredibly, it was turned into a musical in 1982 by members of the team that created THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW. If you’re a ROCKY fan like me, be sure to check out the songs from their version of THE STRIPPER on the RockyMusic.org website. The tracks from the original vinyl soundtrack LP have all been converted into streaming sound files you can listen to online.

Coming up in future posts, a look at some more priceless pop culture treasures from Eva Lynd’s collection.

In the meantime, if you’d like to read one of the men’s “sweat magazines” that has a classic Norm Eastman cover painting with characters based on Eva Lynd and Steve Holland, click the link or image below to download a complete copy of the October 1968 issue of NEW MAN magazine in the MensPulpMags.com virtual newsstand.

Click here or the image below to download a complete PDF copy of:

NEW MAN magazine, October 1968

FEATURING: A cover painting by the great Norm Eastman, using model Eva Lynd as the valiant nurse and Steve Holland as the wounded American soldier; a “SIZZLING SEX AND SPY” story by Jim McDonald; a gonzo sexual “self test”; cheesecake photos of blue movie actress VERA NOVAK; a classic bondage and torture tale, “STRIPPED VIRGINS FOR SATAN’S ROLL CALL OF THE DAMNED” (with artwork by John Duillo); and, wild sex exposés about “TWISTED TEEN SEX” and “SUBURBAN ORGY CULTS.” Plus lots of interesting vintage ads and other pulpy stuff.

NEW MAN, October 1968 - Thumbnails

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The “killer creature” animal attack covers of MAN’S LIFE magazine – all 28 of them!

For many collectors of vintage men’s pulp adventure magazines, issues that feature cover paintings with “killer creature” animal attack scenes are among the most highly prized. And, some of the best examples appeared on the covers of MAN’S LIFE.

It was that venerable mag that gave us the most famous critter cover of them all: the September 1956 issue, with the classic “Weasels Ripped My Flesh” cover painting created by artist Wilbur “Wil” Hulsey (sometimes credited as “Will”).

MAN’S LIFE ran from November 1952 to September 1975. It was published by Crestwood Publishing until 1966, then by Stanley Publications.

A total of 180 issues of MAN’S LIFE were published.

Of them, 28 have covers with animal attack cover paintings. Most of those were published during the years when Wil Hulsey worked for the magazine, from late 1955 until 1961, and he painted the majority.

However, some other great illustrations artists did animal attack cover paintings for the magazine before and after Hulsey.

The very first MAN’S LIFE cover to feature a creature doesn’t quite fit the classic animal attack mold. It’s the fourth issue, published in May 1953.

The cover painting on that one shows a skin diver attacking a big sawfish. That underwater scene was created by Leonard “Len” Steckler, a fascinating, multi-talented guy who has worked as an artist, a photographer, and a producer and director of television commercials, TV shows and movies.

The first MAN’S LIFE cover to have a classic killer creature cover painting showing the creature on offense, came in January 1955. It’s a masterful nighttime tiger attack scene painted by another fascinating, multi-talented guy — Milton Luros.

Luros, whose birth name was Milton Louis Rosenblatt, started out as a illustrator for pre-World War II pulp magazines. In the 1930s and 1940s, he primarily worked for science fiction pulps. In the 1950s, he began doing illustrations for the newly emerging men’s adventure genre.

Although he was a talented artist, Luros eventually realized there was more money to be made in the realm of publishing than he could make doing illustrations.

In the mid-1950s, he created the American Art Agency and became a representative for other artists, including Hulsey, who had also done some artwork for science fiction pulps.

In 1955, Luros became the Art Director for MAN’S LIFE. Initially, for a few issues, he was credited as Milton Luros, though for some reason he soon switched to using Milton Louis for his Art Director credit on the contents pages.

Around the same time that Luros joined the MAN’S LIFE staff, veteran comic book and comic strip writer and editor Harold Straubing became the magazine’s managing editor (replacing the original editor, Don Phares).

Luros himself created five of the six cover paintings used for MAN’S LIFE in 1955. Three of them — January, July and September — are animal attack covers.

The sea snake painting on the September 1955 issue is almost as familiar to men’s adventure magazine aficionados as Wil Hulsey’s killer weasels cover, since it was used on the 2008 edition of Taschen’s must-have book about the genre.

Wil Hulsey’s first cover painting for MAN’S LIFE was used for the November 1955 issue. It’s also the first of many he painted in which a distressed damsel is wearing an unbuttoned or torn red blouse, a common attention-getting combo on men’s adventure magazines. (Red + cleavage = high eye-grab potential on newsstands.)

Starting in 1956, Straubing and Luros kept Hulsey busy creating cover paintings for both MAN’S LIFE and the new men’s adventure magazine they launched for Crestwood that year, TRUE MEN STORIES (which was also sold to Stanley Publications in 1966).

All six of the MAN’S LIFE issues published in 1956 had killer creature covers. Three were done by the great pulp magazine and paperback cover artist Norman Saunders, also known for the still legendary MARS ATTACKS trading cards he created for Topps.

Saunders created a killer bear cover painting for the January 1956 issue, a superb vampire bat attack painting for the March issue and an iconic big snake attack painting for the July issue.

Hulsey did a rat attack painting for the May 1956 issue that presages his renowned weasels painting.

For the final issue that year, November 1956, Hulsey painted his first of several Western scenes. It features a cowboy and a well-endowed babe wearing an unbuttoned, bright yellow blouse (another eye-grabbing combo) being attacked by  diamondback rattlesnakes.

The following year, 1957, is the only other year in which all of the covers of MAN’S LIFE featured killer critter covers. And, it was the first of several years in which all issues had cover paintings created by Hulsey.

Up until 1957, the magazine had been published on a bimonthly schedule. In 1957, there were seven issues.

The starring cover beasts on four of them are animals that can actually pose a threat to humans: a crocodile (on the January cover), a panther (March), an elephant (July – the issue featured in my previous post) and a huge anaconda snake (September).

Three of them are among my favorite examples of gonzo “killer” creature concepts: killer snapping turtles (May 1957), killer flying squirrels (August) and killer spider monkeys (November).

Eight issues of MAN’S LIFE were published in 1958. Starting in September of that year the magazine began being published monthly. It continued on a monthly schedule until May 1961, then went back to a bimonthly schedule, presumably because sales and ad revenues didn’t turn out to be quite good enough to make it profitable to publish the magazine every month.

Cover artist credits are not given in most issues of MAN’S LIFE. However, it looks like all of the cover paintings used in 1958 and 1959 were clearly done by Wil Hulsey, with the possible exception of October 1959.

Nine of the issues published in 1958 and 1959 include great killer creature covers, all clearly done by Wil Hulsey. The most unlikely packs of “killers” featured in the covers in those years were crabs (January 1958), spiders (March 1959) and Canadian lynx (May 1959).

By 1960, Harold Straubing and Milton Luros apparently decided that animal attack covers had become passé. Only two MAN’S LIFE covers published in the 1960s and 1970s featured killer creatures.

The cover of the July 1961 issue has a terrific painting of leopard, with the bloody body of a white male hunter in the background and a plucky gal with a rifle either coming to save him from another attack or coming to get revenge.

That uncredited painting was probably done by Hulsey, though it may have been done by Earl Norem, another great artist who started doing cover and interior illustrations for MAN’S LIFE around that time.

Earl Norem definitely did do the final killer creature cover painting used by MAN’S LIFE: the very cool lion attack scene on the January 1965 issue.

By that time, Milton Luros, Wil Hulsey and Harold Straubing had all moved on together, forming the team that turned Luros’ American Art Agency and later Parliament News company into what became the biggest porn magazine and sleaze paperback empire of the mid-1960s and early 1970s.

For more about that, see the articles about Luros in the December 2004 issue of vintage science fiction and porn pioneer Earl Kemp’s online newsletter, EI.

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Comments? Corrections? Post them on the Men’s Adventure Magazines Facebook Group.

Click here or the image below to download a complete PDF copy of:

MAN’S LIFE magazine, July 1957 

FEATURING: a cover painting by Wil Hulsey, and other great pulp illustration art inside; classic adventure and "killer creature" stories like “SLASHED IN A  LEOPARD MEN'S ORGY,” “IN THE COILS OF A BONE CRUSHING BOA,” “CLAWED DEEP AND DYING,” “GUTS ON A  BLOODIED TUSK,” and “UP TO MY NECK IN LIVE LOBSTERS”; cheesecake photos of glamour girl Chris Mara; and the classic sexposés “AMERICAN MEN DON'T SATISFY THEIR  WIVES” and “BALTIMORE'S STREET OF 1,000 GIRLS.”


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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Killer elephants, tigers, snakes and lobsters?…Oh yeah!

Last year, I co-wrote an article about “killer creature” man vs. animal themed stories in vintage men’s adventure magazines for HORRORHOUND, a nicely-produced periodical about horror and science fiction movies, books and collectibles.

It appeared in HORRORHOUND issue #42 under the title “When Weasels Ripped Our Flesh: Killer Creature Stories in Men’s Adventure Magazines.”

I wrote the article with Wyatt Doyle, my co-editor for the series of men’s adventure magazine story anthologies we’re publishing via his indie book company New Texture.

We are both fans of the rip-snorting, often way-over-the-top animal attack stories that were common in men’s pulp adventure magazines published in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.

In fact, we borrowed the title of the most famous men’s pulp mag killer creature story of them all as the title of our first book anthology — WEASELS RIPPED MY FLESH!

That story, which is included in our book, was originally published in the September 1956 issue of MAN’S LIFE.

Its cover features the now iconic man vs. weasel cover painting by Wilbur “Wil” Hulsey (sometimes credited as Will Hulsey).

Many rock music fans assume Frank Zappa coined the phrase “Weasels Ripped My Flesh.” But he simply helped popularize it when he used it as the title of a Mothers of Invention album in 1970.

Zappa had a copy of the September 1956 issue of MAN’S LIFE. And, though he borrowed the title of the cover story, he decided not to use Hulsey’s painting for the cover of the Mothers’ album.

Instead, he commissioned artist Neon Park to create a new one.

According to legend, Zappa showed Park the MAN’S LIFE cover and asked: “What can you do that’s worse than this?” By which, I’m guessing he meant even weirder.

Park came up with a gonzo image of a guy slashing a bloody gouge in his cheek with what might be described as an electric weasel razor.

He based it on a Schick “20” electric razor ad he’d seen in the October 1953 issue of the SATURDAY EVENING POST.

Park’s painting is definitely weird. But I’m not sure it’s weirder than Hulsey’s killer weasel masterpiece.

I was recently reminded of how much I love Hulsey’s artwork and killer creature artwork and stories in general while reading another fairly rare issue of MAN’S LIFE from July 1957.

It features a Hulsey painting showing an angry wild elephant lifting up a highly-distressed damsel with its trunk. She’s wearing a blouse that’s bright red, a color that helped grab eyeballs on newsstands and was commonly used for the typically skimpy clothing of women shown in men’s pulp mag cover paintings.

Her blouse is halfway torn off, revealing ample cleavage which, of course, further enhances the cover’s eyeball-grab factor.

The story it goes with is cheerily titled “GUTS ON A BLOODIED TUSK.”

SPOILER ALERT: If you’re worried about what the title portends for the poor busty babe, don’t. It’s “just” two of the hired native boys who get their guts ripped out. The white hunting guide who’s leading the safari saves the girl in the end by killing the rogue beast. (Natch!)

With regard to the dead natives he explains encouragingly, “I can get two new boys.” So, the hunting trip the babe’s husband is paying for is still on. (Yay!?)

Yes, I realize this story is outdated and politically incorrect. It’s also racist, sexist, ethnocentric and anthropocentric.

But it’s a classic, gritty example of manly pulp fantasy that’s fun to read. The Wil Hulsey painting is great. And, even the teaser subheads used for the story are cool.

Under the title on the magazine’s contents page, a second line says:

       “He hung on the ivory like spitted meat as the huge trunk grabbed the girl.”

The subhead on the two-page spread for the story amps it up a bit more:

       “He was skewered on the curved ivory like meat on a stick while the trunk snaked out to grab the girl. Sweat poured into my eyes — I needed one good shot to save two lives.”

The story is credited to J.D. O’Brien, who was supposedly the hunting guide, telling the story in first person. In reality, the name and story were made up by some pulp writer; a “hack” some people might say, though I’d say a pretty good one.

The teaser subheads (a written form of pulp artistry in themselves) were probably created by the editor of MAN’S LIFE at the time, Harold Straubing, or by one of his Associate Editors: Joe Genalo, Charles Ferlin or Ed Gerard.

The art director, who wisely chose Hulsey for this assignment, was Bob Webber.

In the 1950s, the MAN’S LIFE editorial teams and their readers had a special fondness for killer creature stories.

Many issues from those years had three or more sandwiched in between other types of action and adventure yarns, war stories, exposes, sexposés and cheesecake pinup pics.

The July 1957 issue has four of them, all with terrific, blood-tinged titles and subheads.

In addition to “GUTS ON A BLOODIED TUSK,” this issue offers…


       “The snake squeezed, pushing my blood and bile into my throat — I couldn’t shout — I couldn’t swear — I couldn’t even pray!”


       “I shoved a knife deep into the lashing striper, staggering in the slippery guts of my disemboweled client. In only minutes, either the tiger or myself would be maggot bait.”

…and, my personal favorite (being a former Maine resident):


       “Pincers clacked, gouging flesh and bone from me — I screamed and shrieked until I had no mouth — until I was just a red blob covered by green crawling death.”

The, er, lobster tale is an example of just how incredibly wild and crazy many of the killer creature stories in men’s adventure magazines could be.

In the surreal realm of men’s pulp mags, ANY mammal, fish, fowl, insect, crustacean or other critter could be the flesh-ripping star of a bloody, outrageous killer creature story — no matter how small or non-aggressive they might be in reality, and regardless of whether they are herbivores or carnivores,

It’s the kind of absurdly, gloriously gory stuff that makes certain horror movies fun to watch. Which is why our article about such stories fit right in in HORRORHOUND magazine.

The animal attack stories in the July 1957 issue of MAN’S LIFE are classic examples.

If you’d like to read them for yourself but don’t own that issue, you can download a complete PDF copy from the MensPulpMags.com virtual newsstand.

Yeah, I charge a few bucks each for them. But that’s a lot less than you’re likely to pay to for old print copies of the issues I offer, if you can even find them.

In addition, your purchase will help keep this blog alive and — encourage me to upload scans of more classic issues for your reading pleasure.

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Comments? Corrections? Post them on the Men’s Adventure Magazines Facebook Group.

Click here or the image below to download a complete PDF copy of:

MAN’S LIFE magazine, July 1957 

FEATURING: a cover painting by Wil Hulsey, and other great pulp illustration art inside; classic adventure and "killer creature" stories like “SLASHED IN A  LEOPARD MEN'S ORGY,” “IN THE COILS OF A BONE CRUSHING BOA,” “CLAWED DEEP AND DYING,” “GUTS ON A  BLOODIED TUSK,” and “UP TO MY NECK IN LIVE LOBSTERS”; cheesecake photos of glamour girl Chris Mara; and the classic sexposés “AMERICAN MEN DON'T SATISFY THEIR  WIVES” and “BALTIMORE'S STREET OF 1,000 GIRLS.”

MAN'S LIFE July 1957 - collage

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