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Sunday, September 20, 2020

Mike Shayne in men’s adventure magazines – Part 2: 1953 thru 1961….

When David Dresser’s novel, DIVIDEND ON DEATH, was published in 1939 under the pseudonym Brett Halliday, it launched what became a huge multi-decade multimedia empire.

It was the first appearance of his tough, red-headed, Miami-based Private Investigator Mike Shayne.

The Mike Shayne character went on to appear in more than 70 novels and 300 stories written by Dresser and other writers tapped to use Brett Halliday as a pen name.

In addition, there were a dozen Mike Shayne movies, a Mike Shayne television series, and several different Mike Shayne radio series.

There was also a short-lived Dell comic book series based on the Mike Shayne novels.

In September 1956, Dresser launched the MIKE SHAYNE MYSTERY MAGAZINE.

It became one of the most successful crime digest magazines ever published, running for 337 issues over a period of three decades.

Scores of stories by Dresser and hundreds by many other notable writers were published in that magazine until it finally folded in 1985, seven years after Dresser’s death.

One of those writers I admire a lot is James Reasoner. He wrote many Mike Shayne stories for the magazine under Dresser’s name and went on to become a prolific writer of Western, action/adventure and historical novels.

Another is my friend Paul Bishop. Paul is a former LAPD detective who became a popular novelist, an editor of action/adventure novels for his own imprints and, more recently, for Wolfpack Publishing. He’s also co-host of the excellent Six-Gun Justice Podcast with fellow writer and Western maven Richard Prosch.

Earlier this year, when I bought THE MIKE SHAYNE PRIVATE EYE COMIC COLLECTION, published by Bill Cunningham via his Pulp 2.0 Press imprint, I discovered that Paul had written the introduction.

In it, he notes that the first fiction story he had accepted and published was in MIKE SHAYNE MYSTERY MAGAZINE.

When I read Paul’s intro, it reminded me that “Book Bonus” versions of many Mike Shayne novels appeared in men’s adventure magazines (MAMs) published in the ‘50s and ‘60s.

However, when I Googled around, I discovered there was almost no information online about those MAM appearances other than a list on Philsp.com, the great “Galactic Central” site that provides info about thousands of different vintage magazines.

When I looked through the Galactic Central list, I realized it wasn’t complete. So, I decided to fill that gap by doing a series of posts on this blog.

I started with a post about the first Shayne story I know of in a MAM, “The Naked Frame” in BLUEBOOK, February 1953.

As I explain in that post, it’s touted in the magazine as Bluebook’s COMPLETE Book-Length Novel by BRETT HALLIDAY.” At that point, no novel version had been published.

The book was released a month later by Torquil Publishing Company, which Dresser created with wife Helen McCloy, a successful mystery writer in her own right. The title he used for the novel was ONE NIGHT WITH NORA.

It was an expanded version of the “The Naked Frame” story in BLUEBOOK.

Counting that one, I believe a total of 16 Mike Shayne stories appeared in men’s adventure magazines. Here’s the checklist (please email me if you know of any I missed):

     1.  “The Naked Frame” in BLUEBOOK, February 1953
     2.  “Payoff Girl” in STAG, December 1956
     3.  “Murder in Haste” in ARGOSY, March 1961
     4.  “The Careless Corpse” in ARGOSY, August 1961
     5.  “Payoff in Blood” in ARGOSY, January 1962
     6.  “Murder by Proxy” in MAN'S MAGAZINE, January 1962
     7.  “Never Kill a Client” in ARGOSY, November 1962 
     8.  “Strip for Death” in MAN'S MAGAZINE, 1962 Fall Annual
     9.  “The Corpse That Never Was” in ARGOSY, May 1963
     10.  “A Redhead for Mike Shayne” in ARGOSY, March 1964
     11.  “Shoot to Kill” in ARGOSY, July 1964
     12.  “Murder Spins the Wheel” in ARGOSY, January 1966
     13.  “Armed, Dangerous” in ARGOSY, July 1966
     14.  “Guilty as Hell” in ARGOSY, April 1967
     15.  “So Lush, So Deadly” in ARGOSY, January 1968,
     16.  “Count Downward to Zero” in ARGOSY, April 1971

As shown in my previous post, “The Naked Frame” in BLUEBOOK, February 1953 features 6 duotone illustrations by Al Tater. (A duotone is an illustration printed in black and shades of grey, plus one color.) The main 2-page spread, a red duotone, is shown above. You can see all 6 of the Tater illos in my Mike Shayne in MAMs Part 1 post.

The Next Mike Shayne story in a MAM is “Payoff Girl” in STAG, December 1956, a condensation of the 1948 novel BLOOD ON THE STARS. The STAG version features 8 black-and-white illustrations by artist Robert “Bob” Riger: a 2-page spread and 7 spot illustrations.

I’m always exited to find artwork by Riger in MAMs. There are only a handful of examples and they are from early in his career. He went on to become a top sports illustrator and photographer, an award‐winning television director, and a cinematographer. His artwork and photos for SPORTS ILLUSTRATED are especially legendary, earning him a place of honor in The American Sport Art Museum & Archives.

As noted in bios about him, illustration art became a springboard to Riger’s work as a photographer. He initially learned the craft by shooting reference photos for artwork he was doing for magazines and advertisements. From the mid-1950s until his death in 1995, he focused primarily on photography. He took tens of thousands of photos of athletes and sporting events of all kinds and became one of the most successful sports photographers of all time.

You can see some great examples of Riger’s sports art and photography on the official Robert Riger website and many more of his sports photos in the book THE SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY OF ROBERT RIGER.

The sketch-like artwork Riger did for the Mike Shayne story “Payoff Girl” in STAG, December 1956, shown below, is similar in style to much of his sports artwork.

The next Mike Shayne story in a MAM I know of is “Murder in Haste” in ARGOSY, March 1961. It’s  a “Book Bonus” version of the novel of the same name that was first published in 1961, around the same time the magazine hit newsstands. The ARGOSY version features artwork by Harry Schaare.

Although he was a prolific creator of artwork for paperback covers and magazines, especially MAMs, there are amazingly few sources of information about Schaare online. One of the most notable is the page about him on American Art Archives, a terrific illustration art website maintained by my friends Thomas Clement and his wife Christiane. (Thomas and Christiane’s American Art Archives eBay store is also one of the best sources of vintage MAMs and other magazines around.)

As they note on their website, Harry Schaare was: “[A] prolific artist for hard and softcover books (Avon, Harper Paperbacks, Dell, Monarch, Popular Library, Pyramid, Bantam, Signet, Readers Digest, Random House). Magazine work for SATURDAY EVENING POST, BOY’S LIFE, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, and various men's adventure mags. Schaare was comfortable with just about any subject matter, from noir stories to westerns, romance to suspense. Also called upon for reprints buy famous authors (Rafael Sabatini, Philip K Dick, Richard Henry Dana, Zane Grey, James Fenimore Cooper, Max Brand, Erskine Caldwell). Other projects include box art for Aurora models and F X Schmid puzzles.”

Below is an example of a classic Schaare paperback cover, A GEM OF A MURDER (Dell, 1959) by Carlton Keith. Next to that are two of the many great MAM covers Schaare provided paintings for, ADVENTURE, December 1957, and MALE, April 1962.

The ARGOSY version of “Murder in Haste” features a full-page page duotone painting by Schaare and 3 black-and-white spot illustrations, all shown below.

Chronologically, the next Mike Shayne story in a men’s adventure mag is “The Careless Corpse” in ARGOSY, August 1961. It’s another abridged version of a Mike Shayne novel of the same name, published the same year. ARGOSY’s version features a full-page duotone by Jack Hearne (1921-1985).

Hearne had a varied career as an artist. As noted on the Lambiek Comiclopedia website, he started out doing covers, panel drawings and inking for comics in the 1940s. He went on to do did a lot of commercial advertising artwork and magazine artwork for MAMs and mainstream mags. He also did many book cover and interior illustrations. Most memorably for some Baby Boomers, he was among the artists who did covers and interiors for the popular “juvenile” (young adult) book series, THE THREE INVESTIGATORS. That series, created by mystery and science fiction author and screenwriter Robert Arthur, Jr., was published from 1964 to 1987 and included 43 books.

When Arthur and the initial publisher, Random House, launched the series, they capitalized on the popularity of movie and TV producer/director Alfred Hitchcock by using his name as part of the series’ title, making it the “Alfred Hitchcock and Three Investigators” series. In the first 30 novels, Hitchcock is actually a character who provides an introduction and closing to each book. Although Hitchcock had little involvement in the novels, he did reserve the right to approve the cover paintings. Jack Hearne got the nod to do cover art for books #20 through #27. He also did interior illustrations for #18 through #27. His cover for #27, MYSTERY OF THE MAGIC CIRCLE is shown below, next to a full-page ad Hearne did the illustration for and an example of his early comics work.

The two best sources of biographical info on Hearne I’ve found are the Three Investigators site and on Leif Peng’s great Today’s Inspiration blog, the forerunner of his Today’s Inspiration Facebook Group.

Hearne did some excellent artwork for men’s adventure magazines, primarily ARGOSY and SAGA. Below at left is a full color illustration by Hearne from ARGOSY, June 1960, for a story written by the prolific mystery and detective story writer Judson Pentecost Philips under his better-known pseudonym Hugh Pentecost.

Next to that is the initial 2-page spread for Michael Shayne story “The Careless Corpse” in ARGOSY, August 1961. It features a masterful duotone by Hearne.


Between 1961 and 1971, ARGOSY published 10 more Mike Shayne stories. The next one after “The Careless Corpse” is “Payoff in Blood” in ARGOSY, January 1962. That’s a “Book Bonus” version of the 1962 Shayne novel that has the name spelled with a hyphen, as PAY-OFF IN BLOOD.

ARGOSY’S version features an illustration by an artist who has an especially notable connection to the Mike Shayne novels and is one of the towering figures in the realm of illustration art — Robert McGinnis. More about him and the rest of Mike Shayne’s appearances in men’s adventure magazines in my next post.

By the way, in case you wondered, the full color portrait of Mike Shayne used in the graphic at the top of this post is by artist Uldis Klavins. It was used in his illustration for the Mike Shayne story “Count Downward to Zero” in ARGOSY, April 1971, which I’ll also write about in a future post.

Comments? Corrections? You can email them to me, or
join the
Men’s Adventure Magazines & Books Facebook Group and post them there.

Related reading, viewing, and listening…

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Catching up with Bill Cunningham and Pulp 2.0 Press

Lately, I’ve been on a Mike Shayne kick.

My reading and watching involving that famed Miami-based Private investigator has led to a series of posts on this blog, starting one about the first appearance of a Mike Shayne story in a men’s adventure magazine, “The Naked Frame” in BLUEBOOK, February 1953.

I blame my Shayne trip on my new friend Bill “Mad Pulp Bastard” Cunnigham and my old friend, novelist, editor and retromedia maven Paul Bishop.

Bill is the founder and creative force behind Pulp 2.0 Press, an imprint he initially launched to reprint classic pulp and paperback series he liked but were no longer in print. He has since turned Pulp 2.0 into a significant and ambitious publisher of a variety of old and new pulp-flavored books and media.

One of the latest Pulp 2.0 releases Bill ushered into existence is the MIKE SHAYNE: PRIVATE EYE, COMIC COLLECTION.

It reprints a series of rare, long-forgotten Mike Shayne comic books published by Dell in 1962. The introduction to that collection is an excellent overview of the Shayne character, who was created by author Davis Dresser.

Dresser wrote his first novel about the tough, red-headed PI in 1939, under the pseudonym Brett Halliday.

It launched what became a multi-decade multimedia empire that went on to include: over 70 novels and 300 stories written by Dresser and other writers using the Brett Halliday pen name; a dozen movies; a television series; a radio series; a short-lived comic book; and, the long-running MIKE SHAYNE MYSTERY MAGAZINE.

The latter provided a crucial early outlet for crime and mystery stories written by dozens of writers – including Paul Bishop. I didn’t know Paul wrote the introduction to the MIKE SHAYNE: PRIVATE EYE, COMIC COLLECTION until I bought the book, but I wasn’t surprised. Paul is a mover and shaker in the pulp culture community who I’ve known and been a fan of for some years.

I’ve done several posts about him on this blog, most recently about his contributions to HOT LEAD, the great new Westerns fanzine published by Justin Marriott.

Among other things, Paul is a veteran LA police detective, a popular crime and mystery novelist, editor of the boxing-related FIGHTCARD novel series and the PATTERN OF BEHAVIOR crime story anthology series. A few years ago, he graciously wrote an afterword for our book BARBARIANS ON BIKES: BIKERS AND MOTORCYCLE GANGS IN MEN'S PULP ADVENTURE MAGAZINES.

Lately, Paul has been co-hosting the very cool Six-Gun Justice Podcast, an outgrowth of his work as an editor for Wolfpack Publishing and his in-depth knowledge of Western novels, movies, and TV shows (also reflected in his 52 WEEKS * 52 WESTERNS book series).

I don’t know how Paul became a go-to expert on so many different genres, but he’s also has an encyclopedic knowledge of detective novels, movies, and TV shows. So, it made perfect sense for Bill Cunningham to tap Paul for the introduction to the MIKE SHAYNE: PRIVATE EYE, COMIC COLLECTION.

Reading Paul’s introduction gave me a whole new appreciation for the popularity and evolution of the Shayne character and how the comics fit into that legacy. It made reading the comic book stories, which are beautifully restored in full color in Bill’s book, even more interesting.

Paul’s intro and the book also made me realize I needed to read more Mike Shayne novels, check out the Shayne movies, TV shows and radio series, and look into appearances of Mike Shayne stories in men’s adventure magazines.

That book also made me want find to out more about Bill Cunningham and what he’s up to with Pulp 2.0 Press.

When I browsed the Pulp 2.0 website, I was amazed by the unique and cool things Bill is putting out: everything from the first English versions of the hard-boiled Chilean comic book series KILLER, by artist Germàn Gabler, and reprints of old pulp stories about the character AGENT 13, to movie-related books, a new fanzine, LETHAL LADIES, which focuses on “fantastic femmes of pop culture – paperbacks, comics, movies, TV, and elsewhere,” and more.

I contacted Bill and asked if he’d do an interview with me for this blog. He said “yes.” The resulting conversation is below…

BOB: Let’s start with some background on you. I see from your bio on the Pulp 2-0 website and in Airship 27's new book WHO’S WHO IN NEW PULP that you have previously been a screenwriter, movie producer, and author. How did that experience lead to your creation of Pulp 2.0 and your vision for it?

BILL: Yes, I am one of the many people who have migrated to California to work in the movie business. I guess it all goes back to when I was in the US Air Force from 1986 to 1990. I was stationed at Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas, Nevada but spent most of my time on the test range up in Tonapah working with the F117A Stealth Fighter. We would come home to Vegas for the weekend and many of us would hop in the car and head down to Los Angeles to get away from the Vegas tourist traps.

After my tour in the Air Force, I decided I wanted to try something new so I went back to school in South Carolina and earned a second degree in what they called “media arts,” which is studies in film, video, audio, and photography. I worked on many commercials, independent films, industrials, and movies that came to South Carolina to shoot because it was cheap, like DIE HARD: WITH A VENGEANCE. After doing that for several years, I realized I needed to move to SoCal to really “get into the business.” I was writing scripts by that time, and it seemed the right thing to do.

I went to work as an assistant for exploitation director-producer Nico Mastorakis, known for movies like ISLAND OF DEATH and THE ZERO BOYS, and eventually became a producer on one of his movies. I then became the Director of Marketing for York Entertainment and became proficient at making and marketing movies on a low budget. The good thing about indie companies like Nico’s Omega Entertainment and York is they let you get your hands dirty.

Eventually, I worked my way out of that job as well and was able to support myself by applying “Hollywood techniques” to videos and other media for clients in other industries. The pay was better — until 2008 when the bottom dropped out and I lost half of my clients to the housing collapse. I needed money, and I decided that since no one was financing indie movies or other media I needed to come up with something that I owned, and projects I could greenlight myself without any money. I chose book publishing and thought if I could apply all the things I’ve learned in moviemaking and selling to books, I would do okay.

How did you pick the name Pulp 2.0 and how do you define “pulp”? As you know, the use of the term “pulp” is somewhat controversial to afficionados of early pulp magazines, who think it should only be used to describe classic pulp magazines – a view I don’t share, by the way, as you can tell from my use of the term “men’s pulp mags” as an alternate name for men’s adventure magazines.

The term “Pulp 2.0” came about when I realized that the internet was the next (digital) iteration of the pulp model of business. That is, you had to make it fast, cheap, and distribute it as quickly and cheaply as possible. There was a constant need for entertainment, and it needed to be able to be accessed from anywhere. So that’s what I do - use the tools of the web to create new media and sell it directly to the consumer. As little overhead as possible, and limited distribution and operation costs. I’m applying those laws to books right now, but if you look at Netflix, Amazon Prime, Tubi, and Pluto, etc... you can see the Pulp 2.0 model applies to movies as well.

Can you give me and my readers an overview of the Pulp 2.0's publications to date?

BILL: Sure. When I started, I didn’t know what I was doing so I just aimed as high as I possibly thought I could go. I licensed THE NEW ADVENTURES OF FRANKENSTEIN series from author Donald F. Glut. He wrote 11 novels in the series, and if I were to buy used copies on eBay it would have cost me around $300. I thought we could do better and reintroduce the Frankenstein monster to creature feature fans. I also licensed Don’s vampire novel BROTHER BLOOD which was written before BLACULA but wasn’t released here in the States. Before I knew it we were releasing Martin Powell’s Frankenstein graphic novel adaptation with Patrick Olliffe, the KNIGHT WATCHMAN and other BIG BANG COMICS by creators Chris Ecker, Gary Carlson, and Jeff Weigel, the complete AGENT 13 TRILOGY by Flint Dille, writer of TRANSFORMERS GEN ONE, and David Marconi, writer of the Will Smith movie ENEMY OF THE STATE.

Then I published THE AUSLAUNDER FILES, by Michael Patrick Sullivan, THE TWILIGHT AVENGER and MIRACLE SQUAD books by John Wooley and Terry Tidwell, and many others. Last year we released our first original graphic novel, TALES OF FRANKENSTEIN, based on Don Glut’s new, Rondo-award-winning movie of the same name. We were very excited to get a foreword by none other than Jim Steranko for that one.

Each one of these book projects was born from the notion that I want to see that book on my shelf. I didn’t have to go to some executive and beg for money, or get the go-ahead from my boss. We sat down, talked it out, signed an agreement, and then made something.

From those small beginnings, we’ve expanded and I’ve licensed the KILLER spy comics from Chile’s Germán Gabler, and published two volumes of those. I also licensed TERROR COMICS from Spain’s Joan Boix. I took his character The Raven and made THE RAVEN COLLECTION, a volume collecting all of his comics stories. Usually, it just takes a good conversation to find out what the creator would like to see.

I also launched a film book series, CINEXPLOITS!, and have released movie books on TALES OF FRANKENSTEIN and DEATH KISS, both of which I also wrote. There’s also the upcoming CELLULOID WARS: LESSONS LEARNED FROM BATTLE BEYOND THE STARS.

The MIKE SHAYNE anthology is your latest release. How did you get inspired to do a reprint of that old comics series?

BILL: I had recently “reclaimed” a comic series, STRONGMAN, from Magazine Enterprises, and put together a tribute book for this muscle-man detective-adventurer in the space of 72 hours. I did the Mike Shayne book, more as a lark than anything else. I had seen another company’s reprint of the book, and it was if they put no effort into it at all. I want people to see the effort I put into making sure you have a well-designed book that doesn’t cost you an arm and a leg to buy.

You definitely did that. Your Mike Shayne book is beautifully designed. In fact, the layouts and printing quality of your books look top-notch. Where’d you learn the art of doing layouts and how do you approach the layouts of different types of projects?

BILL: Thank you for your kind words, and I’m glad you’re seeing the work I and my fellow creators put into the books. Each project is different and requires a focus on what I’m trying to deliver to the Pulp 2.0 audience. Most of all I’m trying to invoke a feeling of authenticity. You take a look at one of our books and you might mistake it for something from back in the 70’s or further, or you know that the people who put the book together love the material, which I do. For example, for our recent TALES OF FRANKENSTEIN graphic anthology, I took design cues from Warren and Skywald horror magazines.

I learned book publishing and layout from working with graphic designers my whole career. When I was the Director of Marketing at York I would ask for a certain something — an effect, a color change, an angle shift — and watch them do it. Eventually, I began doing it myself. Then I designed a client’s poster from the ground up, then a catalog, then a website, then I began learning how to do it with books.

The first comic book I lettered was TALES OF FRANKENSTEIN, and I learned how by watching YouTube videos and applying my sense of design to the project. It’s all about making choices and sticking with them. You start simply and then slowly begin to experiment. If you screw up, you call out for help.

I love working with older, scanned materials and repurposing them. It’s all part of my “reclaiming pulp culture” philosophy.

I see on your website announcements of plans for some very cool-looking new projects. Can you tell us more about them?

BILL: I am finishing the KILLER series and releasing that as a five-volume set. Our Cinexploits! book CELLULOID WARS: BATTLE BEYOND THE STARS will have a companion volume by the director, Allan Holzman, called CELLULOID WARS: FORBIDDEN WORLDS. 

I’m also working of finalizing the first issue LETHAL LADIES: THE JOURNAL OF BADASS ADVENTURE HEROINES, is a magazine I am editing and writing that does a deep dive into novels like the DARK ANGEL series and its creators.

Other volumes of that will include explorations into female-led action heroines from comics, books, movies, and TV. Comix is a three-volume exploration of the world of comic book movies and TV prior to today’s mega-blockbusters. Terror Comics is Joan Boix’s wonderfully Hammer-esque, graphically penetrating horror comics from Spain.
There’s a bunch of other book projects I am exploring for both fiction and non-fiction. What can I say? I like to stay busy.

As an indie publisher myself, though on a smaller scale than you, I’m also curious about how you do your printing and distribution of your books and your take of the pros and cons of print books and ebooks?

BILL: Over the years I have learned that it’s always best to focus on your audience: What do they want? How do they want it? It’s important to know them, and then just try to feed that beast with as much “meat” as you can. My focus is always on the stuff I’m good at - book design, packaging, merchandising - and leave the other stuff up to my partners like Amazon. They can handle the operations and fulfillment better than I ever could.

I am only now getting back into ebooks after a long hiatus. I started out doing ebook editions and everyone kept asking me when I was coming out with the print books! Then I switched to focusing more on print and people then asked when they would see the ebooks. I decided to focus on what paid us the most money as quickly as possible. Don’t listen to the loudest voice, listen to the voice that is also waiving its money at you begging you to take it. I take the ebook route to use them as advertising and promotion for the more profitable print books.

I use both ebooks and print freely in my regular reading habits. I go back and forth quite often depending on what I want to read. Ebooks for me are a convenient tool for reading, and print books are “affordable fetish objects” that sit on my shelf.

Nowadays, there are thousands of reprints of books of every kind available on Amazon for 99 cents or even for free and bookstores are scarce. So independent publishing is not some easy, get rich quick scheme. However, there seems to be a growing number of independent publishers who are putting out new reprint editions of old novels and as well as new books in the action/adventure, retro pulp, and “new pulp” realms, and fanzines that focus those genres. Why do you think there’s a surge in that realm of indie publishing?

BILL: Amazon and other resources have made it possible for us to dream something and then make it. You don’t have to go into hock to get a book printed and shipped. You can write, design, and deliver a book without ever spending a dime - that is incredibly liberating!

The downside, of course, is that you get a bunch of books that are poorly written, poorly designed, and poorly printed. You need to have some talent (authenticity?) backing up your work. As you said, this is not a get rich quick scheme. You need a series of base hits to work your way around the bases. Sometimes you’re going to strikeout. Keep working. Adopt, adapt, re-think.

I was interested to find that your MIKE SHAYNE book has a cool introduction by my friend Paul Bishop, one of my favorite pulp mavens. And, you’re also working with another one of my favorite pulp mavens, fanzine publisher Justin Marriott. Tell us something about how you hooked up with those guys and what you’ve been cooking up with them.

BILL: I’ve known Paul for years as we connected online as writers. He introduced me to the zines Justin was putting out from the UK - though I didn’t pick them up back then. I loved his approach and became a fan. When he switched to using Amazon as his printer and distributor, I bought some of the issues he made available and my fanaticism was cemented. I wrote to Paul and told him to tell Justin that I was a fan of his work and if he wanted some more cover designs I could provide them. I included a quick design I put together as a calling card.

About a year later, Justin contacted me to see if I was interested. The rest is history. I contributed a cover to his MEN OF VIOLENCE ALL-REVIEW SPECIAL, then to his PULP HORROR zine, then his HOT LEAD ALL REVIEW SPECIAL and the debut issue of  MONSTER MANIACS. I just finished working on his new zine about post-apocalyptic novels and comics, PULP APOCALYPSE and I’m trying to convince Justin we need to deliver a “Space Adventure” zine.

The great thing about Justin is he’s insightful, and every comment he makes allows me to focus the design on everything needed to appeal to the reader. I try to get the first draft to him early so we can start the process and develop ideas we can do well. He’s also open to me experimenting. Our Pulp Horror tribute cover is a good example. That image from Stir of Echoes was so powerful I didn’t want to screw with it, so we let it be the hero. Justin is really brave that way. Someone else would have wanted me to muck it up with all sorts of design tomfoolery.

What are the next publications coming from Pulp 2.0 in 2020 and 2021?

BILL: I am wrapping up Killer for this year. Allan Holzman and I are enticing a certain “filmmaking celebrity” to write the foreword for Celluloid Wars: BBTS, and translation continues on Joan Boix’s Terror Comics. You’ll also be seeing more short fiction from me for Kindle. I have all of these notes and ideas scribbled in my notebooks that I must put to good use. Research continues on Comix and Lethal Ladies and I can always be convinced to jump into and add to a cool project here and there.

Thanks, Bill! I look forward to those — and to catching up on previous Pulp 2.0. books I haven’t read yet.

Comments? Corrections? You can email them to me, or
join the
Men’s Adventure Magazines & Books Facebook Group and post them there.

Related reading…

Monday, July 27, 2020

Mike Shayne in men’s adventure magazines – Part 1: “The Naked Frame” in BLUEBOOK, Feb. 1953


That book is a new release from Pulp 2.0 Press, an indie imprint founded by the self-described “Mad Pulp Bastard,” Bill Cunnigham.

It reprints a series of comic books published by Dell in 1962 starring Michael “Mike” Shayne, the famed Private Eye character created by writer Davis Dresser under his best-known pen name Brett Halliday.

The introduction to the Pulp 2.0 Shayne comics collection was written by Paul Bishop, a writer, editor and vintage media maven I greatly admire.

Paul’s intro provides an overview of appearances by the tough, red-headed, Miami-based PI in books, television and radio shows, Dresser’s MIKE SHAYNE MYSTERY MAGAZINE, and the Dell comics.

The Pulp 2.0 book lead me to contact Bill Cunningham and find out more about what he’s up to. I ended up doing an interview with him that will appear in an upcoming post on this blog.

It also got me started on a hunt for Mike Shayne stories in men’s adventure magazines (MAMs).

There’s very little information online about Shayne stories in MAMs.

The most significant clues about them are in a list on Philsp.com, the awesome, indispensable “Galactic Central” site that provides information about thousands of different vintage magazines.

As I looked through the Galactic Central list, I realized it wasn’t quite complete.

I knew of several appearances of Mike Shayne stories in MAMs that were missing. I’d seen them while reading issues in my collection. But, as far as I know, there isn’t any book or website that provides in-depth information about the Mike Shayne stories published in MAMs and shows the illustrations used for them.

So, I decided to fill that gap by doing a series of posts on this blog, starting with this one.

The hardboiled detective genre of stories and books was popularized in the 1920s and 1930s in pulp magazine stories and novels by writers like Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler.

Davis Dresser’s Shayne novels are close relatives of those stories and novels, which he probably read as a young man.

Dresser was born in Chicago in 1904, but grew up in Texas. He lost an eye to barbed wire as a boy and wore an eye patch throughout the rest of his life. As a teenager, he enlisted in the U.S. Cavalry and served for a couple years.

After leaving the service, Dresser travelled around the US doing various odd jobs, then went to the Tri-State College of Engineering, where he earned a certificate in civil engineering.

He worked as engineer and surveyor for a while, but he had the bug to become a writer. During the ‘30s he was mostly a wannabe with few sales until he created his Michael Shayne character in the novel DIVIDEND ON DEATH.

After being rejected by 21 publishers over a period of four years, it was finally accepted and published in 1939 by Henry Holt & Co., under the pseudonym Brett Halliday.

Dresser followed DIVIDEND ON DEATH with THE PRIVATE PRACTIVE OF MICHAEL SHAYNE, published by Holt early in 1940.

Later that same year, elements of both books were adapted into the film MICHAEL SHAYNE, PRIVATE DETECTIVE, with Lloyd Nolan starring as Shayne.

Thus was launched what became a multi-decade multimedia empire that went on to include: over 70 novels and 300 stories written by Dresser and other writers using the Brett Halliday pen name; a dozen movies; a television series; a radio series; a short-lived comic book; and, the long-running MIKE SHAYNE MYSTERY MAGAZINE.

Copies of Holt’s first hardcover edition of DIVIDEND ON DEATH now sell for anywhere from $500 to thousands. The dust jacket features a vignetted painting of a tropical beach at night with a lone figure walking along the shore. At the bottom of the painting is the signature Baron-Ancona,” an artist I could find little about other the fact that he did artwork for some other hardcover dust jackets around that time.

A classic paperback edition of DIVIDEND ON DEATH was published by Dell in 1952. It features a cover painting by Robert Stanley, showing Shayne kicking a handgun out of the hand of a woman dressed like a nurse. Bob Stanley was one of many artists who started out doing covers for pulp magazines in the 1930s, then went on to do hundreds of paperbacks cover paintings and cover and interior illustrations for men’s adventure mags.

Starting in 1960 with DIVIDEND ON DEATH, Dell launched a new series of Mike Shayne reprints graced with cover art by Robert McGinnis. His cover paintings, typically featuring bold colors and tall, eye-poppingly gorgeous women, have become some of  the most iconic images associated with paperback editions of detective, crime, mystery and action novels published in the ‘60s and ‘70s. (If you’re a McGinnis fan, there are several excellent books about him you’ll want in your collection: THE ART OF ROBERT E. MCGINNIS, THE PAPERBACK COVERS OF ROBERT MCGINNIS and TAPESTRY: THE PAINTINGS OF ROBERT MCGINNIS.)

After Davis Dresser began writing Shayne novels, he also started selling short stories about Mike Shayne to the detective and mystery pulp digest magazines that were being published in the 1940s.

Galactic Central’s list of pulp and pulp digest magazines that published Shayne stories under Dresser’s Brett Halliday pseudonym includes DETECTIVE FICTION WEEKLY, STREET & SMITH’S DETECTIVE STORY MAGAZINE, BLACK MASK, THRILLING DETECTIVE, MYSTERY BOOK MAGAZINE, and POPULAR DETECTIVE.

Often, they were the featured cover stories. For example, the Shayne story “Death Rides A Winner” is the cover story in DETECTIVE FICTION WEEKLY, January 6, 1940, which has a terrific cover painting by the prolific pulp artist Emmett Watson. The Shayne story “The Dead Don’t Cry” is the cover story on THRILLING DETECTIVE, December 1944, which has cover art by the great pulp, paperback and men’s adventure magazine artist Rudolph “Rudy” Belarski. And, the Shayne story “Murder Before Midnight” is the cover story for POPULAR DETECTIVE, March 1950 (cover artist unknown).

In the 1950s, the men’s adventure magazine genre began providing many professional “pulp” style writers, like Dresser, with additional markets for their work in three ways — as first time sales of new stories, reprints of old stories and “Book Bonus” versions of their novels.

Interestingly, a few of the Brett Halliday Mike Shayne stories originally published in MAMs were later expanded and published as novels.

That’s the case with the first Shayne story I know of in a MAM, “The Naked Frame” in BLUEBOOK, February 1953. The story is touted in the magazine as “Bluebook’s COMPLETE Book-Length Novel by BRETT HALLIDAY.” At that point, no novel version had been published.

“The Naked Frame” includes six illustrations by artist Al Tarter. The first, a red two-color illo on page one of the initial two-page spread, is shown at the top of this post.

The cover of BLUEBOOK, February 1953, featuring a painting by MAM and paperback cover artist John Floherty, Jr., is shown below, along with the second Tarter illo for “The Naked Frame,” a green duotone.

Next to them is a scan of the first page of the issue, the Editors’ regular “Strictly Personal” column. It provides short profiles of the writers of the stories inside.

Two writers mentioned in that column are still very well known: Brett Halliday (Dresser) and Evan Hunter. Evan Hunter was the first pen name used by Salvatore Albert Lombino. He used that pseudonym for his blockbuster novel THE BLACKBOARD JUNGLE (1954) and legally changed his name to Evan Hunter in 1952. Then a few years later, he started using the pen name Ed McBain, his best known the pseudonym. That’s the name he used for his famed “87th Precinct” police procedural novels. The Evan Hunter story in BLUEBOOK, February 1953 is a grim survival-at-sea yarn titled “Two,” with artwork by Ray Houlihan.

The opening paragraphs of the “Strictly Personal” column in the February 1953 issue of BLUEBOOK provide this description of Halliday.

Virtually everyone who’s ever read a mystery novel, or who has enough intelligence to find his way to the corner movie, has heard of Brett Halliday and his fictional detective, Mike Shayne. Which is why we’re shooting off small rockets over having landed Brett’s new­est (his 25th) Mike Shayne thriller, “The Naked Frame,” which you will find if you have the strength to turn to page 91.

Brett, who was born Davis Dresser, is one of the few mystery-story writers we know who is married to a mystery-story writer, a pretty fair yarn-spinner named Helen McCloy. Between them, they have turned out some of the country's best de­tective fiction, as well as a product known as McCloy Dresser, age 5, who’ll probably grow up to write mysteries her­self.

Although they have traveled darned near everywhere, the Dressers now live in Westport, Conn., in a house decorated primarily with books, one of which we hope is a first draft of the forthcoming 26th Mike Shayne story.

Al Tarter’s two-color illustrations for the Shayne story and most others illos in this issue combine what appear to be line art drawings with selected areas of a single color added as overlays.

This was a common illustration technique in BLUEBOOK and some other magazines that had only evolved part way from their pulp magazine origins the early 1950s. (For more about the evolution of BLUEBOOK and other top pulp magazines that became top men’s adventure magazines, see this previous MensPulpMags.com post.)

Color overlay illustrations are simpler and more stylized than the lush style of painted interior illustrations that became common after World War II, thanks to new printing technology and better quality paper.

Painted interior art, including duotones that were painted as such instead of being made with overlays, became the more common style of interior artwork in MAMs and other magazines in the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s.

But two-color overlays done by masters of the technique are very cool and Al Tarter was very good at them. I don’t know much about him other than that.

I did find a folder of some of his artwork in the excellent Today’s Inspiration Facebook Group created by artist Leif Peng (an outgrowth of his TI blog).

Most of the Tarter illustrations I could find were done for BLUEBOOK and its affiliated periodical REDBOOK in the early ‘50s.

Before that, according to a post on the CartoonResearch.com site, Tarter did some background drawings used in Friz Freleng cartoons. 

There’s also an interesting set of drawings Tarter did for an unproduced WWII-era documentary in the online library of the Wellcome Collection, a UK museum that features artwork related to science and medicine.

Here are the other four Tarter illustrations created for the Shayne story “The Naked Frame” in BLUEBOOK, February 1953.

In addition to being the first Mike Shayne story published in a men’s adventure magazine, “The Naked Frame” was first of several Shayne stories in MAMs that Dresser expanded and published as novels.  

In 1953, he created the Torquil Publishing Company with his wife Helen McCloy, a successful mystery writer in her own right.

The company published books by them and other writers until it folded in 1965. One of the first novels Torquil published, maybe the first, was Dresser’s Mike Shayne novel ONE NIGHT WITH NORA.

That novel is an expanded version of “The Naked Frame,” published by BLUEBOOK in February 1953.

According to U.S. Copyright Office records, Torquil copyrighted ONE NIGHT WITH NORA the following month, on March 15, 1953.

Typically, the copyright date is the date when a book is released. So, it seems likely that Dresser already planned to publish “The Naked Frame” as a novel when the condensed version appeared in BLUEBOOK.

I suspect the BLUEBOOK editors came up with the title used for it in the magazine. “Naked” was a good marketing word for men’s magazines and MAM editors often changed the titles used for “Book Bonus” versions of novels to make them sound sexier. In fact, for stories involving women, four of the most common MAM story title words are naked, nude, nymph and nympho.

This particular story actually does start out with a naked woman who surprises Mike Shayne by coming into the bedroom of his apartment in the middle of the night. The “frame” angle comes when it turns out that the woman, named Nora, has a dead husband laying in an apartment on the floor above and claims she didn’t kill him.

The 1953 Torquil edition of ONE NIGHT WITH NORA is a hardcover, with a stylized orange-and-grey cover illustration on the dust jacket. (Artist unknown.)

In 1954, Dell published what I think is the first paperback edition of the book, with a cover painting by Robert Stanley.

Bob Stanley was an excellent artist who did many classic paperback covers and cover and interior illustrations for men’s adventure magazines.

However, like many Mike Shayne books, the best-known paperback edition is the one from the ‘60s Dell reprint series that features cover art by Robert McGinnis, one of the most popular of all paperback cover artists.

That second Dell edition, published in 1960, is among the many covers by McGinnis that became pop culture artifacts. His covers continue to pop up in online posts, on the covers of recent book reprints, and in various other places.

For example, in 2017 the fashion company Prada used McGinnis paperback cover paintings — including his artwork for the cover of ONE NIGHT WITH NORA — on its fall line of blouses, skirts and dresses.

Coming up, more examples of Mike Shayne stories in men’s adventure magazines. But first up is an interview with Bill Cunningham, the creative mind behind the Pulp 2.0 imprint and MIKE SHAYNE: PRIVATE EYE, COMIC COLLECTION — which got me started on my recent Mike Shayne trip.

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