Our books on Amazon: the MEN'S ADVENTURE LIBRARY series...

Our books on Amazon: the MEN'S ADVENTURE LIBRARY series...
Click the image above for more information about our anthologies of men's adventure magazine stories and artwork

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

I WATCHED THEM EAT ME ALIVE! — the new Men’s Adventure Library book and first “Men’s Adventure Journal”

Killer Creatures book cover WM  
   
“I had a glimpse of a squirrel perched on his neck; it seemed funny as hell for a second.”

That was the initial reaction of the main character in the story “FLYING RODENTS RIPPED MY FLESH!” when he saw a small furry creature land on his buddy in the outback of Australia.

It’s the same initial reaction most people have when they see the “killer flying squirrels” cover painting done by artist Wilbur “Wil” Hulsey for that story, which originally appeared in the men’s adventure magazine MAN’S LIFE, August 1957.

But if you read that story and the others reprinted in our new book, I WATCHED THEM EAT ME ALIVE: KILLER CREATURES IN MEN’S ADVENTURE MAGAZINES, you’re likely to find they aren’t quite what you expected.

Most animal attack stories in MAMs — including those that may initially seem like they’d be “funny as hell” — are dark action/adventure tales that are grim and bloody as hell.

In most cases they are essentially horror stories.

I WATCHED THEM EAT ME ALIVE reprints examples animal attack stories from men’s adventure mags published in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, along with dozens of “killer creature” covers and interior illustrations, printed in glorious full color.

The format of this new book is a bit different from previous books in our Men’s Adventure Library series.

Our previous anthologies — WEASELS RIPPED MY FLESH!, HE-MEN, BAG MEN & NYMPHOS, A HANDFUL OF HELL and the CRYPTOZOOLOGY ANTHOLOGY — each include more than 20 stories, along with the cover and interior artwork originally used for the stories.

Our last book, BARBARIANS ON BIKES, is solely an image archive: a collection of MAM covers and interior artwork and photos that feature bikers and outlaw motorcycle gangs.
 
I WATCHED THEM EAT ME ALIVE is the first of example of a format we’re calling “The Men’s Adventure Library Journal.”

It’s an in-between format that’s roughly half stories and half artwork, all related to a particular theme; in this case, “killer creature” stories.

You can get a good idea of what the book looks like inside by clicking on and viewing the video preview at right.

Men’s adventure mags published hundreds of animal attack stories involving every possible type of critter, from true potential man-eaters like sharks, lions and bears, to squirm-inducing species like snakes, scorpions and spiders, to many kinds of critters that are highly unlikely threats to humans, such as weasels, lobsters, lemmings and anteaters.

In fact, killer creature stories are far more common in men’s adventure magazines than stories about sadistic Nazis tormenting scantily-clad women.

Nazi bondage and torture stories with lurid artwork that makes them both castigated as politically incorrect by knee-jerk critics and beloved by certain collectors are only common in the low-budget “sweat mag” subgenre of MAMs.

Animal attack stories appeared either occasionally or frequently in most of the 160 different men’s adventure titles published from the ‘50s to the ‘70s.

Many of those stories are illuminated with eye-popping artwork by top illustration artists of the era.

For example, the painting used for the first story in our new book and featured on its cover was done by George Gross.

Gross was an extremely-talented artist who started out doing cover paintings for the pre-World War II pulp fiction magazines that were forerunners of the MAM genre.

He later hundreds of cover and interior illustrations for men’s adventure magazines and paperbacks.

His cover painting for “I WATCHED THEM EAT ME ALIVE” is as classic as that story, which first appeared in MAN’S CONQUEST, November 1956.

For some reason, Gross’ painting was heavily cropped when it was used on the cover of that issue. But the full painting was shown inside in black-and-white.

In our book, we inserted the full color version where the painting appeared in black-and-white in the magazine.

Why? Well, because it’s so cool — and because we could. 

The original painting is owned by our friend, mega-MAM art collector Rich Oberg, so we had a high-resolution color photo of it.

Here’s a look at the original magazine spread and the colorized spread in our book side by side…

MAN'S CONQUEST, Nov 1956. Interior by George Gross WMImage20color

Gross’ killer crabs artwork is much less bloody than the story itself. And, the story is not quite as far-fetched as you might think.

Coconut crabs grow up to three feet across. Their claws, which can crush coconuts, can also easily slice off a finger – or do worse.

As noted in an article on the Smithsonian website, coconut crabs have been known to eat everything from chickens to cats and they could in fact overtake and eat a weak or injured human. In fact, one theory about the death of Amelia Earhart is that she crashed her plane on a small atoll in the South Pacific and survived, but was gravely wounded and unable to fend off scavenging coconut crabs, who ate her — possibly alive.

The “killer flying squirrels” story we included in this volume is far less plausible. Moreover, contrary to the famed Wil Hulsey cover painting and the photos used to illustrate it, the story is about “killer” Australian sugar gliders. Of course, in the real world, sugar gliders are about as deadly to humans as squirrels.

These small marsupials are popular pets Down Under and elsewhere. They can nip and they do live in groups in the wild. But it’s unlikely that even a huge mob of pissed off sugar gliders would pose a real threat to humans.

Amelia Earhart eaten by coconut crabs wmI WATCHED THEM EAT ME ALIVE, p. 30 & 31 WM

Nonetheless, if you can suspend your disbelief, you’ll find that “FLYING RODENTS RIPPED MY FLESH” is a very cool and amazingly gruesome ripping yarn.

Killer creature stories were particular mainstays of the long-running periodical that tale originally appeared in, TRUE MEN STORIES, as well as in the equally long-running MAM of killer weasels fame, MAN’S LIFE. (The famed “WEASELS RIPPED MY FLESH!” story we reprinted in our book of the same name, and that inspired the title of an album by Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, first appeared in the September 1956 issue of MAN’S LIFE.)

In 1950s and early 1960s, most issues of both MAN’S LIFE and TRUE MEN STORIES featured animal attack stories. Many included three or four.

For example, in addition to the story about flesh-ripping rodents, the August 1957 issue of TRUE MEN STORIES includes a wild story about killer pangolin anteaters (“TO HELL WITH THE GOLD – WE’RE DYING”), one about a berserk bull (“I WAS CHOKING ON A POOL OF GORE”) and another about a bloodthirsty lynx (“FETID FANGS TORE AT MY THROAT”).

The third story in the premiere issue of the Men’s Adventure Library Journal series comes from a short-lived and lesser-known men’s adventure magazine that went by the hormone-infused name RAGE. It’s a tale about a “lust-crazed gorilla” who kidnaps human women, titled “TERROR SAFARI.” 

RAGE, January 1961, John Duillo cover WMI WATCHED THEM EAT ME ALIVE, p. 40 & 41 WM

Of course, that old trope has long been played for laughs in comedy films. But it’s not just an old trope. It’s ancient. The idea that gorillas kidnapped and sexually abused human women has been a traditional legend of native peoples of Africa for centuries.

It was noted and repeated widely by white explorers and hunters in the 1800s and 1900s, eventually leading to the modern comedy movie gag. But, as you’ll see, the “TERROR SAFARI” story is not designed to be humorous, even though the cover painting that goes with it, by artist John Duillo, portrays a totally gonzo, gravity-defying scene.

Two stories in the book come from MALE, one of the best and longest-lasting men’s adventure magazines.

MALE was one of the “Diamond Group” MAMs published by Magazine Management. Those magazines were a training ground for many writers who went on to international fame, such as Mario Puzo, Bruce Jay Friedman and Martin Cruz Smith – as well as for many others who, though less well known, earned a good living as professional writers.

For example, one story in our book, titled “STRANGE REVENGE OF WYOMING’S MOST HUNTED GIANT PUMA,” was written by Robert F. Dorr.

I WATCHED THEM EAT ME ALIVE, p70 & 71 WMI WATCHED THEM EAT ME ALIVE, p72 & 73 WM

From 1964 to 1989, Dorr was a globe-hopping Foreign Service Officer for the US State Department. In his spare time, he wrote short stories for men’s adventure magazines.

Most were war and adventure stories, some of the best of which we feature in our anthology of his stories, A HANDFUL OF HELL, published shortly before Bob died last year.

But Bob could write gripping stories about virtually any subject and we are partial to his somewhat different take on animal attack stories because his tend to be sympathetic to the animals. (We included one he wrote about a polar bear in our WEASELS anthology.)

His giant cougar story is also notable for being illustrated by Mort Kunstler, under his pseudonym Emmett Kaye.

Mort (who I interviewed for this blog a while back) painted thousands of illustrations for magazines and books from early 1950s to the 1980s.

Since then he has focused on creating historical paintings for high end galleries and collectors. His Civil War paintings are especially sought after and often sell for tens of thousands of dollars. (You can see many excellent examples on his official website.)

A fifth story in our first Men’s Adventure Library Journal was written by another prolific writer who is a special favorite of ours: Walter Kaylin. We showcased a variety of classic stories by Walter in our HE-MEN, BAG MEN & NYMPHOS anthology.

I WATCHED THEM EAT ME ALIVE, p. 90 & 91 WMI WATCHED THEM EAT ME ALIVE, p. 92 & 93 WM

Like Bob Dorr, Walter was a regular contributor to the Magazine Management mags for more than 20 years.

Like Bob, Walter wrote hundreds of stories for men’s adventure magazines. So many that he often had two stories in the same issue: one under his own name and another under one of his common pseudonyms, Roland Empey or David Mars.

In our view, the killer creature story by Walter that we picked for this collection tops the movie SNAKES ON A PLANE in several ways, not the least of which is that it involves “a million snakes” surrounding the survivors of a plane that crashed in Louisiana’s swamp country.

Originally published in the January 1974 issue of MALE, under his pen name Roland Empey, it’s illustrated with a terrific illustration by Bob Larkin.

Larkin’s work for men’s adventure mags came late in their lifespan, in the 1970s. He’s best known for his more recent artwork for comics and graphic novels published by Marvel.

One of the things we’ve done with our recent books is to publish them in two editions: a trade paperback and a higher-priced deluxe hardcover edition.

Most of the content of the paperback and hardcover editions are the same, but the deluxe hardcover editions include bonus stories and artwork.

In I WATCHED THEM EAT ME ALIVE, we include sections showing classic killer creature covers and interior art between the stories by great artists such as Wil Hulsey, Clarence Doore, Rafael DeSoto, Wil Hulsey, Norm Eastman, Mort Kunstler and others.

I WATCHED THEM EAT ME ALIVE, p24 & 25 WMI WATCHED THEM EAT ME ALIVE, p64 & 65 WM

The hardcover edition includes two additional sections of artwork. One features original men’s adventure mag paintings by Samson Pollen.

Sam is still alive and well and living in New York. Last year, my co-editor Wyatt Doyle and I contacted Sam and found out that he has kept scores of original paintings he created for the Magazine Management MAMs, such as ACTION FOR MEN, FOR MEN ONLY, MALE, MEN and STAG, as well as many of the original paintings he did for action, adventure and romance paperback novels.

Most of the originals Sam kept have rarely or never been shown online or in any books. We’re happy to announce that he has agreed to let Wyatt and I show them in an upcoming series of books that will showcase his distinctive illustration art.

The Pollen artwork in the hardcover edition of I WATCHED THEM EAT ME ALIVE provides a little taste of those future publications.

The hardcover also includes a bonus story that’s also sort of a mini-preview of another book we’ll be publishing in the months ahead.

It’s a story about killer crabs written by the legendary, award-winning author Robert Silverberg in 1958 for the short-lived periodical EXOTIC ADVENTURES.

Of course, Bob Silverberg is best known and revered for his science fiction and fantasy stories and novels, such as his Hugo-award-wining NIGHTWINGS trilogy and his highly-popular MAJIPOR novels. But like other hardworking science fiction pros in the 1950s and 1960s, such as Arthur C. Clarke and Harlan Ellison, Silverberg also wrote stories for various men’s adventure magazines.

I WATCHED THEM EAT ME ALIVE, p 48 & 49I WATCHED THEM EAT ME ALIVE, p26 & 27 HC WM

As I’ve noted in previous posts on this blog (“LESBIANS ON THE PROWL”), some of Bob’s MAM stories were classic sexposé and sex advice stories written under the pseudonym L.T. Woodward, which he also used for a number of “sexology” books. Others were action/adventure yarns and softcore erotica, also typically written under pen names.

Several years ago, when I contacted Bob to get permission to reprint his men’s adventure mag story “TRAPPED BY MAU MAU TERROR” in our WEASELS anthology, he confirmed that he had written most of the stories in five of the six issues of EXOTIC ADVENTURES published in 1958 and 1959.

Bob has also sold us the rights to reprint the best of them in a forthcoming book in our Men’s Adventure Library series, tentatively titled THE EXOTIC ADVENTURES OF ROBERT SILVERBERG.

If (hopefully when) you read the “killer creature” stories in I WATCHED THEM EAT ME alive, you’ll see that there many parallels in the realm of movies and understand why such stories can be both absurd and horrific at the same time.

For example, Alfred Hitchcock’s 1963 classic film THE BIRDS might just seem silly based on the premise: killer birds. But it’s not. It’s horror.

So are killer creature movies like WILLARD (1971), JAWS (1975), ARACHNOPHOBIA (1990), THE GHOST AND THE DARKNESS (1996), ANACONDA (1997), CONGO (1995) and many others.

The way for those films and most Grade B, Drive-In and Grindhouse “natural horror” flicks was paved by stories in men’s adventure magazines.

Walter Kaylin book dedicationMen of Violence, Vol 8, with Walter Kaylin obit REV

EDITOR’S NOTES: The great Walter Kaylin passed away in February 2017. Wyatt and I were honored to have known him. We’re also honored to have reprinted stories by him in two previous books and in I WATCHED THEM EAT ME ALIVE. We officially dedicated our new book to Walter. And, with the gracious permission of his daughters Lucy Kaylin and Jennifer Kaylin, we plan to reprint more of Walter’s classic men’s adventure magazine stories in future books.

I’m also pleased that Justin Marriott, editor of several incredibly cool and beautifully-produced fan magazines about vintage pulp paperbacks and related stuff, has included a reprint of my farewell post to Walter in issue #8 of his MEN OF VIOLENCE mag. Here’s a link to Justin’s site, where you can order copies of that issue and other magazines Justin publishes, including the PAPERBACK FANATIC and PULP HORROR. And, here’s a link to a fascinating interview with Justin conducted by our friend, writer/editor/publisher Paul Bishop. MoV #8 also includes an article by Paul about the FARGO action/adventure novels.

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Comments? Corrections? Email me, or post them on our Weasels Ripped My Book Facebook Page
— or join the
Men’s Adventure Magazines & Books Facebook Group and post them there.

     
Click this link
or the image below to order our latest full-color
collection of men’s adventure magazine artwork and stories,
the first
in our new, lushly-illustrated “Men’s Adventure Library Journal” series...
 

I WATCHED THEM EAT ME ALIVE:

Killer Creatures in Men’s Adventure Magazines

I WATCHED THEM EAT ME ALIVE, w contents

Sunday, June 25, 2017

INDIA TODAY’s Kai Friese looks at American pulp and men’s adventure magazines…

Pulp mag article in INDIA TODAY, June 2017 WM
The Men’s Adventure Magazines & Books Facebook Group associated with this blog now has over 2,000 members from around the world.

Quite a few members are professional writers, such as: novelist and publisher Paul Bishop (who I interviewed earlier this year); veteran comics, film and cartoon writer Buzz Dixon; comics and action/adventure/science fiction/crime novelist Chuck Dixon; comics and “New Pulp” writer and publisher Ron Fortier; and, award-winning Western novelist and publisher James Reasoner.

Another interesting writing pro who’s a member of our Facebook Group is Kai Jabir Friese.

Kai is a longtime journalist who is currently a Managing Editor and feature writer for INDIA TODAY, India’s top English-language news magazine.

He was also among the original editors of India’s popular men’s lifestyle periodical MAN’S WORLD.

Over the years, Kai has written features, essays and op-eds for many other publications, including NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC TRAVELLER, GQ, GEO and the NEW YORK TIMES.

He’s the author of a book about the history-making American Civil Rights activist Rosa Parks (ROSA PARKS: THE MOVEMENT ORGANIZES) and a bio of the Dalai Lama (TENZIN GYATSO, THE DALAI LAMA). 

He also happens to be a fellow aficionado of both classic pulp fiction magazines and post-WWII men’s adventure mags.

Kai Jabir Friese pic, INDIA TODAYA while ago, Kai emailed me to ask if I could provide him with a set of men’s adventure magazine cover and interior scans featuring scenes in India and Pakistan for a piece in the Leisure section of the June 8, 2017 issue of INDIA TODAY

I could and did.

When the piece was published and Kai sent me a link to the page it’s on in the online edition, I was very pleased to see how it came out.

It’s a nice, creatively-designed spread. The upper part is a montage that features five scans I sent to Kai.

The blue duotone image at upper left is from a story in MALE, May 1960 about India’s legendary stranglers, the “Kali Cult” (a.k.a. the Thugs or Thuggees).

The artwork for that one is by James Bama, one of the great artists I’ve had the honor of interviewing for this blog.

The story was written by master MAM tale-spinner Walter Kaylin, whose gritty, imaginative men’s adventure mag stories are showcased in our book HE-MEN, BAG MEN & NYMPHOS.

The MAM cover in the INDIA TODAY montage showing an exotic, apparently nude native girl and a red-haired Yank adventurer hanging onto an overturned boat is the first issue of EXOTIC ADVENTURES, published in 1958.

That short-lived magazine is interesting for several reasons.

MALE, May 1960. James Bama art for Walter Kaylin storyEXOTIC ADVENTURES,  V1 N1 (1958) - Cover by Rafael DeSoto wm

It was an odd hybrid between a men’s adventure mag and a slick bachelor’s pinup mag. Most of the stories in the six issues that were published were written by one author — Robert Silverberg — under various pseudonyms. (Bob has given us permission to reprint many of them in a book we’ll be announcing later this year.)

The premiere issue of EXOTIC ADVENTURES is also notable for having a cover painting by Rafael DeSoto that was used for four different men’s adventure magazine covers.

It was first used on FOR MEN ONLY, April 1957 and the original painting shows a second dark-haired guy behind the girl. He was blocked out in the version used on EXOTIC ADVENTURES.

He reappeared when the painting was flipped horizontally and used for the cover of ACTION FOR MEN, March 1960 – then he’s gone again when DeSoto’s illustration was featured on the cover of MAN’S PERIL, March 1964.

FOR MEN ONLY, April 1957, cover by Rafael DeSotoACTION FOR MEN, March 1960, cover by Rafael DeSotoImage22

The image of the hapless babe in a red dress being mauled by a tiger, at the upper right of the INDIA TODAY montage, is from the cover of MAN’S ADVENTURE, May 1959. The cover painting was done by Vic Prezio.

The largest image in the montage is the initial two-page spread for a story about a Yank who breaks a group of women out of a Pakistan prison.

It was written by Grant Freeling and appeared in MEN, March 1972. The illustration is by the great Samson Pollen, who is alive and well and living in New York. (Sam’s men’s adventure magazine and paperback artwork will be featured in yet another book we’ll be announcing later this year.)

MAN'S ADVENTURE, May 1959. Vic Prezio cover WMMEN, March 1972, art by Samson Pollen WM

The interior spread shown at bottom right is from a story set in Tibet in MALE, July 1961, written by Martin Fass and illustrated by Walter Popp.

The main text of Kai’s piece, credited under his middle name Jabir, gives his interesting view of the men’s adventure magazine genre.

It says:

MALE, July 1961. Art by Walter Popp WMMan, All Man, Men in Danger? If you were a sentient male at some point between the 1940s and the 1970s, chances are you have thumbed through one of these irresistibly disreputable American magazines. Their brief efflorescence was emblematic of the generation of American men who emerged from the euphoria of global victory in 1945 only to shoot their collective wad in the disappointments of the Cold War years. The stories were about scenarios of extreme peril, heavy with sexual promise but little gratification — and ironically these ‘sweat magazines’ straddled the space between the genre of adventure fiction magazines that preceded them and the ‘lad mags’ and porn that would ultimately vanquish them. These magazines have become treasured collectibles today — partly due to the distinctive artwork of celebrated illustrators like Earl Norem or Mort Kunstler. But beyond their anachronistic fantasies, these vintage pages also show us a premonition of the fake news, formulaic headlines and fantastical clickbait that drive the digital media of a new century.

Under that, Kai gave me and our books a nice plug in the credits:

“Images courtesy of Bob Deis, editor of MensPulpMags.com and co-editor, with Wyatt Doyle, of the Men's Adventure Library. Their latest book is I WATCHED THEM EAT ME ALIVE.”

Yep, Kai actually scooped the world with the mention of our latest book, which is due for release in early July.

It’s a collection of artwork and stories featuring “killer creatures,” one of the most iconic categories of MAM tales.

It’s also the first book in a new series of lushly-illustrated magazine-style books we’re calling the Men’s Adventure Library Journal. As I write this, both the paperback edition and deluxe hardcover edition of I WATCHED THEM EAT ME ALIVE are available for preorder on Amazon worldwide. (In fact, I was interested to find out that because we use the IngramSpark service for publishing, readers of INDIA TODAY can buy our books on Amazon India. I love technology!)

Kai’s article in INDIA TODAY also has an interesting sidebar at the bottom of the pages.

The first paragraph in the sidebar notes: “If you get bitten by the collecting bug, like I was, you need to attend the two major conventions – Windy City in Chicago around the last week of April every year, and PulpFest(which will be held this year in Pittsburgh, from July 27-30).

I WATCHED THEM EAT ME ALIVE coverINDIA TODAY, June 2017 sidebars 1&2

That second graf include some good recommendations for anthologies of classic pulp fiction yarns, such as THE BIG BOOK OF SWASHBUCKLING ADVENTURE edited by Lawrence Ellsworth and THE BIG BOOK OF ADVENTURE STORIES edited by Otto Penzler.

The third sidebar paragraph notes that legendary pulp writer Talbot Mundy and historian, screenwriter, short story writer and novelist Harold Lamb both wrote many stories set in and around India.

The credits under the fourth paragraph in the sidebar say its text and images are courtesy of another Indian pulp aficionado, Sai Shankar, curator of the PulpFlakes blog. I was unaware of PulpFlakes until I read about it in the INDIA TODAY piece. It’s a very cool, well-researched blog that I’ve now added to my blogroll list of recommended sites.

By the way, Kai Friese also once wrote a fascinating article about India’s wild magazine CRIME & DETECTIVE, a popular Indian variation of American true crime and detective magazines that’s illustrated with posed photos of actors speaking their lines in cartoon-style word bubbles. Kai describes CRIME & DETECTIVE as “a roller-coaster ride of unsatisfied, insatiable women, virile lunkheads, lust, jealousy, violence and greed.”

Hearing that, I gotta get my hands on some copies. It sounds like fun reading to me!

INDIA TODAY, June 2017 sidebars 3&4CRIME & DETECTIVE, March 2009

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Comments? Corrections? Post them on our Weasels Ripped My Book Facebook Page
or join the
Men’s Adventure Magazines & Books Facebook Group and post them there.

     
Click this link
or the image below to order our latest full-color
collection of men’s adventure magazine artwork and stories,
the first
in our new, lushly-illustrated “Men’s Adventure Library Journal” series...
 

I WATCHED THEM EAT ME ALIVE:

Killer Creatures in Men’s Adventure Magazines

I WATCHED THEM EAT ME ALIVE, w contents

Sunday, May 28, 2017

My annual Memorial Day post: a look at the first issue of BATTLE CRY magazine...


[EDITOR'S NOTE: A link to download a free PDF copy of the first issue of BATTLE CRY magazine is at the bottom of this post.] 

Memorial Day is a day to remember and honor the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces.

But it also makes me think of my late father, Robert Carl Deis, who served in the Army during World War II and survived.

Dad was a Scout and Rifleman in the 6th Infantry Division (specifically, G Company of the 1st Infantry Regiment). He saw hellish action in the South Pacific.

Like many veterans, when Dad came back to the States, he worked in blue collar jobs to support his family and struggled to understand and adjust to the enormous social changes that were taking place in the 1950s and 1960s.

American military veterans like my Dad and his Army buddies, who served and survived, were the primary audience for many of the men’s adventure magazines of the ‘50s and ‘60s.

And, there were millions of them.
In fact, there were nearly 16 million male veterans of World War II when that global conflict ended in 1945.

Some of them also fought in the Korean War, which began five years later. More than 5.7 million Americans served in that conflict by the time it ended in 1953.

Most of the 160 or so magazines in the men’s adventure genre were designed to appeal to the interests those veterans and, later, to the 8.7 million American men who served in the Vietnam War from 1964 to 1975.

Thus, almost all included war stories of various kinds: true history pieces and eyewitness accounts; serious dramatic war fiction; highly-embellished articles that mixed fact and fiction; and, wild over-the-top yarns featuring sadistic Nazis and Commies, scantily-clad babes, and battling Yanks. However, only some of men’s pulp adventure magazines had a specific focus on war.

They included: BATTLE CRY, BATTLEFIELD, BATTLE ATTACK, BATTLE STATION, MAN’S COMBAT, MEN IN COMBAT, REAL COMBAT STORIES, REAL WAR, SALVO, TRUE BATTLES OF WORLD WAR II, TRUE SPY AND WAR STORIES, TRUE WAR, TRUE WAR STORIES, WAR, WAR CRIMINALS, WAR STORIES, WAR STORY and WOMEN-IN-WAR.

Most of the magazines in the war mag subgenre were fairly short-lived (as were many other magazines in the men’s adventure genre in general). The longest-lasting was BATTLE CRY. It was published from late 1955 to mid-1971 by Stanley Publications, Inc., the flagship company of pioneering comic book and magazine publisher Stanley P. Morse.

When the puritanical 1954 Comics Code essentially banned violent or sexy images in comics, Morse discontinued his BATTLE CRY comic book and created the men’s adventure magazine BATTLE CRY.

The comic had lasted for 20 issues. That’s why the first issue of the men’s adventure magazine version, dated December 1955, was numbered Vol. 1, No. 21.

The first issue of BATTLE CRY magazine features a moving cover painting. Unfortunately, it’s uncredited. (My guess is that it may have been done by the great pulp illustration artist Clarence Doore, who did many of the early BATTLE CRY covers.) It shows two American GIs driving a jeep loaded with the flag-covered coffin of a fallen comrade. The words “LAST TRIP,” printed at the bottom of the cover, are the poignant title of the painting, not the title of a story inside.

On the contents page of this issue, there’s a fascinating introduction about the purpose of the magazine, presumably written by the magazine’s initial Editor, Harry Kantor.

This intro doesn’t mention anything about the transformation of the BATTLE CRY comic into a men’s adventure magazine.

Here’s how it explains the genesis and purpose of the new periodical:   

WE’RE mad. Good and mad. P.O’ed.
     This started because of something we overheard. We were reminiscing about the old days in England with the 8th AAF, when some joker butts in with, “The war’s over! When are you guys gonna forget it?” We didn’t answer him. We were too stunned to answer. But his remarks set us to thinking. And wondering.
     We wondered if that’s how most people felt. “Forget about 1940-45, it’s over and done with. World War II and Korea are just history.”
     Well, maybe so. But not to us who were in it. Especially those who shed some blood. We don’t forget that easily. Even if the others do. Korea was an example of that. Just a nice private little war. Only concerned those who were there and their families. Didn’t concern anyone else.
     Well, that’s what we’re sore about. You don’t forget that easily. Or you shouldn’t. And that’s why this magazine.
BATTLE CRY is to make sure you don’t forget.   
     What are our purposes? Our aims? Well, we’re not going off half-cocked and say that through these pages we hope to stop wars. We know that can’t happen. Even though we wish it could. Magazines don’t stop wars. People do.
     But we felt that it’s about time people found out what war is really like. The frustrations, the fears, the anguish, the futility, and all of the rest that makes up combat and the military.
     That’s why this magazine.
     Another reason. Sixteen million present and ex-service men and women. Somewhere on these pages you’ll find something that interests you. That concerns you. A shot of your old outfit. A battle you fought in. A buddy you lost contact with. We’re trying to make this the postwar
YANK. We’re trying to make this YOUR MAGAZINE.
     No, we’re not forgetting we were once in The Service. We’re damned proud of it.
     BATTLE CRY will help us to remember.

Inside the first issue of BATTLE CRY there are announcements of several regular features designed to let veterans communicate with each other — in the same way a modern Internet forum or Facebook group does for people who share certain interests.

For example, the “Whatever Happened To...” section was designated as a place where vets could post messages to old buddies they were trying to find or to announce dates and locations of reunions for their outfits. The “So You’re Out Now” feature was launched as an ongoing source of information about programs for veterans and to provide answers to questions vets sent in about problems they faced. 

The articles and stories in the December 1955 issue of BATTLE CRY and other early issues are not the type of wild-and-crazy “sweat magazine” style yarns that were the primary content of most Stanley Publications magazines in the 1960s and early 1970s (including issues of BATTLE CRY published in those decades).

Many stories were gritty, but not lurid, non-fiction and fiction war stories, such as:

“CALL ME TRAITOR!,” an insightful “as told to” story about a soldier who was a prisoner of war in Korea;

“THE BLOODY 100th,” a fact-based story about B-17 crews in the 100th Bombardment Group that reminded me of the history books MISSION TO BERLIN and MISSION TO TOKYO, by the late, great men’s adventure magazine writer and military aviation historian Robert F. Dorr;

“TANK TRAP,” another fact-based story, about WWII tank crews;

“WORLD’S TOUGHEST KILLERS IN KHAKI,” a salute to the Australian military;

“THE BLOODY BUTCHERS OF MILNE,” an account of the WWII Battle of Milne Bay in New Guinea

“YOU DON'T COUNT FOR A DAMN,” a ripping WWII fiction yarn;

“YA GOTTA KILL ‘EM TO TRAIN ‘EM,” an endorsement of tough basic training techniques;

“WHAT MEN THINK OF IN THE FACE OF DEATH,” another story about the bravery of American bomber crews, this time B-24 crews in the South Pacific; and,

“SUICIDE SUB,” a true story about the USS Tang, a famed WWII submarine that sank 33 Japanese ships before being sunk by a malfunctioning torpedo in 1945, killing most of the crew.

Not all of the stories in the first issue of BATTLE CRY are serious. For example, there’s an article about the often laughable “GI SEX INSTRUCTION FILMS” (a.k.a. sex hygiene films) that were supposed to educate American soldiers about how to avoid catching a venereal disease (or getting the local gals pregnant).

There’s a humorous story about the, uh, side benefits of serving behind the lines in an office that had female staff, titled “I WAS A FILING TIGER.”

And, as usual in vintage men’s pulp mags, there are advertisements that often provide unintended humor, like the oddly-placed ad about the power of prayer that’s sandwiched between ads for illustrated porn booklets on one of the back pages.

There are also some classic cheesecake photo spreads in this issue, featuring the famed stripper Evelyn “Treasure Chest” West, the alluring, somewhat notorious actress and model Francesca De Scoffa and a lesser-known pinup model named Lee Wilson.

In the 1960s, BATTLE CRY moved increasingly into “sweat magazine” territory and left behind many of the original goals outlined in the Editor’s introduction in the December 1955 issue.

Yet, as noted by vintage magazine expert Dr. David M. Earle, author of the excellent book ALL MAN!: HEMINGWAY, 1950s MEN'S MAGAZINES AND THE MASCULINE PERSONA, men’s adventure magazines published in both the ‘50s and ‘60s played an important role in the lives of America’s military veterans. 

In an interview I did with Dr. Earle a while back, he explained:

“The most concentrated exploration of men’s adventure magazines that I make in the book, and which I find pretty enthralling and novel still, is how they offered veterans of World War II a means to deal with and categorize both their wartime experience and the difficulties of returning to United States. They returned to a society that was, for a large part, unaware of exactly how horrible their experiences had been. The bloody realities of the war had generally been censored by the government and avoided by the press.

Yes. The end of the war was obviously a happy time, but also a very traumatic time: a difficult shift to a postwar economy, pressures of suburbanization, the simple difficulties of readjusting, and even the difficulty of expressing, to your family and yourself, the experience of war. Men’s adventure magazines like BATTLE CRY featured stories by and about vets, soldiering, battle. They offered columns for reuniting with former war buddies. They returned men to the camaraderie of soldiering, but in a safe place. The stories about war provided a text and narrative for vets to identify with. This is one of the important parts of healing for PTSD [Post Traumatic Stress Disorder], hence why ‘rap sessions’ were implemented for vets returning from the Vietnam War. Audie Murphy, the World War II hero who became a famous actor, wrote an amazing story about this for BATTLE CRY in 1956 [“The Day I Cried,” August 1956] that was instrumental in breaking the previous taboo about discussing war-related mental problems.

The aspects of men’s adventure magazines mentioned by Dr. Earle are front and center in the first issue of BATTLE CRY. It remains one of the best issues of the magazine from its early, pre-sweat mag years.

In fact, I consider it a classic within the entire men’s adventure genre. That’s why I scanned in the entire copy and added it to the MensPulpMags.com virtual newsstand.

To download a complete, high resolution PDF copy of BATTLE CRY, December 1955, click this link or the image below.

In honor of Memorial Day, I am making this issue available for free to interested readers.

This one’s for you, Dad.

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

Click this link or the image below to download a PDF copy of:

BATTLE CRY, December 1955

This is a digital copy of the complete issue, in high resolution PDF format, featuring gritty war stories, classic pulp art, vintage cheesecake photos of Evelyn “Treasure Chest” West, and much more.

BATTLE CRY, December 1955. Cover & stories