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Our books on Amazon: the MEN'S ADVENTURE LIBRARY series...
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Saturday, July 13, 2019

ARGOSY, ADVENTURE & BLUE BOOK: Top pulps that became top men’s adventure magazines

The 2019 PulpFest convention will be held in Pittsburgh from August 15th to 18th.

PulpFest is a descendant of the pioneering PulpCon that used to be held in my home state of Ohio.

It’s one of the biggest and best annual pulp-related conventions in the country.

Last year, Mike Chomko, one of the tireless PulpFest organizers, invited Wyatt Doyle and I to make a presentation there.

We also had a table where we sold and signed books from our growing Men’s Adventure Library series.

My previous posts on this blog provided an overview of our 2018 PulpFest presentation.

We’ll be at PulpFest again this year, selling books — including several new releases.

We’ll also be making another presentation.

This one is about how the pioneering pulp magazines ARGOSY, ADVENTURE and BLUE BOOK evolved into men’s adventure magazines (MAMs) after World War II.

Here’s a summary of what we’ll be saying and a look at some of the overhead slides we’ll be using...

Some fans of classic pulp magazines have an issue with the term “pulp” being applied to anything except the pulp mags published during the first half of the 20th Century.

But if we put debates over terminology aside, it’s clear that “pulp DNA” is evident in other magazine genres that followed. You know it when you see it.

One of the clearest examples is the men’s adventure magazine genre that emerged in in the late 1940s, flourished in the ‘50s and ‘60s, then faded away in the 1970s.

In fact, three of the top pulp magazines that pioneered the pulp genre and had the largest circulations and longest runs in the classic pulp format also pioneered the men’s adventure magazine genre and had among the largest circulations and longest runs in that realm.

Those magazines are ARGOSY, ADVENTURE and BLUE BOOK.

ARGOSY is generally considered to be the first pulp magazine.

But it didn’t start as a true pulp in the strictest sense of the term applied later.

When it was first created by Frank Munsey in 1882, under the title THE GOLDEN ARGOSY, it was essentially a dime novel style “story newspaper” for school age kids.

After several years of less than stellar sales, Munsey realized that juvenile readers soon outgrew what they read as children.

Moreover, since kids of that era had comparatively little money to spend, a publication targeted to them didn’t attract a lot of advertisers.

In December 1888, Munsey renamed his tabloid THE ARGOSY and began featuring fiction stories targeted to adults.

That version sold better.

In October 1896, Munsey began publishing ARGOSY in a magazine format with all fiction stories.

That version sold even better but lacked the final element of classic pulps: painted covers.

That element was added in October 1905, making ARGOSY the template for the classic pulp magazine.

ARGOSY continued in that basic format, with a couple of changes in size and name, until the late 1930s.

In the years leading up to World War II, ARGOSY began to include some news-style articles and other true stories along with fictional fare.

Some of those stories are about Adolf Hitler and the Nazis, their persecution of the Jews, and the threat they posed to the world.

These foreshadowed the iconic evil Nazi stories and covers that became common in the post-World War II men’s adventure magazine genre.

When World War II broke out, ARGOSY began a slow but steady metamorphosis toward the men’s adventure magazines format.

Basically, it was a “proto-MAM phase.”

Fiction stories by top pulp writers were still a major element of the magazine.

But true and fictional war stories about the fight against the Nazis and Japanese became more common, as did other types of true or fact-based stories.

For example, the August 1942 issue (which has an evil Jap cover) includes articles about Gen. Douglas MacArthur and American war heroes, a fiction story by Leslie Charteris about his popular character “The Saint,” and an installment of the serialized publication of Gypsy Rose Lee’s “G-String Murders.”

In 1942, ARGOSY was sold to Popular Publications, the publisher of ARGOSY’s long-time chief competitor, ADVENTURE magazine.

The editors of Popular Publications continued ARGOSY’s metamorphosis toward the MAM format.

At the time, ADVENTURE was also undergoing a transformation from a classic pulp mag to a men’s adventure magazine and both were pioneering the MAM genre.

ADVENTURE was launched in 1910 and soon became one of the top pulps.

It helped solidify the pulp format of fiction stories penned by talented pulp writers, and painted covers and black-and-white line drawing artwork created by great pulp artists.

Eventually, ADVENTURE eclipsed ARGOSY in popularity and by the mid-1930s was the best-selling pulp.

Like ARGOSY, ADVENTURE morphed into a men’s adventure magazine after World War II.

In April 1953, it went from digest size to 8 ½” x 11” and included new types of stories and interior art.

On the cover, the subhead “THE NEW MAGAZINE OF EXCITING FICTION AND FACT” was added under the title.

In October 1953, that was changed to “THE MAN’S MAGAZINE OF EXCITING FICTION AND FACT.”

Another top pulp magazine that morphed into a men’s adventure magazine was BLUE BOOK.

It started out as THE MONTHLY STORY MAGAZINE in 1905.

It was renamed THE MONTHLY STORY BLUE BOOK MAGAZINE in 1906.

From then until 1952, it had various titles with the words BLUE BOOK as the constant factor.

During World War II, BLUE BOOK changed from digest size to standard 8 ½” by 11” magazine size and started including fact-based articles along with its pulp fiction yarns.

In 1951, it began being touted on the cover as BLUE BOOK, the “Magazine of Adventure in Fact and Fiction.”

In February 1952, it was renamed BLUEBOOK, one word instead of two, with the subtitle “Adventure in Fact and Fiction,” and became more of a men’s adventure magazine than a pulp.

By October 1960, that transformation was completed by a new owner, and the magazine was renamed BLUEBOOK FOR MEN.

In their transformation to full blown MAMs, ARGOSY, ADVENTURE and BLUEBOOK kept key parts of their pulp DNA: most notably their painted covers and pulpy action and adventure stories.

But they added several other elements that crystallized into the classic men’s adventure magazine format in the early 1950s.

One was heavy dose of true (or at least fact-based) stories about wars, crimes, scandals, news events and other topics of interest to men.

Another was painted interior illustrations and photographs rendered as halftones, as opposed to the line drawing artwork in classic pulps.

They also added a third key part of the MAM recipe: photos of attractive models and actresses wearing swimsuits, lingerie or less.

These “pinup photos” — aka “cheesecake photos” or “glamour girl” photos — were already common in other magazines targeting men during World War II, including the U.S. Army’s own weekly magazine YANK, men’s mags like ESQUIRE.

Indeed, as the MAM genre was taking shape in the ‘50s, pinup pics were common in almost all men’s magazines, as well as in various other types of periodicals.

From a sales standpoint, the metamorphosis of ARGOSY, ADVENTURE and BLUEBOOK and the rise of the MAM genre in the Fifties made a lot of sense.

Their targeting and content fit the times.

MAMs especially targeted military veterans, of which there were many: 16 million male WWII vets, 5.7 million Korean War vets, and millions more Vietnam era vets.

During the 1950s, the classic pulp mags began to fade away and the men’s adventure magazine genre took off.

During the ‘50s and ‘60s, more than 160 men’s adventure magazines were launched. Like pulp magazines, some were short lived.

Some lasted years.

Others – including the MAM versions of ARGOSY, ADVENTURE and BLUEBOOK – lasted for decades.

ADVENTURE continued in the basic MAM format until 1971.

ARGOSY continued as a men’s adventure magazine until 1979.

BLUEBOOK ran until May 1975.

When I started collecting men’s adventure magazines in earnest about 10 years ago, I noticed that there were many books featuring classic pulp magazine stories and artwork, but there were no recently-published anthologies of MAM stories and few books that featured MAM artwork by top MAM illustrators.

That’s the niche Wyatt Doyle and I are working to fill with our Men’s Adventure Library series.

We now have a dozen books in the series and more coming this year.

One of our newest books, debuting at PulpFest, is about Eva Lynd.

If you’re a fan of vintage men’s mags or a regular reader of this blog, you know that Eva was both a popular pinup photo model and a men’s adventure magazine artist’s model, as well as an actress. Wyatt and I view her as a men’s adventure magazine supermodel, like the male model Steve Holland, who Eva often modeled with in reference photo sessions for artists like Norm Eastman and Al Rossi.

If you make it to PulpFest this year, stop by our table to say “hi” and check it out.

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

Related reading…

Thursday, June 20, 2019

“Men’s Adventure Magazines and the Art of War” – a PulpFest presentation (Part 2)...

My previous post on this blog reprinted the first half of the presentation I made with my publishing partner Wyatt Doyle at last year’s PulpFest.

In case you don’t know about it, PulpFest is one of the biggest and best annual pulp-related conventions in the country.

Since the theme for that year’s presentations was “The Pulps at War,” we put together a set of overheads about the war stories and artwork in men’s adventure magazines and the thematic, artistic and literary DNA they share with the pre-World War II pulp magazines.

In the second half of the presentation, I spent some time talking about the men’s adventure mag BATTLE CRY.

When it was launched by Stanley Publications in December 1955, it was specifically designed to appeal to veterans of World War II and the Korean War and active duty servicemen.

As explained by Managing Editor Harry Kantor his introduction to the issue: “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.”

In fact, military veterans and servicemen were the key target audience for most of the scores of men’s adventure magazines launched in the 1950s.

There were about 20 million of them at the time.

As noted by vintage magazine expert David M. Earle, author of the excellent book ALL MAN!: HEMINGWAY, 1950s MEN'S MAGAZINES AND THE MASCULINE PERSONA, men’s adventure magazines were not merely a source of entertainment for those men.

In an interview I did with David several years ago, he told me:

“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, 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 that was instrumental in breaking the previous taboo about discussing war-related mental problems.”

Earle also had some interesting insights about some more extreme aspects of men’s adventure magazines, like the animal attack yarns featured in our book I WATCHED THEM EAT ME ALIVE and the now very politically incorrect Nazi bondage and torture stories and covers.

“All of the men’s adventure mags featured stories about men facing extreme situations.” Earle noted. “In addition to battle stories, there were other themes of men in extreme situations – men vs. animals, Nazis, nature, etc. Some of those may now appear ridiculous, but at the same time such fantastic situations make traumatic reality codifiable. One can deal with the tensions of the real world in a safe fantasy world of fiction. In the 1890s, adventure romances by authors such as H. Rider Haggard, Bram Stoker, and A. Conan Doyle, were incredibly popular because they allowed readers to deal with the tensions created by urbanization, industrialization, scientific advances, and globalization. Something similar was going on in America in the 1950s and this is one reason why men’s adventure magazines were so popular.”

Many men’s adventure mags, including BATTLE CRY, got even wilder and crazier in the ‘60s and ‘70s. But certain elements remained common.

Most kept the tradition of using painted covers and continued to publish at least some war stories in almost every issue.

Of course, war stories were also common in the pre-WWII pulp fiction magazines. But many MAM war stories tend to be grimmer, grittier, bloodier than war stories in the pulps.

Moreover, unlike war stories in pulp mags, almost all of which are fiction, roughly half or more of the war stories in MAMs are non-fiction or fact-based stories that are portrayed as true.

That’s one of the key differences between these related genres.

Men’s adventure magazines had a mix of fiction stories and fact-based non-fiction articles and news columns.

MAMs also perfected the art of creating fictional stories that were portrayed as being true.

In fact, many war, action and adventure stories in men’s adventure magazines are faux true stories – fictional stories that are touted as true in headlines and subhead, written as if they were true, and dressed up with photographs that are portrayed as actual photos of the characters, scenes and events in the stories.

A lot of the best fiction stories in MAMs are war stories that are based on or reflect real firsthand experiences of veterans.

Some are high-quality fiction stories or condensed versions of novels written by top writers, such as:
- Pierre Boule, author of BRIDGE OVER THE RIVER KWAI;
- Joseph Heller, author of CATCH-22;
- Norman Mailer, author of THE NAKED AND THE DEAD;
- Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., author of SLAUGHTERHOUSE-FIVE;
- Mario Puzo, author of THE GODFATHER; and,
- Robert F. Dorr, author of dozens of popular military aviation and history books.

In fact, for many professional writers, as well as for many illustration artists, men’s adventure magazines were an important source of basic or supplemental income. And, many good writers, like Puzo and Dorr, wrote war stories specifically for MAMs.

They were a consistent element of the MAM genre, from the late ‘40s to the genre's demise in the late ‘70s.

Most MAM war stories are about World War Two and Korea.

But there were also many about the Civil War, some about World War One, and some about colonial wars, especially those in Middle East countries that involved the Foreign Legion (which was also a popular topic of many early pulp magazines).

It’s also worth noting that, from the mid-‘60s to the late ‘70s, MAMs were one of the few men’s mag genres that regularly published stories about the Vietnam War that tended to be either clearly supportive of the war or at least highly respectful of the sacrifices and bravery of the men and women who served in that war, in the same manner the stories about World War Two and the Korean War did.

In my opinion, some of the best war stories in men’s adventure magazines in men’s adventure magazines about the Vietnam War, the Korean War and World War Two were written by Robert F. Dorr.

As I noted in a post I wrote shortly after Bob passed away in 2016, he wrote hundreds of stories for various men’s adventure magazines.

After that genre faded away, he went on to become one of the top military aviation journalists and historians in the world.

He wrote thousands of articles that were published military and aviation periodicals and history magazines, and nearly 80 military aviation history books.

I had the good fortune of getting to know Bob several years before he died.

Wyatt Doyle and I had the honor of working with him to publish an anthology of his war and adventure stories from men’s adventure magazines. It’s titled A HANDFUL OF HELL, after one of the stories in the book.

That story is about Air Force Staff Sergeant Henry "Red" Erwin. It was first published in the men's adventure magazine CLIMAX, in October 1962.

As Bob Dorr explains in the story, Erwin saved the lives of his fellow B-29 crew members during the major firebombing mission over Japan on April 12, 1945. During the mission, a phosphorous bomb ignited prematurely while still inside the plane.

Erwin picked up the white-hot, flaming bomb — a literal handful of hell — and managed to shove it out of the plane. He was horribly burned in the process, but survived. For that incredible act of bravery, he was awarded the Medal of Honor.

If you want to read some of the best true war and fictional stories written for MAMs or any other genre, I highly recommend the Dorr anthology. Wyatt and I dedicated our 2018 PulpFest presentation to Bob.

This year’s, PulpFest will be held in Pittsburgh from August 15th to 18th this year. We’ll be there selling and signing books. We’ll also be doing another presentation that I’ll provide a look at it in a future post.

If you come, please stop by the Men’s Adventure Library table and say ‘hi.’

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

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

Related reading…

Sunday, May 19, 2019

“Men’s Adventure Magazines and the Art of War” – a PulpFest presentation (Part 1)...


PulpFest is one of the biggest and best annual pulp-related conventions in the country.

It’s a descendant of PulpCon, a pioneering event that ran annually from 1972 to 2008. 

In 2008, several pulp magazine experts who had been active in organizing the PulpCon — Jack Cullers, Barry Traylor, Ed Hulse and Mike Chomko — decided to create a new pulp-related convention called PulpFest.

To help attract people who are not just fans of the classic all-fiction pulp magazines published during the first half of the 20th century, they widened the focus welcoming sellers and creators of the wide variety of mediums influenced by the pulps — including comic books, action/adventure paperbacks, “new pulp” novels, and vintage men’s adventure magazines (MAMs) published form the late 1940s to the mid-1970s.

Their vision and the indefatigable organizing skills of a team of people have kept PulpFest going strong ever since.

Last year, Mike Chomko, who was aware that I collect, write about and publish books about MAMs with my publishing partner Wyatt Doyle, encouraged us to have a table at the show.

He also invited us to make a presentation about some of the connections between that genre and the earlier pulps.

We took him up on both offers and had a great time.

PulpFest 2018 was held at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh–Cranberry from July 26 to 29. It’s a nice hotel and the convention was excellent.

There were scores of dealers, hundreds of visitors and a series of fascinating presentations by pulp culture mavens like David Saunders, son of the legendary pulp artist Norman Saunders, and author Joe Lansdale, one of my favorite writers.

The theme for that year’s presentations was “The Pulps at War.”

Mike asked Wyatt and I do a presentation about the war stories and artwork in MAMs and the thematic, artistic and literary DNA they share with pulp magazines.

We were honored to do it and pleased that our presentation was well received.

We were also honored and pleased when Mike invited us to make a presentation at PulpFest 2019, which will be held in Pittsburgh from August 15th to 18th this year.

As I began thinking about our 2019 presentation, which will look at some of the classic pulp magazines that morphed into men’s adventure magazines in the ‘50s, I realized that I had not done any posts about our 2018 presentation on this blog.

The entire presentation is a bit long for one post, so I’ll break it up into two.

Here’s Part 1...

The World War II years are often cited as beginning of the end of the classic pulp mag genre.

The years after WWII saw the beginning of the rise of men’s adventure magazines, which incorporated and continued key elements of the pulps, such as painted covers and rousing action/adventure stories.

Fans know what someone means when they refer to “pulp magazines.”

The simple, standard definition is that they are vintage, all fiction magazines printed on rough pulp paper that have painted covers and black-and-white line drawing interior illustrations.

Fans also know that definition is a bit oversimplified.

Some 200 or more different pulp magazine titles were published between the early 1900s and mid-1950s.

Not all were printed on rough pulp paper. Not all had painted covers. Some included non-fiction articles.

Basically, no one pulp magazine subgenre or title epitomizes all pulp magazines as a whole.

The types of stories in pulps cover a wide range of topics: war, exotic adventure, Westerns, crime, mystery, science fiction and fantasy, horror, romance, and more.

If you show someone who doesn’t know much about pulps the covers of issues in the “spicy pulp” subgenre or the “weird menace” subgenre (aka “shudder pulps”) their reaction would might be: “Wow, pulp mags must be some lurid, sadistic, sexist and racist form of periodicals.”

And, if they read some of the stories from mags in those outré subgenres, they might scoff at claims that pulp magazines published some of the best fiction stories of all time.

But in fact, they did.

They also featured some of the best illustration art ever created.

Nonetheless, it’s difficult to make generalizations that apply equally to all pulp magazines.

Each publisher and title had their own characteristics.

In some cases, the stories and cover and interior artwork were created by top notch writers and artists.

In other cases, the quality of the often quickly written, penny-word-word stories and illustrations aren’t considered great even by pulp fans.

Of course, many pulp mag fans learn to enjoy aspects of them all, the same way some movie fans can appreciate all types of movies, from the best, classic films to grade B action and horror flicks to the Grade Z movies spoofed by MST3K and the RiffTrax crew.

The same is true of men’s adventure magazines.

Like pulps, MAMs are a broad genre. More than 160 different titles that fit into the MAM genre were published. However, like pulps, no one MAM subgenre or magazine epitomizes all men’s adventure magazines as a whole.

Also, like pulps, each publisher and title had their own character.

In some, the stories and cover artwork are great, truly top notch. In other cases, not so much – though if you become a true MAM fan, you learn to enjoy aspects of them all.

Many people have the faulty impression that the low-budget MAMs with covers and stories featuring sadistic Nazis tormenting scantily clad women are representative of MAMs as a whole.

In fact, those lurid low-budget MAMs, which share DNA with the weird menace and spicy pulps, are really just a subgenre.

It’s the subgroup of MAMs that frequently featured bondage-and-torture that I think fit the term “sweat magazines.”

Some people use that term to refer to all MAMs, but I don’t. And it wasn’t a term used by the publishers, editors and writers of those magazines.

They typically called them men’s adventure magazines.

Given the clear connections between pulp magazine and MAMs, some people also use the terms men’s pulp magazines or men’s pulp mags, for short, though I know there are pulp fans who get annoyed that the term pulp has come to have broader uses in recent decades.

At any rate, when you compare the war stories in pulps and the subgenre of war-themed pulp titles to the war stories in men’s adventure magazines and the war-themed MAM titles, you can see both the similarities and the differences between the two genres.

To prepare for our PulpFest 2018 presentation, I reread the chapter about war-themed pulp magazines in THE ART OF THE PULPS. That great book edited by pulp art collector extraordinaire Doug Ellis and pulp historian Ed Hulse, head honcho of Murania Press and editor of the “Blood 'n' Thunder” series.

The chapter about war pulps includes many examples that can be used to connect the dots between pulps and MAMs.

For instance, some of the pioneering pulps it discusses, such as ADVENTURE, ARGOSY and BLUE BOOK turned into men’s adventure magazines in the 1950s and pioneered the MAM genre.

Several pulp publishers also became publishers of men’s adventure magazines.

One notable example is Harry Steeger’s Popular Publications.

It published dozens of pulp titles in the 1930s and 1940s, including war and aviation themed pulps, like DARE -DEVIL ACES, G-8 AND HIS BATTLE ACES and DUSTY AYRES AND HIS BATTLE BIRDS.

Popular Publications later bought the long running pulps ADVENTURE and ARGOSY and turned them into men’s adventure magazines in the 1950s.

Popular Publications also published the men’s adventure magazines MEN’S PICTORIAL and TRUE ADVENTURES.

Pulp and physical fitness pioneer Bernarr Macfadden’s company published various pulps, including the aviation-themed war pulp FLYING STORIES.

Macfadden Publications later published the men’s adventure magazines SAGA, CLIMAX, IMPACT, PRIZE SEA STORIES and TRUE WAR STORIES.

Fawcett Publications, founded by Wilford "Captain Billy" Fawcett, is another company that published both pulps and MAMs, though it’s more widely known for the its pioneering humor magazine CAPTAIN BILLY'S WHIZ BANG, MECHANIX ILLUSTRATED the Gold Medal paperbacks.

Fawcett’s flagship war pulp was BATTLE STORIES. It later published the hugely popular men’s magazines TRUE and CAVALIER, both of which fit into the men’s adventure magazines during part of their runs, and the lesser-known MAM TRUE THRILLS.

Marvel comics founder Martin Goodman’s publishing empire included dozens of pulp magazine in the 1930s and 1940s, through his companies Western Fiction Pub. Co, Red star, and Newsstand Group.

Two were war classic pulps: AMERICAN SKY DEVILS and COMPLETE WAR NOVELS.

Goodman went on to create one of the greatest lines of men’s adventure magazines, the ones often referred to as the Atlas/Diamond men’s adventure magazines.

During the early ‘50s, Goodman’s MAMs were identified by the Atlas logo. After 1958, they were identified by a Diamond.

The Atlas/Diamond MAMs include ACTION FOR MEN, ACTION LIFE, ADVENTURE LIFE, ADVENTURE TRAILS, BATTLEFIELD, COMPLETE MAN, FISHING ADVENTURES, FOR MEN ONLY, HUNTING ADVENTURES, KEN FOR MEN, MALE, MAN'S WORLD (SECOND SERIES), MEN, MEN IN ACTION, SPORT LIFE, SPORTSMAN, STAG, TRUE ACTION and WAR.

Many artists who did pulp cover art went on to do cover and interior artwork for men’s adventure magazines.

Some of the best-known artists who worked for both genres are giants in the realm of pulp art, such as Walter Baumhofer, Rudolph Belarski, Clarence Doore, Mort Kunstler, Tom Lovell, Walter Popp, Norman Saunders, Rafael DeSoto and H. J. Ward.

And there are many others you may know if you’re a fan of either pulp mags or MAMs or both, including: Harry Barton, Walter Baumhofer, Rudolph Belarski, James Bentley, Stanley Borack, John Clymer, L. B. Cole, Mel Crair, Rafael DeSoto, Clarence Doore, Charles Dye, George Gross, Everett Raymond Kinstler, Mort Kunstler, Tom Lovell, Milton Luros, Leo Morey, Herb Mott, Walter Popp, William Reusswig, Norman Saunders, Sam Savitt, Mark Schneider, Mal Singer, Robert Stanley, Lawrence Sterne Stevens, Joseph Szokoli, Ed Valigursky, and H. J. Ward.

Many writers also worked for both genres. Examples of writers whose work appeared in both pulps and MAMs include: Robert Bloch, Ray Bradbury, Edwin V. Burkholder, Arthur C. Clarke, Harlan Ellison, Erle Stanley Gardner, David Goodis, Frank Kane, MacKinlay Kantor, Day Keene, Gerald Kersh, Donald Keyhoe, Ed Lacy, Louis L’Amour, Elmore Leonard, John D. MacDonald, Richard Matheson, Talbot Mundy, Richard Prather, Ellery Queen, Robert Silverberg, Mickey Spillane, Theodore Sturgeon, A.E. Van Vogt, Robert Turner and Bryce Walton.

War stories – both fiction and non-fiction – were a common feature in men’s adventure magazines throughout all three decades of their existence, as were advice and expose stories and news features specifically geared for veterans and active duty serviceman.

Like pulps, some lasted for three decades. Some only for only a few issues. Some only one.

There are many different kinds of stories in MAMs – but war stories were one of the most common throughout the genre’s three-decade lifespan.

This makes sense given that military veterans and servicemen were the main target audience for most MAMs, especially in the 1950s and early 1960s.

There were nearly 16 million male veterans of World War II when it 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 of 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 MAM titles had a specific focus on war.

They include: 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.

Before BATTLE CRY the magazine, Morse published the comic BATTLE CRY, of many war-themed comic books that were popular from the mid-1940s to the mid-1950s.

Then, in 1954, the puritanical 1954 Comics Code banned violent or sexy images in comics. That killed off many horror comics – and the bloodier war comics.

But Stanley Morse was a smart publisher.

He discontinued his BATTLE CRY comic book and turned it into the men’s adventure magazine BATTLE CRY.

The BATTLE CRY comic had lasted for 20 issues.

That’s why the first issue of the men’s adventure magazine BATTLE CRY, dated December 1955, is numbered Vol. 1, No. 21.

The first issue of BATTLE CRY magazine features a moving cover painting.

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 managing 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!..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...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...
      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.

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 overly 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 reminds me of the war stories written by the late, great men’s adventure magazine writer and military aviation historian Robert F. Dorr, whose stories are featured in our book A HANDFUL OF HELL;

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

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

“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 stories in the first issue of BATTLE CRY are serious.

For example, there’s an article about the often lamely 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 and the alluring, somewhat notorious actress and model Francesca De Scaffa.

In the 1960s, BATTLE CRY moved increasingly into “sweat magazine” territory.

At that point, it left behind many of the original goals outlined in the Editor’s introduction in the December 1955 issue.

But it did still regularly feature war stories and was one of the longer-running MAMs, lasting until 1971.

The next post on this blog will look at some of differences between pulps and MAMs discussed in our 2018 PulpFest presentation.

In the meantime, you can find the details about PulpFest 2019 or register to get a dealer table on the PulpFest website.

Wyatt and I hope to see you there.

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

Related reading…

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Catching up with fanzine publisher Justin Marriott and his pulp culture posse…


Justin Marriott
and Paul Bishop are two of my favorite pulp culture mavens. (“Pulp culture” is a term I borrowed from the book of that name by Frank M. Robinson and Lawrence Davidson and expanded to encompass both early pulp magazines and pulp art and later magazines, books and movies that have pulpy DNA, such as men's adventure magazines and action/adventure paperbacks and movies.)

Justin is a publisher of fanzines that focus primarily on mid- to late-20th Century pulp paperbacks, including THE PAPERBACK FANATIC, THE SLEAZY READER, PULP HORROR, and MEN OF VIOLENCE.

Paul is a former L.A.P.D. police detective who went on to become a prolific novelist, editor, publisher, blogger, and pulp maven. He has written fifteen novels, including the highly-praised Fey Croaker series about a female L.A.P.D. detective.

His latest novels include LIE CATCHERS, the first in a new series about a special team of L.A. police interrogators, and the soccer-related crime novel PENALTY SHOT.

I’ve done interviews with Justin and with Paul for this blog in the past. And, since I last wrote about them, they have been busy — both separately and on a new joint endeavor: a fanzine about Westerns called HOT LEAD.

As Justin Marriott told me in the interview I did with him, he started writing and publishing his flagship fanzine, THE PAPERBACK FANATIC, in 2007.

As I write this, he’s up to Volume #41 of that venerable zine, aptly subtitled “The fanzine for collectors of vintage paperbacks.”

MEN OF VIOLENCE, which focuses on vintage men’s action/adventure paperbacks and magazines, is now up to Volume #11.

PULP HORROR, Justin’s zine about horror paperbacks, pulps and comics, is now up to Volume #8.

THE SLEAZY READER, covering the outré end of the vintage pulp paperback spectrum, is also up to Volume #8.

Justin and Paul have published two issues of HOT LEAD to date, with more to come.

The classic Western paperbacks and related media it covers is a realm Paul has also written about in two innovative books he co-edited with Western novelist Scott Harris, 52 WEEKS • 52 WESTERN NOVELS and 52 WEEKS • 52 WESTERN MOVIES.

In his zines, Justin publishes articles by many other knowledgeable pulp culture mavens like Paul.

For example, MEN OF VIOLENCE #11 includes an article by Morgan Holmes about the historical novels of the legendary comics writer and author Gardner F. Fox. Morgan is a top fantasy, science fiction and action/adventure expert who writes the Castalia House Books blog.

PULP HORROR #8 includes an article by Morgan about the novels of Joseph Payne Brennan, one of the last of the major authors who wrote for WEIRD TALES magazine.

I can’t recommend Justin’s fanzines highly enough. The level of knowledge and quality of the scholarship is top notch in all of them.

They’re also full of high-quality cover scans.

Those scans and other images are reproduced in full color in issues published since Justin started using Amazon’s CreateSpace publishing option several years ago. And, the prices are more than reasonable; mostly ranging from $5.99 to $10.99.

Bottom line: Justin’s zines are amazingly cool, wide-ranging, well-researched, lushly-illustrated must-reads for vintage paperback and retro media fans.

Naturally, I especially like issues that have articles connecting the dots between the related realms of vintage paperbacks and vintage men’s adventure magazines published in the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s.

For example, MEN OF VIOLENCE #10 has an article about the great men’s adventure magazine and paperback artist Samson Pollen and the first book I co-edited with Wyatt Doyle to feature Sam’s original MAM artwork, POLLEN’S WOMEN. (Our second volume of Pollen artwork, POLLEN’S ACTION, was published in January 2019, shortly after Sam passed away at age 88.)

MoV #10 also includes articles by guys behind the excellent Paperback Warrior blog, Tom Simon and Eric Compton, who’ve made a splash online with their insightful reviews of vintage action, adventure, mystery and crime novels and often groundbreaking research on authors and their various pseudonyms.

Tom’s article solves the mystery of the real person who wrote the “THE D.C. MAN” series of sexy spy novels under the pseudonym James P. Cody.

Eric contributed an overview of the “ROADBLASTER” post-apocalypse trilogy penned by Paul Hofrichter.

Past MEN OF VIOLENCE issues have also covered MAM-related topics that are near to my heart, such as an article in MoV #9 about the wild “killer creature” men’s adventure magazine stories and artwork featured on our book I WATCHED THEM EAT ME ALIVE.

The cover of that issue features the gonzo “killer lizards” cover art by Wil Hulsey used on TRUE MEN STORIES, February 1957. (Hulsey is the artist who created the iconic “WEASELS RIPPED MY FLESH!” cover.)

MEN OF VIOLENCE #8 includes my tribute to Walter Kaylin, one of the greatest of all MAM writers. (Walter’s rip-snorting yarns are featured in several books in our Men’s Adventure Library series and showcased in our collection of his stories, HE-MEN, BAG MEN & NYMPHOS.)

PAPERBACK FANATIC #39 includes a terrific article by Paul Bishop about Steve Holland, the model for hundreds of paperback cover paintings (including the famed Doc Savage covers done by James Bama) and thousands of men’s adventure mag cover and interior illustrations.

That issue also has a cool section featuring MAM artwork and artist reference photos Steve modeled for with my friend Eva Lynd, the actress, pinup model and artists’ model who I think of as the female men’s adventure mag superstar.

TPF #39 also has an interview with one of my other favorite pulp culture experts, Australian scholar, blogger and novelist, Andrew Nette.

Andrew is the editor of the must-have book GIRL GANGS, BIKER BOYS, AND REAL COOL CATS: PULP FICTION AND YOUTH CULTURE, 1950 TO 1980, which I wrote about here in a past post, and the forthcoming STICKING IT TO THE MAN: REVOLUTION AND COUNTERCULTURE IN PULP AND POPULAR FICTION, 1950 TO 1980.

He also writes the widely-read Pulp Curry blog, and Wyatt and I are proud that Andrew has posted some nice reviews of our recent Men’s Adventure Library books there.

Another article in TPF #39, written Andrew’s fellow Aussie pulp scholar and author James Doig, provides an interesting look at Australian pulp fiction. 

Volume #8 of Justin’s zine THE SLEAZY READER explores the paperbacks, men’s adventure and true crime magazine stories, and grindhouse movies inspired by Charles Manson and the brutal killings perpetrated by the Manson cult followers.

For that issue, I provided Justin with scans of various Manson-inspired MAM covers.

Altogether, I think TSR #8 may be the best overview of pulpy, Manson-related pop media ever published.

I also particularly enjoyed SLEAZY READER #6. Among other things, it includes very cool articles by Justin about stewardess-related paperbacks like COFFEE, TEA OR ME? and the Lancer Books sexy spy series penned by Martin Jay Golding under the pseudonym Jay Martin.

It also has an article about men’s adventure magazine stories and artwork that feature motorcycle gangs, the subject of our Men’s Adventure Library book BARBARIANS ON BIKES. And, the back cover of SLEAZY READER #6 reprints Samson Pollen’s cover art for the classic teensploitation paperback TEEN-AGE VICE (1957).

In a nutshell, I am a huge fan of the fanzines created by Justin Marriott with the help of other pulp fiction mavens like Paul Bishop, Morgan Holmes, Tom Simon, Eric Compton, James Doig, and many other knowledgeable contributors from around the world.

A lot of those folks are regular posters in the Men’s Adventure Paperbacks of the 20th Century Facebook Group. Many are also members of my Men’s Adventure Magazines & Books Facebook Group. If you’re you’re reading this blog but aren’t a member of those groups yet, you should be.

See you there.

Meanwhile, I’m taking this weekend off to relax and read Paul Bishop’s new novel PENALTY SHOT and Justin Marriott’s latest zine PAPERBACK FANATIC #41.

TPF #41 delves into the history of Conan the Barbarian paperbacks and comics, novels based on the BBC’s eco-horror cult TV series DOOMWATCH, the boundary-pushing “plantation pulps” inspired by the success of MANDINGO, novelizations of classic Australian films, and the work of top DOCTOR WHO writer Brian Hayles.

Great stuff for pulp culture fanboys like me!

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

Related reading…