Sunday, August 2, 2009

Weasels ripped my flesh! And hooked me on men's adventure magazines.

Several years ago, I was listening to the CD version of Frank Zappa's WEASELS RIPPED MY FLESH album. It sparked a flashback to the day in 1970 when I bought the album on vinyl.

I remembered thinking the LP’s gonzo title was a hoot. And, I loved the bizarre cover art – a retro-style cartoon, painted by artist Neon Park.

It shows a vacantly smiling square guy shaving with an, um, electric weasel. The weasel’s teeth are making a bloody gouge in his cheek. Wild!

As I listened to the CD, I decided to search the Web to find some background on the original album.

What I found caused a domino effect that sucked me into the realm of men's adventure magazines published in the 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s – sometimes called men’s pulp magazines, “men’s sweat mags” or just “the sweats.”

From various websites, I learned that Zappa got his album title from a headline on the cover of one of those magazines – the September 1956 issue of MAN’S LIFE.

I found a picture of that issue’s cover online.

It features an incredible painted illustration that’s more bizarre than the album’s artwork.

The MAN’S LIFE cover painting (which I later learned was done by one of the great illustrators of the genre, Wil Hulsey) shows a barechested, bleeding, manly man waist-deep in churning water, desperately fighting off a horde of attacking weasels!

And, there, in the lower right hand corner is the classic headline for the cover story inside: “WEASELS RIPPED MY FLESH!”

I tracked down a copy of the magazine and read it. It was mind-blowingly cool. I was hooked.

I started buying more and more men's adventure magazines through eBay and other sources.

I read the two most authoritative books about the genre:

I also started searching for blogs dedicated to discussions of the men’s postwar pulp magazines.

I did find scattered posts about men’s adventure magazines on a number of blogs. Some had quite a few cover scans.

I also found blogs that focus on the history of related but different genres, like the great pre-war pulp magazines of the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s and the men's “girlie” or bachelor magazines of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.

What I didn't find was what I really wanted – a blog that focuses on the post-WWII men’s adventure magazines and the various aspects of the genre: the covers, the artists and writers, the pulp-fiction style stories and “true” non-fiction articles (which tend to severely bend the meaning of the word “true”), the vintage ads, and the other interesting and amusing things “the sweats” tell us about the men, women, history and culture of the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s.

I didn't find a blog like that. So, in 2009, I decided to create one myself. This is it.

A couple years later, I created the Men’s Adventure Magazines Facebook Group, which now has hundreds of members from around the world.

In 2012, I decided to put together a book anthology collecting some of my favorite men’s adventure magazine stories.

It was published in January 2013 by New Texture Books and is available on

Naturally, I titled it WEASELS RIPPED MY FLESH!

For a preview, go to the website for the book,

You’ll find that it includes the original MAN’S LIFE story about flesh-ripping weasels and many other literary and visual marvels. Like like the men’s adventure magazine genre it sprang from, there’s nothing else quite like it.

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

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