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Our books on Amazon: the MEN'S ADVENTURE LIBRARY series...
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Monday, December 24, 2012

Classic ARGOSY magazine covers by artist Bob Kuhn…

Unlike mainstream magazines published in the 1950s and 1960s, most men’s adventure magazines did not feature Christmas-themed covers on their December issues.

So, alas, there are no covers of MAN’S LIFE or TRUE MEN STORIES showing a herd of vicious reindeers ripping Santa’s flesh.

There are no December issues of MAN’S BOOK or WORLD OF MEN showing Santa rescuing a scantily-clad Mrs. Claus from evil Nazis, or anything like that.

However, there were two vintage men’s adventure magazines that did have some Christmas covers — ARGOSY and TRUE.

Among my favorites are issues of ARGOSY that feature artwork by Robert “Bob” Kuhn, one of the most renowned artists who provided artwork to men’s adventure magazines.

The “manliest” ARGOSY Christmas cover painting Kuhn created is probably the one used for the December 1955 issue.

It features a yeehaw-ing cowboy riding a bull sporting a Christmas ribbon around it’s neck and Christmas ornaments on its horns, on a beautiful starry night.

I also like Kuhn’s nostalgic Christmas painting for the December 1950 issue, showing a man and his dog coming home with the family Christmas tree, which he clearly cut down himself the old-fashioned way.

Bob Kuhn was born in Buffalo, New York in 1920 and studied commercial art at the Pratt Institute in the late 1930s.

In the 1940s, ‘50s and ‘60s he primarily worked as an illustrator for men’s outdoor sport and adventure magazines, such as FIELD AND STREAM, OUTDOOR LIFE, TRUE and ARGOSY.

He he also did illustrations for books and advertisements.

As you’ll find by perusing the many websites that mention Kuhn, he is best known and beloved for his wildlife art.

And, most of the cover paintings Kuhn created for ARGOSY and other magazines were wildlife and hunting scenes that foreshadow his later work.

Starting in 1964, Kuhn’s wildlife art gained even wider exposure by being featured on the highly popular Remington Arms game art calendars. (The Remington calendars also featured artwork by another great artist who worked for men’s adventure magazines, Thomas Beecham.)

In 1970, Kuhn basically stopped doing commercial artwork. From then until his death in 2007 he focused on doing wildlife paintings for art galleries and collectors.

Paintings from that phase of Kuhn’s career have won many awards and hang in the permanent collections of a number of museums.

In 1991, for example, he was awarded the prestigious 1991 Prix de West award from the Academy of Western Art for his painting “Lair of the Cat,” which now resides in the National Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City.

There are quite a few lushly illustrated books that showcase Kuhn’s wildlife art.

They include: THE ANIMAL ART OF BOB KUHN(first published in 1973 and written by Kuhn himself); THE ART OF BOB KUHN (one of the “Masters of the Wild” series published in 1989); BOB KUHN: PAINTING THE WILD(published in 2002 by the National Museum of Wildlife Art); and, WILD HARVEST: THE ANIMAL ART OF BOB KUHN(a 2009 retrospective that uses Kuhn's famous “Lair of the Cat” as the cover art).

The most recent book about Kuhn’s work is BOB KUHN: DRAWING ON INSTINCT. It was published in June 2012 by the University of Oklahoma Press to go with a traveling exhibit mounted by the National Museum of Wildlife Art.

By the way, the museum has an excellent page about Kuhn on its website, which includes examples of his paintings and a fascinating time-lapse video showing him creating a painting from start to finish in 2006.

As I write this post, it’s Christmas Eve.

I hope Santa brings you something good tonight. Maybe one of the books about Bob Kuhn’s art.

It probably won’t be the gifts suggested in the advertisements on the back cover of the December 1955 issue of ARGOSY.

I don’t think it’s politically correct nowadays to give someone a bottle of Old Crow for Christmas, let alone a carton of Camels, Winstons or Cavaliers.

Hell, they don’t even make Cavalier cigarettes anymore. And, doctors warn against smoking cigarettes instead of endorsing them.

Bah! Humbug! 

And, Happy Holidays from MensPulpMags.com.

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

Related and recommended reading…

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Mala Mastroberte’s MALALAND MAGAZINES – a unique new book for fans of vintage pulp covers and pinup photos…

Many of the nearly 400 members of the Men’s Adventure Magazines Facebook Group associated with this blog are writers, artists or both.

Several have new books that I highly recommend to fans of vintage men’s magazines.

I mentioned one in my previous post: the latest book by the former men’s adventure writer Robert F. Dorr, titled MISSION TO TOKYO.

Another is Tom Ziegler’s book about Bruce Minney, one of the greatest of the many great artists who worked for men’s pulp adventure mags.

That book, BRUCE MINNEY: THE MAN WHO PAINTED EVERYTHING, was featured here not long ago in a series of guest posts by Tom.

Today’s post is about a new book by another talented person who often drops by the Men’s Adventure Mags FB group, Mala Mastroberte.

Actually, she’s one of those people who fit the term multi-talented.

Mala is a photographer and a digital artist who uses those skills to make unique recreations of vintage magazine and paperback book covers.

She’s especially fond of recreating covers from the pulp genres, including pulp fiction and pin-up magazines from the 1930s and ‘40s and men’s adventure mags, detective mags and “sleaze paperbacks” from the ‘50s and ‘60s.

Mala also happens to be an eye-poppingly gorgeous model.

She’s the sole model for her own cover recreations, which she started posting on her Flickr page several years ago.

Using wigs, makeup, vintage clothing, and her photo and Photoshopping skills, she makes images of herself and inserts them in place of women shown on vintage magazine and paperback covers, creating new art from old.

She is also increasingly popular as a model for top modern glamour girl photographers and artists, such as Mike James and Sean Smith.

On top of all that, Mala now has two books to her credit.

She self-published her first book, titled LINE-UP, last year. It focuses on her photo recreations of true crime and detective magazine covers.

Mala’s new book, MALALAND MAGAZINES, was published by Binary Publications, an indie publisher that specializes in books about vintage artwork, photography and pop culture subjects.

Other recent and forthcoming books from Binary include THE ART OF JACK DAVIS, THE EARLY PHOTOGRAPHS OF BETTIE PAGE and ARTIST & MODELS: THE GLAMOUR ART OF KENT STEINE. (Kent is a modern pinup artist and author who is also a member of the Men’s Adventure Magazines Facebook Group.)

MALALAND MAGAZINES showcases 100 of Mala’s magazine and paperback cover recreations.

She explains what the “Malaland” concept means to her in the book’s introduction:

“We all have a place we like to go to - to escape the everyday routine, to forget all troubles, or just to feel at home and be yourself. This is precisely what Malaland is for me. It is a place, a moment in time. but most of all - a state of mind. Fantasyland is usually a solitary place, even if shared with numerous characters. It is still a lone experience, but in a positive meaning of the word. It is as unique, as each individual. An exclusive room of one's own — to quote Virginia Woolf — a place where you can be free, unrestricted, unsupervised and independent. Free.”

In a note on Flickr about her recreation of the cover of the May 1959 issue of the men's pulp magazine MAN'S ADVENTURE (which is included in her new book), Mala provides some of her thoughts on the the depiction of women on men’s magazine covers and the iconic damsel-in-distress art common to men’s pulp mags:

“Working with vintage illustrated magazine covers for a while now, I noticed that the girls gracing the covers of men's magazines seem to have more fun than the ones adorning ladies publications (as beautiful and flawless as the latter ones also are). They exude health, happiness and of course unabashed sex appeal, which I suppose are exactly the qualities any man would like to see in a woman. Nothing wrong with being sexy, healthy and happy about it, but still these images caused and still cause a lot of controversy. Man's adventure genre brings out a whole other level of male fantasies, putting damsels in all kinds of distress, in desperate need of being rescued by a hero. Or at least I should hope that is the idea... Now that's objectification for you! or is it?”

Mala’s book introduction provides more of her interesting perspective on the type of vintage “Good Girl Art” that features femme fatales and damsels in distress. She explains:

“Pin-up imagery used to be, or still is, perceived by some as objectifying and degrading women. Being aware of the social status of women at the time when pin-ups were at the height of their widest popularity, makes me suspicious about the honesty of those smiles. But who can deny those pretty eyes? I know I can’t! I am buying whatever it is they are selling. Just wonder sometimes, what is it exactly... Sex? Health? Youth? Or maybe just pure joy of life?

I do not advocate chauvinism, violence, abuse, guns or smoking, but take guilty pleasure from those vivid images and a certain comfort in knowing that they are not real. Many of the cover images portray women in various stages of undress, sometimes in trouble. sometimes causing trouble, but always very feminine and beautiful. Whatever the scene may be, those images are nothing short of powerful.

The genre used to be predominantly male, with very few female artist exceptions. It was an industry directed at male audiences. Today, women reclaim the genre as both, creators and recipients, embracing the fantasy and making it real. This is my goal as well. By embodying these covers I personify the characters and the narrative, the drama, the style and the aesthetic, the ethos of the vintage era. I try to bring them to reality and to the present through my own body. I enter that world, go deep inside and bring it out.”

Mala’s recreations of men’s adventure magazines covers include some by the best artists who worked for the genre, such as Mel Crair, Walter Popp, Clarence Doore, and Bruce Minney.

She also creates faux men’s pulp mag covers that spring from her own fertile imagination and faux covers from other genres (like the ADVENTURE and LIFE covers shown above).

Stay tuned for an upcoming interview with Mala here on MensPulpMags.com.

In the meantime, buy her new book MALALAND MAGAZINES. You will be amazed.

Also check out Mala’s online store, the MALALAND KIOSK, where you can order limited edition posters of her unique pulp paperback and magazine cover recreations.

If you want to learn more about Mala and keep up on the latest news about her, be sure to visit both of her Facebook pages: her personal page and her Malaland page.

They each feature different photos.

And, believe me, there are so-o-o-o-o-o many good ones to see, Mala needs two Facebook sites.


Happy Holidays!


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

More book recommendations from MensPulpMags.com...

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Robert F. Dorr’s MISSION TO TOKYO – an epic new history book by a former men’s adventure writer…

With the holiday season upon us, I decided to do some posts about books I’d recommend as gifts for fans of vintage men’s adventure magazines.

First up is MISSION TO TOKYO, the latest book by former Air Force veteran, senior American diplomat and men’s adventure writer Robert F. Dorr.

Bob Dorr is currently known as one of America’s top military aviation historians. He has written more than 70 history books over the past few decades. He’s also a regular contributor to various military and history publications.

MISSION TO TOKYO is the third in a recent trilogy of books he has written about World War II airplanes, their crews and key events of the war.

I greatly enjoyed the previous two books in this series — HELL HAWKS! and MISSION TO BERLIN.

But if I had to pick a favorite of the three it would be MISSION TO TOKYO.

It’s an epic account of the American B-29 “Superfortress” bombers and their crews during the war’s final phase.

In August 1945, it was the famous B-29 called the Enola Gay that dropped the first atomic bomb used in wartime on the city of Hiroshima, Japan. The second was dropped by another B-29 on Nagasaki.

Part of MISSION TO TOKYO covers those still controversial events.

But the focus is on the lesser-known firebombing of Japan by American B-29s earlier in 1945. Those missions, using incendiary bombs, actually caused more deaths than the firebombing of Dresden, Germany or the immediate deaths caused by the dropping of a-bombs on Hiroshima or Nagasaki.

As in all of Bob Dorr’s history books, MISSION TO TOKYO uses the personal accounts of the American crewmen and other people involved to make history come alive. (One of the many poignant hidden gems in this one is an account of Yoko Ono’s survival of the firebombing of Tokyo as a child.)

I’ve had the pleasure of talking with Bob several times in recent years and he has confirmed that the writing he did for men’s adventure magazines helped him hone the storytelling skills he later used as a historian.

From the mid-1950s to the mid-1970s, Bob was one of the most prolific and best writers of stories for men’s pulp mags. He wrote virtually every type of story that was popular in the genre, from war stories and exotic adventure tales to Cold War spy yarns and “sexposés.”

Bob told me:

“As a young author I cut my teeth writing fast-moving, often tall tales for the men’s pulp adventure magazines and there are some clear connections to my later work. One of my first published articles was about an American bomber crew at war. It was a true story but it read like an adventure novel. That was the idea. But many readers of those stories were veterans, who’d been there. So, when I wrote about warfare for them I had to have the personalities and the details right and avoid puffery. What these men wouldn’t tolerate was to have themselves or the military brass glorified or to have war made glamorous, so I didn’t do those things.”

Recently, I emailed Bob copies of some of his men’s adventure stories that seem like clear precursors of his later work as a historian.

One is about a B-29 crew member who also appears in MISSION TO TOKYO — Medal of Honor winner Henry E. “Red” Erwin.

Titled “Handful of Hell at 20,000 Feet!”, it was the featured cover story in the October 1962 issue of CLIMAX. The great cover painting and illustrations inside are by artist Joseph Cellini (who I think is best known for the cover art and illustrations he did for a long list books for children and young adults.)

During the major firebombing mission over Japan on April 12, 1945, Erwin saved the lives of his fellow crew members on the bomber City of Los Angeles when a phosphorous bomb ignited prematurely while still inside the plane.

He literally picked up the white-hot, flaming bomb and eventually managed to shove it out a window, but was blinded and horribly burned in the process.

Bob was pleased to be reminded that he had written a story about Erwin long before he wrote MISSION TO TOKYO.

He said:

“Erwin was blinded by the phosphorus bomb and suffered grave burns all over his body when disposing of it. He deserved to be one of the very few American enlisted airmen to receive the Medal of Honor, our highest award for valor. I hadn’t met him and didn’t interview him when I wrote my somewhat imaginative account of his experience for CLIMAX in 1962. But I actually did get to know Erwin decades after that story was published and I provide a more factual account of his bravery in MISSION TO TOKYO.”

Another old Robert F. Dorr men’s adventure story I found features the pilot of a P-47 Thunderbolt, the airplane featured in Bob’s book HELL HAWKS! (co-written with former US astronaut Tom Jones).

This one, “The Air Ace Who Downed Six Japs in One Day,” was published in the February 1965 issue of MAN’S MAGAZINE, with an awesome black-and-white illustration by artist Harry Schaare.

It’s about U.S. Army Air Corps Colonel Neel E. Kearby, who was also awarded the Medal of Honor for his bravery in World War II.

The Wikipedia entry about Kearby notes that he was awarded the medal for downing the six Japanese fighters mentioned in Bob’s story, during an air battle near Wewak, New Guinea.

I asked Bob what percentage of the stories he wrote for men’s adventure magazines were largely straightforward history.

My use of the phrase “largely straightforward history” in association with vintage men’s pulp mags gave him a chuckle.

He responded:

“My guess would be almost zero ‘straightforward’ history. I’d say about 40 percent were based on real people and events, but with heavy embellishment. Probably 60 percent of the stories I wrote were manufactured from whole cloth.”

Next time I talk to Bob, I’ll have to ask him which category his article “Sex in Japan,” in the August 1964 issue of MAN’S MAGAZINE, falls into.

I noticed that it was written as a first person account. And, Bob was stationed in Japan during part of his career in the foreign service. Hmmm…

You won’t find any juicy revelations about sex in MISSION TO TOKYO.

But you will find gripping anecdotes, fascinating historical facts and fresh perspectives on key events in World War II, written by one of our country’s top military historians — and the only one who was also once a top writer for men’s pulp adventure magazines.

By the way, anyone who would like to get a signed book from Bob Dorr can contact him at (703) 264-8950 or at robert.f.dorr@cox.net.

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

More book recommendations from MensPulpMags.com...