Saturday, June 23, 2012

Make believe paperbacks on men’s adventure magazine covers...

Lynn Munroe is one of the world’s top experts on vintage paperback books, especially hardboiled mystery and “sleaze” paperbacks.

His website, Lynn Munroe Books, is a must-see for fans of pulp fiction and pulp art.

Although Lynn’s main focus is on pulp paperbacks, he also knows a lot about the related genre of vintage men’s pulp adventure magazines.

Recently, I was inspired to do a post on this blog by a page I’d seen on Lynn’s site regarding “Make Believe Paperbacks.”

That’s Lynn’s term for fake paperback covers created for movies, ads and magazines — i.e., real-looking covers for paperback books that never existed.

He mentions a number of examples from movies and humor magazines.

But the two examples he featured that particularly caught my attention were from vintage men’s adventure mags.

Of course, “Book Bonus” stories can be found in many post-World War II men’s pulp adventure periodicals.

Some are condensed versions of real books. (One I featured in a previous post here is the condensed version of the novel HIS MAJESTY O’KEEFE, published in the April 1954 issue of SPORT LIFE magazine. It includes a superb set of illustrations by artist Mort Kunstler.)

Other “Book Bonus” stories were actually created for the magazines but promoted, straight-faced, as excerpts or condensations from existing or forthcoming books, even though the books were not real. (I recently wrote about one of my favorites in another post here — Robert F. Dorr’s sham sexposé “THE EROTIC STEWARDESS TAPES.”)

But the examples Lynn Munroe focused on in his “Make Believe Paperbacks” page are in a unique category limited to a handful of issues.

As Lynn explains:

“It was very common for men’s magazines of the postwar era to offer a ‘book bonus’, an abridged version of a hardcover or paperback. Some of them were never books at all, just long novellas written just for the men’s magazine and never reprinted. Normally these ‘book bonus’ stories would have classic interior illustration, but they rarely featured a mocked-up paperback cover for a non-existent book. An exception to that was a series of MAN’S DARING covers in 1965. In addition to the usual cheesecake and flashy blurbs, the MAN’S DARING magazine cover included a fake paperback cover as that month’s book bonus, complete with a title and author and flashy ‘vintage sleaze’- style cover art by the late great John Duillo. The usual men’s mag staples – delinquents, cleavage and Nazis – were all featured.”

Lynn’s website shows two issues of MAN’S DARING that had pretend paperback covers.

One is the January 1965 issue. It features the supposed cover of a racy paperback titled LUST ON THE BEACH.

Authorship is credited to Slade Wilkins, a pseudonym for some unknown pulp writer.

Lynn’s second example is the May 1965 issue of MAN’S DARING. The make believe paperback on that one is a Nazi bondage tale. It’s titled STRIPPED FOR THE SWASTIKA and credited to Fred M. MacGuire (which I’m pretty sure is another pen name).

After reading Lynn’s post, I searched through my own collection and talked to my friend Rich Oberg, the noted illustration art collector and co-author of the book MEN'S ADVENTURE MAGAZINES.

We found three more MAN’S DARING issues published in 1965 that had spurious paperbacks on their covers. They also featured artwork by John Duillo.

The “MAN’S DARING BOOK BONUS” on the cover of the March 1965 issue is the CASE OF THE FRENCH GIRL BUTCHER, a murder mystery credited to “J. Greaves.”

The “Book Bonus” featured on the cover of the July 1965 issue is BLONDES IN RED BONDAGE, an outré tale about busty blondes who are abused by sadistic Commies. (Communists were second only to Nazis as the villains in men’s adventure magazine stories, especially when bound and tortured babes were involved.) The author is given as Mark Stanson, yet another pseudonym.

The last of the MAN’S DARING issues that featured make believe paperback covers was published in September 1965.

It has what I think is the coolest of John Duillo’s fake paperback cover paintings: a scene showing two young, er, ladies in bikinis who are cracking bullwhips while riding on the shoulders of beefy surfer dudes.

The illusory “book” this was created for is THE SURFBOARD JUNGLE. I assume that title is an homage to the seminal 1955 novel about teenage juvenile delinquents THE BLACKBOARD JUNGLE by Evan Hunter (who later became best known by his pen name Ed McBain).

The subhead of the 2-page interior spread for this story says: “With fists and whips these savage girls and men turned a beautiful stretch of sandy shore into Hell’s Beachhead!”

Yowza! THE SURFBOARD JUNGLE would have made a helluva good low-budget drive-in movie!

Currently, I know of only one other men’s pulp magazine that has a make believe paperback on the cover: the July 1967 issue of MAN’S TRUE DANGER.

The purported paperback, BLOOD ORGY FOR THE SWASTIKA, is credited to Chief Gunner’s Mate W. Johnson “as told to Patrick Needham.” The artwork is, yet again, by John Duillo.

This isn’t just a coincidence. MAN’S DARING and MAN’S TRUE DANGER were both published by Candar Publishing or a sub of Candar throughout their runs.

In fact, when you look at the fake spine of BLOOD ORGY FOR THE SWASTIKA , you can see that it says “MAN’S DARING SPECIAL BOOK BONUS.” This suggests it was originally created for MAN’S DARING but got used on MAN’S TRUE DANGER instead for some reason.

An “Editor’s Note” on the 2-page interior spread for BLOOD ORGY FOR THE SWASTIKA says:

“Chief gunner’s mate Will Johnson is perhaps the only man in Naval history who, single-handed, and without weapons, is credited with the sinking of an enemy submarine. That he was able to accomplish this feat was fantastic. That he is alive to tell about it, is a miracle.”

Of course, there was no such American sailor and the name of the writer he purportedly told his whale of a tale to is probably equally fictitious. 

But like most men’s adventure magazine stories, it’s a lot of fun to read.

How could it not to be fun to read a story that includes paragraphs like this:

“Will had just left Darlene, who was now putting on white shorts and halter which showed off her young stripper's figure to its best advantage. As he stepped out the cabin door, he saw the German U-Boat break from the swell 30 feet to starboard. He froze, with his mouth half open in stunned surprise.”

Ah, yes! I can also envision BLOOD ORGY FOR THE SWASTIKA as a Sixties flick that’s so bad it’s good. At my imaginary drive-in it would be shown in a triple feature with THE SURFBOARD JUNGLE and HELL'S ANGELS ON WHEELS.

If I missed any men’s adventure magazine covers with faux paperback covers that you’re aware of, please let me know and I’ll update this post.

You can send me an email at SubtropicBob @ or drop by the Men’s Adventure Magazines Facebook group and tell us about it.

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T-shirts, posters other items featuring the "Cannibal Bride" cover of the January 1965 issue of MAN TO MAN magazine.


Saturday, June 2, 2012

The legendary “Monkey Madness” story in men’s adventure magazines...

If you ask my wife, she’ll say I already own way too many old men’s adventure magazines.

They now fill up bookshelves on every wall of my little man cave/office. But I still can’t resist buying more when I see issues I just gotta have. (Sorry, Honey.)

For example, how could I not buy the August 1969 issue of FOR MEN ONLY when I saw a copy pop up on eBay recently?

There are two cool pulp art paintings on the cover. And, one of them goes with a story that is legendary in the realm of men’s adventure magazines.

It’s the painting in the left inset panel, which has the signature “Emmett Kaye.”

Emmett Kaye is a pseudonym Mort Kunstler often used when he did cover paintings and interior illustrations for men’s pulp mags.

And, Kunstler, of course, is one of the greatest of the many great artists who worked for men’s adventure magazines published from the early 1950s to the mid-1970s.

In the decades since then he has become America’s premier painter of historical artwork and is especially renowned for his Civil War scenes. (In case you missed it, click this link to read my interview with Mort.)

Kunstler’s cover painting on the August 1969 issue of FOR MEN ONLY is his depiction of the classic “Monkey Madness” story.

That wild example of a “killer creature” yarn was reprinted under various titles in at least five different men’s pulp mags between 1951 and 1973, using illustrations by five different artists. And, there may be more that I don’t know about.

It’s portrayed as a true story written by a merchant seaman named Carl Evans.

But it was almost certainly penned by one of the imaginative pulp writers who contributed to the men’s adventure genre.

It’s basically a horror story about the fate of merchant ship that was carrying hundreds of African rhesus monkeys that were destined to be used as test animals in medical labs.

En route, the ship’s boilers explode, killing most of the crew. As the vessel sinks, one of the surviving crew members takes pity on the monkeys and sets them free. His act of kindness turns out to be a big mistake.

Nine seamen who are left make it onto a life raft. Almost immediately, hundreds of desperate monkeys begin swarming onto the raft with them.

This leads to a gruesome battle for survival. Not all of the men live through it. None of the monkeys do.

The traumatized shipmates who make it back to land suffer from nightmares for the rest of their lives.

In the last lines of the story, the narrator says:

“For those who didn’t make it — maybe they were lucky. For those of us who’d been picked up, there are always the nightmares. And me — I still have them. I wake up in the middle of the night, scared stiff and sweating like a pig, and not until I’ve got the light on do I believe that I’m not being strangled by insane monkeys.”

I first became intrigued with this story when I interviewed Dr. David M. Earle, a professor at the University of West Florida who is an expert on vintage pulp magazines.

Dr. Earle is the author of one of the must-have books for fans of the men’s pulp mag genre: ALL MAN! - HEMINGWAY, 1950S MEN'S MAGAZINES, AND THE MASCULINE PERSONA.

He and his students also maintain the Pulp Magazines Project website, a terrific and ever-growing digital archive, as well as the associated PulpMags blog.

When I interviewed Dr. Earle, one of the questions I asked was whether there were any issues of men’s pulp mags that were his particular favorites.

He told me:

“I of course love magazines like the August 1953 issue of MALE, which features ‘MONKEY MADNESS.’ Three guys in a life raft being attacked by hundreds of monkeys. It’s just so ludicrous.”

When I looked at that issue I didn’t recognize the work of the artist who did the cover painting (also used inside in black-and-white).

The credits said it was done by Edward Laning, an artist who is better known as a mural painter than an illustration artist.

I did recognize the story and realized it was also one of my favorites.

I first saw it in the January 1951 issue of STAG, under the title “MAD MONKEYS MANNED THE LIFEBOATS.”

It’s a cover story on both mags.

The STAG cover painting is uncredited. And, even my collaborator Rich Oberg, the world’s foremost expert on men’s adventure magazines, didn’t know or recognize the artist.

So, I posted a scan of it in the Men’s Adventure Magazines Facebook Group, where nearly 300 fans of vintage illustration art hang out, and asked if anyone else knew.

Sure enough, it was soon IDed by Timothy Isaacson, one of the knowledgeable pulp art buffs in the group.

He recognized it as the work of John R. McDermott, a top vintage illustration artist featured on the indispensable American Art Archives site and in several posts on the excellent Today’s Inspiration blog.

“That cover ‘Mad Monkeys Manned the Life Boat’ from Jan 1951 was done by John R. McDermott (1917-1977),” Tim wrote in a post in the FB group. “McDermott started out has an animator for the Disney Studios in Hollywood after high school. With the outbreak of World War II that job ended as he became a Marine in the Pacific Theatre, during which he became a combat artist and made drawings for the corps' records of actions in the Solomons, Guadalcanal and Okinawa. When the war was over his drawings caught the attention of the folks at BLUE BOOK magazine and his career as expert in military subjects and depictions of them was established. I think he did some work for ARGOSY as well.”

In recent months, I ran across the “Mad Monkeys” story in three other men’s pulp mags.

It was the cover story of MAN’S WORLD in December 1957, under the title “LIFE RAFT MADNESS.”

The painting for that cover is by artist John Leone, who died in 2011 after a long and distinguished career.

As noted at the top of this post, the fourth appearance of the “Mad Monkeys” story I know of was in the August 1969 issue of FOR MEN ONLY.


And, although the cover painting used for the story is by Mort Kunstler, the interior illustration is by Gil Cohen — another great artist who once did artwork for men’s adventure magazines. Cohen is now renowned as one of the nation’s top military aviation artists. (Click this link to read my interview with Gil if you missed it.)

The fifth reprint of the “Mad Monkeys” story I’ve seen is in the 1973 one-off, THE BEST OF MALE AND FOR MEN ONLY.

The title used in that one is “500 STARVING MONKEYS ARE EATING THE SURVIVORS!” The illustration is a black-and-white version of Mort Kunstler’s cover painting for August 1969 issue of FOR MEN ONLY.

If you know of other appearances of the story, please shoot me an email or post a note in the Men’s Adventure Magazines Facebook Group. I love the story (and being a completist, when I can be).

By the way, the “Monkey Madness” story is one of the many wild men’s adventure magazine yarns included in our WEASELS RIPPED MY FLESH! anthology, which is now available on

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

Further reading: books featuring the artwork of artists mentioned in this post...