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Sunday, December 29, 2013

REAL, January 1956 – a classic issue featuring four famous killers…

REAL magazine was one of the best and longest-running men’s pulp adventure magazines of the 1950s and 1960s. It was published from 1952 to 1967 by a series of companies.

The title was launched in October 1952 by Literary Enterprises, Inc., which also created the great men’s adventure mag SEE FOR MEN.

Literary Enterprises published REAL on a monthly basis until April 1958. At that point it disappeared for 16 months.

In October 1959, REAL was revived as a bimonthly publication by Excellent Publications, Inc. (which also took over publication of SEE FOR MEN). Then from February 1964 to February 1967 it was published bimonthly by PAR Publications, Inc. Five final issues were published in 1967 by the Arizill Realty and Publishing Company.

The January 1956 issue of REAL is one of my favorites, both in terms of the artwork and the stories.

The cover painting, by Rico Tomaso, shows An American GI dressed in white camouflage (for snowy conditions) aiming what looks like a World War Two or Korean War era M1 rifle. A bloody, mangled hand is sticking out of the snow in front of him. Presumably, there’s a dead body connected to it underneath the snow.

It’s a great and gritty portrait of an American serviceman in action, one of a series Tomaso did for REAL and, before that for ARGOSY (shown in this previous post).

The stories in the January 1956 issue feature a number of legendary killers, heroes and glamour girls.

One is about Willie Boy,” the ill-fated California Indian who sparked what has been called the last great manhunt of the Old West in 1909.

In some accounts, Willie Boy is a murderous villain. In others, such as the excellent 1969 movie TELL THEM WILLIE BOY IS HERE, starring William Blake, Robert Redford and Katharine Ross, he is portrayed more sympathetically.

This much is simple fact…

Willie Boy had a teenage girlfriend, variously called Isoleta, Lola and Carlotta.

He got into a fight her father, who ended up dead. Willie then took the girl with him on a long run through the barren hills and desert of San Bernardino County, followed by heavily-armed posses on horseback.

When it was all over, the girl had been shot dead — either by Willie or a posse member — and Willie committed suicide, after an 11-day trek through hundreds of miles of backcountry.

The story about Willie Boy in REAL, titled “MANHUNT AT 29 PALMS,” is much darker and less sympathetic to Willie than the movie and other more recent accounts.

Willie is portrayed as a cold-blooded killer by the author John Q. Copeland, who wrote both magazine stories and television scripts in the 1950s.

The striking orange duotone for the story was done by artist Sam Savitt. It shows poor Isoleta cowering in fear and about to be shot by Willie Boy.

Sam Savitt was one of the great pulp illustration artists who worked for both pre-World War Two pulp fiction magazines and the postwar men’s adventure mags. He later became best known as one of the country’s premier painters of horses.

Though it’s debatable whether Willie Boy was a villain or a victim, there is less doubt about the heinous nature of the other killers featured in the January 1956 issue of REAL.

One is Confederate Capt. Henry Wirz, “the Beast of Andersonville.”

Toward the end of the American Civil War, Wirz was the commander of the Andersonville prison, where thousands of captured Union soldiers were kept in inhumanely harsh conditions rivaling those of Nazi concentration camps.

More than 10,000 Yankee soldiers died in Andersonville, from disease, starvation, exposure, and execution — including 13 who Wirz killed himself.

After the war, Wirz was the only Confederate soldier charged with war crimes. He was found guilty and hanged on November 10, 1865. His fate is sometimes cited as a precedent that foreshadowed the prosecution of Nazi officers after World War Two.

The account of Wirz’s reign of terror at Andersonville in REAL was written by M.M. Marberry, whose best-known works are his biographies of women’s suffrage leader Victoria C. Woodhull and American poet Joaquin Miller, “Poet of the Sierras.”

The illustration for Marberry’s story in REAL was done by a little-known illustration artist named Dick Kiel.
In terms of hands-on murders, even Wirz is a piker compared to the monster featured in another story in this issue of REAL.

Titled “MR. MUDGETT’S CORPSE FACTORY,” it tells the horrific story of Herman Webster Mudgett, better known by the alias he used, H. H. Holmes. Holmes was one of the earliest and most infamous serial killers in American history.

He murdered and dismembered dozens, maybe hundreds of women (and several men), many of them in hidden areas of a maze-like hotel he designed and had built in Chicago.

I’m a big fan of the 2004 book that reacquainted Americans with Mr. Mudgett, THE DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY by Erik Larson.

The story is REAL isn’t as well-written as Larson’s book. But it’s interesting to read a different account and it includes an awesome illustration by Rafael “Ray” DeSoto, another one of the great artists who worked for both pre-WWII pulps and men’s pulp adventure magazines.

The illustration for the next story in REAL about a historic villain was done by an even more famous pulp illustration artist — Norman Saunders.

Saunders created thousands of pulp mag, men’s adventure mag and pulp paperback cover and interior illustrations, as well as the classic MARS ATTACKS trading cards first issued by Topps in 1962.

The story is about Leon Czolgosz, the anarchist who assassinated U.S. President William McKinley and was later executed for it.

Czolgosz shot the President in the abdomen on September 6, 1901 at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York.

McKinley died eight days later from an infection and his Vice President, Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt, began serving his first term as President.

In addition to featuring some of America’s most famous killers, the January 1956 issue of REAL includes stories about a renowned war hero, Medal of Honor recipient Sgt. John Basilone, and the great sports hero, basketball superstar Wilt “The Stilt” Chamberlain.

There’s also a truly interesting story written by the husband and manager of Burlesque superstar May Do (also known as DoMay), a horizontal two-page photo of pinup queen Bettie Page, and a lot of other interesting retro treasures.

We’ll take a look at those in the next post.

In the meantime, if you’d like to read the January 1956 issue of REAL, you can go to the MensPulpMags.com Virtual Newsstand and download a complete, high-resolution PDF copy of that issue.

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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:

REAL magazine, January 1956

Featuring pulp art by Rico Tomaso, Norman Saunders, Sam Savitt, Dick Kiel, Rafael De Soto and Dick Loomis, and stories about: the legendary Indian “Willie Boy” (subject of the 1969 movie TELL THEM WILLIE BOY IS HERE); Confederate Captain Henry Wirz, “The Beast of Andersonville;” the infamous serial killer Herman Webster Mudgett, a.k.a. H. H. Holmes; Burlesque star Princess Do May; and, pinup queen the  Bettie Page. Plus lots of wild, vintage ads, "news items" and more.

REAL, January 1956 cover & stories

Click this link to see more issues and stories to download.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas, men’s adventure magazines style!

It’s not too surprising that there aren’t many issues of vintage men’s adventure magazines had Christmas-themed covers.

The cover paintings used by most of the 160 or so periodicals in the genre typically featured things like manly action, adventure and battle scenes, or, gonzo killer creature attacks, or over-the-top “sweat mag” style images showing Nazis and other evil villains torturing barely-clothed babes.

I have sometimes wondered what Christmas covers on some of those types of magazines might have been like.

So this year, just for fun, I decided to create a few hypothetical examples.

As readers of this blog know, I and my co-editor Wyatt Doyle are very big fans of killer creature illustrations and stories from vintage men’s pulp mags.

It was the famed “WEASELS RIPPED MY FLESH!” cover painting by Wil Hulsey that inspired me to create this blog.

We used that title and image on the cover of our first anthology of classic men’s adventure magazine stories. (Our second anthology, HE-MEN, BAG MEN & NYMPHOS was recently published and both are now available on Amazon.)

And, not long ago we wrote an article about killer creature stories in men’s adventure magazines for issue #42 of HORRORHOUND magazine.

So, naturally, I had to try my hand at a killer creature Christmas cover. The result is the cover above — “RUDOLPH RIPPED MY FLESH!” — an admittedly demented variation on the December 1955 cover of SPORT LIFE magazine.

Then I started wondering what some men’s adventure magazine covers might look like if Santa Claus made a guest appearance.

That led me to create the spoof covers of ADVENTURE, SAGA and BLUEBOOK below, featuring Santa as various types of badasses.

Perhaps it’s actually more surprising that there are some real issues of men’s adventure mags that did have Christmas-themed cover paintings.

Almost all of them were on ARGOSY and TRUE, two of the earliest and longest-running men’s adventure magazines. Those were also two of highest circulation magazines in the genre, largely because their content tended to be a bit milder than, for example the “Diamond Group” magazines (MALE, MEN, STAG, FOR MEN ONLY, etc.), or the wild Reese and EmTee mags (MAN’S BOOK, MAN’S STORY, MEN TODAY, WORLD OF MEN, etc.).

Below are scans of some classic ARGOSY Christmas covers: December 1954 (cover painting by Walter Baumhofer), December 1956 (cover by Jack Dumas) and December 1959 (cover by Ed Valigursky).

And, here are three of my favorite Christmas-themed covers of TRUE: December 1945 (cover painting by Earl Blossom), December 1953 (cover by Stan Galli) and December 1954 (also by Stan Galli).

Some other examples have recently been posted in the Men’s Adventure Magazines Facebook group, so drop by there to see them if you have a chance.

In the meantime, here’s wishing you a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa and Happy Everything Else!

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Some recently-published, manly books you should get for yourself if Santa forgot to bring them…

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

STAG, December 1965 – WWII battles, Wild Flings, “Foxhole Girls” and more...

My previous post about the December 1965 issue of STAG focused on the author of its cover story about Pearl Harbor – military historian Robert F. Dorr – and on the news item with the gonzo, oh-so-Sixties “bra gun” illustration.

Of course, there are a lot of other great stories, illustrations and pulp oddities in that issue.

In fact, the mid-Sixties were great years in general for STAG and other periodicals in the “Diamond” group of men’s adventure magazines published by Atlas Magazines, Inc., Vista Publications, Inc., and other subsidiaries of Martin Goodman’s legendary company Magazine Management.

The Diamond magazines are also sometimes collectively referred to as the Atlas/Diamond group and the Magazine Management magazines.


The contents pages of Diamond mags show an image of the group’s diamond-shaped logo, along with a slogan that changed over over the years, as did the list of magazines in the group. On some contents or interior pages, you often find a version of the logo that includes the titles that were in the group at the time.

In the early 1950s, most issues of the Diamond magazines were primarily illustrated with photographs, rather than illustrations.

Illustrations became increasingly frequent in the late 1950s and were typically used for half or more of the main featured stories in each issue from then until the 1970s, when photos began to dominate again.

That’s one reason why issues of STAG and other Diamond magazines from the mid-Sixties are among my favorites.

All of the issues from that period include cover and interior illustrations by some of the best illustration artists who worked for the men’s adventure genre.

They’re also chock full of classic action, adventure and war stories and “book bonus” reprints.

For example, in addition to the Pearl Harbor story by Bob Dorr, the December 1965 issue includes a book bonus adaptation of the screenplay for the epic film 1965 film BATTLE OF THE BULGE.

STAG’s version is actually credited to the movie’s scriptwriters, John Melson, Milton Sperling and Philip Yordan (which is unusual).

There’s also a fascinating, partly-true but highly-embellished Vietnam War story in this issue titled “FOXHOLE GIRLS OF VIETNAM.”

It’s about the women who fought for and against American troops. It’s further embellished with a terrific “Good Girl Art” illustration by artist Earl Norem.

And, speaking of GGA, it doesn’t get much better than the Samson Pollen painting used for the story “LAST WILD FLING OF DAISY BEDFORD,” the issue’s featured “pulp sleaze” fiction yarn. (Shown above.)

There are two stories in this issue that have illustrations by the great Bruce Minney, who passed away earlier this year.

One is a history piece about the bloody Homestead Steel Strike of 1892. It’s credited to W.J. Saber, a pseudonym of the writer Warren J. Shanahan (1926-1997).

Under his Saber pen name, Shanahan was a prolific writer of stories for the Diamond magazines in the 1960s and 1970s and wrote at least one paperback novel, THE DEVIOUS DEFECTOR (1967). A post by Steve Lewis on his excellent Mystery File site says that Shanahan also wrote for several mystery magazines under his own name and penned a novel in “The Phantom” series created by Lee Falk.

The other story in the December 1965 issue of STAG that features an illustration by Bruce Minney offers predictions of new technological marvels that would exist ten years later, in 1975. (There’s no artist credit shown in the story, but Bruce’s biographer Tom Ziegler IDed it for me.)

It was written by Emile C. Schurmacher, a prolific writer of mostly non-fiction magazine articles and books who was a frequent contributor to the Diamond magazines. The subhead for the story summarizes some of his predictions:

“10 years from now you’ll drive an electric car with an autopilot, fly to Europe in a 1500-mph ‘stretched jet,’ commute to work by hydrofoil ship. You’ll watch 3-DTV, eat ‘cabnips’ and ‘potorads’ cooked electronically at the table. You’ll kiss the common cold goodby and if you lose an arm you'll draw a new one from a human parts bank.”

Of course, it took more than 10 years for electric cars, fast jets to Europe, hydrofoil ships, 3-D television sets, electronic microwave ovens and genetically-altered foods to become commonplace, but they are all realities today. Transplants of some human body parts are now standard procedures, though not arms. Alas, the common cold is still with us.

I think sports fans will be interested in this issue’s story “STAG PICKS AMERICA’S GREATEST SPORTS THRILLS,” in which the editors spotlighted what they considered to be the top five events in the history of modern sports. They chose: the Joe Louis-Max Schmeling boxing match of 1938, the 1951 baseball playoff series between the Dodgers and the Giants, the 1947 Kentucky Derby, the 1958 NFL championship game between the the Colts and the Giants, and Jesse Owens’ Gold Medal wins at the 1936 Olympics.

And, fans of classic glamour girl photography and foreign film sexpots should like the photo spread featuring Pascale Petit, a popular actress in France who starred in dozens of films. Her latest in 1965 was the Bond-style spy flick CORRIDA POUR UN ESPION, released in the US under the title CODE NAME: JAGUAR.

The December 1965 issue of STAG also contains a good example of a Sixties-style sexposé (sex expose) about the ever-popular topic of nudist colonies — plus many other smile-inducing and sometimes cringe-inducing cultural artifacts.

If you’d like to explore them all, you can download a complete PDF copy of this issue from the MensPulpMags.com virtual newsstand.

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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:

STAG, December 1965