Monday, November 18, 2013

The Walter Kaylin anthology, HE-MEN, BAG MEN & NYMPHOS, is now available on Amazon...


Like many fans of post World War II men’s pulp adventure magazines, I was originally attracted to them by their cool painted covers and interior illustrations.

After I began collecting and reading the magazines about five years ago, I found that many of the stories in them are equally cool.

Some are amazingly good, gritty pulp fiction yarns written by talented writers.

Others are good in different ways.

Some are like old Grade-B movies that are so bad — or so wild and crazy — that they’re good. Some provide fascinating glimpses of mid-Twentieth Century American culture that you won’t get from reading mainstream history books.

I discovered that there are a couple of excellent books about the men’s adventure magazine genre: IT’S A MAN’S WORLD and MEN’S ADVENTURE MAGAZINES. However, they both focused on the magazines’ history and artwork.

There were no modern book anthologies that reprinted stories from the post-WWII men’s adventure magazines, like there are for the pre-WWII pulp fiction magazines.

Now there are two.

The first was WEASELS RIPPED MY FLESH!, published last December by New Texture Books.

I co-edited that collection with the head honcho at New Texture, Wyatt Doyle, and author/journalist/musician Josh Alan Friedman.

A few days ago, New Texture officially released our second collection of classic men’s adventure stories: HE-MEN, BAG MEN & NYMPHOS. It’s now available on Amazon.

The WEASELS anthology includes stories by twenty different writers.

This new one is an authorized anthology of stories by a single writer: Walter Kaylin, the guy that other, better-known writers who once worked for men’s adventure magazines in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s considered to be one of the best men’s adventure writers of them all.

The guy they called “the great Walter Kaylin.”

In 1984, Josh Alan Friedman did an interview with Mario Puzo, author of THE GODFATHER, about the days when he and Walter were both staff writers for Magazine Management, cranking out stories for MALE, MEN, FOR MEN ONLY and STAG and other top men’s adventure magazines published by the company.

In that interview, Mario said of Walter:

“He was great! He wrote these great adventures, but he couldn’t turn them out that fast. He was outrageous, he just carried it off. He’d have this one guy killing a thousand other guys. Then they beat him into the ground, you think he’s dead, but he rises up again and kills another thousand guys.”

At the end of the interview, Puzo says plaintively: Walter Kaylin, come back!”

It’s an honor and a pleasure to make Puzo’s wish come true by reprinting fifteen classic Walter Kaylin stories in our new anthology.

Back in the day, Walter wrote almost every type of story that was featured in men’s adventure magazines, from Westerns, war stories and exotic adventure yarns to spy stories, noir crime thrillers and exposés.

Classic examples of all of those are included in HE-MEN, BAG MEN & NYMPHOS.

Most of the stories were originally published under Walter’s own name.

Some were originally credited to his favorite pseudonyms, Roland Empey and David Mars.

Like the WEASELS anthology, each story is accompanied by scans of the cover of the magazine it was in and the artwork or photos that appeared with it.

In the Kaylin anthology, we also added attention-grabbing pullout quotes from the stories as graphic elements.

The images below show how those elements look for our reprint of Walter’s exotic adventure yarn “The Helicopter Hero and the 100 Ladies of ‘Undress’ Atoll,” originally published in the September 1959 issue of MEN.

The illustrations in the print version of the book are in black-and-white. We’re planning to use full color in the ebook version, which should be available early next year.

You can see how the print version looks and read excerpts from the stories by using the “Look Inside” feature in the book’s Amazon page.

In addition to Walter’s stories, the book includes reminiscences by Walter about his writing career, drawn from phone calls I’ve had with him.

There’s also a moving and insightful preface by his daughters Jennifer Kaylin and Lucy Kaylin, who became successful writers and editors in their own right.

And, there’s a fascinating interview with writer Bruce Jay Friedman. In the late ‘50s and early ‘60s, before he became an acclaimed novelist and playwright, Bruce was the editor of several of the men’s adventure magazines Walter and Mario Puzo wrote stories for.

I am very grateful to Walter, Jennifer, Lucy and Bruce for their support and participation in this book project, and to Josh Alan Friedman for putting me in touch with Walter several years ago.

If you’re a fan of the MensPulpMags.com blog or the WEASELS RIPPED MY FLESH! anthology, I'm pretty sure you’ll like HE-MEN, BAG MEN & NYMPHOS.

If you order a copy and enjoy it, I hope you’ll spread the word about it online by posting a review on Amazon or GoodReads.com or by mentioning it on your Facebook page, blog or website.

Those reviews are like gold for niche indie publications like ours and will help make it possible for us to publish more men’s adventure magazine anthologies in the future.

I already have several more in mind.

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

Some more good books by New Texture writers and friends…

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Rico Tomaso – one of the best of the many great artists who worked for men’s adventure magazines…


Recently, in the Men’s Adventure Magazines Facebook group, I posted a few examples of the great painted portraits of US servicemen artist by Rico Tomaso that were used on covers of TRUE magazine in 1944 and 1945.

I think the paintings in that series rank among the best works that Tomaso created during his long long career.

When he did them, World War II was still underway and the men’s adventure magazine genre had not quite taken shape, though TRUE was leading the way.

The first painting Tomaso created for TRUE in the final years of WWII was for the February 1944 issue. It shows a group of American troops making a beach landing. (It’s not the D-Day landing. That was still four months in the future.)

The second in the series appeared on the March 1944 issue.

It’s Tomaso’s portrait of American flying ace and Navy Cross recipient Lt. Vernon E. Graham.

The original cover painting for that issue, shown below, is now owned by collector Tim Isaacson, who happens to one of the Men's Adventure Mag FB group members.

Tim was gracious enough to send me a photo of it, and a scan of the cover.

The June 1944 issue of TRUE features Tomaso’s portrait of another WWII ace and hero, Medal of Honor winner Major James H. Howard.

All three of those initial paintings in the series are well done.

But my favorites are the more painterly, head-and-shoulders close-up portraits he did, starting with the August 1944 issue.

In fact, that is one of my all time favorite men’s adventure magazine covers paintings.

The paint is applied thickly, with broad, obvious brush strokes.

The look on the soldier’s face is intense. His eyes are haunting.

He evokes an air of ballsy determination combined with war-weariness that is almost palpable.

He is the archetypal American GI.

And, in fact, the portrait goes with a story inside that’s a special tribute to “The Infantryman,” written by the well-known journalist and author Lowell Thomas.

Later in 1944 and in 1945, Tomaso did several other similar portrait paintings of individual US servicemen for TRUE in a similar style. 

To date, I haven’t been able to find copies or even good JPEG images of all of them.

But the ones I’ve seen also have the painterly, somewhat Impressionistic feel of the August issue. And, they are all clear reflections of the artistic training Tomaso received as a young man.

There’s surprisingly little biographical information about Tomaso online. One of the best bios I found is in Walt Reed’s classic reference book THE ILLUSTRATOR IN AMERICA.

Based on that, and some other information from various sources, here’s my own thumbnail overview...

Rico Tomaso was born in Chicago in 1898, grew up there and studied art at the famed Chicago Art Institute. One of his teachers was the legendary illustration artist Dean Cornwell. Cornwell became one of the biggest influences on Tomaso’s style and career and one of his closest friends.

Around 1918, Tomaso joined the US Navy. He served a four year tour of duty that took him to Europe. When his term of enlistment ended, he spent several years in France and Belgium, honing his artistic skills and studying the works of the European Realist and Impressionist painters.

After Tomaso returned to the US in the mid-1920s, Dean Cornwell convinced him to move to New York, the best place for aspiring illustration artists to get work. There, he met Robert Henri, the renowned artist and teacher who helped introduce Impressionism in America and was a leader of the “Ashcan School” of American realism. Henri became Tomaso’s other important mentor and friend. You can clearly see his influence and Cornwell’s in Tomaso’s art.

In the 1930s and 1940s, Tomaso’s career as an illustrator grew and flourished.

His artwork appeared in many of the top mainstream magazines of the day, including THE SATURDAY EVENING POST, COSMOPOLITAN, REDBOOK, LADIES HOME JOURNAL, GOOD HOUSEKEEPING and WOMAN’S HOME COMPANION.

He also did artwork for some of the fiction pulps that were popular in the ‘30s and ‘40s and paintings for magazine advertisements during those decades and into the ‘50s.

Tomaso’s paintings appeared in ads for many major US companies, including U.S. Steel, Schlitz Beer, The Hat Corporation, Old Gold, Nash Kelvinator, Texaco, Remington Rand, Brown & Williamson Tobacco Company, New York Life, Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola.

Some of his best advertising illustrations were portrait-style paintings similar to those he did for the TRUE servicemen series. My favorites are the ads he for Nash Kelvinator and the Hat Corporation of America. (“HATS – As healthy as they’re handsome!”)

During the ‘50s, Tomaso did cover and interior paintings for several top men’s adventure magazines, including TRUE, ADVENTURE, REAL and SAGA.

Among them was another series of terrific servicemen portraits for the covers of REAL.

The covers shown above and below feature some of the best of his REAL paintings.

In the 1960s, Tomaso seems to have focused increasingly on creating “fine art” for galleries — including many colorful but somewhat schmaltzy paintings that became widely distributed as commercial lithographs and reproductions. He also taught art at schools in New York and did portrait work for clients who could afford such things.

In the ‘60s and ‘70s it was common to find copies of Rico Tomaso paintings of bullfighters, senoritas, landscapes and cute kids among the “Fine Framed Reproductions of Paintings by World Renowned Artists” that were sold by home furnishing retailers (along with those by Picasso and other noted mid-Twentieth Century artists).

Rico Tomaso died in 1985. Though he was never quite as famous as his mentors Cornwell and Henri or artists like the SATURDAY EVENING POST regular Norman Rockwell, his work was and remains more widely known than that of many other illustrators who worked for men’s adventure magazines. Copies of his paintings and prints are still fairly common in galleries and on eBay.

By comparison, copies of the 1944 issue of TRUE that feature Tomaso’s servicemen portraits are hard to find, and may be quite pricey if you find them. I paid $79 for a copy of the August 1944 issue. But for me, it was a must have.

As I began writing this post, I Googled “Rico Tomaso” and looked at the image results. I was amazed to see the broad variety of the work he did and the various styles he used during his 60-year-long career as a professional artist.

And, as I’ve studied the cover paintings he did for men’s adventure magazines, I’ve come to feel that he deserves wider recognition as one of the best of the many great artists who worked for the genre.

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

Related reading about famous illustration artists…