Our books on Amazon: the MEN'S ADVENTURE LIBRARY series...

Our books on Amazon: the MEN'S ADVENTURE LIBRARY series...
Click the image above for more information about our anthologies of men's adventure magazine stories and artwork

Sunday, July 8, 2018

A look at our new book: CUBA: SUGAR, SEX, AND SLAUGHTER...

- CUBA SUGAR SEX & SLAUGHTER
CUBA: SUGAR, SEX, AND SLAUGHTER, the latest book in the Men’s Adventure Library series I co-edit with New Texture’s head honcho Wyatt Doyle, is now available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Those of you in other countries can buy copies with free shipping worldwide on the Book Depository site.

This one is a collection of stories and full-color artwork from men’s adventure magazines about Cuba, Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, the Cuban Revolution and its aftermath.

The title is taken from one of the stories included in the book.

The wild painting we used for the cover was created by Norm Eastman. It was first used on the cover of MEN IN CONFLICT, February 1962, then reused on the cover of BATTLE CRY, May 1965.

Like several other books in our Men’s Adventure Library series, the CUBA book comes in two editions: a trade paperback and an expanded hardcover edition that includes an additional story and more artwork. (In fact, there are 20 additional pages of exclusive content in the hardcover edition, some of which is shown in this post.)

I started thinking about doing an anthology of Cuba-related stories more than ten years ago, when I first got serious about collecting and writing about men’s adventure magazines.

As my collection grew, I realized that hundreds of stories about Cuba and Fidel Castro were published in the men’s adventure magazines that flourished in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.

As I read those stories, I realized that they provide a unique written and visual archive that reveals some intriguing things about Cuba and Castro, about how Cuba and Castro were viewed in the United States, and about how men’s adventure magazine publishers capitalized on current events.

In fact, I think they chronicle, illuminate, and dramatize what was happening in Cuba from the ‘50s to the ‘70s in ways no other American print or electronic media did at the time—or since.

Many MAM stories display a gut-level appreciation of why the people of Cuba passionately supported the revolution Fidel Castro led against dictator Fulgencio Batista. They also show an understanding of why there was equally passionate opposition to Castro, after he became an iron-fisted dictator himself.

The progression of events in Cuba during the Cold War era and the evolution of American views toward Cuba and Fidel Castro are traced in our book through a selection of stories written before, during and after the Cuban Revolution.

- CUBA in Men's Adventure Magazines p118 & 119 WMCUBA in Men's Adventure Magazines p2&3 WM

The covers of the magazines the stories come from and the interior artwork and photographs used for them are shown, along with dozens of other Cuba-related MAM covers and illustrations.

There’s also a special section about Eva Lynd, the actress, pinup model and artists’ model who I met several years ago and have since talked with many times and written posts about on this blog.

If you are a regular reader, you know that Eva was one of the favorite models for top men’s adventure magazine artists Norm Eastman and Al Rossi — and for many top pinup photographers whose photos appeared in men’s magazines during the ‘50s and ‘60.

She’s featured in some of the Cuba covers done by Eastman shown in our CUBA book. I also found out in conversations with Eva that in 1958, just before Fidel Castro took control of the country, she worked as a showgirl at the famed Riviera hotel and casino in Havana. And, while there, she was photographed by LIFE magazine and the famous artist, jewelry maker, photographer and bon vivant Sepy Dobronyi.

In the “Viva Eva!” section of our book, we feature some of those illustrations and photos, accompanied by a reminiscence Eva shared with us about her career and her time in Cuba. 

CUBA in Men's Adventure Magazines p44 & 45 WMCUBA in Men's Adventure Magazines p132 & 133 WM

Early MAM stories about Cuba tended to focus on the “fun in the sun” aspects that made the island one of the hottest Caribbean destinations for American tourists from the late ’40s through the late ’50s. In addition to great beaches and water sports, the glitzy casinos and night clubs in Havana, mostly run by American mobsters, were a big draw.

Another draw was what would now be called “sex tourism.”

That “attraction” is described in the first story in our book—“Havana’s Amazing Flesh Market” from SIR!, June 1958. It puts a harsh light on the realities of the brothels that “lure thousands of sex-starved Americans each year to Havana, the hottest capital in the world.”

The writer of the “Flesh Market” article, journalist J.L. Pimsleur, doesn’t mention that Fidel Castro and his guerilla army were currently waging a revolution from their base in the Sierra Maestra Mountains. But he does hint at coming storm, saying: “Cuba’s political system demands and depends on corruption, vice and violence. Until the police force is purged, social services organized and an intensive educational program for women instituted, vice will continue to prosper.”

As explained by the second story—“Sugar, Sex, and Slaughter,” from MALE, September 1959—Cuba suffered through many bloody dictatorships and revolutions during the past 500 years. This mini-history of the island, done men’s adventure magazine style, is both eye-opening and fascinating.

CUBA in Men's Adventure Magazines p20 & 21 WMCUBA in Men's Adventure Magazines p28 & 29 WM

That overview only briefly mentions Fidel Castro. But there are scores of other fiction and non-stories about Fidel Castro and the Cuban Revolution in men’s adventure magazines published between 1956, when Castro’s ragtag band of rebels began to gain worldwide notice, and New Year’s Day 1959, when those rebels marched triumphantly into Havana.

Most of those stories portray Fulgencio Batista and his army-backed regime as extraordinarily corrupt and cruel, even by Cuba’s standards. Typically, they portray Fidel Castro and his followers as brave freedom fighters. Many compare Batista and the military and police forces he controlled to Hitler and the Nazi Third Reich.

One example reprinted in our book is “Bayamo’s Night of Terror” from MAN’S MAGAZINE, May 1958. Though embellished, it’s a generally true account of how the Batistiano army leader Col. Fermin Cowley killed and tortured civilians in the rural town of Bayamo—and eventually paid for it with his own life. The subhead under the title reads: “Taking a page from Hitler’s book, the ‘Bayamo butcher’s’ soldiers pillaged the city, raped the women and systematically destroyed every rebel sympathizer they found...This is the shocking, shameful picture of life today in Cuba’s hinterland.”

Another story in the book, “Brotherhood of the Scar” from ADVENTURES FOR MEN, July 1959, is even more gut-wrenching. It’s portrayed as a true account “told to” writer Jack Barrows by the main character. In fact, it’s a work of fiction. Though it, too, is based on real incidents of extreme torture and cruelty committed by the Batista regime. (“Brotherhood of the Scar” is also notable for featuring a series of illustrations by the great men’s adventure mag and paperback cover artist Bruce Minney, “The Man Who Painted Everything.”)

CUBA in Men's Adventure Magazines p48 & 49 ABDCUBA in Men's Adventure Magazines p48 & 49 WMCUBA in Men's Adventure Magazines p62 & 63 WM

Both of these stories are well-written, graphic and moving. Nobody but a saint could read them—and other MAM stories about the Cuban Revolution—without feeling a sense of hatred for the Batista regime and a sense of righteous satisfaction when the rebels take their revenge.

There are many other MAM stories from the mid-’50s to the early ‘60s that are sympathetic to Castro and the Revolution. In addition to having the elements of action, adventure and violence, the Cuban Revolution offered another element of special interest to male readers: fierce, young, often attractive guerilla girls!

Sexy female freedom fighters are a common trope in all types of MAM stories set in various places and wars. Typically, they are mistreated former prostitutes, or “joy girls.” In stories set during the Cuban Revolution, they are fierce, loyal Fidelistas who suffered various types of abuse under the Batista regime.

In stories written after Castro turned from liberator to dictator, the joy girl freedom fighters are fighting to overthrow Castro, and Castro and his followers are compared to Hitler and the Nazis. They are often still former prostitutes, but they are women who were abused by Castro’s Barbudos (“bearded ones”).

The evil Barbudos are usually Fidel Castro lookalikes, wearing khaki uniforms. Often they are wearing black armbands that look similar to those worn by Nazis. But instead of a swastika, their armbands are imprinted with “26 JULIO,” showing that the wearers are loyal members of Castro’s “26th of July” movement—a name chosen in honor of Fidel’s first failed attempt to spark a revolution by leading an attack on the Moncada barracks in Santiago de Cuba on July 26, 1953.

CUBA in Men's Adventure Magazines p18 WMCUBA in Men's Adventure Magazines p14 & 15 WMCUBA in Men's Adventure Magazines p113 & 114

There are a few stories in MAMs that maintained a pro-Castro viewpoint during his first year in power. Some even rationalized not only the Revolution, but also the Castro regime’s execution and imprisonment of thousands of real or suspected Batista sympathizers and counter-revolutionaries.

An example is the story “I Kill for Castro” in CHAMPION, June 1959, which is purportedly an account by a Lieutenant in 26th of July Army who is heading up one of Castro’s firing squads. “At least 20,000 Cubans—20,000 men, women and children—died under Batista’s regime,” he explains. “This is why I kill. This is why I, a peaceful man, can hold the pistol to the heads of condemned prisoners and send their souls to hell. To those who question the ways of our justice, the justice of the Castro government, I say that it is a true justice.”

During the next two years, the depiction of Castro and his regime in MAMs—and in American media in general—became increasingly negative, and grew steadily worse.

During those years, Castro removed moderate Socialists from top positions in the government. He declared Cuba to be a Communist state and allied himself with Nikita Khrushchev’s USSR, America’s biggest Cold War nemesis. He had his brother Raul Castro and Che Guevara oversee the forced “nationalization” of most businesses and farms.

He also ordered the execution, imprisonment, or forced exile of thousands of potential political rivals, intellectuals, businessmen, farmers, and other people who opposed his policies or complained too loudly about the unkept promises he made during the revolution—promises to create a truly democratic Cuba.

Cubans forced into exile in the US soon joined with an underground movement of former Castro supporters on the island to try to find ways to overthrow Fidel. Their most visible effort was the Bay of Pigs fiasco in April 1961. That failed invasion, doomed to failure by the lack of military support from the Kennedy administration, gave Castro a PR victory and an excuse to round up and imprison more than 100,000 additional potential political opponents.

CUBA in Men's Adventure Magazines p12 & 13 WMCUBA in Men's Adventure Magazines p10 & 11 WM

In 1962, American U-2 spy planes discovered evidence of Russian nuclear missiles in Cuba, precipitating the Cuban Missile Crisis. This brought the US and USSR to the brink of nuclear war. Luckily—against the wishes of Fidel Castro—Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev blinked and withdrew the missiles.

Meanwhile, Castro began sponsoring socialist rebellions in various countries throughout the Caribbean and South America, under the guiding hand of Che Guevara. In our book, those efforts are described in the story “Castro’s Commie Blueprint to Take Over Latin America,” from the men’s adventure mag CAVALCADE, October 1961.

People who have romanticized views of Castro and Che and bought Che Guevara t-shirts in their college days may want to dismiss that story as “Red Scare” propaganda, but it’s basically true. Castro and Che did want to turn countries in Central America, South America and the Caribbean into the Western Hemisphere’s version of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, with Cuba in the position Russia played in the USSR. Moreover, his revolutionary efforts in Latin America did more harm than good to the people of those countries. Instead of leading to more glorious revolutions, they led to even more iron-fisted, right-wing dictatorships.

Meanwhile, although it can be argued that Castro was better than Batista in some ways, there’s no getting around the fact that he was a totalitarian dictator who killed, imprisoned and exiled thousands of Cubans. That fact, combined with his obvious anti-American, anti-capitalist, pro-Communist politics, made him and his followers anathema in MAM stories published from 1961 until the genre’s demise in the late ’70s.

The final stories in this book are a few of our favorite examples of fiction stories about Cuba and Castro from those years. One was written by the great Robert F. Dorr, whose MAM war and adventure stories are showcased in our book, A HANDFUL OF HELL. 

CUBA in Men's Adventure Magazines p102 & 103 ACUBA in Men's Adventure Magazines p107 WMCUBA in Men's Adventure Magazines p162 & 163 WM

Bob was a former State Department official who wrote hundreds of war and adventure stories for men’s adventure magazines, thousands of articles for military and history publications, and 80 aviation history books. His 1971 story for MAN’S ILLUSTRATED, about a mission to bring “Castro’s Bacterial Warfare Chief,” is a classic Dorr action yarn.

It’s somewhat similar in setup to the Paul Newman espionage thriller THE PRIZE. In fact, many of Bob Dorr’s best stories share themes with classic movies, where a a normal man finds himself in extraordinary circumstances when he gets caught up in larger conspiracies—a la Alfred Hitchcock’s NORTH BY NORTHWEST, THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH, and THE WRONG MAN.

Others stories in the book are the type of over-the-top pulp fantasies that gave the most lurid, low-budget sub-genre of MAMs the nickname “sweat magazines.”

They are similar to the stories featuring sadistic Nazis that are most closely associated with sweat mags. But instead of Hitler and the Nazis, the villains are Fidel Castro and his followers. These stories and the artwork that goes with them—often done by MAM fan fave Norm Eastman—definitely do earn the adjective lurid.

A classic example included in our book is “Squirm in Hell, My Lovely Muchacha!.” The artwork for that one was done by Eastman, and Eva Lynd was the model for the hapless, scantily-clad senorita being tortured with a Cuban cigar by a sadistic Fidelista.

Other great artists whose work is shown in CUBA: SUGAR, SEX, AND SLAUGHTER include Mel Crair, Doug Rosa, George Gross, Mort Kunstler, Rafael DeSoto, Earl Norem, and Samson Pollen. Examples of Pollen’s original MAM artwork are showcased in our other recently-published book POLLEN’S WOMEN: THE ART OF SAMSON POLLEN.

You can see extensive flip-page previews of our CUBA and POLLEN books on the New Texture page on Issuu.com, along with other books published by Wyatt Doyle’s New Texture imprint.

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Click this link or the image below get copies of CUBA: SUGAR, SEX, AND SLAUGHTER

and other books in our Men’s Adventure Library series on Amazon

or go to the Book Depository site to buy them with free shipping worldwide

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Comments? Corrections? Post them on the Weasels Ripped My Book Facebook Page, email them to me,
or join the
Men’s Adventure Magazines & Books Facebook Group and post them there.

Related reading, listening, and watching…

Friday, June 1, 2018

Andrew Nette: pulp fiction historian, novelist, blogger – and real cool cat...

Andrew Nette with his recent books
I am more than a little bit in awe of Australian author, editor, pulp paperback expert, and pop culture scholar Andrew Nette.

He not only wrote one of best novels I’ve read this year: GUNSHINE STATE, a gritty, noir-flavored heist and revenge crime thriller set in Australia and Thailand.

He also co-wrote and co-edited the recently-published book about vintage “youthsploitation” paperbacks: GIRL GANGS, BIKER BOYS, AND REAL COOL CATS: PULP FICTION AND YOUTH CULTURE, 1950 TO 1980, published by PM Press — one of the best-researched, most interesting, most lushly-illustrated books I’ve ever read.

I also love Nette’s wide-ranging, interesting and insightful PulpCurry.com blog, which covers various types of pulp-related books, magazines and topics.

As if that’s not impressive enough, Nette was a professional journalist in Cambodia and other Asian counties for nearly seven years in Asia.

He co-founded the Melbourne, Australia-based indie publishing house of Crime Factory Publications, and edited story anthologies for that imprint.

His book reviews and short fiction stories have in dozens of print and on-line publications around the world.

His upcoming book projects include a sequel to GUNSHINE STATE, and a second anthology along the lines of GIRL GANGS to be published by PM Press in late 2018: STICKING IT TO THE MAN: REVOLUTION AND COUNTERCULTURE IN PULP AND POPULAR FICTION, 1956 TO 1980.

He has also written a monograph about the classic 1975 science fiction movie ROLLERBALL, which will soon be published by Auteur.

Teenage JungleSo, that makes three new Andrew Nette projects I look forward to reading later this year.

And, I haven’t yet read his first novel, GHOST MONEY, but it’s next up on my Kindle.

That one is a highly-praised crime story set in Cambodia.

In his “spare time,” Nette is in the process of getting a PhD degree at Macquarie University, one of the top universities in Australia.

His thesis is on the history of pulp paperback publishing in Australia.

I first saw mentions of Andrew’s GIRL GANGS book, in Facebook posts by two other vintage pulp mavens I highly respect: novelist, editor and blogger Paul Bishop and vintage paperback fanzine publisher Justin Marriott.

Despite the dark side of Facebook, it is the premier place for fellow fans of action and adventure novels and magazines from around the world to link up. (Many of us hang out in the men’s adventure-related FB groups here and here.)

After I bought GIRL GANGS and started reading it, I was immediately struck by several things.

One is that Andrew and his co-author and co-editor Iain McIntyre have an incredibly broad knowledge of vintage crime, “sleaze” and exploitation paperbacks published not only in the US, but also in the UK and Australia.

They also expanded beyond their own knowledge by including reviews, analyses and interviews with authors provided by more than 20 other contributors.

The second thing I noted is that Andrew and Iain use the modern, more inclusive definition of “pulp” that goes beyond the early pulp magazines.

Although it annoys some fans of early pulp magazines, the term “pulp” has evolved.

Teenage Jungle 02Just as “noir” has come to be an adjective applied to more than the black-and-white films made in the ‘30s and ‘40s, “pulp” has evolved into a useful and appropriate adjective for that goes beyond the digest-size magazines printed on rough wood pulp paper in the ‘30s and ‘40s.

I also noticed that Andrew and Iain approach the vintage novels featured in GIRL GANGS the way I approach vintage men’s adventure magazines in this blog and in the books in the Men’s Adventure Library series I co-edit with Wyatt Doyle, the multi-talented founder of the New Texture indie book and CD publishing imprint.

Like Wyatt and me, Andrew and Iain have a fan’s appreciation of how cool the stories and artwork are in the pulpy “artifacts” they feature.

But they also delve beyond that surface appeal and discuss their historical and cultural context.

In addition, they provide information about the publishers and authors, some of whom — like Harlan Ellison and Evan Hunter — went on to significant fame.

I plan to write several about GIRL GANGS, BIKER BOYS, AND REAL COOL CATS in future posts to discuss the many interesting similarities and connections between the novels it features and stories in men’s adventure magazines published during the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s.

I’ll start with a few connections that caught my attention in the first section of GIRL GANGS, titled — “Pulp Fiction’s Juvenile Delinquents: TEENAGE JUNGLE” — which focuses on subgenre of ‘50s novels that feature “JDs” and teenage gangs.

Many of the authors of the novels featured throughout GIRL GANGS had stories and “book bonus” versions of their novels published in men’s adventure magazines in the 1950s.

And, many of the cover paintings on the hundreds of books shown in GIRL GANGS (in glorious full color) were done by artists who also did cover and interior artwork for MAMs.

For example, one the JD novel covers featured in GIRL GANGS is the 1957 Pyramid edition of the exposé TEEN-AGE VICE by Courtney Ryley Cooper. (Originally published in 1939 as DESIGNS IN SCARLET.)

Teen-Age Vice by Courtney Ryley Cooper (Pyramid, G252, 1957) The cover art on that 1957 edition was done by the great men’s adventure magazine and paperback cover artist Samson Pollen.

Sam’s original MAM artwork is featured in our book POLLEN’S WOMEN: THE ART OF SAMSON POLLEN.

I also realized that the female and male models Sam used for the TEEN-AGE VICE cover painting are among the models he used for the very first illustration he did that was published in a men’s adventure magazine and for one or more of his early paperback covers.

We included a photo of Sam’s first MAM illustration in a sidebar in POLLEN’S WOMEN, along with the fascinating story Sam told us about it.

The painting shows four male juvies leering threateningly at a buxom blonde girl in an alley.

Sam explained that to find models who really looked like juvenile delinquents, he went to a poolroom in Brooklyn where he knew some tough teenagers hung out and persuaded several of them pose for photos.

He created a painting from those photos and used it as a sample to show Mel Blum, Art Director for the Atlas/Diamond men’s adventure magazines published by Martin Goodman’s Magazine Management company (ACTION FOR MEN, FOR MEN ONLY, KEN FOR MEN, MALE, MEN, STAG, etc.).

Blum loved it and bought it on the spot. Thus, it was that painting that launched Sam Pollen’s long, productive relationship with Magazine Management, resulting in hundreds of great illustrations like those featured in POLLEN’S WOMEN.

Blum used the illustration on the cover of the book about teen gangs ALLEY KIDS, published in 1956 by Lion Books, the paperback subsidiary of Magazine Management.

ALLEY KIDS is a reprint of the HELL’S KITCHEN, originally published by Lion in 1952.

The author, Benjamin Appel, also wrote another notable book about juvenile delinquents and the social conditions that helped produce them titled TEEN-AGE MOBSTER, published in 1955 by Avon.

When a condensed version of Appel’s ALLEY KIDS was used in the June 1956 issue of KEN FOR MEN, Mel Blum used a badly-cropped version of Sam’s poolroom teens painting as the illustration for it.

As Sam explains in POLLEN’S WOMEN, a surprising thing happened after that issue hit newsstands.

“One of the poolroom guys had a lawyer in the family, and he sued Martin Goodman for using his image without a model release,” Sam recalled. “You had to have signed permission to use their picture commercially. But I didn’t know about that. Martin Goodman was really good to me on that, maybe because he liked my work. He said that he’d take a certain amount out of each job he gave me, and I’d pay it off that way. But he never took a penny. They made some arrangement, I guess, and I never had to pay anything. He had his own lawyers, you know. That’s a hell of a way to get started, right?”

Samson Pollen juvies illustration WMKEN FOR MEN, June 1956 - Samson Pollen illustration WM

Sam also did a classic cover painting for another book mentioned in the “Teenage Jungle” section of GIRL GANGS, BIKER BOYS, AND REAL COOL CATS, Bud Clifton’s D FOR DELINQUENT, published by Ace in 1958.

Pollen’s cover painting for that one was reused two years later on the cover of the UK edition of THE BIG RUMBLE by Edward De Roo.

In 1997, the painting was reused again on the cover of TEENAGE CONFIDENTIAL: AN ILLUSTRATED HISTORY OF THE AMERICAN TEEN PAPERBACK (an excellent book edited by Michael Barson and Steven Heller).

Another juvie cover painting by Samson Pollen appears on the cover of HATE ALLEY (“Days and Nights of a Juvenile Delinquent”), written by Martin L. Weiss and published by Ace in 1957.

Samson Pollen cover art, D FOR DELINQUENTHATE ALLEY (1957) cover by Samson Pollen bd

Sam recently sent me some of the reference photos he took for his magazine and paperback cover art.

I recognized the young lad in one of them as the kid with the hat in the HATE ALLEY cover painting.

Another guy in Sam’s photos looks like the guy in the car on that cover. And I think both are in Sam’s “Alley Kids” illustration that Mel Blum used. I’m showing those reference photos here for the first time anywhere.

In future posts, I’ll discuss some of the other connections between men’s adventure magazines and the “youthsploitation” novels featured in GIRL GANGS, BIKER BOYS, AND REAL COOL CATS.

Samson Pollen juvie reference photos bd2Andrew Nette's Pulp Curry blog

In the meantime, do yourself a favor and buy a copy of that book. It’s available on Amazon worldwide in paperback and Kindle format.

So are Andrew Nette’s novels GUNSHINE STATE and GHOST MONEY.

Also, check out Andrew’s PulpCurry.com site, where I was immensely pleased to see a recent post about POLLEN’S WOMEN.

Thanks, Andrew! You are a veritable gentleman and scholar — and a very cool cat.

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Comments? Corrections? Post them on the Weasels Ripped My Book Facebook Page, email them to me,
or join the
Men’s Adventure Magazines & Books Facebook Group and post them there.

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Monday, May 28, 2018

My annual Memorial Day post: a look at the first issue of BATTLE CRY magazine...


[EDITOR'S NOTE: A link to download a free PDF copy of the first issue of BATTLE CRY magazine is at the bottom of this post.] 

Memorial Day is a day to remember and honor the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces.

But it also makes me think of my late father, Robert Carl Deis, who served in the Army during World War II and survived.

Dad was a Scout and Rifleman in the 6th Infantry Division (specifically, G Company of the 1st Infantry Regiment). He saw hellish action in the South Pacific.

Like many veterans, when Dad came back to the States, he worked in blue collar jobs to support his family and struggled to understand and adjust to the enormous social changes that were taking place in the 1950s and 1960s.

American military veterans like my Dad and his Army buddies, who served and survived, were the primary audience for many of the men’s adventure magazines of the ‘50s and ‘60s.

And, there were millions of them.
In fact, there were nearly 16 million male veterans of World War II when that global conflict ended in 1945.

Some of them also fought in the Korean War, which began five years later. More than 5.7 million Americans served in that conflict by the time it ended in 1953.

Most of the 160 or so magazines in the men’s adventure genre were designed to appeal to the interests those veterans and, later, to the 8.7 million American men who served in the Vietnam War from 1964 to 1975.

Thus, almost all included war stories of various kinds: true history pieces and eyewitness accounts; serious dramatic war fiction; highly-embellished articles that mixed fact and fiction; and, wild over-the-top yarns featuring sadistic Nazis and Commies, scantily-clad babes, and battling Yanks. However, only some of men’s pulp adventure magazines had a specific focus on war.

They included: BATTLE CRY, BATTLEFIELD, BATTLE ATTACK, BATTLE STATION, MAN’S COMBAT, MEN IN COMBAT, REAL COMBAT STORIES, REAL WAR, SALVO, TRUE BATTLES OF WORLD WAR II, TRUE SPY AND WAR STORIES, TRUE WAR, TRUE WAR STORIES, WAR, WAR CRIMINALS, WAR STORIES, WAR STORY and WOMEN-IN-WAR.

Most of the magazines in the war mag subgenre were fairly short-lived (as were many other magazines in the men’s adventure genre in general). The longest-lasting was BATTLE CRY. It was published from late 1955 to mid-1971 by Stanley Publications, Inc., the flagship company of pioneering comic book and magazine publisher Stanley P. Morse.

When the puritanical 1954 Comics Code essentially banned violent or sexy images in comics, Morse discontinued his BATTLE CRY comic book and created the men’s adventure magazine BATTLE CRY.

The comic had lasted for 20 issues. That’s why the first issue of the men’s adventure magazine version, dated December 1955, was numbered Vol. 1, No. 21.

The first issue of BATTLE CRY magazine features a moving cover painting. Unfortunately, it’s uncredited. (My guess is that it may have been done by the great pulp illustration artist Clarence Doore, who did many of the early BATTLE CRY covers.) It shows two American GIs driving a jeep loaded with the flag-covered coffin of a fallen comrade. The words “LAST TRIP,” printed at the bottom of the cover, are the poignant title of the painting, not the title of a story inside.

On the contents page of this issue, there’s a fascinating introduction about the purpose of the magazine, presumably written by the magazine’s initial Editor, Harry Kantor.

This intro doesn’t mention anything about the transformation of the BATTLE CRY comic into a men’s adventure magazine.

Here’s how it explains the genesis and purpose of the new periodical:   

WE’RE mad. Good and mad. P.O’ed.
     This started because of something we overheard. We were reminiscing about the old days in England with the 8th AAF, when some joker butts in with, “The war’s over! When are you guys gonna forget it?” We didn’t answer him. We were too stunned to answer. But his remarks set us to thinking. And wondering.
     We wondered if that’s how most people felt. “Forget about 1940-45, it’s over and done with. World War II and Korea are just history.”
     Well, maybe so. But not to us who were in it. Especially those who shed some blood. We don’t forget that easily. Even if the others do. Korea was an example of that. Just a nice private little war. Only concerned those who were there and their families. Didn’t concern anyone else.
     Well, that’s what we’re sore about. You don’t forget that easily. Or you shouldn’t. And that’s why this magazine.
BATTLE CRY is to make sure you don’t forget.   
     What are our purposes? Our aims? Well, we’re not going off half-cocked and say that through these pages we hope to stop wars. We know that can’t happen. Even though we wish it could. Magazines don’t stop wars. People do.
     But we felt that it’s about time people found out what war is really like. The frustrations, the fears, the anguish, the futility, and all of the rest that makes up combat and the military.
     That’s why this magazine.
     Another reason. Sixteen million present and ex-service men and women. Somewhere on these pages you’ll find something that interests you. That concerns you. A shot of your old outfit. A battle you fought in. A buddy you lost contact with. We’re trying to make this the postwar
YANK. We’re trying to make this YOUR MAGAZINE.
     No, we’re not forgetting we were once in The Service. We’re damned proud of it.
     BATTLE CRY will help us to remember.

Inside the first issue of BATTLE CRY there are announcements of several regular features designed to let veterans communicate with each other — in the same way a modern Internet forum or Facebook group does for people who share certain interests.

For example, the “Whatever Happened To...” section was designated as a place where vets could post messages to old buddies they were trying to find or to announce dates and locations of reunions for their outfits. The “So You’re Out Now” feature was launched as an ongoing source of information about programs for veterans and to provide answers to questions vets sent in about problems they faced. 

The articles and stories in the December 1955 issue of BATTLE CRY and other early issues are not the type of wild-and-crazy “sweat magazine” style yarns that were the primary content of most Stanley Publications magazines in the 1960s and early 1970s (including issues of BATTLE CRY published in those decades).

Many stories were gritty, but not lurid, non-fiction and fiction war stories, such as:

“CALL ME TRAITOR!,” an insightful “as told to” story about a soldier who was a prisoner of war in Korea;

“THE BLOODY 100th,” a fact-based story about B-17 crews in the 100th Bombardment Group that reminded me of the history books MISSION TO BERLIN and MISSION TO TOKYO, by the late, great men’s adventure magazine writer and military aviation historian Robert F. Dorr;

“TANK TRAP,” another fact-based story, about WWII tank crews;

“WORLD’S TOUGHEST KILLERS IN KHAKI,” a salute to the Australian military;

“THE BLOODY BUTCHERS OF MILNE,” an account of the WWII Battle of Milne Bay in New Guinea

“YOU DON'T COUNT FOR A DAMN,” a ripping WWII fiction yarn;

“YA GOTTA KILL ‘EM TO TRAIN ‘EM,” an endorsement of tough basic training techniques;

“WHAT MEN THINK OF IN THE FACE OF DEATH,” another story about the bravery of American bomber crews, this time B-24 crews in the South Pacific; and,

“SUICIDE SUB,” a true story about the USS Tang, a famed WWII submarine that sank 33 Japanese ships before being sunk by a malfunctioning torpedo in 1945, killing most of the crew.

Not all of the stories in the first issue of BATTLE CRY are serious. For example, there’s an article about the often laughable “GI SEX INSTRUCTION FILMS” (a.k.a. sex hygiene films) that were supposed to educate American soldiers about how to avoid catching a venereal disease (or getting the local gals pregnant).

There’s a humorous story about the, uh, side benefits of serving behind the lines in an office that had female staff, titled “I WAS A FILING TIGER.”

And, as usual in vintage men’s pulp mags, there are advertisements that often provide unintended humor, like the oddly-placed ad about the power of prayer that’s sandwiched between ads for illustrated porn booklets on one of the back pages.

There are also some classic cheesecake photo spreads in this issue, featuring the famed stripper Evelyn “Treasure Chest” West, the alluring, somewhat notorious actress and model Francesca De Scoffa and a lesser-known pinup model named Lee Wilson.

In the 1960s, BATTLE CRY moved increasingly into “sweat magazine” territory and left behind many of the original goals outlined in the Editor’s introduction in the December 1955 issue.

Yet, as noted by vintage magazine expert Dr. David M. Earle, author of the excellent book ALL MAN!: HEMINGWAY, 1950s MEN'S MAGAZINES AND THE MASCULINE PERSONA, men’s adventure magazines published in both the ‘50s and ‘60s played an important role in the lives of America’s military veterans. 

In an interview I did with Dr. Earle a while back, he explained:

“The most concentrated exploration of men’s adventure magazines that I make in the book, and which I find pretty enthralling and novel still, is how they offered veterans of World War II a means to deal with and categorize both their wartime experience and the difficulties of returning to United States. They returned to a society that was, for a large part, unaware of exactly how horrible their experiences had been. The bloody realities of the war had generally been censored by the government and avoided by the press.

Yes. The end of the war was obviously a happy time, but also a very traumatic time: a difficult shift to a postwar economy, pressures of suburbanization, the simple difficulties of readjusting, and even the difficulty of expressing, to your family and yourself, the experience of war. Men’s adventure magazines like BATTLE CRY featured stories by and about vets, soldiering, battle. They offered columns for reuniting with former war buddies. They returned men to the camaraderie of soldiering, but in a safe place. The stories about war provided a text and narrative for vets to identify with. This is one of the important parts of healing for PTSD [Post Traumatic Stress Disorder], hence why ‘rap sessions’ were implemented for vets returning from the Vietnam War. Audie Murphy, the World War II hero who became a famous actor, wrote an amazing story about this for BATTLE CRY in 1956 [“The Day I Cried,” August 1956] that was instrumental in breaking the previous taboo about discussing war-related mental problems.

The aspects of men’s adventure magazines mentioned by Dr. Earle are front and center in the first issue of BATTLE CRY. It remains one of the best issues of the magazine from its early, pre-sweat mag years.

In fact, I consider it a classic within the entire men’s adventure genre. That’s why I scanned in the entire copy and added it to the MensPulpMags.com virtual newsstand.

To download a complete, high resolution PDF copy of BATTLE CRY, December 1955, click this link or the image below.

In honor of Memorial Day, I am making this issue available for free to interested readers.

This one’s for you, Dad.

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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:

BATTLE CRY, December 1955

This is a digital copy of the complete issue, in high resolution PDF format, featuring gritty war stories, classic pulp art, vintage cheesecake photos of Evelyn “Treasure Chest” West, and much more.

BATTLE CRY, December 1955. Cover & stories