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Monday, September 16, 2019

Men’s adventure magazine artwork used for rock music album covers and songs...

In the Men’s Adventure Magazines & Books Facebook group, members sometimes post interesting examples of artwork from vintage men’s adventure magazines (MAMs) recycled for other purposes.

One of my favorite examples was posted a while back by Timothy Isaacson, a member in Illinois who has diverse tastes in music.

His post showed the cover of the career-spanning, 2-disc compilation CD set by The Smithereens titled FROM JERSEY IT CAME! THE SMITHEREENS ANTHOLOGY (released in 2004).

The Smithereens are a New Jersey-based rock band formed in 1980. They’re best known for their songs “Blood and Roses” (which was shown on MTV in 1986 and featured in the MIAMI VICE episode “The Savage” in 1987), “Only a Memory,” “A Girl Like You” and “Too Much Passion.”

The band’s other claim to fame is being featured in the gonzo Troma Films flick CLASS OF NUKE 'EM HIGH, performing the song “Much Too Much” in the high school dance scene at about 20 minutes into the film.

The cover art for the Smithereens’ 2-CD set is a collage of images taken from three different classic MAM issues.

At bottom left is the face of a guy with a bloody cut on his cheek.

That image comes from the painting the great paperback and MAM artist Robert E. Schulz created for the cover of MALE, December 1954.

On the magazine cover, that guy is running away from a tiger on a wooden bridge as his buddy shoots at the cat with a pistol.

I suspect the cover art was picked because there’s a classic story about a killer tiger in that issue.

It’s memorably titled “EAT HER... Bones and All!” And, it was written by Bruce Jay Friedman, who later became a world-famous novelist, playwright and screenwriter.

Bruce, known as BJF for short to his family and friends, is one of a number of writers who started out as writers and/or editors for men’s adventure magazines published by subsidiaries of Martin Goodman’s Magazine Management company.

Other writers whose careers were launched by Goodman’s MAMs include Mario Puzo, Walter Wager, John Bowers, Walter Kaylin,  Martin Cruz Smith, Robert F. Dorr and Mel Shestack.

Initially, Friedman sold a couple of stories to the Goodman MAMs. Goodman liked them — and Bruce — a lot. In 1955, Goodman hired Friedman as editor of SWANK, the new men’s bachelor magazine he created to compete with PLAYBOY.

Bruce clearly had a knack for editing as well as writing and soon Goodman also gave him editing duties for of the top Magazine Management MAMs: MALE, MEN, MAN'S WORLD, SWANK and TRUE ACTION.

Friedman worked at Magazine Management until about 1966. At that point his literary career was taking off, thanks to the publication of his novels STERN and A MOTHER’S KISSES and the production of his first play 23 PAT O'BRIEN MOVIES.

His fame grew over the next two decades when he wrote screenplays for hit movies like THE HEARTBREAK KID, STIR CRAZY, SPLASH and THE LONELY GUY and critically-acclaimed plays like STEAMBATH and SCUBA DUBA.

Bruce’s story “EAT HER... Bones and All!” won’t win any literary awards. But it caught my interest because he had written it and is one of the stories I picked for inclusion in the first book in the Men’s Adventure Library series I co-edit and publish with Wyatt DoyleWEASELS RIPPED MY FLESH!

I was honored that Bruce not only gave us permission to reprint that story in WEASELS, as well as his remembrance of his days as an editor for Magazine Management, “EVEN THE RHINOS WERE NYMPHOS.” (Excerpted from Friedman’s book of the same name.)

Bruce also graciously provided the introduction to our second MAM anthology, HE-MEN, BAG MEN & NYMPHOS, which collects stories by a writer he hired as a stringer and Associate Editor for the Goodman MAMs, Walter Kaylin.

The image in the middle of the Smithereens CD cover — a guy doing battle with a giant snake — comes from the cover of the January 1958 issue of the men’s adventure mag TRUE WAR. That cover painting was done by artist Mal Singer. Singer was one of many artists who started out working for pre-WWII pulp magazines then went on to work for the pulp’s post-WWII descendants, men’s adventure magazines.

The screaming woman in the image at right on the CD cover comes from the cover of MAN’S LIFE, November 1957.

That cover painting goes with the story “SPIDER MONKEYS TORE ME APART!” It was done by the great Wilbur “Wil” Hulsey, who was (among other things) a grand master of the type of “killer creature” artwork that was popular in vintage MAMs and featured in our book I WATCHED THEM EAT ME ALIVE.

In fact, Hulsey did many of the classic animal attack covers for MAN’S LIFE and its sister publication TRUE MEN STORIES, including the iconic “WEASELS RIPPED MY FLESH!” painting used for the September 1956 issue of MAN’S LIFE (and the cover of our WEASELS RIPPED MY FLESH! story anthology, which reprints that classic story).

On the cover of MAN’S LIFE, November 1957, the screaming woman is beset by, er, ferocious killer spider monkeys. On the Smithereens cover, the layout designer Photoshopped a python onto her body.

Back in 2011, I did an interview with the great men’s adventure magazine artist Bruce Minney. (On my blog here.)

The following year, I featured a series of guest posts by Bruce’s son-in-law, Tom Ziegler. Tom had recently worked with Bruce to publish the lushly-illustrated overview of Bruce’s MAM and paperback cover artwork, BRUCE MINNEY: THE MAN WHO PAINTED EVERYTHING.

Among the readers who noticed those posts was Lionel Amerio, who was then the current drummer and vocalist for the French rock band Blow.

In June of 2012, Lionel sent me an email saying his band wanted to use part of Bruce Minney’s cover art for MAN’S CONQUEST, August 1971 on the cover of the band’s CD STREETS OF RAGE. Much to his credit, he said they did not want to use the image without Bruce Minney’s permission and wondered if I could put him in touch with Bruce.

I did, Bruce said “OK,” and the result is the cover of the CD shown here, which was a joint release with another French band named Drebean.

The CD cover uses Minney’s image a group of male and female bikers tormenting a young woman from the MAN’S CONQUEST cover and pasted that over a cartoon-like street scene representing “Rage Street.”

I suspect there are other album covers that lifted men’s adventure mag artwork. If you know of other examples, please email me or post them in the Men’s Adventure Magazines & Books Facebook group and I will update this post.

There are a couple of other interesting cases of MAM covers being used for rock music purposes I currently know of, but they are not album covers.

They’re from a couple of online posts I saw featuring “Classic Rock And New Wave Songs Brilliantly Reimagined As Vintage Pulp Fiction Paperbacks.”

Two are on the oddly-named DesignYouTrust site. If you know the bands, the songs and the lyrics, and if you ponder the headlines and subheads superimposed on the MAM covers, you’ll see why they are pretty funny spoofs.

One is a version of the cover of MAN'S BOOK, June 1963, which has a cover painting by Bruce Minney featuring the famed “Lace Panty Commandos.”

It “reimagines” the 1979 Talking Heads song “Life During Wartime” as a men’s adventure magazine.

Another one on that site reimagines the classic Beatles song “Rocky Raccoon” reimagined as a magazine cover. It uses the cover of REAL MEN, June 1958, which features a Western cover by the prolific MAM, comics, and paperback artist Vic Prezio.

I also ran across an image of a rock song reimagined as a MAM cover on the also oddly-named LaughingSquid site.

It reimagines the song “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now” by the English rock band The Smiths, as Wil Hulsey’s legendary WEASELS RIPPED MY FLESH! cover.

As you probably know, Frank Zappa borrowed that story title as the title of a 1970 album by his band, The Mothers of Invention.

Zappa had a copy of that issue of the MAN’S LIFE, September 1956 and loved the title. But instead of using Hulsey’s art for his album cover, he had a new, equally wild cover created by artist Neon Park.

In case you missed it, the story behind that album cover is in a previous post I wrote at this link.

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Comments? Corrections? Email them to me, join our Men’s Adventure Magazines & Books Facebook Group
and post them there, or post a message on our Weasels Ripped My Book Facebook page.