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Our books on Amazon: the MEN'S ADVENTURE LIBRARY series...
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Saturday, March 25, 2017

An interview with Paul Bishop: veteran detective, writer, editor and action/adventure maven…

Paul Bishop & his books REV2
EDITOR’S NOTE: Paul Bishop seems like he should be a fictional character in a novel like those he writes. He served with the Los Angeles Police Department for 35 years. For most of that time, he was a police detective, a top level crime-solver specializing in sex crimes who developed extraordinary skills as an interrogator. Paul retired from law enforcement in 2015, but he still teaches interrogation techniques in seminars for police, military and arson investigators nationwide.

Starting in the late 1980s, Paul also became a prolific writer and media personality. He’s written numerous TV and film scripts and appeared as an expert on various shows. To date, he has written fifteen novels, including the highly-praised Fey Croaker series about a female L.A.P.D. detective, which is now being reprinted by Pro Se. His latest novel, LIE CATCHERS, is the first in a new series about a special team of L.A. police interrogators.

Paul is also a book editor and publisher. He’s the creator and editor of the popular noir-flavored “new pulp” FIGHT CARD boxing novel series. There are now 50 books in that series written by 46 different authors (including Paul), under the house pseudonym Jack Tunney. In addition, Paul writes short stories for collections like BISHOP & HANCOCK’S PULSE FICTION and the incarnation of the classic BLACK MASK magazine.

I don’t know when Paul sleeps, but in his “spare” time, he is also a prolific blogger. He posts regularly on his own blog, PaulBishopBooks.com, and contributes to several others, like the recently-created Bibliorati site. Many of his posts are about action and adventure-oriented novels, magazines, and TV shows and movies. He also writes about the art and business of writing and indie publishing. He frequently posts interviews with writers and publishers – including several he’s done with me and publishing partner Wyatt Doyle about books in our Men’s Adventure Library series, most recently our collection of artwork and photos from men’s adventure magazine stories about outlaw motorcycle gangs, BARBARIANS ON BIKES.

After Paul did that last interview with us, it made me realize it was time to turn the tables and do an interview with him for my blog. It seems especially appropriate given that Paul wrote a special Afterword for BARBARIANS ON BIKES, based on some experiences he had with “one percenter” bikers when he was with the LAPD.

Here’s my interview with the amazing Paul Bishop...

BOB DEIS: When you look at the outlaw biker stories featured in BARBARIANS ON BIKES based on your experience, what percentage of them seem to have some basis in reality?

PAUL BISHOP: Most good fiction has some basis in reality. However, the stories about outlaw bikers in the men’s adventure magazines expanded on the most salacious and prurient aspects of the biker lifestyle to cash in on the shock value. The stories were designed to prey on the fears of what outlaw bikers might do to your wife, girlfriend, or daughter sexually—and the fear your wife, girlfriend, or daughter might like it. Feminism wasn’t a big part of the men’s adventure magazines.

The reality was, the outlaw biker gangs were bad dudes, who did bad things (mostly to each other), committed bad crimes like drug dealing and gun running, and every once in a while actually terrorizing innocent towns and citizens. The men’s adventure magazines took these facts and turned them into lurid tales of constant fearmongering, chain fighting, loud full open throttles, and sexual abuses—all for a voracious, voyeuristic, audience who enjoyed living the experiences vicariously.

MEN, Jan 1969, cover by Earl NoremMEN TODAY, July 1968. Cover by Norm EastmanMAN'S CONQUEST, June 1970, Cover by Bruce Minney

BOB: As you know, in the 1960s and 1970s, when men’s adventure magazines were regularly featuring stories about motorcycle gangs, there were lots of biker “exploitation” movies similar to those stories and lots of bikers in TV shows. Did people in law enforcement think the fascination with outlaw bikers in those decades was strange?

PAUL: Not at all. We had our own fascination with the outlaw biker gangs. In some ways cops and outlaw bikers were two sides of the same coin—the brotherhood, the uniform, the macho posturing, the superior attitude. As a rookie, my training officer made it clear we never backed down when faced with bikers or gang members because we were the biggest, toughest, gang in town.

Going toe to toe with bikers on the streets in the real world was one thing. Those were open confrontations with clearly drawn sides. However, trying to infiltrate the gangs undercover was a dangerous, near impossible assignment even Jim Phelps wouldn’t accept (forgive the anachronistic ‘60s reference). It was occasionally done successfully, but the deep cover mockingbirds were never the same when they resurfaced to testify against the bikers they had been sent to penetrate. After years of living as outlaw bikers, the mockingbirds never seemed to be able to readapt back to the straight world. Most long term mockingbirds (undercover for two years or more) leave the department within two years of resurfacing—some commit suicide after resigning. It’s a very tough job.

BARBARIANS ON BIKES book coversPaul Bishop Afterword

BOB: While you worked with the LAPD, you were also turning into a professional writer. Your first novel was a Western, SHROUD OF VENGEANCE, published under the name Pike Bishop in 1987. Then you focused on crime novels, including your highly-praised Fey Croaker series.

PAUL: Technically, my first novel was SHROUD OF VENGEANCE, a title in the Diamondback series of adult westerns, published under the house pseudonym “Pike Bishop.” It featured plenty of six-gun and sagebrush action built around the two required explicit sex scenes – the raison d’etre for the very existence of the successful adult western genre. I would never disparage the genre or disavow my connection to it.

But I actually consider CITADEL RUN to be my first novel. I created the characters, the plot was uniquely mine, there were no required sex scenes to wedge in, and my real name was right there on the covers of both the hardback and the paperback.

Three books by Paul BishopBOB: On your blog, you write a lot about pulp adventure related topics, including vintage action/adventure novels, Westerns, spy novels, early pulp mags, men’s adventure mags, and action/adventure TV shows and movies. How have those genres influenced your work as an author?

PAUL: Before I was a cop, before I was a writer, I was a reader. As a reader I was drawn to the world of adventure, pulp, and noir. The art from the pulps and the men’s adventure magazines fed my already wild imagination. I cut my teeth on what was called the “High Adventure” genre back in the day—writers like Desmond Bagley, Alistair MacLean, and Hammond Innes.

The men who actually created the High Adventure genre, Talbot Mundy and Harold Lamb did so in the pulps of the ‘30s and ‘40s. If you want a stunning example read Mundy’s SOUL OF A REGIMENT—it still gives me chills whenever I revisit it.

Today, the High Adventure genre has been watered down to become bloated, doorstop-sized, generic tomes referred to as “Thrillers.” I’ve tried, but I can’t get passed my 50 page rule with most of them. I’m happy collecting and reading the lean, muscular prose of those early novelists, filled with twisted characters, dark deeds, and heroes who weren’t angst filled alcoholics with relationship issues—Gak!

Fast-paced, two-fisted tales were the life blood of the pulps and the men’s adventure magazines. The wordslingers in those pages knew their stuff, and they were the template I copied when I started to write. Along the way, I’ve learned how to adapt to the modern market—writing in many fields from magazine articles to short stories to novels to episodic television and feature films, but I’ve never forgotten the power of the lessons I learned from all the authors I love to read.

Fey Croaker, Paul Bishop seriesBOB: I think the Fight Card series of novels you created, edited, and published is one of the best examples of what is now commonly called “new pulp.” What did you learn as a writer and publisher from doing that series?

PAUL: By the time I edited the fifty novels in the Fight Card series submitted by forty-five different writers, I saw the same mistakes and strengths over and over. This help me to not only recognize the glaring issues in my own writing, but—more importantly—what to do about them. I learned to be a stronger writer.

However, the Fight Card experience went far beyond writing lessons. I had a blast working with a bunch of writers all on the cusp of their breakthrough into the big time. Some have had their breakthrough already while some are still peaking, but every one of the Fight Card team were certifiable inkspillers of the top order. Their friendships and interaction have help keep my faith in humanity.

BOB: You’ve also written some short stories for new pulp anthologies. One of the recent examples is your story “A Bucketful of Bullets” in the reincarnated version of the classic pulp magazine BLACK MASK published by Altus Press. Are you planning to do more pulp-style short stories or novels?

PAUL: I’ve got a teetering stack of ideas for more short stories, but the issue is finding the time to write them. Writing is often about dollars and cents, and short-stories don’t pay for dinner, let alone pay the gas bill. As a result, I only write short stories when the idea won’t leave me alone or there is an opportunity—like the cover story for the first issue of the revived BLACK MASK magazine—I can’t resist.

BOB: I know you’re familiar with both the early pre-World War II pulp magazines and the post-WWII men’s pulp adventure magazines. What are some of the connections you see between those two genres?

PAUL: I believe their heart beats with the same blood. The men’s adventure magazines were simply the pulps reinventing themselves for a new generation. Then the pulps and the men’s adventure magazines both reinvented themselves again as the men’s adventure series paperbacks—The Executioner, The Destroyer, The Penetrator, and their virtually uncountable clones. Today, with the advent of e-books, those types of lean, mean, muscular stories have had another rebirth showing there is still a hungry market for the wonderful mix of violence, sex, and more violence.

Paul Bishop post about Robert F DorrNone of this means these stories are disposable or of no value. They do what good writing is supposed to do—entertain. Coupled with the cover art, they speak directly to the American experience, frustrations, and vicarious desire for action.

BOB: I’m honored by the fact you’ve read the books in our Men’s Adventure Library series and interviewed us about them for your blog. Of the many writers and artists we feature in the stories in our books, do you have any special favorites?

PAUL: As you know, through the Men’s Adventure Library anthology A HANDFUL OF HELL, I became friends with Robert F. Dorr during the last eighteen months of his life and did an interview with him for my blog. I was moved and impressed by Bob’s courage, spirit, and attitude toward his work and life. He epitomized the characters he wrote about—brave, bold, and outspoken. He was a writer’s writer—writing every day to the end. He was a man I was grateful to know and call my friend.

When it comes to illustrators, Mort Künstler always takes my breath away, while Norm Eastman is a very close second. And, of course, my favorite models are Eva Lynd and Steve Holland.

BOB: Recently, you helped establish a great new Facebook group about “Men’s Adventure Paperbacks of the 70s & 80s.” Tell me more about how the group was started and the types of books it focuses on.

PAUL: Starting in the late ‘60s, paperback originals began to dominate the spinner racks in drug stores and markets. Some paperbacks continued to be reprints of hardcover fiction, but low brow publishers such as Monarch, Manor, Tower, Belmont and Pinnacle churned out paperback originals which were direct descendants of the pulp magazine ethos—lurid covers splashed with garish colors and killer tag lines designed to trigger impulse buying. Between the covers were stories filled with harsh, raw, writing featuring lots of violence and sex—the two great American guarantees of sales.

Fawcett’s Gold Medal imprint became the standard by which all paperback originals were judged. They were the proving ground for a generation of now venerated writers. However, when Pinnacle published Don Pendleton’s WAR AGAINST THE MAFIA—the first in the The Executioner/Mack Bolan series—the whole game changed and men’s adventure series became virtually an overnight sensation.

Fight Card seriesThe success of The Executioner caused the world of the paperback original to explode with similar series...The Destroyer, The Penetrator, The Expeditor, The Death Merchant, The Butcher, The Lone Wolf, The Handyman, The Sharpshooter, The Marksman, ad infinitum...These were almost all monthly series featuring vigilantes usually taking on the mob, but any bad guy organization with a lot of disposable goons would do.

These books paved the way for other men’s adventure series featuring soldier of fortune, mercenaries, and over the top secret agents who would all accept missions too dirty and too difficult for any governmental organization forced to play by the rules—deniability was key. Death and destruction...and sex...followed.

BOB: I’ve noticed you’ve been featuring a lot of Westerns in that group lately, too.

PAUL: Yes. Similar series were spawned in the western genre. The Edge series by George G. Gilman (pseudonym for Terry Harkness) led the charge to take the traditional western oater into a new recidivist version soaked in blood, visceral carnage, and bullets.

Edge was the first series written by a loose knit group of British writers who would become known as the Piccadilly Cowboys—since they had never been west of Piccadilly in London’s West End, yet wrote an abundant of ultra-violent western series: Bodie The Stalker, Hart The Regulator, Breed, Apache, Jubal Cade, and a ton of others. American western writers quickly followed: The Gunsmith, Slocum, Longarm, Lone Star, Trailsman, ad infinitum again...

Those of us whose teen years were irrevocably warped and scarred by overdosing on these series, retain an unreasonable fondness and attachment to these books. Finding out about the authors who hid behind the many pseudonyms is ridiculously important to us. Collecting full runs of these books in their various editions and in decent condition is an obsession.

Men's Adventure Paperbacks Facebook GroupThe Men’s Adventure Paperback Series of the 70s and 80s group on Facebook has become the in place for all us niche misfits to gather (2,000 members and growing) and genially discuss the various aspects of what the world mostly considers trash fiction. I have to say it has been a wonderful group to hang out with in the virtual world. The knowledge base is amazing and freely shared. Books are often traded, or even sent free to other members.

BOB: How does that work?

PAUL: A member will sometimes start a box of twenty action novels, westerns, or another specific genre rotating through ten to fifteen other members who have signed up. When a member receives a box, he takes out the books he wants, replaces them with other good stuff and sends it on. The box eventually makes its way back to the originator—usually with many more books than it started with—and a new round is begun. All of this has been stress free, informative, and congenial fun—the complete opposite of many of the horribly rancorous groups spawned by social networks.

BOB: Seeing posts by you and other members of that group made me more aware of the many connections between the vintage men’s adventure novels and men’s adventure magazines. Have you become more aware of those connections yourself as you’ve done your posts?

PAUL: Absolutely. The line between the two is tissue thin. Fans of either category—magazines or paperbacks—can find much to like in both genres. Most fans of one should be fans of the other. However, while both genre fans love the cover art and the stories, I theorize those who are men’s adventure magazine fans are slightly on the side of the cover art, and fans of the men’s adventure paperbacks are more on the side of the stories.

Paul Bishop writer & speakerBOB: Who are some of your favorite writers and covers artists in the realms of men’s adventure paperbacks?

PAUL: Don Pendleton and Warren Murphy are the King and Czar of the men’s adventure paperback genre. John Benteen, author of both the Fargo and Sundance series, is my answer to anything having to do with paperback westerns. However, there are a lot of other writers who also get my attention, such as Peter McCurtain, Donald Hamilton (Matt Helm rules), Edward S. Aarons, Alan Caillou and Marvin Albert.

Then there are the contemporary guys, many of whom are friends—Steve Mertz, James Reasoner, Bill Crider, the late Ed Gorman, Len Levinson, Robert Randisi, and a bunch of guys who are gonna be pissed because I left them off this short list.

Other western writers I dig include, Frank O’Rourke, Frank Gruber, Louis L’Amour, Brian Garfield, Luke Short, Frank Bonham and Jack Bickham. I also have to mention two of my favorite western series—Buchanan and Lassiter—written by many different typewriter slaves under a shared pseudonym.

Robert McGinnis is by far my favorite paperback illustrator—I’ll collect anything if it has a McGinnis cover. If I had the sway to get him to do a cover for one of my books, I would die a happy man. Gil Cohen and Frank McCarthy are also on my list, but I’m also drawn to much of the uncredited art on western paperbacks from the ‘70s.

BOB: You often write about the art of writing on your personal blog and recently you became a founding contributor for the new website BIBLIORATI, which is subtitled “For Readers and Those Who Write for Them.” Tell me about that site and who’s involved.

Paul Bishop post on Bibliorati blogPAUL: My good friend Tommy Hancock got a wild notion, as he often does, that he could produce a daily magazine style blog with regular columnists, honest book reviews, and industry insight along with publishing and genre news—and do it better than other similar webzines. A bunch of hard work later and I believe he’s accomplished what he set out to do.

Bibliorati has room to grow and will extend its reach every day and every week. I enjoy being part of that growth, having a place to channel my musings about the eclectic things I find interesting—hopefully, others will as well.

BOB: Your most recent novel, LIE CATCHERS, which I loved, is a different kind of police detective novel. It involves some characters with special abilities, a sort of enhanced form of empathy that helps them tell whether people are lying and solve crimes. Is there a real basis for that?

PAUL: The short answer is everything the interrogators do in LIE CATCHERS, I’ve done—for better or worse. I am a nationally recognized interrogator and teach interrogation to law enforcement officers and detectives nationwide. When I realized most of the experienced detectives were unaware of proper and successful techniques, I realized my readers wouldn’t know about them either. It gave me my own niche within the police procedural genre. With LIE CATCHERS, I set out to write a book as close as possible to how interrogation really works within a fictional setting—which is unlike anything you’ve read before or seen on TV.

BOB: LIE CATCHERS has had a very warm reception. It has more than eighty 5-star reviews on Amazon, which is extraordinary. Are you planning a sequel?

PAUL: Yes. The sequel ADMIT NOTHING will be published in the latter part of 2017. Two further sequels, DENY EVERYTHING and DEMAND PROOF are planned.

BOB: I look forward to reading those. I loved LIE CATCHERS, as my own 5-star review of it on Amazon says. What else can we look forward to from Paul Bishop in 2017?

Paul Bishop - writerPAUL: I have a special project I'm very excited about that will be announced as soon as the ink is dry on the contract. I’m also working with my friend, Scott Harris, on a series of entertaining semi-reference books, 52 WEEKS 52 WESTERNS, 52 WEEKS 52 WESTERN MOVIES and 52 WEEKS 52 WESTERN TV SHOWS. We’re having a blast putting these together and writing all the entries (with the help of a bunch of guest contributors) and look forward to them being published in late 2017 and early 2018.

As usual, I’ll also be doing various speaking engagements and seminars, some for law enforcement officials and some for writers, like the 2017 Writers’ Police Academy. [Scheduled for August 10-17 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.]

BOB: Thanks, Paul. And thanks again for writing a great Afterword for our book BARBARIANS ON BIKES. You tell a gripping story in it about an encounter you once had with a Hells Angel biker. In closing, could you tell me another anecdote about your experiences with outlaw motorcycle club members during your time with the Los Angeles Police Department?

PAUL: There was one instance when I arrested an outlaw biker after he’d been involved in a fight at a local bucket of blood bar—a term applied generically to any hangout frequented by tough guys. He was relatively cooperative, so I allowed him to supervise how the tow truck driver hooked up his hog for transport to the impound lot. However, by the time we were in the booking cage, his attitude had changed and he became a belligerent, combative, butt-hair.

There was a scuffle and the fight was on. Once the jailers and my partner jumped in, the fray didn’t last long, but I ended up with a tear in a brand new pair of uniform pants. I had my revenge by taking the suspect’s colors to the dry cleaners to be washed and starched to the point of rigidity. When the biker bailed out, I presented his beautifully clean and sweet smelling Levi vest back to him on a hanger in a dry cleaners plastic bag. He almost cried. The last I saw of him, he was throwing his colors into the street outside the station again and again, letting them get run over by cars and busses in an effort to make them wearable again.

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Recommended reading…

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Leopard Men Ripped Their Flesh! (Updated)

Man's Magazine, Oct 1955, Cover by Frank Cozzarelli WM2
“Leopard Men” — vicious killers wearing leopard skins and gloves fitted with metal claws — have been featured in stories, books and movies since the 1930s.

Their first big splash in pulp fiction was in the Edgar Rice Burroughs’ novel TARZAN AND THE LEOPARD MEN.

It was initially serialized in BLUE BOOK magazine in 1932.

BLUE BOOK was one of the most influential and long-running pulp magazines.

In 1960, as the traditional pulp magazine market faded away, it morphed into the men’s adventure magazine BLUEBOOK FOR MEN.

TARZAN AND THE LEOPARD MEN was first published as a book in 1935, with a magnificent wraparound cover painting by J. Allen St. John.

In the late ‘30s and the 1940s, Leopard Men showed up in other vintage pulp fiction magazines and novels, as well as in comic books and films.

During the 1950s and 1960s, stories about Leopard Men — and Leopard Women — were fairly common in men’s adventure magazines.

Some were fiction yarns. Some were portrayed as true stories.

Popular Science, Aug 1943 Leopard Men articleEither way, like the earlier pulp stories and movies about Leopard Men, they were all based partially on fact.

Because at one time there really were Leopard Men in Africa.

For background on those real life Leopard Men, watch the video about them on the Discovery Channel, or read the article about the Anioto Leopard Men of the Belgian Congo or this account of Leopard Men in Liberia.

There’s also a classic history book about the Leopard Men cult, titled THE MAN-LEOPARD MURDERS: HISTORY AND SOCIETY IN COLONIAL NIGERIA.

The Leopard Men were members of an African religious sect referred to as The Leopard Society. And, they were pretty damn scary.

They actually did dress in leopard costumes and use gloves with iron or steel claws to slash and kill their victims.

They were also into ritual sacrifice and cannibalism. They drank the blood of people they killed and ate their flesh and internal organs.

The traditional victims of the Leopard Society were other tribal members. In addition to having religious purposes, ritual murders by Leopard Men were a way of punishing violators of tribal law and taking revenge on enemies.

Some accounts suggest the Leopard Society was also a bit like an African version of the Mafia, since their members used murder and terror to gain power and wealth.

During the latter decades of the colonial era, they were also portrayed as “terrorists” who targeted white colonial officials and settlers for murder, along with natives who cooperated with them.

One of my favorite “true” stories about Leopard Men in a men’s pulp adventure mag is in the October 1955 issue of MAN’S MAGAZINE.

TARZAN & THE LEOPARD MEN, J. Allen St. John artMan's Magazine, Oct 1955, Leopard Men story WM

It’s titled “Leopard Men! Africa’s Greatest Terror.”

The cover of that issue features a painting by the talented magazine and paperback cover artist Frank Cozzarelli, showing a Leopard Man sneaking up on a white hunter.

The story itself, written by Murray T. Pringle, is illustrated with photos inside.

Pringle wrote stories for a number of men’s adventure magazines during the 1950s and 1960s.

He also wrote for some of the last of the pulp magazines in the ‘50s, such as TEXAS RANGERS and RANCH ROMANCES. In the ‘60s, his stories appeared fairly regularly in BOY’S LIFE.

Pringle’s Leopard Men story for MAN’S MAGAZINE was printed at a time when Kenya’s bloody Mau Mau uprising was generating a lot of international attention and fear. So, the subject of African “terrorists” was timely.

The Leopard Man 1943 posterDiscovery Channel, Leopard Men Rampage

Of course, like many “true adventure” stories in men’s pulp magazines, much of Pringle’s story is either highly embellished or outright fiction.

But one thing is certain. The story grabs your attention right in the first few paragraphs, by describing this horrific scene:

     “THE HUNTER knew there was something dead in the grove just ahead. The smell of death and decay hung fetidly in the heat-charged air of the Belgian Congo. The horrible stench grew stronger as he approached the trees.
     He entered the grove, took one long, incredulous look, then leaned weakly against a tree and vomited.
     Scattered about the grove were the bodies of four natives who had been subjected to the most savage acts imaginable. All four victims had been disemboweled, their throats slashed to ribbons, their eyes torn from their heads and their sex organs clawed from their bones.”

An opening like that certainly made me want to keep reading.

If you’d like to read the entire story, click this link to download it in PDF format. (You’re welcome.)

I’ll be doing more posts about Leopard Men and Leopard women in the future, since I regularly run across stories about them as I read through issues in my ever-growing collection of men’s adventure magazines. (Which now exceeds 5,000 issues.)

Here are scans of the two-page spreads for a couple I found recently. The one on the left is from MAN'S LIFE, July 1957 and features an early men’s adventure mag illustration by Vic Prezio. who went on to do hundreds more.

The other, from TRUE ADVENTURES, October 1961, is by artist Bruce Minney.

MAN'S LIFE July 1957. Leopard men art by Vic Prezio WM2TRUE ADVENTURES, Oct 1961, art by Bruce Minney

I had the honor of doing an interview with Bruce in 2011, two years before he passed away. I also posted excerpts from the great book about him BRUCE MINNEY: THE MAN WHO PAINTED EVERYTHING, by his son-in-law Tom Ziegler. That’s one of the must have books for fans of men’s adventure magazines.

Coming up: more Leopard Men — and Leopard Women…

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

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Related and recommended reading…

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

R.I.P. Walter Kaylin ... One of the greats.

R.I.P. Walter Kaylin 1921-2017
On February 15, 2017, the great men’s adventure magazine writer Walter Kaylin passed away at age 95.

In the days since then, I’ve been thinking about him a lot and rereading some of my favorite Walter Kaylin stories.

My publishing partner Wyatt Doyle and I included two Kaylin stories in the first book in our “Men’s Adventure Library” series, WEASELS RIPPED MY FLESH!

That book features stories and interviews by a number of notable writers who once wrote for men’s adventure magazines, including Lawrence Block, Jane Dolinger, Robert F. Dorr, Harlan Ellison, Bruce Jay Friedman, Ken Krippene, Mario Puzo, Robert Silverberg and Walter Wager.

When Wyatt and I started discussing a follow-up to WEASELS, we both agreed we wanted to do an anthology fully dedicated to stories written by Walter Kaylin.

That idea became the second book in our series, HE-MEN, BAG MEN & NYMPHOS.

Rereading Walter’s stories reminded me again why is considered one of the best and most imaginative writers in the realm of men’s pulp adventure by people who know his work.

In WEASELS, we reprinted a reminiscence that novelist, playwright and screenwriter Bruce Jay Friedman wrote about his pre-fame years in the mid-1950s and early 1960s; the years when he worked as an editor for the classic men’s adventure magazines published by Martin Goodman’s Magazine Management company (ACTION FOR MEN, FOR MEN ONLY, MALE, MEN, MAN’S WORLD, STAG, TRUE ACTION, etc.).

Bruce’s article about his time at Magazine Management is a seminal piece of men’s adventure magazine history, titled “Even the Rhinos Were Nymphos.”

It initially appeared in the October 9, 1975 issue of ROLLING STONE magazine.

It was later used in Bruce’s autobiographical book EVEN THE RHINOS WERE NYMPHOS, published in 2001.

It was then reprinted in the first book to provide an illustrated history of the men’s adventure magazine genre, IT’S A MAN’S WORLD. (The second is MEN’S ADVENTURE MAGAZINES IN POSTWAR AMERICA, first published in 2004.)

With Bruce’s permission, we included his “Rhinos” article in WEASELS RIPPED MY FLESH!, the first modern anthology of classic men’s adventure magazine stories.

In that piece, Bruce raved about stories written by the man he called “the great Walter Kaylin.”

Walter was one of the talented band of literary “Mad Men” Bruce hired to be Associate Editors and regular writers for those magazines during his tenure at Magazine Management, from 1955 to 1966.

Another was Mario Puzo, who went on to world-wide success as author of THE GODFATHER. (Side note: a beautifully-illustrated “Book Bonus” version of THE GODFATHER was published in the August 1969 issue of the Mag Management magazine MALE.)

Mario Puzo quote about Walter KaylinpulpsteradFINALRGB

In an interview Bruce’s son writer/musician Josh Alan Friedman did with Puzo in 1984 (also reprinted in our WEASELS anthology), Puzo expressed his own admiration for Kaylin.

“He was great!,” Puzo told Josh. “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!”

01A - MEN, June 1956 - Walter Kaylin, art Don Neiser02 - TRUE ACTION - 1959 07 July - Walter Kaylin, art George Eisenberg

Another Mag Management staffer Josh interviewed was Mel Shestack. Shestack went on to, among other things, a prestigious position as editor of the SATURDAY EVENING POST.

In the interview, Shestack told Josh something he’d said to writer Hannah Arendt about Kaylin. (Arendt is the renowned philosopher and political writer best known for her coverage of the war crimes trial of Nazi Adolf Eichmann, in which she coined the phrase “the banality of evil.”)

“The very first day at the POST,” Shestack recalled, “I edited a piece by John O’Hara and Hannah Arendt. She said, ‘Come on, vat are you doink?’ “I said, ‘You’re okay Arendt, but you’re no Walter Kaylin.’”

About eight years ago, as I got increasingly serious about collecting and writing about men’s adventure magazines, I contacted both Bruce Jay Friedman and Josh Alan to see if they knew how to get in touch with Walter Kaylin.

They didn’t. They weren’t sure Walter was still alive.

08 - MALE, April 1962, Walter Kaylin, Walter Popp art05 - MEN, Sept 1959, Walter Kaylin, art by Joe Little

But Josh had contact info for Walter’s daughter Lucy Kaylin. They were both involved in the current magazine world, Josh as a writer of articles for various magazines and Lucy as an editor of high end women’s magazines. (She’s currently Editor in Chief of O, THE OPRAH MAGAZINE).

Thanks to Josh, I got in touch with Lucy. She told me Walter was indeed still alive and gave me his phone number. I was so excited I think I called him that same day.

When I first talked with Walter, he was 89 years old and living with his beloved wife Peggy in Old Lyme, Connecticut.

Walter Kaylin and wife Peggy c 2009He was very warm and friendly toward me from the start. I barraged him with all kinds of questions about his time as a writer for Magazine Management, which spanned two decades, from the mid-1950s to the mid-1970s. He graciously answered them as best he could, given how hard it is for anyone to recall details from 40 to 60 years in the past.

Walter seemed surprised that his men’s adventure mag stories were still fondly remembered.

“It surprises me because it’s so long ago,” he told me in the first in-depth phone interview I did with him. “I used to write them pretty fast. Not as fast as someone like Mario [Puzo]. Mario was a speed demon. But I would write at a good pace and I was having a good time. I was very fond back then and continue to be fond of adventure stories.”

During the course of several conversations, I made a deal with Walter to buy the rights to reprint two of his stories in the WEASELS anthology and a special collection of his men’s adventure magazine stories that became HE-MEN, BAG MEN & NYMPHOS.

In addition to collecting 15 great stories by Walter, the HE-MEN includes an introduction by Walter’s daughters Lucy and Jennifer, transcriptions of my phone interviews with Walter and an exclusive interview about Walter with Bruce Jay Friedman.

Like Robert F. Dorr, whose work we featured in the anthology A HANDFUL OF HELL, Walter wrote hundreds of stories for the Magazine Management men’s adventure mags.

Like Dorr, his stories appeared in all of the top Magazine Management mags and he wrote almost every type of story they featured.

Walter wrote noir-style yarns, like “SNOW-JOB FROM A REDHEAD” (MEN, June 1956) and rip-snorting Westerns, like “THE CRUEL GUN BROTHERS” (TRUE ACTION, July 1959).

He was a grandmaster of violent exotic adventure and war fiction; stories like “THE NYMPH WHO LEADS AN AFRICAN DEATH ARMY” (MEN, October 1960), “THE YANK WHO SURVIVED THE 300-MILE DEATH TREK FROM STALINGRAD” (MALE, April 1962), “THE BLACK LACE BLONDE, THE YANK JUNGLE FIGHTER AND THE CHICOM PLOT TO GRAB THE MID-PACIFIC” (MEN, July 1966) and “SURF PACK ASSASSINS” (MALE, August 1967).

05 - MEN, Sept 1959. Walter Kaylin, art by James Bama10 - MEN, Oct 1964, art by Gil Cohen for Walter Kaylin story11 - Mort Kunstler art Walter Kaylin story MALE Jan 1966

Walter was also a master at stories that sounded – and were portrayed as – true, but which were total creations of his fertile mind, such as “DETECTIVE WILLIAM CLIVE: IS HE THE REAL JAMES BOND?” (MALE, January 1966), “MY BLOODY LIFE AS A MAFIA BAG MAN” (FOR MEN ONLY, August 1974) and “THE STEWARDESS ‘CALL GIRL SLAVE’ RING” (FOR MEN ONLY, December 1971).

Walter told me loved reading newspapers and doing historical research. That’s reflected in the fact that he also wrote many fact-based stories about current issues, like “THE ARMY’S TERRIFYING DEATH BUGS AND LOONY GAS” (MEN, November 1960) and stories based on historical events, like “108-HOUR MID-OCEAN ORDEAL...500 DEAD...300 STILL AFLOAT” (STAG, May 1963.)

The “MID-OCEAN ORDEAL” story is about the USS Indianapolis. If you’re a fan of the movie JAWS, or the Discovery Channel’s “Shark Week” specials, you probably know that ill-fated ship’s name.

It was an American Navy cruiser sunk by a Japanese sub’s torpedoes in 1945, after delivering parts for the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

During a well-known scene in JAWS, Quint the shark hunter, played by Robert Shaw, reveals that he was a crew member on the Indianapolis. He gives a grim, terse account of what happened to the crew after the ship sank.

“Eleven hundred men went into the water, 316 men come out,” Shaw says somberly. “The sharks took the rest.”

09 - STAG, May 1963, Mort Kunstler art for Walter Kaylin storyFOR MEN ONLY, Dec 1971, Walter Kaylin stewardess story

Amazingly, Walter Kaylin could even write humorous pieces, like “THEY CALL HIM FATHER ITALY” (FOR MEN ONLY, March 1975) and science fiction, like “MEET OUR TERMS OR WE DESTROY 500 MILLION PEOPLE” (MEN, October 1964).

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

More than a hundred were credited to a pseudonym Bruce Jay Friedman gave him: Roland Empey.

Some of the men’s adventure stories Walter wrote were credited to a third pen name, David Mars, which was typically used for his news-style stories and exposés, like “THE DEATH BUGS” piece.

07 - MEN, Nov 1960 - Walter Kaylin story as David MarsFOR MEN ONLY, March 1975, Walter Kaylin story, Earl Norem art

Walter needed the pseudonyms because he was so prolific — and so good — that it was common for two of his stories to appear in the same issue of a men’s adventure magazine, credited under two different names.

That way the editors could make even more use of Walter’s incredible output and boundless imagination, without readers ever knowing their favorite writer Walter Kaylin was also their favorite writers Roland Empey and David Mars.

Sometimes, stories by Walter would appear in two different Magazine Management men’s adventure magazines published in the same month.

For example, our HE-MEN, BAG MEN & NYMPHOS anthology includes a story that Bruce Jay Friedman’s said was his favorite yarn by Walter: “EMPEROR BLAINE OF ‘SWEET WOMAN’ REEF” from the September 1959 of MALE

03 - KAYLIN - MALE, Sept 1959 Walter Kaylin, art by Gil Cohen04 - MALE, Sept 1959. Al Rossi art for Walter Kaylin story

HE-MEN also includes another Kaylin story from MALE, September 1959 credited under his pen name Roland Empey: “THE TERRIBLE REWARD OF ‘FAR EAST HARRY’ WAX” – as well as a third Kaylin story that appeared that same month in the September 1959 issue of MEN, “THE HELICOPTER HERO AND THE 100 LADIES OF ‘UNDRESS’ ATOLL”.

Like Mario Puzo, Walter also served as an Associate Editor at Magazine Management for a while. In that capacity he helped brainstorm story ideas and titles, edited other writers’ stories, wrote cover headlines, teaser subheads and captions for artwork and photos, and proofread galley copies of the magazines. In the fall of 1957, he was drafted to be the chief editor of a little-known, short-lived, digest-size men’s adventure magazine titled BRAVE. (Walter didn’t recall BRAVE until I reminded him of it and described it to him.)

An additional cool aspect of the men’s adventure stories Walter wrote is that most feature artwork by the top illustration artists who worked for Magazine Management, such as James Bama, Gil Cohen, George Eisenberg, Mort Kunstler, Joe Little, Bruce Minney, Don Neiser, Earl Norem, Walter Popp, Al Rossi and Robert E. “Bob” Schulz.

10 - MEN, Oct 1964. Earl Norem art for Walter Kaylin story14 - FOR MEN ONLY, Aug 1974, Walter Kaylin story, Samson Pollen art

Looking back through all of these great stories helped cheer me up after the news of Walter’s death.

So did rereading the article about Walter that was printed in his local newspaper, the NEW HAVEN REGISTER, when the book was published. In that story, when the reporter asked him how it felt to be rediscovered, he said: “I was immensely pleased…It means a lot to me.”

It also helped that when Lucy Kaylin called to let me know Walter had passed she also told how pleased and proud Walter was by our publication of the HE-MEN, BAG MEN & NYMPHOS anthology. She said it was one of the best things that happened to him in his final years.

That was great to hear, since knowing Walter and having the opportunity to reprint some of his classic stories is one of the best things that has happened to me as a men’s adventure magazine collector and publisher.

06 - MEN, Oct 1960. Walter Kaylin, art by Bob Schulz12 - MEN, July 1966. Walter Kaylin story, Gil Cohen art

All of the scans shown in this post are Walter Kaylin stories from our HE-MEN anthology or the WEASELS book.

With the permission of Lucy and Jennifer Kaylin, there will be more Walter Kaylin stories in future books in our Men’s Adventure Library series.

I’m even thinking about reprinting my favorite of the two novels Walter wrote: ANOTHER TIME, ANOTHER WOMAN, published in 1963. It’s a wild tale involving a jazz musician, a femme fatale, a murder and a strange religious cult. (Walter’s other novel, THE POWER FORWARD, published in 1979, is about a black basketball player.)

R.I.P., Walter.

You were one of the greats.

13 - MALE, Aug 1967, Walter Kaylin story, Earl Norem artRIP Walter Kaylin

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