About 20 years ago, I was listening to a CD reissue of Frank Zappa’s WEASELS RIPPED MY FLESH album.
It sparked a flashback to the day in 1970 when I bought the album on vinyl.
I remembered thinking the LP’s gonzo title was a hoot. And, I loved the bizarre cover art – a retro-style cartoon, painted by artist Neon Park.
It shows a vacantly smiling square guy shaving with an, um, electric weasel. The weasel’s teeth are making a bloody gouge in his cheek. Wild!
As I listened to the CD, I decided to search the Web to find some background on the original album.
What I found caused a domino effect that sucked me into the realm of men’s adventure magazines published in the 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s – sometimes called men’s pulp magazines or “men’s sweat magazines.”
From various websites, I learned that Zappa got his album title from a story in one of those magazines – the September 1956 issue of MAN’S LIFE.
I found a picture of that issue’s cover online.
It features an incredible painted illustration that’s even more bizarre than the album artwork.
The MAN’S LIFE cover painting (which I later learned was done by one of the great illustration artists who worked for the genre, Wil Hulsey) shows a bare-chested, bleeding, manly man waist-deep in churning water, desperately fighting off a horde of attacking weasels!
And, there in the lower right hand corner is the classic headline for the cover story inside: “WEASELS RIPPED MY FLESH!”
I tracked down a copy of the magazine and read it.
It was not what I expected.
It’s a dark, noirish story that is as amazingly wild and cool as Wil Hulsey’s cover painting.
I was hooked. I started buying more and more men’s adventure magazines through eBay and other sources. (I now have more than 5,000 issues, which I estimate to be nearly 90% of those that were published.)
To learn more about MAMs, I read what were the two most authoritative books about the genre at the time:
● IT’S A MAN’S WORLD: MEN’S ADVENTURE MAGAZINES, THE POSTWAR PULPS by Adam Parfrey; and ● MEN’S ADVENTURE MAGAZINES: IN POSTWAR AMERICA by Max Allan Collins and George Hagenauer (which features the awesome collection of magazines and original artwork owned by Rich Oberg).
I also started searching for blogs or websites dedicated to discussions of the men’s postwar pulp magazines.
I did find scattered posts about men’s adventure magazines on a number of blogs and websites.
I found men’s adventure magazine cover scans on various types of sites.
I also found blogs that focus on the history of related but different genres, like the earlier pulp fiction magazines that ran from the 1920s to the early 1950s and the men’s “girlie” or bachelor magazines of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.
What I didn’t find was what I really wanted – a site that focuses on the post-WWII men’s adventure magazines and the various aspects of the genre: the covers, the artists and writers, the pulp-fiction style stories and “true” non-fiction articles (which tend to severely bend the meaning of the word “true”), the vintage ads, and the other interesting and amusing things those magazines tell us about the men, women, history and culture of the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s.
I couldn’t find any site like that. So, in 2009, I decided to create one myself. You’re reading it now: MensPulpMags.com.
A couple years later, I created the Men’s Adventure Magazines Facebook Group, which now has thousands of embers from around the world.
In 2012, I decided to put together a book collecting some of my favorite men’s adventure magazine stories.
Naturally, I titled it WEASELS RIPPED MY FLESH! (For an in-depth preview, see our flip-page preview on ISSUU.com at this link –> https://issuu.com/newtexture/docs/weasels_preview/.
My co-editors on the WEASELS anthology were writer/publisher Wyatt Doyle, head of New Texture, and writer/musician Josh Alan Friedman, whose father Bruce Jay Friedman was an editor of men’s adventure magazines before he became a world-famous novelist, playwright and screenwriter.
That book includes the original MAN’S LIFE story about flesh-ripping weasels and many other wild stories by notable writers who once wrote for men’s adventure magazines, such as Bruce, Lawrence Block, Jane Dolinger, Harlan Ellison, Walter Kaylin, Ken Krippene, Robert Silverberg and Walter Wager.
Our WEASELS RIPPED MY FLESH! anthology is illustrated with the covers and interior artwork that were used for the stories.
Its success has since led Wyatt Doyle and I to publish a series of books that feature classic men’s adventure magazine stories and artwork.
There are currently 13 books in the series, which we call the Men’s Adventure Library, and more coming. Our most recent books are lushly illustrated in full color and available on Amazon worldwide. We have many more planned in the years ahead.
More recently, I also launched a magazine featuring men’s adventure stories and artwork with Bill Cunningham, the head of Pulp 2.0 Press. It’s called the MEN’S ADVENTURE QUARTERLY and is available via Amazon worldwide or the online bookstore linked to this blog.
So, thanks to Frank Zappa for getting me hooked on men’s adventure magazines.
I’m having a great time collecting, writing and publishing books and magazines about them.
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