In my previous post on this blog, I provided a look at eleven of the stories in new book ATOMIC WEREWOLVES AND MAN-EATING PLANTS: WHEN MEN’S ADVENTURE MAGAZINES GOT WEIRD, the 18th book in the Men’s Adventure Library series I co-edit with Wyatt Doyle.
Mike is an expert on pre-WWII pulp magazines and an organizer pf the annual PulpFest convention held in Pittsburgh, which Wyatt and I like to attend. (See the posts at this link to see some of the presentations we’ve done there.)
Mike also has an online bookstore, Michael Chomko Books, and is one of the few indie booksellers who carries all of our Men’s Adventure Library books, as well as copies of the MEN’S ADVENTURE QUARTERLY magazine I co-edit with Bill Cunningham. Stefan Dziemianowicz is a world-renowned expert on science fiction literature and editor of a long list of sci fi anthologies. It’s an honor to have had him and Mike contribute commentary to ATOMIC WEREWOLVES.
This post provides a look at the rest of the stories in that anthology of vintage men’s adventure magazine stories and artwork featuring monsters, aliens, robots, and ghosts and other such supernatural stuff. As shown, the book reprints the cover of the MAM issue each story comes from and the interior illustrations originally used for it.
The twelfth story in ATOMIC WEREWOLVES is “Her Body Belonged to the Devil.” That one comes from the December 1961 issue of an obscure, short-lived men’s adventure magazine titled MAN’S LOOK. It’s one those faux “true story” tales told in the first person that MAMs often published. This one purports to be a first-hand account of a Black Mass.
The cover art for MAN’S LOOK, December 1961, is also pretty wild, with it’s image of an Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS style Nazi femme fatale whipping an American prisoner of war. The artist was the great Jay Scott Pike, who is best known for his comic book and pinup artwork, but who also did many cover and interior illustrations for MAMs and other magazines.
“Their Bodies Glowed With Fire” from PERIL, December 1961 is another supposedly true, supposedly first hand story, but it differs in from most typical MAM fare. It’s credited to an American Indian named Joe Rainwater. One night, while camping alone in a remote area, Joe is shocked to see a UFO land. He’s even more shocked when from it walks a gorgeous, human-like female alien. You can probably guess part of what happens next, since this is a men’s adventure mag. But the, er, other climax of the story is a bit more surprising. (By the way, I love John Duillo‘s cover art for that issue of PERIL so much, I added the cover to my CafePress store so it could be used for t-shirts, coffee mugs and other swag.)
The next story was written by Theodore Sturgeon, one of the great writers of science fiction and fantasy stories and novels. Most of his short stories were in science fiction pulp mags. “The Blonde with the Mysterious Body” from MEN, April 1962, is a reprint of Sturgeon’s story “The Other Celia,” which first appeared in the March 1957 issue of GALAXY. It’s a creepy tale involving male voyeur and a beautiful, though very strange woman. The story takes an unexpected turn when the voyeur ends up seeing much more than he ever anticipated. It’s a favorite story of many Sturgeon fans for good reason.
“Fowl Play,” reprinted from ESCAPE TO ADVENTURE, May 1962, has a lot of weirdness going for it. First, there’s the artwork by Sydney “Syd” Shores. Shores is best known for his comic book art, but he also did many cover and interior illustrations for various MAMs. It’s one of the strangest paintings to ever grace a MAM cover (which is really saying something). Is it showing some kind of voodoo ceremony? A sex rite? Is it a nightmare? You’ll have to read it to find out. But I will tell you that the story is as weird as the illo suggests.
Like “Island of Doom,” one of the earlier stories in ATOMIC WEREWOLVES, the “Strange Cult of the Vampire Tarantulas” is part of a long MAM lineage: tales of explorers, treasure hunters, and adventurers who venture into uncharted territory and are confronted with greater and more terrible dangers than they could have ever predicted. In this case, it’s giant tarantulas that were not born as giant tarantulas. The story has DNA from both old-fashioned adventure fiction and Grade-B monster movies.
“Soft Nudes for the Nazis’ Doktor Horror” from MAN’S STORY, September 1964, takes the demented doctor trope into the lurid “sweat mag” zone. The term “sweat mags,” initially used to describe MAMs by people who disparaged them, has been embraced by MAM fans, though they often use it to describe the whole genre. We tend to use that term only for a subset of MAMs; the wildest low-budget titles that regularly featured cover art and stories featuring Nazis, bikers, and other very bad guys tormenting scantily-clad women. “Soft Nudes for the Nazis’ Doktor Horror” is a truly bizarre variation—sort of Dr.-Moreau-meets-Dr. Mengele.
The model for the hapless babe about to get her arm cut off in Norm Eastman’s artwork the story was our friend Eva Lynd, who is still alive and well. From the late 1950s to the late 1970s, Eva was a MAM and paperback cover model, a top pinup photo model, and actress. Her career is chronicled in our lushly illustrated Men’s Adventure Library book EVA: MEN’S ADVENTURE SUPERMODEL.
“Stone Age Lust—Today” comes from MAN’S DARING, July 1965, one of several sweat-style MAMs launched by CRACKED magazine publisher Robert Sproul. The story purports to be recounted by its main character, a British archeologist who has a sexy female co-worker. (Natch!) They end up being kidnapped by modern day Druids, who torture them both and plan to use her for a dark ceremony. The cool artwork by John Duillo vividly captures the threat she faces.
“Killer of the Cave,” from the April 1966 issue of the pulp-turned-MAM ADVENTURE has contributions from two luminaries. It’s credited to Gene Preen, one of many pseudonyms used by Gil Paust, an editor for MECHANIX ILLUSTRATED, ARGOSY, and ADVENTURE, and a prolific writer of short stories. Paust also wrote scripts for THE UNFORESEEN, a TWILIGHT ZONE style Canadian TV series that ran from 1958 to 1960. The artwork was done by the late, great Basil Gogos. Gogos is, of course, widely known for his monster artwork, especially his cover paintings for the Warren magazines FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND, EERIE and CREEPY. However, as discussed in the interview I did with Basil before he passed away in 2017, he also did many cover paintings and interior illustrations for MAMs.
We loved his illustration for “Killer of the Cave” so much we used it for the cover of the hardcover edition of book ATOMIC WEREWOLVES AND MAN-EATING PLANTS. And, that story, in which the eponymous killer is slaughtering people who survived a nuclear war that wiped out most of humanity, inspired the first part of the title.
Like most of the books in our Men’s Adventure Library series, the hardcover edition of this ATOMIC WEREWOLVES AND MAN-EATING PLANTS includes some bonus content not included in the paperback edition. In this case, it’s a bonus story: “Tonight Satan Claims His Naked Bride,” from MAN’S STORY, August 1974.
As the title and artwork suggest, it’s a story involving modern day devil worshippers, led by the evil babe Monique Aleister—a name obviously inspired by the infamous real life British occultist Aleister Crowley. Because this story was published in the ‘70s, after most laws and regulations against “pornography” had been shot down by various court cases, it’s a bit racier than other stories in the book. But like all of the stories, it definitely fits the subtitle WHEN MEN’S ADVENTURE MAGAZINES GOT WEIRD.
ATOMIC WEREWOLVES AND MAN-EATING PLANTS is now available in paperback and deluxe hardcover editions on Amazon in the US, Amazon UK, Amazon Australia, Amazon Canada, Amazon Germany, and other Amazons worldwide. You can also get copies directly from me via my eBay listings or the bookstore linked to this blog.
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