Ho! Ho! Ho! Men’s adventure magazines style…

MAN'S LIFE, Sept 1956, cover by Wil Hulsey, spoof MPM
Most of the more than 160 different men’s adventure magazines published from the late 1940s to the mid-1970s never featured holiday-themed covers for Christmas or any other holidays.

I guess most MAM editors thought holiday covers would be out-of-sync with the manly image of their mags.

There are a few notable exceptions.

Some issues of the top-tier, high-circulation MAMs ARGOSY and TRUE have covers that use either Christmas-themed cover paintings or photographs.

But I have often imagined what it would be like if other MAMs gave a nod to Christmas in their December issues.

So, over the years, just for fun, I have created some MAM spoof Christmas covers that I’ve posted on in the Men’s Adventure Magazines Facebook Group and on my Twitter feed and Flickr page.

This year, I decided to do a blog post featuring both some of the spoof covers I’ve made and some of the best real MAM Christmas covers.

I’ll start with my Christmas-cized version one of the most recognizable MAM covers of all and the one that inspired this blog and our first anthology in our Men’s Adventure Library series: the “WEASELS RIPPED MY FLESH” issue of MAN’S LIFE, published in September 1956.

If Santa Claus had been the hapless, weasel-bedeviled guy in that story (which is reprinted in our book WEASELS RIPPED MY FLESH), the cover (featuring artwork by Wil Hulsey, and Steve Holland as the model) would have looked like the spoof cover at the top of this post.

I also had some fun with the classic cover panting of killer coconut crabs by George Gross, which now resides in the collection of my friend Rich Oberg.

It was used on the cover of MAN’S CONQUEST, November 1956 and is even cooler than the magazine cover indicates, since the Art Director at MAN’S CONQUEST cropped it quite a bit for the cover.

If Gross had been asked to make a Christmas version of his artwork, with Santa Claus facing another killer creature threat, the cover of MAN’S CONQUEST, November 1956 might have looked something like my Christmas-cized version below.

In addition, the cover of our book collecting classic killer creature stories from MAMs, I WATCHED THEM EAT ME ALIVE, which also uses part of the Gross coconut crab attack painting, would have looked a bit different.

MAN'S CONQUEST, Nov 1956, art by George Gross MPMMAN'S CONQUEST, Nov 1956, spoof cover MPMI WATCHED THEM EAT ME book. Santa spoof MPM

Just for the fun of it, I’ve also used Photoshop to show what it would be like if Santa had been depicted as some of tough-looking characters on the covers of men’s adventure magazines; characters like the bazooka-toting GI on the cover of BLUEBOOK, July 1971 (original art by Mel Crair) … the pirate captain on the cover of SAGA, May 1959 (original art by Thomas Beecham) … and the Hairy Ainu snatching a woman on the cover of WILDCAT ADVENTURES, June 1960 (original art by Basil Gogos, who I’m sad to say passed away recently).

BLUEBOOK, July 1971, spoof cover MPMSAGA, May 1959 - spoof cover MPMWILDCAT ADVENTURES, June 1960, spoof cover MPM

And below is “Marine Sergeant S. Claus” basking in the awe of the islanders on the cover of STAG, April 1958 (original art by James Bama, for a story about “Marine Sgt. Wirkus”).

Of course, I haven’t only used Santa himself for my men’s adventure magazine Christmas spoofs. In some, I just use Santa hats.

Here’s one using artist Samson Pollen’s original painting for a story in STAG, September 1968…

STAG, April 1958 - spoof cover MPMSTAG, Sept 1968, Xmas spoof version MPM

I’ve also put Santa hats on characters like the badass biker Earl Norem painted for the cover of MEN, October 1969 (one of the covers featured in our book collecting motorcycle gang covers and interiors from men’s adventure mags, BARBARIANS ON BIKES.

And, although the Grinch is certainly not in the same league with Nazis when it comes to being truly evil, I’ve made spoof covers that superimpose the Grinch on Nazi characters in scenes on the covers of magazines in the “sweat mag” subgenre of MAMs.

For example, I Grinched the cover of MEN TODAY, July 1964 and MAN’S STORY, April 1974. The original artwork on both of those covers was done by Norm Eastman. As he often did, Norm used my friend Eva Lynd for the blonde distressed damsels in the foreground. As regular readers of this blog know, Eva modeled for many artists and pinup photographers from the late 1950s to the 1970s and appeared in various TV shows and movies. My publishing partner Wyatt Doyle and I are currently collaborating with Eva on a book about her. It will feature MAM cover paintings and interior illustrations, glamour girl photos she appeared in (like the one at the bottom of this post), and many previously unpublished photos of her taken by top pinup photographers of the day and artists she worked for, from her own personal photo archives.

MEN, October 1969, spoof cover MPMMEN TODAY, July 1964 - spoof cover MPMMAN'S STORY, April 1974 - spoof cover MPM

As I’ve noted, you won’t find real Christmas covers on most men’s adventure magazines. The notable exceptions are TRUE and ARGOSY. Some examples of their Christmas holiday season covers are shown below.

December issues of both TRUE and ARGOSY from the late 1940s and 1950s feature Christmas-themed covers with artwork by top illustration artists. Artists like Tom Lovell and Bob Kuhn

TRUE, Dec 1948, cover by Tom Lovell MPMARGOSY, December 1950 - cover by Bob Kuhn MPMARGOSY, Dec 1955 - cover by Bob Kuhn MPM

Walter Baumhofer, Fred Ludekens and Jack Dumas.

ARGOSY, Dec. 1954 - cover by Walter Baumhofer MPMTRUE, Dec 1955, cover by Fred Ludekens MPMARGOSY, Dec 1956 - Cover by Jack Dumas MPM

Two other great artists who did Christmas-themed cover paintings for TRUE and ARGOSY are Stan Galli and Ed Valigursky.

TRUE - 1953 12 dec - cover by Stan Galli MPMTRUE , Dec 1954 - cover by Stan Galli MPMARGOSY, Dec 1959. Cover by Ed Valigursky MPM

Both of those magazines also featured some December issues with Christmas-themed photographs.

My favorites are those by world-famous photographer Arie deZanger. His almost look like paintings and use reflections in a masterful way.

But as a dog lover, I have a soft spot for the photo by Don Pendleton on the cover of ARGOSY, December 1961, which shows a cute puppy in a red cowboy boot.

ARGOSY, Dec 1963, photo by Arie de Zanger MPMARGOSY, Dec 1964 - Arie deZanger cover photo MPMARGOSY, Dec 1961, photo Don Pendleton MPM

Of course, thinking about Christmas photos from men’s magazines reminds me of Christmas photos of my two favorite pinup models, Bettie Page and Eva Lynd.

Speaking of Eva, an upcoming post here will feature some great men’s adventure mag illustrations by artist Al Rossi and a look at some of the reference photos he shot of her – along with recollections Eva has shared with me about working with Rossi.

Bettie Page Christmas photo (1955) by Bunny YeagerSHE, Feb 1958 - Eva Lynd, Christmas Centerfold MPM

Until them, here’s wishing you Happy Hollydaze from me and MensPulpMags.com!

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