INDIA TODAY’s Kai Friese looks at American pulp and men’s adventure magazines…

Pulp mag article in INDIA TODAY, June 2017 WM
The Men’s Adventure Magazines & Books Facebook Group associated with this blog now has over 2,000 members from around the world.

Quite a few members are professional writers, such as: novelist and publisher Paul Bishop (who I interviewed earlier this year); veteran comics, film and cartoon writer Buzz Dixon; comics and action/adventure/science fiction/crime novelist Chuck Dixon; comics and “New Pulp” writer and publisher Ron Fortier; and, award-winning Western novelist and publisher James Reasoner.

Another interesting writing pro who’s a member of our Facebook Group is Kai Jabir Friese.

Kai is a longtime journalist who is currently a Managing Editor and feature writer for INDIA TODAY, India’s top English-language news magazine.

He was also among the original editors of India’s popular men’s lifestyle periodical MAN’S WORLD.

Over the years, Kai has written features, essays and op-eds for many other publications, including NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC TRAVELLER, GQ, GEO and the NEW YORK TIMES.

He’s the author of a book about the history-making American Civil Rights activist Rosa Parks (ROSA PARKS: THE MOVEMENT ORGANIZES) and a bio of the Dalai Lama (TENZIN GYATSO, THE DALAI LAMA).

He also happens to be a fellow aficionado of both classic pulp fiction magazines and post-WWII men’s adventure mags.

Kai Jabir Friese pic, INDIA TODAYA while ago, Kai emailed me to ask if I could provide him with a set of men’s adventure magazine cover and interior scans featuring scenes in India and Pakistan for a piece in the Leisure section of the June 8, 2017 issue of INDIA TODAY.

I could and did.

When the piece was published and Kai sent me a link to the page it’s on in the online edition, I was very pleased to see how it came out.

It’s a nice, creatively-designed spread. The upper part is a montage that features five scans I sent to Kai.

The blue duotone image at upper left is from a story in MALE, May 1960 about India’s legendary stranglers, the “Kali Cult” (a.k.a. the Thugs or Thuggees).

The artwork for that one is by James Bama, one of the great artists I’ve had the honor of interviewing for this blog.

The story was written by master MAM tale-spinner Walter Kaylin, whose gritty, imaginative men’s adventure mag stories are showcased in our book HE-MEN, BAG MEN & NYMPHOS.

The MAM cover in the INDIA TODAY montage showing an exotic, apparently nude native girl and a red-haired Yank adventurer hanging onto an overturned boat is the first issue of EXOTIC ADVENTURES, published in 1958.

That short-lived magazine is interesting for several reasons.

MALE, May 1960. James Bama art for Walter Kaylin storyEXOTIC ADVENTURES,  V1 N1 (1958) - Cover by Rafael DeSoto wm

It was an odd hybrid between a men’s adventure mag and a slick bachelor’s pinup mag. Most of the stories in the six issues that were published were written by one author — Robert Silverberg — under various pseudonyms. (Bob has given us permission to reprint many of them in a book we’ll be announcing later this year.)

The premiere issue of EXOTIC ADVENTURES is also notable for having a cover painting by Rafael DeSoto that was used for four different men’s adventure magazine covers.

It was first used on FOR MEN ONLY, April 1957 and the original painting shows a second dark-haired guy behind the girl. He was blocked out in the version used on EXOTIC ADVENTURES.

He reappeared when the painting was flipped horizontally and used for the cover of ACTION FOR MEN, March 1960 – then he’s gone again when DeSoto’s illustration was featured on the cover of MAN’S PERIL, March 1964.

FOR MEN ONLY, April 1957, cover by Rafael DeSotoACTION FOR MEN, March 1960, cover by Rafael DeSotoImage22

The image of the hapless babe in a red dress being mauled by a tiger, at the upper right of the INDIA TODAY montage, is from the cover of MAN’S ADVENTURE, May 1959. The cover painting was done by Vic Prezio.

The largest image in the montage is the initial two-page spread for a story about a Yank who breaks a group of women out of a Pakistan prison.

It was written by Grant Freeling and appeared in MEN, March 1972. The illustration is by the great Samson Pollen, who is alive and well and living in New York. (Sam’s men’s adventure magazine and paperback artwork will be featured in yet another book we’ll be announcing later this year.)

MAN'S ADVENTURE, May 1959. Vic Prezio cover WMMEN, March 1972, art by Samson Pollen WM

The interior spread shown at bottom right is from a story set in Tibet in MALE, July 1961, written by Martin Fass and illustrated by Walter Popp.

The main text of Kai’s piece, credited under his middle name Jabir, gives his interesting view of the men’s adventure magazine genre.

It says:

MALE, July 1961. Art by Walter Popp WMMan, All Man, Men in Danger? If you were a sentient male at some point between the 1940s and the 1970s, chances are you have thumbed through one of these irresistibly disreputable American magazines. Their brief efflorescence was emblematic of the generation of American men who emerged from the euphoria of global victory in 1945 only to shoot their collective wad in the disappointments of the Cold War years. The stories were about scenarios of extreme peril, heavy with sexual promise but little gratification — and ironically these ‘sweat magazines’ straddled the space between the genre of adventure fiction magazines that preceded them and the ‘lad mags’ and porn that would ultimately vanquish them. These magazines have become treasured collectibles today — partly due to the distinctive artwork of celebrated illustrators like Earl Norem or Mort Kunstler. But beyond their anachronistic fantasies, these vintage pages also show us a premonition of the fake news, formulaic headlines and fantastical clickbait that drive the digital media of a new century.

Under that, Kai gave me and our books a nice plug in the credits:

“Images courtesy of Bob Deis, editor of and co-editor, with Wyatt Doyle, of the Men’s Adventure Library. Their latest book is I WATCHED THEM EAT ME ALIVE.”

Yep, Kai actually scooped the world with the mention of our latest book, which is due for release in early July.

It’s a collection of artwork and stories featuring “killer creatures,” one of the most iconic categories of MAM tales.

It’s also the first book in a new series of lushly-illustrated magazine-style books we’re calling the Men’s Adventure Library Journal. As I write this, both the paperback edition and deluxe hardcover edition of I WATCHED THEM EAT ME ALIVE are available for preorder on Amazon worldwide. (In fact, I was interested to find out that because we use the IngramSpark service for publishing, readers of INDIA TODAY can buy our books on Amazon India. I love technology!)

Kai’s article in INDIA TODAY also has an interesting sidebar at the bottom of the pages.

The first paragraph in the sidebar notes: “If you get bitten by the collecting bug, like I was, you need to attend the two major conventions – Windy City in Chicago around the last week of April every year, and PulpFest(which will be held this year in Pittsburgh, from July 27-30).

I WATCHED THEM EAT ME ALIVE coverINDIA TODAY, June 2017 sidebars 1&2

That second graf include some good recommendations for anthologies of classic pulp fiction yarns, such as THE BIG BOOK OF SWASHBUCKLING ADVENTURE edited by Lawrence Ellsworth and THE BIG BOOK OF ADVENTURE STORIES edited by Otto Penzler.

The third sidebar paragraph notes that legendary pulp writer Talbot Mundy and historian, screenwriter, short story writer and novelist Harold Lamb both wrote many stories set in and around India.

The credits under the fourth paragraph in the sidebar say its text and images are courtesy of another Indian pulp aficionado, Sai Shankar, curator of the PulpFlakes blog. I was unaware of PulpFlakes until I read about it in the INDIA TODAY piece. It’s a very cool, well-researched blog that I’ve now added to my blogroll list of recommended sites.

By the way, Kai Friese also once wrote a fascinating article about India’s wild magazine CRIME & DETECTIVE, a popular Indian variation of American true crime and detective magazines that’s illustrated with posed photos of actors speaking their lines in cartoon-style word bubbles. Kai describes CRIME & DETECTIVE as “a roller-coaster ride of unsatisfied, insatiable women, virile lunkheads, lust, jealousy, violence and greed.”

Hearing that, I gotta get my hands on some copies. It sounds like fun reading to me!

INDIA TODAY, June 2017 sidebars 3&4CRIME & DETECTIVE, March 2009

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Killer Creatures in Men’s Adventure Magazines