The “Gang Girls” issue of the MEN’S ADVENTURE QUARTERLY – Preview Part 2…

My previous post here was the first of a series I’m doing about Issue #7 of the MEN’S ADVENTURE QUARTERLY, which features classic men’s adventure magazine stories from the 1950s and early-‘60s about female “juvenile delinquents” plus two later MAM stories about biker chicks involved with motorcycle gangs.

MAQ #7 includes lushly-illustrated articles my co-editor Bill Cunningham put together about gang girl movies and posters, plus an “MAQ Gal-lery” feature he created about movie star Mamie Van Doren’s early juvie films.

In addition, MAQ #7 has an in-depth article about vintage “teensploitation” paperbacks by pulp culture historian Andrew Nette.

Andrew is, among many other things, co-editor of the must-have book GIRL GANGS, BIKER BOYS, AND REAL COOL CATS: PULP FICTION AND YOUTH CULTURE, 1950 TO 1980. To keep up to date with Andrew’s many projects, subscribe to his cool blog.

MAQ #7 also includes a cool article about the early “Juvie” novels written by Evan Hunter (aka Ed McBain) and Harlan Ellison, contributed by popular retromedia maven and podcaster Jules Burt. (See Jules’ always fascinating YouTube videos at this link.)

As usual, I wrote introductions about each MAM story discussing the writers, artists, publishers and context of the stories.

This post includes portions of the intros I wrote for two of those included in MAQ #7: “Tomboy Jungle” and “ZIP-GUN GIRL.”

They are both classic examples of the type of teenage gang girl stories and paperbacks that were popular in the 1950s, written by two masters of that genre.

“Tomboy Jungle” was written by Wenzell Brown (1912-1981). It comes from FOR MEN ONLY, November 1957, which has a great special forces cover painting by Rafael DeSoto.

Brown is one of the best known writers of books and short stories about mid-20th Century juvenile delinquents.

He didn’t focus solely on teenage gangs. But his works in that realm are among the classics in the JD genre.

During his nearly 40-year career as a writer, Brown penned scores of mystery and crime fiction stories for ALFRED HITCHCOCK’S MYSTERY MAGAZINE, THE SAINT MYSTERY MAGAZINE, MANHUNT, and other periodicals.

He also wrote than two dozen books. Some are historical and adventure novels. But Brown had a special knack for writing well-researched, well-written “true crime” books.

His first notable foray in that genre was INTRODUCTION TO MURDER, an account of the notorious “Lonely Hearts Killers,” Raymond Fernandez and Martha Beck, who murdered women they contacted through personal ads in newspapers.

That book was initially published as a  hardcover in 1952 with a nondescript type-only dust jacket, then reprinted in paperback by Signet the same year with the title THE LONELY HEARTS MURDERS.

Brown’s book helped make Fernandez and Beck even more famous and was a primary source used for the 1970 cult film THE HONEYMOON KILLERS.

The writing approach he used combined verifiable facts with gripping, novelistic descriptions of events. He used that same approach for a series of classic teensploitation books.

As summarized in Andrew Nette and Iain McIntyre’s must -have GIRL GANGS, BIKER BOYS, AND REAL COOL CATS:

“Brown kicked off with RUN, CHICO, RUN (1953), the tale of a good kid in a bad neighbourhood (Spanish Harlem) who slides into the mire of petty crime and drug-running. Brown revisited dope-sullied teens in MONKEY ON MY BACK (1953), while in GANG GIRL (1954) he recounted the miscreant life of Rita, a 15-year-old hellion from New York’s Lower East Side…Further JD sagas flowed, with Brown knocking out THE BIG RUMBLE (1955, republished as JAILBAIT JUNGLE in 1962), TEEN-AGE TERROR (1958), CRY KILL (1959) and the magnificent TEEN-AGE MAFIA (1959).”

Brown’s “Tomboy Jungle” story appeared in FOR MEN ONLY before Fawcett Gold Medal published TEEN-AGE TERROR in 1958. In a way, it’s kind of a pre-release “Book Bonus.”

It’s not identified as such in FOR MEN ONLY, but much of the story was incorporated into the section of TEEN-AGE TERROR dealing with Pachucos.

The Pachucos started out as Chicano gangs that initially emerged in Texas border towns and Southern California.

They were known for wearing loose clothing, often in the “zoot style” first popularized by Black “hep cats.”

However, Pachucos had their own cultural identity, slang, music, and style. They were also known for the small but telltale “Pachuco Cross” tattoos they had inked on their hands next to the base of their thumbs.

Like many teen gangs in poor American neighborhoods, Pachucos were often involved in crimes and fights and were generally viewed quite negatively by non-Pachucos.

Their bad reputation was cemented in the minds of most Americans by the infamous “Zoot Suit Riots” that took place in the summer of 1943.

In the decade following World War II, Pachuco gangs spread and evolved. As Brown discusses in “Tomboy Jungle,” they began recruiting non-Chicano kids and established presences in major cities throughout America.

Brown’s story focuses on young female Pachuco gang members. He uses anecdotes from news stories to show how these girl gang members had increasingly become involved in violent crimes.

One of the most chilling is a true story that made nationals news in November 1955.

It’s about a group of non-Chicano Pachuco teen girls who killed a 59-year-old matron at the reformatory they were housed in, by tying her up and stuffing ammonia-soaked rags down her throat.

By the way, three great illustration artists who did both MAM and paperback artwork are associated with Brown’s “Tomboy Jungle” story.

Rafael DeSoto did the cover painting used on FOR MEN ONLY, November 1957 (and the cover art for Brown’s 1956 JD book THE BIG RUMBLE).

Charles Copeland did the 2-page interior illustration. And, James Meese did the original cover art for Brown’s novel TEEN-AGE TERROR.

Brown’s story is followed by “ZIP-GUN GIRL” by Albert L. Quandt, first published in MAN’S ILLUSTRATED, September 1958.

You may not have read any of Albert L. Quandt’s books about juvenile delinquents, but you’ve probably seen covers scans of some of them floating around on the internet.

They’re among the most classic JD book covers, with eyeball-grabbing artwork by great illustration artists like Howell Dodd, Herb Tauss, Rafael DeSoto and  George Gross—whose men’s adventure mag covers are showcased in the recently-published book GEORGE GROSS: COVERED.

It’s one of the books in the Men’s Adventure Library series I co-edit with Wyatt Doyle. (ICYMI, there’s a preview of our Gross book at this link.)

The best known Quandt is probably ZIP-GUN ANGELS.

It’s a classic teensploitation shocker published in 1952 by the Original Novels. The story “ZIP-GUN GIRL,” is an abridged version of that book.

Other books by Quandt featuring sexy teen gals include: GIRL OF THE SLUMS (Venus, 1951), CELLAR CLUB (Original, 1951), JOURNEY INTO ECSTASY (Venus, 1951, BABY-SITTER (Original, 1952), GANG GIRL (Phantom, 1954) and BOY CRAZY, a reprint of ZIP-GUN ANGELS published by Star Books in 1955.

Quandt wrote other types of “sleaze” paperbacks between 1950 and 1956. Dozens of them. He was incredibly—somewhat suspiciously—prolific. I’m not sure if he was a real person or a house pen name used by his publishers.

Paperback history expert Michael Scott Barson speculated that Albert L. Quandt is a pseudonym in his excellent PhD Dissertation “The Paperback Explosion: An American Publishing Phenomenon, 1939-1980.”  

The artist who created the illustration MAN’S ILLUSTRATED used for “ZIP-GUN GIRL” was my late friend Samson Pollen.

Before Sam passed away in 2018, Wyatt Doyle and I worked with him on two books featuring his men’s adventure magazine artwork: POLLEN’S WOMEN: THE ART OF SAMSON POLLEN and POLLEN’S ACTION.

More recently, with the permission of Sam’s wife Jacqueline Pollen, we published POLLEN IN PRINT: 1955-1959. It features Sam’s early MAM illustrations presented in chronological order.

In addition to being one of the best MAM artists, Sam created scores of paperback cover paintings. Some of the earliest were done for books in the ‘50s juvenile delinquent genre. The most iconic is his painting for the 1957 Pyramid edition of TEEN-AGE VICE by Courtney Ryley Cooper.

A black-and-white version of that art was used (without Sam’s permission) as the main illustration for the “ZIP-GUN GIRL” story in MAN’S ILLUSTRATED.

The cover art for the book ZIP-GUN ANGELS, the source for the MI story, was done by a different artist—Herb Tauss—and later reused on the cover of BOY CRAZY.

Another Samson Pollen painting that’s familiar to fans of the JD genre is the painting he did for Bud Clifton’s novel D FOR DELINQUENT, published by Ace in 1958.

It was reused two years later for the cover of Edward De Roo’s THE BIG RUMBLE, a UK paperback about teen gangs published by Digit Books.

Decades later, it was recycled again on the cover of the 1997 book TEENAGE CONFIDENTIAL: AN ILLUSTRATED HISTORY OF THE AMERICAN TEEN PAPERBACK, by Michael Barson and Steven Heller.

An image of teenage JDs also provided Pollen’s entry point into the realm of men’s adventure mags.

It’s a painting of some tough-looking juvenile delinquents he did in 1955 as a sample to show Mel Blum, Art Director for Martin Goodman’s Magazine Management company and MM’s paperback arm, Lion Books.

Blum bought the painting on the spot. He used it as a small inset panel on the cover of ALLEY KIDS, a Lion paperback about teenage gangs written by Benjamin Appel. A cropped version was also used for a condensed version of the book that appeared in the June 1956 issue of KEN FOR MEN, a short-lived Magazine Management MAM.

That led to Pollen become one of the regular artists for all of the top Magazine Management MAMs, including ACTION FOR MEN, COMPLETE MAN, FOR MEN ONLY, MALE,MAN’S WORLD,  MEN, and STAG. Sam was one of the greats. I’m honored to have known him.

By the way, the “ZIP-GUN GIRL” story in MAN’S ILLUSTRATED also includes a series of small “spot illustrations” that we show in our reprint of the story. They are well done but, unfortunately, uncredited. Two of them are shown below. You can see the rest in MAQ #7.

I’ll talk about other stories, artwork and writers featured in MAQ #7 in my next post.

In the meantime, click this link or the image below to see the review posted by the popular retromedia maven Jules Burt on his great “Collections & Unboxings” YouTube channel.

By the way, in addition to being available in a full color print edition, MAQ #7 is now available in a full color Digital Replica edition on Amazon in the US and worldwide. It’s an exact digital copy of the full color print edition, available free to Kindle Unlimited members or for $6.99 to non-members. Digital Replica Editions look great on an iPad, a Kindle Fire, or a computer monitor. Of course, there’s also a full color print edition of MAQ #7 and there will eventually be a black-and-white “Noir” edition. We started doing the three editions with different prices because our printing costs for the full color issues have increased and we wanted to make sure there were editions that were affordable for everyone. Bill is currently working on adding the Digital Replica and B&W editions to all issues of the MAQ. (Thanks, Bill!)

If you’re a fan of vintage men’s adventure magazines and paperbacks, get the latest news on on the MAQ and books I co-edit by joining the Men’s Adventure Quarterly Brigade Facebook Group and the Men’s Adventure Magazines & Books Facebook Group.

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