The MEN’S ADVENTURE QUARTERLY #6 – Part 1 of an in-depth preview…

Issue #6 of the MEN’S ADVENTURE QUARTERLY is now available on Amazon in the U.S. and worldwide and via my online bookstore.

This blog post is the first of several I plan to write about MAQ #6. I decided to do some in-depth posts about it to give people who haven’t seen any MAQs a better sense of what we include in each issue.

The images I’ll show are primarily scans of pages in MAQ #6. The text about the stories is taken from the introductions I write for each one to provide more context about them and the writers, artists, and magazines involved.

The MEN’S ADVENTURE QUARTERLY is a 150+ page, full-color, 8″x10″, square bound magazine that reprints stories and artwork from vintage men’s adventure magazines published in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, along with commentary and articles about them and their topics.

I co-edit the MAQ with Bill Cunningham, the writer, graphic designer and publisher who heads up Pulp 2.0 Press. Together, we pick a theme for each issue.

The first issue of the MEN’S ADVENTURE QUARTERLY focuses on Western stories and artwork from MAMs.

MAQ #2 , our “Espionage Issue,” showcases James Bond style Cold War spy stories and artwork.

Mort Künstler‘s original cover painting for FOR MEN ONLY, June 1968.

The theme of MAQ #3 is “Vigilante justice” — a la Don Pendleton’s ground-breaking Mack Bolan, The Executioner novel series. (In fact, it includes two MAM “Book Bonus” Executioner stories by Don that had never been reprinted.)

MAQ #4 is our “Jungle Girls” issue. It focuses on exotic adventure fiction yarns and artwork that fit the “Jungle Girls” trope.

We dubbed MAQ #5 our “Dirty Mission” issue. It focuses on “Dirty Dozen” style MAM stories and artwork.

Each issue reprints seven to ten MAM stories, along with the related cover and interior art and photos, plus intros and articles related to the theme penned by me, Bill, some of our writer and pulp maven friends.

Guest contributors to past issues include writer and pulp culture expert Paul Bishop; the legendary comics writer and novelist Chuck Dixon; Justin Marriott, publisher of dozens of popular fanzines about vintage paperbacks and comics; and, author Linda Pendleton, wife of Don Pendleton, creator of the Mack Bolan/Executioner novel series. (Sadly, Linda passed away shortly after she contributed an article about the history of The Executioner character for MAQ #3.)

We also include a section featuring one or more female models or actresses who appeared in the MAM photo spreads. MAQ #6 includes Bill’s homage to actress Angie Dickinson.

The MAM stories we pick for each issue fit the theme and are examples we think are among the best. Some are fiction yarns, some are non-fiction articles, some are “Book Bonus” versions of novels that were featured in MAM issues.

MAQ #6 is our “Heist Issue.” Naturally, each theme is reflected in the cover art Bill uses for an issue. In this case, it’s an authorized reuse of a cool bank heist cover painting that artist Mort Künstler created for the cover of FOR MEN ONLY, June 1968.

As a men’s adventure magazine collector and historian, one of the greatest honors I’ve had is getting to know Mort. In addition to talking with him by phone, I had the pleasure of visiting Mort at his home and studio in New York a few years ago, when Wyatt Doyle and I were working with him on our book showcasing his original MAM artwork, MORT KÜNSTLER: THE GODFATHER OF PULP FICTION ILLUSTRATORS. (Wyatt is the head of the New Texture indie publishing company and my co-editor on the Men’s Adventure Library book series.)

Mort is widely viewed as the best of the many talented artists who did cover and interior art for MAMs in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. After the ‘70s, Mort went on to become renowned as “the premier historical artist in America.”

The Künstler heist painting we used for the cover of MAQ #6 could have inspired the scene in the first Tom Cruise MISSION IMPOSSIBLE movie, which shows him dangling from wires to gain access to a computer. However, as I note in my main introduction for MAQ #6, the MISSION IMPOSSIBLE is probably an homage to a scene in the classic 1964 heist film TOPKAPI, which I suspect Mort Künstler was a fan of.

This year, on August 28, Mort turned 85. In my main intro the MAQ #6, we show a photo of Mort with his birthday cake that his daughter Jane Kunstler posted on his official Facebook page. I am very grateful to Mort, Jane and Mort’s archivist Linda Swanson for the support they’ve provided for my MAM-related projects over the years, starting with the first interview Mort did with me for this blog eleven years ago.

Recently, Mort did another illuminating interview for a new art book Wyatt Doyle and I recently released—GEORGE GROSS: COVERED. Mort called Gross “Uncle George.” He was a lifelong family friend and a mentor to Mort and Mort gave us many anecdotes and revelations about him for the book.

In addition to classic MAM artwork and stories, MAQ #6 includes articles about the heist genre by Co-Editor Bill Cunningham and two of my favorite pulp culture mavens, Jules Burt and Paul Bishop.

My UK friend Jules is especially well known for his expertise in the realms of vintage paperbacks, films and television shows, and movie and TV memorabilia. From his studio in Plymouth, England, Jules produces top-notch videos about those and related subjects. The videos are posted on his hugely popular “Collections & Unboxings” YouTube channel, which has thousands of followers throughout the world. Jules kindly wrote an article for MAQ #6 about his top 10 favorite heist films.

Paul Bishop contributed a fascinating article that connects the dots between heist films and the heist genre in novels and MAMs. As readers of this blog may know, in addition to being is a prolific novelist, editor, blogger, and Acquisitions Editor for Wolfpack Publishing,

Paul also co-hosts the “Six-Gun Justice Podcast” with fellow Wolfpack writer Richard Prosch. In 2023, he’ll be launching a new podcast about the heist genre in books, films and other media. Like his MAQ #6 article, it will be titled “Complications Always Ensue,” reflecting a common plot aspect of heist and caper films and novels.

For each MAQ issue, I write introductions to the stories. In this series of posts, I’m reprinting text from my intros in MAQ #6 to give you a better sense of what they’re like. The first story in issue #6 of the MEN’S ADVENTURE QUARTERLY is “The Flying Bank Looters” from MAN’S WORLD, October 1967, written by Tom Christopher.

The cover art for the MAN’S WORLD issue Chastain’s flying bank heist story appears in was done by Bruce Minney (1928-2013), another top artist for MAMs and paperbacks. I had the honor of doing an interview with Bruce before he passed away for this blog. That interview encouraged his son-in-law, Tom Ziegler, to publish a great book featuring Bruce’s MAM artwork, BRUCE MINNEY: THE MAN WHO PAINTED EVERYTHING.

The interior illustration for “The Flying Bank Looters” was done by Earl Norem (1923-2015). He was another one of the best and most prolific MAM artists. But most Norem fans know him from the hundreds of cover paintings he did for Marvel comics like SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN, MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE, TALES OF THE ZOMBIE, TRANSFORMERS and PLANET OF THE APES.

You can find scores of other stories credited to Tom Christopher in issues of the Atlas/Diamond MAMs published by Martin Goodman’s Magazine Management company, such as ACTION FOR MEN, FOR MEN ONLY, MALE, MAN’S WORLD, MEN, and STAG. You won’t find any bios of Tom Christopher online—at least, not under that name. It’s a pseudonym used by novelist Thomas Chastain early in his career.

Chastain (1921-1994) started out writing for newspapers and ad agencies. In the 1960s, he wrote many short stories for MAMs and other magazines. His first novel, JUDGMENT DAY, was published in 1962. But he didn’t focus on writing novels until the 1970s.

His 1971 novel thriller DEATH WALK was adapted as a TV movie under the title DEATH STALK in 1975. It stars Vince Edwards, Carol Lynley and Anjanette Comer and is occasionally shown on the TCM channel. It’s also available streaming on YouTube.

In 1973, Chastain was tapped to write ASSASSINATION BRIGADE under the pen name Nick Carter. It’s #74 in the long-running NICK CARTER KILLMASTER series, which helped boost the careers of many action/adventure and mystery writers—and illustration artists. In 1974, Thomas Chastain published the novel PANDORA’S BOX, a mystery about a heist at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. From then until his death in 1994, he focused on writing novels. His most successful novel was WHO KILLED THE ROBINS FAMILY? It was published by William Morrow and Company in 1983, hit No. 1 on the NEW YORK TIMES bestseller list, stayed there for nearly a year, and sold more than a million copies.

Starting in 1989, Chastain served as the President of the Mystery Writers of America. In 1992, when the producers of THE SIMPSONS TV series decided they wanted an episode involving a mystery that would make viewers guess the solution, they contacted Chastain. He worked with one of the show’s creators, Sam Simon, to develop the story. It’s a wild one, involving references to THE ELEPHANT MAN, COOL HAND LUKE, MACGYVER, and PSYCHO.

The next heist story in MAQ #6 is the “GI Stick-Up Mob That Heisted $35 Million in Nazi Gold” by Eugene Joseph. It’s from MALE, November 1967. The cover art for that issue was done by Mort Künstler. The interior illustration by Bruce Minney.

When I read this story it reminded me of the 1970 World War II movie KELLY’S HEROES, In that film, a group of American GIs take tanks behind enemy lines to go after a fortune in Nazi gold they hear about from a captured German soldier. It has a great cast that includes Clint Eastwood, Telly Savalas, Donald Sutherland, Don Rickles and Carroll O’Connor. American and German tanks play a key role in the plot and there’s plenty of action. But it’s basically a lighthearted action comedy, as suggested by the poster art created by MAD magazine alum Jack Davis.

In Joseph’s story, a group of American soldiers take tanks behind enemy lines to go after a fortune in Nazi gold they hear about from a captured German soldier. Tanks play a key role in the plot and there’s plenty of action. But this heist story is definitely not lighthearted. It’s grim and noirish.

The screenplay for KELLY’S HEROES was written by British film and television writer Troy Kennedy Martin. I doubt if he knew about Joseph’s story in MALE, November 1967. However, both writers were likely inspired by legends that grew out of an entry that had been included in editions of the GUINNESS BOOK OF WORLD RECORDS since 1957. The title of the entry is “Robbery: Biggest Unsolved.” It says:

“The greatest robbery on record was of the German National Gold Reserves in Bavaria by a combine of US Military personnel and German civilians in June 1945, A total of 730 gold bars valued at £3,528,000 together with six sacks of banks notes and 25 boxes of platinum bars and precious stones disappeared in transit but none of those responsible has been brought to trial.”

I have yet to find any biographical info about Eugene Joseph. I don’t know if it’s his real name or a pseudonym. All I know is that many stories in the Magazine Management MAMs, particularly MALE and MEN, are credited to him—and that he was a talented action/adventure writer. 

MAMs often used stock photos from wire services. Unlike most periodicals, they also often used movie stills that fit the plots and characters in the fiction stories they published. In some MAMs the names of the movies are actually mentioned in the small text box with photo credits that usually appear somewhere in the back pages, or sometimes on the contents page. The photos used for the “GI Stick-Up Mob” story are credited to “Conroy, Memory Shop” or just “Conroy” and the movies are named. They are the classic, star-studded WWII drama IS PARIS BURNING? (1966), the 1962 Italian WWII movie 4 DAYS IN NAPLES (aka THE FOUR DAYS OF NAPLES), and WHERE THE SPIES ARE, a 1966 British comedy adventure film.

With some sleuthing, I figured out that “Conroy” refers to Tom Conroy. He specialized in selling movie stills via a business in New York City called The Memory Shop and later through a company called Movie Still Archives.

Coming up in my next post, more about the stories in the MEN’S ADVENTURE QUARTERLY #6. In the meantime, if there are books in the Men’s Adventure Library series or issues of the MAQ you don’t have, drop by the bookstore, where I’m having a Holiday Sale on all of them—10% off plus free shipping in the US. Merry Christmas, folks!

By the way, my MAQ co-editor Bill Cunningham has created a Facebook group for MAQ fans, called THE MEN’S ADVENTURE QUARTERLY BRIGADE GROUP. Check it out by clicking this link.

Here are links to Part 2 of my MAQ #6 preview and Part 3.

Comments? Corrections? Questions? You can click the CONTACT tab and email them to me,
or join the Men’s Adventure Magazines & Books Facebook Group and post them there.

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Here’s a link to a cool video preview of MAQ #6 posted by retromedia maven Jules Burt…