The MEN’S ADVENTURE QUARTERLY #6 – Part 2 of an in-depth preview…

Each issue of the MEN’S ADVENTURE QUARTERLY magazine I co-edit with Bill Cunningham focuses on men’s adventure magazines stories and artwork and related media that fit a particular theme.

The MEN’S ADVENTURE QUARTERLY #6, which is now available via Amazon worldwide, Bud’s Art Books, and the bookstore linkd to this blog, is our “Heists” issue.

I showed and discussed some of the heist-related stories, art and articles in that issue in my previous post. Here’s are some additional scans from that issue and some of the text from the introductions I wrote for the stories in MAQ #6.

One of my favorite classic MAM heist yarn in MAQ #6 is “Stop California’s ‘Iron Shark’ Heist Commandos” from FOR MEN ONLY, December 1967.

The cover art for that issue was done by Mort Künstler, whose original MAM cover paintings are showcased in the book MORT KÜNSTLER: THE GODFATHER OF PULP FICTION ILLUSTRATORS, one of the Men’s Adventure Library art books I co-edited with Wyatt Doyle. You can read more about that book at this link and read an interview I did with Mort for this blog here.

The interior illustration was done by Gil Cohen, whose original cover paintings for Don Pendleton’s novels about Mack Bolan, “The Executioner,” are featured in another one of our art books, ONE MAN ARMY: THE ACTION PAPERBACK ART OF GIL COHEN. You can read more about that book and Gil here.

We featured a special gallery of Gil’s original Executioner artwork in MAQ #3, the “Vigilante Justice” issue, along with never before reprinted “Book Bonus” versions of Don Pendleton’s first two Executioner novels.

Since Gil was one of the top cover and interior artists for MALE and other Magazine Management MAMs, you’ll see his examples of his MAM artwork in almost every MAQ issue. You can read interviews I did with Gil about his in the posts shown in this link.

FOR MEN ONLY was published by Martin Goodman’s mighty Magazine Management Company, which published some of the most popular and longest lasting MAMs, like ACTION FOR MEN, FOR MEN ONLY, MALE , MEN, STAG, MAN’S WORLD and TRUE ACTION, as well as many other lesser known but worthy MAMs such as ADVENTURE LIFE, ADVENTURE TRAILS, BATTLEFIELD, COMPLETE MAN, HUNTING ADVENTURES, KEN FOR MEN, SPORT LIFE, and SPORTSMAN.

Goodman, who also created Marvel Comics, had terrific instincts when it came to hiring editorial staff for men’s adventure mags. They included a number of writers who later become best-selling authors, such as Bruce Jay Friedman, Mario Puzo, John Bowers, Ernest Tidyman, Walter Wager and the man who penned the “Iron Shark” story, Tom Irish.

Tom Irish is one of the pseudonyms used by author Martin Cruz Smith. He started using that now well-known name in 1977 for his novel NIGHTWING, which was adapted into a horror movie starring Nick Mancuso, David Warner and Kathryn Harrold in 1979. He added Cruz, his paternal grandmother’s surname, when he found out there were six other authors named Martin Smith.

Smith wrote quite a few action/adventure and thriller novels in the 1970s under other names. They include: two novels about a gypsy antique expert named Roman Grey credited to him under the name Martin Smith; six novels in THE INQUISITOR series under the pen name Simon Quinn; several NICK CARTER KILLMASTER novels using the Nick Carter house name; and, two novels in the SLOCUM adult Western series written under the house name Jake Logan.

Before any of his novels were published, Smith honed his writing skills by working as an editor and writer for the Magazine Management MAMs. In 1967 and 1968 he was on the editorial staff of FOR MEN ONLY.

For a few months in 1969, he was also an editor of TRUE ACTION. On the mastheads of those magazines he was usually listed as Bill Smith.

Magazine Management had a writer-friendly policy of letting editorial staff make extra money by penning stories for its MAMs. That policy benefitted many writers early in their careers and Smith took full advantage of it.

From 1967 to 1969 he wrote various types of stories under at least four pseudonyms I’ve been able to document: Tom Irish, Martin Cruz, Saul Roman, and the supposedly eminent sexologist Clement Korngold, Ph.D. (aka Dr. Clement Korngold).

Smith mentioned his MAM pseudonyms in a 2015 interview he did with the UK’s GUARDIAN newspaper, though he misremembered the names he used for Irish and Korngold as “Ted Irish” and “Emile Korngold.” The reporter also misspelled Saul as Sol. In addition, he mistakenly claimed that Smith was responsible for “almost single-handedly writing” FOR MEN ONLY during his time as an editor. That was a major exaggeration.

Smith did write dozens of stories for FMO under his pseudonyms and sometimes had two stories in an issue under two names. Mag Management editors also often wrote text for the five or more regular news, advice and humor “departments” in each issue.

However, most of the longer stories and articles in issues Smith edited were penned by other writers, including some that are well known and some that were regular stringers for the Goodman MAMs.

For example, FMO, Dec. 1967 does include both Smith’s “Heist Commandos” story as Tom Irish and one of his Saul Roman stories, an exposé titled “Let’s Crack down on Those ‘Rotten Apple’ Nurses.” (You know, those all those nurses who are guilty of “sickening incompetence and sadism that gives fatal injections to patients and free vice to interns.”

However, as was typical, most of the ten feature length stories in that issue are by other writers. They include a “Book Bonus” version of Donald Westlake’s Parker novel (written as Richard Stark), THE RARE COIN SCORE, and stories by several regular contributors to the Magazine Management MAMs: C.K. Winston, Charles Kranepool, James Peterson, Gregory Patrick, and my friend Donald Honig, whose stories have been featured in every issue of the MEN’S ADVENTURE QUARTERLY to date. (More about Don below.)

Smith used his Tom Irish and Martin Cruz pseudonyms for both fiction yarns and “non-fiction” articles. Most of his stories credited as Saul Roman are exposés.

His Dr. Korngold are sex-related articles in the grand tradition of those written by other masters of the faux sex expert genre. For example, before they became famous as novelists, Lawrence Block wrote sexology-style “nonfiction” paperbacks under the pen name “Dr. Benjamin Morse” and Robert Silverberg did the same under the name “L.T. Woodward, M.D.” In both cases, chapters from their sexology books often appeared as articles in various Magazine Management MAMs. (See more about those Block and Silverberg stories in the series of posts that starts here.)

Smith’s Korngold sexology articles also appeared in several Magazine Management MAMs in addition to FOR MEN ONLY. A typical example is his story in MEN, June 1967, “10 Ways to Spot a Neighborhood Nympho.” In that one, Dr. Korngold provides “the scientific lowdown that allows any male to ‘peg’ a love-starved female.” Of course, “nymphos” were supposedly everywhere back then—at least in the imaginations of red-blooded MAM readers.

By the way, Robert Silverberg gave Wyatt Doyle and I permission to reprint a bunch of the MAM action/adventure and travel stories he wrote in 1958 and 1959 in our book the EXOTIC ADVENTURES OF ROBERT SILVERBERG. And, Lawrence Block recently gave us permission to reprint MAM “Book Bonus” versions of his Tanner and Ed London novels in an anthology coming out in 2023.

The next story in MAQ #6 is “Band of Misfits” by Donald Honig. Don is still alive and well and living in Florida. He has been a professional writer of novels, short stories and non-fiction books since the late 1950s.

Between 1957 and 1970, dozens of his stories appeared in top men’s adventure magazines, including: ARGOSY, Popular Publications’ top tier MAM; MAN’S MAGAZINE, CHALLENGE FOR MEN and GUY, published by Pyramid; and virtually all of the most popular MAMs published by Magazine Management.

During those same years, Honig wrote scores of short stories for ALFRED HITCHCOCK’S MYSTERY MAGAZINE, under his own name and the pseudonym Donald Martin. He also had stories in crime digest mags like GUILTY DETECTIVE STORY and bachelor mags like CAPER, ESCAPADE and WILDCAT.

His first novel, a gritty crime novel titled SIDEWALK CAESAR, was published in 1958. Honig went on to write more than 30 novels and non-fiction books.

Starting in the mid-1970s, he focused on writing baseball history books, including genre classics like BASEBALL WHEN THE GRASS WAS REAL (1975), BASEBALL BETWEEN THE LINES (1976), THE LAST GREAT SEASON (1979), BASEBALL AMERICA (1985), and THE 100 GREATEST BASEBALL PLAYERS OF ALL TIME (1986).

Don’s baseball books gave him a reputation as one of America’s premier baseball historians. Personally, I think of him as one of the premier writers of men’s adventure magazine stories.

Don could and did write almost every type of story that appeared in MAMs, ranging from action/adventure, crime and spy stories to Westerns, exposés and humorous pieces.

I connected with Don shortly before Bill Cunningham and I started publishing the MAQ. And, with his kind permission, we’ve included one of his stories in each of the first six issues of the MAQ, starting with his tale “Shoot-Out at Mad Sadie’s Place,” the cover story from FOR MEN ONLY, June 1967, in MAQ #1., our “Wildest Westerns” issue.

His story “Band of Misfits” is a classic heist thriller. When I called Don to ask about the story he chuckled.

“Oh, I remember that one,” he said. “I was going down to San Juan with my wife Sandy for a week’s vacation and George Penty, one of the editors at Magazine Management, said to me ‘Why don’t you write a story while you’re down there to help you defray your travel costs?’ So, I said ‘OK.’ We stayed at a hotel with a casino there and I got the bright idea that I would come up with a plot about how to knock off the casino. So, I hung around and watched to see how they collected the money and where it went and so forth. Later I would go upstairs to our room and work on the story using my portable typewriter. One evening at dinner I said to my wife, ‘You know, I’ve got this story and notes about how to rob the casino all over the desk in the room. It could be sticky if the maid comes in and looks at them.’ Luckily, she didn’t. But it could have been very funny.”

Don’s main character in the story, Grady Benson reminds me of Donald Westlake’s Parker novel THE SEVENTH, which involves a casino heist that goes wrong.

It was re-released in 1968 as THE SPLIT, to coincide with the movie adaptation starring Jim Brown as Parker, with Diahann Carroll, Ernest Borgnine, Julie Harris, Jack Klugman, Warren Oates, Donald Sutherland and Gene Hackman as co-stars.

I’m a huge fan of the Parker novels and of Don Honig, so, I wish Don had done more Benson stories or novels about him. But alas, “Band of Misfits” is a one-off.

The illustration for the story is among many in this issue by the late, great paperback, comic and MAM artist Earl Norem.

Mort Künstler did the cover painting for the issue, but it doesn’t go with the “Band of Misfits” story. In fact, it doesn’t actually go with any story in that issue. It’s a reuse of the cover painting Mort did for the cover of FOR MEN ONLY, September 1965, a common practice in the MAM world. In the FMO issue, it goes with the story “Yank Skipper Who Led Sumatra’s Riverfront Oil Pirates”—a tale that may appear in a future issue of the MAQ.

Like the “‘Iron Shark’ Heist Commandos” story reprinted in this issue, the next MAQ #6 story— “The Great Sierra Mob Heist” by C.K. Winston— features a large, unusual vehicle as a plot device.

The Martin Cruz Smith “Iron Shark” story crew involves a Patrol Air Cushion Vehicle (PACV). I suspect writer Smith read about PACVs in news stories about the Vietnam War around the time his story was published in 1967.

The US Army and Navy started using them in ‘Nam in 1966. They were 48-foot long hovercrafts that rode on an “air cushion,” allowing them to travel over both water and land. They seemed perfect for the marshy and riverine areas in Vietnam, but were prone to problems. Only a handful saw action during the war and they were discontinued in 1970.

The “Sierra Mob” heisters use a customized “ASV.” ASV stands for “All Season Vehicles.” And, as the story explains, they were: “An enormous technological advance over snowmobiles and All Terrain Vehicles” that “could travel at good speed over deep snow, dry or wet sand, swamps, water or the sort of terrain that would unsettle a mountain goat.”

ASVs are larger than the ATVs (All-Terrain Vehicles) you’re probably familiar with. And, the one in the story is specially modified. The depiction of it in Gil Cohen’s illustration is awesome.

Men’s action/adventure maven Joe Kenney, who wrote a special introduction for MAQ #5, the “Dirty Missions” issue, once wrote on his must-read Glorious Trash blog that he especially admired Gil’s duotone painting for “Sierra Mob Heist” story.

He called it “one of the greatest splashpages I’ve ever seen, courtesy of Executioner cover artist Gil Cohen.”

“Surprisingly,” Joe noted, “this does accurately illustrate an event in the story, though the heroes aren’t wearing bandit masks at the time and the busty lady isn’t wearing a plunging-necklined top and hotpants during the heist. (To be fair, she does wear this outfit earlier in the tale, just not during the actual heist!)”

Joe called writer C.K. Winston’s approach to the story a “slow burn” rather than non-stop action. I’d add that it has a classic noir feel and a very dark ending.

The identity of C.K. Winston and whether it was a real name or pseudonym was a mystery to me until I asked Donald Honig about him.

I knew there were quite a few stories credited to C.K. Winston in the Magazine Management MAMs Don often wrote for, so I asked if he knew anything about Winston. He did!

“C.K. Winston was actually a magazine writer and editor named Chester Krone,” Don told me. That’s where he got C.K. from. He was an editor for several PLAYBOY style men’s magazines. I wrote a couple of stories for him for those. He was a brilliant guy.”

Armed with Don’s tip, I found out more about Krone. His full name was Chester W. Krone, Jr. He was born in 1935 and died in 2013. In the mid-1960s he was an editor for at least three bachelor mags, CAPER, GENTLEMAN and ESCAPADE.

He also wrote stories for them and for the Mag Management MAMs, sometimes as C.K. Winston and sometimes as Chester Krone.

In addition, he edited or wrote several interesting looking books, including: SHOCKING TALES OF PERVERSION (1964), anthology of soft porn stories he edited for Gold Star; BLOOD WRATH, a thriller he wrote that was published by Playboy Press in 1981; and, THE WOMANLY ART OF SELF-DEFENSE (1967), a how-to book for women.

I hope to eventually find out more about Krone. But what I’ve pieced together so far is a good start thanks to Don Honig.

Coming up: one more post about the stories and artwork included in the MEN’S ADVENTURE QUARTERLY #6.

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