The MEN’S ADVENTURE QUARTERLY, Vol. 1, No. 2 – our spy stories & artwork issue

Recently, Bill Cunningham of Pulp 2.0 Press and I released the second issue of our new full-color, 157-page MEN’S ADVENTURE QUARTERLY magazine.

Copies the MAQ are available on Amazon in the US and worldwide. You can also get copies directly from me at a discount via my eBay listings.

Bill and I were really pleased by the warm reception MAQ #1 received.

As noted in a previous post here, that first one features Western stories and artwork from vintage men’s adventure magazines, and it received praise from a lot of people I admire, including: legendary comics writer and novelist Chuck Dixon; Ron Fortier, author and Captain of the mighty Airship 27 “new pulp” publishing company; vintage paperback maven and Editor of the Paperback Parade, Gary Lovisi; “Glorious Trash” blogger Joe Kenney; UK paperback expert and vlogger Jules Burt; pulp culture historian and Co-Host of the Six-Gun Justice Podcast, Paul Bishop; author Michael Stradford, who will soon publish a definitive book about the famed artists’ model Steve Holland; pulp art maven and historian Walker A. Martin; and, Dan Zimmerman, editor of the popular ILLUSTRATION magazine and many great books featuring 20th Century illustration artists.

We’re keeping the momentum going with the recent release of MAQ #2 (hot on the heels of the release of my latest book with Wyatt Doyle, head of the New Texture publishing company, THE EXOTIC ADVENTURES OF ROBERT SILVERBERG).

Espionage is the theme of the MEN’S ADVENTURE QUARTERLY, Vol. 1, No. 2.

It features classic James Bond style spy stories and artwork from men’s adventure magazines published in the ‘60s and ‘70s. This blog post provides a look at some of what’s inside. You can also see a flip-page preview at this link.

MAQ #2 starts with intros by Bill and I, then a special introduction by Tom Simon, co-host (with Christopher Eric Compton) of the popular Paperback Warrior book review site and podcast. In his intro, Tom connects some of the dots between classic pulp mags, vintage paperbacks and men’s adventure magazines.

The fiction stories reprinted in MAQ #2 are some of my favorite MAM spy yarns. I introduce each one with some notes about writer, artist or magazine involved. We show the cover of the issue each story appeared in and the illustrations or photos used for them in the magazines.

The first fiction story is “The Kremlin Agent Will Be Wearing a Pink Nightgown.” It comes from MALE, October 1961. That issue features a classic battle scene by Mort Kunstler, whose original men’s adventure mag artwork is featured in the book Wyatt Doyle and I did with him, MORT KÜNSTLER: THE GODFATHER OF PULP FICTION ILLUSTRATORS.

The illustration for the story was done by Walter Popp (1920-2002), another great mid-20th Century paperback cover and men’s adventure magazine illustration artist.

The female model for that illo was Popp’s wife Marie Popp. If you look at women in most of Walter’s paperback covers and MAM illustrations from the ‘50s and ‘60s, you’ll recognize her. In addition to being Walter’s favorite model, she was a successful illustration artist herself.

The story was written by Martin Fass (1914-1981), whose work appeared regularly in the MAMs published by Martin Goodman’s Magazine Management company, such as FOR MEN ONLY, MALE, MEN, and STAG.

Fass is less well known than some of the Mag Management regulars who went on to greater fame by writing novels or screenplays, like Mario Puzo, Bruce Jay Friedman, Walter Wager, Don Honig, and Martin Cruz Smith. But in the ‘50s and ‘60s he wrote over 200 MAM stories.

Fass developed his writing skills during World War II, when he was assigned to write for and edit several military newspapers and serve as program director for the Armed Forces Radio Station WVTL. After the war, he became a successful freelancer who wrote short stories for MAMs, scripts for radio, articles for encyclopedias, and the daily Nero Wolfe newspaper comic strip based on Rex Stout’s detective character.

The next story in MAQ #2 is “The Deadly Spy Mystery of the Formosa Joy Girls.” It’s a wild yarn with a wild interior illustration by Basil Gogos. Basil is, of course, renowned for his monster artwork, especially his cover art for FAMOUS OF MONSTERS OF FILMLAND magazine. But he also did hundreds of cover paintings and interior illos for MAMs.

I had the honor interviewing Basil for a post on my blog in 2016, a year before he passed. One of the things we talked about was that he often used his father, Steve Gogos, as a model. In Basil’s interior art for the “Formosa Joy Girls” spy story, the guy at right pointing the gun is Steve. Basil’s father probably also modeled for the other men in the scene and Basil just changed his face.

The MAQ #2 story “Belly Dancer Raid to Spring Russia’s Top Rocket Man” is reprinted from FOR MEN ONLY, May 1964. It features another classic MAM cover paintings by Mort Kunstler and the story features another cool illustration by Walter Popp.

The story’s teaser text at top left on the first page provides a good indication of the plot. It says:

“Using a touring act of bump-and-grind babes for cover, he bulled his way into the Soviet Union on a mission that could change the Cold War — if a Black Sea beauty didn’t wiggle him into a waiting Red-police booby trap.”

The story in this issue titled “Detective William Clive: Is He The Real James Bond?” is credited to Roland Empey. That was a pseudonym used by the great MAM writer Walter Kaylin, whose stories are featured in another book I co-edited with Wyatt Doyle, HE-MEN, BAG MEN & NYMPHOS.

The interior illustration, which is reminiscent of a scene from the Bond movie GOLDFINGER, was done by Gil Cohen. Gil was one of the top artists for the Magazine Management MAMs. He’s also especially well known for the iconic cover art he did for the hugely popular series of novels featuring Mack Bolan, “The Executioner,” launched by Don Pendleton in 1969. We featured Gil’s original Executioner paintings in the book ONE MAN ARMY: THE ACTION PAPERBACK ART OF GIL COHEN.

The MAQ #2 story “Operation Maneater,” first published in FOR MEN ONLY, February 1969, was written by Donald Honig. Don, now 89, is among the last living writers who were regular contributors of stories to Martin Goodman’s Magazine Management company.

Bond-mania was in full swing and aspects of the story echo James Bond tropes. For example, the hero, George Brackett, has unusual weapons like high explosive grenades that look like fruit and a belt that shoots “flat, deadly rockets off like Claymore mines.” The villain is a counterfeiter holed up in a fortress deep in the South American jungle. Naturally, he has a sexy mistress who (naturally) gets it on with our hero.

The fact that Honig’s story fits the classic Swinging ‘60s spy model is part of what makes it cool. So is the artwork. The cover painting by Mort Künstler shows Brackett and the villain’s mistress being lowered into a pool full of piranhas. The cinematic interior illustration is by Gil Cohen.

Another classic yarn in MAQ #2 was written by my late friend Robert F. Dorr, who penned scores of MAM stories of all kinds before he focused on writing military aviation history books starting in the 1980s.

Dorr’s story — “Castro’s Bacterial Warfare Chief Wants to Defect. My Job-Get Him!” — is one of my favorites by Bob. It comes from MAN’S ILLUSTRATED, April 1971 and is one of those MAM stories that uses the “as told to” device and a photo of the supposed teller of the story to make it seem like it’s a true account.

MAQ #2 also includes a cool spy yarn from MAN’S LIFE, October 1973, titled “She Knew Too Much to Live.” One of the notable things about it is that the cover of that issue and interior art for the story were done by Vic Prezio. Prezio started out doing cover art for the pre-WWII pulp mags. When the MAM genre emerged in the early ‘50s, Prezio jumped on board. He went on to become one of the best and most prolific MAM artists.

In addition to classic spy fiction yarns, MAQ #2 includes several non-fiction stories and articles. One — titled “How Would You Do as CIA Spy?” — is a reprint of a well-researched article about how American spies are recruited, trained and used by that venerable espionage agency.

This issue also includes two of what Bill Cunningham and I decided to make regular features. One is a cover art gallery, In this case, it features covers with spy-related cover art.

The second regular feature in the MAQ is what we’re calling the MAQ “GAL-LERY” — a section with photos of and info about some of the beautiful women who were popular “glamour girls” in the MAM era.

The GAL-LERY in MAQ #2 goes with our espionage theme by featuring three ladies who appeared in classic spy movies and TV shows: Diana Rigg, Monica Vitti, and Ursula Andress.

Issue 2 of the MEN’S ADVENTURE QUARTERLY has already received some nice reviews, such as authors Dan Leo, Michael Stradford and James Reasoner. For example, Reasoner, the award-winning writer of scores of Western, historical and action/adventure novels, said in a post on his Rough Edges blog: “There’s no sophomore jinx for the second issue of MEN’S ADVENTURE QUARTERLY. It remains one of the most impressive, beautifully designed publications available today.”

I expect MAQ #3 will be published in September. The theme for that issue will be “Vigilante Justice.” In addition to including authorized reprints of “Book Bonus” versions of Don Pendleton’s first two Executioner novels, it will include a special introduction by Don’s wife Linda Pendleton, a prolific author in her own right, as well as a special intro by the legendary comics writer and novelist Chuck Dixon. As you may know, Chuck’s own work includes some great “vigilante justice” characters, including Marvel’s PUNISHER and the badass hero of his Levon Cade novel series.

Oh, yeah. MAQ #2 is literally gonna be a killer issue.

* * * * *

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.

Related reading, viewing and listening . . .