Showing posts with label Robert Deis and Wyatt Doyle. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Robert Deis and Wyatt Doyle. Show all posts

Monday, October 30, 2023

Atomic Werewolves and Man-Eating Plants

The pulp-fiction and men's action-adventure connoisseurs Robert Deis and Wyatt Doyle are back at it again with a brand new volume for their Men's Adventure Library series (published by New Texture). The book is aptly titled Atomic Werewolves and Man-Eating Plants and it is a beautiful collection of vintage men's adventure magazine stories about ghosts, aliens, robots, vampires, werewolves, and creepy rats. Like many of their prior offerings, this book is available in an expanded hardcover edition as well as paperback.  

The collection begins with “A Century of Weird Tales”, written by PulpFest organizer Mike Chomko. This is an informative history on Weird Tales magazine's history, including full color cover panels by the likes of Virgil Finlay, Matt Fox, and Margaret Brundage. Chomko illustrates how Weird Tales really found its identity in 1924 when Farnsworth Wright assumed the editorial role. At that point, the magazine began a prosperous creative flow populated by some of the best writers of the 20th century – Robert Bloch, Robert E. Howard, Henry Kuttner, Hugh B. Cave, and Manly Wade Wellman, as well as artists like Hannes Bok, Jack Williamson, and Margaret Brundage. 

In “Weasels Ripped Their Flesh”, horror editor, critic, and author Stefan Dziemianowicz examines the influx of early, weird pulp-fiction stories that appeared in the mid to later 20th century Men's Action-Adventure Magazines (MAMs for short). Dziemianowicz points out that these MAM editors would often browse back issues of old pulp magazines to find riveting stories they could feature in their own publications. Titles like Cavalier, Fury, Men, and Peril featured stories previously authored by the likes of H.P. Lovecraft, Ray Bradbury, and Theodore Sturgeon. The article also includes artwork by John Leone and James Bingham.

Both Deis and Doyle offer their own experienced insight on “A Turn for the Weird:, a massive 27-page essay that not only explores the richness of weird pulp-fiction stories in the pages of MAMs, but also serves as an informative introduction on the many stories that saturate this impressive short-story collection. The duo also use this medium to explore the idea of MAMs historically featuring brawny, barrel-chested heroes that were impervious to harm. They show a stark contrast between the usual flavor of MAM writing to the more harrowing horror and terror tales that were sprinkled in. In these stories, readers welcomed the change and grew to accept that these heroes were prone to “fear, panic, mutilation, and fatalism.” The text also examines how the violence and savagery of these MAM stories served as an unexpected coping tool for military veterans that predominately bought and read these publications.

The stories culled from the MAMs and presented here offer a variety of creatures, traditional horror, science-fiction, and just plain 'ole weird writing. The authors featured include Gardner F. Fox, H.P. Lovecraft, Manly Wade Wellman, Rick Rubin, and Theodore Sturgeon. For eye candy, glorious artwork from John Leone, Basil Gogos, Mark Schneider, Vic Prezio, Clarence Doore, Dwight Howe, Fernando Fernandez, John Duillo, Norm Eastman, George Cross, and Mort Kunstler to name a few.

Needless to say, if you love horror, science-fiction, pulp-fiction, MAMs, or collectively the amazing body of work created by both Robert Deis and Wyatt Doyle, then this book is a mandatory addition to your library. With a title like Atomic Werewolves and Man-Eating Plants, why wouldn't it be? 

Buy a copy of this book HERE.

Monday, September 18, 2023

Exotic Adventures of Robert Silverberg

Robert Silverberg is one of the most popular science-fiction authors of all time. He has won numerous honors for his literary work, including Hugo and Nebula Awards as well as induction into the prestigious Science-Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame. Just as he gained a tremendous foothold on the science-fiction and fantasy genres in the 1950s, the publishing industry began to become stagnant with many magazines, digests, and paperback publishers ceasing production. One of those magazines was a Men's Action-Adventure offering called Exotic Adventures. It lasted only six total issues, but Silverberg contributed over 20 stories to the run using a variety of pseudonyms. 

Esteemed MAM historians Robert Deis and Wyatt Doyle have collected these stories into a mammoth volume aptly titled Exotic Adventures of Robert Silverberg. It is part of the duo's The Men's Adventure Library published by New Texture. The book features an informative introduction regarding both Silverberg and his contributions to MAMs, as well as the publication history on the short-lived Exotic Adventures magazine. 

In this intro, I thoroughly enjoyed the education on Silverberg's paperback sleaze novels. The author penned many genre novels for the sleaze publishers like Beacon, Regency, Midnight Reader, and Nightstand. There's an excellent backstory here on William Hamling, who played a prominent role in Silverberg's early success as a writer, including the sex novels and sexology articles that the author wrote. There is also information on Silverberg joining Scott Meredith's agency. Meredith was the premier literary agent of that era, and Deis and Doyle point out that Meredith sold excerpts from Silverberg's sex books to the MAMs to use for their shorts. This was the same thing that was happening with Lawrence Block during that time as well. 

I really enjoy adventure stories, and this volume is packed with some really good Silverberg stories that feature promiscuous women, admirable heroes, and exotic locations. Most of the themes are sex-oriented, with adventurers pushed to the brink of death by some folly they made with a vivacious woman. Nothing showcases that theme more than “Safari of Death”, a short story originally featured in the magazine's third issue with Silverberg using the pseudonym Leon Kaiser. Like many of these MAM stories, the author is the main character and the presentation is first-person. In this story, Kaiser (a married man) relays an affair he had with a married woman on a safari hunt in the French Cameroons. Before the hunt is through, Kaiser learns more about this woman's character and the extreme nature of her lust. Needless to say, “Safari of Death” ends with a grisly scene.

The best story in this volume is “Trapped by Mau Mau Terror”, a short originally published in issue four using a Silverberg pseudonym of Norman Reynolds. The story is set in Kenya during a time when the Kikuyu tribe was on a violent rise to power under the name Mau Mau. The protagonist explains in the first-person how he came to manage a farm in Nairobi. At 30 years of age, with Korean War experience, this young man finds himself in the arms of a woman on a night of horrifying bloodshed. Inside a farm house, the man and his lover fight off hordes of blood-crazed savages over the course of a very violent evening. This was a high-intensity, large body-count as Silverberg and his heroes methodically clear the house of intruders. In some ways, this reminded me of another MAM story called “Night Visit”, which was published in Adam in October 1976 (author and artist unknown). 

It wouldn't be a true MAM omnibus without at least one killer-crab story. The book gives the readers what they want with “Attacked by Monster Crabs”, featured in the magazine's third issue under the pseudonym Dave Callahan. This is a fun, rather meaningless story about a guy and his lover attacked by pinching monstrosities near Belize. Another highlight of the book is a more serious entry called “I Escaped from the Soviet Slave Camp”, featured in the sixth issue under the name Anna Lukacs. In first-person, Lukacs details the horrific invasion of Hungary by the Soviets and her enslavement as a sex-slave. While certainly not the same overtones, the violence and sadistic savagery of this story was similar to a 1967 book I recently read and reviewed called Tortured for Christ, however the focus was on the Soviet's invasion and atrocities committed in Romania. Silverberg's story is excellent and provided a harsh look at the historic horrors perpetrated by the notorious Soviet empire. 

Exotic Adventures of Robert Silverberg is worth its weight in gold and contains some fantastic stories. While this author will forever be ingrained in science-fiction and fantasy, his other literary work was just as exceptional and memorable. I'm glad that Robert Deis and Wyatt Doyle recognized the need to bring these stories to light. They continue to impress with each and every volume. Highly recommended! 

Buy a copy of this book HERE.

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

The Naked and the Deadly: Lawrence Block in Men's Adventure Magazines

The good people at The Men’s Adventure Library have compiled a collection of short stories and articles by Lawrence Block originally printed in Men’s Adventure Magazines. The collection is called The Naked and the Deadly, and it collects his magazine writings between 1958 and 1968. The mass-market paperback edition has a dozen stories, and the hardcover adds color art, explanatory materials and a bonus story from 1974. 

The introduction by Block explains how these articles and stories came to be. While working at the Scott Meredith agency, men’s publications would regularly call and say, “I need a 2,500-word article about a guy who survives a shipwreck,” and Block would make it happen. Trust me, it’s better when Block explains it. Bottom line: Don’t skip the intro.

Some of the stories included will be familiar to long-time Blockheads. “Great Istanbul Land Grab” and “Bring on the Girls” are extracts from existing Block novels starring his sleepless adventurer Evan Tanner. There are also three novellas starring his private detective Ed London previously reprinted in Block’s collection, One Night Stands and Lost Weekends. Puzzlingly, the book also includes a story attributed to Block’s pseudonym Sheldon Lord called “Queen of the Clipper Ships” that the author claims he didn’t write. Honestly, I don’t know why it was included in a Lawrence Block story collection at all.

Reviews of story compilations can be ponderous, so I sampled four selections for commentary:

“The Greatest Ship Disaster in American History” (Real Men, April 1958)

This is an article about an actual steamship called The General Slocum in 1904 that sailed from NYC on the East River with passengers destined for a church picnic downstream. Poor judgement results in an onboard fire that ended 1,000 passenger lives. It was a real disaster that Block brings alive in his pseudo-historical account

Block leans into his amplified version of events vividly underscoring descriptions of the burning flesh of the children on board. It’s a vivid nightmare of how human negligence can lead to mass casualties.

“She Doesn’t Want You” (Real Men, June 1958)

This is an allegedly non-fiction journalistic article about the inner-workings of the call-girl trade with the big revelation that a lot of these prostitutes are just doing it for the money and are secretly lesbians.

These faux investigative journalism pieces are hilarious in hindsight. Included are fake interviews with hookers who were perfectly straight before “the life” made them hate men and go lesbo. Block is a fun tour-guide for this silly expose that was probably pretty shocking at the time. Now it’s just funny.

“Killers All Around Me” (All Man, September 1961)

A staple of Men’s Adventure Magazines was the completely-fabricated first-person account of an experience that the magazine falsely claims is an authentic story. In this one, Block poses as C.C. Jones, allegedly telling the story of his job in the violent ward of an insane asylum.

He describes some of the crimes that landed the patients in the ward in graphic, grisly detail. He also describes the physical attacks he’s forced to ensure from the lunatics in the hospital. As always, it’s a well-written fake-expose from the author.

“Just Window Shopping” (Man’s Magazine, December 1962)

This is a straight-up fiction short story previously reprinted in One Night Stands and Lost Weekends about a Peeping Tom who likes to watch the ladies undress through their windows.

One night, he’s watching the hottest chick ever and she catches him. The reception he receives is quite unexpected. This is a nasty little story in line with the kind of stuff we used to see in Manhunt Magazine. Nothing fancy, but a sexy bit of noir worth reading.


Paperback Warrior Assessment:

Hardcore fans of Lawrence Block will enjoy this collection of his obscure oddities. It’s worth the purchase for the Ed London stories alone, if you don’t have them elsewhere. The faux journalism articles written by Block are plenty entertaining, but shouldn’t be conflated with his short mystery works.

If you’re a student of Men’s Adventure Magazine history and want the visceral experience of looking at the vivid art accompanying these articles and stories, go ahead and spring for the hardcover. The art extras and magazine commentary from the editors are a fascinating look back at this niche publishing phenomenon.

Overall, this collection from a mystery grandmaster is an easy recommendation. If you’re on the fence, take the plunge. 

To get a copy of this book, click HERE.

Thursday, January 12, 2023

Men's Adventure Quarterly #05

I can remember watching all of the old war films on TBS as a kid. My father had them on and I always camped out on the living floor to watch all of the action. I can remember repeated watches of The Dirty Dozen, The Wild Geese, Attack Force Z, and Devil's Brigade. Heck, my parents just celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary and “their song” is Mike Curb Congregation's “Burning Bridges”, the closing credits theme music of Kelly's Heroes. Needless to say, the team-based, do-or-die missions was ingrained into my childhood.

I was happy to learn that Bob Deis and Bill Cunningham's fifth issue of Men's Adventure Quarterly (MAQ) was dedicated to the team-combat “Dirty Mission” sub-genre of military-fiction and men's action-adventure. 

In the issue's opening pages, Deis traces the history of the concept, citing the 1965 novel and 1967 movie The Dirty Dozen as a possible catalyst for the numerous stories that appeared in men's adventure magazines. As Deis illustrates, the story that inspired The Dirty Dozen, “The Filthy Thirteen”, was published in 1944 in True: The Man's Magazine. Deis's opener is punctuated by glorious vintage artwork by Frank McCarthy, Norm Eastman, and popular Spanish comic book artist Vincent Sagrelles. 

The magazine's opening pages also features a short article by Bill Cunningham. He spotlights various films that featured unusual, unfortunate heroes partaking in dangerous military missions. Kudos to Cunningham for including one of my favorites, Uncommon Valor

Paperback Warrior is a big fan of Justin Marriott's magazines focusing on vintage books, pulps, comics, and more. One of his most recent projects is a series of fanzines dedicated to the British war comics and comic strips of the mid to late 20th century, Battling Britons. Using simple terms, he explains that the bigger British comic companies were Fleetway IPC and DC Thomson. These are like the Marvel and DC companies in the U.S. One of the things I found most interesting is that British monthly publications featured “pocketbooks”, 64-page stories that were sometimes written by military veterans. This provided a sense of realism and technical detail. Marriott's article is laced with spectacular comic panels from the likes of Battle Picture Weekly and Warlord as well as covers of Commando

The bulk of MAQ5 is dedicated to Eva Lynd, an iconic model that posed for MAM artists like Al Rossi, James Bama, and Samson Pollen. One of her most popular pairings was with artist Norm Eastman, which is a working relationship that Deis expands upon. There are numerous art panels and magazine covers to feast your eyes upon, including several that feature both Lynd and iconic male model/actor Steve Holland. In addition, Deis also briefly covers Lynd's work with artist Al Rossi, which was something I honed in on as a paperback fan. Book covers include Orrie Hitt's Women's Ward, Don Bartell's Strange Lovers, and one of the best books I read in 2022, Nude in the Sand, by John Burton Thompson. I really enjoyed the inclusion of fake movie posters portraying Lynd and Holland in action-packed military yarns. These are “fan” movie posters created by Vance Capley and David Goode, originally featured on a now defunct blog called Goode Stuff. Personally, I'm dying to see Fortress of the Damned. But, one can only dream of a film matching the power and vivid imagery of the faux poster.

Glorious Trash blog superstar Joe Kenney offers up a unique insight into his childhood. Kenney explains how he was submerged into the men's action-adventure genre, specifically MAMs and how they spawned his undying love for late 20th century paperbacks. I enjoy Kenney's blog and it was interesting to learn more about his life and what brought him to this wild dance. 

Most of the book's second half is dedicated to outrageous dirty mission stories, a majority featuring scantily-clad women. Stories like “The Captive Stalag”, “Lace Panty Guerillas”, “The Wild Lace Panty”, “Death Doll Platoon”, and the “Nazi Sex Circus”. The vivid artwork from Fernando Fernadez, Bruce Minney, and Gil Cohen enhances these stories and articles. These tales also feature female models like Lisa Karan, Carole Landis, and contemporary photographer/model Mala Mastroberte.

I seem to say the exact same thing after reading each new issue of MAQ: This is their best issue! I don't know where Cunningham and Deis find the time, energy, and dedication for all of these vintage magazines, artwork, reference material, books, the MAM CULTURE, to be featured in such a classy, professional way. This duo has side-projects, blogs, their own enjoyment, and families to tend to on top of what appears to be a full-time job creating these MAQ volumes. My hat remains tipped to their labors of love. MAQ #5 is...well Hell, it's their best issue yet! 

Buy a copy of this book HERE.

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Cryptozoology Anthology

In my I Watched Them Eat Me Alive review, I reminisced about being a kid and watching wacky horror movies that starred nature as the dastardly villain. On any weekend, you could find me glued to TBS or USA Network watching films like Day of the Animals (1977), Grizzly (1976), Empire of the Ants (1977), and Piranha (1978). These movies were so much fun because they put me into a realm of real-world horror. There was a slim possibility that I could meet my end facing a hockey-masked killer at a campsite. But, my own backyard had ants, bees, bear, and leaping squirrels that could easily bring my demise under extreme circumstances. 

Thanks to Robert Deis and Wyatt Doyle, the concept of man versus nature is explored within the confines of the literary world. Like their prior volumes, Weasels Ripped My Flesh, the aforementioned I Watched Them Eat Me Alive, and Maneaters, these two literary scholars have been scouring the pages of vintage pulps and men's adventure magazines (MAMs for short) for strange and mysterious creature stories. Combining their efforts with David Coleman (Ancient Lake, The Bigfoot Filmography), the trio edited Cryptozoology Anthology, a 2015 publication by New Texture. It contains a total of 13 stories culled from the pages of True Weird, Men, Sir!, and Man's World among others. The book also contains two informative, introductory articles about creatures in various pop-culture trends and media.

The whole collection is highly recommended, with these stories in particular as solid standouts:

“MacDonald's Nightmare Safari”

This was originally published in Man's Conquest, August 1959 and it's one of those stories supposedly written by the main character to convey his harrowing, real-life encounter to the reader. In this case, the protagonist and author is Jim MacDonald, a former WW2 engineer that theorizes where a motherlode of diamonds is located in the Mato Grosso jungles of Brazil. To obtain it, he'll need to travel through tribes of head-hungry Indians known as the Morcegos. With the help of an enemy (you read that right) and a sexy babe, Jim finds the diamonds and the truth behind the Morcegos' worship of a strange white beast referred to as The Guardian. The story begins and ends with a furious shootout, and is laced with the traditional escapism these stories are known for. This one will be memorable for a variety of reasons.

“The Man from Another Age”

Like the above story, Mike Flint is listed as the author and the protagonist in this story that appeared in Man's Illustrated, November 1958. The creature at hand is the Abominable Snowman, also known as the Yeti, one of the most popular creatures to appear in pop-culture. Flint and other adventurers form a hunting expedition on Mt. Everest. The story, at about 20 pages in length, documents Flint's struggle with the harsh elements. But, my favorite aspect of the story is Flint's interactions with a beloved character named Billy, a young man hoping to finally overcome his fears after years of living in cowardice. Essentially, it's Billy's story, who arguably could be “The Man from Another Age” instead of the dangerous creature. Again, escapism laced with danger, high-adventure, and terror makes this story a real standout. 

“Monster Bird That Carries Off Human Beings!”

With a title like that, how could it not be a riot? I've always liked Jack Pearl's writing, and we've covered several of his books and even devoted a podcast episode to his work. He mostly authored crime-fiction, military-fiction, and biographies. But, he dipped into the Cryptozoology stories in the MAMs, including this wild “non-fiction” article in Saga, May 1963. Pearl describes “real-life” events where humans have been snatched by giant birds, often referred to as Thunderbirds in ancient civilizations. These are crazy, sometimes terrifying stories of man versus nature gone wild. Pearl points out that early American pioneers like Jim Bridger and Daniel Boone have written accounts they've experienced with giant birds. It is far-fetched, unbelievable shock-writing, but it is just so much fun to read. It's a testament to an era of imagination and curiosity. Much like many of the stories featured in this anthology.

These stories all feature wild animals and creatures wreaking havoc on mankind. There's tales of dinosaurs in jungles, sea-monsters terrorizing ships, and more Yeti, Sasquatch, and Bigfoot stories. They are all enjoyable, fast-paced, exciting action-adventure yarns surely to please fans. The artwork on the magazine covers and inner-pages is included in glorious full-color, including artists like John Pike, Jack Dumas, Gil Cohen, Mort Kunstler, and Norm Eastman just to name a few. As a bonus, there's even a hidden story buried inside the book. When searching for it, just be careful where you place your fingers. You never know what hairy, horrific creature you're liable to touch! 

Buy a copy of the book HERE.

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

A Handful of Hell: Classic War and Adventure Stories by Robert F. Dorr

Back in 2016, Robert Deis and Wyatt Doyle teamed up for a book titled A Handful of Hell: Classic War and Adventure Stories by Robert F. Dorr. It is part of the duo's The Men's Adventure Library, published by New Texture. We've covered a number of these volumes, including I Watched Them Eat Me Alive, Barbarians on Bikes, and Cuba: Sugar, Sex, and Slaughter. Deis remains active with this project as well as his Men's Adventure Quarterly publication co-edited by Bill Cunningham. 

In A Handful of Hell's opening pages, Deis explains that he had received an email message from Dorr in November, 2009 concerning the recently-launched blog. Dorr had explained, with exclamation, that he wrote hundreds of articles for the men's pulp adventure magazines and wasn't aware that there was still a large fan base for those vintage publications. Deis was aware of Dorr's work and the two struck up a friendship which led to the creation of this book.

The book includes a 20 page chapter written by Dorr titled “My Plan Was To Be a Writer and an Adventurer...” Dorr writes that he had two main interests since childhood, the Air Force and writing. His first paid publication was in Air Force Magazine's November, 1955 issue. Although he couldn't be an Air Force pilot due to a hearing impairment, Dorr still served in the military in a very unique role. He enrolled in Army Language School and studied the Korean language for 20 months. He was then sent to Korea to listen to North Korean radio communications between 1958-1960. 

After his military stint, Dorr actively pursued writing and sold “The Night Intruders” to Real for their April, 1962 publication. He states in the book that this was the first of what became several hundred men's pulp adventure stories. Thankfully, Deis and Doyle include the story in this volume. In fact, the duo collected 17 stories (by my count) that are written by Dorr and culled from vintage magazines like Stag, Man's, Bluebook, Male, Real, and Man's Illustrated. Handful of Hell also includes color scans of the magazine covers and interior artwork that accompanied these original stories. That in itself makes the book wildly entertaining, but I'm a reader and here are a few short reviews of included stories.

“5 Downed GIs Who Gutted Ambush Alley”

This story was featured in the June, 1967 issue of Men. The setting is South Vietnam's Ia Drang Valley, a hotbed of violence controlled by The People's Army of North Vietnam. San Diego native Sid Reeder and his crew plunge into the valley when their chopper is shot down. As the helicopter lies upside down, the soldiers inside formulate a plan. The enemy forces are descending from the hillside to destroy what's left of the downed chopper. They have to choose whether they want to call in support and risk another chopper being shot down or just call in the coordinates and go on killin' and dyin'. When Reeder thinks about the helicopter's two ground-to-air rockets, he comes up with a new plan. I loved the story and the frantic pace in which it is told. Dorr showcases a distinct understanding of helicopter aviation and protocols and is able to transport that to the printed page in a way that isn't technically jarring for the reader. This was such a great story.

“The POW General Who Tried to Kill Himself”

In the November, 1965 issue of Man's, Dorr tells this real-life account of U.S. Major General William F. Dean's harrowing ordeal as a prisoner-of-war in North Korea. Dorr explains to readers that Dean was on the run through the Korean countryside after narrowly escaping incoming enemy forces. Separated from his men, Dean's journey took him through jungles, fields, and villages desperately searching for food and medial supplies. Eventually, he's betrayed by a Korean and turned over to the North Korean People's Army. After months of starvation, dehydration, and lack of medical treatment, Dean reached the point of physical torture. After endless rounds of interrogation, for weeks and weeks, Dean is instructed that he will be tortured to gain information about American forces, locations, and strategies. Dean knows that he has reached a tipping point where he may divulge information under the harsh treatment. His only rescue is suicide. Honestly, this is really a tough story to read considering the levels of violence and torture. However, Dean's real life account is vividly told by Dorr as a tribute to his perseverance, patriotism, and internal fortitude. Dean is an American hero and I love that Dorr had the courage to write this. It's a true testament to human endurance and honor. Note - For more information, read Dean's autobiography titled General Dean’s Story.

“The Impossible Raid”

Stag, January 1966 featured this WW2 aviation story about a solo run by a lone B-17 bomber piloted by Captain Barry Helm. His mission is to utilize thick fog to make a daring bombing run on a German base. By targeting a large fuel supply, the bombing can create maximum damage to the Germans. But, in order to execute this nearly impossible assignment, the bomber must enter the airspace at tree level. This avoids field-swept radar that picks up higher elevation aircraft. Combining the low entry level with the thick fog makes it a valiant opportunity to strike a major blow to the German offense. This is just a classic, simple aviation tale that utilizes Dorr's descriptive storytelling. I liked the story's presentation from both the American forces as well as the Germans. In a short story, the narrative's presentation of events in the air and on the ground was just so epic and compelling.

You can buy this book and other collections HERE. Don't forget to check out Men's Adventure Quarterly for even more fantastic vintage stories and artwork.

Friday, March 11, 2022

Men's Adventure Quarterly #04

Robert Deis and Bill  Cunningham have been doing God's work with their Men's Adventure Quarterly publication. It's an old-school throwback to the men's action-adventure magazines (MAMs) of the early to mid 20th century. The magazine's debut was in 2021 and featured westerns as the theme. The second issue focused on espionage and the third installment contained stories around vigilantes. This fourth installment is “The Jungle Girls Issue!” 

In the opening pages, Deis authors “It's a Jungle Girl Out There!”, a great article examining the origins of the “jungle girl” stories in fiction, magazines, and comics. Deis cites two of the genre's earliest works, H. Rider Haggard's 1886 novel She and William Henry Hudson's 1904 novel Green Mansions. I enjoyed the timeline Deis presents from these novels, including Edgar Rice Burroughs' Jungle Girl in 1932 and the 1940s/1950s movie serials and comics starring Nyoka the Jungle Girl. The introduction expands into the variations and eras of Sheena, Queen of the Jungle. It was a real education for me learning the concept of “jungle girl” and its place in literature and pop-culture.

The magazine dedicates 50+ pages to model, author, traveler, and icon, Jane Dolinger. Deis interviews Lawrence Abbott, author of the book Jane Dolinger: The Adventurous Life of an American Travel Writer. Throughout the interview, Abbott provides Dolinger's history from pin-up model to her books like The Head with the long Yellow Hair (1968) and Jaguar Princess (1964). It was interesting to learn her backstory, the travels, and about her marriage. Many of her articles and columns are reprinted, including "I Helped Shrink a Human Head" (Champion 09/1959), "I Found the Jaguar Princess" (Adventure 04/1965), and "The Jungle Killers Who Fight for Women" (All Man 05/1963). I found "Around the World with Jane and Camera" (Wildcat 07/1966) as a terrific insight into her traveling experiences in rural locations and hostile jungles. She led an incredible life and the magazine is loaded with gorgeous photos of her (NSFW).

Like prior issues, this issue is saturated with reprinted stories and art from vintage men's action-adventure magazines. First off is “The She-Wolf of Halmahera” (Spur 09/1959), a first-person account by Leonard Kelcey (not a real guy) who explains to readers his harrowing experiences in Indonesia tracking down a she-wolf/vampire seductress. “Yank Explorer Who Ruled Guatamala's Taboo Tribe” (For Men Only 08/1959) features cover art by the talented Mort Kunstler, which in itself is worth the price of admission, and interior art by one of my favorites, Gil Cohen. The story is written by Donald Honig, an author that Deis spotlights in the story's introduction page. Other stories include “Borneo's Topless Army” (True Adventures 10/1966, art by Vic Prezio and Basil Gogos) and “Forbidden Amazon Female Compound” (Stag 04/1968, art by Mort Kunstler).

The book includes pages upon pages of vintage MAM artwork, including a variety of stunning models from the era. There is also an article on Marion Michael, a German model and actress that starred in films like Liane, Jungle Goddess and Native Girl and the Slaver. The editors include lobby card and movie poster artwork featuring Michael as well as a number of photos. 

Men's Adventure Quarterly #04 looks absolutely fantastic on paper (wink wink). As an educational tool, Deis and Cunningham provide an academic approach to this genre and I learned a great deal more about the MAM industry and culture. Each issue of MAQ continues to improve and expand while also rekindling the same fires stoked by the legions of creators, artists, writers, publishers, and fans that came before it. Deis and Cunningham's collaboration is pure dedication to the spirit and heart of MAMs and I absolutely applaud their efforts. 

Get the book HERE.

Friday, September 17, 2021

Maneaters: Killer Sharks in Men's Adventure Magazines

Both Robert Deis and Wyatt Doyle have been doing God's work. Their collaboration on art coffee-table books like The Art of Samson Pollen (Pollen's Women, Pollen's Action, Pollen In Print), Eva: Men's Adventure Supermodel, and Mort Kunstler: The Godfather of Pulp Fiction Illustrators is nothing short of spectacular. But, my favorite of their collaborations is the series titled Men's Adventure Library Journal (New Texture). These books showcase not only great artwork from vintage Men's Adventure Magazines (MAMs) but also the fictional stories that accompanied them. We've covered a number of these titles here and on the podcast. Books like Barbarians on Bikes, Cuba: Suger, Sex, and Slaughter and He-Men, Bag Men & Nymphos

The latest entry in the Men's Adventure Library Journal series is Maneaters: Killer Sharks in Men's Adventure Magazines. The book is available in both hardcover (196 pgs) and softcover (172 pgs) editions. This collection features three decades of thrilling vintage shark stories, all complimented by vividly colorful, awe-inspiring artwork one would expect from the Men's Adventure Magazines. 

Inside, Deis' preface and Doyle's "Death Has Sharp Teeth" introductions outline the book's purpose and how sharks became the most common "man versus animal" stories in MAMs. They proved to be the best adversary, an underwater villain that later soared to new heights with the theatrical phenomena known as Jaws. Doyle explains that "...even among the onslaught of tigers, alligators, and bloodthirsty rodents, sharks were something special." Steve Cheskin echoes those sentiments with his informative foreword. Cheskin, the creator of the beloved Shark Week television programming on Discovery Channel, explains how the shows began in the late 1980s. He illustrates that there is a mystery about sharks, a natural fear of them that captivates people. 

Anyone familiar with MAMs, or Deis and Doyle's prior compilations, will appreciate their dedication to preserving the eye-catching artwork that mesmerized readers of these magazines. On Page 89, Mort Kunstler's artwork is presented as a terrific gallery. The gallery includes an informative write-up titled "The Godfather Meets Jaws." Beyond Kunstler, this book is loaded with artwork from the likes of Ken Barr, Bruce Minney, Walter Richards, Clarence Doore, Wil Hulsey, and Robert Stanley. I'm not an art aficionado, but these paintings are simply incredible. 

With nearly 20 stories, there's plenty of meat to sink your teeth into. From Ray Nelson's cleverly funny "The Mail Carrying Shark" (Real, Sep. 1953) to Tom Darcy's gruesome adventure "The Sharks Got My Legs" (Man's Adventure, Oct. 1959), these stories are outrageously scary, but possess action and adventure narratives featuring prevalent heroes. 

If you aren't a Men's Adventure Library Journal consumer, what's stopping you? Beyond just this Maneaters book, there are hundreds of awesome paintings, gripping stories and unique analysis saturating these awesome compilation and coffee-table books. This is such a neat nostalgia that celebrates a special place in American literature. There's no better place to test the waters than this shark-infested feast.

Monday, August 30, 2021

Paperback Warrior Podcast - Episode 93

On Episode 93, Eric presents the life and literary work of Edgar Award-Winning author Clark Howard. Eric reviews many of Howard's novels, including his 1970 Fawcett Gold Medal paperback The Arm. Tom reviews the 1959 paperback debut of the Psi-Power series and Eric reveals an embarrassing debt. Listen on any podcast app, or download directly HERE

Listen to "Episode 93: Clark Howard" on Spreaker.

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Men's Adventure Quarterly #02

Earlier in the year, Men's Adventure Quarterly made its debut. The concept is to bring back the style and substance of action-adventure magazines for men (MAMs), those tough-guy magazines that prospered after the pulp magazines lost their appeal. The first issue of Men's Adventure Quarterly, edited by Robert Deis and Bill Cunningham (also graphic design), focused on western literature and artwork and included a number of reprinted stories from vintage MAMs. It was with great joy to receive this brand new issue, which has an espionage theme similar to Ian Fleming's James Bond. In addition, it features a guest introduction by Paperback Warrior's very own scholar, Tom Simon. So that alone is worth the price of admission.

Men's Adventure Quarterly features artwork by the legendary Mort Kunstler as well as well-known peers like Walter Popp, Basil Gogos and Gil Cohen. This issue includes seven spy stories, a special showcase of artwork from classic MAMs, introductions by Deis and Cunningham, and a photographic look at the popular female spy craze. 

We like colorful illustrations, but our meat and potatoes here at Paperback Warrior are fiction reviews. I had the opportunity to read the issue cover to cover and here are capsule reviews of a couple of included stories:

The Deadly Spy Mystery Of The Formosa Joy Girls

This story first appeared in the March 1963 issue of Man's Action and features interior art by artist Basil Gogos. The author is an unknown name in Brand Hollister. The reason is because of the often used MAM marketing gimmick of these authors pretending to be retired spies who are forced to use pen names to preserve their own safety. In this story, Hollister and his partner Mastin are employed as US counter-intelligence agents. They both work to determine who is divulging information from Formosa (a former island of Taiwan) into Red China. As Hollister's story unfolds, the leak in U.S. intelligence is stemming from Madam Fu-Ming's strip club. There are a few shootings and a mystery to make the story stand out. Overall, I really enjoyed this short story of espionage.

The Kremlin Agent Will Be Wearing A Pink Nightgown

Martin Fass wrote short stories for MAMs while also contributing to the daily Nero Wolfe newspaper comic strip. This Fass story was first featured in the October 1961 issue of Male. A two-page illustration by Walter Popp follows the narrative. The story uses another popular marketing trick from the period when the writer receives first-hand information from a spy or law enforcement member. Typically blue-collar males swallowed it hook, line and sinker due to the bogus photos showing the "real" person passing the story to the author. The story unfolds in Germany and features a beautiful woman named Magda Karoli working for Major Mancuso in a US. counter-intelligence agency. While Mancuso is away at meetings, Magda bugs his office in hopes of obtaining valuable intelligence reports that she can provide a Hungarian spy ring that serves the Soviet Union. As leaks occur frequently, Fass's story concentrates on Mancuso's robust investigation. I thought this was the best story that Deiss and Cunningham chose for this issue. I liked the interaction between Magda and Mancuso and the tension that moves slowly as the noose tightens on this network of spies. Kudos for the superb ending with Magda seducing her way through another bureaucracy.

With 157 full-color pages, Men's Adventure Quarterly Issue 2 is another big success. Like Deis's other contributions (Barbarians on Bikes, Cuba: Sugar, Sex, and Slaughter, Cryptozoologoy Anthology), the book is stacked with vintage stories, stunning artwork and a real sense of purpose. The magazine honors the men and women that contributed consistently to the Men's Action-Adventure Magazines that populated store shelves in the mid-20th century. Deis and Cunningham's hot-blooded passion for this style of storytelling is exhibited through their hard work and steadfast dedication to the art form. Raise your glasses high in appreciation. Or, better yet, go purchase a copy and support their latest effort.

Buy a copy of this magazine HERE

Friday, April 3, 2020

I Watched Them Eat Me Alive

I was born in 1976 and grew up in the 80s watching horror movies from the 60s and 70s on Cable networks like TBS, WGN and USA. One of my favorite sub-genres was the killer creature features that were incredibly popular in the mid to late-1970s. Films like “Grizzly” (1976), “Empire of the Ants” (1977), “Willard” (1971) and “Day of the Animals” (1977) were popular selections for weekend television and brick and mortar video rental stores.

Perhaps the most successful of the genre was 1975's blockbuster shark flick “Jaws”, leading to three sequels and a slew of similar aquatic horror movies like “Piranha” (1978) and “Orca” (1977). There were even a number of paperback titles like “Croc” (David Hagberg; 1976) and “The Long Dark Night” (David Fisher; 1976) that ran the gamut from deadly subway crocodiles to packs of rabid dogs. When it came to deadly animal attacks, nothing was off the table.

Until most recently, I had assumed that the killer animal/creature sensation was simply a product of the 1970s. However, Men's Adventure Library's 2017 book “I Watched Them Eat Me Alive” (New Texture), edited by adventure magazine scholars Robert Deis and Wyatt Doyle, showcases a myriad of horrific stories and grizzly paintings that dominated “most of the 160 different pulp magazines between the 1940s-1970s”. While skirting the line between horror and adventure (and even science-fiction), there are no boundaries in terms of savage, bloody action.

In 120+ pages, Robert and Wyatt present hundreds of magazine covers and panels, complete with issue dates and artist and author credits. The two historians also present separate essays compiled as “Funny as Hell: Killer Creatures in Men's Adventure Mags”. These essays not only explain the origins of the literary phenomenon, but also who the publisher's target audiences were. In thought provoking analysis, Wyatt metaphorically links the violent animals attacks to blue collar men's struggles with “life's hassles, adjustments, responsibilities and the uncertainties of life”. By connecting the two, it's easy to envision the tired, blue-collar working man finding enjoyment and similarities with each claw mark and animal bite.

The book begins with stories by Stan Smith and Robert Silverberg and focus on the killer or monster crab sensation. I found both of these enjoyable and was fond of Silverberg's inclusion as I enjoyed his crime-noir novel “Blood On the Mink” (reviewed HERE). After the brief “Flying Rodents Ripped My Flesh” story by Lloyd Parker (the only Sugar Glider horror story I know of), the sensational deadly gorilla short “Terror Safari” by Lester Hutton was presented from the January 1961 issue of Rage. The book finished with terror in two American locales - “Strange Revenge of Wyoming's Most Hunted Giant Puma”, by Robert F. Dorr and “Trapped in the Bayou's Pit of a Million Snakes” by Walter Kaylin, the best stories in the compilation.

From vivid, horrifying paintings and illustrations to genre analysis, “I Watched Them Eat Me Alive” was an eye-opening (and sometimes eye-closing) reading experience. Like the duo's other historic chronicles of pulp adventure magazines, this is a mandatory inclusion for any vintage action-adventure or pulp collector. As I've mentioned in an earlier review of their “Barbarians on Bikes”, the idea of actually owning these antiquarian, vintage magazines is a fool's errand. It's an expensive hobby considering the secondhand market pricing combined with product shortage. Robert and Wyatt have ultimately paid the price for all of us by compiling hundreds and hundreds of high quality scans for future generations to enjoy. It's a labor of love that's appreciated by all. Godspeed ahead!

Buy a copy of this book HERE

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Barbarians on Bikes: Bikers & Motorcycle Gangs in Men's Pulp Adventure Magazines

When it comes to post-apocalyptic and men's action-adventure, Paperback Warrior has featured a number of reviews of books featuring bikers and biker gangs. From sprawling doomsday sagas like 'The Last Ranger' and 'Outrider' to gritty vigilante novels like 'Hell Rider', the inclusion of motorcycles and their riders is a consistent aspect of the freewheeling warrior spirit.  While most of our attention has been given to the 80s and 90s action paperbacks, in all actuality the motorcycle-fiction genre reached a fevered success much earlier. Between the 1950s to 1970s, men's action-adventure pulp magazines featured wild, colorful and over-the-top biker paintings and illustrations. The stories themselves ranged from harrowing military feats to Hell's Angels styled escapism for blue-collar males. It was an immensely popular and competitive market for the publishing industry.

Esteemed scholars Robert Deis and Wyatt Doyle (The Men's Adventure Library, have collaborated on a number of historic accounts and publishing trends in vintage Men's Pulp Adventure Magazines (MAMs). Their 2016 coffee-table archive is dedicated to the biker sub-genre within the publishing industry of the mid-20th Century. Titled “Barbarians on Bikes: Bikers & Motorcycle Gangs in Men's Pulp Adventure Magazines” (New Texture), this 130-page book chronicles hundreds upon hundreds of magazine covers, gate-fold spreads and a brief introduction that cites 1947's “cycle-rally-gone-wild” in the Northern California town of Hollister as a real-life catalyst for America's fascination with biker culture. The book also features an analysis by author Paul Bishop, a former LAPD detective and author of the terrific 'Fey Croaker' detective series.

While I enjoy book and magazine covers, my expertise is typically dedicated to the in-between pages. I love reading and reviewing great fiction, but have a soft place in my heart for the artwork adorning all of these great paperbacks. It's rewarding to find that same passion lies within Robert and Wyatt's labor of love. The astronomical prices of vintage magazines, combined with the rarity of finding intact 70-year old magazines, makes “Barbarians on Bikes” a must-have for anyone that appreciates the action-adventure culture (films, comics, magazines, paperbacks). The high-quality, full blown scans of these hard-to-find magazines is an all-you-can-devour eye candy buffet. Personally, this book is about as close as I'll ever come to holding and owning these vintage and antiquarian men's magazines.

“Barbarians on Bikes” showcases Bob and Wyatt's undying love for a time and place in history that we'll never experience again. Their dedication and hard work unearthing these historic treasures for today’s generation are an absolute delight. For readers, collectors, historians and anyone else remotely interested in men's action-adventure literature, pulp magazines and motorcycles, “Barbarians on Bikes” is mandatory for your home library or coffee-table.

Buy a copy of this book HERE

Friday, March 6, 2020

He-Men, Bag Men, and Nymphos

During the 1950s and 1960s, Men’s Adventure Magazines like “Stag” and “For Men Only” told salacious stories - often masquerading as non-fiction journalism - of daring deeds and lusty ladies around the world. The magazines were illustrated with vivid action drawings by many of the same artists who created the cover art for the vintage action and crime paperbacks we adore.

Robert Deis and Wyatt Doyle have preserved many of the great stories and art from these magazines in a series of anthology books called Men's Adventure Library published by New Texture. These books are associated with the website One such compilation focuses on Walter Kaylin (1921-2017), a top writer in this interesting sub-genre. The book is called “He-Men, Bag Men and Nymphos,” and it’s a lovingly-curated Kaylin Greatest Hits collection with 15 of the writer’s stories from the men’s adventure magazines spanning from 1956 to 1978. There are also a few tribute pieces about Kaylin and his work.

Reviewing a short-story compilation is always a challenge, so I’ll just touch on three representative highlights:

Snow-Job From a Redhead

This story originally appeared in the June 1956 issue of “Men.” It’s a first-person narration by Fred who violently steals a small statue of a black bull from a fellow crook in an ambush doublecross. He’s part of a small smuggling crew meeting at a rooming house near Los Angeles operated by a sexy redhead who’s initially resistant to Fred’s advances.

What is it about the statue that makes it worth killing to possess? Can Fred withstand pressure from the local police? Will he get lucky with the redhead? Can he get away with his mini-caper, or will his lustful big mouth get in the way? All of these questions are answered in this gripping short story.

Kaylin writes in a dialog-heavy style without a lot of exposition, which allows the reader to catch up to the action in progress. The anthology editors were wise to start the compilation with a great doublecross story like “Snow-Job From a Redhead.” After finishing it, you’ll want to move onto other Kaylin stories.

The Nymph Who Leads an African Death Army

With a title like that, I needed to know more, which was often the idea behind the headlines and illustrations in these men’s magazines. This particular story originally appeared in the October 1960 edition of “Men.” The piece is presented as a piece of journalism - like a feature one might read in the National Geographic or The New Yorker - but every word came from the mind of Kaylin.

The story is about Max Bosch and his group of international solders-of-fortune known as the Butcher Boys who arrive in Camaroon and take over a peaceful village. The group of tough thugs is presented in contrast to Harry Tapp, a benevolent American living peacefully among the natives, establishing small businesses such as a general store and used car dealership. He’s a prince of a guy who teaches the Africans to play “Three Blind Mice” on the trumpet, a plot point that becomes brilliantly relevant as the tale moves to its violent climax.

Kaylin could write a helluva fight scene and this story has plenty to enjoy as Tapp turns to a full-breasted hill woman named Aunt Edna for assistance with his mercenary problem. She has a close relationship with a badass crew of African jungle dwellers, and she’s happy to supply them as muscle for Tapp’s crusade against Bosch’s Butcher Boys...for a price.

As alliances shift and the bloodbath becomes inevitable, “The Nymph Who Leads an African Death Army” becomes an exciting survival story and a high-point of this superb collection.

Surf Pack Assassins

Kaylin was such a prolific contributor to these
magazines that his stories often appeared under pen names to hide the fact that his imagination was saturating the market. This was the case for his piece in the August 1967 issue of “Male” magazine titled “Surf Pack Assassins” originally published under the pen name Roland Empey.

Kaylin has a lot of fun with this one trotting out the surf lingo in this story of an informal American surfing club riding the waves as part of an international hang ten tour. They’re a rowdy crowd who surfs all day and drinks themselves blind by the beach bonfire every night. Harmless fun, right?

As the story continues, it becomes clear that not all as it seems with the surf society. African democracy leaders are dying in cities corresponding with the surf crew’s travels. Yes, as the title promises, these aren’t ordinary surf-bums, they are a covert group of talented killers.

Meanwhile, a member of a U.S. intel agency is investigating the surfers to see if its even possible that a group of burnouts could possibly be assassins. The undercover infiltration story is exciting stuff and every bit as good as the best ‘Nick Carter: Killmaster’ paperback. The story went on a bit too long, but it was a thoroughly enjoyable read.

* * *

“He-Men, Bag Men and Nymphos” is an important collection of delightful stories from a writer who deserves to be remembered. The guys at Men's Adventure Library should be commended for putting together such a lovely-packaged book packed with winning stories and illustrations from the original magazine stories.

Mostly, I’m glad Walter Kaylin is being remembered. He was a talented writer with an interesting niche market that could have easily been lost to the ages if it weren’t for this important volume. Kaylin wrote a single mystery novel for Fawcett Gold Medal called “Another Time, Another Woman” published in 1963 that I’d like to check out sometime. In the meantime, there are a smattering of Kaylin magazine stories in other anthologies covering this genre to read and enjoy. Highly recommended. 

Buy a copy of this book HERE

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Cuba: Sugar, Sex, and Slaughter

After the pulp magazines disappeared, they were largely replaced by a more gritty and realistic magazine genre collectively known as Men’s Adventure Magazines (MAMs). These glossy, color publications featured stories and artwork by the same people servicing the men’s paperback original market in the 1950s and 1960s. Magazines like “Adventure” and “Real Men” were filled with colorful illustrations and stories designed to appeal to working class men returning home from the wars of the Mid-20th Century.

The Men’s Adventure Library Journal is a labor of love for Robert Deis and Wyatt Doyle with a mission of preserving the salacious stories and art from the MAMs in beautiful-themed compilations that both entertain and put the stories in some historical context. Their latest release is “Cuba: Sugar, Sex, and Slaughter,” and it’s a total pleasure to read and own.

One of the conceits in MAMs is the fictional story presented as non-fiction, and several of the Cuba stories in this volume fall into that category. “Brotherhood of the Scar” is a fictional story from a 1959 issue of “Adventures for Men” by Jack Barrows that falsely claims to be “an eye-witness story of an ex-GI who was brutally tortured by Batista’s savage Gestapo and lived to join the secret underground army that swore vengeance at any price.” The story itself is a 33-page torturous bloodbath that will make fans of the men’s adventure series paperbacks of the 1970s and 1980s feel right at home.

Another highlight was “Kiss the Skull of Death My Beautiful Muchacha” allegedly by Linda Rogers as told to Jim McDonald (actually a work of complete fiction by McDonald). The story originally appeared in the September 1965 issue of “New Man” with graphic cheesecake art by the great Norman Saunders lovingly reproduced in this anthology. The soft-core sex opening grabs the reader as the American female nightclub singer is ravished by her Cuban lover during Fidel’s revolution. One thing leads to another and our heroine is captured and turned over to “El Toro” for torture and interrogation. This is exciting and lurid stuff for men of any era. 

The stories collected and preserved here were an important part of America’s literary history and the Men’s Adventure Library Journal guys are doing important work keeping this stuff available. Arguably, the violent and sexy art of this genre was just as historically significant as the stories themselves. Fortunately, the editors of “Cuba” have reproduced scads of cover art and interior illustrations to further give the stories further context and provide a feast for the reader’s eyes.

More information about the MAMs can be found at the website, and all of the themed reprint books compiled thus far can be bought on Amazon. In the meantime, “Cuba: Sugar, Sex, and Slaughter” is an essential anthology for fans of sexy, blood-on-the-knuckles fiction and illustration art. Highly recommended.