God, how stupid of me. I should have known those glowing Trip Advisor reviews on this place were fake.
Above, the cover of Homicide Hotel written by Joe Barry, aka Joe Barry Lake, for the Aussie publisher Phantom Books, 1951. The art, which depicts a scene that doesn’t occur in the text, is uncredited.
Be careful about looking for cheap thrills—you might just find them.
This issue of Adam magazine with its nice cover art illustrating Arthur J Bryant’s story “Hey-Day in Hong Kong” appeared this month in 1971. Bryant’s story, which has a convincing sense of firsthand realism, is about an Aussie traveler searching Hong Kong’s red light district for a “yum-yum girl” but ends up attacked by three thugs. Turns out the hooker employs the toughs because she wants any man who purchases her services to prove he’s deserving of her gifts by fighting for her. You haven’t really had sex unless you’ve done it after being punched in the ribs and eye. Try it sometime.
Elsewhere inside you get more fiction, a bit of fact, plus the usual assortment of humor and models, including, notably, nudist icon Diane Webber, aka Marguerite Empey. The cover art for Adam was painted by Jack Waugh and Phil Belbin. The pieces are always unsigned, but we’re thinking this is Belbin’s work because he was the go-to guy during Adam’s later years. Don’t quote us on it, though. Both Belbin and Waugh have departed this world, and we doubt there’s an Adam archive somewhere definitively crediting the covers. Anyway, we have thirty-four scans below and so many other issues of this magazine tucked away in the website it’s silly. If you want to see them just click here.
British adventure magazine takes readers to the ends of the Earth.
The British men’s adventure magazine The Wide World debuted in 1898 and lasted all the way until 1965. That’s not quite National Police Gazette or Argosy longevity, but it’s still very good. During that entire time, a span encompassing two global conflagrations and various economic fluctuations, it failed to print only four issues—including once when a German aerial bomb flattened its pre-press facility.
The magazine’s founder was George Newnes, who also published The Strand Magazine, Tit-Bits and other titles. With The Wide World he hit upon an audacious marketing gimmick—he assured readers that every word in the magazine was true, and made “Truth Is Stranger than Fiction” the publication’s slogan. This claim was hot air, of course, but that idea—and the conceit that adventurers were a sort of global club that owed allegiance to one another—helped make the magazine a success among readers who considered themselves men of the world, or longed to be.
A strong focus on exotic lands and inscrutable dark-skinned inhabitants resistant to the white man’s ordained incursions likewise played well with readers, as Britain’s colonial era evolved into a post-colonial one. That makes The Wide World a repository of some ugly attitudes, however the magazine also managed such feats as being the first publication to report the death of Butch Cassidy in Bolivia, and publishing stories by many literary notables. Above and below you see a collection of covers, nicely rendered in pulp style by various artists.
, South Africa
, New Zealand
, The Wide World
, Butch Cassidy
, George Newnes
, magazine art
Good boy. Now that you’ve got begging mastered let’s see how you do at playing dead.
Above, Marked for Murder, written by Robert O. Saber, aka Milton K. Ozaki, published originally in 1955, with this edition from Australia’s Phantom Books appearing in 1956. Artist unknown.
Survival of the fittest—or just the person with the gun.
This issue of Australia’s Adam published in December 1971 has a rather nice cover illustrating a story by Adam Greenhill entitled “Nightmare in Timor.” We see the moonlit moment when the villains try to kill the hero, but need to make it look as if he’s been hacked to death by Timorese tribesmen. The girl, named Violet in the tale, plans to shoot the protagonist only in the unlikely event he survives the fight.
One thing about these 1970s Aussie writers is that they use the nearby lands of Timor, Malaysia, the Philippines, et al. to good effect, setting many stories in the jungles of those countries. The best writers do more than simply depend on exotic locales. They manage to slip in details that bring the settings to life, such as quirks of language, protocols of interpersonal interaction, or the fare in local markets and restuarants.
American writers from the same period didn’t seem as interested in their own exotic neighbors such as Guatemala, Belize, etc., although Mexico figures somewhat prominently in U.S. pulp, as well as in film noir. In any case, Adam remains our favorite men’s magazine, and the many stories set in mysterious Asian lands are a major reason. We have twenty-nine scans below to bring your 2014 to a pleasant end.
The cover changed substantially between editions but the weirdest bit stayed.
Remember our set of paperback covers featuring women who had died with their eyes agape? Here’s another to add to the list, which we saw over at Bill Crider’s blog. It’s Robert O. Saber’s The Affair of the Frigid Blonde, published in 1950 by the Handi-Books imprint of Quinn Publishing Company, Inc. This one is a bit strange, though, because of the three men seemingly hovering in mid-air to get a look through the deceased’s skylight. We chalk the bizarre perspective up to artistic license, or maybe we’re just not seeing it right. In fact, maybe she’s not even dead. Maybe she’s just in a state of shock. If we saw three guys floating above our skylight we’d fall into a stupor too. But no, the synopsis makes clear she’s dead.
Anyway, Robert Saber was a pseudonym used by Milton K. Ozaki, who also published frequently under his own name. The book also appeared in Australia as The Deadly Blonde in 1953, published by the Australian imprint Phantom Books, with slightly altered art. Among other details, what looks like a robot but is probably supposed to be a lamp was removed from the background, a clock disappeared, a humanoid shadow at the far right edge vanished, and the woman’s undies were made less sheer (though the floating guys still get a pretty interesting angle). All in all, this is very instructive example of how cover art changes between editions of pulp paperbacks. We’ll dig up more examples later.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1930—Chrysler Building Opens
In New York City, after a mere eighteen months of construction, the Chrysler Building opens to the public. At 1,046 feet, 319 meters, it is the tallest building in the world at the time, but more significantly, William Van Alen's design is a landmark in art deco that is celebrated to this day as an example of skyscraper architecture at its most elegant.
1969—Jeffrey Hunter Dies
American actor Jeffrey Hunter dies of a cerebral hemorrhage after falling down a flight of stairs and sustaining a skull fracture, a mishap precipitated by his suffering a stroke seconds earlier. Hunter played many roles, including Jesus in the 1961 film King of Kings, but is perhaps best known for portraying Captain Christopher Pike in the original Star Trek pilot episode "The Cage".
1938—Alicante Is Bombed
During the Spanish Civil War, a squadron of Italian bombers sent by fascist dictator Benito Mussolini to support the insurgent Spanish Nationalists, bombs the town of Alicante, killing more than three-hundred people. Although less remembered internationally than the infamous Nazi bombing of Guernica the previous year, the death toll in Alicante is similar, if not higher.
1977—Star Wars Opens
George Lucas's sci-fi epic Star Wars premiers in the Unites States to rave reviews and packed movie houses. Produced on a budget of $11 million, the film goes on to earn $460 million in the U.S. and $337 million overseas, while spawning a franchise that would eventually earn billions and make Lucas a Hollywood icon.
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