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.
Tales from the wild frontier.
In Australia cowboys were called stockmen or ringers, but by any other name they raised hell the same way. At least, they did in pulp paperbacks. Below are ten vintage covers for westerns published in Australia during the 1950s and 1960s, and you can see more western covers from the U.S. here. Australia
, Brad. E. Ford
, Matt Cregan
, Emerson Dodge
, Lytle Shannon
, C.J. Drewman
, Marshal Grover
, Glen Murriel
, Brad Cordell
, Hamilton Peck
, cover art
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1947—Heyerdahl Embarks on Kon-Tiki
Norwegian ethnographer and adventurer Thor Heyerdahl and his five man crew set out from Peru on a giant balsa wood raft called the Kon-Tiki in order to prove that Peruvian natives could have settled Polynesia. After a 101 day, 4,300 mile (8,000 km) journey, Kon-Tiki smashes into the reef at Raroia in the Tuamotu Islands on August 7, 1947, thus demonstrating that it is possible for a primitive craft to survive a Pacific crossing.
1989—Soviets Acknowledge Chernobyl Accident
After two days of rumors and denials the Soviet Union admits there was an accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine. Reactor number four had suffered a meltdown, sending a plume of radioactive fallout into the atmosphere and over an extensive geographical area. Today the abandoned radioactive area surrounding Chernobyl is rife with local wildlife and has been converted into a wildlife sanctuary, one of the largest in Europe.
1945—Mussolini Is Arrested
Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, his mistress Clara Petacci, and fifteen supporters are arrested by Italian partisans in Dongo, Italy while attempting to escape the region in the wake of the collapse of Mussolini's fascist government. The next day, Mussolini and his mistress are both executed, along with most of the members of their group. Their bodies are then trucked to Milan where they are hung upside down on meathooks from the roof of a gas station, then spat upon and stoned until they are unrecognizable.
1933—The Gestapo Is Formed
The Geheime Staatspolizei, aka Gestapo, the official secret police force of Nazi Germany, is established. It begins under the administration of SS leader Heinrich Himmler in his position as Chief of German Police, but by 1939 is administered by the Reichssicherheitshauptamt, or Reich Main Security Office, and is a feared entity in every corner of Germany and beyond.
1937—Guernica Is Bombed
In Spain during the Spanish Civil War, the Basque town of Guernica is bombed by the German Luftwaffe, resulting in widespread destruction and casualties. The Basque government reports 1,654 people killed, while later research suggests far fewer deaths, but regardless, Guernica is viewed as an example of terror bombing and other countries learn that Nazi Germany is committed to that tactic. The bombing also becomes inspiration for Pablo Picasso, resulting in a protest painting that is not only his most famous work, but one the most important pieces of art ever produced.
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