Vintage Pulp Nov 9 2015
Aren’t you a little old for this sort of thing?

Bernard Wolfe is known for several reasons, not least of them for being Leon Trotsky’s personal secretary in Mexico City, but he was also a novelist of wide-ranging interests. Come On Out, Daddy was his Hollywood book, about a New York author who moves out west to cash in on an easy screenwriting job. While making a couple thousand dollars a week for doing very little he runs into the usual assortment of jaded Tinseltown characters—from big stars to little wannabes—and trysts with an assortment of disposable beauties before of course meeting the woman of his dreams. It’s episodic due to it being partly cobbled together from short stories published in Playboy and Cavalier, but reasonably well regarded as a cultural satire. Life described it as “garrulously and surrealistically told by a huge cast of people in varying stages of corruption.” 1963 on the hardback, and 1964 on the above, with cool cover art by James Meese.


Vintage Pulp Nov 8 2015
Representative democracy in action.

Nature-attacks-man covers are commonplace on men’s adventure magazines, and we’ve seen virtually every species in the animal kingdom get their revenge eventually. Today it’s the eagles’ turn thanks to this November 1957 issue of Man’s Adventure with art by Clarence Doore. What would be nice is if there was a piece of fiction to go along with this striking painting but there isn’t. So we’ll make one up: 

It was a tough call for the eagles. Some pointed out that humans don’t generally hunt or eat eagles, and many agreed that this fact was in man’s favor. Plus they put us on their coins, some noted, which is a nice tribute. But others said it isn’t about only us raptors, but rather all the birds—our brethren the turkeys, the ducks, and especially the chickens, those most hapless of fowl. Though the few of us who’ve had a chance to eat chicken agree they’re incredibly tasty.
But we digress. Even if some of us have no love for the other birds, consider the big picture. Man is turning nature into a parking lot. And for what? Money—the very substance they use our images upon. Oh bitter irony. Plus, have you noticed how hot it’s been lately? They definitely have something to do with that, the destructive fuckers, and since we don't have sweat glands elevated heat is a real inconvenience. So, eagle-on-man violence—all those in favor? Nays? Right, let’s go. Aim for the eyes. They really hate that.


Vintage Pulp Oct 11 2015
What light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and you, bitch, are toast.

It’s Santo time again. When last we checked in, the masked avenger was battling werewolves and turning them into dog chow. This time out, in a foray entitled Santo vs. Las Mujeres Vampiro, aka Santo Versus the Vampire Women, he’s got a problem with vampires. Female vampires. Or more to the point—Thorina, the queen of the vampires, who issues forth from a cobwebby dungeon with a killer thirst and some harmful ideas. Her plan is to put the bite on a local beauty named Diana in order to make her the new queen, enabling Thorina to join her husband (Satan) in hell (probably Tijuana). She has plenty of help from assorted vampire maidens and unruly thugs, and once the threat is clear to Diana’s father he seeks protection from Santo el Enmascarado de Plata, who’d been busy demolishing opponents in the ring, but who always has time to take his act on the road.

Thorina isn’t queen for nothing. The woman is relentless, and Santo soon fails to protect Diana, leading to her being stolen away. But it’s no secret where she’s been taken—that mist shrouded castle on the hill. Santo heads up there to do damage but is promptly captured and bound in Thorina’s dungeon right next to Diana, who looks at him and sneers, “Nice work, idiot.” Well, not really. But don’t let Santo’s minimal stature and 17% body fat fool you—he took on Martians, mummies, and the Mexican mafia, so you know he’s got enough in his bag of tricks to deal with loosely cinched chains and a few karate chopping henchmen. And in fact he soon doles out some lethal lucha libre, after being freed thanks to the sun’s habit of sneaking up on vampires. Eternal creatures that they are, none feel the need to wear watches. One could criticize, but it’s really part of their charm, don’t you think? Santo vs. Las Mujeres Vampiro premiered in Mexico today in 1962. 


Modern Pulp Sep 24 2015
Hookers, sports cars, yachts, serious consideration as a U.S. presidential candidate—I can buy anything now!

Here’s that unidentified Mexican artist from a few weeks ago again and he’s got a theme going with the money and the cruelty. This time the tables are turned. The person with the cash in this piece entitled Matenme por Piedad, is about meet a bad end via strangulation, whereas last time the money guy was winning. We like this one better.


Vintage Pulp Sep 6 2015
Ernesto Garcia Cabral’s stylized work made him one of Mexico’s most collectible poster artists.

We’ve sung the praises of many European poster artists, but today we shift our attention to one from the Americas—Ernesto Garcia Cabral, aka El Chango, who was one of the top illustrators of Mexico during the mid-century period. His work appeared in publications such as El Universal Ilustrado, Excelsior, and Jueves de Excelsior, and he is also famed for his portraits of the acting legend Cantinflas. Below are six pieces of his genius work, and we’ll revisit him a bit later.


Modern Pulp Aug 18 2015
What do I look like? A guy with a heart or something? Don’t let the door hit you in the culo on the way out.

This piece of Mexican pulp-style art depicting a woman being evicted by an evil landlord was made during the early 1980s, but it’s appropriate for today’s era of millions of evictions a year, which goes to show that the more shit changes the more it stays the same. The piece is entitled El pez grande... roba al chico, or “the big fish robs the small one,” a phrase that pretty much sums up the last few decades. The painting was made for a Mexican graphic novel series entitled Jungla de asfalto, or Asphalt Jungle, and it’s probably the most technically accomplished piece of Mexican cover art we’ve come across. It’s initialed, but, as you can see, in such baroque style that it’s impossible to discern the letters. What do you think? Is that “FE”? “TE”? We have no idea. Thus the piece is unidentified, at least for now. See more Mexican pulp-style art beginning here. 


Intl. Notebook Jul 16 2015
Once the way is opened it can never be closed.

This photo shows a long exposure of the early instants of the Trinity nuclear test, which was conducted as part of the Manhattan Project at White Sands Proving Ground in New Mexico. It happened today in 1945 and was the first nuclear explosion in human history. 


Modern Pulp Jul 10 2015
Aw, somebody’s made a little mess again, hasn’t he?

It’s been a while, so here’s another… erm, interesting piece of Mexican neo-pulp. This painting featuring a fanged baby only a mother could love is entitled Mi mamá me mima, which means “my mother spoils me,” and it was made during the 1980s for Mexico’s popular comic book/graphic novel market. Honestly, we like these Mexican pieces. There’s something a bit high-school art class about the execution of them, but they manage to work in the part of brain that generates bad dreams. This particular nightmare is unsigned. 


Hollywoodland Jun 30 2015
No matter how far she ran dissatisfaction followed close behind.

This gold colored June 1963 cover for Confidential magazine is entirely given over to actress Barbara Payton, whose self-penned hard-luck story appears inside and details her life troubles. The tale is well known and is one we’ve touched upon before—early marriage and early motherhood, followed by stardom, romances, and riches, followed by booze, drugs, divorces and crime. Confidential being Confidential, the editors neglect to mention that the story here is not an exclusive, but rather is excerpted from I Am Not Ashamed, Payton’s painfully revealing autobiography.

I Am Not Ashamed did not sell especially well, and was pretty much forgotten a few years after its release. But it reappeared by chance two decades later when Jack Nicholson famously lent a rare copy to Jessica Lange to help her prepare for her femme fatale role in The Postman Always Rings Twice. Today the book is widely available. Just a few seconds reading Payton’s words conjures the suspicion she had a ghostwriter, and indeed, it was the king of lowbrow literature Leo Guild who gave shape to the prose, which reads like gutter level sleaze fiction.
For example: “He hated what I had been [but] loved me for what I was. He tortured himself. Every part of my body reminded him of another man.” And this bit: “I had a body when I was a young kid that raisedtemperatures wherever I went. Today I have three long knife wounds on my solid frame. One extends from my buttocks down my thigh and needed I don’t remember how many stitches.” Payton’s anecdotes are cringe worthy, but they read like she’d gotten a grip on her life. No such luck. After four more long years of drugs, drink, and disaster she was found dead on her bathroom floor in 1967.
Payton post-mortems usually describe her problems as self-induced, but that’s simplistic. In the 1950s famous men did anything they wished, but women had to be careful not to be seen doing the same. Still do today. That’s the part Payton had problems with. Even so, she had several happy periods during her life. One of those was the stretch she spent in Mexico married to a young fisherman. About this time she says, “We fished and I caught big ones, and we loved and for a couple of years it was beautiful. My big problems were what to cook for dinner. But it was inevitable the ants in my pants would start crawling again.”
We like that passage, because nearly all the stories about Payton declare, or at least suggest, that everything that happened after Hollywood stardom was part of a terminal plummet. That’s pretty much the default setting in American journalism—anything other than wealth and fame is by definition failure. It’s an idiotic conceit, even a harmful one, and Payton reveals that in Mexico she landed someplace solid and safe, and got along fine without money or recognition. Two years of happiness is nothing to take lightly. But she just couldn’t sit still—not because of where she was, but because of who she was.

And the spiral continued—cheaper and cheaper forms of prostitution, physical confrontations that resulted in her getting some of her teeth knocked out, and more. In all of these tales there’s a recurrent theme of lowly types taking advantage of her, but we can’t help noting that she was paid a mere $1,000 for her autobiography, an absurdly deficient amount for a former top star with a crazy story to tell, which suggests to us that guys in office suites take as much advantage—or more—of a person’s hard luck as guys in alleys. We have some scans below, and Payton will undoubtedly appear here again.


Vintage Pulp Apr 27 2015
Being rich and without responsibility can be so dreadfully boring.

Above is a colorful Japanese poster for the American drama Love Has Many Faces, which starred Lana Turner and Cliff Robertson. In Japan it was called Akapuruko no dekigoto, which means something like “Acapulco Happening,” and indeed the film takes place on and around the beaches of Acapulco and follows a troubled marriage after the body of one of the husband’s friends washes ashore. Turner did much better during her career than this sun-splashed, gigolo-laden, jet-set melodrama, but it’s still worth a gander for her fans (or fans of expensive resort wear), and has a good bullfighting scene near the end. It played in Japan for the first time today in 1965.


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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
November 28
1942—Nightclub Fire Kills Hundreds
In Boston, Massachusetts, a fire in the fashionable Cocoanut Grove nightclub kills 492 people. Patrons were unable to escape when the fire began because the exits immediately became blocked with panicked people, and other possible exits were welded shut or boarded up. The fire led to a reform of fire codes and safety standards across the country, and the club's owner, Barney Welansky, who had boasted of his ties to the Mafia and to Boston Mayor Maurice J. Tobin, was eventually found guilty of involuntary manslaughter.
November 27
1934—Baby Face Nelson Killed
In the U.S., killer and bank robber Baby Face Nelson, aka Lester Joseph Gillis, dies in a shoot-out with the FBI in Barrington, Illinois. Nelson is shot nine times, but by walking directly into a barrage of gunfire manages to kill both of his FBI pursuers before dying himself.
November 26
1922—Egyptologists Enter Tut's Tomb
British Egyptologists Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon become the first people to enter the tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamun in over 3000 years. Though sometimes characterized as scholars, Carter and Carnarvon were primarily interested in riches, and cut up Tut's mummy to more easily obtain the jewels and gold affixed to him.

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