Where the pleasure never seems to end.
Though they are at a glance aesthetically very different, the pulp era and the art deco era were contemporaneous, both in full bloom during the 1920s. Above you see the dreamy cover of a 1925 issue of the art deco style magazine Paris Plaisirs, i.e. Paris Pleasures, which was published from 12 Rue Georges-Berger in Paris. The cover star is dancer Isabelitta Ruiz, shot by R. Sobol. It looks to us as if Sobol provided the original image, but it was tinted by a second artist in the employ of the magazine. At least that’s our suspicion. We think that because we can see a second signature on the cover at lower left—it looks like, maybe, Cuaillant? No, that sounds wrong even for French. Maybe C. Jaillant? Better, but still quite possibly wrong. Here we go again with these French artists. And the magazines never seem to bother with masthead credits either. Too prosaïque maybe. We can hear our French friends say, “Comment typique! You Americans, always wanting to know exactly who did what. Learn to embrace uncertainty!” Okay, then. Twenty-two scans below, and you can see a lot more Paris Plaisirs art at the excellent webpage aucarrefouretrange.
We’d hate to be in the same boat as these guys.
An argosy is a type of boat, and this 1953 Argosy—the self-billed “complete men’s magazine”—has a type of boat on the cover and a boatload of interesting features within. Much of them focus on hunting, which has been in the news Stateside of late due to several rich folks being outed for killing African animals. Argosy glorifies hunting in a way that was typical of the 1950s, when guys like Ernest Hemingway and John Huston mainstreamed knowledge of the practice.
The presumption that man has a natural right to kill African animals for sport oozes from these Argosy stories. We made a game of inverting that presumption by mentally adding “because I was trying to shoot him” to the end of sentences. For instance, “He turned and hurled his entire three tons at me…” became, “He turned and hurled his entire three tons at because I was trying to shoot him.” We liked the stories, though. They are exciting. But hey, times change—it ain’t The Snows of Kilimanjaro out there anymore. These big animals are way too important to be killing for sport.
About fifteen years ago we took a road trip across the U.S. and came upon the Petrified Forest National Park. We expected to see countless mineralized trees, and we did see some, but the place is just a plain of scattered rocks. It didn’t used to be that way. A sign explained that millions of artifacts had been removed from the park over the years by tourists. Each one seemed meaningless to the person taking it, but over time the forest disappeared.
Today we understand two important things we didn’t during the 1950s. First, humanity has no restraint when it comes to killing animals. There’s no point where the animal is too rare or valuable to be killed. The opposite, in fact—people simply pay more for the glory of doing it, and the number of interested parties is limitless. Second, a species reaches a level of scarcity where collapse is assured unless there are active and expensive human efforts made to prevent it. That collapse point comes long before every animal is killed, yet we don’t know exactly where it is for each species.
All of this means no large animal exists in true abundance. It doesn’t matter if a person shoots one of 50,000 of a species or one of the last 50. If a market exists for killing even one of them, the species is ultimately doomed, because stoppage is not structured into market systems—only higher pricing. There’s no doubt about this at all. The jury’s in. Anybody who doesn’t recognize it is lying to himself or herself. And extinction or near-extinction is too high a price for the ecology to pay in service to human ego. Scans below.
A new woman for a new era.
This issue of Paris Magazine features a beautiful Louis-Charles Royer cover of Ziegfeld star Claire Luce, one of the most popular celebrities of her time. Her heyday was the 1920s and ’30s, a period during which—though this is little remarked upon today—substantially more women began to have sex before marriage. By the time the first surveys took place in the 1940s about 50% of women admitted to having pre-marital sex. Anecdotally, during the 1920s probably at least one in four women had sex as singles. Claire Luce was a pioneer of the female right to choose. A mere eight-year span of her diary describes sixty lovers.
Luce very much personifies a seismic shift in the values of Western women. Many scholars say it happened because they moved into the university and the workplace around that time, and that was indeed an important factor because it brought women and men into mutual contact outside of family and church situations. But it’s clear the prime mover was the trauma of World War I and the loss of 37 million lives in a conflict that taught those who came of age around then that life could be short and joy could be fleeting. This factor is nearly always downplayed in studies of that time, though we have never understood why. It is too obvious?
Even with their numbers increasing, relatively few women were in the university and workplace. But virtually no Western family went untouched by the war. Those 37 million deaths reached deep into every town, every enclave, every social class. Nearly everyone had lost a father, a brother, an uncle, or at least a family friend. And if a loved one actually survived battle, they often returned to preach the futility of war to the generation below them—or by their mere broken presence serve as a warning. Ernest Hemingway captured this in The Sun Also Rises, which focuses on Jake, prevented by a war wound from having sex, and Lady Brett, who loves Jake but must constantly seek lovers elsewhere.
Of course, there are many factors behind any social shift, but rapid change typically derives from chaos. Ask any neo-con or disaster capitalist. The primary effect of war or warlike events upon society is to alter how it views life, death, and personal freedom. In the past, the spectre of death made people want more freedom to live as they saw fit; in our present era, traumatic events have resulted in people agreeing to sacrifice their personal freedom (thanks to powerful suggestions and hard work by opportunistic governments).
Anyway, just an interesting digression concerning Paris Magazine’s cover star. Like predecessors such as Dorothy Parker, and peers like Tallulah Bankhead, she was a sexual trendsetter, a new type of woman for a radically reordered Western world. She’s also about as pulp as it gets. We may get back to Claire Luce a bit later, but in the meantime we have a bunch of interior scans from Paris Magazine below, and more issues available at the click of a mouse. This edition, number 34, appeared in 1934.
They didn’t think it was funny in Oklahoma.
This issue of Laff from this month in 1949 contains a rather amusing story about burlesque queen Lilly Christine being censored from University of Oklahoma campus newspaper Covered Wagon by scandalized administrators. Seems members of the newspaper staff had been in New Orleans the previous year for the Sugar Bowl and had caught Christine in residency at the 500 Club. When later she toured through Oklahoma City the newspaper staff arranged a trip to see her, and that led to the quite logical idea of working up a story about her—which was when administrators stepped in to nix the plan. Christine saw a chance for free publicity and proceeded to appear at the campus health clinic seeking a chest x-ray. You couldn’t make this stuff up. After a bit of runaround she was refused. Meanwhile newspaper staff were seething over their unceremonious shackling—they saw it as a free speech issue, while the greyhairs saw it as a morals issue. The editor declared that there would be no more issues of Covered Wagon, but that’s when one of OU’s frats quickly ran off a scab issue of the paper to prove the point that Covered Wagon staffers were replaceable. Leave it to a bunch of entitled Greeks to side with the establishment, right? Checkmated, the editor and several loyalists quit. Meanwhile, Lilly Christine had long since minced on her merry way, no doubt accustomed to leaving a bit of chaos in her wake. See more Christine at this link (and elsewhere in the site if you search). Oklahoma
, Oklahoma City
, New Orleans
, University of Oklahoma
, 500 Club
, Lilly Christine
, Martha Theresa Pompender
, Jerry Noonan
, Winnie Garrett
, Bette Sherry
, Bette Guthrie
, magazine art
The adventures of a lifetime.
Below are ten covers for Wildcat Adventures, a men’s magazine that existed from 1959 to 1964. Its rarity makes it expensive, which is why we haven’t bought any yet, but we’ll keep our eyes open. Cover art is by John Duillo, Basil Gogos, and others. Thanks to menspulpmags.com for a few of these images, and you can see more there.
Cutting the head off the snake.
Above and below, a July 1956 issue of Real Adventure magazine with uncredited art on the cover and throughout the issue. Inside you get model Peggy Ray, and a self-written feature by boxer Sandy Saddler in which he denies being a dirty fighter. The article includes a photo, which you see in panels three and four below, of Saddler mugging Willie Pep. That’s not the first appearance on Pulp Intl. for that image. Police Gazette featured it on one of its covers in February 1951 with a little photo-illustrative tweak. It’s worth glancing at and you can see it here.
So was Saddler a dirty fighter? Consensus seems to be that if he felt victimized himself, he tended to cross the line. According to theboxingmagazine.com, this happened during Saddler’s fourth fight with Pep, which featured, “elbows, butting, heeling with the glove and lacing, they were everything-gos foul-fests from start to finish. While Pep and Saddler wrestled on the inside, Saddler thought nothing of putting Willie in a headlock before throwing him to the floor. Even the referee was knocked to the floor several times in an attempt to separate the two fighters. Needless to say, the boos and jeers shook the joint to the rafters. Saddler said afterward that he felt insulted by those who insisted he was a dirty fighter.”
Saddler won 144 bouts against only 16 losses, which would seem to indicate a considerable amount of talent. He retired in 1956, at the earlyish age of thirty, after he hurt his eye in a traffic accident. Afterward her became a trainer and counted among his clients a young George Foreman. He died in 2001 but was honored by The Ring magazine a couple of years later when editors ranked him as the fifth greatest puncher of all time. We have about twenty scans of Saddler, Pep, and others below.
Screw you and the horse you rode in on.
We recently scored a stack of thirty vintage men’s magazines, and here’s the first of that group we’re posting—Rugged Men from this month in 1958. Inside is art from Walter Popp, Ed Franklin, Russ Huban, and Irv Doktor, and the cover of a man taking a tumble after his unfortunate mount gets shot is by Ted Lewin. Probably the most notable aspect of the issue is a story on how members of the Croatan tribe broke up a Ku Klux Klan rally and sent its hooded denizens scattering in terror. The incident is written of with admiration for the tribe’s efforts, and this during an era when Klan rallies were common and open racism was not only acceptable, but actually encoded in federal law. But then, deep admiration for a people that were virtually wiped out by violence is one of many quirks of the American psyche. We're sure a sociologist would have something illuminating to say about it. Seventeen scans below.
Collier’s goes looking for the commies but finds something else entirely.
Collier’s isn’t the most visually striking of magazines, but this issue that hit newsstands today in 1954 caught our eye because it contains several nice photos of Marilyn Monroe. There’s also a bit of interesting graphic art, specifically a colorful baseball illustration by Willard Mullin. The other item that attracted us was a story called “What Price Security?” about U.S. government overreach in its search for communists. No art to speak of, but the content gives a window onto the Red Scare period of American life. Author Charlotte Knight tells readers that government efforts against communism have been “so irresponsibly administered that it may have done more harm to the United States than to its enemies.” Sound familiar?
Knight slams witch hunting Senator Joseph McCarthy, and characterizes the fervor around alleged subversives in Washington, D.C. as creating a ripe environment for paranoiacs and liars to ruin innocent people. But of course, as well written as Knight’s article is, she should not have been surprised by anything she discovered. Witch hunts always become vehicles for revenge, personal advancement, and profiteering, because society and politics become warped in such a way as to clear a path for these pursuits. History invariably judges such periods as human tragedies and political failures, though sadly, too late for the ruined and the dead. Scans below.
So you think you can be a detective, do you?
This issue of True Detective from June 1952 has cover art from Ozni Brown, along with all the standard crime magazine elements inside, but today we’re interested in its unusual solve-it-yourself murder feature. This is the first of these we’ve seen. A fictitious crime scene photo is published along with a short written scenario, and readers are invited to determine how the killing was committed and by which suspect. This particular puzzle is a television tie-in written by Darren McGavin, who at the time was starring in a CBS series called Crime Photographer. The show revolved around a world-weary crime tabloid photog narrating his latest adventures to his local bartender. The series lasted only forty-seven episodes, but McGavin would go on to star in other shows, including the beloved but also short-lived Nightstalker. If you want to take a crack at solving True Detective’s murder we’ve enlarged the relevant bits at the bottom of this post.
In order to make the whodunnit photo detailed enough we had to split it in half. It appears below along with the enlarged text.
And below is the solution.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1902—French Go to Moon
Georges Méliès' Le voyage dans la lune, aka A Trip to the Moon, is released in France. It is the first science-fiction film ever made.
1939—Germany Starts World War II
Nazi Germany, along with the Soviet Union and Slovakia, attack Poland, beginning the chain reaction that leads to war across Europe.
1972—Fischer Beats Spassky
In Reykjavík, Iceland, American Bobby Fischer beats Russian Boris Spassky and becomes the world chess champion. The match had been portrayed as a Cold War battle, and thus was a major propaganda victory for the United States.
1948—Mitchum and Leeds Snared in Drug Raid
Actor Robert Mitchum and actress Lila Leeds are arrested in a Hollywood drug raid and convicted of criminal conspiracy to possess marijuana. Mitchum serves 43 days in jail
, but in 1951 the conviction is overturned when it is exposed as a set-up. The entire episode has zero effect on his popularity. Leeds, conversely
, becomes a heroin addict while behind bars and is never able to rekindle her career.
1997—Princess Diana Killed in Accident
Princess Diana dies after a car crash in the Pont de l'Alma tunnel in Paris, along with Egyptian jet-setter Dodi Al-Fayed, and driver Henri Paul, who loses control of the car while attempting to elude paparazzi. Despite lengthy resuscitation attempts, including internal cardiac massage, Diana dies at 4 a.m. local time. Her funeral six days later is watched by an estimated 2.5 billion people worldwide.
Russian political revolutionary Fanny Kaplan shoots Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin, wounding him in the shoulder and jaw. Lenin survives, she doesn't—she's executed three days later.
1963—Washington-Moscow Hotline Established
A hotline between U.S. and Soviet leaders, known as the Washington-Moscow hotline or Red Telephone, goes into operation. It linked the White House to the Kremlin at the height of the Cold War, and presumably still does today.
2006—Glenn Ford Dies
Canadian actor Glenn Ford, who starred in some of the best films ever made, including Gilda
, The Big Heat, and the original 3:10 to Yuma, dies in his home in Beverly Hills, USA. He was still in love with Rita Hayworth, his one-time co-star who had died years earlier. Reputedly, his last words were, "You don't keep Rita Hayworth waiting."
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