In mid-century action magazines trouble always has a woman at its center.
Adventure for Men is new magazine for us, part of a group a friend couriered over from the U.S. last year. The art in this April 1968 issue is uncredited in the masthead, but two spreads are signed by Howell Dodd. The stories range from tales of wild 1890s San Francisco to uncharted Madagascar to your nearby nudist camp. And of course, par for the course for such publications, all the adventures seem to revolve around women, which makes them miss-adventures, so to speak. But we'll admit we haven't read all of the magazine yet. The piece “Sex Mistakes Most People Make!” for example. We figured we're better off not knowing.
But we did read the story on the sex camps of the Red Chinese. In times of stress people will believe anything, and there was no greater time of stress than the Cold War, a period during which most people feared they were seconds away from nuclear incineration. We're all still potentially seconds away from nuclear incineration, but back then those fears were openly exploited for political gain and monetary profit by con artists as diverse as the U.S. government and the New York City tabloid industry. Adventure for Men joins in the fun with its China sex camps tale.
During the 1960s, when Chinese were already suffering from both famine and widespread state violence, many were sent to prison camps to work and be re-educated. Conditions were generally awful, and often life threatening. Inmates were cold, underfed, besieged by vermin, and physically abused. As terrible as all that is, it still isn't enough for Adventure for Men, as journalist Alexander Ford takes the harrowing story of Chinese dissident Kuo Chung-hsaio and his wife and inflates it into sleaze fiction. Oh yeah. Political imprisonment can be erotic. All Reds are perverts. But the “sex camps” trumpeted on Adventure for Men's cover refers not to any state sanctioned sexual abuse. That accusation is never made. No—it refers to a specific voyeuristic prison official.
This official would not let Chung-hsaio see his wife unless the couple had sex while he was in the room watching. Chung-hsaio describes through Ford how humiliating and horrible the experience was, though he neglects to explain how he and his wife were even able to sexually function with their tormentor staring from the corner. Naturally, in the end it's the official's deviancy that creates the opportunity for the couple's daring escape. Do we buy this titillating tale of how a jailer got his rocks off, let his guard down, and ended up permanently cooled by Chung-hsaio's righteous hand? Not even a little bit. It's right from Hollywood's b-movie playbook—smash cut and they're out. But we'll admit that for short form sleaze it's actually pretty good. Scans below.
Pulp and art deco. Two great tastes that rarely went together.
The pulp era is generally agreed as having commenced the last several years of the 19th century and having ended during the 1950s. Art deco is agreed to have begun around 1900 and ended around the beginning of World War II. Despite co-existing, they occupied the same place surprisingly little. You would see crossover in cinematic adaptations of pulp material such as Flash Gordon, with its deco styled spaceships and costumes. Some pulp magazines had art deco influenced fonts, and some hardbacks had art deco sleeve art, such as those designed by Edna Reindel for W.R. Burnett's novels Iron Man and Saint Johnson. But when popular paperbacks and magazines began to focus on high quality cover art they developed their own visual style which we think of today good girl art, or GGA.
But even if pulp and art deco didn't mix much back then, they mix here. Today we have an issue of Paris Plaisirs published in 1929 with drawings, paintings, studio photography, French wit and more. The cover photo-illustration was shot by Lucien Waléry, also known as Stanisław Julian Ignacy Ostroróg. Though his name was Polish he was a British citizen, born in London after his father Stanisław Julian Ostroróg—also a famed photographer—emigrated there in 1856 and became a citizen in 1862. The younger Ostroróg took the pseudonym Waléry and thus forever created confusion with earlier photographers who had used the same name. We won't bother unwinding all those Walérys. You can see another of our Waléry's beautiful art deco covers here, and we have other issues of Paris Plaisirs you can see by clicking the keywords at bottom.
Sokol's racy cartoons gave Playboy a touch of—well, maybe class isn't the word—but something.
It's nice to have friends that like Pulp Intl. We had a visitor not long ago who brought us some pages he'd clipped from old Playboy magazines. It was an unsolicited and much appreciated gift. This friend is an animator in Hollywood, so he has a keen interest in the work of British cartoonist Erich Sokol, who was one of the best visual humorists regularly published in Playboy. Sokol's mission was simple—try to be artful and funny, while discussing sex in an entertaining way. His style is distinct—curvaceous women with wide, archer's bow mouths, men with long noses and often baffled expressions, and, compared to other cartoonists, deep dimensionality and color in the backgrounds.
Sokol was a wit off the page as well. Friends and acquaintances describe him as a bigtime partier who dreamt up much of his material while drinking in bars. As with any vintage humor his gags are hit and miss today. After five decades that's no surprise. Time can be a humor killer—we made a quip earlier today and it was stale before we even finished it. In any case, when Sokol's humor falls flat it's still cute, at least as far as we're concerned. Our girlfriends might feel differently. Six of these cartoons are original scans, and we augmented the group with examples we found online. We also enlarged the text to make it more easily readable. Enjoy, and keep an eye out for more Sokol, because we plan to revisit him a bit later.
See you later alliga— Whoa... whoops...
We have another issue of Adam magazine today, just because we love it so much and have dozens we haven't shared yet. Inside this one, which appeared this month in 1973, is an interesting article about the practice of scalping. Writer Paul Brock notes that English puritans scalped foes in Europe and brought the idea to North America. He says enraged Native Americans promptly retaliated by doing the same. He doesn't get this quite right, though. Scalping is not something that can be said to have been invented by anyone, because evidence of the practice goes back millennia in various parts of the world. But European colonists industrialized and monetized scalping in North America, incentivizing the mass murder of Native Americans by offering bounties, including on children. And of course, as often happens with atrocities, propagandists vilified the other side for doing it. Even during colonial times Indians were labeled as vicious savages who scalped whites, and to this day most people still don't realize that it was whites who expanded and normalized the practice. So there's a little holiday cheer for you. Elsewhere in the issue you get the usual assortment of fiction, glamour photography, and cartoons. Including today's upload we have fifty four—yes 54—issues of Adam in our website. Why? Because we think it's the coolest men's adventure magazine ever published.
I know it's high. It used to be lower, but I spent a summer in D.C., and lemme tell ya, those guys taught me a lot about whoring.
We featured a Charles Rodewald cover last year and loved it, so we're bringing him back today, this time on the front of Ecstasy Novel Magazine, which is showcasing Paula Has a Price!, written by Perry Lindsay, aka prolific pulp author Peggy Gaddis. There's confusion online about the copyright on this, but it was published in January 1949. Top effort from Rodewald, and you can see another here.
Come on in boys. I've got hot lead sandwiches for everybody.
This November 1958 cover of Man's Life magazine is uncredited in the masthead, but it was painted by Wil Hulsey and illustrates the story “The Girl Who Made War Hell for Gen. Sherman” by Gene Channing. The girl is Maryellen Stone, and she stalls Sherman's advance scouts using bullets, brainpower, and her body. The story is written in a biographical style, but we found no record of such a person. Even if she existed, the tale still falls into a category of fantasy fiction about a mythical non-aggressive South and how its way of life was cruelly obliterated. This narrative is astounding, not only because it overlooks the aggression of forced bondage against millions and how that caused the South to go to war, but also because southern leaders had formulated plans to invade Latin America.
Destabilization operations were staged in Mexico and a war mapping expedition was sent to Brazil. These were mere forays, but high ranking Southerners made their opinions crystal clear in hundreds of speeches and newspaper editorials. Calls to invade Cuba were constant. Influential Mississippi Senator Albert Gallatin Brown wrote in 1858: “I want Cuba, and I know that sooner or later we must have it. If the worm-eaten throne of Spain is willing to give it for a fair equivalent, well— If not, we must take it. I want Tamaulipas, Potosi, and one or two other Mexican States; and I want them all for the same reason—for the planting and spreading of slavery.” The imperative to expand was even written into the Confederate Constitution, and Confederate president Jefferson Davis was careful to select only pro-expansionists for his cabinet. We wouldn't call any of that peaceful.
Man's Life throws peace aside as well by going heavy on murder with profiles of Theresa Maguire, Leona Vlught, Thelma Rabail, and other women who died at the hands jealous men—and one jealous woman. The story is titled “Kiss Me or Die” and it comes with some pretty explicit photos. There's a lighter side to the magazine too. “Female Skippers Turn Waterways into New Lovers' Lanes” regales readers with tales of boatborne sexploits on the lakes and coastlines of the U.S. It's amusing stuff, as much of a fantasy as the Civil War story, but with happy endings for everyone involved. Elsewhere in the issue you get more adventure fiction, an extensive photo feature on model Ann Edmondson, and the usual ads and comics. We have several more entries on Man's Life in the website, and you can see two of them here and here.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
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.
1930—Amy Johnson Flies from England to Australia
English aviatrix Amy Johnson lands in Darwin, Northern Territory, becoming the first woman to fly from England to Australia. She had departed from Croydon on May 5 and flown 11,000 miles to complete the feat. Her storied career ends in January 1941 when, while flying a secret mission for Britain, she either bails out into the Thames estuary and drowns, or is mistakenly shot down by British fighter planes. The facts of her death remain clouded today.
1934—Bonnie and Clyde Are Shot To Death
Outlaws Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, who traveled the central United States during the Great Depression robbing banks, stores and gas stations, are ambushed and shot to death in Louisiana by a posse of six law officers. Officially, the autopsy report lists seventeen separate entrance wounds on Barrow and twenty-six on Parker, including several head shots on each. So numerous are the bullet holes that an undertaker claims to have difficulty embalming the bodies because they won't hold the embalming fluid.
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