Drug enforcement agents and heroin dealers settle their issues Outback.
We just shared a 1950 issue of Adam last week, but since it was too fragile for us to scan it all here's a second one, more completely documented. This hit Aussie newsstands this month in 1975 and you see the bright colors and dynamic art that was its trademark in those years. The cover illustrates Alex Tait's tale, “The Raw Deal,” which has to do with two undercover agents setting up a sale of pure heroin in order to take down a drug ring. The two agents, male and female, are posing as a couple, and as happens in fiction, the posing turns into reality. Interestingly, they have little choice because the villains have installed a two-way mirror in the agents' quarters and are keeping watch. So it's either get busy or blow their cover. The helicopter on the cover is the cavalry coming to the rescue right when it looks like the two agents will be executed. Adam's illustrations, at least from the early 1960s onward, were never generic. They were always tailor-made for a story in the magazine. Since most of the writers were relatively inexperienced, we can only imagine how thrilling it must have been for them to see their work represented this way. We have twenty-eight scans below for your enjoyment.
Abandon all boats ye who enter here.
This issue of Adam magazine published this month in 1950 was in delicate condition, so we were able to scan only a small selection of pages. The cover illustrates the story, “Swamp Bait,” by Leslie T. White, which deals with a sailor who manages to get his schooner trapped in a South Carolina swamp and is offered help by a ragtag stranger who turns out to be an escaped murderer planning to steal the boat and sail it to Brazil. Swamps have hungry gators, venomous snakes, toxic plants, and deep quicksand, but it's the humans you really need to be careful of. That's true anywhere, though, we guess. The protagonist has about twelve hours to think of a solution or he's fish food.
This is a very early Adam—in fact it may the earliest one we've bought. Hang on a sec. Yep, it's the earliest one, and because of the time period its focus is almost solely on fact and fiction. The cartoons and models had yet to dominate. There are exactly two photos of women, and four cartoons. However, the stories are of consistently better quality than during later decades. We'd love to pretend this magazine has value, but we doubt we could sell it in the condition it's in. Still, it's a nice addition to the collection, which is well beyond a hundred issues now. That means we'll share more Adam soon.
Upfield's franchise character is never quite fleshed out.
Bony and the White Savage, for which you see a Pan Books cover above, has as its central character a half aborigine detective named Napoleon Bonaparte—Bony for short. The idea of this person made us think immediately of Ed Lacy's creation Toussaint Marcus Moore, considered to be the first African American detective in literature. But Upfield may have been first to create a black detective of any nationality—that is if we accept being half black ethnically as being fully black culturally. It's certainly that way in the U.S., as we've talked about before. Upfield created his Bony character and first published him way back in 1929, almost thirty years before Lacy, and the above installment of what was a long running series of Bony novels is from 1964 and sees the hero on the trail of a rapist and overall hellion who's holed up somewhere in the wild crags of the southwestern Australian coast.
Good premise, but in short, our hopes that this book would be something akin to Ed Lacy were misplaced. The way it's written, Bony being half aborigine is wasted—which is to say it impacts nothing and nobody mentions it. That approach might be commendable from a purely fictional perspective, but is it realistic? We've lived outside the U.S. for a long time, so we understand—trust us, we understand—that compared to the rest of the world Americans tend to overdo things. Like, everything. So Upfield would definitely be more subtle than Ed Lacy, who made the color of his Toussaint character central, but Upfield veers pretty far in the other direction, presenting a colorblind outback we know for a fact doesn't exist today. Was it colorblind back then? We doubt it, but Australian aborigines have recessive genes for blonde hair and blue eyes, so Bony might have fit in physically a lot better than we imagine.
But let's set that aside, because this is fiction, and a writer can do anything he or she wants. At least that's what we think. They're required to pull it off, though. Purely in terms of the plot, we had pretty high expectations here and they went unmet. Despite the exotic setting, interesting set-up, the unusual hero, and the fearsome antagonist, Bony and the White Savage isn't special. And we were really looking forward to reading an entire series of Down Under adventures, with all its local quirks and idiosyncrasies. But you know us by now. We're tenacious. This particular book, which was the only one available to us, is number twenty-six in the Bonaparte series. We're going to try again. We suspect that the qualities we anticipated are in the first book, The Barrakee Mystery, in which this Bony person must be more fully fleshed out. So we'll read that. If we can find it.
Every day and overtime on Sundays.
Above: an Australian promo poster for The Flesh Is Weak, the 1957 John Derek/Milly Vitale vehicle we discussed earlier this month. Shorter version: Derek tricks Vitale into hauling her flesh out to the street to work at the oldest profession. There's no Australian release date for it, but it probably didn't play Down Under until 1958. Read more and see the amazing French promo here.
Unless they're framed and sent to prison for life. In that case a few tears are understandable.
Above is a rare and vibrant Australian full bleed (i.e. borderless) promo poster from RKO Radio Pictures A/SIA for Dick Powell's classic film noir Cry Danger, released Down Under today in 1951. We wrote about this flick back in February, so if you're curious just have a look at this link.
I can feel you getting tense, baby. Just loosen up. This'll be great, I promise.
Sometimes the thing you're searching for finds you, especially in mid-century fiction. There were several covers produced for Day Keene's thriller Hunt the Killer, but the three used by Phantom Books were basically identical, and you see them above. The first came in 1951, the second in 1952, and the Phantom Classics edition in 1958. You see how the art was leached of its vividness with each subsequent release. It changes form too. The gaffing hook disappeared on the last cover. Did that happen because it was too violent, or too phallic, or both? We've yet to find a satisfactory explanation for why art changed this way for a company publishing the same book multiple times. Clearly they couldn't have lost rights to the original art, or else how could they have legally copied it? But if they had the rights, why use these progressively simpler versions? In this case we suspect Phantom wanted the cover to change with each edition to give it the sense of being a new product, but that's just a guess. The truth remains a mystery for now. In any case, interesting covers for Mr. Keene.
Oh no! Not his face! I like to sit on that!
The Pulp Intl. girlfriends thought our little subhead was vulgar, but that happens sometimes, because they have far more class than us. Sometimes they ask us why so many of our quips and puns are sexual. We're like, “Have you looked at the covers?” The sexual subtext is nearly always there. We just run with it. Anyway, here we have another issue of Adam magazine, this one published in May 1962, and we've lost count, is it the seventieth we've uploaded? *runs downstairs to consult researchers chained in windowless basement room* Yep, that's right. Seventy. We have probably thirty more unposted, and about a dozen we bought from Australia that may or may not arrive if the person who accidentally ended up with them really relinquishes them. Long story.
What's a short story is “Blood of a Gladiator,” which the above art by Phil Belbin was painted to illustrate. The tale is by Damon Mills and deals with a down-and-out ex-boxer who gets involved in a scheme to manage a hot new fighter and get him a title shot by any means necessary. Naturally there's a femme fatale. There always is. She's the sister of another fighter, and she complicates matters greatly, as femmes fatales always do. “Blood of a Gladiator” isn't the only boxing inside Adam, as the editors also offer readers a detailed story on American welterweight Freddie Dawson, aka the Dark Destroyer, who's remembered in Australia for decimating the ranks of local fighters while touring Down Under between 1950 and 1954. You also get a story on crocs (there's always a story on crocs), some unknown models, and plenty of cartoons. We have twenty-five scans below.
What is it with men? Why can't I find one who likes cats?
Like clockwork we return to master illustrator Robert McGinnis, as any paperback art site must. Here you see a cover for The Hellcat by Australian author Carter Brown, aka Alan Yates, for Signet Books, 1962. We showed you a Dutch cover for this years ago, which you can see here. |
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1964—China Detonates Nuke
At the Lop Nur test site located between the Taklamakan and Kuruktag deserts, the People's Republic of China detonates its first nuclear weapon, codenamed 596 after the month of June 1959, which is when the program was initiated.
1996—Handgun Ban in the UK
In response to a mass shooting in Dunblane, Scotland that kills 16 children, the British Conservative government announces a law to ban all handguns, with the exception .22 caliber target pistols. When Labor takes power several months later, they extend the ban to all handguns.
Pierre Laval, who was the premier of Vichy, France, which had collaborated with the Nazis during World War II, is shot by a firing squad for treason. In subsequent years it emerges that Laval may have considered himself a patriot whose goal was to publicly submit to the Germans while doing everything possible behind the scenes to thwart them. In at least one respect he may have succeeded: fifty percent of French Jews survived the war, whereas in other territories about ninety percent perished.
1966—Black Panthers Form
In the U.S., in Oakland, California, Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale form the Black Panther political party. The Panthers are active in American politics throughout the 1960s and 1970s, but eventually legal troubles combined with a schism over the direction of the party lead to its dissolution.
1962—Cuban Missile Crisis Begins
A U-2 spy plane flight over the island of Cuba produces photographs of Soviet nuclear missiles being installed. Though American missiles have been installed near Russia, the U.S. decides that no such weapons will be tolerated in Cuba. The resultant standoff brings the U.S. and the Soviet Union to the brink of war. The crisis finally ends with a secret deal in which the U.S. removes its missiles from Turkey in exchange for the Soviets removing the Cuban weapons.
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