Vintage Pulp Jan 16 2020
ZEST INTENTIONS
It was a different flavor of men's magazine.


Zest magazine, with its bold graphics and cover portraits, looks like a classic mid-century tabloid, but its banner tells you it's really a men's magazine. It lives up to its billing in this issue from January 1956—issue number one, actually—with short stories from Michael Avallone and H.P. Lovecraft, real life adventure tales, scare stories (“Is Your Daughter a Sex-Film Star?), glamour photography, and humor.
 
The Lovecraft tale, “Rats in the Walls,” is called “the greatest horror story ever written.” We wouldn't go that far, but it's freaktacular, like everything Lovecraft wrote. It had originally been published in Weird Tales in 1924, and we imagine that its bizarro mutant/cannibalism themes were pretty shocking back then. The Avallone story, “The Glass Eye,” is novella length. He had already published three novels and was building a reputation as a reliable author of thrillers, which makes his inclusion a nice coup for a new magazine.
 
The photography in Zest is just as impressive as the fiction. Readers get to see rare shots of major celebs such as Sophia Loren, Sabrina, and Delores del Rio. All in all Zest was a high budget effort, but it lasted only two issues. Why did it fold? No idea on that. Competition in the market was plenty stiff at the time. On the other hand, maybe two issues are all that were planned. We're thrilled to show you one of them, comprising thirty-plus scans below for your Thursday enjoyment.

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Vintage Pulp Aug 12 2016
BAGGAGE CHECK
A suitcase and a sense of adventure will take you anyplace you want to go (and some places you don't).

As noted in the above post, we've gotten a trip together for this summer, so we thought we'd inspire ourselves by collecting a set of paperback covers featuring characters with suitcases. Just about anything can happen once you leave the comfy confines of home and we're hoping several of the scenes depicted here come true for us. See if you can guess which. Hint: not the one above—we already did that last year when we got caught in a monsoonal downpour that shut the airport on the day we were supposed to fly. No, we're thinking we want something more like the below cover to happen. And actually, that's a guarantee because the Pulp Intl. girlfriends are coming with us. Anyway, this group of covers serves as a companion set to our hitchhiker collection from last year. Art is by Robert McGinnis, Mitchell Hooks, George Gross, and others.

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Vintage Pulp Jan 6 2011
SALON KITTY
You were all out of milk, so I made us a couple of dry martinis.

Cats play with their prey before killing it. The cover of Michael Avallone’s 1962 thriller Sex Kittten, with its turquoise-eyed femme fatale painted by Paul Rader, conveys that threat nicely. We’ve seen this paperback going for as much as fifty dollars. While we wouldn’t pay that for the book, we’d meet virtually any price for a print of Rader’s original art. But we’ll never have to prove that, because we looked and it isn’t out there. You can learn more about Avallone here, and see more Rader art here. 

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Vintage Pulp Jan 11 2010
PROFESSIONAL TOUCH
Accurate shooting starts with the diaphragm, baby. Let me show you what I mean.

We posted a couple of Michael Avallone covers a while back and decided to return to him today for a more detailed treatment. Avallone called himself the fastest typewriter in the east, cranking out nearly two hundred books between 1953 and 1989, including entries in the Hawaii Five-O, Planet of the Apes, and Man from U.N.C.L.E. series. But speed exacted a heavy toll in quality, which may be why Avallone is considered by some to be one of the worst writers of all time. We can’t possibly dispute that—after all, he wrote the novelization of Friday the 13th in 3D—not exactly a résumé highlight. But even if he was undiscriminating, he was also bold. His output eventually shifted from detective fiction to pure flights of fancy. In the surreal Shoot It Again, Sam a group of Chinese brainwashers disguised as old Hollywood stars make lead character Ed Noon believe he’s Sam Spade. The series grew even weirder, and by the last few books Noon was trying to thwart an alien invasion. Quality of the prose aside, Avallone was a unique—if occasionally obnoxious—member of the pulp pantheon. Check him out yourself and you’ll see what we mean. 

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Vintage Pulp Mar 26 2009
GUNS OF AVALLONE


Dutch covers for two of Michael Avallone’s Ed Noon thrillers. These are The February Doll Murders, from 1966, and The Bedroom Bolero, from 1963. Avallone died this month in 1999.

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
February 22
1987—Andy Warhol Dies
American pop artist Andy Warhol, whose creations have sold for as much as 100 million dollars, dies of cardiac arrhythmia following gallbladder surgery in New York City. Warhol, who already suffered lingering physical problems from a 1968 shooting, requested in his will for all but a tiny fraction of his considerable estate to go toward the creation of a foundation dedicated to the advancement of the visual arts.
February 21
1947—Edwin Land Unveils His New Camera
In New York City, scientist and inventor Edwin Land demonstrates the first instant camera, the Polaroid Land Camera, at a meeting of the Optical Society of America. The camera, which contains a special film that self-develops prints in a minute, goes on sale the next year to the public and is an immediate sensation.
1965—Malcolm X Is Assassinated
American minister and human rights activist Malcolm X is assassinated at the Audubon Ballroom in New York City by members of the Nation of Islam, who shotgun him in the chest and then shoot him sixteen additional times with handguns. Though three men are eventually convicted of the killing, two have always maintained their innocence, and all have since been paroled.
February 20
1935—Caroline Mikkelsen Reaches Antarctica
Norwegian explorer Caroline Mikkelsen, accompanying her husband Captain Klarius Mikkelsen on a maritime expedition, makes landfall at Vestfold Hills and becomes the first woman to set foot in Antarctica. Today, a mountain overlooking the southern extremity of Prydz Bay is named for her.
1972—Walter Winchell Dies
American newspaper and radio commentator Walter Winchell, who invented the gossip column while working at the New York Evening Graphic, dies of cancer. In his heyday from 1930 to the 1950s, his newspaper column was syndicated in over 2,000 newspapers worldwide, he was read by 50 million people a day, and his Sunday night radio broadcast was heard by another 20 million people.
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