Femmes Fatales Nov 12 2017
LANG SHOT
This is nothing. You should see me in a limbo contest.

June Lang was born Winifred June Vlasek in Minnesota and was on the silver screen by age fourteen, later appearing in films such as The Deadly Game and Wee Willie Winkie. She cultivated a wholesome image, but in true pulp style threw it away by marrying Johnny Roselli—a known mobster—in 1940. Maybe they bonded over the fact that they'd both changed their names—Roselli had been born Filippo Sacco. Lang divorced him in 1943 but the damage had been done, and she worked only intermittently for the rest of her career. The above image of her showing her impressive flexibility is from 1935.

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Mondo Bizarro Jul 1 2017
BOOKS NOT BULLETS
Woman accidentally kills boyfriend in encyclopedia stunt gone wrong.

A Minnesota woman has been charged with second degree manslaughter this week after fatally shooting her boyfriend in the chest with a 50-calibre Desert Eagle handgun. Monalisa Perez and Pedro Ruiz wanted to be YouTube stars, and in a bid to increase viewership of their channel about being teen parents had conceived a stunt where Ruiz would stop a bullet with an encyclopedia held to his chest. Perez had posted on social media earlier in the day that it was her boyfriend's idea, but of course there's nothing in the posting to suggest she had doubts the crazy idea would work. Firing from a foot away, Perez ventilated her boyfriend as their three-year-old child and thirty neighbors watched.

The couple should have read the encyclopedia instead of shooting it. If they had turned to the entry marked “handguns,” they'd have learned that a 50-calibre Desert Eagle is about as powerful as a sidearm gets, and its round will go through a refrigerator. Turn past the handgun part and there's an entry on “hearts,” which explains that because it's one of the body's primary organs and people generally can't live without an intact one, any stunt that puts it at risk is idiotic by definition. And beyond that section there's the entry “hubris,” which would be defined as excessive self confidence, often leading to one looking like an ignoramus. In this instance a dead one. Yes, we know it's not really a joking matter. But we aren't joking—there's real value in reading, and we highly recommend it. 

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Vintage Pulp Feb 17 2016
YOUR PLACE OR MINE
I know, but we're not going upriver. We're going to my shack down by the industrial canal. Should do us just fine.

Brian Harwin's novel Home Is Upriver appeared in 1952, with this Signet paperback arriving in 1955, and concerns the coming of age along the Mississippi River of the orphaned Kip, who finds a home with married couple Buck and Martha, but promptly screws it up by deciding to screw their daughter Storm. The book may be better known these days by its 1959 title Touch Me Not. Brian Harwin was a pen name for author Le Grand Henderson. We know. Why would you change your name from Le Grand Henderson, when that's as writerly a name as can be, whereas Brian Harwin sounds like a guy from high school who ran a hardware store for a few years then you heard he maybe moved back east? Well, it turns out Henderson actually did make use of his amazing name. He published children's books as simply Le Grand, and many of those too take place along the Mississippi River. He was actually born in Connecticut, but his love of the Mississippi blossomed after he undertook a yearlong houseboat journey from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico. This would have been during the Great Depression and we can only imagine that the adventure was le grand. Home Is Upriver was the only book he wrote as Harwin. If you want to see its Touch Me Not incarnation, which has excellent Robert Maguire art, we suggest looking at our collection of swamp, bayou, and river paperbacks here.

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Vintage Pulp Apr 30 2012
BILLY THE KIDDER
He convinced everybody they needed to take a Whiz.

Above is the cover of the bawdy humor magazine Capt. Billy’s Whiz Bang. The monthly was launched out of Robbinsdale, Minnesota in 1919 by Wilford Fawcett, who came up with the unusual name by combining his own nickname with the phrase soldiers used to describe the sound of artillery shells. Capt. Billy’s Whiz Bang began with a run of only 500 issues, had no art or photos, and seemingly never carried revenue-generating advertising save for sometimes on the inside front cover. The content was short stories, limericks, anecdotes, and one-liners, much of which would rightly be considered sexist, racist, or just plain unfunny today. On the other hand, some of it is rather cute. We liked this limerick:

Of Course Not

Carefully she rouges her dimpled knees,
Then adds a powdery sheen,
Do you think she does this little stunt,
If she thinks they won't be seen?


Well, maybe it isn't so great. But did you have any idea women once rouged their knees? That just blew us away. Anyway, from the humble seed of Capt. Billy’s Whiz Bang sprang the entire Fawcett Publishing empire, which at its height consisted of more than 60 separate magazine imprints and made Wilford Fawcett an international celebrity. Later, Fawcett Publishing launched Gold Medal books, where Kurt Vonnegut and John D. MacDonald, among many other notables, got their starts. This issue of Whiz Bang appeared this month in 1923, and thanks to the website Darwination you can read it by downloading their copy here. As a bonus, below are five more covers that came from MagazineArt.org, where you can see a fuller collection. 

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Vintage Pulp Sep 25 2010
FARAWAY LOOK
What I see is what you get.

Above, a vintage poster for Marajah the all-knowing mystic seer, who appeared at the Auditorium Theater in Stillwater, Minnesota starting today in 1923. Marajah was one of a number of popular seers who toured the U.S. during the early half of the twentieth century, although—let's be clear—as good as he was, he was no Criswell.

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Mondo Bizarro Dec 15 2009
MINNESOTA HIKING
Recent Bigfoot photo looks an awful lot like a hiker in a thermal suit.

A couple of months ago we wrote about the famous 1967 Bigfoot sighting in Bluff Creek, California, and now this week the elusive creature is in the news again after being filmed in Minnesota. Peter and Casey Pedrowski were staying overnight in their hunting cabin and had set up a motion-activated trail-cam to determine if any game were wandering nearby in the wee hours. And as it happened, something was. When they looked at the photos weeks later, they were shocked see the above image. However, the brothers are skeptical about whether the figure is a Bigfoot. “I still don’t know what to think about it,” said Casey Kedrowski. “I’m still not convinced.”

But two local Bigfoot researchers—Don Sherman and Bob Olson, founders of the Northern Minnesota Bigfoot Research Team—have pronounced the photo authentic, pointing out that there have been scores of sightings in the area in recent years. However, wildlife experts with actual science degrees are dubious. Minnesota Department of Natural Resources technician Tom Stursa said, “We’ve all seen the photos in the paper and to us it certainly looked like a typical Minnesotan in a snow suit.”

We have to agree with the wildlife experts on this one. As pulp enthusiasts, we’re just as eager to find a Bigfoot as the next guy, but not to the extent that some hoser headed out into the cold for a piss after drinking a sixer of Moosehead starts to look like one. If the Pedrowskis had aimed the camera thirty degrees right the shot would show a dark figure with steam rising nearby and instead we’d all be talking about whether it was a photo of the Devil. We appreciate the image for what it is—either a good practical joke or a bad hoax. Nothing more.

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Vintage Pulp Jan 12 2009
HUSTLE & FLOW
“Fast Eddie, let’s play some pool.”

The Hustler is doubtless the best movie about pool ever made. Director Robert Rossen’s dark vision of the underground billiard circuit earned the film nine Academy Award nominations. All four major cast members received nominations for their acting, although George C. Scott renounced his. The showdown between Jackie Gleason as Minnesota Fats, and Paul Newman as Fast Eddie Felson, ranks as one of the most nail-bitingly tense psychological encounters ever filmed. Fast Eddie has been beating Fats’ brains out for an entire night, and he’s feeling pretty good. Come morning it looks like Fats is whipped. He looks like five miles of bad road. He takes a break, washes his hands, gets his hair-do in order. When he puts his jacket on and adjusts his carnation, Fast Eddie starts grinning. It’s over. Fats is going home. But instead Fats looks at his grinning opponent and says, “Fast Eddie, let’s play some pool.” Like the contest hadn’t even started yet. And Fast Eddie’s smile melted away. The Hustler opened in Paris as L'arnaqueur today in 1962.

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
February 27
1922—Challenge to Women's Voting Rights Rebuffed
In the United States, a conservative legal challenge to the nineteenth amendment to the U.S. Constitution establishing voting rights for women is rebuffed by the Supreme Court in Leser v. Garnett. The challenge was based partly on the idea of individual "states rights" to self determination. The failure of such reasoning as it applied to basic human rights created a framework for later states rights losses involving the denial of voting rights to African-Americans.
February 26
1917—First Jazz Record Is Made
In New Orleans, The Original Dixieland Jass Band records the first ever jazz record for the Victor Talking Machine Company in New York. The band was frequently billed as the "Creators of Jazz", but in reality all the members had previously played in the Papa Jack Laine bands, a group of racially mixed performers who helped form the basis of Dixieland while playing under bandleader George Laine.
February 25
1947—Prussia Ceases To Exist
The centuries-old state of Prussia, which had been a great European power under the reign of Frederick the Great during the 1800s, and a major influence on German culture, ceases to exist when it is dissolved by the post-WWII Allied Control Council comprised of the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union.
1964—Clay Beats Liston
Heavyweight boxer Cassius Clay, aged 22, becomes champion of the world after beating Sonny Liston, aka the Dark Destroyer, in one of the biggest upsets in boxing history. It would be the beginning of a storied and controversial career for Clay, who would announce to the world shortly after the fight that he had changed his name to Muhammad Ali.
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