Vintage Pulp Feb 25 2021
A CHANGING WORLD
What a difference a decade makes.


It's the early 1970s and men's adventure magazines are transitioning from an almost total focus on war, travel, and sport to a hybrid model more reliant upon nudity and sex. Such publications always included a few pages of glamour photography, but eroticism came to fore as the seventies arrived, and in a few cases former adventure magazines such as Cavalier and Sir! shifted entirely to pure porn.

This February 1973 cover of Man's World has pushed adventure illustration to the margins and brought cheesecake to the center. By the end of the year the magazine's covers would feature only nude women. Ironically, it was actually returning to its roots. When it launched in 1951 its covers were also solely photos of women—though in short-shorts and tight sweaters rather than nude.

It was less than a year after its sexualized start that Man's World began to emphasize danger and worldly thrills on its covers, which continued until about 1971, when unclothed unmentionable body parts arrived. But even in the presumbaly limitless erotica market there are winners and losers. Man's World was never Playboy, and in 1978 it was finally crowded out, with its last issue appearing in February of that year. We have twenty-four interior scans from this 1973 issue below.

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Vintage Pulp Dec 31 2020
MEN OF A CERTAIN AGE
60 is normally when they start to slow down, but not in this case.


Above, multiple scans from Men magazine, an issue published this month in 1960, with art by Harry Schaare, Gil Cohen, and Mort Kunstler. Time is short today, so that's all we have to say for now, but we have another issue we can upload, so we'll get back to it.

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Vintage Pulp Feb 27 2019
MAGAZINE ISSUES
This Stag hunt turned up a less-than-healthy specimen.


Above and below are a few scans from a February 1965 issue of Stag magazine. This was thrown gratis into a batch of men's adventure magazines we purchased due to the fact that it had serious issues—i.e. numerous pages missing. That's both bad and good. It's bad because we'd love to see the missing art and read the missing bits of stories, but it's good because, since scanning generally destroys these old staple bound magazines, we had no qualms about scanning what was left of this one. The magazines we like tend never to get scanned, though we keep promising. We did the deed on this one with a clear conscience and tossed the carcass into the recycling bin. But we kept the cover, which was painted by Mort Kunstler. You can't throw away the covers. It's just wrong. Scans below.
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Intl. Notebook Feb 20 2018
HARD WORKER
When there's serious killing to be done.

We're reading a James Bond novel at the moment and it reminded us that a long while back we downloaded these shots of an amazing 1966 Aurora Plastics Co. model of Goldfinger bad man Odd Job. While the product is nice, as you see below, the box art is of astounding quality, the equal of what you'd see on most paperback covers. There's a reason for that—it was painted by Mort Kunstler. You can see his signature on the lower right. According to the back of the box Odd Job is suitable for ages eight to adult, so if you want to buy one of these—and we do—there's no shame. Aurora says it's fine! Not like they were trying to increase sales or anything. They also increase sales by failing to mention prominently that the model is plain white plastic. You have to paint it if you want the results you see below. But that at least offers the opportunity to customize. Blue hair? Sure. Whimsical curlicue mustache? His first name is Odd, after all. Unfortunately, the one we saw ran $150, which is quite a bit, but having it on our website is almost like owning it.

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Vintage Pulp Sep 11 2017
ODDS AGAINST
I believe in you, and I'm not alone. On the radio they said you could win if the champ slips in your blood and knocks himself out falling.


Mort Kunstler mainly painted for men's adventure magazines, but he did the occasional paperback cover and you see his work above on Kate Nickerson's 1953 boxing drama Ringside Jezebel. The title tells you everything you need to know. A femme fatale gangster's moll orbiting the professional boxing scene insinuates her way into the lives of promoters and fighters, bringing ruin to them all. But inevitably she meets a contender and plays the same game with him only to realize—after trapping him into throwing his biggest fight—that maybe she actually likes him. Having him in the first place was never an issue. It's winning him back that looks to be the problem. Classic boxing potboiler from Nickerson, née Lulla Adler, author of other memorable efforts such as Street of the Blues, Love Takes the Count, and Passion Is a Woman.

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Vintage Pulp Jan 9 2017
UNCIVIL WAR
War is hell, but being a prisoner of war can be worse.


This January 1959 copy of Stag is an example of the joys of collecting old magazines. We bought it for three dollars, but it's being auctioned on Ebay right now for $100. Mort Kunstler handles the cover chores, illustrating Edward Newman's story “The P.O.W.s Who Broke Out of Rat Hell Stockade,” which deals with a group of Union soldiers during the U.S. Civil War who tunneled their way out of Richmond's Libby Prison. The story is true. The escape was one of the most successful breakouts of the war. The escapees were highly motivated due to the fact that Libby Prison was a hellhole that generated high mortality rates due to abuse, starvation, exposure to severe weather, and terrible overcrowding.
 
A contemporary newspaper had this to say: “They are huddled up and jammed into every nook and corner; at the bathing troughs, around the cooking stoves, everywhere there is a wrangling, jostling crowd; at night the floor of every room they occupy in the building is covered, every square inch of it, by uneasy slumberers, lying side by side, and heel to head, as tightly packed as if the prison were a huge, improbable box of nocturnal sardines.” Inside Stag is art from James Bama, Kunstler again, Joe Little, Al Rossi, and Bruce Minney. You also get model/actress Irène Tunc, who was Miss France of 1954 and appeared in about thirty films during a three-decade film career. All this and more below, in twenty-three scans.

Update: we got the following e-mail from James N:

The cover of Stag, January 1959 was painted by James Bama. The credit to Mort Kunstler as printed in the magazine was an editorial error. Bama has confirmed this. For the sake of historical accuracy it would be nice if you changed your Jan. 9, 2017 post to reflect Jim Bama's true credit.
 
We've talked a lot about how official credits can be wrong, so we're inclined to believe the cover was mistakenly attributed by editors because we already know they were human and made these types of goofs. But the process of collecting and curating vintage art offers the chance to get things right. So we're calling this cover a Bama, and thanks to James N. for taking the effort to write us.

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Vintage Pulp May 10 2016
FEAR AND MALAYS
Southeast Asia escape epic features murder, sex and everything between.


This issue of Male magazine published this month in 1958 features James Bama cover art illustrating Richard Farrington's story “The Incredible 'Blood and Bamboo' Escape,” which is the true tale of Dutchman Klaus van Tronk's flight from a Japanese internment camp in Malaysia during World War II. The story is a book-length special, and one of the more harrowing and interesting details involves one of the prisoners being tied spread-eagled on a bamboo mat elevated six inches above the ground. Beneath the mat were living bamboo shoots. As Farrington tells it (via van Tronk's account), “The shoots are tough, the tips as sharp as honed steel, and they can push through a plank floor [two inches thick]. They grow rapidly in the Pacific sun, about six inches on a good hot day. It had been a hot day.” When van Tronk's work detail came back that evening from a long grind of slave labor in the jungle the bound man already had bamboo shoots growing through his chest, and was still alive, screaming.

We did a verification check on this arcane torture and found that no cases confirmed to scholarly standards exist, but that it is well known in Asia, and experiments on substances approximating the density of human flesh have shown that it would work. As little as forty-eight hours would be needed to penetrate an entire body. Fascinating stuff, but what you really want to know in terms of veracity is whether scantily clad women helped the escapees paddle to freedom like in Bama's cover art, right? Well, this depiction is actually a completely accurate representation of what van Tronk described, or at least what biographer Farrington claims van Tronk described. The women were the daughters of a sympathetic Malay farmer, and indeed they wore virtually nothing, and were considered quite beautiful by the prisoners, save for the minor detail of having red teeth from the local tradition of chewing betel nuts.
 
The risk taken by these women was extraordinary. Other women who had helped van Tronk and his companions during their months-long odyssey were tortured and raped, and at one point a village was machine-gunned. Why would these Malays take up the foreigners' cause if the risks were so high? Van Tronk attributes it to a cultural requirement to help strangers in need, but we'd note that people have taken these sorts of risks everywhere, cultural norms or no. Often the suffering of others simply brings out the best in people. A historical check on Klaus van Tronk turned up nothing, though, so maybe the entire true story is a piece of fiction. If so, it's a very good one. We have some scans below with art by John Kuller, Joe Little, Al Rossi, Mort Kunstler, and Bruce Minney, and more issues of Male magazine at the keywords.

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Vintage Pulp Jan 2 2015
WAR PROFITEERS
The Male capacity for violence.


Above is a Mort Kunstler cover for Male painted for the January 1965 issue. Kunstler was famed for his war panoramas, as we’ve discussed before, and if you click his keywords below you’ll see several more martial covers from him that we’ve shared. Inside Male you also get art from Charles Copeland, Samson Pollen, and Gil Cohen. The model feature is Susan Radford, who is described as a starlet but who we’d never heard of. Turns out it wasn’t just us. We checked the usual databases and found no mention of Radford anywhere, so it seems Male editors were premature in dubbing her a major riser.

Male focused on all kinds of violent adventures, but especially those dealing with warfare. This issue has four war stories dealing with the Soviet Union, China, and the Nazis, but the most notable entry is South African author Anthony Trew’s gripping Two Hours to Darkness, published here as booklength fiction. The tale is described in the contents as “the nightmarish spine-tingler that will be the movie blockbuster of 1965,” but it looks like Male was wide of the mark again, because no film based on the book was ever released. So Trew had to settle for selling a measly 3.5 million copies of the novel in sixteen languages, the hack. We have a dozen scans below.

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Vintage Pulp Jul 11 2014
STAG NATION
War is hell. Unless you get paid to paint it.

Today we have a bunch of scans from a July 1960 issue of the American men’s magazine Stag. The cover is by Mort Kunstler, and features the type of large scale war tableau that was pretty much his trademark. Inside you get art from the usual suspects Samson Pollen and James Bama, and photos of actress Vikki Duggan, aka Vikki Dougan, who made a splash in the 1950s by wearing backless dresses that plunged to ass-crack height (or below, sometimes). The idea was to compete with Monroe, Mansfield and the like using her back, because she didn’t have large breasts. Stag offers a couple of images, though not her most scandalous examples. You can see one of those by clicking here. You can also have a look at more of Mort Kunstler’s art by clicking here, as well as by visiting the comprehensive pulp magazine site menspulpmags.com. Twenty scans below for your enjoyment. 

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Vintage Pulp Apr 1 2013
NAZI ROUND-UP
The only good fascist is an imprisoned fascist.


Below, a few scans from Stag of April 1963, with cover art by Mort Kunstler illustrating Emile C. Shurmacher’s story “90 Nazis and 8 Redheads of Radar Island,” and interior spreads from Charles Copeland, Samson Pollen and Walter Popp. See two more issues of Stag here and here.

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Next Page
History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
April 23
1986—Otto Preminger Dies
Austro–Hungarian film director Otto Preminger, who directed such eternal classics as Laura, Anatomy of a Murder, Carmen Jones, The Man with the Golden Arm, and Stalag 17, and for his efforts earned a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame, dies in New York City, aged 80, from cancer and Alzheimer's disease.
1998—James Earl Ray Dies
The convicted assassin of American civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., petty criminal James Earl Ray, dies in prison of hepatitis aged 70, protesting his innocence as he had for decades. Members of the King family who supported Ray's fight to clear his name believed the U.S. Government had been involved in Dr. King's killing, but with Ray's death such questions became moot.
April 22
1912—Pravda Is Founded
The newspaper Pravda, or Truth, known as the voice of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, begins publication in Saint Petersburg. It is one of the country's leading newspapers until 1991, when it is closed down by decree of then-President Boris Yeltsin. A number of other Pravdas appear afterward, including an internet site and a tabloid.
1983—Hitler's Diaries Found
The German magazine Der Stern claims that Adolf Hitler's diaries had been found in wreckage in East Germany. The magazine had paid 10 million German marks for the sixty small books, plus a volume about Rudolf Hess's flight to the United Kingdom, covering the period from 1932 to 1945. But the diaries are subsequently revealed to be fakes written by Konrad Kujau, a notorious Stuttgart forger. Both he and Stern journalist Gerd Heidemann go to trial in 1985 and are each sentenced to 42 months in prison.
April 21
1918—The Red Baron Is Shot Down
German WWI fighter ace Manfred von Richthofen, better known as The Red Baron, sustains a fatal wound while flying over Vaux sur Somme in France. Von Richthofen, shot through the heart, manages a hasty emergency landing before dying in the cockpit of his plane. His last word, according to one witness, is "Kaputt." The Red Baron was the most successful flying ace during the war, having shot down at least 80 enemy airplanes.
1964—Satellite Spreads Radioactivity
An American-made Transit satellite, which had been designed to track submarines, fails to reach orbit after launch and disperses its highly radioactive two pound plutonium power source over a wide area as it breaks up re-entering the atmosphere.
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