Pulp Friday: Mad Max books

madmax

To celebrate the release of the fourth instalment of George Miller’s Mad Max franchise, Mad Max: Fury Road, today’s Pulp Friday is the paperback tie-ins for the first three movies.

The first book, Mad Max, was published by Circus Books in 1979. Long out of print, it is now a much sought after collectors item.

The three books below were all published by QB Books in 1985, presumably to coincide with the release of Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome in 1985.

Interestingly, Terry Kaye’s name does not appear on the 1985 edition of the Mad Max paperback. Austlit credits veteran Australian pulp paperback writer Carl Ruhen as author of Mad Max 2. I don’t know who the author of the third book is.

Enjoy.

Mad Max 1

Mad Max 2 QB books

Mad Max 3 QB books 1985

 

Sons and daughters of Mad Max: 10 great Australian dystopian road movies

The_Chain_Reaction_1980_posterWhen former doctor turned director George Miller released his first full-length feature film, Mad Max, in 1979, he wasn’t to know he had created what would become one of Australia’s greatest celluloid exports. Mad Max spawned a number of imitators and knockoffs internationally and had a profound impact on the Australian film industry. It resulted in two sequels in the 80s and a third, Mad Max: Fury Road, currently receiving rave reviews internationally.

Australia’s sheer size and relatively concentrated population means much of its cinema has either taken the form of road movies or contains aspects of the road film genre. Australian road movies encompass comedy (The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, 1994), romance (Japanese Story, 2003) and drama (Last Ride, 2009). Unless the characters have money for a plane ticket, any plot that involves leaving a major urban centre is going to necessitate a large amount of road travel.

But Mad Max has origins in and, in turn, profoundly influenced a particular strand of Australian film, which combines dystopian and noir themes with the destructive power of cars and the country’s harsh, sparsely populated land mass. Some of the factors that influenced these films have a resonance beyond Australia, such as masculine car culture and fears of societal breakdown, particularly during the energy crisis in the 70s and early 80s. Others are Australian-specific, including fear of the outback and its vast, isolated spaces. Many of these films have similar aesthetic elements, as well as character and plot tropes. Many also share cast members, vividly illustrated by the presence of Hugh Keays-Byrne, the central villain known as the Toe Cutter, in the original Mad Max, who also stars as Immortan Joe in Mad Max: Fury Road.

Here are 10 important films in the body of local dystopian and noir-influenced Australian road movie.

You can read the rest of this article on the British Film Institute site here.

And if too much Mad Max is not enough for you, I also have a piece on the site of the on-line culture magazine, Spook, examining the incredible influence the Mad Max franchise has had in Australian and internationally. The piece, ‘Leather and Chains: Mad Max’s Lasting Legacy’ can be viewed in full here.

Book review: American Pulp – How Paperbacks Brought Modernism to Main Street

American Pulp, Princeton University Press 2014

I’ve always been fascinated by how relatively insignificant objects you’ve lost in the course of moving around in life can later come to hold important meaning. An example for me is a black and white photograph of my father on holiday in Queensland’s Surfers Paradise in the early 1960s. It was destroyed when my friend’s shed, in which I stored all my possessions while travelling overseas, burnt down. I find it hard to recall what else was lost, but I remember that photo. Dad is sitting in a chair on the beach, wearing dark sunglasses and reading a paperback by the prolific Australian pulp writer Carter Brown.

Two things gave me cause to think about this picture recently. The first was the hype around the Anzac Day centenary commemorations – I’ll explain that connection later. The second was reading US academic Paula Rabinowitz’s beautifully written, highly original work, American Pulp: How Paperbacks Brought Modernism to Main Street.

Most people view pulp as either exploitative lowbrow culture or highly collectable retro artefact. Yet pulp has a secret history which Rabinowitz’s book uncovers. Her central thesis is that cheap, mass-produced pulp novels not only provided entertainment and cheap titillating thrills, but also brought modernism to the American people, democratising reading and, in the process, furthering culture and social enlightenment.

You can read the rest of this piece here on the Wheeler Centre site.

Pulp Friday: The Zebra-Striped Hearse

The Zebra Stripped Hearse

To celebrate the 100th birthday of iconic crime author, Ross Macdonald, today’s Pulp Friday offering is the stunning cover of the 1964 Bantam edition of The Zebra Striped Hearse.

The Zebra Striped Hearse was one of eighteen novels written by Macdonald, a pseudonym for the Canadian writer Kenneth Miller, to feature the private investigator, Lew Archer. The story, first published in 1962, is a decided bent tale of murder and potential multiple identities, set amid the supposed idyllic suburbs of California.

Since his death in 1983, Macdonald’s fame as a writer of hard boiled private investigator tales has tales has reduced somewhat. That’s a pity because in books like The Zebra Striped Hearse, Macdonald, through Archer, interrogated the sin and depravity that existed in the suburbs of San Francisco and Los Angeles.

I have no idea who did the striking cover to this book and would be keen to hear from any Pulp Curry readers who do.

The weird & wonderful hidden history of the Logies

TV Week 1959 coverThe 57th annual Logie Awards will take place this coming Sunday, so start looking forward to the red carpet procession, those strange looking statues, and the local and international celebrities. And sure, it’s easy and a bit predictable to bag out the Logies (even many of the guests who attend the awards do so live on social media), but what’s far more interesting is the Logies oft forgotten history.

Some facts about the Logies are well known. Bert Newton has hosted the ceremony 19 times. Kylie Minogue made history in 1988 by being the youngest star to win the Gold Logie. The awards were held on an ocean liner (twice) and, in 1970, a special Gold Logie was awarded to the astronauts on the Apollo 11 for providing TV’s greatest moment, the telecast of the moon landing.

Other Logie related facts are not so familiar. While the official Logie’s website has a comprehensive list of the award winners, it’s far less expansive on the colourful events and controversies that have occurred at Australian television’s night of nights. For that information, one has to dig deep into the Internet and, in particular, the bowels of YouTube, where various unknown individuals have preserved snippets of Logies ceremonies passed.

The first Logie Awards were held in 1959, just a few years after the introduction of television in Australian (Googie Withers was guest presenter and the Gold Logie went to Graham Kennedy and Panda Lisner). Throughout the sixties, the awards remained a much smaller affair than today and received far less attention. It was televised for the first time in 1961, with the ABC screening a half an hour package of highlights. Coverage in the media was usually limited to a couple of pages in TV Week magazine listing the winners and there was no comment about what actually transpired on the night. It was only in the early seventies that the Logies Awards show took off as a must see television event, arguably because the Logies was the first place anyone heard the word ‘shit’ on Australian television, which is where we start our alternative, and very non-TV Week history of the Logies.

You can read the rest of my piece here at the Spook Magazine site.