Category Archives: Pulp fiction set in Asia

Pulp Friday: a celebration of Tandem Books covers

Regular readers of this site will be familiar with my particular jones for late 1960s and 1970s pulp covers, particularly the photographic ones. For me, they represent a very creative but little celebrated body of book cover art and, as far as I am concerned, the Brits were the masters of it.

A week or so ago, during one of my frequent second hand bookshop jaunts, I stumbled across a 1967 copy of novelist and beat poet, Royston Ellis’s coming of age tell all, The Rush at the End. The wonderful cover is an example of what I am talking about when I go on about my love for photographic book covers – a cheap but imaginative shot that dives deep into the book’s themes of sex, drugs and the emerging counter culture.

Pulp enthusiasts have rightly devoted considerable time and energy in celebrating the covers of UK publishers such as Pan, Panther and New English Library. But there were a host of other lesser known outfits active on the British publishing scene in the 1960s and 1970s, who contributed some terrific covers. One of these was the little known Tandem Books, publisher of The Rush at the End. Indeed, along with Mayflower Books, Tandem contributed some of the strangest and best covers of that period.… Read more

Pulp Friday: The World of Suzie Wong

The World of Suzie Wong, Horwitz 1963

Horwitz Publications, 1963

The World of Suzi Wong is perhaps best known as a 1960 movie starring William Holden and Nancy Kwan. But before – and after – it was a movie, it was a book by English writer, Richard Mason.

The story concerns an American architect and aspiring artist Robert Lomax, who relocates to Hong Kong for a year to see if he can make a living as a painter. With a limited budget he takes a cheap in an infamous section of the Hong Kong waterfront, where he meets and eventually falls in love with a local prostitute who goes by the name, Suzie Wong

This week’s Pulp Friday offering is a series of paperback covers from the various editions of The World of Suzi Wong. All the covers focus more or less on the chao song clad figure of Suzi Wong, but the illustration for the version published in Australia by Horwitz, is the most suggestive. As if the image was not enough, the cover blurb adds: “Passionate torment against a background of vice on the Hong Kong waterfront”.

Enjoy the long weekend.

Wong, The World Publishing, 1957

The World Publishing, 1957

Wong, Signet, 1960

Signet, 1960

Wong, Fontana 1961

Fontana 1961

Wong, Signet, 1964

Signet, 1964

Wong 3 Fontana 1986

Fontana 1986

 

Pulp Friday: The Art of Robert E McGinnis

mcginnisMy first Pulp Friday post for 2015 is a selection of pulp paperback covers from my collection illustrated by Robert E McGinnis.

I have been keen to do a McGinnis related post on this site ever since picking up a copy of The Art of Robert E McGinnis, published by Titan Books, during my travels in the US late last year.

Most Pulp Curry readers will be familiar with McGinnis, whose striking illustrations appeared on the covers of numerous pulp novels and who is still working at the age of nearly ninety, doing the occasional cover for the Hard Case Crime imprint.

One of the main reasons there is so much contemporary interest in pulp fiction of the fifties and sixties is the striking cover art. I find this interesting given that it is often the aspect of pulp fiction we know the least about. The artists behind the wonderfully lurid images that grace the covers of most pulp books are seldom acknowledged and we know very little about most of these people and how they worked.

McGinnis was an exception. His images, including his signature illustrations of femme fatales and other female pulp characters, are well known and have appeared on books by authors as diverse as Lawrence Block, Jim Thompson, Erskine Caldwell and the US editions of Australian pulp writer Alan Geoffrey Yates, aka Carter Brown, to name just a few.… Read more

Pulp Friday: Nurse in Vietnam

Nurse in Vietnam

While Sydney-based Horwitz Publications was Australia’s largest pulp publisher, it was not the only one. Cleveland Publishing Company, publisher of today’s Pulp Friday offering, Nurse in Vietnam, was another sizeable operation.

I’ve been able to find out virtually nothing about who was behind Calvert.

All we know about Shauna Marlowe, author of Nurse in Vietnam, is she (if it is actually a woman and not a man writing under a woman’s name) is credited with writing 41 books, nearly all of them for Calvert, from the late fifties to the early seventies.

On one level, Nurse in Vietnam, is just another nurse/doctor romance story (a hugely popular sub-genre of pulp in the fifties and sixties). The nurse in question and a handsome doctor have been captured by Viet Cong rebels. The doctor’s main pre-occupation is not escape but whether she’ll agree to his marriage proposal.

But the publication date, 1965, is significant. A small number of Australian military advisors had been stationed in Vietnam since 1962. We did not start to commit significant ground forces until 1965.

What was the first mainstream Australian novel to tackle the war in Vietnam? Perhaps William Nagle’s The Odd Angry Shot, published in 1975. Nurse in Vietnam shows pulp publishers were onto Vietnam as a setting for fiction straight away.… Read more

Pulp Friday: Kings Cross Black Magic

Kings Cross Black MagicToday’s Pulp Friday is a great example of exploitative pulp dressed up as quasi-serious sociological inquiry, Kings Cross Black Magic by the wonderfully named, Attila Zohar.

It’s also one of the more unusual pieces of pulp fiction produced in the sixties and seventies in response to the real and imagined goings on in Sydney’s notorious vice strip, Kings Cross.

I just love the cover of this book. The minimal furnishings, the title font, the female model, who I presume is supposed to look ‘Satanic’ but comes across more as a sort of sullen drag queen. It speaks of things that just shouldn’t be talked about in polite company, which, in turn, only makes me more curious.

Kings Cross Black Magic was released by Horwitz publications in 1965. According to the University of Ortago’s wonderful pulp fiction website, Attila Zohar was a pseudonym for James Holledge. Holledge was a former clerk who became part of the stable of in-house writers brought together by Horwitz in the early sixties. He wrote approximately 45 books between 1961 and 1970, most of them salacious journalistic tracks parading as sociological expose.

His titles included Australia’s Wicked Women (1963), Crimes Which Shocked Australia (1963) and Women Who Sell Sex (1964) and What Makes a Call Girl (1964).… Read more