Category Archives: Pulp fiction set in Asia

Farewell to Victor J. Banis, pioneer of gay pulp & popular fiction

Victor Banis, sometime in the 1960s

I am a bit late to the sad news that Victor J. Banis, a long time writer, who some have called ‘the godfather of modern popular gay fiction’, died on February 22, after finally succumbing to cancer.

I didn’t know Banis personally, but I was very aware of his work. He published his first short story in 1963 in the Swiss gay journal, Der Kreis. He went on to write heterosexual, bisexual and gay erotic and pulp fiction for Brandon House, Greenleaf Press and Sherburne Press.

Of particular note, from 1966 to 1968, he wrote eight pulp fiction titles in his ‘Man From C.A.M.P.’ series, a overtly queer takeoff of the television spy series, Man From UNCLE. The central protagonist of the successful series, was the openly gay undercover agent, Jackie Holmes, who did battle with BUTCH (Brothers United To Crush Homosexuality). The series helped establish that gay audiences were particularly hungry for stories which portrayed characters in a fun and positive light. In doing so, Banis saw himself as playing a consciously activist role.

In all, Banis wrote over 160 books – pulp, porn, queer and straight fiction and non-fiction, under his own name and pseudonyms such as Victor Jay, Don Halliday, Jan Alexander and Lyn Benedict.Read more

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