Category Archives: Pulp fiction set in Asia

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

Pulp Friday: more adventures behind the bamboo screen

The Turncoat

One of the most successful pulp fiction related posts to date on this site was a selection of Asian themed pulp fiction paperback covers I put up in 2011, Behind the bamboo screen: Asian pulp covers of the sixties and seventies.

For a while now I’ve been planning a follow up and here it is.

As was the case in the original post, the covers below portray the anti-communist hysteria created by the rise of the so-called ‘red menace’ as well the fate of innocent (and not so innocent) Westerners thrown into chaos and intrigue of the ‘Far east’, a place of intrigue, “notorious pleasure palaces” and “forbidden desire”.

Hong Kong was a popular setting of Asian themed pulp fiction, as evidenced by titles such as A Coffin From Hong Kong (“A seemingly innocent telephone call led him to the murder of a Chinese call-girl who had talked to much and into the teeming, sordid nightlife of colourful Hong Kong”).

Other locales portrayed below include, Korea (The Turncoat), China (Shanghai Incident – “I had two callers my first night in Shanghai – death and a honey blonde”), the “South Seas” (November Reef), India (Men and Angels), Burma (The House of Bamboo – “In a Burmese girl’s warm, seductive beauty he found escape from the flames of forbidden desire”), and Thailand (Port Orient).… Read more

Pulp Friday: Black Samurai

“The Black Samurai tangles with a human Satan in a hellish den of torrid sex and deadly violence.”

Today’s Pulp Friday is a series of covers featuring one of the best characters of US seventies pulp, Robert Sand aka Black Samurai.

Black Samurai was the creation of Black American writer Marc Olden. Olden wrote a total of seven books featuring Black Samurai, a US GI stationed in Japan who gets trained by a Japanese martial arts master and unleashed in to a series of bizarre adventures.

As was often the case with seventies pulp, Black Samurai’s plots were a mash up various hard boiled popular culture themes, including Eastern mysticism, the occult, organised crime, as well as lots of sex and bone breaking martial arts action.

My favourite of the covers featured in this post is The Warlock, in which Black Samurai tangles with an occult mastermind and his army of killer dwarfs.

Another of the releases featured in this post, The Katana sees Sand having to recover an ancient Samurai sword stolen by a army of thugs commanded by the Mafia and financed by Arab oil wealth.

The Black Samurai series were among the approximately 40 books, mainly suspense and thrillers, written by Olden, himself an expert in Akaido and Karate.… Read more

Pulp Friday: spy pulp part 2, Assignment Asia

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of James Bond, last week’s Pulp Friday was a selection of spy themed pulp covers.

This week’s post takes us to one of the main battlegrounds for pulp spies in the sixties and seventies – Asia.

The Cold War was in full swing and those Reds were getting up to all kinds of nefarious activity behind the bamboo curtain, everything from kidnapping, sabotaging America’s space program, developing bubonic plague, drug running, to assassination.

And secret agents like Mark Hood (The Bamboo Bomb) Butler (Chinese Roulette) Death Merchant (Chinese Conspiracy), Joe Gall (The Star Ruby Contract) and Drake (“The man with nobody’s face” in Operation Checkmate), Nick Carter (The Defector) and Sam Durell (the Assignment series, over 48 of which were written), were in the thick of it.

They usually committed a lot of violence, had a lot of sex, and travelled to exotic locations. The books below are set in China, Singapore, Hawaii, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand, Japan and Sri Lanka.

And, of course, there were some great covers. My favourite is the Robert Mcginnis illustration for Scott S Stone’s The Dragon’s Eye. But I’m also rather taken with the sleazy eighties feel of the photograph on the cover of Assignment Bangkok.… Read more

Pulp Friday: Sin in Hong Kong

“Lassington Dhal was condemned to die of pleasure. What was the secret that had earned him free grog, free women and a drunkard’s death?”

Today’s Pulp Friday is a wonderful specimen of Asian themed Australian pulp fiction, Sin in Hong Kong by James Workman, published by Horwitz Publications in 1965.

You can almost smell the polluted water of Kowloon Harbour and feel the beer sweat oozing from the pores of this book. The combination of the cover illustration and the suggestive title do a wonderful job of evoking a sense of the mysterious, sleazy Orient, one of the mainstays of pulp publishing in the fifties and sixties. Criminals, Communists, Asians. What’s the difference? Remember, this was 1965. The Cold War was in full swing, Vietnam was just starting to wind up, Australia was years away from recognising Red China, fear and ignorance of Asia was widespread (and it could be argued in some quarters still is).

As is the case with nearly every local Australian pulp cover I present on this site, I’ve no idea who did the art work for Sin in Hong Kong.

James Workman appears to have been one of the many house pseudonyms used by Horwitz. In this case, the real author appears to have been well known Australian novelist James Edmond MacDonnell.… Read more