Category Archives: Australian popular culture

Pre-orders open for Girl Gangs, Biker Boys, and Real Cool Cats: Pulp Fiction and Youth Culture, 1950 to 1980

Girl Gangs Jpeg

Here is the updated cover for the book I have edited with my friend, Iain McIntyre, Girl Gangs, Biker Boys & Real Cool Cats: Pulp Fiction & Youth Culture, 1950-1980. This beauty will be out through PM Press in October.

It is available for pre-order here.

Long terms readers of Pulp Curry may remember this book was originally scheduled to appear, with a different publisher and under a slightly different name, in late 2016. But the publisher concerned experienced finance problems which resulted in the book being pulled from their schedule.

Thanks to PM Press that project is a going concern again.

The book is the first comprehensive account of how the rise of postwar youth culture was depicted in mass-market pulp fiction. As the young created new styles in music, fashion, and culture, pulp fiction shadowed their every move, hyping and exploiting their behaviour, dress, and language for mass consumption and cheap thrills. From the juvenile delinquent gangs of the early 1950s through the beats and hippies, on to bikers, skinheads, and punks, pulp fiction left no trend untouched. With their lurid covers and wild, action-packed plots, these books reveal as much about society’s deepest desires and fears as they do about the subcultures themselves.

Girl Gangs features approximately 400 full-colour covers, many of them never reprinted before.… Read more

Pulp Friday: Patrick

Patrick #1I am partial to a good paperback movie tie-in and this week’s Pulp Curry features a beauty, Patrick, which I found in an excellent second hand book shop during recent travels in rural Victoria.

Published by Sun Books in 1978, the novel is based on the original screenplay by Everett de Roche of the influential Ozploitation film of the same name about man in a coma after murdering his mother and her lover by electrocuting them in a bath. The man, Patrick (Robert Thomspon), who strange psychokinetic powers, falls in love with his nurse, Kathy (Susan Penhaligon) communicating with her via an electric typewriter. He also uses his powers to ward off other potential male suiters in Kathy’s life and battle the hospital staff, particularly the Nurse Ratched-like Matron, Cassidy (Julia Blake).

The book was written Australian writer Keith Hetherington, who we have featured previously on this site. Hetherington, who was born in 1929 and I believe is still alive, had a long career, including writing Westerns and Larry Kent crime thrillers for Cleveland Publishing, fiction for Man and Pocket Man magazine, radio plays, television scripts, and various stand alone thrillers and a paperback tie ins for films such as Snapshot (1979) and The Chain Reaction (1980).

I love the cover for this paperback tie in, Robert Thompson aka Patrick’s creepy, penetrating eyes, although the copy I have, from which the front and back cover scan is taken, is slightly askew, the product of a printing fault.… Read more

The book about Australian TV’s most notorious address

Number 96I have a lot of time for anyone who makes the effort to preserve and curate popular (and unpopular) culture of pretty much any kind. The latest example of this kind of work to cross my radar is a book which shares the same title as the hit seventies Australian soap opera that is its subject, Number 96.

In the book’s introduction, Nigel Giles says he was eight years old when he started watching Number 96, two years after it made it sensational debut on ATVO (now known as Channel 10). I was the same age but, regrettably, my parents were not so permissive and deemed me too young to be allowed to watch the show. Nonetheless, it still registered on my pre-teen brain because of Abigail Rogan or ‘Abigail’ as she was universally referred to, who briefly played the show’s sultry blond bombshell, Bev Houghton. Thanks to the success of Number 96, Abigail would become one of Australia’s first sex symbols, starring in a raft of TV shows and movies.

Number 96 depicted the lives of the residents of a fictitious block of inner Sydney flats. It was the brainchild of two producers, expat American Bill Harmon and Don Cash, who was English born but had worked in the US.… Read more

Down these mean streets: The depiction of Melbourne as a ‘Noir City’ in Division 4

Police station - Farewell Little Chicago, ep 30 (1970)Melbourne-based Pulp Curry readers might be interested in the upcoming 3-day Screening Melbourne Symposium to be held in association with the Universities of Deakin, La Trobe, Melbourne, Monash, RMIT and Swinburne; and in partnership with the Australian Centre for the Moving Image & the Australian Film Institute, from February 22 to 24.

I’ll be co-presenting a paper with my friend and colleague, Dean Brandum, on Crawford Productions’ Division 4 series (1969-75) and its depiction of Melbourne as a ‘noir city’.

With Homicide a ratings hit on the Seven Network, Crawford Productions was commissioned by the Nine Network to produce a rival series, the even darker Division 4. Whereas Homicide presented a Melbourne where violent crime was a aberration to be corrected, Division 4’s police characters were shown as the last bastion of morality in a tabloid Melbourne of vice and organised crime. Accentuating this tone was Division 4’s aesthetic of high contrast monochrome depicting the shadowy laneways, sleazy clubs and pubs and ever threatening nightlife of the city, a ‘Noir City’, a vision rarely, if ever depicted on the screen as strongly and as consistently over the course of its 301 episodes.

This presentation is partly based on the research Dean and I did as recipients of the 2014 Australian Film Institute Research Collection’s research fellowship.… Read more

Pulp Friday: Weird stories & terrifying tales

Weird storiesA belated happy 2017 to Pulp Curry readers. I have had a very busy start to the year, with my PhD studies and various writing projects, hence the first post of the year has taken me a while to get around to.

The first Pulp Friday of 2017 is a stunning collection of horror themed 1960s pulp titles by Horwitz Publications. These are a mixture of titles I own and books from other collectors.

While horror tales were a staple of American and British pulp fiction in the 1950s and 1960s, they failed to achieve similar popularity in Australia. Australia’s censorship regime – both at the state and federal levels – were far stricter and, as a result, our publishers were much more timid. According to Canberra based scholar, James Doig, horror never had the commercial appear amongst Australian pulp buyers of other genres, such as crime and romance.

That’s not to say there was a total absence of local horror pulp. Influenced by the US magazine Weird Tales, Currowong published a series of horror titles in the 1940s. And Cleveland and Horwitz published some novelettes and pocket books in the 1950s and 1960s.

The earliest Horwitz effort in the 1960s appears to be Weird Stories, published in 1961, part of an anthology series edited by Charles Higham, which was most likely a response to the very successful Pan Book of Horror Stories series that began to appear under the editorship of Herbert Van Thal in 1959.… Read more