Category Archives: Australian pulp fiction

Number 96, 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

Pulp Friday: The Thing From Another World

The Thing 1951Today’s Pulp Friday is an absolute thing of beauty.

The Australian edition of John W Campbell’s The Thing From Another World, published by Malian Press in Sydney, in 1952. The wonderful cover is by the prolific local artist, Stan Pitt, who illustrated comics and pulp paperback covers for a number of Australian pulp publishers over a lengthy career that stretched form 1942 to the 1970s.

This edition is particularly interesting because it is the first to anywhere in the world to reference the 1951 film, The Thing From Another World, directed by Howard Hawks. I originally saw it when it was posted by a chap called Morgan Wallace on the Vintage Paperback and Pulp site on Facebook.

Investigating Campbell on the Internet, I discovered a host of terrific images associated with this particular work.

The story was originally known by the title Who Goes There?, and first appeared in the August 1938 edition of Astounding Magazine under Campbell’s pen name, Don A Stuart.

It was published in hard cover as part of a collection of Campbell’s short fiction by Shasta Books in 1948. And then appeared in various editions, with various titles, leading up to the last one below, Bantam paperback tie-in to the 1982 film version by John Carpenter, The Thing.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

My NoirCon places

goodisIn just under a month from now, one of the most interesting literary festivals I have had the pleasure of attending kicks off in the City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia, the home of Edgar Allen Poe and David Goodis: NoirCon.

This year, NoirCon runs from October 26 to 30. If you already plan on attending, see you there. If not, now is the time to register.

It’s runs is not your common or garden-variety festival. No way. And that is a very good thing. The focus is firmly on noir, mainly fiction, but also film, poetry or whatever (and that last category, ‘whatever’, encapsulates some pretty bizarre material). It is great to sit in a room of people who, more or less, are all on the same page about their love of noir.

Anyway, NoirCon’s organiser, Lou Boxer, has come up with another terrific program, including some special guest, which you can view in detail here.

This year, I am thrilled to say I will be part of the program. I’ll be presenting on the morning of Friday, October 28, on the history of Australian pulp paperback publishing. I’m also reading at the Noir at the Bar as part of NoirCon, which will take place from 6.30pm at the Pen & Pencil Club, 1522 Latimer Street, Philadelphia, hosted by the inevitable Philly crime fiction identity, Peter Rozovsky.… Read more

Pulp Friday: American Pulp – How Paperbacks Brought Modernism to Main Street

American-Pulp-Princeton-University-Press-2014-681x1024

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.… Read more