Category Archives: British pulp fiction

Pulp fiction at the Latrobe City Literary Festival

I am not sure how many Pulp Curry readers I have in Gippsland. In the event there are some, just a heads up that I’m appearing at the Latrobe City Literary Festival, in Traralgon, this coming Sunday, May 27. As part of a panel of talented folks, I’ll be talking about the history of Australian pulp fiction and the book I have co-edited, Girl Gangs, Biker Boys and Real Cool Cats: Pulp Fiction and Youth Culture, 1950-1980. I’ll also have copies of the book for sale.

Full details of the event can be found here. It is free but numbers are limited so you need to register. Hope to see some of you there.

Pulp Friday: Guns with plots

Let’s make one thing clear. I don’t own a gun. Never have and never will. Indeed, the only guns I want to see are in film or on the cover of books like the ones featured in today’s Pulp Friday post.

For a while now I have been obsessed with the cover above of the 1964 Panther edition of Len Deignton’s The Ipcress File. The cover, done by influential English graphic designer, Ray Hawkey, who would go onto to do a number of paperback covers, exudes a style and tone I could never imagine being used today except as a deliberate retro homage.

It speaks to the everyday grime, drudgery and unglamorous boredom of the Cold War spy racket, which the Deighton novels featuring the working class spy, Harry Palmer, evoke so well. There is also the mess that comes with the trade: a cold cup of tea (probably cold); cigarettes, because in the sixties every fictional spy smoked; paperclips for the paperwork; and, a gun and bullets, because sometimes you have to kill someone.

It is a gritty, cluttered layout I associate with mass paperback novels of the type that were largely targeted at men in the 1960s and 1970s. As it turns out, a bit of a dig around reveals it was a style that was widely used in those two decades – but it also bled over into the 1980s – by mass market paperback publishers in the crime, mystery and espionage thriller categories.… Read more

Pulp Friday: The Man With the Brown Paper Face

Welcome to my first Pulp Friday offering for 2018. Today’s book, The Man With the Brown Paper Face, published by Panther in 1969, showcases one of my favourite forms of paperback cover design, photographic cover art from the late 1960s/early 1970s.

I know the purists among you dig the painted pulp covers from the 1940s and 1950s, and I love them, too. But there is something wonderfully sensational and lurid about photographic cover design from the period I mentioned earlier and, in my opinion, the Brits were the masters of it.

Photographs began to replace artwork on paperback books from the mid-1960s on. Partly this was part of an effort by publishers to be seen to be moving with the times and look more modern. Partly it was a cost cutting measure, as photographic covers were cheaper than painted ones. But despite their cheapness, arguably because of it, many of these covers manage to evoke a dynamic, visceral, fly on the wall atmosphere that could often be quite stunning.

The Man With the Brown Paper Face is a good example. The cover utilises a man with a stocking over his head, posing on top of a scrapyard car, brandishing a star picket, which the photographer probably found nearby. Its nasty and direct and – I don’t know about you – but it instantly made me want to pick up the book.… Read more

The power of pulp fiction: Girl gangs, biker boys & more

It takes scholarly love and a fan’s enthusiasm to devote oneself to putting together a 300-plus page book dissecting obscure pulp fiction. But that is exactly what Australian writers Andrew Nette and Ian McIntyre have done with Girl Gangs, Biker Boys, and Real Cool Cats: Pulp Fiction and Youth Culture, 1950 to 1980.

The respected site, Literary Hub, has a terrific piece by New York crime writer, Scott Adlerberg, talking about pulp fiction and the new book on youth subculture and pulp fiction that Iain McIntyre and I have edited. You can check it out in full on their site here.

Girl Gangs, Biker Boys, and Real Cool Cats: Pulp Fiction and Youth Culture, 1950 to 1980 is out now through PM Press.

Pulp Friday: British horror pulp

Halloween approaches and, as has been my habit over the last couple of years, I want to mark the occasion with a bit of pulp. Horror pulp, actually. British horror pulp, to be exact.

American horror pulp got a bit of love on this site a little while ago, when I reviewed Grady Hendrix’s Paperbacks From Hell: The Twisted History of ‘70s and ‘80s Horror Fiction, a history of American horror from the 1970 and 1980s.

But I reckon the Brits have always done horror pulp really well. And, if you want proof, feast your eyes on the wonderful selection of British horror pulp from the 1960s and 1970s, all sourced from my collection, including a couple of ultra rare Hammer paperback film tie-ins I own.

Enjoy Halloween.