Category Archives: Pan Books

Announcing Beat Girls, Love Tribes and Real Cool Cats: Pulp Fiction and Youth Culture, 1950 – 1980

Happening At san Remo Pyramid Books 1967Regular Pulp Curry readers will be aware of my deep interest in pulp fiction. What you won’t know, is I’ve been working for a while now on a pulp fiction related book with another Melbourne writer called Iain McIntyre.

I’m thrilled to announce this book, currently titled Beat Girls, Love Tribes and Real Cool Cats: Pulp Fiction and Youth Culture, 1950 – 1980, will be published by Verse Chorus Press in October 2015.

The book will be the definitive look at youth and counter cultural pulp fiction from Australia, the United States and the UK. It will feature contributions from over twenty writers and includes reviews, feature articles and author interviews. These will cover all aspects of youth and counter cultural related pulp fiction, starting with juvenile delinquency and gang pulp in the fifties, Beats and bohemians in the early sixties, to hippies, bikers, musicians, Mods, punks, and everything in between.

The book will also feature a large selection of covers from the books concerned.

Some of the pulp writers we cover you might know. But there’ll be a lot more you probably haven’t heard of. One thing we can guarantee is that the words “guilty pleasure” will not be mentioned once to describe their work.

This is a book about mainstream society’s obsession with the notion of out of control youth, and the pulp fiction that capitalised on the fascination, fears and desires associated with it.… Read more

Pulp Friday: prison pulp

The Ninth Hour“Gripping novel about a jailbreak – The bloody, death filled minutes while a murderous convict holds all the state of Massachusetts at bay.”

Jail breaks, prison life, men and woman wrongly convicted and languishing in hell hole jails, all these were popular themes in cinema in the fifties, sixties and early seventies. They were also popular topics for pulp fiction.

Exhibit A is this selection of prison pulps from my collection.

Between them, these books cover off on all the main themes associated with prison pulp.

There are tension filled jail breaks in Billy Braggs and The Ninth Hour (“Three desperate prisoners, armed with smuggled .45’s, were holed up in the Isolation Cell Block, with two guards as hostages”).

Wrongfully convicted men feature in The Fall of the Sparrow, Headed For the Hearse (“His address was Death Row and his lease was up in six days…”), and Patricia Highsmith’s The Glass Cell.

The travails of women behind bars, particularly their sensationalised sexual exploits, are the subject of the two Australian pulps represented below, The Lights of Skaro and Queen Rat (“From behind bars Dawn Arness ruled the lives of prisoners and guards alike. She was Queen Rat”).

Prison was particularly suited to my favourite sub-genre of pulp fiction, tabloid-style reporting dressed up as serious sociological inquiry.… Read more

Pulp Friday: spy pulp part 1, death traps and dark duets

Over the next two weeks I’ll be commemorating the 50th anniversary of James Bond by posting some of the excellent spy themed pulp paperback covers I’ve collected over the years.

Intrigue and danger in exotic locations, sinister enemies, tough secret agents, beautiful women, the spy fiction of the fifties, sixties and early seventies had it all, as the following the collection of pulp paperback covers show.

You’ll find more spy fiction pulp covers over on my Pinterest site.

In the next week or so I’ll post part 2 of my spy pulp series, a selection of covers depicting spy fiction set in Asia.

Pulp Friday: witches, warlocks and drums of the dark gods

“A Horrifying excursion into a world ruled by the prince of darkness”

We don’t do Halloween in Australia, but it’s as good an opportunity as any to post some of the terrific occult pulp paperbacks covers I’ve collected over the last few months.

The supernatural and occult were major pre-occupations of popular culture in the sixties and the first half seventies. I am not exactly sure why, but some observers have linked it to regular outbreaks of witch mania that historically coincided with periods of major social change and dislocation.

Occultists, witches, Satanists, ruled much of the cinema screen. As was often the case, relatively highbrow offerings, Roman Polanski’s 1968 film Rosemary’s Baby, The Exorcist (1973) and The Omen (1976), coexisted along side more sensationalist exploitation fare. Devil’s Rain (1975), Brotherhood of Satan (1971), The Witches (1966) and Race with the Devil (1975), are just some of the many, many examples.

And where cinema went, pulp fiction followed. Old stories were spiced up, new ones penned in rapid succession.

Rest in Agony concerns what transpires when a husband and wife discover a little black book that reveals their dear deceased Uncle Amby lived a secret double life as a Satanist. Not surprising when some of his mates included Vandal James “Satan’s playmate” and Amora Cartwirght “Goddess of dark waters”.… Read more

Pulp Friday: narcotic pulp

Dope, smack, heroin, cocaine, the evils of narcotics have always been a central pre-occupation of pulp fiction, as can be seen by the selection of paperback covers below.

In Second Ending the victim in question was one of pulp’s favourite characters, a way ward jazz musician who starts taking drugs for kicks, “small time stuff at first”, Benzedrine, then marijuana, “and soon graduates to the killer drug – heroin.”

The main character in Nelson Algren’s classic, The Man With the Golden Arm, is a card shark and former heroin addict fresh out of jail who fights find a new life and avoid slipping back into his habit.

Open Your Hand and Close Your Eyes is a story of drug use and crime amid “a terrifying world where the razor gang rules and a teenage girl will do unspeakable things to get the drug she craves.”

Pulp’s obsession with drugs and their link with crime and changing sexual standards was often thinly dressed as sociological inquiry. A classic example is Drug Scene Kings Cross by Robert Connell, which promises to unveil the real drug scene in Sydney’s Kings Cross, including the aphrodisiac powers of marijuana or “‘pot’ as it is termed by its devotees”.

Better known is Go Ask Alice by Anonymous, an anti-drug propaganda tale about a teenage girls descent into junkie hell.… Read more