Category Archives: Pulp fiction in the 70s and 80s

Pulp Friday: memoirs of a cover girl

So much of the allure of pulp fiction, whether it was in magazine or paperback format, revolved around the cover art. It was designed to impart a gamut of sensations, from the simply outré and thrilling, to downright lurid and shocking. And the central design aspect of the majority of this material was a woman, usually provocatively posed and scantily clad, depicted ‘in media res’, Latin for ‘in the middle of’ things. Publishers hoped that this would generate interest from the passing buyer, who they believed was usually male and, looking at the cover, would start to fill in the mental blanks and purchase said print material to read and discover for themselves if they were right (how disappointed they often must have been).

We know virtually nothing about the women who were the cover model subjects for these covers. This is what makes Eva: men’s adventure supermodel a vital book. It is the first work I can think of that actually provides the inside story of one of the women who worked in the pulp fiction industry, told by the woman herself.

The individual concerned, Eva Lynd, was born in Sweden in 1937 as Eva Margareta von Fielitz. She arrived in New York in 1950 at the age of 12, eventually started to do theatre and by the second half of the 1950s was appearing in small roles in television and film.… Read more

Pulp Friday: Australian pulp’s Spanish Connection

One of the tasks I set myself over the Christmas/New Year period was to start putting my pulp paperback collection into plastic bags. It is amazing that these fragile constructions of cheap paper, glue and card, never meant to last more than one read, have survived for almost half a century, and for a while now I’ve been thinking I should treat them with far more care.

Among my collection are a number of Larry Kent novels, which are incredibly hard to find in the wild nowadays. Most of these were purchased as a single lot on a random visit to a second-hand bookshop in the New South Wales coastal town of Ballina (better known as the home of the Big Prawn statue) during a beach holiday many years ago.

In the process of bagging these books I took the chance to do a little digging into Larry Kent’s little-known Spanish connection, which this post will examine, as well as being a long overdue coda to Cleveland Publications, until it closed early last year the last remaining player in the once large and boisterous post-war pulp publishing industry in Australia.

Cleveland was founded by Jack Atkins in Sydney in 1953. New Zealand born, Atkins was an entrepreneur and horse lover. For a time, he was also the secretary of the NSW branch of the conservative Democratic Labor Party, which split from the Labor Party over its links to communist influenced trade unions in 1955.… Read more

M and my top 10 reads for 2019

It is no exaggeration to say I have been eagerly anticipating Samm Deighan’s monograph of Fritz Lang’s 1931 film. I love the film and I am a big fan of Deighan’s movie writing, so the combination is bound not to disappoint. And it didn’t.

As Deighan puts it in her introduction, M ‘exists in a liminal space between urban social drama, crime thriller, and horror film’. It was arguably the first serial killer film, long before the FBI coined the term in the early 1970s. Anchored by a superb performance by Peter Lorre as the paedophiliac child killer, Hans Beckert, it was certainly the first motion picture in which a serial killer was the central protagonist. Another crucial innovation was the way in which Lang depicted the character of Beckert in a not entirely unsympathetic light. This same sensibility would have a influence on some subsequent serial killer cinema, most notably in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 horror/thriller, Psycho.

Deighan discusses M’s broader social and political themes, including the film as a critique of modernity and a text for Germany on the brink of totalitarian control, appearing as it did a year before the Nazi’s assumed power and Lang had to flee the country.

Another fascinating aspect of the book is the discussion of how the themes in M would echo in Lang’s subsequent work, particular the threat of the lawless mob violence and what is perhaps the director’s most defining idea, how even the most noble individual is capable of brutal murderous thoughts and actions.… Read more

Six lesser-known pulp writers of the revolution and counterculture era

I am over at the Criminal Element site with a list of six pulp, crime, and popular fiction writers from the counterculture era who may have slipped your radar, but are ripe for rediscovery. These are some of the writers and their books are featured in the new book I have coedited, Sticking It To The Man: Revolution and Counterculture in Pulp and Popular Fiction, 1950 to 1980.

Melbourne folk, Sticking it to the Man is available at Brunswick Bound on Sydney Road, Lulu’s in Melbourne and, by next week, they’ll also be in the New International, Paperback Books, Metropolis and other stores. Or, if you’re in Australia and are keen for a physical copy, I can send you a copy for $40 plus postage. Let me know. 

Also, PM Press is having an end of year sale and all the material, including Sticking it to the Man, is 50% off with the coupon code: GIFT (this includes people in Australia if you order from the US site here).

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Blowback: late 1960s and 1970s pulp and popular fiction about the Vietnam War

If you are still on the fence about purchasing a copy of my new book, Sticking it to the Man: Revolution and the Counterculture in Pulp and Popular Fiction, 1950 to 1980, the site CrimeReads is running a couple of extracts from the book. The first is my piece, ‘Blowback: late 1960s and 1970s pulp and popular fiction about the Vietnam War’.

The conflict in Vietnam cast a long shadow over pulp and popular fiction in the late 1960s and the 1970s. Vietnam veterans were hunted by small town redneck police in David Morrell’s 1972 novel, First Blood, dealt drugs in Vern E Smith’s The Jones Men, and staged an abortive bank heist in Dog Day Afternoon, both published in 1974. In the Lone Wolf series ex-New York cop and Vietnam veteran, Burt Wulff mounted a fourteen-book battle from 1973 to 1975 against the drug dealing criminal organisation, ‘The Network’, in which he treated the streets of America’s major cities as an extension of jungles of Southeast Asia. Vietnam was the training ground for many of the characters that populated men’s adventure and crime pulp in the 1970s. More broadly, Vietnam’s traumatic impact on American society would become a cypher through which pulp and popular fiction name checked cultural fragmentation, growing disillusionment with the American dream, dishonest and unaccountable government and corporations, and the power of the military industrial complex.… Read more