Category Archives: Pulp fiction

Pulp Friday: a celebration of Tandem Books covers

Regular readers of this site will be familiar with my particular jones for late 1960s and 1970s pulp covers, particularly the photographic ones. For me, they represent a very creative but little celebrated body of book cover art and, as far as I am concerned, the Brits were the masters of it.

A week or so ago, during one of my frequent second hand bookshop jaunts, I stumbled across a 1967 copy of novelist and beat poet, Royston Ellis’s coming of age tell all, The Rush at the End. The wonderful cover is an example of what I am talking about when I go on about my love for photographic book covers – a cheap but imaginative shot that dives deep into the book’s themes of sex, drugs and the emerging counter culture.

Pulp enthusiasts have rightly devoted considerable time and energy in celebrating the covers of UK publishers such as Pan, Panther and New English Library. But there were a host of other lesser known outfits active on the British publishing scene in the 1960s and 1970s, who contributed some terrific covers. One of these was the little known Tandem Books, publisher of The Rush at the End. Indeed, along with Mayflower Books, Tandem contributed some of the strangest and best covers of that period.… Read more

The pulp magazines under the floorboards

Dime Mystery Magazine, July 1936

One of the very cool things about having an online profile in relation to the history of pulp fiction is, from time to time, people make contact and send me old pulp novels and magazines they feel I might be able to make good use of. And a couple of months ago I was offered a collection of mainly American pulp magazines from the 1930s, found while renovating a house in Melbourne.

Queensland academic Toni Johnson-Woods has written about how the origins of Australia’s post war pulp publishing industry lie in import restrictions on print material introduced by the Australian government in 1938. The restrictions were mainly aimed an American publications, especially remaindered comics and pulp magazines which were being dumped in large quantities in Australia in the 1930s. This dumping fuelled an unlikely alliance of groups who pressured for the restrictions: religious organisations, concerned about the moral impact of these publications; nationalists who viewed cheap American publications and other forms of mass American culture, such as jazz and US motion pictures, as a threat to our then Anglo-aligned culture; educationalists; and protectionists worried about the livelihoods of local writers printers and artists.

I have always been curious to to see for myself exactly what it was that could have been so offensive and dangerous about these pulp magazines as to warrant import restrictions to prevent them entering the country.… Read more

Pulp Friday: Australian football pulp

With the 2018 Australian Rules Football Grand Final almost upon us, it is only fitting that today’s Pulp Friday post has a football theme, this 1964 novel by Horwitz Publications, John Dalton’s Violent Saturday.

Sport was the subject of a certain niche of Australian pulp fiction in the 1950s and 1960s. Horse racing and boxing were the main topics, presumably because they chimed with pulp’s supposedly male, working class readership. But I have seen local pulp about car racing, swimming and even tennis.

To my knowledge, however, Violent Saturday is the only Australian pulp novel ever published that has Australian rules football as its subject (and I would love to hear from any readers if they know of any other examples). This is probably not as strange as it first appears. Nearly all Australia’s pulp publishers were based in Sydney and the Australian rules football was resolutely Victorian until the late 1990s, when the code started to become national.

Violent Saturday is the tale of small time country footballer who makes it to the ‘big league’ in Melbourne and a club that will do anything to win. As the back cover blurb puts it: ‘The coach’s ruthless, relentless tactics turned his team into lethal gladiators prepared for every form of violence.… Read more

Nothing but one big shill #2

Yes, another post devoted  to shamelessly shilling my own stuff. Again.

Well, not just my own stuff.

First up, I was happy to learn that the anthology I contributed a story to, The Obama Inheritance: Fifteen Stories of Conspiracy Noir, published by the New York based independent publisher, Three Rooms Press, has just won the 2018 Anthony Award for best fiction anthology,

The Anthony Awards are literary awards for mystery writers presented at the annual Bouchercon World Mystery Convention in the US. They are named for Anthony Boucher (1911–1968), one of the founders of the Mystery Writers of America, and a pretty big deal.

The anthology contains fifteen stories of pulpy goodness, featuring robots, lizard people, vigilante killers and various other bizarre creations riffing off the conspiracy theories association with the Obama presidency (although I believe the current occupant of the White House also gets a nod), and was edited by one of the hardest working men in crime fiction, Gary Phillips, critically acclaimed author of mystery and graphic novels.

Anyway, if you have not already picked up the anthology, I reckon the news it has won an Anthony should be as good an incentive as you need to do so.

It features stories by a host of talented writers, including big guns such as Walter Mosley and Robert Silverberg.… Read more

Pulp Friday: Cuba – Sugar, Sex, and Slaughter

Earlier this year I posted in my semi-regular Pulp Friday column on Pollen’s Women, a book by Robert Deis and Wyatt Doyle that examined the career of Samson Pollen, an illustrator for some of the roughly 160 men’s pulp magazines that blossomed on American newsstands in the 1950s and 1960s (you can find my piece here). These magazines combined brilliant, often over the top illustrations, with hard-hitting fiction and lurid ‘non-fiction’ exposes of various mid-century cultural obsessions.

Chief among these obsessions was, as these magazines depicted it, the nefarious and barbaric activities of the various domestic and international communist minions the United States was then locked in global struggle with. A variant of this particular men’s pulp magazine enthusiasm is the subject of Deis and Doyle’s latest book, Cuba: Sugar, Sex, and Slaughter, which examines the way these magazines depicted pre and post revolutionary Cuba.

I recall, while working as journalist in Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia in the 1990s, many locals fondly remembering the assistance provided to them by Cuba, particular the medical doctors who were sent to these and other fraternal socialist allies in large numbers. Of course, I also realise that many Cubans do not look upon their country’s post-war history so fondly. The repressive nature of aspects of Castro’s rule can also be attested to by any number of intellectuals and the many openly gay Cubans who have been incarcerated by the regime.… Read more