Category Archives: Pulp Friday

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

Pulp Friday: Teenage jungles – expose pulp about youth subcultures

The new book I have co-edited, Girl Gangs, Biker Boys and Real Cool Cats: Pulp Fiction and Youth Culture, 1950-1980 is about many things.

It depicts the insatiable energy of post war youth and their desire to find expression through style, fashion, music and language. It is also about the just as insatiable appetite of pulp paperback publishers to hype and exploit youth culture for cheap thrills and cheap paperback sales.

One of the decisions that my co-editor, Iain McIntyre and I faced early on in putting the book together was whether or not to include the large body of nonfiction expose pulp about youth culture. For reasons of space, in the end, we decided against including these books. But they remain one of my favourite strands of pulp fiction.

These books, which were a major sub-genre of pulp from the 1950s to the early 1970s, were marketed as timely, hard hitting, insider accounts or journalistic exposes of various social issues and trends. They were factual only in the most generous sense of the word, usually taking as their starting point the latest public sensation or tabloid headline. And, more often than not, their target was the so called goings on of out of the control young people. In colourful language and with lurid, highly sexualised covers, these books capitalised on mainstream fears, concerns and, as was often the case, fascinations with young people and their activities.Read more

Pulp Friday: Paul Bishop & 52 Weeks: 52 Western Novels

Today I’m happy to host friend of pulp fiction lovers everywhere, Paul Bishop, to talk about a project he has been working on,52 Weeks • 52 Western Novels.

I have always been interested in the contradiction between how critically marginalised as a genre the Western is (and, arguably, always has been), compared with popular they continue to be. This is the case not just in the US but in Australia. The only remaining Australian pulp publisher still in business, Cleveland Publications, publishes Westerns. And go into any second hand bookstore, especially in regional Australia, and you are likely to find large a large number of westerns. That’s if they haven’t been snapped up, as was the case in a regional second hand bookshop I visited recently.

Anyway, Paul and his co-editor Scott Harris have done something too few people who examine pulp fiction and write about it, do – they actually read the novels and not just focus on the covers. The result is a wonderfully eclectic, in-depth look at the genre that is Western pulp fiction. The Western is an area of pulp fiction I have not really examined in any detail on my site, so I’m thrilled to have Paul here.

First up, well done on the book.Read more

Melbourne launch of Girl Gangs, Biker Boys & Real Cool Cats: Pulp Fiction & Youth Culture, 1950-1980

Please join me on Monday, December 4, for the launch of Girl Gangs, Biker Boys & Real Cool Cats: Pulp Fiction & Youth Culture, 1950 to 1980, a book I have co-edited with my friend, Iain McIntyre.

The launch will take place from 6.30pm at one of Melbourne’s coolest second hand bookshops, Grub Street Bookshop, 379 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy. We’ll be doing live readings from some of the pulp novels included in our book. There will be cheap drinks available and, of course, you can buy a copy of the book.

Girl Gangs, Biker and Real Cool Cats is the result of four years work. It is the first comprehensive account of how the rise of postwar youth culture was depicted in Australian, American, and British mass market pulp fiction. It includes approximately 400 covers, many of them very rare, and 70 in-depth author interviews, illustrated biographies and articles regarding authors novelists who exploited and celebrated juvenile delinquents, beatniks, mods, bikers, hippies, skinheads, punks and a host of other subcultures.

I am really proud of this book and would love it if you could join Iain and I to launch it. This book will have very limited distribution in Australia, so for Melbourne folks, this is your ideal chance to snag a copy.

Read more

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.