Category Archives: Pulp paperback cover art

Girl Gangs, Biker Boys & Real Cool Cats at the Bendigo Writers Festival

I am thrilled to be taking part in the 2018 Bendigo Writers Festival. The Festival, which takes place from August 10 to 12, is one of my favourite local writers festivals.

First up, I’ll be talking all things pulp fiction and the book I co-edited, Girl Gangs, Biker Boys & Real Cool Cats: Pulp Fiction & Youth Culture, 1950-1980, with fellow pop culture fiend, John Richards, at the La Trobe Art Institute, from 10am on Saturday, August 11. Copies of the book will also be for sale at the Festival.

On the Friday morning, August 10, from 9.30am to 12.30pm, I’ll be running a ‘Crime Starter’ workshop for new and emerging crime writers . I’ll cover the elements of a thrilling crime read and the rules of the genre, as well as providing tips on how to push through blockages and problem passages in your manuscript.

I’ll also be taking part in the festival debate ‘You Can Judge A Book By Its Genre’, with a group of talented writers.

So if you are in Bendigo or its environs and want to come to any of the events, grab a copy of the Girl Gangs book, or just say hello, it would be great to see you.

The full program for the Bendigo Writers Festival is available here.Read more

Pulp Friday: Interview with book cover designer, W. H. Chong

W H Chong is book cover designer based in Melbourne. From his first cover design job, a souvenir booklet to mark 1990 Collingwood AFL Grand Final victory, he has gone on to become Design Director for Text Publishing and has won multiple awards for his covers for young adult fiction, crime, classics and literature. Below is an interview I did with him on what is involved in a good cover design and his favourite cover designs from the science fiction reading of his youth. It originally appeared in the now defunct online magazine Spook, in August 2015.

How did you get into book design?

The correct answer is by accident. I started designing newspapers in the eighties and then I started doing magazines in the early nineties. When Text Media [now Text Publishing] started as an imprint of books run by Diana Gribble in the nineties, I was there, so I did the design. Because in the old days, people just did stuff. It was all very much a case of people putting something together that they were learning how to do as they went along. Design just needed to be done. Some of it included books. That was no big deal. There was no specialty. You weren’t learning to be a neurosurgeon; you were just doing things with scalpels, so to speak.… Read more

Pulp Friday: Pollen’s Women

An aspect of pulp culture I don’t cover very often on this site is the world of men’s pulp magazines. While the late 1940s saw the pulp novel take over from the pulp magazine as the most successful and overt manifestation of pulp culture, the magazines did not die out completely. Quite the opposite. The pulp magazine morphed into the true crime magazine, a phenomenally successful format that continued until the very early 1990s. Another successful manifestation was the men’s pulp magazine, titles such as Men, Stag and Swank.

Men’s pulp magazines combined hard hitting fiction with over the top ‘non-fiction’ exposes of various mid century obsessions – sex in suburbia, white slavery, black magic, crime, out of control youth, etc – and lavish, high sexualised illustrations. A large number of these magazines appeared in the 1950s, when the format was at its height, and they continued to be published until well into the 1970s before they died out.

A man who knows a lot about men’s pulp magazines is Bob Deis. He runs an excellent website on the subject. Working with his collaborator, Wyatt Doyle, and many of the people who actually wrote and drew for the magazines back in the day, Deis has also put out a number of stunning books on men’s pulp magazines all of which are published by New Texture.… Read more

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