Girl Gangs, Biker Boys, and Real Cool Cats: Pulp Fiction and Youth Culture, 1950 to 1980

Girl Gangs JpegGirl Gangs, Biker Boys, and Real Cool Cats: Pulp Fiction and Youth Culture, 1950-1980 will be released by PM Press in late 2017.

The book is the first comprehensive account of how the rise of postwar youth culture was depicted in mass-market pulp fiction. As the young created new styles in music, fashion, and culture, pulp fiction shadowed their every move, hyping and exploiting their behaviour, dress, and language for mass consumption and cheap thrills. From the juvenile delinquent gangs of the early 1950s through the beats and hippies, on to bikers, skinheads, and punks, pulp fiction left no trend untouched. With their lurid covers and wild, action-packed plots, these books reveal as much about society’s deepest desires and fears as they do about the subcultures themselves.

Girl Gangs features approximately 400 full-colour covers, many of them never reprinted before. With 70 in-depth author interviews, illustrated biographies, and previously unpublished articles from more than 20 popular culture critics and scholars from the US, UK, and Australia, the book goes behind the scenes to look at the authors and publishers, how they worked, where they drew their inspiration and—often overlooked—the actual words they wrote. Books by well-known authors such as Harlan Ellison and Lawrence Block are discussed alongside neglected obscurities and former bestsellers ripe for rediscovery. It is a must read for anyone interested in pulp fiction, lost literary history, retro and subcultural style, and the history of postwar youth culture.

I’ll be updating my site with more details closer to the book’s release but here’s what people have said about the book so far:

Girl Gangs, Biker Boys, and Real Cool Cats is populated by the bad boys and girls of mid-twentieth-century pulp fiction. Rumblers and rebels, beats and bikers, hepcats and hippies—pretty much everybody your mother used to warn you about. Nette and McIntyre have curated a riotous party that you won’t want to leave, even though you might get your wallet stolen or your teeth kicked in at any given moment.”
—Duane Swierczynski, two-time Edgar nominee, author of Canary and Revolver

“The underbelly of literature has been ignored for too long. This book redresses that imbalance, as over twenty authors explore low-life fiction in Australia, the UK, and the USA. Thoughtfully written and delightfully accessible, this is a book for all seasoned readers.”
—Toni Johnson-Woods, author of Pulp: A Collector’s Book of Australian Pulp Fiction Covers

“The authors of this volume have paid their dues. They’ve haunted the junk shops and flea markets, combed through the ratty cardboard boxes, smelled the mildew, inhaled the dust. They’ve turned a fresh and fearless eye to the unambiguously collectible, blue-ribbon 1950s and ’60s pulps, and then turned that same awareness to later material, from the ’70s—and they’ve identified a surprisingly durable pulp tradition which we can refer to as ‘tribe pulp,’ a tradition which to my knowledge hasn’t been really named till now, certainly not as clearly and cogently as here.”
—From the foreword by Peter Doyle, author of City of Shadows and The Big Whatever