Tag Archives: James Workman

Pulp Friday: Weird stories & terrifying tales

Weird storiesA belated happy 2017 to Pulp Curry readers. I have had a very busy start to the year, with my PhD studies and various writing projects, hence the first post of the year has taken me a while to get around to.

The first Pulp Friday of 2017 is a stunning collection of horror themed 1960s pulp titles by Horwitz Publications. These are a mixture of titles I own and books from other collectors.

While horror tales were a staple of American and British pulp fiction in the 1950s and 1960s, they failed to achieve similar popularity in Australia. Australia’s censorship regime – both at the state and federal levels – were far stricter and, as a result, our publishers were much more timid. According to Canberra based scholar, James Doig, horror never had the commercial appear amongst Australian pulp buyers of other genres, such as crime and romance.

That’s not to say there was a total absence of local horror pulp. Influenced by the US magazine Weird Tales, Currowong published a series of horror titles in the 1940s. And Cleveland and Horwitz published some novelettes and pocket books in the 1950s and 1960s.

The earliest Horwitz effort in the 1960s appears to be Weird Stories, published in 1961, part of an anthology series edited by Charles Higham, which was most likely a response to the very successful Pan Book of Horror Stories series that began to appear under the editorship of Herbert Van Thal in 1959.… Read more

Pulp Friday: Scobie Malone & “our new Errol Flynn”

Movie newsSomething a little different for this week’s Pulp Friday.

I recently watched the 1975 Australian film, Scobie Malone, starring Jack Thompson. Also known as Murder at the Opera House and Helga’s Web, the latter from the title of the 1970 Jon Cleary it is based on, the film was long unavailable until its recent re-release by Umbrella Entertainment.

The plot involves larrikan Sydney homicide detective Sergeant Scobie Malone (Jack Thompson) investigating the murder of a women whose body is found in the Sydney Opera House. In the course of his inquires, Malone discovers the women, Helga (Judy Morris), was a high priced prostitute involved with several important clients, including the Minister for Culture (James Workman), who she was blackmailing, and film director Jack Savannah (Joe Martin).

There are numerous suspects for her death, including the Minister’s snobbish wife and a local criminal going by the wonderful name of Mister Sin (Noel Ferrier). The events leading up to Helga’s death are told in a series of flashbacks. Most of the police work is done by Malone’s hapless offsider (Shane Porteous), leaving the title character to spend most of his screen time having sex with a bewildering variety of women, including nearly all the female inhabitants of the singles only block of flats he lives in.… Read more

Pulp Friday: Contrabandits – Shark Bait

Contrabandits

This week’s Pulp Friday offering is the 1968 paperback tie in to the then popular Australian Broadcasting Corporation TV series, Contrabandits.

While Crawford Productions understandably gets most of the credit for kick starting Australia’s modern television industry in the mid-sixties with the long running police drama show, Homicide, it was not the only local organisation producing gritty crime TV.

Around the same time changes were also afoot at the ABC. New staff were bought on board and a department of television drama was created that produced a number of one-off and on-gong TV series. Among these was Contrabandits, the first episode of which screened on September 22 1967.

Contrabandits focused on the activities of Customs Special Branch, an elite law enforcement squad tasked with intercepting contraband in Sydney. The four mainstays of the squad were Chief Inspector Ted Hallan (played by British actor Denis Quilley), office girl Mardi Shiel (Janet Kingsbury) a university graduate, determined to succeed in a male dominated area, Bob Piper (John Bonney), a young wise cracking spiv, and tough guy, Jim Shurley (Ben Grabiel).

CBTwenty-nine episodes of Contradbandits were made. All of them are listed on the on-line archive of the former magazine, TV Eye. Themes included tackling drug runners and smugglers of various kinds, raiding opium dens in Kings Cross and dealing with illegal immigrants.… Read more

Pulp Friday: Sin in Hong Kong

“Lassington Dhal was condemned to die of pleasure. What was the secret that had earned him free grog, free women and a drunkard’s death?”

Today’s Pulp Friday is a wonderful specimen of Asian themed Australian pulp fiction, Sin in Hong Kong by James Workman, published by Horwitz Publications in 1965.

You can almost smell the polluted water of Kowloon Harbour and feel the beer sweat oozing from the pores of this book. The combination of the cover illustration and the suggestive title do a wonderful job of evoking a sense of the mysterious, sleazy Orient, one of the mainstays of pulp publishing in the fifties and sixties. Criminals, Communists, Asians. What’s the difference? Remember, this was 1965. The Cold War was in full swing, Vietnam was just starting to wind up, Australia was years away from recognising Red China, fear and ignorance of Asia was widespread (and it could be argued in some quarters still is).

As is the case with nearly every local Australian pulp cover I present on this site, I’ve no idea who did the art work for Sin in Hong Kong.

James Workman appears to have been one of the many house pseudonyms used by Horwitz. In this case, the real author appears to have been well known Australian novelist James Edmond MacDonnell.… Read more