Category Archives: Pan Books

Horwitz Publications, Pulp Fiction & the Rise of the Australian Paperback

I know that this site has not been getting quite as much attention from me as usual over the last year. This is largely because I have been so busy with various book projects. A quick update on these might be in order.

First up is my academic monograph, Horwitz Publications, Pulp Fiction & the Rise of the Australian Paperback. Out via the Anthem Press Studies in Australian Literature and Culture series in early July, it now has a cover and is available for pre-order. It is in hardcover, with a price that reflects the fact that it is being targeted at institutions and, in particular, libraries, in the first instance, but I have negotiated with Anthem for a much cheaper paperback version of the book will be released by Anthem next year.

Horwitz Publications, Pulp Fiction & the Rise of the Australian Paperback originated in a PhD I took at Sydney’s Macquarie University and turning it into a monograph has taken a considerable amount of my time over the last year. Regular readers will no doubt be familiar with Horwitz, as the publisher of many of the paperback covers that I post on this site. My study is the first book length examination of Australian pulp and one of the few detailed studies I am aware of a specific pulp publisher to appear anywhere.… Read more

Pulp Friday: More late 1960s and 1970s pulp and popular fiction about the Vietnam War

Vietnam Nurse, Avon, 1966

In 2019 I wrote about why it was there were so few examples of Australian and US pulp and popular paperback fiction published in the 1960s and 1970s to engage with the Vietnam War and its consequences. That is, as anything more than a background or reason for why a character was as confused/damaged/homicidal as they were. Even fewer books still were actually set in Vietnam.

The piece in question appeared in the book I coedited, Sticking it to the Man: Revolution and Counterculture in Pulp and Popular Fiction, 1950 to 1980, but it was excerpted in full on the American site CrimeReads. The piece is here and details the relevant books I did manage to unearth and my speculation for why, despite its relatively huge cultural impact in both Australia and the US, so little fiction was written about the Vietnam conflict during these years.

I have been on the lookout ever since for entries I might have missed in my original piece and thought Pulp Curry Readers might appreciate an update on my, admittedly, rather paltry findings. Most of the books below are American, although a number – The Wine in God’s Anger and the Half-Burnt Tree – were penned by Australian writers.… Read more

Pulp Friday: Cover Me: The Vintage Art of Pan Books 1950-1965

Pan paperbacks are among the first adult books I can remember making a serious impression on me. My father had a number of Pan editions of Ian Fleming’s James Bond books in the collection of paperbacks he had in his den and from an early age I was entranced by their colourful, energetic, somewhat carnal covers.

Colin Larkin’s Cover Me: The Vintage Art of Pan Books: 1950-1965 notes the Fleming series was, not surprisingly, a huge seller for Pan. The books my father owned, which I still have, include cover art by Pat Owen and ‘Peff’ or Samuel John Peff, the latter one of Pan’s most used artists in the 1950s and the first half of the 1960s. I also discovered from Larkin’s book that the small drawing of a suave looking Bond holding a pistol that appears in a banner at the bottom of the main cover design in some of the Fleming Pan editions, was an illustration of Ralph Vernon-Hunt, the company’s managing director at the time.

Pan paperbacks appeared in Australia in large numbers in the three decades after World War II, and can still be found relatively easily in second-hand bookstores and thrift shops throughout the country. I have a fairly large collection, including I am happy to say, many of those that appear in Larkin’s simply sumptuous work.… Read more

Sticking it to the Man: Revolution and Counterculture in Pulp and Popular Fiction, 1950-1980, now available for pre-order

Sticking it to the Man: Revolution and Counter Culture in Pulp and Popular Fiction, 1950-1980is now available for pre-order here on Amazon.

The book is due out in the second half of 2019 from PM Press, who published Beat Girls, Biker Boys and Real Cool Cats: Pulp Fiction and Youth Culture, 1950-1980

From Civil Rights and Black Power to the New Left and Gay Liberation, the 1960s and 1970s saw a host of movements shake the status quo. With social strictures and political structures challenged at every level, pulp and popular fiction could hardly remain unaffected. While an influx of New Wave nonconformists transformed science fiction, feminist, gay, and black authors broke into areas of crime, porn, and other paperback genres previously dominated by conservative, straight, white males. For their part, pulp hacks struck back with bizarre takes on the revolutionary times, creating vigilante-driven fiction that echoed the Nixonian backlash and the coming conservatism of Thatcherism and Reaganism.

Sticking It to the Man tracks the changing politics and culture of the period and how it was reflected in pulp and popular fiction in the US, UK, and Australia from the late 1950s onward. Featuring more than three hundred full-color covers, the book includes in-depth author interviews, illustrated biographies, articles, and reviews from more than 30 popular culture critics and scholars.… 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