Category Archives: Pulp Friday

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: Torn shirts & maneaters

Today’s Pulp Friday post looks at two pulp-related projects that I think should be on your radar.

The first is Michael Stradford’s Steve Holland: The Torn Shirt Sessions. Many of you have probably have not heard of Steve Holland but if you collect pulp paperbacks, I can almost guarantee that you will have seen his face on covers that you have from the 1950s to the 1980s. Holland was one of the foremost paperback cover models over this period and certainly the most used male model I am aware of.

While I was familiar with Holland’s chiselled features from the cover art of numerous books in my possession long before I realised who he was, since learning his name it seems like I, literally, cannot go into second-hand bookshop or browse pulp art the internet without stumbling across him. He not only modelled for paperbacks, but for the covers of men’s adventure magazines and comic books, in every conceivable genre. In the process, he worked with some of the foremost pulp illustrators of the 20th century, including Mort Kunstler, Roger Kastel, and Ron Lesser, just to name a few.

One of the characters Holland is most closely associated with is Doc Savage, The Man of Bronze. A fictional character who first appeared in American pulp magazines in the 1930s, Doc Savage transitioned to the paperback format in the mid-1960s.… Read more

Upcoming talk: The motorcycle – rebel in pop culture

A heads up to Pulp Curry readers, that on Thursday April 22 EST, I’ll be giving a talk to coincide with the exhibition currently being hosted by the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art, The Motorcycle: Design, Art, Desire. The talk is entitled, ‘The Motorcycle: Rebel in Pop Culture’.

Throughout the decades, motorbikes have been portrayed as a symbol of freedom and rebellion in fiction, music and on the screen. I’ll be taking you on a journey through the different representations of the motorcycle in youth and popular culture history, mainly in the United States, Australia and Great Britain. I’ll be examining what has given the motorbike its cool reputation as well as discussing how it has also functioned as a lightning rod for post war concerns around various youth subcultures. The talk will focus on film, but I’ll also look at the representation of the motorbike in music and pulp fiction.

The talk, which will take place on Zoom, will start at 7pm EST, is free & your time zone permitting open to anyone anywhere to attend. All you have to do is book at this link. I hope you can attend.

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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

Pulp Friday: No Orchids for Miss Blandish

‘In 1939, amidst violence and wartime shortages, one hardboiled noir took the nation by storm, provoked moral outrage, and inspired legions of imitators.’

My latest piece for the CrimeReads site is a look at the popularity and controversy around James Hadley Chase’s 1939 blockbuster, No Orchids for Miss Blandish. You can read my story in full at the CrimeReads site here.

The article is a sequel of sorts to a story I did back in April on the popularity of mid-century faux American crime fiction in Australia and the career of one of the country’s least known most successful crime writers, Alan Yates, who wrote under the pseudonym, Carter Brown. A link to the full piece is here.

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