Tag Archives: Scripts Publications

Pulp Friday: Sharks in Australian pulp fiction

Pulp fiction has long been fascinated by sharks, and pulp published in Australia is no exception.

Being attacked by them, hunting them, sighting or being threatened by them, or just marvelling at large they grew, sharks were a perennial pre-occupation in local Australian pulp paperback fiction from the 1950s to the 1970s. They also appeared regularly in the pages of the Australian equivalent of men’s adventure pulp, publications like Adam and Man.

Although I have not included any of this material in the images below, sharks were also a staple of popular tabloid magazines like Pix and Australasia Post. Referred to in Australia as ‘barbershop magazines’, these now defunct weeklies presented punters with a steady diet of girls in bikinis, racy jokes, Hollywood gossip, and masculine adventure stories.

Many of these were set in heavily exoticised parts of the South Pacific and Asia. But there was also a rich variant that took place far-flung parts of tropical northern Australia and the outback. These latter stories depicted a sort of Australian weird – a land of gnarly, weather beaten eccentrics (much like Captain William E. Young on the cover the Shark Hunter, published by Horwitz in 1978), who had dangerous livelihoods in unimaginably remote parts of the country, and did battle regularly with the threat posed by the country’s uniquely lethal fauna, including sharks.… Read more

Pulp Friday: witches, sorcerers & Satan’s disciples

Satan, witches, warlocks, demons, they were everywhere in the sixties and seventies and no more so than on pulp fiction covers. To mark Halloween, today’s Pulp Friday offering is a selection of covers featuring the lord of darkness and his various disciples.

It’s hardly surprising that Satanism and witchcraft featured so prominently in pulp. Not only did these books mirror then contemporary tabloid fascinations with black magic and witches, but the subject was an excuse for a bit of gratuitous sex and nudity. Especially sex. Devil worshippers, particularly Satan’s female disciples, were nothing if not sexually promiscuous, at least in the pages of pulp fiction.

The selection of covers below hail from the UK, US and Australia. They ran the gamut of key pulp fiction sub-genres: fiction (Dennis Wheatley’s To the Devil a Daughter, one of many occult themed books he wrote); history and so-called exposes (James Holledge’s Black Magic, ‘The world of uncanny occult rights, psychic phenomena, weird sex rities’); how to guides (How to Become a Sensuous Witch); television and movie ties ins (The Witchfinder General and  The Grip of Evil, the latter part of a series of paperback spin offs based on the hugely popular early 1970s Australian television show, Number 96), and smut titles (Bride of Satan and The Cult of Flesh – ‘Violent debauchery in a Satanic Cult of Flesh Worshipers’),

Even Carter Brown, hardly the most salacious of pulp writers in the sixties, touched on occult themes in books like Blonde on a Broomstick.… Read more

Pulp Friday: Avakoum Zahov Vs 07 and Soviet spy fiction

Avakoum Zahov versus 07 cover

“A battle to the death between two crack Secret Agents of East and West!”

This week’s Pulp Friday is one of the strangest cultural artefacts to come out of Australian pulp publishing in the sixties, the spy thriller Avakoum Zahov vs 07 by Bulgarian author, Andrei Gulyashki.

While spies first came to prominence as popular culture figures during World War One, it was the first Bond novel, Casino Royale, published in 1953, that really kick-started the modern fascination with spies. A host of well known authors as well as a legion of lesser know writers and pulp imitators, all followed in Bond’s wake.

These days it’s easy to view Bond as little more than a clotheshorse with a few snappy lines of dialogue and a lot of high-tech gadgets, facing off against the latest embodiment of the West’s global fears.

But in the fifties and sixties, Bond was a blunt weapon in dinner suit whose sole purpose was to smash the West’s enemies. He was also the epitome of sexual and social permissiveness, licensed to kill and swing. The casual sex, alcohol consumption, fine living and travel to exotic destinations were all potent symbols of the West’s economic and cultural affluence in the sixties.

Not only were the Soviet authorities aware of the global popularity of James Bond, they saw him as a major propaganda coup for the West.… Read more

Pulp Friday: The Flower People

The Flower people“Super-zap them all with love. That’s the Hippie slogan. And they mean you.”

The cover of this week’s Pulp Friday speaks for itself, The Flower People by James Holledge.

I mean, like, wow man, that is one far out cover.

The Flower People was published in 1967 by Scripts Publications, the outfit set up by Horwitz Publications in the late sixties to release its racier titles. Thanks to Melbourne pulp collector Brian Coffey for alerting me to this wonderful title and allowing me to copy it.

Holledge featured recently on this site as the author of Kings Cross Black Magic and Teenage Jungle. A former clerk who became part of the stable of in-house writers brought together by Horwitz in the early sixties, his specialty was salacious journalistic tracks parading as sociological expose.

He’s in fine form in The Flower People, billed as an “inside expose” of hippy culture, delving into everything from free love, their profligate use of contraception, rejection of “square society”, drug use and radical politics.

“Super-zap them all with love. That’s the Hippie slogan. And they mean you.” Readers must no doubt have found the idea hippies coming to get them, in their suburban homes, to turn them on, alarming and alluring, especially if the hippy concerned looked the one on the cover of this tome.… Read more

Pulp Friday: The Third Street

The third street“The street where no questions were asked. The Street where few men were ever seen.”

Today’s Pulp Friday offering is a piece of vintage lesbian pulp fiction, Joan Ellis’s The Third Street. The version above is a 1974 reprint by Horwitz offshoot Scripts Publications of the Midwood Books edition published in 1964.

The author, Joan Ellis, wrote a large number of campus and lesbian sex pulp books in the sixties and has featured on this site previously.

Lesbian pulp fiction was actually a huge sub-genre of pulp in the late fifties and sixties. While some of it was written by women, many of the books were authored by men ghosting as women and were purely exploitative in nature.

Common plot themes included suburban housewives as illicit lesbian lovers, lesbians in prison and tortured lesbian lovers trying to hide their love in red neck small town American. Lesbian pulp fiction was also often closely associated black magic, witch craft and bondage. Similar strands of books existed featuring gay male men.

Interestingly, despite the sleazy nature of these books, a number of cultural commentators have commented on their subversive nature and the role they played to some women struggling to come out in the fifties and sixties.

Their very existence in fifties small town America was often a validation that alternative sexualities existed.… Read more