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


 
Recently I have become rather mopey and down-in-the-mouth, to be quite honest. No, it’s not politics and it’s not due to some dumb horrible break-up either. It’s simply due to the realization that I will never have the chance to live my best life and rock out to bands like Wild Asparagus or The Ding Dings. I will never be able to see shit go down at The Sound Spot or The Stomp House.

These things have been keeping me up at night. It’s just not fair. Why can’t I go back in time to the East Village and have a drink with Beebo Brinker? And why the fuck isn’t North Beach in San Francisco as steamy, sexy and crime-laden as it used to be? I wanna get myself a grumpy-ass detective man who hates hippies and reluctantly gets dragged into investigating a drugged-out cult killing. I never got my shot to take up with some doped-up horn player who lives in a jazz club and parties until dawn, dammit.

Is nothing sacred anymore?

Ever since I read the shatteringly great Girl Gangs, Biker Boys, and Real Cool Cats: Pulp Fiction and Youth Culture, 1950 to 1980, I am a mess! If I was once nostalgic for a past I wasn’t even alive for, I am now pining for characters and circumstances that never happened at all! Editors and authors Iain McIntyre and Andrew Nette have created something unbelievable with this volume. Something that seems almost unthinkable: it is a reference book for pulp work written in a pulp-style. What I mean by this is that it is addictive, a quick read, and it leaves you wanting more.

All pulp is of the “betcha can’t eat just one” variety and so is this book. You can’t just read the chapter on 1960s British Youthsploitation Novels and you can’t just read the bits on early juvenile delinquent pulps. It’s simply not possible with this book. The way that Girl Gangs infiltrates your senses could easily be equated to the experiences of the characters in the counterculture pulps it documents: the volume starts slow like a neatly rolled joint, then kicks off mad like a killer acid trip and doesn’t let go until the contributors page and acknowledgements, at which point you find yourself the last person to leave the party, saying: “That’s it? No more? Should I just start it again from page one? I probably missed something. Okay. Here goes!” Drop that tab. Just smoke that bowl. There’s many layers to this book. It goes down just as smooth the second time around.

There are many writers who attend the Girl Gangs shindig, and every one of them should be well praised for their hard work. On a personal note, the inclusion of the YA fiction work at the close was so brilliant as there is an entire world of literature that I treasure that (apparently) only the writers of this book and perhaps a few others have recognized as pulpy, dangerous, subversive and REAL. And no, I’m not talking about Go Ask Alice (although that is one of the books discussed).

What makes McIntyre and Nette’s book such an achievement is the fact that not only does it include actual passages from extremely difficult and impossible to find pulp novels, many works are not US-based. Due to the fact that many of the contributing writers are UK or Australian-based, this book has one of the most uniquely international looks at pulp I have ever come across, period. It is glorious.

I have seen plenty of coffee table books on pulp cover art, academic publications, and merchandising galore (who hasn’t seen the card holders/compacts/cigarette cases for Don Elliot’s Hot Rod Sinners or Edward De Roo’s Go, Man, Go!) but I have never met a book that is as pleasingly exhaustive as Girl Gangs, Biker Boys, And Real Cool Cats: Pulp Fiction and Youth Culture, 1950 to 1980. I have never been so aware of Australian crime, women pulp writers, queerness in pulp and the influence of social/political events on the genre. I was well aware of how subversive the genre was, but the interviews with authors floored me and the amount of deep research in this book on a rather obscure literary genre blew my mind.

I don’t care who you are you this book will thrill you. It’s a bookcase necessity. If you have any interest in rock ‘n roll, lesbians, cult murder, car racing, leather jackets, skinhead violence, surfing spies, girl gangs or adolescents trying pot for the first time, THIS IS YOUR BAG, BABY. You will not get most of this material anywhere else. Trust me, I’ve looked. I have a list now of the things I want to read/find but I know I will be screwed when it comes to getting them. Most of them are either out of my price range collectibles or simply nowhere to be found except in the hands of exceptional weirdo wonderfuls like Iain McIntyre, Andrew Nette and their fearless crew. As an archivist, I trust them with these treasures implicitly. And await their next title with bated breath!
 

 

 

 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Ariel Schudson
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02.05.2018
10:30 am
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Killer clowns: Kooky pulp novels & magazines featuring gun-toting, knife-wielding circus clowns
03.16.2017
10:26 am
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The cover of ‘Uncensored Detective’ 1946.
 
Oddball vintage publications are one of my favorite things to write about here on Dangerous Minds—and like many of you just when I think I’ve seen it ALL (whether I wanted to or not), some “new” vintage weirdness comes across my radar. People often ask me how we find all the high octane, low brow goodness that we feature here on the blog every day. Unfortunately, the answer to that question is also the same as the answer to the first and second rules of Fight Club. Besides, you should consider yourself lucky as these eyes have seen some really, really weird things. (Things no one should see!) Which is a perfect introduction to the subject of this post—bizarre vintage pulp novels and magazines that feature circus clowns gone bad on their covers. And when I say bizarre I mean gorilla-shooting, sneaky, knife-throwing, clowns.

Though most of the fictional clowns on the covers of the various pulp novels and magazines posted below are up to no good, there is at least one that preferred to behave like a Robin Hood of sorts known as “The Crimson Clown.” Created by playwright, novelist and screenwriter Johnston McCulley—the man behind masked swashbuckler Zorro—the Crimson Clown stories were really popular with the detective lit-lovers set since his first appearance in Detective Story Magazine back in 1926. The Crimson Clown would steal from people he deemed “too rich” giving half of his booty to charity and keeping the rest for himself. He was also known to carry a syringe full of some sort of drug that would render his victims unconscious. But just because he was vigilante who liked to help out the needy doesn’t necessarily make the idea of a clown with a syringe full of cuckoo-juice running amok any less terrifying. Nope. Nothing creepy about that at all. I’ve posted the covers of all the clown-oriented vintage pulp I could dig up and man, there was a lot. Of course, if you are at all coulrophobic, you might want to look at the images below in your “safe place.” See you under the bed!
 

‘Detective Magazine’ 1948.
 

‘Detective Novels Magazine’ February 1944.
 
More killer clowns after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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03.16.2017
10:26 am
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Pulp friction: Vintage matchbooks transformed into tiny pulp novel book covers (and more)
10.14.2016
02:46 pm
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Matchbook art by Jason D’Aquino based on the rather terrifying looking cover for the vintage pulp novel ‘The Hungry Ones’ from 1968.
 
I’ve been a fan of miniature artist Jason D’Aquino since becoming aware of him back in 2008 when I saw some of his artwork drawn on the little wooden spoons that are included in Good Humor ice cream bowls, as well as his detailed matchbooks on which the New York artist incorporates images of everyone from Hunter S. Thompson to Alfred Hitchcock. Since that time D’Aquino has expanded his matchbook art (for which he only uses vintage matchbooks) to include homages to lurid pulp fiction novels featuring bad girls and guys acting as you would expect them to. Poorly.

D’Aquino (who also used his artistic skills in the tattoo business until 2014) has credited Maurice Sendak and H. P. Lovecraft as his inspirations. His most recent matchbook artwork features naughty pulp pinups (including Bettie Page), a few serial killers, Christopher Walken, and an incredible teeny-tiny homage to Gene Wilder in which D’Aquino managed to reproduce a sweet riff on the movie poster for the 1974 film Young Frankenstein, The piece not only included Wilder but also Marty Feldman (who played Igor) and his creation of “The Monster” as played by actor Peter Boyle. I’ve been lucky enough to see some of D’Aquino’s work up close and in-person and can safely say that it is even more magnificent than it looks on your screen. A dizzying array of D’Aquino’s artful matchbooks follow. Some are delightfully NSFW.
 

A reproduction of the cover of the 1962 pulp novel ‘Blondes are Skin Deep.’
 

‘Homicide Hotel,’ 1951.
 

‘Illicit Desires,’ 1949.
 
More mini-masterpieces after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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10.14.2016
02:46 pm
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The fabulously surreal sci-fi book covers of Davis Meltzer
09.13.2016
08:52 am
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That delightful ’60s/‘70s intersection of pop-psychedelic surrealism and space-age futurism produced some of the most awesome book covers the world has ever seen, with illustrations that often far exceeded in greatness the pulpy sci-fi genre novels they’d adorned. While some of those artists achieved renown, too often, those covers were the works of obscure toilers about whom little is known.

Davis Meltzer, alas, fits deep into the latter category. My best search-fu yielded so little biographical data that I’m not even able to determine if he’s currently alive. A 2014 Gizmodo article alluded to the fact that Meltzer was still living as of its publication, and offered up some résumé data as well: 

Davis Paul Meltzer was born in 1930, in Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania, and attended school in Newtown, Pennsylvania. Both his parents, the late Arthur Meltzer and Paulette Van Roekens, were highly respected fine art painters—and he inherited their great talent. During his career as a freelance artist he created stamps for the U.S. Postal Service, painted dozens of sci-fi book covers, worked for NASA, and worked as a scientific illustrator for 30 years at National Geographic.

Enjoy this gallery of Meltzer’s book covers, assembled from various online sources. If you’re looking to own some Meltzer art but you just utterly hate books, a print of his called “How Cocaine Works in the Brain” is available.
 

Mack Reynolds, Equality: In the Year 2000
 

Clifford D. Simak, City
 
Much more Meltzer after the jump…

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Posted by Ron Kretsch
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09.13.2016
08:52 am
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Vintage sleaze and pulp erotica by prolific fetish illustrator Eric Stanton
09.01.2016
12:45 pm
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The cover of ‘Rent Party’ illustrated by Eric Stanton, 1964.
 
Fans of fetish artist and illustrator Eric Stanton allegedly included Howard Hughes, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., and well-known white cotton panty enthusiast Elvis Presley. During the 50s and 60s Stanton’s illustrations of tough, truculent women (often clad in bondage-style outfits) graced the covers of a huge number of “adult oriented” pulp novels and paperbacks that to this day are as controversial as they were six decades ago.
 

‘Young Danny,’ 1966.
 
Stanton was a part of a group of New York City-based fetish artists who were all getting their start around the same time like Bill Ward, Bill Alexander, and Exotique magazine illustrator Gene Bilbrew. In the late 1940’s after responding to an ad placed by the notorious Irving Klaw, Stanton’s illustrations started to get a bit more attention. He would then go on to improve his artistic style under the tutelage of the pioneering comic illustrator Jerry Robinson—the creator of Robin the Boy Wonder; the Joker; Bruce Wayne’s butler, Alfred; and Two-Face. Later, at the urging of Klaw Stanton, started to introduce BDSM themes into his illustrations. Here’s a quote from Stanton about some of the inspiration he would tap into for his risqué concepts that will likely remind you of a certain R. Crumb and his obsession with large tyrannical women:

I have always loved Amazons. The word itself is exciting. I’ve invented variations such as the Tame-azons who tame men. Being short and a little shy as a young man, I loved the idea of big strong aggressive women who would use their strength to wrestle me down.

By the late 50s Stanton had parted ways with Klaw (and his first wife) and hooked up with Stan Lee’s right-hand man Steve Ditko (the illustrator behind Spider-Man). According to Stanton the fictional character of Spider-Man’s “Aunt Mae” was actually his idea that was then adapted by Ditko for the Spider-Man comic. Stanton’s massive illustrated legacy is highly sought after by collectors and adult pulp novels featuring his art (that once sold for as little as 75 cents) routinely sell for a couple of hundred dollars depending on their condition. Original prints and pages from books containing Stanton’s illustrations and original watercolors can fetch anywhere from $10,000 to over $35,000 each. If you dig Mr. Stanton’s work but lack those kinds of funds, there are several books dedicated to his debauchery out there such as the aptly titled 2012 book The Art of Eric Stanton: For the Man Who Knows His Place. A lovely and somewhat NSFW selection of Stanton’s pulp covers from the 60’s as well as a few of his originals from the same era follow.
 

 

1965.
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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09.01.2016
12:45 pm
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