SHERLOCK HOLMES FOR FIGHT CARD! AUTHOR
ANDREW SALMON TAKES US INSIDE THE WRITING OF FIGHT CARD SHERLOCK HOLMES... GETTING
AN ICON INTO THE RING I've been a Fight Card fan since Day
One. Having read and reviewed many of the titles, it didn't take me long to get
a sense of the quality of the books and soon a longing to be a part of the fun
I was on the outside looking in,
dreaming of one day being able to contribute to this fine series when I
received an email out of the blue from Paul Bishop. Would I be interested in
contributing to Fight Card? Uh, yeah! Would I be interested in writing Fight
Card: Sherlock Holmes? Hell, YEAH! And that was all it took. Suddenly I'd been
invited in out of the cold where it was warm and jumping! And, a chance to
write Holmes in a new way? This was an opportunity too good to pass up!
Discussing the project with Paul, we
hit on the framework of a traditional Sherlock Holmes tale except with bare
knuckle boxing in it. Sacrilege you say? Not traditional you cry? Shades of
Robert Downey Jr. – abominable.
Well, Doyle himself created Holmes as
an accomplished boxer, as well as an accomplished ... just about everything
else! So what was the problem? As I had written Holmes and Watson five times
before getting the nod from Paul, I felt I had a good handle on the characters
and could shoulder the workload though no one other than Doyle can ever truly
master this dynamic duo.
As the plot began to take loose shape,
I soon found myself faced with the biggest challenges and crucial questions:
How does one describe a Victorian boxing match? What was the language of the
ring in the 1880s? What boxing techniques existed at the time? And what were
the rules? All of these would have to be answered before Holmes could throw a
punch. Historical accuracy is something I strive for every time I sit down to
bang out an historical action tale. With bare knuckle boxing alive and well all
over the world, there is a quiet legion of fans who have taken the time to
stitch together the history of the sport for posterity and regularly visit the
graves of long-dead champions of old to pay their respects.
There was no way I was going to have
Holmes step into the ring without having done my homework. Lots and lots and
LOTS of research followed as I stuffed my brain with bare knuckle boxing
history via the library and the internet to get a sense of where bare knuckle
boxing was at in the 1880s. Michael Blackett, the guy at the helm of the
History of Bareknuckle Boxing facebook page, sent me links to his website with
articles among which were a few on how boxers toughened their hands back in the
day. Holmes follows a version of the tried and true methods.
The most important question of all,
however, was how would Dr. Watson describe a Victorian fight? Remember the
adventures of Holmes are chronicled by the good Doctor – not only a man of his
time, but also, arguably, the greatest fictional narrator of all time – and it
was vitally important to hit on the right tone, get into Watson's head as he
watched his friend toe the scratch line
and start swinging. I had to have a handle on it before putting words at the
end of Watson's pen.
The result of all this was the chance
to step into a fascinating lost world. Bare knuckle boxing was illegal by the
times Holmes and Watson first hopped into a hansom. It still thrived, but
underground on a much smaller scale. The heady days of champions, big purses
and massive crowds were long over by the 1880s.
And the tale had to take place in the
1880s. Boxing is a young man's sport and as we know Holmes was born in 1854, he
would have been 26 in 1880. Sherlock Holmes chronologies abound as over the
decades Holmesians have tried to create a timeline for the original adventures
and those that have followed. There's no definitive chronology, so I had to
pick one that seemed best suited to my tale.
Proceeding from the first meeting
between Holmes and Watson in 1881, the year 1884 was easy to settle on. Of
course, the biggest reason for setting my tale in 1884 was the canonical
reference to Holmes having been in the ring during a benefit for a retiring boxer
named McMurdo in A Sign of the Four.
Said benefit, according to Holmes when
he meets the retired fighter in 1888 in chapter four of A Sign of the Four, having occurred four years previously – thus 1884, when Holmes would have been
30 years old. My tale opens with this exhibition bout, which is only alluded to
in the Doyle novel.
With the history established, it was
time to put Watson ringside for the fights. To the challenges above was
instantly added the task of making the fight interesting and dramatic. Fight
Card books use the first-person perspective so the reader can feel every blow
and punch away with the protagonist against his or her opponent.
Watson, for all intents and purposes,
was standing on the sidelines watching the fight happen to someone else. The
Holmes tales are usually told with some measure of detachment – after all with
Watson writing the tale years later, we know nothing fatal is going to happen
to him no matter what the situation – so I knew missing out on feeling every
punch would be overcome by the subject matter.
Also, it's up to the writer to squeeze
as much drama as possible while playing into the conceit the reader knows in
the back of their mind that the heroes will win the day. I called on my time in
Watson's shoes over the last few years to play the fights out and it's up to
readers to tell me if I succeeded.
The last piece of the puzzle was the
fighting style Holmes would use. Holmes is described as being a tall man, which
would give him the benefit of reach over most opponents. Also his calculating
brain coupled with his amateur status would, I reasoned, make him somewhat
cautious as he tested his opponent's abilities and style while determining the
best approach to counter them.
Thus I made him an accomplished
counter-puncher who, after some sparring, could guess what his opponent would
do before he did it and prepare the appropriate response. I did borrow from
gloved boxing by giving Holmes Ali's uncanny ability to stand toe to toe with
his opponent, gloves lowered, and twitch his head this way and that dodging
blows. I could see Holmes doing this, using his height, and wanting to get as
close to his opponent for the purpose of study.
As any Holmesian knows, Sherlock
Holmes was the first fictional mixed martial artist, practiced in the many
disciplines of Bartitsu or Baritsu as Doyle calls it in The Adventure of the Empty House when he is describing how Holmes
got the better of Professor Moriarty. But this was a boxing tale, so I kept
these abilities in check for the most part.
The mystery elements of the plot came
about through an organic process. To be honest, I did not know how the first
murder took place or the identity of the murderer. I decided, instead, to come
at the case as Holmes would: finding a body, examining the scene and putting
the pieces together.
This method made for some nervous
moments as I moved Holmes and Watson through the story ever closer to the end
when Holmes was to begin revealing all while I had no idea how it all tied
together. My salvation came in the form of that weird scenario only writers
know ... Holmes, himself, explained the case to me one night as I pushed my pen
across the paper. I just wrote down what he told me as fast as I could then got
on with the tale.
This is not unusual. As Holmes and
Watson are the characters I've written the most in my career to date, they
often have conversations in my head on a variety of subjects, and I've found
I've come to know them quite well. Which is why I'll be writing them again
soon. I've got an inkling for a second Holmes boxing tale and a full-fledged
idea for a third fight adventure. If readers like this first one, I'll gladly
get to work on more. It's up to you, fight fans. If you want more two-fisted
action from Holmes then sound the bell and we'll toe the line for another round
Until then I want to thank Paul Bishop
and the Fight Card crew for giving me a shot at the title and doing the heavy
lifting in getting this book ready to be unleashed on an unsuspecting world.
Writing it was a blast and I hope I'll get a chance to do it again. Keep
FIGHT CARD UPDATE! Greetings and the best of the holiday season to each of you.As we round out 2013 with our 27thFight Card title, we look forward
with anticipation to more terrific tales from all our imprints in 2014...The
line-up looks terrific... Well, I'm certainly thankful for Sherlock Holmes and all the joy
he's given me over the years ... To celebrate the holiday season, Fight Card's December release – Fight Card Sherlock Holmes – hits the
virtual spinner racks a few days early ... $2.99 for your Kindle ... Filled
with two-fisted deduction ... Noted Sherlockian author Andrew Salmon writing as
Jack Tunney... FIGHT CARD
England, 1884 ... What happened when Sherlock Holmes stepped into the
exhibition ring against retiring prize fighter McMurdo four years before The
Sign of Four? What incident was Holmes recalling between Mr. Mathews and himself
in the waiting room at Charing-Cross in The Adventure of the Empty House?
Sherlockians have wanted to know for decades. The answers can be found in Fight
Card Sherlock Holmes: Work Capitol...
Slang for a crime punishable by death, Work Capitol finds the world's most
famous consulting detective – accompanied by the ever stalwart Dr. Watson –
chasing a diabolical murderer through the dark, illicit, world of Victorian
bare-knuckle boxing. To solve the case, Holmes must take a desperate chance,
toeing the scratch line opposite London’s most dangerous pugilist – Ezekiel
simplest crimes hide the darkest secrets...And this time, Holmes and Watson
know brawn will count as much as brains...
As always, any mentions on your blogs or via your social
networking sites are needed and appreciated. The new year will be kicking off with Fight Card MMA: Rosie The Ripper from Sam Hawken, followed by Fight Card Luchadores: Rise Of The Luchador
from Jason Ridle, Fight Card: Guns Of
November (our Kennedy conspiracy tale) from Joseph Grant, Fight Card: Monster Man from Jason
Chirevas, Fight Card MMA: A-Town
Throwdown from Balogun Ojetade, Fight
Card Romance: Love On The Ropes from Kathleen Rice Adams, Fight Card: Fight River from Tommy
Hancock, Fight Card: The Copper Kid
from Brian Drake, Fight Card: The Adventures Of Tom Sharkey from Mark Finn,and the first of our Fight
Card charity anthologies, Iron Head And
Other Stories, benefiting literacy and author-in-need charities... Thanks to everyone who has worked so hard to make Fight Card a
success.I appreciate each of you. May
you and yours enjoy the season and keep punching...
AVAILABLE NOW: FIGHT CARD SHERLOCK HOLMES! FIGHT CARD'S HOLIDAY EXTRAVAGANZA ... THE WORLD'S MOST FAMOUS DETECTIVE IS READY TO RUMBLE ...
FIGHT CARD SHERLOCK
HOLMES: WORK CAPITOL
London, England, 1884 ... What happened when Sherlock Holmes
stepped into the exhibition ring against retiring prize fighter McMurdo four
years before The Sign of Four? What incident was Holmes recalling between Mr.
Mathews and himself in the waiting room at Charing-Cross in The Adventure of
the Empty House? Sherlockians have wanted to know for decades. The answers can
be found in Fight Card Sherlock Holmes: Work Capitol...
Victorian Slang for a crime punishable by death, Work
Capitol finds the world's most famous consulting detective – accompanied by the
ever stalwart Dr. Watson – chasing a diabolical murderer through the dark,
illicit, world of Victorian bare-knuckle boxing. To solve the case, Holmes must
take a desperate chance, toeing the scratch line opposite London’s most
dangerous pugilist – Ezekiel Tanner...
Sometimes the simplest crimes hide the darkest secrets ...
And this time, Holmes and Watson know brawn will count as much as brains...
AND FISTICUFFS! IN
ANTICIPATION OF THE PUBLICATION OF FIGHT CARD SHERLOCK HOLMES: WORK CAPITOL,
AUTHOR ANDREW SALMON GIVES US A LOOK AT HOLMES' PUGILISTIC SIDE ... A
STRAIGHT LEFT AGAINST A SLOGGING RUFFIAN SHERLOCK
HOLMES AND THE SCIENCE OF DEFENSE ANDREW
SALMON When the trailer for the first Robert
Downey Jr. Sherlock Holmes film was released, it took less than a nanosecond
for the Holmesian world to tremble. The film portrayed everyone's favorite
consulting detective as a kick-ass action star, which did not sit well with
To this day, I'm not quite sure why.
In the original tales, Doyle describes
Holmes as an expert in Baritsu, making him a mixed martial artist. He is also
described as a crack shot, good with a sword and singlestick fighting. And,
yes, Holmes is not just proficient at boxing, but good enough to turn pro
according to a former boxer he goes toe to toe with in one of the canonical
For the sake of this piece, we'll
concentrate on boxing. In The Sign of
Four, Holmes reminds the former boxer, McMurdo, that he had fought an
exhibition bout with him at Alison's rooms four years previously – a scene I
use to kick off my Fight Card Sherlock Holmes tale – and McMurdo's comment that
Holmes could have turned pro if he so desired is not faint praise coming from a
former professional fighter well aware of the dangers of the ring.
Later in the canon, Holmes gets
involved in a bar fight in The Adventure
of the Solitary Cyclist and uses his boxing skills against a slogging ruffian to come out on top. He
alludes to having a tooth punched out in the waiting room of Charing-Cross in The Adventure of the Empty House without
further explaining the event, which left me free to do so in my tale.
So where did he acquire his boxing
skills? They can't be mastered from a book, can they? The only answer is Holmes
mastered them in the ring. His bout with McMurdo simply could not have been his
first and last. It's clear Holmes had taken the time to learn how to hit and
get hit, developing his skills by applying what he learned.
So what's the problem? Holmes is a
tough customer. It's as simple as that. Given his chosen profession, he would
have to be able to defend himself, right? My opinion is the naysayers were used
to reading Doyle's descriptions of Holmes merely possessing these abilities whereas the new films showed Holmes demonstrating these abilities.
Holmes as an action star? You betcha!
It's how Doyle conceived and portrayed him and holds true for the current
incarnations. We got to see Jeremy Brett demonstrate Holmes's boxing skills back
in the day and though Benedict Cumberbatch has yet to throw 'em, the Downey
films are full of Holmes fights, and even the folks behind Elementary have given us Jonny Lee Miller showing us Holmes working
off his frustrations on the heavy bag in a recent episode.
Holmes is the thinking man's action
star. He can still outthink, out deduce and outwit all comers, but he can also
put you on your ass if you want to start trouble.
What some view as an added dimension
to the character shoe-horned in for a modern audience has been there all along
and showing it in the current adaptations helps to round out the character. Of
course, it's vital the physical stuff not take over the whole show. Holmes is
the smartest guy in fiction and brain must always triumph over brawn.
Given the countless adaptations of
Holmes in every medium imaginable over the decades, seeing Holmes in a new
light refreshes the character. The success of shows like Sherlock and Elementary
and the Downey films are bringing new fans into the Holmesian world where they
will, hopefully, seek out the original tales and the ones that have followed.
Holmes is king! And I wouldn't try to
knock off his crown. Not if you know what's good for you.
A DIRTY DOZEN WITH
MEN’S ADVENTURE MAVEN BOB DEIS AND PUBLISHER WYATT DOYLE!
Robert Deis is a collector, connoisseur, and historian of
the men’s pulp adventure magazines sold on newsstands from the 1950s through
the 1970s. Bob’s website MensPulpMags.com
is the ‘go to’ repository for all men’s adventure magazine related material and
a great starting point for those beginning to explore the genre.
Last year, Bob and Wyatt Doyle, head of the indie publishing
company New Texture Books, published Weasels Ripped My Flesh!, the first
modern collection of vintage men’s adventure magazine stories. It featured
stories by and interviews with some of the best known writers who once worked
for those magazines, including Lawrence Block, Harlan Ellison, Bruce Jay
Friedman, Robert Silverberg, Robert F. Dorr and Mario Puzo.
Just recently, Bob and Wyatt published a second volume of
men’s adventure yarns via New Texture. This one, titled He-Men, Bag Men and Nymphos,
features stories by Walter Kaylin, who other writers of the era considered one
of the best men’s adventure writers of them all.
Recently, Bob and Wyatt graciously took time from their busy
schedules to submit to an interrogation on Bish’s Beat …
TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT YOURSELVES AND HOW YOU CAME TO THE WORLD OF
MEN’S ADVENTURE MAGAZINES.
BOB: First, let
me just say it’s an honor to be interviewed by you, Paul. Between Bish’s Beat,
your crime novels, and the Fight Card
series, I am awed by your writing, editing and publishing efforts.
In the day job I’ve had for over twenty-five years, I’m a
researcher and writer for a consulting firm in California. But I live on a
small island near Key West. Thanks to modern technology, I telecommute to
work. About ten years ago, I ran across two lushly-illustrated
books about men’s adventure magazines: It’s
a Man’s World by Adam Parfrey and Men’s
Adventure Magazines by Max Allan Collins, which features the awesome
collection of magazines and original men’s adventure magazine artwork owned by
collector Rich Oberg. I was awed by the wild cover paintings and interior
illustrations shown in the books. So, I decided to buy some oldmen’s adventure mags on eBay. I discovered they
were even wilder, crazier and cooler than I had imagined from reading the books
As I got into collecting the magazines, I looked on the
Internet to see what I could find about them and the artists and writers who
worked for them. I saw a lot of posts with scans of the magazine covers and artwork
done by some of the best-known artists who worked for the genre, such as Mort
Kunstler, Norman Saunders, Norm Eastman, James Bama, Charles Copeland and Earl
Norem. And, I saw many sites about the pre-World War II pulp fiction magazines.
But there weren’t any specifically focused on the post-WWII men’s adventure
magazines. So, in 2009, I decided to create one myself, the MensPulpMags.com blog.
WYATT: My first real introduction to men’s adventure magazines came via Bruce Jay Friedman’s classic essay, Even the Rhinos Were Nymphos. It was originally published in Rolling Stone and chronicles his years as an editor of men’s adventure magazines for Martin Goodman’s Magazine Management Company. Over the years I’d seen covers
and parodies and had a vague sense of the mags, but that essay really brought the
world of men’s adventure mags into focus for me. And Bruce Jay was kind enough
to allow us to include it as the final chapter of Weasels Ripped My Flesh! Coincidentally, I published
a phenomenal book called Black Cracker, written by Josh Alan Friedman —
Bruce Jay’s son. Black Cracker led to the creation of
BlackCrackerOnline.com, dedicated to Josh’s work. In posting selections from Josh’s
archives, we ran a series of interviews he’d conducted with writers and editors
of the Mag Management men’s adventure magazines for Swank’s 30th
anniversary issue. Those interviews — with his father, Mario Puzo, John Bowers,
Walter Wager and others – proved to be tremendous, irreplaceable contributions
to what precious little scholarship exists about an entire lost world of pulp,
publishing and illustration.
Pulp fiction is
something I’m passionate about, but there was a real gap in my education when
it came to men’s adventure magazine fiction — and I know I’m not alone in that.
WEASELS RIPPED MY
FLESH! WAS YOUR FIRST COLLECTION OF
STORIES FROM VINTAGE MEN’S ADVENTURE MAGAZINES. HOW DID YOU DECIDE WHAT TO
INCLUDE, HOW DIFFICULT WAS IT TO OBTAIN THE RIGHTS TO THE STORIES, AND WHAT IS
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE TITLE?
BOB: Well, Frank
Zappa made the phrase Weasels Ripped My
Flesh famous when he used it as the title of an album in 1970. When I
started researching men’s adventure magazines, I found out Zappa got it from
the title of a men’s adventure magazine he owned – the September 1956 issue of Man’s Life. And, the cover painting on
that issue, by one of the best artists who worked for the genre, Wil Hulsey, is
even wilder than the cover painting on Zappa’s album. It shows a bare-chested,
bleeding, manly man fighting a horde of attacking weasels. It’s one of my
favorite cover paintings and the story it goes with is a classic example of the
often bizarre killer creature stories
common in men’s adventure magazines.
Then when I met Wyatt, I found out he was friends with Frank
Zappa’s nephew Stanley. In fact, they had just done a book together, called Stop Requested. So, it just seemed like
fate pointed us to using Weasels Ripped
My Flesh! as our book title.
Getting the rights to the stories wasn’t too complicated,
but it took a while. I had been contacted by several writers who were tickled
to see my mentions of some of their old men’s adventure stories on my blog, including
Harlan Ellison, Robert Silverberg, Lawrence Block and Robert F. Dorr. One by
one, I went back and asked them if they’d be willing to sell me reprint rights
to their stories, and they all said, ‘yes.’ Then, I started seeking out other
writers, with the help of Josh and Wyatt. I picked a bunch of possible stories
to include in our first volume and together we decided which ones to include.
WYATT: We initially saw Weasels as an all star collection, in the sense the
initial wave of authors we included all went on to greater success after
the mags. But as the project evolved and grew, so did our definition of all star. Take a story like Monkey Madness by Carl Evans. Reprinted
multiple times across the decades under different titles and bylines, it’s
something of a men’s adventure perennial – and it’s a tight, nasty bit of stuff
besides. Not to mention Weasels Ripped My
Flesh — the story — by Mike Kamens. Read by few since 1956, yet easily the
most famous men’s adventure yarn of all. Stories from
lesser-known talents were chosen because we found them to be top-tier
representations of certain types of stories the mags were known for printing.
And then there’s Walter Kaylin, who didn’t gain much traction in the
marketplace with his novels, but in men’s adventure magazines, he is without
peer — a men’s adventure all star if ever there was one.
YOUR NEW COLLECTION, HE-MEN,
BAG MEN AND NYMPHOS, FOCUSES ON
ONE WRITER, WALTER KAYLIN.WHAT WAS IT
ABOUT KAYLIN’S WRITING THAT INSPIRED YOU TO FEATURE HIM?
WYATT: In the dark ages before Bob’s MensPulpMags.com site, reliable
information and hard data on the men’s adventure magazine era was thin on the
ground. Yet one name kept coming up again and again: Walter Kaylin. All the
talent that poured through those Magazine Management offices — to say nothing
of the many writers working for other publishers — and the one guy far more
famous writers like Mario Puzo and Bruce Jay Friedman brought up in interviews
about their men’s adventure years was Walter Kaylin. Of course I wanted to read
him! And even decades later, the stories do not disappoint. They’re savage, inventive
and outrageous. They roll over the reader like steamrollers: tough, powerful
and relentless. BOB: I first learned
about Walter Kaylin from Josh’s interviews with the Magazine management guys,
too. After I sought out and read some of Walter’s stories, which appeared under
his name and the pseudonyms Roland Empey and David Mars, I realized why pros
like Puzo said he was so good. Walter wrote almost every type of story featured
in men’s adventure magazines, from Westerns, war stories and exotic adventure
yarns to spy stories, noir crime thrillers and exposés. And, none of them are
run-of-the-mill. They have an above-average level of imagination and
intelligence and unusually good characters and dialogue.
Many of Walter’s stories also have gritty, vivid scenes of
violence that remind me of a Sam Peckinpah or Quentin Tarantino movie. Back in
the day, along with writers like Mario Puzo and Robert F. Dorr, he was one of
the most popular writers for the top men’s adventure magazines, like Men, Male, For Men Only and Stag. Unlike Puzo, who became a famous
novelist after publishing The Godfather,
or Bob Dorr, who went on to become one of our country’s top military aviation
historians, Walter’s star faded away along with the men’s pulp mag genre. But
before that happened, he wrote hundreds of great stories, read by hundreds of
thousands of men. Probably millions. Wyatt and I felt his stories deserve to be
rediscovered by a new generation of readers. By the way, Walter is still alive.
He’s now 92 and living in a rest home in Connecticut. I talk to him by phone
every once in a while and he’s thrilled by the anthology.
PLEASE TELL US ABOUT YOUR ASSOCIATION WITH MEN’S ADVENTURE COLLECTOR
EXTRAORDINAIRE RICH OBERG AND MEN’S ADVENTURE WRITER EXTRAORDINAIRE ROBERT
BOB: Rich and
Robert are just two of the people I’ve had the pleasure of establishing relationships
with as a result of my blog. Rich contacted me several years ago, when he ran
across a post I did that credited a cover painting to the wrong artist. That
started a conversation that has continued and turned into a long-distance
friendship and collaboration. He regularly contributes photos of the original
men’s adventure artwork he owns for me to post on the blog.
Bob Dorr contacted me after he saw a post I did about one of
his stories. He agreed to let me interview him about his early years writing
for men’s adventure magazines and how it lead to a later career writing
critically-acclaimed history books like Hell
Hawks!, Mission to Berlin and Mission
to Tokyo. After I did the interview, I asked if he’d let me reprint some of
his great men’s adventure in the Weasels
anthology and he agreed. More recently, we started discussions about publishing
an anthology of his men’s adventure stories along the lines of the Walter
WHAT DO YOU BELIEVE IS THE ENDURING FASCINATION WITH MEN’S ADVENTURE
MAGAZINES AND WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THEIR LEGACY? BOB: Certainly
the artwork is the aspect that gets the most attention, just because it’s so
damn cool. The cover and interior illustrations showing killer creature
attacks, gritty battle scenes, exotic action and adventure scenes, evil Nazis
torturing scantily clad damsels in distress and so forth are awesome to those
of us who can appreciate such things without worrying about political
Appreciation of the stories in men’s adventure magazines has
lagged behind that of the earlier pulp mags. We’re hoping to change that by
publishing anthologies of men’s adventure magazine stories, which I think are
often as good or better than the stories you find in the many anthologies of pre-WWII
pulp fiction magazine stories. And, unlike the pre-war pulps, the men’s
adventure magazines not only include some great fiction stories, they also
include fascinating non-fiction stories and advertisements that provide
insights into mid-Twentieth Century culture you don’t get from history books.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE SOMEBODY BEGINNING TO COLLECT MEN’S
BOB: The best
place to start is to look for them eBay. On any given day, you’ll find hundreds
of copies of classic men’s adventure mags available in the Men’s Interest subsection of the Magazine Back Issues area, which is itself a subset of the Books category. The prices vary widely
depending on the condition and scarcity of a particular issue, but most men’s
adventure magazines still sell at reasonable prices, ranging from a buck or two
to $20 or $30 per issue. Of course, if you want something like a hard-to-find copy of
the famed Weasels Ripped My Flesh
issue of Man’s Life or a mint
condition issue of Man’s Story with a
Norm Eastman Nazi painting featuring models Steve Holland and Eva Lynd, it may
cost a lot more, since you may be bidding some obsessed geeks like me who are
hooked on men’s adventure magazines. But to start, just buy some mags you think
look cool at prices you can afford and figure out which titles you like best.
ARE THERE ANY ELUSIVE ‘HOLY GRAILS’ IN MEN’S ADVENTURE MAGAZINE
BOB: Yes. One of
them is the Weasels Ripped My Flesh!
issue of Man’s Life, September 1959.
Copies are very hard to find and now sell for $100 to $200 if you do find one.
I’m fortunate to have two of them I bought years ago. By the way, that story is
as wild and crazy as the cover painting and it’s included in the Weasels anthology.
Another holy grail
issue is the first issue of Wildcat
Adventures magazine, published in June 1959. It includes a condensed
version of William Burroughs’ novel Junkie.
I’ve only ever seen one copy for sale. It’s on AbeBooks.com right now. The
asking price is $500, which even I am not quite willing to pay.
YOU’VE WRITTEN EXTENSIVELY ON YOUR WEBSITE ABOUT MEN’S ADVENTURE
MAGAZINE MODELS STEVE HOLLAND AND EVA LYND.WHAT IS THEIR IMPORTANCE TO THE MEN’S ADVENTURE MAGAZINE GENRE?
BOB: The late
Steve Holland is the most famous, most recognizable male model in the realm of
pulp fiction. He was the model for the iconic image of Doc Savage used for the
popular Bantam paperback series. Steve’s image also appears on hundreds of
other paperback cover paintings and literally thousands of men’s adventure
magazine cover and interior illustrations. He was the favorite model of many of
the great mid-Twentieth century paperback and men’s pulp mag illustrators, such
as James Bama, Bruce Minney, Basil Gogos, Robert Schulz and many others.
Eva Lynd, who is still very much alive, had an interesting
and varied career as an actress, a glamour photo model and a painter’s model.
She’s probably best known to fans of men’s adventure magazines as the favorite
model of artist Norm Eastman, the grandmaster of the wild Nazi
bondage-and-torture cover paintings that helped give men’s adventure magazines
the nickname sweat magazines. Eva
emailed me earlier this year after I did some posts about her on MensPulpMags.com and that started what
has become a regular four-way correspondence between her, me, Wyatt and Rich.
SOME MEN’S ADVENTURE MAGAZINE COLLECTORS FIXATE STRICTLY ON THE LURID
COVERS.WHAT WOULD YOU TELL THEM ABOUT
THE STORIES BETWEEN THE COVERS?ARE THEY
MISSING OUT ON HALF THE FUN?
WYATT: People should fixate on the lurid
covers; most of the time, they give you quite a bit to fixate on! Men’s
adventure magazines are a buffet, everybody comes away with what they want. Just
about everybody loves the covers. Others also love the stories. Those are my
people. Some hunt them down for the pinups, and there’s no lack of love for the
goofy ads. Even the letters to the editor can be pretty remarkable! I guess there’s an
argument that the overwhelming interest in cover art is a case of the tail
wagging the dog, but I’m not so sure I agree. I don’t see it as a slight to the
stories or their authors to suggest people were buying the pictures on the
cover and the rest of the mag came along for the ride. That’s what great
packaging is all about! The covers sold the magazines; that was their job. And
50, 60 years later, they’re still doing that job.
Obviously, I feel
collectors who skip the stories are missing out on some great reads and a lot
of fun, but different strokes … If you ask four people what makes a great pizza:
“The cheese! “The sauce!” “The dough!” “The water they use to make the
dough!” They’re all right.
CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THE PHYSICAL DESIGN PROCESS BEHIND WEASELS RIPPED MY FLESH! AND HE-MEN, BAG MEN AND NYMPHOS? WYATT: For inspiration, I went back to the original magazines.
I didn’t set out to imitate any one magazine’s style, but I did try to capture
some of the immediacy and impact of their design. For Weasels,
Bob and I knew we wanted to include the cover art for each story, as well as
the stories’ incredible splash pages and spot illustrations. But the thing readers
have really responded to is our inclusion of vintage ads peppered throughout
the stories, much as they were in the original publication. I had some concerns
that purists would feel the proliferation of ads might somehow undercut the
stories, but the fact is, they were already all over the stories! And in a
strange way, navigating those ads was an integral part of the experience of
reading a men’s adventure magazine.
response to the ads has been overwhelmingly positive. In fact, I’ve had more
than one reader say it was seeing the old ads again — not the covers, not the
stories — that opened up the floodgates of their memories.
We had a slightly
different agenda with Nymphos, which is a book less concerned with
communicating an overview of three decades of men’s adventure mag history and
more about illuminating one remarkable writer’s place in it. We reuse some Weasels
elements in Nymphos’ design to give it a sense of unity, but Nymphos
has a few wrinkles of its own — literally, in some instances. NOW HE-MEN, BAG MEN AND NYMPHOS IS SUCCESSFULLY LAUNCHED AND ON AMAZON, WHAT’S NEXT FOR BOB DEIS AND
NEW TEXTURE?WHAT OTHER AREAS OF MEN’S
ADVENTURE MAGAZINES DO YOU WANT TO EXPLORE?
BOB: For our next
project, I want to work with Wyatt to put together the anthology of men’s
adventure mag stories by Robert F. Dorr. We’ve also secured the rights to publish
an anthology of Robert Silverberg stories. He’s best known for his award-wining
science fiction and fantasy work, but in his younger days he also wrote many
stories for men’s adventure magazines under various pseudonyms.
WYATT: New Texture is a curated imprint. In
practical terms, that means I select, edit and design most NT releases myself.
That’s a lot of work — months of my life! — so I won’t take on projects I’m not
in love with. That means our backlist is fairly eclectic, but an eclectic
readership is what we’re after. We’ve released our first SF novel, Andrew
Biscontini’s nu luna, and we’re currently planning a new edition of Josh
Alan Friedman’s essential Tell the Truth Until They Bleed and a
collection of autobiographical comix by the artist Matjames Metson. And of course, more
men’s adventure fiction! In addition to the collections Bob mentioned, we do
plan to return to the all star format
at least once more, to bookend the series. There are so many great lost stories by these heavy hitters, and
we can’t wait to put ’em between covers! Even as we labored on Weasels,
we were plotting the sequel, release date TBD.
fiction is rich, mostly unexplored territory; I like the idea that each book we
do on the subject examines some new facet of that world, and helps edge the
mags back into the cultural consciousness.
FOR A GREAT INTERVIEW.THANKS FOR ALL
YOU HAVE DONE TO PRESERVE THIS UNDEREXAMINED AND OFTEN UNDERVALUED GENRE.AND BEST OF LUCK WITH YOUR CURRENT
ANTHOLOGIES AND NEW ENDEAVORS ...
TO CHECK OUT THE WEASELS-RIPPED WEBSITE CLICK HERE
ANTICIPATION OF FIGHT CARD’S DECEMBER RELEASE, FIGHT CARD SHERLOCK HOLMES: WORK
CAPITOL, AUTHOR ANDREW SALMON PROVIDES US WITH A VICTORIAN BARE KNUCKLE BOXING
Boxing has evolved
and changed since ancient times and boxing in Victorian times was a different
animal than boxing today. In the early 1800s, bare knuckle boxing was king.
Earning lavish purses, toasted wherever they went, hired as boxing instructors
or bodyguards for the rich aristocracy, who also funded their bouts, bare
knuckle fighters (or rawsmen) were the rock stars of the day.
fast and hard, spent their fortunes without a thought, usually dying young from
drink, the long-term effects of their sport, or from diseases that were beyond
medicine at that time. This up and down lifestyle made it common for fighters
to know the inside of a debtor's prison or seek work as porters, blacksmiths,
and on the docks between fights. Some survived the sport such as John Gully who
was elected to Parliament. Most died poor and destitute.
themselves were raw, brutal affairs until The Pugilistic Club was formed in
1834 as a governing body to regulate fights, make sure fighters were paid, and
retained an official ring-maker. This lead to the Prize Ring Rules of 1838
which created some guidelines for bouts, eliminating head butts, hitting or
kicking a man when down, and outlawing spiked boots or cleats.
Stripped to bare
chest and britches, a fighter would step into the ring, tie his colors to a
corner post, proceed to the middle of the ring.There, a scratch line would
drawn in the sawdust, sand, or earth (if the fight was outdoors).The fighters would toe the line and begin fighting until one or both fighters were
knocked down. At which point, the scratch
(or round) was over, and both fighters had to return to their corner. Rounds
lasted until a knockdown, so a single scratch
could last from mere seconds to forty-five minutes or longer, depending on the
skill of the combatants.
No stools were
provided in the corners, in fact using one was considered a foul. Rather one of
the fighter's seconds would go down
on one knee, creating a bench for the
fighter to sit on to take water from a damp sponge. From the moment a fighter
retreated to his corner, he had thirty seconds to return to the scratch line in
the center of the ring, toe the line, and resume fighting. If he didn’t (or
couldn’t), the fight was declared over and the fighter still standing was the
winner. Wrestling throws and grips were also permitted and an integral part of
the fight, which were usually refereed by two umpires.
eventually gave way to the Queensberry Rules of 1867, which instituted
three-minute rounds, with a minute's rest in-between, established the
standardized ring, and also abolished the thirty-seconds to scratch rule. A
downed fighter was counted out backward, from 10 to 1, not like today where the
lone referee counts up from 1 to 10.
The terminology of
the ring was also different than it is today. To retreat after sparring was
called breaking ground. If a fighter
maneuvered to the right or left to gain a strategic advantage, it was referred
to as taking ground. Colorful terms
were also used to describe various parts of the body. The torso itself was the mark. The nose was often referred to as
the smeller, whistler, beak, snorer, sneezer, or proboscis. The mouth was called the oration trap, the tato-trap
and, of course, the kisser.
Blood was a welcome
sight at fights and a host of terms were used to describe it as a fighter drew the claret, opened a fresh tap, drew the
home-brewed, drew the cork, drew the juice, or drew the crimson, to name a few.
When a fighter
retired from boxing, a benefit was usually held by the Fancy (the brethren of the boxing ring), a celebration to raise
money for the fighter to put towards life outside the ring. Since heavy
drinking was something the majority of rawsmen had in common, most bought pubs
and ran them until they died or lost them through bad business management. Some
did prosper, living well into old age though such cases were the exception, not
reign spelled the beginning of the end of organized bare knuckle boxing. As the
1800s progressed, the perception of boxing as a worthwhile sport waned. People
moved on to other pursuits until, gradually, boxing lost its mass public
appeal, royal patronage and the support of influential figures in society.
This time period
also saw the rise of gloved boxing as an alternative to the bloody contests of
the past. Gloves protected a fighter's hands, allowing him to throw more
punches, whereas rawsmen had to be more judicial in their attacks for fear of
damaging their hands. As a result, gloved boxing was seen as more exciting.
However, bare knuckle boxing did not
disappear. It continued in the shadows, becoming more and more corrupt and
dangerous along the way. Relegated to seedy clubs or attics, gypsy camps, the
Navy, and canal workers, the fights continued. The bouts were no-holds barred,
primal affairs controlled by the criminal element as the 1900s loomed. For
fans, it became a sport one did not talk about in unfamiliar company, a guilty,
gritty pleasure practiced amongst a tight-knit fraternity throughout the
decades since the glory days. And so it remains to this day.
The third time's a blood-splattered charm as BEAT to a PULP and nine of today's hard-hitting, top writers stalk the depraved streets where no good deed goes unpunished, vengeance is the norm, and lady luck is a cold-hearted bitch that just left you for dead in a back alley.
Raw-nerved, pure virtuosity seeps from the grunge-tainted keyboards of Patti Abbott, Fred Blosser, Hilary Davidson, Chris F. Holm, Sophie Littlefield, Andrew Nette, Keith Rawson, Kieran Shea, and Josh Stallings.
Co-edited by David Cranmer, who brought you the 2012 winner of Spinetingler's Anthology of the Year, this bold and riveting collection is a worthy continuation in the best-selling BTAP "Hardboiled" series.