Men's adventure

Men's adventure is a genre of magazine that was published in the United States from the 1940s until the early 1970s. Catering to a male audience, these magazines featured pin-up girls and lurid tales of adventure that typically featured wartime feats of daring, exotic travel or conflict with wild animals.[1] These magazines were also colloquially called "armpit slicks", "men's sweat magazines" or "the sweats", especially by people in the magazine publishing or distribution trades.

The March 1963 cover of For Men Only promised, among other things, "Swastika Slave Girls in Argentina's No-Escape Brothel Camp!"


Fawcett Publications was having some success with their slick magazine True whose stories developed more of a war focus after the U.S. entered World War II in 1941. Pulp magazine Argosy opted to switch to slick paper in 1943, and mix in more 'true' stories amidst the fiction. The other major pulps Adventure, Blue Book and Short Stories eventually followed suit. Soon new magazines joined in - Fawcett's Cavalier, Stag and Swank. During their peak in the late 1950s, approximately 130 men's adventure magazines were being published simultaneously.

The interior tales usually claimed to be true stories.[2] Women in distress were commonly featured in the painted covers or interior art, often being menaced or tortured by Nazis[3] or, in later years, Communists. Typical titles which relied on especially lurid and salacious cover illustrations include Man's Story, Men Today, World of Men, and Man's Epic.

Many of the stories were actual historical accounts of battles and the biographies and exploits of highly decorated soldiers. Several of the stories were combined and issued under various titles in paperback editions by Pyramid Books with the credit "edited by Phil Hirsch". Phil Hirsch was vice president of Pyramid Books from 1955 to 1975.[4]

In the 1970s, many of the men's adventure magazines dropped the fiction and "true action" stories, and started focusing on pictorials of nude women and non-fiction articles related to sex or current events.


"The Soul Scorcher's Lair" by Norman Saunders from Eerie Stories number 1, August 1937.

Artist Norman Saunders was the dean of illustrators for these magazines, occupying a position similar to that enjoyed by Margaret Brundage for the classic pulps. Charles Copeland[5] and Earl Norem were two other popular artists who worked for the Magazine Management stable of magazines. Many illustrations that were uncredited were done by Bruce Minney,[6] Norm Eastman, Gil Cohen, Mel Crair, Basil Gogos, and Vic Prezio among others.[7] James Bama contributed over 400 cover and interior illustrations for an approximate eight-year period circa 1957–1964 before turning to paperback cover illustration as his mainstay. Historical artist Mort Künstler painted many covers and illustrations for these magazines, and Playboy photographer Mario Casilli started out shooting pinups for this market. At publisher Martin Goodman's Magazine Management Company, future best-selling humorist and author Bruce Jay Friedman was a men's sweat writer-editor, and Mario Puzo was a contributor before he became a well-known novelist. Pierre Boulle, Ray Bradbury, Erskine Caldwell, Ian Fleming, Robert F. Dorr and Mickey Spillane also contributed short stories or novel excerpts to men's adventure magazines.[8]


Paperback novels became increasingly popular in the 1950s and 1960s, and series' such as Don Pendleton's The Executioner mined a similar vein of war story, and continued on long after the magazines themselves shifted away from such fare.[9]

The title of the Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention album Weasels Ripped My Flesh was borrowed from a man-against-beast cover story in the September 1956 issue of Man's Life,[10] and the title went through another permutation when filmmaker Nathan Schiff made the horror feature Weasels Rip My Flesh (1979).

There have been attempts to revive the Argosy title, once in the 1990s, again in 2004, and finally in 2013. Soldier of Fortune carried on the tradition of war stories for a male audience.[11] A few contemporary "lad mag" periodicals such as FHM and Maxim are somewhat similar to the earlier adventure magazines, featuring a combination of glamour photography and occasional true adventure/horror stories. Publishers such as Hard Case Crime put out new and reprint paperback novels in the hard-boiled pulp tradition. Online book vendor uses the genre label "men's adventure" in a general sense to categorize adventure novels where the hero is an adult man to distinguish these books from "women's adventure" and "children's action & adventure."


  1. ^ Strausbaugh, John (December 9, 2004). "Oh, Those Pulpy Days of 'Weasels Ripped My Flesh'". The New York Times. Retrieved December 7, 2011.
  2. ^ Osgerby, Bill (2001), Playboys in paradise: masculinity, youth and leisure-style in modern America, Berg, p. 76, ISBN 978-1-85973-453-7
  3. ^ Abrams, Nathan; Hughes, Julie (2000), Containing America: cultural production and consumption in Fifties America, Continuum International Publishing Group, p. 135, ISBN 978-1-902459-06-6
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ Parfrey, Adam, et al. It's a Man's World: Men's Adventure Magazines, the Postwar Pulps (Feral House, 2003) ISBN 0-922915-81-4
  8. ^
  9. ^ Don D'Ammassa. 2009. The Encyclopedia of Adventure Fiction.
  10. ^ Freund, Charles Paul (November 1, 2003). "Weasels ripped our flesh: the forgotten world of men's adventure magazines". Reason. Retrieved December 7, 2011.
  11. ^ Peterson, Ivar (September 23, 1985). "Mercenary Magazine Widens Appeal". The New York Times. Retrieved December 7, 2011.

Further reading

  • Adam Parfrey. 2003. It's a Man's World - Men's Adventure Magazines, the Postwar Pulps. Feral House.
  • Rich Oberg, Steven Heller, Max Allan Collins and George Hagenauer. 2008. Men's Adventure Magazines. Taschen.
  • Robert Deis, ed. 2013. Weasels Ripped My Flesh! Two-Fisted Stories From Men's Adventure Magazines. New Texture.
  • Robert Deis, ed. 2016. A Handful of Hell - Classic War and Adventure Stories by Robert F. Dorr. New Texture.
Adventure (magazine)

Adventure was an American pulp magazine that was first published in November 1910 by

the Ridgway company, an offshoot of the Butterick Publishing Company. Adventure went on to become one of the most profitable and critically acclaimed of all the American pulp magazines. The magazine had 881 issues. The magazine's first editor was Trumbull White, he was succeeded in 1912 by Arthur Sullivant Hoffman (1876–1966), who would edit the magazine until 1927.

Argosy (magazine)

Argosy, later titled The Argosy and Argosy All-Story Weekly, was an American pulp magazine from 1882 through 1978, published by Frank Munsey. It is the first American pulp magazine. The magazine began as a children's weekly story–paper entitled The Golden Argosy.

Blue Book (magazine)

Blue Book was a popular 20th-century American magazine with a lengthy 70-year run under various titles from 1905 to 1975. It was a sibling magazine to Redbook and The Green Book Magazine.

Launched as The Monthly Story Magazine, it was published under that title from May 1905 to August 1906 with a change to The Monthly Story Blue Book Magazine for issues from September 1906 to April 1907. In its early days, Blue Book also carried a supplement on theatre actors called "Stageland". The magazine was aimed at both male and female readers.For the next 45 years (May 1907 to January 1952), it was known as The Blue Book Magazine, Blue Book Magazine, Blue Book, and Blue Book of Fiction and Adventure. The title was shortened with the February 1952 issue to simply Bluebook, continuing until May 1956. With a more exploitative angle, the magazine was revived with an October 1960 issue as Bluebook for Men, and the title again became Bluebook for the final run from 1967 to 1975.

In its 1920s heyday, Blue Book was regarded as one of the "Big Four" pulp magazines (the best-selling, highest-paying and most critically acclaimed pulps), along with Adventure, Argosy and Short Stories.

Cavalier (magazine)

Cavalier is an American magazine that was launched by Fawcett Publications in 1952 and has continued for decades, eventually evolving into a Playboy-style men's magazine. It has no connection with the Frank Munsey pulp, The Cavalier, published in the early years of the 20th century.

In its original format, Cavalier was planned by Fawcett to feature novelettes and novel excerpts by Fawcett's Gold Medal authors, including Richard Prather and Mickey Spillane.

Earl Norem

Earl H. Norem (April 17, 1923 – June 19, 2015), who signed his work simply Norem, was an American artist primarily known for his painted covers for men's-adventure magazines published by Martin Goodman's Magazine Management Company and for Goodman's line of black-and-white comics magazines affiliated with his Marvel Comics division. Over his long career, Norem also illustrated covers for novels and gaming books, as well as movie posters, baseball programs, and trading cards.

Fiend of Dope Island

Fiend of Dope Island, also released as Whiplash, was a lurid men's adventure type motion picture filmed in 1959 and released in 1961. It starred and was co-written by Bruce Bennett and was the final film directed by Nate Watt. It was filmed in Puerto Rico where producer J. Harold Odell had previously filmed his Machete (1958) and Counterplot (1959). Several scenes were censored for the United States release. The film co-stars Tania Velia billed as the "Yugoslavian Bombshell" who had appeared in the July 1959 Playboy and Puerto Rican actor Miguel Ángel Álvarez.

Kid Eternity

Kid Eternity is a fictional character, a comic book superhero that premiered in Hit Comics #25 written by Otto Binder, drawn by Sheldon Moldoff, and published by Quality Comics in December 1942. All of Quality's intellectual properties were sold to DC Comics in 1956 (though most of the said properties had lapsed into public domain by that point), including the character. The character has continued to appear (albeit infrequently) in DC comic books since his revival in the 1970s.

In 1956, Everett M. "Busy" Arnold, the owner of Quality Comics decided to leave the comic business entirely for the more profitable arena of Men's Adventure Magazines. He sold the Quality Comics line to his competitor, DC Comics. DC kept a number of Quality's titles running, but not until the 1970s did they look at the long-cancelled superhero characters (with the introduction of the Freedom Fighters).

Magazine Management

Magazine Management Co., Inc. was an American publishing company lasting from at least 1947 to the early 1970s, known for men's-adventure magazines, risque men's magazines, humor, romance, puzzle, celebrity/film and other types of magazines, and later adding comic books and black-and-white comics magazines to the mix. It was the parent company of Atlas Comics, and its re-branded incarnation, Marvel Comics.

Founded by Martin Goodman, who had begun his career in the 1930s with pulp magazines published under a variety of shell companies, Magazine Management served as an early employer of such staff writers as Rona Barrett, Bruce Jay Friedman, David Markson, Mario Puzo, Martin Cruz Smith, Mickey Spillane, and Ernest Tidyman.

Subsidiaries of Magazine Management included Humorama, which published digest-sized magazines of girlie cartoons, Marvel Comics, and black-and-white comics magazines such as Vampire Tales, Savage Tales, and Unknown Worlds of Science Fiction.

Martin Goodman (publisher)

Martin Goodman (born Moe Goodman; January 18, 1908 – June 6, 1992) was an American publisher of pulp magazines, paperback books, men's adventure magazines, and comic books, launching the company that would become Marvel Comics.

Norman Saunders

Norman Blaine Saunders (January 1, 1907 – March 7, 1989) was a prolific 20th-century American commercial artist. He is best known for paintings in pulp magazines, paperbacks, men's adventure magazines, comic books and trading cards. On occasion, Saunders signed his work with his middle name, Blaine.

Pulp magazine

Pulp magazines (often referred to as "the pulps") were inexpensive fiction magazines that were published from 1896 to the 1950s. The term pulp derives from the cheap wood pulp paper on which the magazines were printed. In contrast, magazines printed on higher-quality paper were called "glossies" or "slicks". The typical pulp magazine had 128 pages; it was 7 inches (18 cm) wide by 10 inches (25 cm) high, and 0.5 inches (1.3 cm) thick, with ragged, untrimmed edges.

The pulps gave rise to the term pulp fiction in reference to run-of-the-mill, low-quality literature. Pulps were the successors to the penny dreadfuls, dime novels, and short-fiction magazines of the 19th century. Although many respected writers wrote for pulps, the magazines were best known for their lurid, exploitative, and sensational subject matter. Modern superhero comic books are sometimes considered descendants of "hero pulps"; pulp magazines often featured illustrated novel-length stories of heroic characters, such as Flash Gordon, The Shadow, Doc Savage, and The Phantom Detective.

She Demons

She Demons is a 1958 independently made black-and-white science fiction film, produced by Arthur A. Jacobs and Marc Frederic, directed and co-written by Richard E. Cunha, that stars Irish McCalla, Tod Griffin, and Victor Sen Yung. Made in the tongue-in-cheek style of Men's adventure magazines, Nazisploitation, and The Island of Lost Souls, the film was distributed by Astor Pictures in March, 1958 as a double feature with Cunha's Giant from the Unknown.

Shea Emry

Shea Emry (born April 23, 1986 in Richmond, British Columbia) is a former Canadian football linebacker who played eight seasons in the Canadian Football League (CFL). He was drafted by the Montreal Alouettes in the first round of the 2008 CFL Draft and would play there for six seasons before signing with the Toronto Argonauts in 2014. He played CIS Football at the University of British Columbia after playing three seasons of NCAA Football at Eastern Washington.

He is the founder and CEO of WellMen Project, a men's adventure club which aims to empower men to take initiative in their own mental wellness.

Short Stories (magazine)

Short Stories was an American fiction magazine that existed between 1890 and 1959.

Stag (magazine)

Stag was the name of various American men's magazines published from the 1930s through at least the 1990s.

Swank (magazine)

Swank is an adult or pornographic magazine published in the United States. The first incarnation was launched by Victor Fox of Fox Comics in 1941 (and again in 1945) as a men's lifestyle and pin-up magazine in the style of Esquire. Around 1954–1955, it was relaunched by Martin Goodman, the founder of Marvel Comics, and ran spicy adventure or suspense fiction by the likes of Ian Fleming, Graham Greene, Norman Mailer and Arthur C. Clarke. Humorist Bruce Jay Friedman was an editor in the late 1950s.

Along with its sister title, Stag, the magazine was bought by the Magna Publishing Group in 1993. Following that acquisition, the format of Swank changed to include hardcore sex, such as the use of sex toys, lesbian sex, and sexual intercourse between men and women. There are also a series of DVDs and an official website produced under the Swank name. Magna Publishing Group was bought by 1-800-PHONESEX in 2015.

The Popular Magazine

The Popular Magazine was an early American literary magazine that ran for 612 issues from November 1903 to October 1931. It featured short fiction, novellas, serialized larger works, and even entire short novels. The magazine's subject matter ranged over a number of genres, although it tended somewhat towards men's adventure stories, particularly in the waning years of the publication when the vogue for hardboiled fiction was strong. The Popular Magazine touted itself as "a magazine for men and women who like to read about men." The magazine had its headquarters in New York City.

Top-Notch Magazine

Top-Notch Magazine is an American pulp magazine of adventure fiction that existed between 1910 and 1937. It was published by Street & Smith.Top-Notch Magazine was first published in March 1910. Issued twice-monthly, it published 602 editions until it ceased in October 1937. For most of its history, the cover price was 10 cents. Began as a magazine for teenagers and even as a pulp concentrated mostly

on sports stories, switching to a men's adventure magazine in the 1930s. Notable contributors to Top-Notch Magazine included

Jack London, F. Britten Austin, William Wallace Cook, Bertram Atkey, and Johnston McCulley in the early days; and later Robert E. Howard,L. Ron Hubbard, Lester Dent, Carl Jacobi, Burt L. Standish, J. Allan Dunn, and Harry Stephen Keeler.

True (magazine)

True, also known as True, The Man's Magazine, was published by Fawcett Publications from 1937 until 1974. Known as True, A Man's Magazine in the 1930s, it was labeled True, #1 Man's Magazine in the 1960s. Petersen Publishing took over with the January 1975, issue. It was sold to Magazine Associates in August 1975, and ceased publication shortly afterward.

High adventure, sports profiles and dramatic conflicts were highlighted in articles such as "Living and Working at Nine Fathoms" by Ed Batutis, "Search for the Perfect Beer" by Bob McCabe and the uncredited "How to Start Your Own Hunting-Fishing Lodge." In addition to pictorials ("Iceland, Unexpected Eden" by Lawrence Fried) and humor pieces ("The Most Unforgettable Sonofabitch I Ever Knew" by Robert Ruark), there were columns, miscellaneous features and regular concluding pages: "This Funny Life," "Man to Man Answers," "Strange But True" and "True Goes Shopping."

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