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It's a Man's World: Men's Adventure Magazines, The Postwar Pulps Hardcover – May, 2003

4.7 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Alternately called "adventure magazines" and "armpit slicks," publications like True West, American Manhood and Challenge for Men enjoyed their heyday from the early 1950s through the early '70s. With their campy cover paintings of men at war, hunks on horseback and buxom women, these magazines gave blue collar workers "warnings, how-to's, and comforting memories of wartime." For Parfrey, they're worth looking at today because "they tell us so much about American working-class fears, desires and wet dreams." Parfrey intersperses this collection of full-color reproductions with essays by contributors on subjects ranging from exotica and "the sadistic burlesque" to the Cold War. The essays will be helpful to readers trying to make sense out of such images as UFOs closing their clamp-like hands around fretting females with their shirts unbuttoned (from Peril: The All Man's Magazine), and a burly, shirtless man straddling a flagpole flying a torn American flag (from Climax: Exciting Stories for Men).
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.


...(Feral House has) brought the socially incompatible flotsam back to us in a wonderful book, IT'S A MAN'S WORLD. -- Robert Williams

...stunning historical evidence of the convoluted sexuality lurking in our epic archetype of the Real, True and All Man. -- Carlo McCormick, Senior Editor, Paper

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Feral House; First Edition edition (May 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0922915814
  • ISBN-13: 978-0922915811
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 0.9 x 11.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,149,150 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I've collected old magazines all of my life. I first saw issues of the Post-War Men's magazines depicted in this book when I was a kid in the early sixties. The covers struck me as the ne plus ultra of lurid adventure illustration. Classic paperback and pulp covers were often outrageous, but the Men's mags trumped them by being so far over-the-top as to be impervious to parody. Every mockery of macho adventure literature you've ever seen falls far short of the extremes routinely depicted on these covers.
Today the magazines are insanely hard to find, and often disappointing when finally located. The stories within the wild covers are generally puffed-up true-life stories with little to interest the modern reader. The only real reason to get them is their blindingly vivid covers.
And now you can get hundreds of them, lovingly reproduced in this book. I'm stunned to find the post-war Men's mags, surely the lowest ghetto of over-the-counter magazines, given such a thorough and glossy examination. Images are grouped by topic, often creating an effect of mingled humor and astonishment, as when a two-page spread shows a collection of different covers, each depicting a shirtless, battered he-man being attacked by a different species of vermin. Leeches, bats, rats, lizards, lobsters (!), and finally a full page shot of a wide-eyed, unshaven face covered with ants the size of Twinkies. And the images are arresting not only in their lurid extremes, but in how shockingly well-rendered most of them are.
There is nothing else like the Men's mags of the post-war era. And there is no other book like this one. This is a remarkable document of American publishing's most outrageous period. I never thought I'd see anything like it.
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Format: Hardcover
Who would expect to see such a lavish all-color book about this down-market corner of American publishing, not me but I'm interested in visual popular culture and `It's a Man's World' is really quite a fascinating study of these `slicks', produced from 1950 to 1970. They were edited by a small group of men who put out over six thousand issues of about a hundred and thirty titles. The leading publishers, Magazine Management went bust in 1975 and this particular male market slid predictably into soft porn.

The book rightly concentrates on the garish, dazzling covers, fortunately they all retain the logos and unbelievable cover lines and there are hundreds to pore over. Each cover (many shown life size) has a caption with the publishing date and where known, the artist's name. Leading illustrators like Mort Kunstler, Norm Eastman and Norman Saunders have a magnificent showing through all the pages. These covers were the USP of this particular market, a few of the magazines inside pages are shown and it seems clear to me that most of the editorial budgets were spent on the cover art. No matter what the title, it would sell better if some female, who always seemed unable to do up all the buttons on her blouse, was in a distressing situation just about to be rescued by a nearby white hunk.

One chapter, The Sadistic Burlesque, covers the titles that are most sought after today. The paintings show sadistic extremes, mostly by Nazis or Commies, yet they were displayed on newsstands across the nation to be bought by any male. Perhaps for obvious reasons many of these covers have no artist credit.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
-JUST ORDER THIS BOOK NOW! For anyone who doesn't know, this book is the first ever to cover the "lurid men's adventure magazine" genre. These are what the classic Pulp magazines of the 30's and 40's "evolved" into in the postwar/communist paranoia driven 50's and 60's.
The covers generally depicted some twisted variation on Nazis torturing lingerie models, lingerie models getting revenge on the Nazis, he-man battles to the death or deadly animal attacks (a personal favorite of mine is the "weasels ripped my flesh" cover that would inspire the title and cover art for the Frank Zappa album of the same name 20 years later).
This full-color book is CRAMMED to the gills with cover repros, with quite a few photographed from THE ORIGINAL ART! But the thing that really impressed me about this book was that it goes beyond mere cover images and explores the behind-the-scenes history of these magazines with interviews with some of the editors, writers and cover illustrators who actually created these kitsch masterpieces! There's even an art tutorial by Norm Saunders (the guy who painted the original Mars Attacks trading cards)!!
Trust me, if you like bizarre art or are interested in the dark underbelly of Americana, you can't go wrong with this book. I can absolutely say it is the coolest thing I own! I only wish there were more stars to give it...
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Format: Hardcover
Continuing with the exploration of culture, this is another jewel in the Feral House crown. There are only a few interviews, and they are rather outdated. Nonetheless, if you're a collector, this should be an invaluable reference. Lots and lots of reproductions of covers and some interior illustrations. Also, there is a small guide/checklist at the end to get you started.
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