Men's Adventure Magazines

Discussion in 'The Golden Era' started by BlueTrain, Jun 30, 2016.

  1. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    There were pornographic magazines in the Era, long before Hefner came along, and many of them were as bizarre as anything you can find today if that's your thing. An interesting book called "Tijuana Bibles" came out a few years ago documenting the scurrilous little comic pamphlets of the 1930s in which Andy Gump and Little Orphan Annie and other funny-paper characters and popular celebrities did unspeakable things with and to each other. In comparison to that stuff Hefner was a Little Leaguer.

    What Hefner did was take the prurient appeal of a gas-station skin rag and get away with wrapping it up in a veneer of culture and class -- "101 Snappy Poses" crossed with Esquire. He was a Boy From Marketing at heart.

    If you really want to see something twisted, look up the stuff Joe Shuster -- the artist who co-created Superman -- drew for under-the-counter porno rags in the 1950s.

    [​IMG]

    Any resemblance to Kryptonian superheroes and plucky girl reporters is purely not coincidental.
     
    filfoster likes this.
  2. I am somewhat ashamed to admit you have inspired me to look further into this!
     
  3. Inkstainedwretch

    Inkstainedwretch Practically Family

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    Many, if not most of the comic artists of the 50s had a sideline in porn. Even beloved Wally Wood of MAD magazine fame did some raunchy stuff. The fact is, you have to be pretty weird to be a comics artist in the first place. Even the conventional comics could get pretty close to porn in their newsstand versions. Wonder Woman, as written and drawn by William Moulton Marston, had a dyke BDSM streak a mile wide. When WW wasn't being tied up, chained, whipped and spanked, she was doing it to somebody else. As much as I loathe Frederick Wertham's prissy puritanism, he had a point when he wrote "Seduction of the Innocent."
     
  4. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    Marston was a case study all in himself. A professional academic and submissive fetishist who lived in a menage-a-trois with two dominant women, both of whom bore him children. Good old Golden Era Family Values. You have to wonder how he found the time to write comic books.

    BTW, Marston only wrote WW. The art was by a man named, God's honest truth, "Harry Peter."
     
  5. 2jakes

    2jakes I'll Lock Up

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    This must’ve been a Monday for WW.
    [​IMG]

    art design by Kerry Callen. Wonder Woman
     
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  6. Bushman

    Bushman My Mail is Forwarded Here

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    I remember once crossing an interesting book in the bookstore that focused on the more... erotic side of comic book artists. It was an entire book filled with the pornographic super hero imagery that had been drawn by original comic book artists
     
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  7. Inkstainedwretch

    Inkstainedwretch Practically Family

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    Lizzie, you just made my day.
     
  8. BlueTrain

    BlueTrain Call Me a Cab

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    I used to read Outdoor Life now and then. Some of their articles were excellent, though of course, they tended to be of a certain sort but not fantasy adventure of the old kind. A fair number of magazines have their share of excellent articles, although they are naturally in line with the general subject matter of the magazine itself. There are actually writers whose stuff is so good that their entertaining to read whether or not you've any interest in the topic itself. Colin Fletcher tended to be that sort of writer. In fact, some of the older (meaning before our time) outdoor writers produced copy that was very readable. No matter what the subject is, it still has to be readable. Among gun writers, I think the most interesting in that respect was Dean Grennell, who is, I think, the late Dean Grennell. In addition to writing gun-related topics, mostly hand loading, he also edited a science-fiction magazine.

    I sometimes wondered who produced the wonderful covers on those magazines.
     
  9. BlueTrain

    BlueTrain Call Me a Cab

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    How did I miss the last few posts before making mine? This is a good time to mention something I've been thinking about and I do think now and then.

    I used to read the Wonder Woman comic books in the 1950s. It never occurred to me that I was supposed to see her, as drawn, as something racy. The artwork itself was sort of curious. I'm not sure if it was done that way on purpose or simply badly drawn--or hastily drawn. It certainly was different from Walt Disney stuff, I mean the artwork, that is. Anyway, the comic had some neat features. The transparent airplane, the glowing lasso and so on, which I hope I'm remembering accurately. But it got me to wondering.

    I wondered what people thought about a woman being a super-hero. There were jungle girls but they weren't exactly super-heroes or heroines. Then, in reading about her, I discovered there were others, none of whom I'd heard of. And there are still female super heroes. Of course, being an innocent child, all of that would have gone over my head anyway. In some ways, she seemed more realistic than Superman or Batman.

    I also find it interesting that so many of these comic book super heroes were introduced within a relative short time in the early 1940s.

    On another note, one comic book artist, Will Eisner, did the artwork for an army preventive maintenance magazine, PS, that was distributed when I was in the army. It was really well-done, really informative, and decidedly sexist (this was the 1950s and 1960s). I haven't seen one in ages.
     
  10. 2jakes

    2jakes I'll Lock Up

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    The “golden-age” comics held a fascination because of the artwork.
    It was crude in contrast to later comic books.
    The images became slick & complicated.

    I was too young to appreciate the deeper meaning behind these images
    or the writer/artist's intent.

    For me, it was simply a 10¢ fantasy into a world of make-believe.

    Same for the Buck Rogers/Flash Gordon serials.

    Although having it explained what I missed as a kid is
    equally fascinating. :p
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2016
  11. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    There were a few female superheroes before Wonder Woman, but Marston created her specifically to be a female analogue to Superman. The idea, ostensibly, was to give female readers a powerful role model -- but surveys conducted by the publishers revealed that her readership in the mid-1940s was overwhelmingly boys between the ages of 12 and 17.

    Marston had been a member of the "Editorial Advisory Board" at DC in the early forties, a panel of academics set up to put a seal of wholesomeness on the company's product at a time when they were already coming under attack. He got close to Max Gaines, an executive of the company, and persuaded Gaines to let him create a feature that would carry out his personal beliefs about what the comics should be. Gaines, who wanted the respect of academia more than anything, readily agreed.

    There was never any doubt that Marston put his own personal fetishes and kinks into the strip -- he had contractural control over the feature, and could, within reason, do anything he wanted with it. Harry Peter, the artist who drew the strip until his death in 1957, was hand-selected by Marston for his specific ability to render those specific scenes to Marston's satisfaction. Peter had been a political cartoonist in the early 1900s, with ties to the radical suffragist movement, and while his art looked weird alongside that of Joe Shuster or Bob Kane, it precisely fit what Marston wanted to do with the strip.

    Marston was a psychologist by profession, and his main theory was that men essentially craved erotic "tender domination" by a powerful female figure as a relic of their bond with their mothers, and that the suppression of that craving was the cause of war, violence, and other social ills. And he believed that women forfieted the power that was theirs by birthright by submitting to the will of men. "Wonder Woman" was an explicit rendering of those theories for an adolescent audience. He knew *exactly* what he was doing when he made Steve Trevor a passive figure yearning for his "beautiful angel," or when he showed Wonder Woman losing her powers by allowing herself to be bound by a man.
     
  12. BlueTrain

    BlueTrain Call Me a Cab

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    Well, chance are, few of his readers noticed any of that. It was just another comic. It was distinctive in its own way but it was still just a comic. You see things differently as an adult, of course, but you still don't necessarily see things the way the artist does. More often, people will read into things ideas and concepts that the writer or artist didn't put there. One such instance is Lord of the Rings, written in the 1940s. Some commentators read all sorts of parallels with world events at the time but the writer denies doing any of that. It's just an adventure fantasy story. One could search lots of fiction to find just about anything you want in terms of subtle hints of eroticism and what not.

    One of my favorite books leftover from childhood was an Alice and Jerry book, probably 1st grade. It was published in 1939 when almost everyone lived in a village--Friendly Village. And just outside of town, down a tree-shaded lane, behind a brick wall bordered with flowers, because it was a land of perpetual summer, just like San Diego, with a green gate that you went through, lived Miss Lizzy.
     
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  13. ChiTownScion

    ChiTownScion One Too Many

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    AKA, the Eight Pagers. Some were highly creative and, I would argue, not without redeeming artistic and satirical merit. I am certain that they were an influence for Robert Crumb, Jay Lynch, Bobby London, Gilbert Shelton, and a number of the other underground comix crowd who came later.
     
  14. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    Interestingly, although Superman was a popular subject of "eight pagers" in the 1940s, I don't think I've ever seen one starring Wonder Woman.

    [​IMG]

    Much the pity.
     
  15. BlueTrain

    BlueTrain Call Me a Cab

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    Probably something to do with class or social standing.
     
  16. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    Well, Diana *was* a member of the ruling class, and poor Steve was just a petit-bourgeois. It'd never have worked out.

    Harry Peter, meanwhile, is notable as the creator of what might have been the only true working-class superhero of the Era -- a character called "Man O' Metal," who was a big Irish steelworker named Pat Dempsey, who was doused by a vat of white-hot steel while working in a foundry. He survived and found that his skin had been turned to metal and that he had also gained the ability to emit flames and bolts of electricity. He then proceeded to become a crimefighter, in a costume consisting of work pants, safety boots, and no shirt. Couldn't afford tights and a cape on what they paid him at Youngstown Sheet and Tube.
     
  17. 2jakes

    2jakes I'll Lock Up

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    Indeed.
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  18. BlueTrain

    BlueTrain Call Me a Cab

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    That kind of stuff boys would have called "mushy" when I was little, although to be honest, I never used the word because I never noticed it. You see, I walked to school.

    My wife's a schoolteacher and they have pretty good parties. Very interesting, too. At a Christmas party a few years ago, a group of grade school teachers were discussing what passes as sex education, referred to as family life education. One teacher was talking about the kinds of questions he got asked--and the ones that he wouldn't answer. Apparently grade school kids are fairly advanced these days. One young teacher asked where the kids learned all this stuff. Another said they learned it on the bus on the way to school. The first teacher said, "Well, that explains why I was a slow starter. I walked to school."
     
  19. MikeKardec

    MikeKardec One Too Many

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    It's no wonder some of the comic book artists had some rather odd, or self entertaining, interests. The work load for most of them was insane, they virtually never got away from their work tables. I know of one old guy who drew so much, worked such long hours over the years, that he completely lost his depth perception and could no longer drive!

    I'm sure if I slaved over comic pages every day at a range of less than 20 inches I'd be a gibbering idiot too!

    Even today the pay is dicey. A highly paid artist might get $700/page which usually includes 4 to 7 images. A cover illustration for a book (providing you can find a publisher to spring for one) might average $4,000 and top at around $10,000 ... at least that's the most I've yet asked a publisher to pay and it put me in a sweat for weeks.

    Most comic artists treat each entire page as if it was a single image; if nothing else it allows them to feel they are making more money and the job of doing a whole book isn't so unbelievably huge.
     
  20. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    Jerry Robinson's famous story of being trapped in a loft in Manhattan during the blizzard of 1941 with three other artists and no food, and turning out an entire 64 page comic in two and a half days is unimpeachably true. The comic was "Daredevil Comics No. 2," and wasn't half bad.

    [​IMG]

    They put everything in it but the kitchen sink, if they'd had a kitchen or a sink.
     

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