Wednesday, February 2, 2011

It's a Man's World: Men's Adventure Magazines, The Postwar Pulps

It's a Man's World: Men's Adventure Magazines, The Postwar Pulps
book review
Jaye Beldo

After exploring the lurid confines of It's a Man's World ,the latest/boldest offering from Feral House on the post war adventure magazines, I immediately flashed an idea for a cover of the next issue of Ms. Gloria Steinem would appear, campily cartooned along with CIA operative Clay Felkner, the Esquire editor that brought her to feminist fame in the early 70's.

Picture it if you can: a Bowie knife wielding, Green Beret uniformed Felkner trying to liberate a skimpily dressed Steinem who is entwined to a United Nations flag pole by some giant viper with the face of Henry Kissinger (who she actually dated in the 1980's). Elizabeth Forsling Harris, a CIA-connected PR executive who, by the way, planned John Kennedy's Dallas motorcade route, looks on with smug satisfaction, bull whip in hand, wearing a moth eaten Gestapo uniform. Or maybe Rosie O' Donnell could be garishly depicted on the cover of, let's say, Misandrist Monthly , a potential pulp alternative to her now ailing 'zine, held in similar serpentine bondage by her very own CIA backed publisher,begging for sweet release. (I can't think of anyone who would want to rescue her however....maybe Andrea Dworkin dressed up like a Navy Seal.)

What I'm struggling to say, via these unlikely to be seen in the mainstream images, is that we are currently suffering from a kind of mass polarity reversal. It is now the castrating fantasies, Will to Power drives and other hormonally imbalanced Überfrau desires of today's corporate woman that are beckoning to be scrutinized in comic book fashion. However, these burgeoning fantasies are kept just beyond the margins of acceptable consensuality, veiled behind carefully crafted PC ideologies that will ensure that the heterosexual white male will forever remain the perennial scapegoat. I suggest that these estrogenated day dreams, on the verge of rising above the subconscious horizon, be as graphically and overtly rendered as the images depicted in It's a Man's World. It very well may prevent something truly horrible from happening.

The cover illustrations within It's a Man's World seem to beg for us to breathe life into them so the soldiers, hunters, cowboys, criminals and jungle adventurers can animate their way into the very crux of our psyches and conquer whatever needs to be conquered and plunder what needs to be plundered . I can confidently say that buying this book, fetishizing it, whether you are a man or a woman, will be profoundly therapeutic and even cathartic because nothing like the art depicted within It's a Man's World exists on the newstands any longer and probably never will again. The images within this garish but intriguing testament to the American male of a bygone era, some how give a kind of unadulterated power to the very things within ourselves that we try to repress and then project upon one another.

With this kind of power in mind, now is the time to try and convince the men's magazine illustrators of the 50's ,60's and 70's to come out of retirement, ignore the PC police and translate these current fantasy modes such as described above to the covers of noxious feminist tabloids, T.V. Guide, Playgirl and maybe even Newsweek. I'm confident that many of the evolution retarding, sexual/political conflicts we now distract ourselves with would instantly be resolved.

It's a Man's World: Men's Adventure Magazines, The Postwar Pulps
Adam Parfrey (Editor), Mort Kunstler (Contributor), Josh Alan Friedman (Contributor), David Saunders (Contributor), Bruce Jay Friedman (Contributor), Bill Devine (Contributor), Hedi El Kholti (Designer)

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