Pulpy Things! – Julie Doornbos

Pulpy Things! – Julie Doornbos

Greetings! I’m Julie. I live on a mountain and do the art thing. And I have a thing for campy illustrations. Sarah has asked me to show you my embarrassingly huge collection of pulp fiction covers! You know you want to look.

*flashes trenchcoat*

I kid. Today’s post is (mostly) safe for work. So long as you work for yourself and/ or your boss can’t see what you’re browsing on the internet. I’ll leave the extra naked covers for another day. You’ll be fine!


For educational purposes [delicate-lady-snort], I’ve divided these into three categories. The first category needs no introduction, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

Covers With Scantily Clad Women That Don’t Need to Be Scantily CladImage1

Plutonians, gold bikinis, AND three sexes? Well hell, that has nebula award written all over it.


Her: Mildly irritated to have a man fused inside her bathroom wall.
Him: Deeply disturbed by that sparkly pink shower curtain.


For just a moment, please ignore how completely awful these space suit designs are. You see their belly buttons? No?

That was done for decency sake. That little bit of covering is the difference between Space Ladies and Space Hussies, my friend. (just ask Jeannie…)


Speaking of improbable spacewear…

Space Pasties! With tubing. For reasons. SCIENCE reasons.


My favorite part about this cover?

The little blurb telling you that it is complete and unabridged.

Somewhere out there is a heavily edited version. It’s just slurp noises.


That bit of red drool on the monster and the woman’s neck means he deaded her.

You’re totally oogling a corpse. You freak.

Speaking of freaks, our next category is

Covers With Monsters!


This is the far more terrifying version of Harry and the Hendersons in which I burn the movie theater down and everyone thanks me for it.


Art DIrector: “The book is titled WHAT? Don’t we have something ominous and mostly naked we can put on the cover instead?”


Somebody do something! That dinosaur is taunting Kenny Rogers!


I’m not exactly sure what’s going on, but I think they’re forcing her to listen to a dramatic presentation of Fifty Shades of Grey as read by Gilbert Gottfried. (I’m… just going to let you google that one.)


Somebody do something! That bear is spooning Richie Cunningham!

Which neatly brings us to our third category…

Covers With Men Being Attacked By Things

This category brought to you almost entirely by whoever was in charge of the covers for Man’s Life, True Men, Man’s Conquest, Stag, Man’s World, and the simply named Men magazine.

Attack fish!


Attack snakes!


Attack otters!


Attack eels!


Attack bats!


Attack crabs! (with bonus incorrect usage of the word “cannibal”)


Attack rats!


Attack weasels!


Attack flying squirrels!


(and my favorite) Attack turtles! With bonus cleavage!


You didn’t think I was finished, did you? I told you my collection was huge.

Surprise fourth category!

WTF Pulp


“…and arsonists are my bread and shoplifters are my pickles and bank robbers are my condiments! It’s a whole crime sandwich!”


I wasn’t aware that the CIA was hiring teeny-boppers…

This is my horrified face. Moving along.


Oh good. A palate cleanser.


You laugh, but Spinrad was nominated for a Nebula for this.

You think I make this crap up, I know it.


That’s hot.


I think the author must have described the entire plot of his book out loud and then finished up with “do you think you can fit all of that on the cover?” and the illustrator was all like “yea, brah, I got this.”

That’s all for today! Next time Sarah leaves the door unlocked, I may sneak in here and show you my collection of sexy 80’s com-pew-turr ads.


You only wish I was joking.



*You know guys, I think I should leave the door unlocked more often.  What say you?*

162 thoughts on “Pulpy Things! – Julie Doornbos

  1. I can’t help but notice you missed the most significant component of that first “Men Being Attacked By Things” cover, from Man … excuse me; from MAN’S WORLD:

    That blurb proclaiming: “THE LAST MAN ON STARBUCK ISLAND” clearly indicates he was fighting those fish over the remaining coffee!

    1. (Wandering in from Stage Right, whistling …)
      What’s this little box about, here below the “your turn” window. “Notify me of new comments via email”? That doesn’t seem like a good idea.
      (Exit, pursued by avalanche.)

  2. I’m sorry, but I question the manhood of a man who has to worry about *attack turtles*. I’m just not buying it. That must have been the “we’ve tried everything else!” cover…

    1. That’s the same couple who were attacked by snakes earlier … you can tell the snakes were first ’cause he still has his shirt and she’s still conscious in that one. He must have been really beat not to notice the turtles until it was too late, but of course he’s got to haul her around and keep up out of the water while fighting …

        1. I’m not sure if it is true or not that snapping turtles won’t let go until they hear thunder . . . but I don’t intend to find out one way or the other.

    2. Clearly, the turtles must be mutants. And have been training in their fighting style for at least 13 years.

    3. Have you ever had a turtle? Those jaws clamp down, they’re all armored and stuff!

      Whups! I hear the dryer buzzer, yay! I can put my jammie-jams back on…

  3. BTW – a minor grammatical complaint:
    Covers With Scantily Clad Women That Don’t Need to Be Scantily Clad

    This, in the eyes of approximately half of the American population, is an oxymoron. To quote Robert Kennedy: “There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why… I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?”

  4. Actually, I read ‘The Iron Dream’, although the book had a different cover. The premise is that Hitler instead of being ‘Hitler’ was a SF author who wrote about the master race. Overall, it was a good wonderfully racist/aryan theme, that would probably give the SJWs the vapors.

    1. To be clear, The Iron Dream is an stf pulp novel not about but by Adolf Hitler.

      The premise is that after WWI, AH moved to New York and became a pulp hack. The book is the memorial edition of one of his best efforts. There is an introduction that recounts the author’s life; this is a look at an alternate history. The novel itself is something that might have appeared in one of the stf pulps of that alternate future. Think Planet Stories or Fantastic Adventures, NOT Astounding.

      1. It should be required reading for all college students and SJWs. The ones that didn’t have their brains explode after reading may be suitable for life as an adult.

    2. I’m going to have to locate a copy of this book as quickly as I can. Thank you so much for letting me know that such a thing exists.

      1. Any truth to the rumour that Scalzi is working on a re-write of it?

        BTW: I note that Little Fuzzy was a Hugo nominee when first published. Scalzi’s re-write of it did not do quite so well. Probably because the competition was so much stiffer.

      2. Written by a drug-snortin’ hippie. “Norman has flirted with the drug culture…and it has embraced him willingly.” Harlan Ellison, “Live and (Very) Annoying”

        Although Spinrad, in his defense, would not play well with today’s SJW’s because he actually believed in freedom of speech. For instance, he was an active critic of PEN for dicking around in trendy lefty politics instead of actually defending author’s rights to earn a living.

  5. Back in high school in the early-mid ’60s, we used to pass around Ted Mark books under the lunch table. They were softcore text porn humor/satire stories, which sounds unlikely but he pulled it off. (He was making fun of James Bond, the Man from Uncle, and much else from the secret agent craze of that era.)

    A bibliography and more on the writer, if anybody’s interested:

    1. I didn’t see it in the bibliography, but someone put out a different series:
      The Man From S.T.U.D.
      (Special Territories and Unique Developments)

      It was at least as bad…

    2. There were several writers doing that; Lawrence Block had a couple of humor/porn (for the time) series.

    3. A lot of st writers did it, because the Scott Meredith Agency secretly also published many of those men’s magazines and printed a line of barely postal rules porn.

      Lawrenae Block worked there as a reader, and he has some essays about it online in a writing magazine.

    1. I don’t know what’s worse: the image, or actually starting to hear his USA Up All Night movie announcers voice in my mind’s ear. I think I’m going to listen to something soothing, like Apocalyptica.

  6. Heh. You need to post those “men attacked by things” on comments next time there is some article complaining about the use of scantily clad attractive women being menaced by something illustrations.

    Okay, not that many pretty boys used in those, but all well muscled and mostly out of their shirts. Wait… I know, modern theory will be that those magazines were aimed at all the in the closet gays of the bygone eras. Totally different than using scantily clad attractive women on covers as a draw for the evil white cismales, that is denigrating to women. The other is, er… just empowering repressed gays?

    1. Wellllll … there is this one guy …

      Paging Dr. Freud …

      Or just paste “images for man of bronze” into your Google finder.

      1. Doc Savage. That’s who I was trying to think of last week. I could see the d*mn cover art in my memory but could NOT remember the character name. (Discussion of non-super superheroes and superheros and religion at work. The Headmaster was . . . bemused.)

          1. I think I still have ‘Tarzan Alive’ somewhere. Fun concept, if going for too contrived at times. You don’t have to figure out an explanation for absolutely everything. 🙂

      2. I always loved the Doc Savage books. Not for the writing, which was barely tolerable, but the inventiveness. In one they have Night Vision devices based on the mechanical (!) television technology of the time.
        And the covers were always of Doc in a ripped shirt.

    1. Me too. One of my favorite among the terribles is here, with a Z-axis problem that took a while for me to figure out:


      All that said, the pulps (which I’ve studied probably more than a lot of people) occasionally had some very good cover art. This was particularly true of the railroad fiction pulps, of which I posted a good example here:


      Railroad fiction was not “fantastic” in any sense, and was in fact tightly bound to reality as it was understood by the readership, who were (often fanatical) railfans. If the covers were too loopy or bent railroad culture too far, the editors would hear about it. There was also an Analog-ish tendency to explain railroad tech in the longer stories, including calculations of the energy contained in a locomotive boiler once it got up to a full head of steam.

    1. Hey! You’ve got it wrong! Those monsters aren’t being objectified, they’re proudly showing off their nonconventional beauty. Stop monster shaming already! Your human-centric ideals of beauty are biased and outdated.

    2. Hmmm. I have this image of a hermaphroditic monster flailing it’s tentacles in fury as it runs to the appropriate Safe Space…

  7. This should be a regular feature here. I especially love the skimpy spacesuits, because really, who needs total body coverage for protection against hard vacuum, right?

    1. Now Christopher, those “skimpy spacesuits” do provide total body coverage. They’re just transparent. [Wink]

    2. In SWTOR, there are these armor types called “adaptive” armor you can get via Cartel Packs or buying on the GTN (auction network) that becomes the heaviest class of armor the character class can wear.

      Which means some of the scanty outfits count as heavy armor for Trooper/Bounty Hunter classes and the Jedi Guardian/Sith Juggernaut classes.

    1. Dear Ghu. OK, you win, I give up, staaaahhhhp! This is why you shouldn’t gargle avgas, children. (goes off sobbing)

    2. What is worse is that the villain in that one was in suspended animation since the end of WWII, and was displayed in a side show next to the calliope during all that time, and when he was thawed out had to say oompa-pa-pa all the time because sleep-learning.
      yeah, Ron Goulart.

      The artist, Josh Kirby also did covers for the early Pratchett books. Those weren’t restful either

  8. Reblogged this on Cirsova and commented:
    One of the many challenges I’ll face in trying to start my own Zine will be finding someone to do Allen Anderson style covers for me.

  9. Several of the men’s magazine covers remind me of “Richard Blade” books… same general style, just a bit busier.

  10. I love the pulps and have read a stack of them over the years. One must remember that many that we consider “The Giants” in the field of SFF got their start in the pulps and some, for intents and purposes, stayed there.
    I have the “Pigeons From Hell” collection with a different cover. There were (IIRC) a collection of Howard’s Lovecraftian stories. The title story was actually very creepy.
    I loved the Doc Savage stuff as a kid and read most, if not all of them before I discovered Conan, Bran Mac Morn and Solomon Kane.

    1. Well, you see, Chuck, when a Mommy Plutonian and a Daddy Plutonian and a Hermaphrodite Plutonian want to make a baby they have to work around the fact that male and female Plutonians are not cross-fertile except when they transfer the male’s semen through a hermaphrodite Plutonian. So the Daddy Plutonian bathes and shaves very closely, then brings chocolates and flowers to the Hermaphrodite Plutomian and takes It to dinner or perhaps to a nightclub (remember, Chuck, nights on Pluto are very long!) Afterward, if they’ve had a nice time, the Daddy Plutonian deposits his seed in the Hermaphrodite’s Hoo-Ha, leaves early the next morning and promises to call to learn how things went.

      Then the Mommy Plutonian comes over, all dressed and perfumed and wearing lovely make-up and she and the Hermaphrodite Plutonian eat the flowers and put the chocolates in an attractive vase and listen to romantic music. After a while, if the Hermaphrodite Plutonian has been very considerate the Mommy Plutonian and the Hermaphrodite Plutonian will sleep together and the Hermaphrodite Plutonian transmites the Daddy Plutonian’s seed through its system and out its Willie, into the Mommy Plutonian’s Hoo-Ha. The Mommy Plutonian then declares that if I have to type Plutonian one more time I will scream, and that’s how that works.

      1. You need to put this up on Amazon. Really, you do.

        (The problem of finding a cover artist that can actually get the job done between laughing and gagging is a poser, I’ll admit.)

        1. Evidently you’ve not truly encountered that, decidedly.. odd… population that exists within the strange realm known as FurAffinity.

          1. You know, EVERY Fur I met is nice. A blue Fox-boy flirted with me so nicely it wasn’t even an offense to my husband.
            Not my thing, but if the ones I met are representative, they’re an awesome bunch of people.
            And while I’d never dress up, etc, I thought I was a cat till I was six, so I “get” it.

            1. I worked a FurCon a while back. Absolutely sweet kids. Most of them rather young. I really had fun, it was a shame it was a bust financially and I couldn’t justify returning the next year. I neither know nor care what they got up to behind closed doors.

            2. I can only wonder if that was Sparky. And yes, most are quite nice. A few are amazing in great ways (I do not count myself among them – they amaze me, you see.) but there are some things not necessarily “broadcast on all frequencies from DC to daylight” that might well stun an ox. The artists who can/do deal with such would find illustrating the Plutonians as RES explained them might find such a thing a bit tame.

            3. As with many social groups (for lack of a better term, off the top of my head), the folks that make “furry” as a personal descriptor a Bad Word(tm) are only a tiny portion of the overall fandom, but they’re usually by far the loudest portion of it.

              That said, on FurAffinity you can find some reaaaaly freaky stuff, and things that make “gouge out your eyes with a rusty spoon” sound like a valid item on one’s to-do list for the day. Fortunately, there’s an option to filter out “mature” and “adult” material for registered members, and those categories don’t show up at all for guests or people not logged in.

      2. Res,
        I just had to see how a 1931 novel would deal with three genders, so I downloaded it. Your explanation is a lot more fun. The Earthman and Plutonian do not even kiss.

      3. Okay, now that’s not that far off for the plot of a novel I read a couple decades ago. Premise, human colonists became infertile, one became a hermaphrodite and everything else followed from there.

    1. I thought those were otters?

      Come to think of it – anyone going to Sasquan needs to keep an eye on bodies of water…

  11. My first thought on “Pulpy Things” was the drawing above it, and then the cover art I found below it. My DAY! You have made my DAY! (I am a great admirer of women.)

  12. As it worked out on my screen, the “space pasties” picture was right next to the cover for Darkship Thieves. The pose, but not the clothes, was remarkably similar between the two. Pulp stf covers live on …

      1. Had to look that one up, it confused me mightily. I have the cover with “Maureen on the Half Shell”. Didn’t know there was the other one.

        (Just saw the one that must be the Israeli edition – now, that one looks strange.)

        1. My first thought was “this must make all the right heads explode!”

          Then I read it, and yep…it must. So I found Sarah here and been happy every since. 😀

  13. Plutonian Depths: She’s leading him into TEMPTATION!
    OOTWA: Why does he have a helmet, and she not, and no blood on the stabbed girl’s tummy?
    The Green Girl: Slurp noises! Took me 2 minutes to recover.
    Man’s Life: I have an old acquaintance who thought Foreign Women Make Better Wives–first divorced him, he divorced second, third is upcoming.
    (Note: Best thing I’ve read all day.)

    1. Actually, the unabridged line was to ensure that consumers knew that paperbacks of hardback originals, or serials previously pubbed in magazines, would not have left anything out.

      1. Yes. Some paperback publishers forced all their books to the same page count. They probably got a better deal at the printer’s or something. If an author was lucky someone moderately competent would abridge the story; otherwise it was (as far as I can tell) done at the printer’s by someone who was in a hurry to finish an extra task that wasn’t part of his job description.

        The hardback and paperback versions of the same book could be… different.

        1. Twasn’t always a hack. When Avon books published an abridged version of That Hideous Strength, they had the job done by C. S. Lewis himself. I long ago lost my copy, I wish I had one; so, I could compare it with the complete novel.

  14. Mostly safe for work? I dunno, my company’s McAfee sentinel recently declared Instapundit to be an unsafe web site.

    1. From a corporate viewpoint, Instapundit is unsafe. All sorts of unregulated ideas lurking within.

  15. Somebody do something! That dinosaur is taunting Kenny Rogers!

    Must be a Gatlin Brothers fan.

    What’s the over/under on the Puppy Kickers pointing to this post to “prove” we want to return SF to the pulp era?

  16. “…and arsonists are my bread and shoplifters are my pickles and bank robbers are my condiments! It’s a whole crime sandwich!”

    Why am I wondering what your two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun are?

  17. Hey, the space pasties one: they are fake breasts. In reality they are her oxygen tanks. And she is actually a he, wearing a suit that makes him look like a near nekkid woman. Has to be some sort of clever infiltration scheme. A secret agent trying to get in that spaceplane with its sex starved villainous crew. 🙂

      1. Just saw another puppy-kicker article talking about how bad a sexist all SF is, which ended up with a couple of paragraphs Praising AJ for nothing more than the pronoun trick and how that is s wonderful for the advancement of women in SF. Funny how other PK’s have been denying that the pronoun trick is the only thing they praise AJ for, when I’ve yet to see anything that doesn’t make a big deal about it.

  18. Campy as they were, those covers had more of an artistic aesthetic than the covers of today’s self-published books, which look like they were cobbled together by the author’s nephew using PowerPoint and MSWord.

    1. Depends on the self-published books. Initially we were all working with incredibly tight size, and we haven’t — I HAVEN’T — redone our early covers yet. Mine are mostly shorts and not worth the trouble/time.

  19. A novel featuring a planet with three sexes from the pulp era? Don’t tell the post-binary gender folks, they’ll be heartbroken.

      1. For that matter, Piers Anthony’s Cluster Eff series was published 1977 – 1982 and featured more different variables of sex than you can shake a finger at.

        1. Poking about a little, i found these examples of “non-normative” sexuality in SF [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sex_and_sexuality_in_speculative_fiction]:

          For many years, the editors who controlled what was published, such as the famously prudish Kay Tarrant, assistant editor of Astounding Science Fiction, felt that they had to protect the adolescent male readership that they identified as their principal market.
          [emphasis added]

          One of the earliest examples of genre science fiction that involves a challenging amount of unconventional sexual activity is Odd John (1935), by Olaf Stapledon. John is a mutant with extraordinary mental abilities who will not allow himself to be bound by many of the rules imposed by the ordinary British society of his time. The novel strongly implies that he has consensual intercourse with his mother and that he seduces an older boy who becomes devoted to him but also suffers from the affront that the relationship creates to his own morals. John eventually concludes that any sexual interaction with “normal” humans is akin to bestiality.

          As the readership for science fiction and fantasy began to age in the 1950s, however, writers like Philip José Farmer and Theodore Sturgeon were able to introduce more explicit sexuality into their work.

          Sturgeon, who wrote many stories during the Golden Age of Science Fiction that emphasised the importance of love, regardless of the current social norms such as in The World Well Lost, a classic tale involving alien homosexuality, and Venus Plus X, in which a contemporary man awakens in a futuristic place where the people are hermaphrodites.

          Philip José Farmer wrote The Lovers (1953), arguably the first science fiction story to feature sex as a major theme and Strange Relations (1960), collection of five stories about human/alien sexual relations. In his novel Flesh a hypermasculine antlered man ritually impregnates legions of virgins to counter declining male fertility.

          Robert A. Heinlein’s time-travel short story All You Zombies… (1959) chronicles a young man … [who] turns out to be … both his own mother and father.

          In Poul Anderson’s 1959 novel Virgin Planet deals in a straightforward manner with homosexuality and polyamory on an exclusively female world. There is the plot twist that the protagonist is the only male on a world of women, and though quite a few of them are interested in sex with him, it is never consummated during his sojourn on the planet.

          A. Bertram Chandler had the mirror image in Spartan Planet, depicting an exclusively male world.

          So yeah, let’s have some more of that 50s pulpy stuff.

  20. Leave it unlocked at least ONE more time, Sarah – I have fond memories of those computer ads… (I swear it was the 4K static RAM chips I was looking at! Honestly!)

    If Dave Freer is hanging around, though – that poor guy (it IS the same guy in all of those covers, isn’t it?) – is the perfect model for the next edition of “Rats, Bats, and Vats”… Or the sequel, “Crabs, Turtles, and Otters.”

    (Dave, maybe you can work in the teeny-bopper, too? Pretty please?)

    1. I remember one ad with a cute young thing in a short negligee on a bed with an Apple II. I always thought there was the potential for humorous commentary on the ad, because the Apple wasn’t turned on.

  21. Dear Ms.Doornbos,

    1. Yes, as luck would have it, I had the opportunity today for several young’uns (some of whom were 8) to discuss their obsession great interest in all things Pokemon. Including cards. So, yes. Wonder no more: 8 year olds still collect Pokemon cards.

    2. Your art is … well. Words fail me. No… Not quite. You should put Rudy on the “cover” of “The Last of the Winnebagoes.” It would make an already brilliant story better.

    3. Thanks so much for the link Ms Hoyt. We really do live in a golden age of information.

      1. I love that cover image. The Skylark II cutting right through a Fenachrone ship. It’s perfectly pulp and yet a cover that doesn’t need a half-naked woman to sell magazines!

    1. Heh. Anyone remember when the company who does Warhammer 40k sent takedown notices to Amazon for things using the term, “Space Marines”? I see one of those covers (an Amazing Stories from 1936) used the term.

  22. My eyes eyes are bleeding. Yet I can’t look away.

    Plus, now I’m petrified of the new american menace, TEENAGERS IN BLACK LEATHER JACKETS!

  23. Those aren’t space pasties. She’s a nursing mom; her spacesuit has an integrated breast milk pump so her flow doesn’t dry up when she’s on an extended EVA.

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