Pulpy Things! by Julie Doornbos, a Blast From The Past From August 2015

*I should be writing a real post, because I have things to say.  But frankly, I also have things to say for pay for PJMedia, and more importantly, I have a novel that I need to finish. So, I thought it was time for a little fun in our lives, and to remember it’s not just indie covers that can misfire horribly.  I do have a post on words in Mad Genius Club. If you can’t do without my writing, you know? -SAH*

Pulpy Things! by Julie Doornbos, a Blast From The Past From August 2015

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. [I keep hoping she does, but she says she’s been too busy.  Busy, ah! She just wants to keep all the attack crabs for herself.  Wait, that came out wrong – SAH]


You only wish I was joking.



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

156 thoughts on “Pulpy Things! by Julie Doornbos, a Blast From The Past From August 2015

  1. Alas, that Spinrad thing is exactly what the Puppy kickers think we’re looking for in SF.

    1. And they’re right! I discovered that I really was Adolf Hitler in a past life! I’m bigger, stronger, older, meaner, smarter, and more diabolical than ever before. The only reason why I haven’t unleashed myself upon the world is I discovered MMORGs, and Science Fiction and Fantasy books! Kiss my pixels and feel fear you non-Aryan do-gooders!

      * Seriously, how could I make this even more over the top?

      1. Yeah. My husband picked up a copy of Number of the Beast that is very, VERY 1970s. With interior illustrations.

        I mean, I would have had difficulty taking it seriously with just the text, but oy…

          1. Me too! (Sadly, cracking the glue binding.) Seriously, the cover was a fit homage to the old pulp covers – as was the novel to the writing, albeit sans the input of Miss Grundy.

            I have the Moorcock cover somewhere back in the stacks, too. I tagged that (approximate) year of covers as “The Year of the Nipples.” They showed up everywhere. To me, slightly less annoying than the “LSD Years” of which I have too many, collected when Signet was issuing several of the short novels / novella collections of RAH.

            Scantily clad women did and do have a very good purpose, though. The same purpose as the men with no shirts and a shaven (waxed?) chest on romance covers – selling the book and making the writer money.

    2. I owned the “The Iron Dream” in paperback. I think it has disintegrated with age. It was a weird book. I believe the premise that Spinrad was going for was “What if Hitler wrote scifi instead getting into politics?”

      1. Yup. The amusing part being that it’s pretty good, in an over-the-top genocidal sense. It’s also a very insightful study into how Hitler managed to get into power.

        1. Now I want to go to the local bookstore and see if I can order a copy of that book from them, just to see what would happen. I know that I could order it off Amazon, but something about picking it up from a bookstore…

            1. Eh… even Britain was making jokes about the whole thing in the 80s. ’Allo, ‘Allo anyone? (Which is a pretty good farce, even if they switched the Gestapo guy’s actor in the last season.)

                1. Political correctness forbids all of the ways that we used to deny power to evil ideas. In the end it makes those ideas even more powerful.

                  Some churches or preachers have done that with Satan almost to the point of praising and lifting him up and that’s what political correctness seems to do also. It makes so many things into a thought that must not be spoken for fear that mentioning a name, even disapprovingly, certainly mockingly, is seen as a way to open the door to that evil. Even while everything centers and revolves around that enormous thing and even suggesting to think about something else for a while is horrible because nothing is more important and you’re evil if you don’t have this *thing* as the central tenet of your life.

                  Just don’t EVER make a joke.

                  1. It makes so many things into a thought that must not be spoken for fear that mentioning a name …

                    Rowling missed a point there by making Lord Voldemort into “He Who Must Not Be Named.” PTerry answered that one even before the question had been asked with “Lord Whassname.” Had Harry Potter & Friends referred to him as “Lord Dootyhead” how much fear would he have struck into people’s hearts?

  2. Mock all you like, but this was the stuff I grew up with.
    Chicks in chain mail space suits having nothing whatsoever to do with the actual stories inside. Those were the good old days.

    1. Over at Good Show Sir! (the cover critique site that keeps on giving) they often have 1960s-70s European covers. I think the commentariat have pretty much decided that the artists were all on LSD. Or the editors who approved the covers were. Very surreal, and now very dated. (I have a set of the Chronicles of Narnia and one glance at the covers says “late 1970s.”)

          1. OK, thanks. Either my memory is faulty or there’s another set of them out there from that time period I’m unfamiliar with. My set from the mid 1980’s had yellow-beige covers with some sort of moderately-subdued artwork taking up about 3/4 of the front cover. I had the complete set, but managed to lose one. I’ve only ever lost two books in my life, and it was one of that matching set.

    1. I noted a lot of manly men being attacked by things people aren’t ordinarily afraid of…

      Several SF writers – Vance, Asimov, Pohl, Anderson, and Herbert, among others – have commented on how they were commissioned to write stories to fit covers magazines had already bought. I bet it worked that way for some of the other genres as well…

      1. The overuse of the phrase ” tore my flesh!” also made me gigglesnort.

        I want one now with rabbits. ‘Cause I used to raise rabbits, and lemme tell ya those can be vicious little bastards, depending on the breed. (Netherland Dwarfs, I’m lookin’ at you–seems the smaller the breed, the greater the aggression…)

        1. There’s already a “horror” movie about gigantic rabbits running rampant.

          (It’s called ‘Night of the Lepus’. And yes, I’m completely serious.)

          And, of course, there’s a particularly vicious specimen of rabbit that tore through King Arthur’s knights during the quest for the Holy Grail. Fortunately, only one such beast has been recorded to date.

          1. I have seen part of that, and yes, it is a thing that exists. Stars Dr. McCoy to boot.

          2. That’s because, there only being one Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch, there were no survivors of other attacks.

        1. Actually, a lot of those were pubbed by the Scott Meredith Agency. Lawrence Block did an expose memoir about it. Scott Meredith also pubbed sometimes illegal soft porn mags and novels. And many, many authors of note, particularly mystery and sf writers, were directed by their Scott Meredith Agency agents to write this stuff to fill up the mags.

          So yeah….

      2. Ah, so that’s what Sarah is training us to do with her picture of the month thing. And such established precedents too!

          1. And for those who don’t want to waste time: it’s a 70’s film with the name Attack of the Killer Tomatoes. Yep, spoof. No idea if it is actually funny or not, I haven’t seen it although it did play in theaters here too, I do remember that. Also another early 70’s film with the rather cool poster of a giant frog with a human hand coming out of its mouth (even if the hand indicated the eaten human would have been too big for the frog to eat whole – well maybe it had eaten him in pieces, seemed like a male hand, except no idea how unless some other animal had first actually killed him and left pieces around).

            1. Hah! Found the frog movie. Named “Frogs”. And with young Sam Elliott having a role in it. Looking totally unrecognizable in the photos as a young guy without a mustache.

    2. On determining the recurrent theme on the covers of Man Life my head screamed, ‘O, Bloody hell!’

      Then my mind went off into visions of other covers — giant ticks, giant fleas, giant leaches, carrion birds tired of waiting for their meal’s prior demise — … ‘Brain bleach!’

  3. Actual tears of laughter. Am sitting at the table with my 80 yr old mother in law, so I had to show her what I was laughing at. That was kinda funny in its own way…

      1. It sounds like a fabulous anthology title though. People might read more anthologies with titles like that.

      2. Man, that’s a great murder mystery. The computer stuff has, um, aged badly though. I wish Ms. McCrumb would step away from her Appalachian roots again and lets us know what happened with old Jay Omega. Two books is not enough of a series.

  4. Hey hey! I’m pretty certain the cover of “Pigeons from Hell” is a Frazetta. That’s like dissing DaVinci or Van Gogh… At least no one is picking on Bonestell.

    And the things attacking men… Snapping turtles? Admittedly they can be nasty, but that’s the BIG ones with shells 3′ across and 18″ long necks. The ones attacking the guy were pretty much only suitable for turtle soup. A 95 year old in a walker can out run those things. Mind you don’t get within reach of the neck of a big one, that can move lightning fast.

    1. That’s no Frazetta. Probably one of the countless Frazetta-wannabees from the ’70s.

      1. Nice call Mr. Chupik, you are correct (and win a no-prize) ! The artist on that is credited as Esteban Maroto (http://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/pl.cgi?26126). I don’t know if he was copying Frazetta per se, but the viewing angle, the color usage, the musculature of our foreground hero all scream Frazetta. He was primarily a comic artist and was responsible for bunches of stuff I’d seen including the Marvel comics “Red Sonja”s metal bikini (per wikipedia no cite provided lest WordPress decide I’m up to something fishy (sans carp) ).

      2. And given that ridicule away, although truthfully Senor Maroto’s Red Sonja art classify as fantasy in a variety of fashions and deserve some respect :-).

    2. There was a short Frazetta article in this Libraries and Collections magazine I saw today. Those things are being sold off slowly by the feuding family, and we are talking millions.

  5. I have a copy of “Men’s Adventure Magazines” published by Taschen (https://www.amazon.com/Mens-Adventure-Magazines-Postwar-America/dp/3836503123/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1542217898&sr=8-2&keywords=Men's+Adventure+Magazines+Taschen&dpID=619oZJNTqyL&preST=_SX218_BO1,204,203,200_QL40_&dpSrc=srch) which has loads of cover illustrations from the “Covers With Men Being Attacked By Things” category. It’s a hoot to go through – I was especially expecting the “Weasels Ripped My Flesh” cover as soon as our esteemed guest poster mentioned the category.

    1. I have that LP, but for what’s left of my sanity, my maximum daily dose of Zappa must be limited. 🙂

      1. Ah, yes, Ballantine Books. The people who brought us the famous “Middle Earth on Acid” covers, IIRC. Trees based on oil refinery piping, etc.

    1. No kidding! If I’d bought that book on the basis of that cover, I’d have been mortally disappointed!

      1. Remember: You Can Not Judge A Book By It’s Cover!

        Those covers just appear out of nowhere, wrapping themselves about, clinging to the innocent books, throttling their sales and the self-respect of their readers.

  6. Cool covers, but those bylines are just as intriguing. And I might need that May Attack Rat issue of Man’s Life, so I can make sure I don’t feature somewhere in that “Shocking Nice Girls of New Orleans” article. *ahem*

  7. I think the most amusing of the covers is the one with the “My Six Years with the Amazon Women!” line. Apparently someone was a bit sloppy with the text on that cover, because immediately underneath that bit about the Amazon Women is the following – “THEY FED ON OUR BLOOD”.

    That last bit, though, is apparently linked to the “Lake of Lampreys” story, and not the Amazon Women segment.

    1. I don’t know, if you read the relationship advice bylines, it reads like a PUA greatest hits list.

      “Nothing new under the sun” indeed.

      1. I was just reading Katherine’s Marriage, a UK comfort novel from the 1950’s, where there is a subplot about a PUA. It was soooo much funnier now than it was written to be.

      1. Traditionally, Amazons live in tribes made up entirely of women. Or in other words, there aren’t any men around.

        I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions about why that might be of interest to the men reading these magazines.

          1. Not really. Adding to the above, is that most Amazon tribes (the one on Thymescira(sp?) is a notable exception) have to reproduce somehow. Even the most skilled Amazon will eventually grow old and die, if something else doesn’t get her first. But you only get new Amazons by either getting women from outside, or with new baby girls. And while Amazons can give birth, they can’t get pregnant without some additional assistance. Due to the unique gender imbalance in an Amazon tribe, that means that any rugged, manly man who might pass on good genes to the tribe as a whole is viewed as a potential father.

            In short, strong, muscular man stumbles upon Amazon tribe deep in the jungle, spends time making babies with several women in prime physical health, and then leaves. And the women never contact him again.

            1. Explains a lot, that.

              Also leaves a rather disturbing image of what might happen to the boy babies.

              Or maybe the daddy gets a delivery several months later: here, your 25 sons. Take care of them now.

              1. Actually, at least one set of “historical” amazons did expose the boys and leave them to die.

                The ones in the world I have created still do that sometimes (against the law), but they mostly send/take the boys to their fathers.

              2. Second Stage Lensman described a planet like that. The word “maletorium” was part of the description…..

            2. … spends time making babies with several women in prime physical health, and then leaves.

              Maybe. Maybe not.

              Maybe most Amazons look less like Victoria Secret angels and more like Russian weight-lifter ladies. It isn’t as if their tribe employs the same values of “pretty” as in venues where the women have to attract male interest.

              Then there’s the likelihood they use him like a cheap sex toy, draining him repeatedly and tossing him aside once they’re through. It ain’t as if they’re interested in talking to him or even investing more than minimal effort in “milking” him.

              To borrow somebody’s analogy, it is like a nude beach; while the idea sounds great in the abstract once there and exposed to the tatts, piercings and people who frankly could stand to lose a little significant percentage of weight the desire becomes somewhat subdued.

              Go now and re-read Pohl & Kornbluth’s Search the Sky, third planet visited. Or try Wen Spencer’s A Brother’s Price for a more gentle interpretation.

                1. And of course he WOULD brag afterwards about the hot women, especially if he was from far enough that his mates were unlikely to ever see any of them in real life.

            3. And while Amazons can give birth, they can’t get pregnant without some additional assistance.
              You, sir, are a sexist, misogynist, anti-science H8R!

  8. I always loved those old covers as a kid. Although, I had to be careful what my mother caught me reading (She would not have looked past the cover, and would have assumed the worst.) I was also a big fan of Boris Vallejo’s fantasy art (also very much NOT mother approved)

    1. Heh. The Vallejo-cover Tarzans I read as a kid WERE my mother’s…

      (But they were embarrassing to read in public. Not that that stopped me.)

      1. Sigh, yes. My mother can be a trial sometimes. But to be honest, she’s helping me with my daughters and while some of her ideas are a bit stiff, I don’t think could do the single dad thing without her.

      1. See? Even I, a retired NCO who always strives to proofread my comments rigorously, failed to catch my misspelling of “advance.” They are insidious indeed….

        1. No worse than the folks writing news headlines these days. I say one article with a sub-heading about somebody calling a new appointee “a suburb choice.” *sigh*

  9. So, suddenly I’m getting a banner telling me I should log in to WordPress.

    ” feature called “Prevent cross-site tracking” to prevent websites from tracking you when you visit other sites on the web.”

    Yeeaaaahhh… let’s see what it says further down.

    “Some features on WordPress.com rely on our ability to track your WordPress.com login across different WordPress.com and Jetpack-connected sites. We need to be able to detect you’re logged into a WordPress.com account when you visit a site so that you can: [do ‘social media things’]”

    Nooo… I don’t think so.

    And their web developers think I’m running Safari. No wonder WP has ‘issues’…

    1. If you ever get the opportunity, Dweezil Zappa’s, “Zappa plays Zappa” shows are very good.

  10. Actually, the City At World’s End cover is pretty illustrative of a scene in the novel. (Pretty close as <i.Startling Stories covers went…)

  11. Speaking of fun covers, I confess that I have an entire Pinterest board dedicated to Gothic Romance pulp covers.

    They nearly all have the standard format: distressed-looking woman in clothes that are either a.) nightwear, b.) historically inaccurate to the actual book, c.) skimpy, or d.) all of the above. She’s nearly always fleeing an ominous mansion/crumbling ruin/castle, and looking in dread over her shoulder. Sometimes there is an equally ominous looking man/ghost/skeleton/something vague. And of course, the hilariously melodramatic titles. “House of Strangers”! “Killraven”! “The Dark Interval”! (?!?)

    What I found really interesting is that several of the authors’ names are well-known now for regular type romance novels, heh. I suppose they adapted when the gothic genre ceased to be cool. (And, of course, there is the incomparable Elizabeth Peters/Barbara Michaels) One of them was a name I recognized as the writer of one of my favorite childhood books–which was actually a pretty scifi heavy government conspiracy type of thing, with no gothic at all.

    1. I have any number of Mary Stewart romances from the ’60-70ies which follow that pattern.
      Cover convention/fashion o’the time, I guess. Doesn’t take away from the quality of the books themselves, though.

    2. If you are talking Willo Davis Roberts, most of those X-Fileish escape the government psychic kid adventures are very Gothic. Just no romance.

      Think about the novel of Mrs Frisby and the Rats of Nimh. Or Witch Mountain. Or The Forgotten Door.

      1. I read and enjoyed as much Alexander Key as I could get my hands on, back in the day.

      2. Yep, Girl With the Silver Eyes is the one I loved. I’m waiting for the kindle price for it to get a bit more reasonable, heh.

        And I hadn’t considered it, but you’re right: Those kinds of books *are* actually pretty gothic, thematically speaking.

        There’s a research paper in there somewhere, where I still somewhere I wrote such things, lol.

        Man, I wish they’d put some of those gothics back out on kindle or something–I’d love to read them, but I don’t really want physical books of them.

      1. Ahhh, the romance covers of the 70s-90s. (Mind you, the ones today are only *marginally* more tasteful.) Peak ’embarrassed to be caught reading this in public’ covers.

  12. To the extent that serials are the cinematic equivalent of pulps, one could easily replace “flashes trenchcoat” with “Flash’s trenchcoat” and still have it make sense.

    Plot Bunny: A serial featuring Flash Gordon as a hard-boiled private detective, in the style of The Maltese Falcon.

      1. Eric John Smith and most of Brackett’s protagonists too. I suppose E. C. Tubb’s Dumarest as well.

    1. True. Many of them seemed designed by people who are deathly afraid of arousing interest in potential readers.

    2. I did love the ones for the The Lost Fleet series. Hero pic of the main character in space armor with a big gun on every one – and he does NOTHING like that in any of the books. Then the author sorta breaks the fourth wall in one of the books – it’s fun.

    1. And most of it is readable. I used to think I’d lost my taste for sf/f, but even stuff I know doesn’t work that way, from the thirties, sucks me in and keeps me reading. The new, better mannered stuff…. not usually.
      Great prose it’s not. But it sucks you in and sucks you along.

  13. A lot of the “men being attacked” look bored to me rather than frightened or angry. The one with the fish in particular: “Oh, my. I’m being gnawed on by fish with very large teeth. I wonder if what’s on TV?” The ones with the eels look more embarrassed, as if they tried some sort of liposuction technique that didn’t work out quite as advertised.

    1. I suspect that’s a combination of a.) some expressions being a LOT harder to paint without making it look absolutely dreadful than others (fear being one of them, especially if you’re going for semi-realistic), and b.) extreme time crunch for the cover artists. :p

      Also, likely, the models for said pictures WERE embarrassed/bored.

      (One of my favorite blink-and-you’ll-miss-it scenes in Danny Kaye’s The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is the bit where they’ve got the models posing for a horror cover, and the photographer is trying to get the female victim-model to actually look like she’s scared.)

  14. I love how the weasels are attacking the man in the water – water that is waist-deep. Weasels are not terribly afraid of water or anything, but there’s dozens streaming toward this guy in deep water. WTF did this guy do to piss off the weasels this much?!?

    (BTW, a lot of those Men Being Attacked covers only show the guy from the waist up, or sortof make below the waist minor in terms of perspective. Were these artists uniformly unable to draw hips and legs?)

    1. If you don’t minimize the below the waist, it becomes obvious that using the legs to kick and stomp would even things up a bit.

    2. Never mind the weasels — what’s with all the breast pumps??

      (Seriously, these are wonderful. They just leap into it, unlike the restrained covers of today.)

    3. Rabid? Of course he then would be pretty much a goner after the first one bit him, especially considering that most of them seem to be intended to happen somewhere in the middle of nowhere. When was the vaccine for rabies developed?

  15. I should go trolling through Amazon Japan for book and magazine covers again sometime; it can be a rather startling experience. (pro tip: never do this in a browsing session where you’ve answered the question “yes, I’m 18 or older”)

    For a mild example, consider this 2002 cover for Second Stage Lensmen. And I just came across this psychedelically delicious 1967 cover for First Lensman.


  16. Personally, I like how they guy coming into the tent on the “I wrestled a giant otter” cover looks utterly bored. It’s like he’s thinking, “oh, another giant otter coming into my camp and attacking people. We just had something like this happen last week.”

  17. I love those old covers. You can just imagine the shock that parents must have had when their teenage geeky sons brought up a magazine or two from the news rack.

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