Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Men's adventure is a genre of pulp magazines that had its heyday in the 1950s and early 1960s. Created for a male audience, these magazines featured pinup photography and lurid tales of adventure that typically featured wartime feats of daring, exotic travel, or conflict with wild animals. These magazines are generally considered the last of the true pulp magazines; they reached their peak of circulation long after the genre fiction pulps had begun to fade. These magazines were also called the sweats, especially by people in the magazine publishing or distributing trades.
Titles of notable men's adventure magazines include Argosy, the longest running and highest in reputation among the magazines classed in this category; others include Real, True, Saga, Stag, Swank, and For Men Only. During their peak in the late 1950s, approximately 130 such magazines were being published simultaneously.
The adventure tales contained within their pages usually were written in a realistic style and claimed to be true stories. Damsels in distress, usually in various states of deshabille, often featured in the painted art that illustrated their pages and their covers. They were notoriously depicted being menaced or tortured by Nazis or, in later years, Communists. Artist Norman Saunders was the dean of illustrators for these magazines, occupying a classic position similar to that enjoyed by Margaret Brundage for the classic pulps; many illustrations are credited to corporations or are anonymous. Historical artist Mort Künstler also painted many covers and illustrations for these magazines. A number of well known figures worked on these publications; Bruce Jay Friedman wrote for and edited them, as did Mario Puzo; Playboy photographer Mario Casilli started out photographing pinups for these publications.
These magazines' circulation began to drop precipitously in the mid-1960s. Their tales of wartime adventure appealed to American male readers of the World War II and Korean War generations and these men were reaching an age that they were no longer quite as interested in girlie pictures. For those who wanted pornography, more explicit and less old fashioned forms were available by this period in different publications. The Vietnam War and the social controversies surrounding that war in the USA did nothing to create an appetite for similar entertainments that would have involved rescuing damsels from the Viet Cong. The vision of adventurous, fighting masculinity presented within their pages also became unfashionable during this period. Some of the publications survived by turning into explicitly pornographic magazines; others ceased publication during this period. There have been several attempts to revive the Argosy title; one in the 1990s, and most recently in 2004.
- Parfrey, Adam, et. al. It's a Man's World: Men's Adventure Magazines, the Postwar Pulps (Feral House, 2003) ISBN 0922915814
- Stagworld from James Lileks' Institute of Official Cheer
- "Oh, Those Pulpy Days of 'Weasels Ripped My Flesh'" from the New York Times
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