Saturday, April 25, 2009

Wrestling As You Like It 1950-11-04 / Gorgeous George

Spring has sprung, and my garden needs some love this weekend, but I'm still going to put up a couple quick posts of old scans. Let's continue on the wrestling theme with this cool little magazine that also offers the TV listings.

Scan of Wrestling As You Like It 1950-11-04

I got this little magazine because I'm terribly fond of this wrestler on the cover, Gorgeous George. He's got a nice wiki page HERE

I love this flamboyant character. George brought a new type of theater to wrestling, playing the effeminate Lord Fauntleroy type to angry crowds enraged at his unfair tactics. He played a royal disdain of the unwashed masses and mocked manliness with his well groomed hair and over the top displays of vanity. Ali says he learned the drawing power of a man that taunted the masses from George, and James Brown says George taught him a little something on showmanship. JB's bit with the valet and the cape is pure George.

The wiki links a great page of images at a neat website called House of Deception HERE

This particular magazine interested me also because of its inclusion of television schedules. You can really see the interplay between the two mediums at work with just a quick glance. Wrestling sold TVs and TVs sold wrestling. It's notable how boxing and wrestling have pushed technology and media over the years. Satellite feeds and pay per view developed for these sports long before their use for other purposes. I think the recent UFC pay per view might have been the biggest ever but don't quote me on that. Even in the nineteenth century, the newest technologies were used to get the boxing results out to all parts of the nation as quickly as possible. The primitive drives the cutting edge, eh?

Anyways, cheers and enjoy.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Wrestling World, January 1963

Before Vince McMahon, Wrestle mania, and the conglomeration of American Wrestling, the wrestling scene was very different. A little while back looking into the circus/carnival and backroom brawling roots of wrestling, I had a hard time finding much in the way of books on the development of wrestling culture in the U.S. I figured a good way to investigate some of the early history of wrestling would be to track down some vintage publications and scan them. I’ve always loved to hear older generations talk about the wrestlers from their youth and feel that wrestling is and always has been a unique arena for examining trends in culture. While often dismissed as a low type of theater, there is a type of dialogue in wrestling regarding race, class, effeminacy, regionalism, etc. that I find refreshing in its honesty. And while wrestling is now geared toward the Maxim crowd of the teen through thirties male, there was a time in the past when wrestling appealed to broader parts of society. In the 50s, even your granny had that wrestler she loved to hate.

I’ve gotten a mixed reaction on my scans of these vintage wrestling magazines. Some scanners wonder why I’d bother with such material, but others have simply loved the glance back at the golden age of wrestling and related personal encounters with favorite wrestlers and other fun bits of memory. For my part, I love to work with them and understand that every scan does not excite the interest of every reader.

Tonight’s scan is a little more recent than my previous wrestling scans, an issue of Wrestling World from January 1961.

Scrollable Image

The Contents

Some Samples.

Scrollable Image

Some info on the make up this tag team, which was actually a handful of persons can be found Here.
Laughed at for their backward ways, but these boys seem to take it a little bit more easy than everyone else. Life is good when you’re a hillbilly…

Scrollable Image

I cannot tell a lie, my favorite thing about wrestling is the girls. In this issue, Millie Stafford, and they say

Scrollable Image

But I’m not the only one who likes wrestlers, Jayne Mansfield herself had a thing for the opposite sex in tights. Here she is with cover man Dick the Bruiser. This page comes from the 8 pages in the center of the magazine on a whiter, slicker stock for the 4 color photos.

Scrollable Image

You can read the rest of the magazine by downloading the scan Here.

Enjoy. I've got some other post material on the symbiosis of the spread of TV and the popularity of wrestling after the war to go with a couple of scans, so stay tuned mat fans, I will get them up here sooner or later...

Sunday, April 19, 2009

RAGE, December 1961

Another sojourn into the land of sweat mags today - but beware the senoritas with machetes!

Scrollable Image

The recurring theme in these mags of the white male being attacked by exotic beauties is a peek into the fantasies of cold war America. Is there something these girls have that June Cleaver is missing? Can the modern emasculated man best an entire island of Amazons? Below the placid and conformist face of the American suburbs, what depravities lurk?

Scrollable Image

Scan of RAGE 1961-12


More Samples. Would the ballplayers of the past be such mythic heroes if they didn’t know how to party?

Scrollable Image

And the obsession with Nazis in these magazines is something I’ve never understood. These magazines are cheap and plentiful, but people do seem to collect the weird menace type of Norm Eastman covers and the like. Or there’s the other angle with Ilsa, She-Wolf of the SS sort fantasies regarding buxom nazi broads filled with murderous rage. Is this a domination fantasy shared by hordes of American men? Hmm… I don't think I'll be thinking of this crazed looking Nazi anytime soon, she looks downright scary!

Scrollable Image

But who would have a thing for nazi gals, when America has such sweets on offer…

And, of course, the advertisements are a great route to understanding the reader. If the magazine itself doesn’t cross the line of decency enough for you, certainly some of these products in the back are what you might be looking for. French pictures, sex guides (are you doing it right? What do women really want, anyways?), lingerie, handguns, cures and tonics, all available through the mail and yours for two dollars in a s.a.s.e…

Cheers and enjoy

Friday, April 17, 2009

Cover Restoration

A different sort of post today. My mom asked me if I do anything to these pictures I stick up here, so I thought I’d post some cover repairs. A fair amount of work goes into each scan, the goal being to make these publications look like they did fresh off the stands. Too much tampering can surely wreck a scan, and preservation vs. enhancement should always be a factor, but most scanners will run at least some sort of edit on their pages, tinkering with levels, brightness and contrast, color values, etc. The longer I’ve been doing this, the more I’ve come to appreciate just a nice, sharp natural or raw looking scan, though I can admit I go to great lengths on some scans to get a nice looking page.

The covers and joined pages, though, are where I spend the most time. On a golden age comic book, I’d guess I typically spend 95% of the edit time on this single page. As I said yesterday, the original art is simply gone for a vast majority of the pulp covers, so these images are all we have. I like to imagine myself like the people in the back of the museum, painstakingly breathing new life into decaying objects. On a cover that needs real repair, I usually like to work from a 600 dpi tif (a lossless format). The jpegs that I share are far smaller than the big images I like to edit with, but I really only size down a sharing copy at the very end. Lower width or quality images are often faster to work with, but you have a lot more options for sharp cloning at original size.

I’d like to emphasize this is something that anyone can do. Patience is the main requirement here, not great photoshop knowledge. There are some tricks such as learning how to pick the exact sample area, brush width and opacity, learning how to select certain parts of the page, etc., but these things come with practice. Learning not to leave “fingerprints” behind (obvious tampering artifacts) should be a guiding principle along with experimentation. Also, I’d note working with an issue in good condition is always preferably in time and end product but that working with low grade stuff is often unavoidable due to scarcity and the high cost of high grade collectibles.
On to some restores. A Virgil Finlay cover to Weird Tales, before and after.

Scrollable Image

A few more before and afters

Comic and pulp collectors put an inordinate amount of value on a cover, coverless copies of most mags are close to worthless, but a brittle copy with a complete cover can still fetch. Similarly, a great first page of a scan catches the reader’s interest…

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Broadway Nights, August 1929

As a follow-up to The Mutual Burlesquer, here’s a girlie pulp I scanned a couple weeks back but just got around to reading in the last couple days. I got this August 1929 Broadway Nights from a gentleman who discovered it during a recent remodel of an exterior garage. It seems that it was shut in the wall space during the original house construction which completed in the same year as publication. The pulp was in pretty rough shape and is the only girlie pulp I’ve ever paid less than a dollar for (.99). Thanks to the wonders of photoshop, though, I’ve replaced all the wavy, discolored, and brown paper with a uniform paper texture and turned out a nice enough scan. I don’t see too many examples of this title hit the market, and they are often expensive, so this was a nice opportunity for a scan of this title dealing with life on Broadway.

As I haven’t posted on my love for girlie pulps here yet, let me just say they are one of my favorite kinds of magazines. Sure, on one level, they were the pornography of the era. You see a lot of the surviving copies with the photo sections torn out (for those titles that had photo sections), and you also see a center crease often, where these mags had been folded in half and secreted away in some pocket somewhere. That the carpenter of the seller’s 1929 house saw fit to “hide the evidence” speaks to the fact these were indeed naughty. Often sold under the counter, these smoosh pulps were the target of censorship groups and faced increasing pressure as a sterner morality of the mid 30s came into play.
On the other hand, it’s very hard for a modern reader to consider these filth. The art deco nudes are tasteful and the tittilating stories are quite breezy and innocent by today’s standards.

I’d argue that there’s a free spirit in these magazines, too, that point to a time when perhaps it was possible to look on such magazines as an embodiment of a modern embrace of playfulness and sexuality. Many of the artists and writers and editors of these magazines were women, and I think there is a feminine sensibility at play in many of the stories and jokes. There were breezy and playful stories in some of the pulps before the girlie pulps, and there were also art and model magazines that trafficked in tinted nudes. When publishers experimented with adding stories to the photomags or alternatively adding a photo section to the story mags, they had great successes. As censorship cracked down in the 30s these magazines carried on, some of them dropping the photos to become more acceptable. I find the entire package very inviting. The covers are a wonderful type of pin-up art, and the line drawings that pepper these magazines are one of my main attractions. The stories are generally fun, and a number of talented writers worked in the genre. Add in some cheesecake and joke pages and you have a nice varied and brisk read bound to bring a smile…I’ve scanned a number of these and plan on scanning many more. Judging from their appearance on the market, many issues of these titles are quite scarce, and there are others I’ve never seen. These pulps are not among those on microfilm at the Library of Congress or are they housed in library collections. This is the sort of “low culture” it’s incumbent upon fans and appreciators to preserve. Institutions cannot be trusted to preserve all parts of the people’s library. The stories and illustrations are great, but even the sociological data contained in the ads shouldn’t fall by the wayside. Ads for birth control, sex education booklets, dating services, etc. speak to a whole world of anxieties and commerce that you might not see in other publications. Indeed, some of the publishers of these pulps also helped distribute condoms and adult novelties through the network of newsstands, burlesque clubs, second hand bookstores, etc. Anyways, on to today’s pulp…

Scrollable Image

The scan of the entire issue can be found here .

I don’t know who the cover artist is for this issue. I’ve looked at the covers for Broadway Nights, Real Story Book, and Ginger Stories (all King pulps) and recognize Otto Greiner as a regular contributor, but I don’t think this is him.  I’ve heard figures that as many as 95% of the original paintings for the pulp covers are gone forever, so all we have to go from are cover scans for much of this material. Hopefully more and more higher resolution images will hit the web, the thumbnails that seem to get passed around are fairly worthless in terms of artistic appreciation. Oops, off on a tangent again.


Jack Woodford is the most famous author here, but I didn’t really like his story here. I thought the opening story was fairly interesting in that it’s a reportage piece looking at the customs of circus and carnival hoochie coochie dancers and their mates and distinguishes these girls from other performers in their workplace and attitudes toward customers. “Lady of the Bright Lights” and “Babe of Broad’s Way” are both serial installments. “Must Chorine Have a Past?” is a confession story of a dancer that knows the score and pertains to the kisses for gifts or favors economy that seems to drive much of these young girls’ thoughts. The best entry is probably “On the Up and Up” regarding a showgirl and her partner that must con a horny old geezer of much dough in short time. Can the con go over before the old man makes any unreasonable demands? Read and find out…

Samples. The interior illustrations just might be my favorite part of these pulps, some are amazing and some not so much, but I like the whimsy of even some of the most amateurish drawings in these magazines. When man first took his art to cave walls, I have no doubt the womanly figure was among the first things sketched, heh heh.

Always love a girl and pet. Monkeys especially


Cheers and enjoy, I will get a couple more examples of this type of pulp up soon. My scanner bed sees all sorts of pulps, magazines, books, newspapers, and comics, but these girlie pulps have really captured my interest, so they will see a disproportionate representation here – I usually like to scan them as a reward to myself for scanning items that might not be so exciting to me personally...

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Mutual Burlesquer (1929-12-30)

Scrollable Cover

Well, I’m going to put off the girlie pulp post a bit to get a couple of other things up, but here’s a related and very interesting item, The Mutual Burlesquer a trade and news publication for a conglomeration of burlesque clubs. I came across this issue in my hunt for Gayety and Paris Gayety, sister pulps to Paris Nights, as this publication was distributed from the Gayety theatre in Washington D.C. The cover artist is Hap Hadley who is more well known for his movie posters of Keaton and Chaplin which you can see HERE The publication contains coming events like the “Speed Girls,” letters from fans, news from the various theaters, little spot illustrations, jokes, and even a couple pieces of fiction apparently solicited from aspiring stage girls. One of the pages is a little singed in the corner, I’m prone to flights of fancy – perhaps this page lit a cigar.

The scan is here

I’m going to do something a bit different this time, because it’s only an 8 page publication I’ll make a scrollable image for each page for web surfers…

Page 2 A list of the theatres. Prospects for the new year in the depression, a trend towards pants, and more.

Page 3 Coming attractions, letters from fans.

Pages 4 and 5 The centerfold. A growing organization in the industry, some mention of legendary feuds in Vaudeville, some happenings in the lives of the stars, and descriptions of “Speed Girls” the season’s event. The union printers stamp didn’t quite take but I think it says Allied…

Page 6 “The Come-Back” by Lulu Michael, possibly a performer. A short story on the camaraderie of showgirls and the desire for that one big break.

Page 7 Jokes, a spool rolling promotion, the addition of red, blue, and white lights to some of the theatres, letters to the editor including a gent who recently took his mother too one of the shows…

Page 8 A rainbow of girls, an ad for Jack Lamont and his oriental girls with Chubby Drisdale.

An intriguing look into the business of burlesque and a gorgeous little pub to boot, the red ink, the girly sketches, I love it…