By Jedidiah Ayres
Thursday, December 7th, 2017
Just picked up my own copy of Girl Gangs, Biker Boys, and Real Cool Cats, the latest lingering, loving look at 'the pulps,' edited by Ian McIntyre and Andrew Nette. I love this kind of thing - in depth looks at the lurid, mass-market yet still underground, arts of yesteryear, presented as scholarly social study, but in place of a dry monotone it's clearly a labor of love and an endeavor of enthusiasm.
Because... all the thoughtfulness is appreciated and engaging, but the real value of these type of books is in collecting all the great artwork (poster art - cover art) in one place. If you don't have your own library of pulp novels or VHS/16mm grindhouse movies, you can still lose yourself in the garish garbage of the artwork and re-live your first awakening and attraction to working out anxieties via engaging narrative.
For me these books recall my favorite part of weekly trips to the grocery store with my mom - I'd get a nickel and walk by the newsstand taking in the western, fantasy, romance, crime and science fiction paperbacks with my tiny peepers on the way to the gumball machine, or visits to out of town cousins discovering the closet full of Robert E. Howard books, or countless hours spent wandering the aisles of video stores imagining the stories the pictures represented (because I was not going to be allowed to watch them).
And that's... an important thing to note.
Often the jacket art is more important in the long run than the books/films themselves. It's the cover design that sells us, grabs our attention and infects us with an itch, or rather enflames the itch we didn't know was already within... Regardless of how satisfying said book or film actually turned out to be, the awakening, the realization that we have an appetite is what inspires us to become active agents in our own evolution.
If we have a hunger... there must be a satisfaction out there somewhere.
If you visit my home you'll be able to browse my physical media - books, films, albums - but these types of books - these collections of artworks are among the most valuable objects I own.
A few favorites from my shelves...
Scott Adlerberg has a nice piece on Girl Gangs, Biker Boys, and Real Cool Cats at Lithub and if you're inclined to digitally ingest pulp art you'd do well to follow Christa Faust's or Will Viharo's social media platforms.