Weasels Ripped My Flesh! Vintage Men’s Adventure Magazines

by Brett & Kate McKay on May 26, 2010 · 60 comments

in Diversions, Travel & Leisure

Before Men’s Health and Maxim Magazine, before the men’s magazine category was dominated by glossy, slick publications, there were the “He-Man,” “pulp,” or “sweat magazines.”

These “men’s adventure” magazines catered to men of a different generation and reflected the taste and sensibilities of those men. The readership largely consisted of GI’s who had fought and survived the Big One, men who had experienced both adventure and gruesome death and violence. In contrast to their experiences overseas, life back home seemed dull and mundane. Their wives and families who hadn’t experienced the horrors of war had only vague notions of what things had been like “over there.” In a life that seemed sterile and scrubbed clean, men’s magazines were an oasis of the kind of unfettered manliness and grit the men were used to. And to the men who hadn’t served, the magazines were a chance to live such adventures vicariously.

Products of the time, the magazines were certainly not politically correct. Instead of articles about $10,000 watches and luxury vacations, the pages of the sweat magazines were filled with “true” (typically fictionalized or embellished) stories of war, survival, crime, safari, and the Old West.  A favorite theme was the showdown between man and wild flesh-eating beasts and critters. Stories of men rescuing women from the torture of savage natives or cruel enemy armies were common (as were tales of powerful Amazonian-like women and man-capturing gangs of female dominatrices). But the magazines generally adhered to the philosophy of famous salesman Elmer Wheeler, who said to “Sell the sizzle, not the steak.” The headlines of the magazines were far more lurid and sensational then the actual stories inside the magazine.

The magazines only cost 25 cents, and their insides were filled with cheap, pulpy pages printed only in black and white and packed full of ads for correspondence courses, baldness cures, and fitness programs. The centerpiece of the magazine was thus the cover which showcased glossy, colorful, and evocative artwork. The publisher would have an artist draw up a wild cover and then a writer would build a “true” story around it.

The popularity of men’s adventure magazines peaked in the late 1950s, when fifty different titles were published and hundreds of thousands of men picked up the magazines at the local drugstore or read them at barbershops. But as Playboy and then Penthouse came on the scene, and the courts loosened their restrictions on what was deemed obscene material, “the sweats” began to seem quite tame and outdated in comparison and couldn’t compete. They quietly disappeared in the 1970’s.

The cover art is still great to look at. Here are a few of my favorites:

Source: Men’s Adventure Magazines: In Postwar America

{ 60 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Alex Loker May 26, 2010 at 12:49 am

Ah, that’s great stuff. Thanks for sharing the story of these magazines and looking at the covers was great. Now I want to read them all. The cover lines crack me up – “New Menace: Teen-Agers in Black Leather Jackets!” Oooh…scary! LOL!

2 Rob May 26, 2010 at 12:54 am

I love the “chewed to bits by giant turtles” one

3 Ken Anon May 26, 2010 at 1:37 am

I love it! Great article. See what men have to put up with, all these woodland creatures ripping at my flesh. Where can i read them online?

4 Joe Proctor May 26, 2010 at 1:44 am

I wonder if ‘Yankee Capt. Hogan & his 69 Turncoat Nazi Butcher Girls’ were any inspiration behind Hogan’s Heroes?

I’d type more but I need both hands to fend off a band Commie flesh-eating badgers wearing leather jackets. BLACK leather jackets!!!!!

PS – Sex can be fun!! (Some dudes live sad lives.)

5 Ken Anon May 26, 2010 at 1:49 am

I found out where you can read the turtle story. Right here
http://www.menspulpmags.com/2009/10/chewed-to-bits-by-giant-turtles-mans.html

You can download it in PDF format from the link on the bottom of the article

6 SubtropicBob May 26, 2010 at 7:27 am

That’s an excellent overview of the post-World War II men’s adventure magazine genre on a great site. Kudos and best regards from the Men’s Adventure Magazine blog (http://www.MensPulpMags.com) where you can see more wild cover art from these old “sweat” mags and, as Ken Anon noted above, read complete stories from them, like “Chewed to Bits by Giant Turtles.”

7 Steve J May 26, 2010 at 7:57 am

Seems other than commies, nazi girls and small animals there’s precious little to worry about.

8 Gill Avila May 26, 2010 at 8:19 am

Damn, but I miss those magazines! Stag, Argosy, Men’s Adventure. I loved the one that had “We Sank Tojo’s Monster Sub!” which had art of a Mariner flying boat dropping bombs on a sub the size of a battleship that was launching manned Baku rocket-bombs that were attacking the plane. Good times!

9 James Wilson May 26, 2010 at 8:28 am

These covers are great stuff. I’d like to read some of these – I notice a weird “sexy female Nazi” theme, which would interesting to analyze.

Also: Weasels Ripped My Flesh is the best title ever. Rzzzzz!

10 Eric Granata May 26, 2010 at 8:37 am

This has got to be one of the most entertaining posts ever! Thanks for sharing. I loved the artwork and the headlines and had no idea magazines like this ever existed!

11 Lindsay May 26, 2010 at 8:44 am

@Rob, my husband says: “TURTLES ARE FAST AND VICIOUS!”
Now I must faint!

12 dave May 26, 2010 at 8:45 am

You need to analyze a ‘sexy female nazi’ theme? Do you live under a rock?

13 Brandon B May 26, 2010 at 9:15 am

Seriously, does Hemmingway not look like “The Most Interesting Man in the World”?

14 Clint Flatt May 26, 2010 at 9:32 am

These are so cool. I’d love to read the stories. Now I have a new item to hunt for at antique shows, this will drive my wife nuts. They remind me of the “NO Sh**!, There I Was” series of books that are out there about backcountry adventures.

15 Willo May 26, 2010 at 9:41 am

These type magazines were dying out when I was young but shame on me, I saw something recently that put me in mind of them.
The local NAPA store has “Woolsey’s Bottom Paint” advertised on their sign and it made me imagine the sort of cheesecake ad one might have found in them.

Picture, if you will, an overturned and freshly painted skiff in the foreground.
In front is an open can of the paint with a brush.
Just beyond the boat a young lady stands with her back turned to the viewer with a nicely shaped backside. It is obvious where she has been sitting.
A young man approaches with a conflicted look on his face and a “wet paint” sign in his hand.

I can even imagine a contest for the “Woolsey Bottom paint Girl” model, with prizes.

I can’t imagine such an ad being attempted in this modern social climate, but not for truly “moral” reasons.

16 John Forbes May 26, 2010 at 10:08 am

Yeah, I remember these pulps on the magazine stands in the barber shops of my youth.

Am I the only person who ever noticed — with queasiness — that the covers usually featured big, bodacious tits — male tits — on impossibly handsome men?

Let’s cut the Ph.d-thesis-type crap about the social readjustments of WWII vets. It seems that guys were yearning for something back then, and it weren’t for combat.

17 Kevin T. Keith May 26, 2010 at 10:29 am

The outdoor writer Tim Cahill’s first book – titled “Jaguars Ripped My Flesh!” – was inspired by exactly these kinds of magazines. He was a founding editor of “Outdoor” magazine, which was intended to be the antithesis of the absurd, manly-man adventure pulps. He describes how they set out to write intelligent and thoughtful articles about outdoor adventure; whenever he left on assignment, his editor would shout ironically, “get some blood in there!”. “Jaguars . . .” and several of his other books (“A Wolverine is Eating My Leg”, “Pecked to Death by Ducks”, “Pass the Butterworms” . . .) are collections of his stories for Outdoor. They’re adventurous and often funny, but not ridiculous.

If you liked the old magazines above (how can you not?!), you may like Tim Cahill’s opposite take on similar themes. And, of course, Frank Zappa’s seminal album, “Weasels Ripped My Flesh!”, with cover art inspired by that same magazine!

18 Chris Hunt May 26, 2010 at 10:43 am

These are great! I’m a huge fan of the pulp era both in terms of magazines and comics. I won’t go so far as to say that pulp was ever high art, but the escapism that it offered is of value, not to mention life’s always more interesting when you blur the line between real life and fiction. I just finished drawing a short comic in the vein of the “Man fights man eating beastie” if you wanna check it out. Its based on a story by Peter Capstick Hathaway. It involves a man eating lion though, so unfortunately no killer turtles http://thechrishunt.com/?page_id=298

19 Skip May 26, 2010 at 11:39 am

While I failed to find an ounce of anything I consider manly in any of those covers, they were absolutely hilarious. I loved the one about She-Devil Island.

20 Carlos Infante May 26, 2010 at 12:29 pm

This post is great, I love anything that has to do with the pulp era. The cover themselves are the best part, really calls out to any potencial reader. I’d love to try my hand in writing a story in that vein.

21 OkieRover May 26, 2010 at 1:33 pm

I have to read some of those stories. I’m with Clint, I’m gonna be looking for these now. Thanks. Hitler’s sex and dagger girls? 69 turn-coat Nazi butcher girls? Who was counting them? After I’d encountered 7 or 8 of them I’m pretty sure I would loose count. I had no idea Nazi girls were so, so, alluring.

22 Adventure-Some Matthew May 26, 2010 at 3:03 pm

I certainly enjoyed looking through these covers. Like so many others, I would certainly enjoy reading some of these stories.

Willo, I can certainly picture the ad that you described for the bottom paint!

23 Joel | Blog Of Impossible Things May 26, 2010 at 4:57 pm

We need to be able to get reprints of these somewhere….

24 T. May 26, 2010 at 5:52 pm

Where can I read these old Magazines?

25 John Pimm May 26, 2010 at 7:37 pm

@Brandon B – Does the Dos Equis man not look like Hemingway?

26 BonzoGal May 26, 2010 at 7:47 pm

I can’t tell if the fellow on the cover with “River of Crawling Death” is screaming in horror or just trying to eat a delicious, delicious snack.

27 Bill May 26, 2010 at 10:43 pm

The “Giant Turtles” cover cracked me up. couldn’t you just, like, walk away? I mean, turtles? Otherwise, those covers are great.

28 Sam May 27, 2010 at 7:32 am

this is no time for joking didnt you read, the earth could be blasted off its axis

29 Tim May 27, 2010 at 7:33 am

I love how it’s the same guy in all of those animal covers too. You’d think he would stop going outside after a while, or at least wear a shirt.

30 josh May 27, 2010 at 10:09 am

God, I didn’t know small animals were so vicious.

31 Cambias May 27, 2010 at 12:19 pm

I especially like how it looks like the SAME GUY getting attacked by weasels, flying rodents, killer crabs, and turtles. Poor guy just can’t catch a break. Every time he leaves the house he’s getting his flesh ripped by something. I expect he’s one of the guys in the lifeboat being attacked by monkeys, too.

32 Cambias May 27, 2010 at 12:21 pm

Plus I had no idea Ernest Hemingway could blow stuff up WITH HIS MIND.

33 Willo May 27, 2010 at 2:57 pm

I still remember an article I read in one titled “The Man who Invented Electricity”, which was a bit of a stretch, but it turned out to be about Tesla coming up with AC current as a practical means using it.

34 Guido May 27, 2010 at 7:29 pm

I love the one where it says “Don’t be a sucker – Cheat!”.

Love these, thanks for posting them!

35 Allan White May 28, 2010 at 8:10 pm

Thank you, AOM… thank you…

36 RebeccaJ May 29, 2010 at 1:22 pm

@ Tim, LOL! Great comment about the guy on the cover! I love how the woman’s shirt just happened to fall open while her man is fighting off the sea serpents!

And the article titles are hilarious. “Sex Can Be Fun” (really?!) and “Can Women Justify Their Need for Extra Marital Relations”..ha! as if we have to! and “Our Top Secret Race With Russia To Build Cities Under the Sea”…wonder how that’s coming along?!

37 EC Sheedy May 30, 2010 at 1:31 am

Cannibal crabs!! Giant turtles! Flesh-eating weasels! I had no idea what guys were up against back in the day. Got me some real respect now, though.

Great post!

38 William Barber May 30, 2010 at 9:00 am

Even after all these years, I note with sadness that sin happy vacationists are still overrunning Cape Cod.

39 Steve DeMartin May 30, 2010 at 10:05 pm

The “Man’s Life” one’s are the best. If you’re not being ravaged by some sort of small animal in a body of water you’re just not a man.

40 Jo Dern May 30, 2010 at 10:06 pm

Wow, those are some pretty wild weasels dude.

Lou
http://www.online-privacy.de.tc

41 jin May 31, 2010 at 12:18 am

wtf… both weasels and “flying rodents” “ripped my flesh”? evidently, this ray milan lookalike has skin that’s like sugar to wild animals of every stripe…. disappointed that they didn’t maintain consistency with “turtles ripped my flesh” and “crocodiles ripped my flesh”… what kind of ragtag publication was this?

42 Jasanna` June 1, 2010 at 10:28 am

The mutant turtles and ‘beware of the teenagers in black leather jackets’ were awesome! Ah…to be back then in that culture. ;)

http://www.etsy.com/shop/soliloquyshoppe

43 Tarcas June 1, 2010 at 1:04 pm

It’s not just the Man’s Life man who is the same. The woman on the Man’s Life covers is not only the same woman with the same hairdo, but she’s wearing the same shirt in both of them too. I guess this guy and his wife really like going places that they can be attacked by groups of wild animals. If it was me, I’d consider choosing other vacation spots from time to time.

44 Coldstream June 1, 2010 at 5:20 pm

Wouldn’t “Cannibal Crabs” eat other crabs and thus be no danger to Man? Either way, I’ll just stay indoors

45 RexSaigon1 June 2, 2010 at 12:25 pm

Those looking to savor more of these great covers than you’ll find on just about any website would do well to buy a copy of Men’s Adventure Magazines, a beautiful hardbound Taschen book packed to bursting with reproductions of the covers from these legendary publications. Celebrating the retro-coolness of these things is nothing new – this book was published in 2008:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/3836503123/

and the likewise colorful It’s A Man’s World: Men’s Adventure Magazines, The Postwar Pulps was published in 2003:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/0922915814/

Rex

46 jaylieu June 4, 2010 at 7:48 pm

i’d really like to see the logic behind “don’t be a sucker – cheat!”

47 Don June 5, 2010 at 7:37 am

Absolutely love them! But they give me nightmares; they remind me of the time I was watering my garden, and a slug jumped off the cabbage and tried to chew out my eyeball…

48 Jorrie MacKenzie June 7, 2010 at 1:00 am

Great Frank Zappa Album: Weasels Ripped My Flesh

49 Duff June 8, 2010 at 3:39 pm

Sex can be fun? I say poppycock. This article must have been written by those meancing teen-agers sporting the new black leather jackets!

50 Justin June 9, 2010 at 8:38 pm

augh! weasels ripped my flesh! take an ongoing d6 to constitution, successful DC ends.

51 jupiter June 11, 2010 at 10:58 am

So you scanned these images in from the book? Did you ask permission?

Copying two or three would be reasonable — copying this many seems like a potential copyright violation.

52 Rosie June 13, 2010 at 4:49 pm

Sheesh! I’m putting “Man-Hungry Hussy of She-Devil Island” on my business cards in future.

53 Renato June 13, 2010 at 10:40 pm

…Is it just me or does it look like the same guy in all the “animal escape” issues? That same grimancing scream…the same Man’s Life magazines…has to be him.

boy he sure does have rotten luck!

54 Duke June 15, 2010 at 12:00 pm

Wonderful article. Brings back fond memories of the late fifties and early sixties when men were still men. I’d almost trade places with the guy on the cover with the serpents and lady in hand with her top completely unbuttoned and hanging open and no bra. Were they interrupted by a horrifying snake attack?

55 Epaminondas June 15, 2010 at 4:56 pm

All this grundge came out of New York City and was the product of Jewish pulp masters. They invented it, they sold it.

56 Jesse June 25, 2010 at 10:03 am

LOL! “Weasels ripped my flesh!” is pretty hard to beat, but I agree: something about being attacked by turtles has a ring of absurdity to it that just might make it the winner.

57 lou July 5, 2010 at 11:01 am

You are aware that Weasels Ripped My Flesh was the title of a Frank Zappa album, and that he subsequently named his son Dweezle?

58 Vince M January 6, 2013 at 7:52 am

Wow, no less than three of these ‘animal attack’ covers has the guy using said animal as a weapon against its kin – that is some manly thinking!

59 Larry April 11, 2013 at 11:41 pm

Stag magazine was usually found under my friend Randy’s dad’s couch. Lots of Nazi sex torture stuff and if I remember right, A long black line blocked out all nipples and maybe over the eyes too?

60 Michael January 16, 2014 at 4:13 pm

Looking for the text copy of a story about a runaround blonde known as Felicia Warwick which came out in the early 60′s.

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