Men’s adventure is a genre of magazines that had its heyday in the 1950s and 1960s. Catering to a male audience, these magazines featured glamour 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 circulation peaks long after the genre-fiction pulps had begun to fade. These magazines were also colloquially called “armpit slicks”, “men’s sweat magazines” or “the sweats”, especially by people in the magazine publishing or distribution trades.
Notable men’s adventure magazines included Argosy, the longest-running and best regarded of the genre, as well as Adventure, Real, True, Saga, Stag, Swank and For Men Only. During their peak in the late 1950s, approximately 130 men’s adventure magazines were being published simultaneously.
The interior tales usually claimed to be true stories. Women in distress were commonly featured in the painted covers or interior art, often being menaced or tortured by Nazis or, in later years, Communists. Artist Norman Saunders was the dean of illustrators for these magazines, occupying a position similar to that enjoyed by Margaret Brundage for the classic pulps. Many illustrations that were uncredited were done by Bruce Minney, Norm Eastman, Gil Cohen, Mel Crair, Basil Gogos, and Vic Prezio among others. Historical artist Mort Künstle painted many covers and illustrations for these magazines, and Playboyphotographer Mario Casilli started out shooting pinups for this market. At publisher Martin Goodman’s Magazine Management Company, future best-selling humorist and author Bruce Jay Friedman was a men’s sweat writer-editor, and Mario Puzo was a contributor before he became a well-known novelist.
Man’s Life 1950’s covers
The title of the Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention album Weasels Ripped My Flesh was borrowed from a man-against-beast cover story in the September 1956 issue of Man’s Life, and the title went through another permutation when filmmaker Nathan Schif made the horror feature Weasels Rip My Flesh (1979).