My buddies, and fellow enthusiasts, Robert Deis and Wyatt Doyle have recently published their third sterling collection of stories torn from the pages of the men's adventure magazines published in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. Following on the popularity of Weasels Ripped My Flesh! and He-Men, Bag Men & Nymphos, comes their Cryptozoology Anthology - Strange and Mysterious Creatures in Men's Adventure Magazines..
Also onboard as an editor for this anthology is David Coleman, author of the The Bigfoot Filmography, an in-depth survey of what he has dubbed Cine du Sasquatch, with reviews of every appearance of Bigfoot, Sasquatch, the Abominable Snowman and other manlike Hominid cryptids in TV shows and movies.
Cryptozoology Anthology brings together thirteen stories about legendary monsters from three decades of men's adventure magazines. They're all lushly illustrated with full color scans of the covers of the magazines where they were originally published plus the interior artwork and photos used to illustrate them.
There's also a bonus story and extra artwork in the special hardcover edition and a hidden story in both the HC and paperback editions.
Each story features animals whose existence or survival is officially unsubstantiated by science or in dispute or who are based on cryptid creatures: Bigfoot, Sasquatch, the Loch Ness Monster, fish with human hands, the Yeti, the Thunderbird, the Ape-Man Monster of Tennessee, and the Thing at Dutchman's Rig (a relict dinosaur) are just some examples.
The stories in the Cryptozoology Anthology range from sensational period reporting and true accounts of savage duels between man and monster, classic fiction yarns (including a giant squid story by the great Arthur C. Clarke), as well as rare archival discoveries, men's pulp history, expert analysis, cryptid-by-cryptid commentary, and much, much more.
I'm grateful to Robert, Wyatt, and David for taking the time to share their men's adventure magazine and legendary beast expertise.
Historic accounts of legendary creatures! Man versus monster! Fantastic stories and fantastic artwork! How does all of this come together in your Cryptozoology Anthology?
Wyatt: Cryptids and interest in cryptozoological themes didn't begin in men's adventure magazines, but men's adventure magazines (MAMs for short) played a significant role in popularizing the subject, in at least two essential ways: For one, many of the familiar tropes that have defined the way we think of cryptids - for better or worse - were established in men's adventure magazines; Dave shares examples in the book.
But perhaps more importantly, the mags kept cryptids in the conversation. MAMs didn't often trade in horror or science fiction themes, but cryptids seem to have been grandfathered in as animal attack stories of a sort, and animal attack stories were always welcome. These magazines regularly featured stories with a cryptozoological bent; it's fair to say they embraced the subject. Clearly a significant portion of their readership did, too.
How do you decide on the theme of an anthology from the hundreds of story types in men's adventure magazines?
Bob Deis: It was actually Wyatt's idea. Our first anthology of men's adventure magazine stories, Weasels Ripped My Flesh!, was sort of a broad sampler of some of our favorite MAM stories, including many by writers that went on to greater fame, like Lawrence Block, Harlan Ellison, Robert Silverberg, and Robert F. Dorr, along with interviews with and commentary by former men's adventure writers and editors like Mario Puzo and Bruce Jay Friedman. Our second, He-Men, Bag Men & Nymphos, focused on stories by a little-known author that Puzo and Friedman both considered to be one of the best men's adventure writers ever, Walter Kaylin. Wyatt decided we should try doing an anthology of stories about some popular subject. He happened to know Dave Coleman from their shared background in writing movie scripts. Dave had recently published his Bigfoot Filmography, and Wyatt had noted the growth in cryptozoology books, TV shows and movies. He floated the idea of a cryptozoology-themed collection of men's adventure stories with introductory text by Dave. I loved the idea.
Wyatt: I've always loved monsters, and I knew there were monsters in men's adventure magazines - Bob's shared some of the more monsteriffic covers and illustrations from his collection on www.MensPulpMags.com/ I was thrilled to learn just how many monsters there'd been in the mags!
Dave has been a champion of our books for a long time, and he and I had talked about working together. Once Bob and I decided on weird creatures, Dave was the first person I thought of. I knew he'd be able to put the stories into the larger context of cryptozoology, its history, and its lore.
How did you choose the particular stories for the Cryptozoology Anthology?
Bob: I started by finding all of the stories about Bigfoot, Sasquatch, the Yeti and other cryptid that I could find in my collection of men's adventure magazines. That took a while, since I have over 4,500 issues. I did an initial selection of options based on the ones I thought were the best, in terms of being ripping yarns or having historical significance. Then I sent the list and image scans to Wyatt and Dave and we jointly picked the cream of the crop, along with the additional artwork and special features we wanted to include.
Dave: What was a nice bit of Fortean synchronicity, I thought, was that while we were confident there would be at least a few cryptozoological stories per magazine series to choose from, we didn't really know what we'd find until Bob Deis uncovered them. Researching the book was not unlike its own expedition back into the history of men's magazines and how they related to cryptids over the decades, and we often came across unexpected finds in the stories and amazing illustrations.
Sure enough, there was also this veritable flood of wonderful stories, each often uniquely capturing its era, which came from MAMs in regards to crypto stories. I was astounded by how many Bob was able to find, but pleased, as I had always believed, as did Wyatt and Bob, that there was a deeply-intertwined connection prior to the editing of the book.
Wyatt: Bob's archives are staggering. He'd send Dave and me pages and pages of magazine covers, interior artwork and stories that we'd try to narrow down to favorites. We wanted to use everything! Each time I'd think, this or that is the best story/cover/artwork in the book, we'd get a new message from Deis with a half-dozen new favorites to choose from. We felt very pleased with ourselves when we'd finally narrowed it down to 13 stories (a number we liked for its Fortean associations), then realized we'd miscounted; we had 14. So we said okay, 13 stories and we'll hide the other one somehow - we couldn't bear to cut another tale. I toyed with the idea of leaving the hidden story out of some printings of the book, so that in true cryptid spirit, it would be seen by some and not by others -- but that seemed unfair. So, it's not in the table of contents, but it's in there. I'm not telling you where.
What goes into producing a book like the Cryptozoology Anthology beyond choosing the stories?
Bob: It's a lot of work and a team effort. I make high resolution scans of the covers, interior artwork and stories and write my notes for introductory text. Then I pass all that on to Wyatt, who makes editorial decisions and does the graphic design for our books, which he's incredibly good at.
Dave: The collaboration I've enjoyed with Wyatt and Bob makes Cryptozoology Anthology unique in my experience as writer, and I look forward to hopefully repeating it soon. Everyone is knowledgeable, passionate and dedicated to producing the best book possible. You take that kind of good fortune for granted as author at your own peril.
As for what goes into it beyond choosing the stories? Research. A few of the writers chosen for Cryptozoology Anthology such as Arthur C. Clarke are well-known and need no introduction. But others are less well-known, and we felt it important to try to offer as much in the way of insight into who was writing about cryptids as much as present the stories only.
Wyatt: We sparked off each other as part of the process, and collaborating with two experts made my work easier. I was able to bounce questions about the mags off Bob, and run cryptid questions by Dave. Google can't deliver the kind of insight these guys bring to their areas of expertise; they've got stuff that ain't even in books yet.
Selling the book is where we are now. Putting together a fun, colorful, informative collection is one thing. We're a small, independent press. How do we get the word out about the book without the marketing budget and resources of a big publishing house? The internet affords a lot of access to potential readers, but there's a lot of noise to cut through. It's a challenge.
We try to come up with promotion that sticks with people. There's a yeti photo included in the book that I'd joked looked like comic Joe Besser (of the late-era Three Stooges). So we ran a tongue-in-cheek ad online featuring both that got a big response; it even ended up spotlighted by Gilbert Gottfried's Amazing Colossal Podcast, for combining two of Gilbert's great loves!
How did Dave's Bigfoot expertise come into play in the Cryptozoology Anthology?
Bob: It was critical to fulfill our vision for the book. We didn't just want it to be a set of stories with no context. We wanted it to be both fun to read and a serious contribution to cryptozoology lore. Dave added that element in his introductory text for the stories. He has a vast storehouse of knowledge of the history of cryptozoology and the portrayal of cryptid creatures in popular media.
Dave: Having written The Bigfoot Filmography proved an invaluable asset in this regard towards the editing of Cryptozoology Anthology. I had met and known some of the top cryptozoologists in their respective fields as a result of my previous book.
So when we began Cryptozoology Anthology, I was able to contact many of these experts and get their input, as well as offer my own, to hopefully present a more balanced perspective of the MAM/cryptid connections.
Wyatt: Dave was our wise Sherpa guide. He knows the landscape and terrain of the subject very well, and he was able to lead Bob and me through the tangle of backstories and debates related to various crypto topics from the stories. Dave helped us get a handle on how each story fit into the larger scheme of cryptozoological history and lore - much as he does in the book.
Part 2 headed your way as soon as the weasels stop ripping our flesh...