Iain McIntyre is a Melbourne-based author, musician, and community radio broadcaster who has written a variety of books on activism, history, and music. Recent publications include How to Make Trouble and Influence People: Pranks, Protest, Graffiti and Political Mischief-Making from across Australia (2013), Wild About You: The Sixties Beat Explosion in Australia and New Zealand (2010), and Tomorrow Is Today: Australia in the Psychedelic Era, 1966–1970 (2006). He also helped compile the Down Under Nuggets: Original Australian Artyfacts 1965–1967 CD compilation (2012).

Andrew Nette is a writer and pulp scholar based in Melbourne, Australia. His first novel, Ghost Money, a crime story set in Cambodia in the mid-1990s, was published in 2012 and his second, Gunshine State, was published in 2016. He is one of the founders of Crime Factory Publications, a small press specialising in crime fiction, and coedited Hard Labour (2012), an anthology of Australian short crime fiction, and LEE (2014), an anthology of fiction inspired by American cinema icon Lee Marvin. His short fiction, reviews and nonfiction writing has appeared in numerous print and online publications. He is currently undertaking a PhD on the history of Australian pulp fiction.

Girl Gangs, Biker Boys, and Real Cool Cats edited by Iain McIntyre and Andrew Nette

Girl Gangs, Biker Boys, and Real Cool Cats is the first comprehensive account of how the rise of postwar youth culture was depicted in mass-market pulp fiction. As the young created new styles in music, fashion, and culture, pulp fiction shadowed their every move, hyping and exploiting their behaviour, dress, and language for mass consumption and cheap thrills. From the juvenile delinquent gangs of the early 1950s through the beats and hippies, on to bikers, skinheads, and punks, pulp fiction left no trend untouched. With their lurid covers and wild, action-packed plots, these books reveal as much about society's deepest desires and fears as they do about the subcultures themselves.

Girl Gangs features approximately 400 full-color covers, many of them never reprinted before. With 70 in-depth author interviews, illustrated biographies, and previously unpublished articles from more than 20 popular culture critics and scholars from the US, UK, and Australia, the book goes behind the scenes to look at the authors and publishers, how they worked, where they drew their inspiration and—often overlooked—the actual words they wrote. Books by well-known authors such as Harlan Ellison and Lawrence Block are discussed alongside neglected obscurities and former bestsellers ripe for rediscovery. It is a must read for anyone interested in pulp fiction, lost literary history, retro and subcultural style, and the history of postwar youth culture.

Contributors include Nicolas Tredell, Alwyn W. Turner, Mike Stax, Clinton Walker, Bill Osgerby, David Rife, J.F. Norris, Stewart Home, James Cockington, Joe Blevins, Brian Coffey, James Doig, David James Foster, Matthew Asprey Gear, Molly Grattan, Brian Greene, John Harrison, David Kiersh, Austin Matthews, and Robert Baker.



  • "Girl Gangs, Biker Boys, and Real Cool Cats is populated by the bad boys and girls of mid-twentieth-century pulp fiction. Rumblers and rebels, beats and bikers, hepcats and hippies—pretty much everybody your mother used to warn you about. Nette and McIntyre have curated a riotous party that you won't want to leave, even though you might get your wallet stolen or your teeth kicked in at any given moment."

    – Duane Swierczynski, two-time Edgar nominee, author of Canary and Revolver
  • "The underbelly of literature has been ignored for too long. This book redresses that imbalance, as over twenty authors explore low-life fiction in Australia, the UK, and the USA. Thoughtfully written and delightfully accessible, this is a book for all seasoned readers."

    – Toni Johnson-Woods, author of Pulp: A Collector’s Book of Australian Pulp Fiction Covers
  • "The authors of this volume have paid their dues. They've haunted the junk shops and flea markets, combed through the ratty cardboard boxes, smelled the mildew, inhaled the dust. They've turned a fresh and fearless eye to the unambiguously collectible, blue-ribbon 1950s and '60s pulps, and then turned that same awareness to later material, from the '70s—and they've identified a surprisingly durable pulp tradition which we can refer to as 'tribe pulp,' a tradition which to my knowledge hasn't been really named till now, certainly not as clearly and cogently as here."

    – From the foreword by Peter Doyle, author of City of Shadows and The Big Whatever




Through Beatnik Eyes

Consider the masses of stuff, quickly and cheaply written, drawn, edited, laid out, run off in printing houses, shipped, unpacked and lined up in shops and newsstands, alongside masses of stuff almost exactly the same, all of it taking part in a vast Dar- winian competition to catch some punter's eye, and remove a little spare change from said punt- er's pocket. Some of it will be sold, maybe even in large numbers, but more often in modest numbers (which isn't too much of a problem since production costs are low) and dog-eared copies will end up in lunchrooms or barracks or dormitories, or wedged behind downpipes in factory toilets, or stacked in back sheds. Some may go straight to the dump, un- read. Maybe it was put together in an atmosphere of high-minded artistic ambition, or it may have been regarded even by its own makers as junk. Regard- less, the huge bulk of low-culture product will drop out of sight almost immediately. Live fast, die young, as the saying goes.

But there are some good-looking corpses. Over the past half century, maybe since the ascent of rock and roll, people have come to particularly value certain items recovered from the bogs of culture. Low-down, dirty, utterly disposable jukebox music from half a century ago is in much greater circulation and held in infinitely higher esteem now than it ever was then. Mid-20th-century book and magazine art, in its day often regarded as slightly shameful, even crypto-por- nographic, is highly prized and traded, and continues to inform both contemporary high art and everyday design. B-grade film and various forms of extreme kitsch from the past continue to come to the notice of the alert retro hawks and are carefully fed back into the cultural mainstreams.

Low paperback fiction has seen one of the most successful rehabilitation jobs. Some material which in its day received little notice from cultural gatekeepers and commentators has steadily worked its way up the prestige ladder. Crime fiction of the early to mid 20th century is the obvious case, and since Quentin Taran- tino borrowed the term 'pulp fiction' everyone, even your high school English teacher, pretty well gets the principle that gems may come from trash. There are no prizes to be won by declaring now that last century's pulp—crime, supernatural, science fiction,

romance, cheesecake and fantasy—sometimes turns out to be amazingly awesome.

The pleasures of pulp are complex and contradic- tory. If you start digging you might find unexpected literary finesse—plenty of people who later graduated to high—or middle-brow respectability paid the bills back then by writing serviceable pulps. And there were plenty who never graduated, but whose work ranks high on modern literary criteria: balance, flow, economy, freshness of image and language. Natural writerly grace and all that stuff.

You might find earlier versions of the punk aesthet- ic—the textual equivalent of harder, faster, louder, badder and crazier. Pulp regularly managed to be way more out there, because no one was paying all that much attention. There wasn't time to sand down the sharp edges. And that was trash lit's natural default territory: out there.

Or you might find laid bare the mostly unspoken fears, desires, dreams and nightmares of the time. Doubly, trebly so when it comes to sex and sexuality. Pulp as cultural Freudian slip, loony bulletins from the collective id. Maybe not so loony.

Or you might say to hell with that and just go with the flow, enjoying pulp for its couldn't-give-that-much-of- a-shit attitude. There's deep dark perverse mad, and then there's fun, bracing, energizing mad. There's the sort of mad that the author or artist is complicit in, and there's the naive unselfconscious, weird, obsessive, maybe on-the-spectrum, medication-all-wrong mad, the kind the artist denies, disavows, or else seems to be entirely unaware of.

Anyway, let's agree, pulp is good. Or can be. And it seems so far to have proven inexhaustible. New titles and genres no one much knew about keep turning up. Old paperbacks are offered for sale on eBay. Hitherto unknown gems and minor treasures keep surfacing in hip reprints.

But that doesn't happen by accident. The word 'curator' gets a lot of bogus circulation these days, often used to glorify some chancer who happens to glance at a bit of culture for longer than a nanosec- ond or happens to post a comment somewhere. It also connotes the bow-tie-wearing professional arts ponce, smugly appropriating the culture which until just last week they were way too good for. Once it's cool, they want a piece. A big piece. In fact, they want to take it over.