In between paid work, comic work, and slow progress on MAKER SPACE, I’ve been writing Josh smut. Well, no. Josh pulp. It originally started out as a erotica novelette but I was shocked at how quickly that became the most boring thing ever. Ever. Like, ever. Apparently I need to have a plot or a conspiracy or something other than genitals banging together if it’s going to form a book. I abandoned the project for a while and then it hit me: Pulp.
Classic pulp fiction is… oh God. It’s delicious. It’s utter madness in a tight hundred-plus pages. There’s sex and gun battles and explosions and more MacGuffins than in all the British Isles. So Joshsmut has been heavily edited and changed from porn to pulp, and is much more fun to write.
Which means……*drumroll*…… A classic pulp cover!
Classic pulp covers are beautiful. Just tears-to-the-eye perfection. Every one of them screams the story of a gifted artist struggling to make rent. Sitting alone in their studio apartment… The phone call comes… The voice at the other end gives them a title, a deadline, and, if they’re lucky, a description of the characters. “Make it sexy,” says the voice. “Put them on a boat or something. Boats are sexy.”
“But the title is Love in the Desert,” the artist says, already knowing the answer.
“Sand boats, then.”
It’s decades after the fact but when you look at these covers, you can still hear the artist sobbing madly on their canvas. Sometimes they got the characters on the page and then gave up (see: Weirdo Stud). Other times, the minimalist background really works (See: original cover for Bare Trap). Some of the best ones still stand out as examples of top-notch design layout, and are better than the covers available on many current mass-market novels.
But there is definitely a Male Gaze issue to be considered. As in: the ladies are usually there for one purpose, and it is not to save the world through science. So while it can be said that these vintage covers are Quite Awesome, it is better said that these covers were Quite Awesome for the Times but Have Become Extremely Squicky.
With this in mind, I’ve been working with my good buddy Jenny to do a modern version of a vintage pulp cover. Same painted styles, same great textures, same over-the-top titles and fonts, with text galore! all over the cover page. But, you know, no exposed ladyparts* or submissive poses.
So here’s a sneak peek at the roughs for the first Josh pulp: THE RUSSIANS CAME KNOCKING.
I’ll post an update when it’s completed.
*There are exceptions, of course. This lady from MANHUNT is scorching.