Sunday, January 31, 2016

Day One Hundred Nine. "A Handful of Hell"

"A HANDFUL OF HELL," subtitled "Classic War and Adventure Stories By Robert F. Dorr," is a big, bold, daring publishing event from the creative team of Robert Deis and Wyatt Doyle. It has just shown up on Amazon, here. Orders are being taken now.

Like previous releases in The Men's Adventure Library, this book draws its inspiration from the men's adventure magazines that held a special place in our lives and on our drugstore magazine racks from the 1950s to the 1970s.

This a new book that takes us back to an era with war and adventure were told about in graphic action with a strong human element.

 Yes, I'm the author whose work appears here — it's a huge honor — but this isn't a book about me. It doesn't come from me. You can't get a copy from me.

 As Wyatt Doyle says it:

"For me, the great appeal of the stories in 'A HANDFUL OF HELL' is that even in heated battle scenes, with multiple planes in the air, a full flight crew to keep tabs on, and explosions all around, you never lose sight of the characters and what they're dealing with, both externally and internally. The technical authenticity of these stories never overpowers their human element. It's also a big part of what makes these stories stand out."

And what made the men's adventure magazines stand out was their emphasis on action, action, action, but always with human decision making at play.

The creators of this book, which its words and art drawn from the men's adventure magazines, believe they're accomplished something so powerful that it breaks out from the magazine genre that inspired it, Even if you've never held a copy of STAG, FOR MEN ONLY or BLUEBOOK in your hands — even if you're among the 63% who were born after these magazines vanished by the shelves— you're going to be drawn b the riveting approach and sweeping content, standing with the title story about about B-29 Superfortress radio operator Sgt, Red Erwin who literally and figuratively clasped "A HANDFUL OF HELL" to save his buddies.
This a collector's item. It's unique. Nothing like it has been made before.

When I got out of the Air Force in August of 1960, my plan was to be a writer and an adventurer. The first example of my work in men’s pulp adventure magazines was a story called “The Night Intruders,” published in Real, April 1962; it’s included as a bonus story in the hardcover edition of this collection. The magazine editors paid me $100 for the story, about a B-26 crew in the Korean War. That was the first of what became several hundred stories and articles in those magazines. I’m using the word articles somewhat loosely because almost all of them contained a great deal of fiction, though I tried to make them all seem as realistic as I could. I did the same thing with the first story in Real that I did with almost all of the later men’s adventure magazine stories and articles: I typed them up on 8½ by 11 typewriter paper on a manual typewriter, using white-out, booze, and cigarettes.

I worked some part-time jobs in those years, but most of the time I was supporting myself with income from the men’s adventure magazines. (And, yes, from 1965 to 1989 I also had a real job). I wrote a lot for Magazine Management Co., which published Stag, Male, For Men Only, Men and others, and for Pyramid Publishing, which published Man’s Magazine and some other men’s adventure magazines. They usually paid me $350 per article, and $350 was pretty good. Not only was it pretty good then, it hasn’t gotten much better. There are plenty of fine, high-quality magazines that pay less today.

In many cases, the stories included a great deal of imagination. That was typical of the genre. But to write for the men’s adventure magazines, it was necessary to have some knowledge of history. If you were going to write about World War II, you needed to know something about World War II. You could use your imagination for the story, but you had to have some of the key details right to please the editors and the readers.

These magazines were read by regular guys. The fact that almost all of them happened to be veterans had something to do with shaping the content. These stories were being read by men who’d had similar experiences themselves. They had been there, done that, and when I wrote about warfare for them, I had to have the personalities and the details right and avoid puffery.

They wouldn’t tolerate having men like themselves overly glorified or to have war made glamorous, so I didn’t do those things.

More from Wyatt Doyle, co-editor and designer of "A HANDFUL OF HELL:"

“Dorr communicates his characters' fears, their uncertainty, the terrible losses fighting men suffer — in deeply human terms, putting readers not only in the scene, in the moment, but inside these men's thoughts. His accounts of these heroes drive the point home time and time again that these are not warriors, gladiators, or super-humans. These are our brothers, our buddies; they are us. It's a powerful sentiment, and one that can't be expressed enough. Reading these stories today, they have lost none of their potency.”

"A HANDFUL OF HELL" is available now as a 304-page trade paperback and as a limited edition hardcover with alternate cover art and 40 pages of additional material. An ebook edition is forthcoming.

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