Friday, March 29, 2024

Men's Adventure Quarterly #10: The Vietnam Issue -- Robert Deis and Bill Cunningham, eds.

The tenth issue of MEN’S ADVENTURE QUARTERLY is out, this time around focusing on the best stories and artwork from the men’s adventure magazines dealing with the Vietnam war. Those of you who have been following MAQ from the beginning know that it’s one of the best publications out there, and this new issue more than maintains that very high standard. You’d expect nothing less from editors Robert Deis and Bill Cunningham, ably assisted on this issue by Paul Bishop and Rob Morris.

As before, the stories reprinted in this issue are split between true tales (or mostly true) and those that are entirely or almost entirely fictional. For me, the high point of the non-fiction pieces is “MIG Bait” by the prolific MAM writer and military historian Robert F. Dorr, from the February 1968 issue of MAN’S MAGAZINE. It was my pleasure and honor to get to know Bob Dorr a little before he passed away several years ago, and I’ve become a big fan of his work. His story about the first supersonic dogfight in the air over Vietnam is exciting and well-written. I also enjoyed the profile of Barry Sadler by Garth Roberts that appeared in the October 1966 issue of MAN’S WORLD. I remember quite well when Sadler’s song “The Ballad of the Green Berets” was a huge hit and played on the radio all the time. That article also mentions author Robin Moore and his bestselling novel THE GREEN BERETS, which I remember buying off the spinner rack at Lester’s Pharmacy when it was brand-new, so that just adds to the nostalgic appeal of that piece for me. Also in the non-fiction realm, but fiction-related, Paul Bishop contributes a terrific article about the various series of paperback novels centering around the war in Vietnam.

As for the fiction, one of my favorites is “Saigon Nymph Who Led the Green Berets to the Cong’s Terror Headquarters” (MALE, August 1966) by Mario Cleri, who, as all of you already know, was really Mario Puzo, the author of THE GODFATHER and numerous other novels. Puzo was a prolific contributor to the MAMs as both a writer and an editor. I think this story is the first thing I’ve read by him other than THE GODFATHER, all those years ago, and it’s an excellent yarn about a colonel in Army Intelligence going after the VC terrorists responsible for his younger brother’s death.

The other top fictional tale for me is “Saga of Mad Mike Kovacs and His Battling Lepers of Vietnam”, from the January 1967 issue of MALE, by Glenn Infield. This is the first thing I’ve read by Infield, and it’s great, every bit as over-the-top as you might imagine from the title. Fast-paced and very well-written, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Rob Morris contributes informative introductions to both this story and to Robert F. Dorr’s “MIG Pilot”.

On the visual front, this issue is as beautifully produced as all the other issues of MAQ, featuring dozens of covers and interior illustrations along with two lengthy galleries, one spotlighting many of the Vietnam-related covers on which the legendary Steve Holland appeared, and the other featuring Raquel Welch accompanying Bob Hope to Vietnam on one of his famous USO tours. Back in those days I never missed the TV specials drawn from footage of those UFO shows, and I remember quite well the one on which Raquel appeared. It was nice revisiting those days.

So this is another great job all around, and I give a big old recommendation to the Vietnam Issue of MEN’S ADVENTURE QUARTERLY. It’s available in two different formats on Amazon: a full-color paperback edition and a black-and-whitepaperback edition, or you can buy the full-color edition directly from editor and publisher Robert Deis on eBay.


Anonymous said...

You mention the Bob Hope USO shows in Vietnam; I had the distinct honor and privilege as an 18-year-old, goo-goo-eyed Army MP to be on the five-man protection detail for Mr. Hope's dancers, who accompanied him. Lola Falana asked me to help "zip her up" during a hasty costume change between acts and I still remember the "kiss on the cheek" she gave me afterward. I kept calling her "Miss Falana," to which she repeatedly replied, "Call me Lola." Every Christmas, when the networks re-run the "Bob Hope Christmas Specials," I hope for the final one, filmed in 1972, but they never seem to play it. To this day, I'm thankful "Bob and his Gals" risked life and limb to entertain us in the combat zone...

James Reasoner said...

What a great story. Thank you! It appears that Christmas Special is on YouTube here:

I watched the opening credits and they mention Lola Falana. I haven't heard anything about her in years. It appears she's still alive and is 81 years old. I remember her appearing on The Tonight Show many times and flirting with Johnny Carson. I always enjoyed her appearances. A beautiful, talented woman.