Saturday, July 10, 2004

OK, so I have this eBay habit. Or addiction. Whatever. Anyway, not long ago I bought six or eight men's sweat magazines from the late 1950s. Issues of CAVALCADE and SIR! There were lots of others on the market in those days, too: REAL MAN, TRUE MEN, MAN'S ADVENTURES, and on and on. They must have sold hundreds of thousands of copies a month. Sure, they had photos of scantily clad women, but the pictures aren't all that revealing, and they're of pretty low quality. (I mean the pictures, not the subjects, though come to think of it, the subjects aren't exactly Grade A, either.)

So my conclusion is that guys actually read these things. The articles in the ones I bought are typical: "I Was a White Slaver!,"The Brute Who Turned Bordello Boss," "The Lonely Women of Lesbos Isle." You get the idea. There was fiction, too, by guys like Mickey Spillane and Bob McKnight, along with some reprints from, of all things, WEIRD TALES, by Henry Kuttner and Manley Wade Wellman. The stories and articles aren't short, and the print is small. The paragraphs are long. But, as I said, guys read these things, or at least bought a ton of them.

When I started writing in 1981, there were still lots of books for guys. I broke in with a Nick Carter novel myself, and later I had a hand in series like THE M.I.A. HUNTER, THE TUNNEL RATS, and CODY'S ARMY. These were the tail-end of a huge boom in men's series books that started with Don Pendleton's THE EXECUTIONER. Like I said, books for guys. The Executioner and the Destroyer are still around, along with a couple of others, but the rest are long gone.

"So what?" you're probably saying. Well, I read the other day that in 2002, only 38% of American men read a book. Even one book. (And I'm guessing that one was by either Tom Clancy or John Grisham.) What that says to me is that guys don't read any more, which explains why there aren't any magazines like SIR! around these days. And why The Assassan and The Coxeman and The Sharpshooter and dozens of others have disappeared.

My theory is that guys watch videos now, but what do I know? I wish they'd all start reading books again.

No comments: