Saturday, March 30, 2024

Men's Adventure Quarterly #10- The Vietnam Issue

The new MAQ magazine just came out and it’s a hard-hitting time capsule collection of vintage fiction, non-fiction, art and attitudes from the era of the ‘Nam. Besides introductions, comments for context and a few articles related to the subject, everything inside was originally printed in various Men’s Adventure Magazines of the 60s and 70s and painstakingly compiled by co-editors, Robert Deis and Bill Cunningham.

I was born in 77 and grew up in a culture with an ever-increasing nostalgia for the 60s era culminating in the 90s. Everything I know about Vietnam I learned from the movies, television, and music. My dad, too young, just missed the age of the draft, my grandparents were too old and none of my relatives were in it. Or protested it. So basically, I have no real-world based connection on the actual substance of the situation, war or conflict.

Normally for anything Bob Deis and his multiple cohorts put out, that’s no problem. It’s usually all schlocky and fantastical fiction blurring the lines of the real world with outlandish scenarios made for purely entertainment purposes. This was different though. I found the Vietnam issue all too real.

The first piece of material is a true account written as fiction called, The First GIs to Die In Vietnam from Man’s Magazine in January of 1963. Four US soldiers are taken prisoner by the Viet Cong. Two of them are executed. Two live to tell the tale. There are real world news articles included along with photos of the soldiers. And lastly an afterword written by Bob Deis with the current facts of the story as we know them now in 2024. I’m going to be honest, it really got to me.

That’s when I realized this wasn’t going to be wild made-up animal attacks, outlaw bikers or forbidding hitmen. I had to rearrange my preconceptions. I had to get mentally prepared for this one, because it was going to be heavy. It was going to make me feel emotions and venture into a place I actively try to avoid; the real world. The First GIs to Die In Vietnam set the tone for me and though there are some schlocky tales contained within this issue, the first story rolls around in the back of your mind reminding you of the seriousness behind the tales. I surmise this was done on purpose to honor the soldiers who were there. To come out swinging with a more exploitive story like, say, Saga of Mad Mike Kovacs and His Battling Lepers of Vietnam, it might have been taken as a dismissive shrug to the soldiers who fought and died. They want you to know, yeah we’re going to have some fun here but at the same time, these were real human beings who deserve our utmost respect. And to that point I feel they truly did it with class and sincerity.

So, what about the magazine?!

This is another stellar collection compiled by Bob Deis and Bill Cunningham, who also did all of the graphic design. Spectacular original cover art scans enhanced by Bill’s design expertise. Along with stories from heavyweights in the Vietnam fiction genre like Glenn Infield and Robert F Dorr, not to mention one from The Godfather author himself, Mario Puzo, there are reprints of some non-fiction articles like the torrid history of Sergeant Barry Sadler, the singing Green Beret soldier and Casca creator/author who had a number one hit with his song, The Ballad of the Green Berets. And a piece about how soldiers were inauspiciously treated when they returned home not only from protesters but the work force, the communities, and a completely dismissive Government.

Visually, as previously stated, we get high resolution images of the covers of the original magazines along with the art contained within. Credited if possible. An article about the most famous paperback/ Men’s adventure face Steve Holland. A much-appreciated gallery and article about Raquel Welch and her time overseas with Bob Hope entertaining the troops. An article about military issue comics by Bill Cunningham and one of my favorite pieces in the magazine is an article by paperback aficionado, Paul Bishop, about Vietnam centered paperbacks which then leads into Saigon Commandos author Nicholas Cain’s article about his recollections of the origins of the Saigon Commandos movie.

So yeah, I sounded a little dramatic at the beginning of this review. I think that first story just really hit me in the gut. But it does get lighter, it does get silly and fun, there are indeed still paintings of barely clothed women in distress…or kicking ass! There is a leper brigade that fights off the Viet Cong with a lone US super soldier. There is lots of action, of course. Fight scenes in the air, in the jungle and even underground in those nightmare tunnels. There is a little bit of everything in this issue and I not only completely enjoyed it, but it gave me an insight into who the actual people who fought. Not the politics- pro or anti, but the human beings behind the uniforms.

The magazine and other great releases can be purchased here:Mens Pulp Mags


  1. Thanks very much from me and my MEN'S ADVENTURE QUARTERLY co-editor Bill Cunningham for that insightful review of MAQ #10. Your comment that it gave you "...insight into who the actual people who fought. Not the politics- pro or anti, but the human beings behind the uniforms" reflects what I was hoping to accomplish as we put together that issue. Cheers!

  2. Thanks so much Bob! I really enjoyed it, just like everything you put out