STAG : Man’s Own Magazine (Spring 1946)

The second world war is over. And out of those ashes arose a plethora of new publications, borne from the minds of civilians and veterans alike. STAG: Man’s Own Magazine (Vol 1 # 1, Spring [March] 1946) was edited by Bevis Winter, and claimed to be exclusively for “men.” The opening pages are written and signed by the editor, welcoming readers out of the hell of war to the progress of tomorrow.

Stag 1

It’s also littered with stock-photos of Hollywood actresses in various poses.

  • Page 2 – Cyd Charisse
  • Page 27 – Jean Kent
  • Page 28 – Margaret Lockwood
  • Page 32 – Marilyn Maxwell
  • Page 37 – Phyllis Calvert
  • Page 41 – Ava Gardner
  • Page 42 – Frances Rafferty
  • Page 67 – Patricia Roc

An assortment of articles aimed at men include historical male figures, sports, men’s dress code, household, automobiles, etc. Then there are the usual cartoon and comic joke-snippets interspersed by artists such as “Merlin,” Geoffrey Wadlow, and a pair of others.

The real gems are the fiction stories, most of which are supplied by quality writers.

  • Ralph L. Finn – A Dame with a Difference (pages 7-11)
    A man jaded on women finds the woman of his dreams and they romance each other to pieces but he bails out on her when marriage is brought into the equation.
  • Hervey Elliot Scott – He Shot a Fat Lady (pages 16-20)
    A humorous circus murder story, involving the presumed murder of the Four Ton Florrie by the India-rubber Man. The police try him for murder, he is convicted, but, when they attempt to exact vengeance in the name of the law, bullets bounce off him, hanging him only stretches his neck, electrocution fails, etc. You get the idea. We then are informed that the Fat Lady is not dead! She merely was in a coma due to the folds of her fat, where the bullet had lodged.
  • Dennis Wynne – And the Blood Coursed Freely (pages 21-26)
    The story involves a man reliving his youthful days through a variety of action-filled silly scenarios; finding a beautiful woman, fighting and losing her. Purely a humorous tale.
  • Denys Val Baker – Water (pages 49-51)
    Baker delves deep into the sinister fascination a hydrophobic deals with on a regular, daily basis, in all forms and fears.
  • Gerald Kersh – Vision of a Lost Child (pages 55-58)
    A man grows up re-living a nightmarish tragedy from childhood in his dreams and each time he sleeps, he sinks deeper and deeper in mud. Believing that when the mud succeeds in creeping over him that he will die, he puts off sleep for over a week and seeks the aid of a psychologist. In the end, he falls asleep, and the mud wins. A deep, dark story by a clever writer of weird stories.
  • Brett Ogilvie – The Abnormal Talent (pages 62-66)
    A painter’s works-of-art come to life upon completion, only, he desires to exit the business lest he go insane. When asked by a friend to draw a gun, he performs the task. It is used against him. Thus dying, all his creations-come-to-life immediately vanish. However, the dead artist returns to life, sans his former ability! A entrancingly humorous fantasy.
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STAG : Man’s Own Magazine (Spring 1946)

Gerald Kersh – The Battle of the Singing Men, and selected stories (1944)

STAPLES The Battle Of The Singing MenIt’s a rare opportunity to read such an obscure publication and enjoy it. Such was the high level of expectation.

Gerald Kersh hardly needs any introduction. You can readily GOOGLE his name in quotations marks, and find zillions of sites, mostly copycats of each other, happy to cough up information on the author. Ironically, most of the sites plagiarized data from each other (as the same wrong data appears on every site).

In a brief note, Gerald Kersh is English-born, Jewish, his autobiographical novel Jews without Jehovah was published 1934 and the novel was suppressed as libelous by his family (for failure to conceal their identities) and is subsequently quite rare, obtained broader fame with Night and the City in 1938 which led to two films, and if his death should have led to becoming an obscure footnote in literary history, author Harlan Ellison has noted that Kersh is his favorite author. This has inspired a whole new plethora of readers and created new fans of his material.

Kersh lives!

His older, earliest stories often deal with the lower echelons of humanity and, quite realistic portrayals they are; no doubt ripped from real-life experiences and as a result, fictionalized on some level. I’ve never actually read a collection of his works. A story here or there in various publications, over time, certainly.

The cover title states The Battle of the Singing Men and Selected Stories. Inside, the title page merely states Selected Stories. It was published by Staples and Staples in 1944. This yellowish-orange colored booklet contains only 9 stories.
The original publications are noted after each title, below:

7 – The Battle of the Singing MenJohn o’ London’s Weekly, December 8, 1939
13 – Will to PowerThe Star, November 5, 1938
17 – DudelsackJohn o’ London’s Weekly, October 9, 1942
20 – The Musicians
* First publication unknown
31 – The UndefeatedIllustrated, Sept 27, 1941
41 – The StoneJohn o’ London’s Weekly, June 20, 1941
47 – The Drunk and the BlindPenguin Parade #4, 1938
54 – Prometheus Evening Standard, June 23 1938
57 – The Extraordinarily Horrible DummyPenguin Parade #6, 1939

The last tale is the only “fantastic” or supernatural story present, and, fails to touch upon any new territory. Like many of its predecessors, the tale involves a ventriloquist’s dummy that has an evil spirit. That spirit turns out to be his asshole father. Earlier versions of this sort of tale often involve artists creating models from clay, marble, etc, and the form evilly coming to life and either leading the person to insanity or eventual death.

STAPLES Selected StoriesThis edition was originally preceded by a thicker digest-paperback edition, same publishers, under the title Selected Stories, being No. 2 in their Modern Reading Library (1943). This edition actually saw at least two editions, both identical, save for the copyright notice. The book also contains an acknowledgement, courtesy of Mr. Kersh, dated, November 1942. The pages are bound in “hard” paper covers, and contains 23 stories.

Confused? Perhaps not, but for collectors, or more accurately, completists, most do not know about the orange “cheap edition.” It’s not properly indexed anywhere online, this (the Internet) being universally the first place most look to for their information.

Hence my note that many (most?) online sources are plagiarists! The orange edition is often cited as having been published by Everybody’s Books! And, to further that comment, I suspect I know how that attribution came to pass. See, Everybody’s Books was also a bookstore, and often took in battered books during the war years, and gave them a new life. As you know, the war years were tough on publishers and printers, due to strict paper-rationing. So, what better way to make money than stripping off the damaged covers and re-issuing a fresh one? They did just that, and for those not in the “know,” they assume the book is a rare variant published by Everybody’s Books. But if you look closely at the covers, it clearly states “Everybody’s Re-Bound” edition. These re-bound editions are largely ignored and recorded, as thus, in error.

It is perhaps important to further note that both of these editions published by Staples and Staples predate the mid-1944 release of The Horrible Dummy and Other Stories published in England by William Heinemann.

Gerald Kersh – The Battle of the Singing Men, and selected stories (1944)