Kendra Steiner Editions (Bill Shute)

June 7, 2020

One Man Army: The Action Paperback Art of Gil Cohen (New Texture–Men’s Adventure Library)

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Gil Cohen ONE MAN ARMY HC cover

One Man Army: The Action Paperback Art of Gil Cohen

(New Texture–Men’s Adventure Library)

Edited by Robert Deis and Wyatt Doyle

available in hardcover (see above) and softcover (see below)

order online from:  Amazon US link for One Man Army, hardcover

Gil Cohen ONE MAN ARMY PB cover 2

Robert Deis and Wyatt Doyle follow-up their superb books devoted to the work of Samson Pollen with this exciting and beautifully done collection of the paperback book art of GIL COHEN, a man known and respected for his magazine art, his paperback book art, and his aviation art. More specifically, ONE MAN ARMY covers Cohen’s work for the iconic MACK BOLAN: THE EXECUTIONER paperbacks and other related series written by Don Pendleton.  The Pendelton/Bolan books are a genre unto themselves, and many used bookstores will have an entire section devoted to these paperbacks. Pendleton had a streamlined, tightly-wound, whip-crack literary style that did not have a wasted word and pulled the reader from chapter to chapter. In some ways, the entire industry of 80’s and 90’s straight-to-video action films (still being made today in quantity, by the way) are indebted to the vibe created by Pendelton/Bolan/Executioner books.

While the books delivered the goods, those goods might not have been purchased without the cover art. Remember, in the pre-internet era, people did not “surf” in their spare time and stumble across things that would catch their interest for 30 seconds—-they went to a bookstore or a newsstand, looked over the offerings, and spent their hard-earned money on a physical book….a MACK BOLAN: THE EXECUTIONER paperback. It was a conscious purchase that necessitated leaving one’s house. Those memorable hard-boiled, stylized covers on the books managed to distill both the content and the attitude of the books into one image on the cover–it had to be an image that would both inspire someone to buy the book and to plant visuals into the readers’ minds when they got the book home and spent an evening or two with it. For many readers, the images in their mind’s eye would grow out of the image on the cover, using that as a seed planted in the imagination. And that seed was planted by artist GIL COHEN. It’s no wonder that when Pendelton switched publishers, Cohen was asked to continue doing the covers, and when non-Executioner spin-off series were started, Cohen was asked to do those covers too—-after all, Cohen’s art was an important touchstone of the brand. He was also responsible for the picture of Bolan that ran for years at the top of the front cover, separate from the cover art. Even if you never bought or read a Mack Bolan novel, you saw them in bookstores new and used, and you knew what the brand represented by seeing the cover, even at a distance….that was due to Cohen’s art.

Editors Deis and Doyle has collected over 100 ORIGINAL ARTWORKS by Cohen used for these covers, and they’ve presented them with clarity and richness and taste in this fine book. When I first heard about the book coming out, I assumed we’d be getting the paperback book covers, but no, we get the original paintings. To say they are full or beauty and power would be an understatement—-they are both precise (Cohen is an ex-military man—-as was author Pendleton—- and someone familiar with weaponry, so not just the weapons, but they way they are held and the position of the fingers and the arm is accurate) and evocative.

Each of the 100+ artworks here takes you into its own vivid world and suggests the action and intrigue you’d get in the actual books—-we also get a fascinating 12-page  introduction, in Cohen’s own words, about the paperback commissions, his working technique, his use of models and his methods for exactitude and specificity, and his take on the Bolan/Executioner books and their legacy. You couldn’t ask for a finer representation of this side of Cohen’s work.

MB#80 Gil Cohen ONE MAN ARMY Running Hot (1985)

MB#56 Gil Cohen ONE MAN ARMY Island Deathtrap (1983)

MB#60 Gil Cohen ONE MAN ARMY Sold for Slaughter (1983)

MB#31 Gil Cohen ONE MAN ARMY Arizona Ambush (1977)

and now a sampling of some of the original paperback covers:

mack 1

mack 2

mack 3

ONE MAN ARMY: THE ACTION PAPERBACK ART OF GIL COHEN is a lush and exciting book, putting you into the action and in the hands of an action-art master. It has my highest recommendation. Another home run for the Men’s Adventure Library division of New Texture books!

You can learn more about Mr. Cohen’s aviation art here:

January 4, 2014

STOP REQUESTED by Wyatt Doyle (New Texture Books, 2010)

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published 2010 by New Texture Books

illustrations by Stanley  J.  Zappa


I’m a little late getting to this book from 2010, but quality doesn’t age.  I first discovered Wyatt Doyle many years ago through his DVD commentary (done with Chris D.) on the amazing film DEATH SMILES ON THE MURDERER. I then became familiar with his blog New Texture and the books he’s published by other authors under his New Texture imprint (the wonderful collection of over-the-top, hard-boiled “men’s magazine” fiction, WEASELS RIPPED MY FLESH is a must-read). Wyatt is also a fascinating photographer, and KSE used one of his pictures on the front cover of Doug Draime’s 2013 poetry chapbook DUSK WITH CAROL.

dusk with carol

However, I had not read his fiction until I stumbled across a copy of STOP REQUESTED. The book is a collection of short, linked pieces set on the buses and at the bus stops of Los Angeles…and for me, the book is a wonderful addition to the literature of the lost and the doomed in the City of Angels. However, there is no whiff of tragedy or of condescension in STOP REQUESTED…no philosophizing narrator, no ironic detachment. What Wyatt Doyle has done with this book is to re-create on the page a complete world, the world of those who do not or cannot afford to drive and who rely on public transportation and those who drive the buses. This is a world not noticed or seen by those driving by in air-conditioned cars with the windows rolled up…and like most worlds, it has its hierarchy, its people consigned to (or choosing) roles, its territorial grabs, its people full of dreams and regrets and passions and pain, its people acting on a stage for the view of others—-sometimes fooling them, sometimes not. As the press release for the book states, “Public transportation is a great equalizer.” It’s one of those places like a hospital emergency room or the DMV Office or  a jury room at the county courthouse or at a parade where a wide variety of people are thrown together and they are forced to jockey for position. For some of the characters in this book, making the right impression on the bus is as important as a corporate takeover is to a captain of industry. In a self-effacing, lean literary style that shows the influence of the men’s magazine authors Doyle has edited/compiled but also has the elliptical, post-modern zen understatement of a Richard Brautigan, Doyle presents these mini-dramas and mini-comedies and slices of urban life with a poet’s gift for the carefully-chosen detail and a playwright’s gift for dialogue that rings true yet has a sense of both menace and comedy, like what one would hear in an Edward Albee play. This is 21st Century America. Someone who wants to understand this age 100 or 200 years from now should read this book. It’s all here. As an author, Doyle does not step on the page and pontificate. He has read the tea leaves of everyday urban reality, and he has fashioned a collection of details and situations that comes alive for us, and allows the readers to come to whatever judgments they choose to. Some will find the book funny….some, tragic…some, a biting critique of capitalism and the class structure….some, an insightful window into mental health concerns….some, a work of sociological significance…some, an installment in the proud tradition of Los Angeles fiction. Like life, it’s there, it’s all around you, and you can choose what to do with it and how to view it.

To create this kind of understated yet pungent urban poetry is a real achievement. Many of these pieces are primarily dialogue, and the first-person narrative persona is a kind of cipher and thus a window for the reader. He is laid-back, tolerant, and one with the world in which he’s living. That’s also a hard trick to pull off as a writer, but it works very well here and puts us on that bus  in the narrator’s shoes (and jeans), seeing through his eyes, hearing through his ears.

I spent many years as a bus rider. I did not own a car during my many years in Colorado, as the Denver metropolitan area had excellent RTD bus service, and as long as I was a high school or college student, I could get an unlimited monthly bus pass for $12 or $15. And once I moved to Oklahoma, I needed the bus for inter-city and inter-state travel, and THAT world is an entirely different story, a world of E1 and E2 poor military recruits, young unwed mothers, persons with disabilities who cannot drive, migrant workers, elderly folks going from one small town to another, kids with guitars headed to Austin armed with a dream, etc.

I once gave the following advice to a young poet who gave me his work for critique, and his work was nothing but a bad channeling of things he’d read, with no jagged, felt, or REAL-seeming particulars. I told him, “I think a good exercise for an apprentice poet would be to limit yourself to a small area…the alley behind your apartment, the parking lot of the convenience store in your neighborhood, a city park…and take notes on the THINGS of that environment. The ground, the walls, the trashcans, the insects, the animals, the patterns to the discoloration of the paint, the ripped screens, the smells, the sounds, the textures. Then use those notebooks as the raw material from which you sculpt your creation, with each particular resonating and functioning as a deep image in your well thought-out, intelligently designed construct. That’s how poetry is constructed, and it’s hard work.”  Wyatt Doyle captures those kind of deeply felt particulars in STOP REQUESTED. He captures the voices, and thus the hopes and dreams and fantasies and pain and joy of the kind of characters that folks coming out of MFA programs pass by on the street on their way to spend $5 for a cup of coffee. This is almost like a Los Angeles-set version of John Dos Passos’s MANHATTAN TRANSFER for the 2010’s, but minus the self-conscious literary experimentation. Doyle’s style does not call attention to itself. As with the work of a quality craftsman in any field, form and function are indivisible.

Anyone who appreciates the poetry published by KSE would be sure to enjoy STOP REQUESTED. I actually felt inspired at the end of this book. The author has a deep love of humanity and the book radiates an “everything that is, is holy” vibe. Grab a copy while you can…

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