Beginning in the '30s and running all the way up until the 1970s, stag magazines were outlets for the frustrated masculinity of men returning from wartime only to find that their new foes were squeaky hinges and their most thrilling conquest was crabgrass. They needed excitement so badly that they didn't care if it was vicarious or insane. And thus entered the stag mags: Their modus operandi was to commission an eye-catching painting first, and then hire a writer to pen a "true story" that synced up with the tantalizing image. But regardless of the veracity of their accounts, one thing was inarguable: There has always been a very fine line between insane badass and aggressive homosexuality; stag magazine covers stood up and said: "Fuck that line."
#7. WEASELS RIPPED MY FLESH
Ostensibly, the viewer is supposed to take one look at this painting and think, "Jesus, can you imagine being caught in that awful situation? However will that man survive?"
That's the intent, anyway. But really look at that picture: What that man is displaying is not fear. That man is not displaying concern, or anxiety, or a will to survive. What he is displaying, very proudly and enthusiastically, is a club made out of the very same animals that are attacking him. The berserker rage has overtaken him so completely that he is actually beating them with their own kind.
Now, look at the direction of the water -- there, in the lower right hand corner.
See it? The water looks like it's flowing over something doesn't it? What's going on there? A reasonable man might assume the obvious: It's a waterfall, probably located just out of frame, thus adding even more tension to the already dramatic tableau.
But this is not artwork for the reasonable man.
This is the artwork of the mad and the damned, and it takes a sinful maniac to understand it. So allow me to explain: This man is not the victim of a sudden and unexpected attack. This man has never been a victim in his entire life. This man has simply constructed a sluice system that funnels angry weasels into the shirtless dam of howling fury that he has formed at its terminus.
But ... why?
Curiosity, of course. Some men climb mountains simply "because they are there." Some men fight a hundred weasels in an aqueduct simply "because I'm pretty sure I could take them."
#6. GIVE ME BACK MY ARM
The title of this story says it all. It reads:
"GIVE ME BACK MY ARM"
All capitals, no punctuation. That statement does not suggest a cry of fear, an exclamation of surprise or a plaintive plea. No, it is a direct, loud, firm command; as one would order a dog to drop errant table-scraps, so is this man ordering a savage river predator to release his limbs or suffer the consequences.
And oh, poor thing, it looks to be firmly mid-suffer.
But, hey -- don't feel too sorry for the beast, it's like the old saying goes "sometimes you get the bear, sometimes the bear gets you ... and then your only option is to uppercut your way out from inside of its goddamn mouth."
...Editor's note: I have no idea what Sex Storms are, or what exact meteorological perversions they entail, but I've just burnt my entire paycheck on sandbags and condoms, and I would describe my current attitude as "dreadfully optimistic."
#5. VAMPIRES RIPPED MY FLESH
Q: What time is it?
A: Time to beat them with their own kind.
And God, this man was just built to wreck a bunch of animals in the most profane way possible. Look at his form! He's delivering a devastating hook to one bat in mid-air, while simultaneously plucking another from the sky and preparing to whip that bitch like a fastball into its own brethren. Look, just look:
That bat is fucking terrified. It's not even flying at him anymore -- it's running away. And why? Because it doesn't want to know what it feels like to have your own daughter pitched into you at 89mph.
It's important to remember that the process most of these stories went through was the painting first, and then the text. So at some point, a roomful of writers were faced with an editor standing in front of this very picture, likely having the following exchange:
Editor: All right, ladies, who's got a headline for this mean son of a whore right here?
Writer 1: Jesus, what even is this?
Writer 2: I've got nothing for this. This is ridiculous. Nobody is going to believe this ever happened.
Editor: Fifty bucks in it for the best story.
Writer 1: Killer bats plague countryside!
Writer 2: Plague bats kill countryside!
Writer 1: You motherf- "I was a teenage bat-king."
Writer 2: "Bats stole my shirt!"
Writer 1: "I. FIGHT. BATS."
Writer 2: "VAMPIRES RIPPED MY FLESH!"
Writer 1: I ... shit, that's really good. You have bested me, sir. I look forward to perusing your work. I will retreat to the area beneath the bleachers of the local baseball stadium, where I shall search for fallen hot dog bits.
And that is how we get art.
#4. COXSWAIN HARDY AND HIS 20 MAROONED GEISHAS
Perhaps the most astounding detail of this piece is not the inexplicably dry blouse of the woman in red (dude, it's like, super-hard to draw wet clothes!) nor even the fighter planes in the background bombing the shit out of a completely deserted island, thus implying that they're purposefully targeting those naked Asian clones. No, the most amazing detail of this painting is that not one -- not one -- of those girls is doing any kind of overarm stroke. They're all dog paddling, 'cause that's how bitches be swimming.
What's the backstory that we're supposed to be buying into here? Did we enact a bombing campaign against nudity back in the '40s, or am I misreading the whole scenario, and this is actually a stream of explosive whores about to torpedo that poor man's ship?
Ah, but I'm assuming they even tried to explain this cover believably, when the sad reality is that ofttimes these magazines were just precursors to the "Penthouse Forums," where sad men bragged of fake conquests in a misguided attempt to arouse the other, equally sad men who read it. I mean, it's all right there in the title:
"Coxswain Hardy and His 20 Marooned Geishas."
Come on, that's the porniest porn title since Dick Dicklonger the Vicedick of Dickington Invades Pussytown (With His Dick).