03 October 2012


Photo by Roger Conrad
HARLAN ELLISON is unarguably the greatest living JD author (writer of juvenile delinquent fiction) in the world, a pedigree that tags along with a mile-high stack of accolades. Ellison was hatched in Cleveland, Ohio in 1934 and grew up in aptly-named nearby Painesville. He ran away from home several times, and worked a colorful string of odd-jobs, including tuna fisherman, crop-picker, nitroglycerine truck drive, door-to-door salesman, and short-order cook. He made it through high school and enrolled at Ohio State. He was promptly expelled. His writing career began with a couple of news stories and a sale of a tale to EC Comics. 

Ellison relocated to New York City in 1955 and joined a teenage gang in Red Hook, Brooklyn, traveling under the name “Cheech Beldone”. The experience in a black leather jacket and motorcycle boots would affect his work throughout his long and sturdy career. Where his early delinquent books like The Deadly Streets and Rumble has been reissued over the years, the extremely scare and desirable SEX GANG, a collection of early men’s magazine fare and delinquent-tingled tales, has remained unavailable until now. 

Photo by Chris Cuffaro
Ellison has allowed Kicks Books to issue the stories from SEX GANG in two volumes, with several additional stories from the late fifties and early sixties. PULLING A TRAIN and GETTING IN THE WIND, together, encompass all the action, traction and raunch that formed a genre all its own, a style populated by several fiction and science fiction scribes alongside Ellison, but Ellison was and is the king of the heap. He continues to rule the kingdom from his typewriter-infested abode in an undisclosed wooded area in Southern California. 



ELLISONIACS!! PULLING A TRAIN meets its match GETTING IN THE WIND -- the pair tag teams the mass market paperback world STARTING NOW-- are you ready to howl?

Greetings from the hip pocket paperback empire...Kicks Books USA... home to authors Andre Williams, Sun Ra, Nick Tosches, Kim Fowley and of course... Harlan Ellison, whose gritty pseudonymous 1959 short story collection SEX GANG has remained elusive, underground, and misunderstood for over fifty years. No longer! We're gassed beyond all measure to present, in two volumes, every story from SEX GANG, plus six noggin bashin' cherry-picked originals circa 1957-66 that set in stone a rumbling notion that Ellison is indeed the ultimate bad cat of rockin', rollin' cold-blooded/red-blooded, dead-beat, gang-bangin', train pullin', wind gettin', supreme action street fiction.

PULLING A TRAIN and GETTING IN THE WIND are delivered via twin "hip pocket paperback" format-- independent volumes that collide to form the ultimate set. One for the hip pocket, another to bop a perceived offender smack upside the head.

California artist LES TOIL'S torrid cover paintings (yes, there are two) form a seamless image of the true SEX GANG pack-- street vixens who won't take "no" for an answer, alley rats who find the flash of a blade intoxicating, boulevard dolls who delight in the muffled cry of a face crushed beneath a scuffed stiletto heel. This is real life set to the sound of sirens echoing down the dead end streets of America. The edge of forever... starts at the waterfront.



Harold McCauley was the original cover art genius at Nightstand Books. As the story goes, McCauley was artist Haddon Sundblom's model for the Quaker Oats label. Yes, the guy who painted the cover of SEX GANG smiles knowingly at you from the cereal shelves  of every supermarket the world over as the face of wholesome Quaker Oats.


Now dig this -- In 1973, SEX GANG saw limited reissue on Reed Nightstand with an updated cover, painted by McCauley's assistant Robert Bonfils. Now, Bonfils swears on a stack of first edition Nightstands that he painted the current Quaker Oats label, using his mentor (McCauley) as the model. I like both versions of the story. The idea that two different SEX GANG artists are represented in oatmeal is really exciting to me. The only thing that could top this, would be if Les Toil repainted the logo with Ellison as the model. Then, the circle would be complete. Of course, for Harlan, the product would have to be wild oats.

An Ellisonian evolution revolution...

Photo by Roger Conrad
Cleveland-born Harlan Ellison's published works include over 1,700 short stories, novellas, screenplays, essays, teleplays and books. He is the recipient of numerous awards including multiple Hugos, Nebulas, and Edgars. He is the subject of the documentary DREAMS WITH SHARP TEETH which reveals him to be the most energetic, opinionated, and combative conversationalist alive today. Yes, of course, you know all this, but do you know what evils lurk within these unleashed pages of unadulterated mayhem from decades past? 


16 July 2012

TUES 7/17 WFMU 6 PM 

Harlan Ellison, author of the controversial new book duo PULLING A TRAIN and GETTING IN THE WIND (Kicks Books USA) and the subject of a new perfume (look out, Karl Lagerfeld) called SEX GANG (title of one of the TRAIN stories) is slated for a live intergalactic radio interview broadcast tomorrow (Tuesday July 17) from 6-7 PM EST on WFMU 91.1 fm 90.1 fm wfmu.org). 

Tune in as acclaimed host Chris T digs deep into the mind of one of the greatest scribes of our generation. 

Cleveland-born Ellison's published works include over 1,700 short stories, novellas, screenplays, essays, teleplays and books. He is the recipient of numerous awards including multiple Hugos, Nebulas, and Edgars. 

Ellison's two new books hail from Brooklyn, NY based publisher KICKS BOOKS, which specialized in genre-busting pulp fiction that has been kept fro the public for far too long. Each book issued by KB USA is carefully considered for publication. The company sprouted from collectors-only fanzines BAD SEED and SMUT PEDDLER, offshoots of rock 'n' roll magazine KICKS.

Ellison's experience as a teenage mobster in the Red Hook slums of Brooklyn, NY in the 1950's brings an authentically acrid attitude to his writings, which is entirely unique. 

The two volumes deliver seventeen superb  early "lost" street action stories written by Ellison under various pseudonyms for the "brown paper wrapper" adult market.

These tales are marked with street violence-- juvenile delinquent, zip-gun blasting bad attitude and envelope-pushing sexual situations that set the barre fifty years ahead of today's psychosexual conflict-addled mayhem. Ellison has included new essays to each volume which reveal, for the first time, the true  stories behind his early career when he was "doing it for the buck". 

Kicks Books is the only known publisher in the history of the world to issue a perfume intended to accompany the books. House of Kicks Parfum has issued a "Scent of The Streets" called SEX GANG, named for one of the stories in PULLING A TRAIN. 

It is available in a limited edition, packaged with a miniature switchblade. 

Chris T's  award-winning phone-in talk show AERIAL VIEW has been delivering the goods since 1989. He is also heard worldwide on noted Sirius XM program FREEWHEELIN' WITH MEREDITH OCHS AND CHRIS T.

The Harlan E/Chris T match can be heard on WFMU tomorrow, Tuesday, July 17 at 6 PM EST. Listeners worldwide may tune in to have their ears singed at wfmu.org

• Kicks Books press contact • 
Paige Turner Kicks Books 
tel (917) 671 7884 or (718) 789-4438

16 May 2012


SUN RA (1914-1993) Sun Ra was a prolific jazz composer and bandleader, born Herman Poole Blount in Birmingham, Alabama. He was active in the South in his early years but made his mark in Chicago. He abandoned his name and old life for the decidedly cosmic “Sun Ra”, a person and personality totally apart from his old life as Herman Blount. A voracious reader and student of all things philosophical, his music and art took an interstellar turn for the unorthodox. Afrofuturism was a philosophy that celebrated the mysteries of the planet and the universe. His music and writings divulged his intergalactic eccentricity, but until now, with the never published “lost” poems collected in THIS PLANET IS DOOMED, we discover. 

Along with sidereal stanzas, a realm of attitudinal poemics that reveal his dissatisfaction with humankind. There is an undercurrent of anger in this collection that has electrified Sun Ra’s followers. A foreword by esteemed poet Amiri Baraka and an observational essay by popular culture historian Bhob Stewart make this a thought provoking hip pocket paperback that will be drawn upon time and time again.




Foreword by Amiri Baraka • Introduction by Bhob Stewart  (KB2)

T-minus 30... the countdown is on for the publication of a new hip-pocket paperback from the masterminds at KICKS BOOKS!

THIS PLANET IS DOOMED, which collects the science-fiction poetry of Sun Ra, explodes into the stratosphere on 7/7/11, an auspicious day for numerologists and doomsday enthusiasts alike. 7/7 coincides historically with the detonation of 20 kiloton Little Feller II, the first of the last four above ground nuclear warhead tests conducted in the US. 

The date will also evidence interstellar overdrive when Saturn, Pluto, Uranus and Venus form an intense and rare alignment known as the Cardinal Grand Cross.

THIS PLANET IS DOOMED serves up a traumatic torrent of future shock—deeply personal and critical commentary and unsettling advice to the people of Earth, who fail to acknowledge this planet’s role in the universe.

Poet Amiri Baraka's estimable foreword, together with science fiction historian Bhob Stewart’s revealing introduction, set the stage for the heavy dose of the real and the unreal, which are delivered in the pages of THIS PLANET IS DOOMED.

Poet Amiri Baraka’s estimable foreword, together with science fiction historian Bhob Stewart’s revealing introduction, set the stage for the heavy dose of the real and the unreal which are delivered in the pages of THIS PLANET IS DOOMED.

This book was collected from tape recordings and transcriptions culled from the Sun Ra Archives by director Michael Anderson, who worked with Norton records to compile a total of six albums—three collections of rare and unissued music recordings (on LP and CD) and another trio (vinyl only) of unissued spoken word Sun Ra.

THIS PLANET IS DOOMED was expanded with the addition of several key “lost” poems which appear here for the first time.

In conjuntion with the publication of THIS PLANET IS DOOMED, the Orchard has launched downloads of the vinyl spoken word albums, which are entitled 
An out-of-this-world promotional fragrance, SATURNIA, will be available in a limited edition of THIS PLANET IS DOOMED. This trend was set with the Andre Williams’ book SWEETS. All future KICKS BOOKS will issue with limited edition promotional sister scents.

THIS PLANET IS DOOMED will be available 
here on July 7.

For further information please contact press secretary 
Paige Turner.

15 May 2012



Kicks Books NYC prepares for fireworks with its publication of the controversial collection PULLING A TRAIN, the explosive first volume of twisted early street fiction from noted scribe HARLAN ELLISON. 

Known worldwide for his landmark speculative fiction, Cleveland-born ELLISON initially rumbled onto the newsstands hell-bent for leather-- jackets, that is, and zipguns, and shivs, and brass knuckles, and all the accoutrements necessary for basic teen gang violence circa 1957. 

Inspired as a teenager in seeing a familiar placement of consonants in the byline of author Hal Ellson's novel DUKE, young Ellison began pecking out his own gritty tales about street kids, the forgotten flotsam of society. 

With a taste for printers ink, he would soon be selling stories with a vengeance to crime digests like Guilty, Trapped, Terror, and Web Detective Stories,  and men's magazines including Rogue, Caper, and Knave. Sometimes he used his given name, but most often, he traveled incognito onto the newsstands, passing as Ellis Hart, Derry Tiger, Cordwainer Bird, Lee Archer, and many more.  

A paperback collection of his street-wise crime tales saw proper issue in 1959 as THE DEADLY STREETS, as did his groundbreaking first novel RUMBLE, written from first person experience when Ellison (using his nom de guerre, Cheech Beldone) passed initiations into a pack of under-age Red Hook pagans on the Brooklyn waterfront. 

Also in 1959, a brown-paper wrapper collection of his men's magazine stories turned up unannounced (and under the counter) as the paperback SEX GANG,  the title of its novella-length lead story. The set of eleven stories was credited to "Paul Merchant", and went unclaimed by Ellison for decades.

Over the years, all of Ellison's books have enjoyed reissue, over and over again, and numerous collections of his short fiction have continued to see print. His adult-audience material, however, has remained unavailable-- until now.

For the uninitiated, we recommend consumption in very small doses. A damp towel and bed rest may be necessary. 

For the lively set, prepare to blast into orbit with blade-wielding ferocity as Ellison takes you into a cobblestone wilderness fraught with hate and violence, a street level cosmos where shadowy creatures are hard, and blunt, and malicious, and where hope hangs a shingle that reads, "GET LOST".

In the realm of 1950's juvenile delinquent fiction, it was Ellison who dragged the unnamed genre from the gentle hands of the social workers into a filthy basement, where he worked it over, with great satisfaction, into an alternate universe of hate and pain. Ellison is the king of JD fiction. Of this, there can be no debate.


PULLING A TRAIN by Harlan Ellison (KB4) Kicks Books, NYC. 176 pages. Publication date: May 27, 2012 $14.95 ISBN 978-09659777-5-3