Victor J. Banis

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Victor J. Banis
VictorJBanis.jpg
Born 1937
Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania, United States
Occupation Novelist
Nationality American
Period 1960-present
Genre Gay pulp fiction,
Mass market paperback,
Science Fiction
Website
http://www.vjbanis.com/

Victor J. Banis (born 1937) is an American author, often associated with the first wave of west coast gay writing. For his contributions he has been called "the godfather of modern popular gay fiction."[1] He is openly gay.[2]

Life[edit]

Born in 1937 in Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania, Victor J. Banis was the tenth of eleven children born to William and Anna Banis. As a small child, Banis moved with his family to Eaton, Ohio, where he lived on a farm and finished high school in 1955. While still in grade school, he began writing Nancy Drew-inspired mysteries featuring his classmate Carol Peters, now the writer Carol Cail. In his memoirs he writes about growing up in severe poverty.[3]

On his own, he lived for a brief time in Birmingham, Alabama, before moving to Dayton, Ohio, where he worked in sales and floral design. In 1960 he moved to Los Angeles, where he lived for 20 years and had his first literary success. He rapidly turned out a number of important novels, and he and his partner, Sam Dodson, collaborated on a number of nonfictional gay works as well as a few, generally insignificant novels. They also published magazines and edited for DSI, a Minneapolis publisher. Banis served as a tutor for various aspiring writers and acted as their de facto agent. He championed the early writing of mystery writer Joseph Hansen, among others.[4] In 1980, he moved to Big Bear in the San Bernardino Mountains, and then in 1985 to San Francisco, where he worked as a property manager. In 2004 he retired and took up residence in Martinsburg, West Virginia. There he returned to writing full-time.[5]

Writings[edit]

One of the First Gay Pulp Fiction Novels published in the U.S.; cover art by Daryl Milsap.

Banis's first published work was a short story, "Broken Record," that appeared in the Swiss gay publication Der Kreis in 1963.[6] His first long work of fiction was The Affairs of Gloria, a heterosexual romance with a few lesbian scenes inspired by the recent popularity of novels with lesbian themes; it was published in 1964 by Brandon House, a Los Angeles paperback publisher. The novel was indicted by a federal grand jury in Sioux City, Iowa, for conspiracy to distribute obscene materials in a government scheme to crack down on materials deemed pornographic. Although some of his co-defendants were found guilty, Banis himself was acquitted.[7]

He continued to write both straight and bisexual novels for Brandon House, but incensed by government censorship, he was increasingly drawn to depicting the struggling gay scene that was yet barely chronicled in American literature. His first significant work of fiction was the innovative novel The Why Not, 1966. A series of intertwining sketches of habitués of a Los Angeles gay bar, it was the first gay work published by a San Diego firm, Greenleaf Classics.[8]

Jackie Holmes, the first positive gay detective in a mystery series, on the cover of The Man from C.A.M.P.; cover art by Robert Bonfils

Finding the novel sold well, editor-in-chief Earl Kemp asked Banis to submit other gay novels. Thus was born The Man from C.A.M.P., 1966. The success of the original novel was so great that Banis went on to write eight sequels, 1966-1968. The series is historically important for several reasons. It was the first gay mystery series, already five in number before George Baxt could follow up on his success with A Queer Kind of Death, also 1966. And the C.A.M.P. novels depicted what is probably the first openly out and joyfully unrestrained gay hero in American letters, the indomitable undercover agent Jackie Holmes.[9]

Banis wrote under a number of pseudonyms for Greenleaf, Brandon House, and Sherbourne Press. They include Victor Jay, J. X. Williams, Jay Vickery, and others for his gay male pulp fiction works.[10] However, upon the success of The Gay Haunt, 1970, published by Maurice Girodias in his Traveller's Companion series, Banis moved away from the gay genre. He began writing heterosexual gothic romances, again under a variety of pseudonyms. Jan Alexander and Lynn Benedict were two of the most popular. In 1977 he moved into more mainstream publishing with a historical novel, This Splendid Earth, written under the byline V. J. Banis and published by St. Martin's Press. Its success led to a sequel and opened doors at Warner Books and Arbor House.[11] But by 1980 he was feeling burned out and ceased publishing.

In the early years of the new millennium, Banis found himself approached by various scholars seeking information about the history of gay publishing during those crucial years in the 1960s. Their number included Hubert C. Kennedy, Michael Bronski, Susan Stryker, Fabio Cleto, and Drewey Wayne Gunn.[12] In 2004 Professor Cleto, of the university in Bergamo, Italy, contacted Haworth Books about republishing three of the early C.A.M.P. novels and convinced his own university to publish Banis's memoirs, Spine Intact, Some Creases. In 2006 Bill Warner of GLB Press brought out a second trilogy of C.A.M.P. novels, and Michael Burgess of Wildside Press began republishing others of Banis's long out-of-print novels.

Banis began writing fiction once again. He appeared in a number of anthologies. Come This Way, a collection of new and some old stories along with excerpts from earlier novels, was published by Regal Crest in 2007 with an homage from Drewey Wayne Gunn.[13] The same year, Wildside Press published Avalon, a heterosexual romance set in the 1940s through the 1970s, and Carroll and Graf published the gay western romance Longhorns, with an informative essay by Michael Bronski, his first new novels in more than thirty years.[14]

List of selected works[edit]

This Splendid Earth - Banis' sweeping romance novel set in the 1830s
Longhorns - Banis' period gay western published in 2007
  1. "Broken Record," in Der Kreis, 1963, by Victor J. Banis - short story
  2. "David Victorious," in One magazine, 1963, by Victor J. Banis - poem
  3. The Affairs of Gloria (Brandon House, 1964) by Victor Jay - novel
  4. The Why Not (Greenleaf Classics, 1966; Wildside Press, 2007) by Victor J. Banis - novel
  5. The Man from C.A.M.P. (Leisure Books, 1966) by Don Holliday; included in That Man from C.A.M.P. - mystery (C.A.M.P. # 1)
  6. Color Him Gay (Leisure Books, 1966) by Don Holliday; (Wildside Press, 2007) by Victor J. Banis - mystery (C.A.M.P. # 2)
  7. The Watercress File (Leisure Books, 1966) by Don Holliday - mystery (C.A.M.P. # 3)
  8. The Son Goes Down (Leisure Books, 1966) by Don Holliday; included in That Man from C.A.M.P. - mystery (C.A.M.P. # 4)
  9. Gothic Gaye (Leisure Books, 1966) by Don Holliday; e-book (GLB Publishers, 2006) by Victor J. Banis; included in Tales from C.A.M.P. - mystery (C.A.M.P. # 5)
  10. Good-bye My Lover (Sundown Reader, 1966) by J. X. Williams; e-book (GLB Publishers, 2006); Goodbye, My Lover (Wildside Press, 2007) by Victor J. Banis - murder mystery
  11. Rally Round the Fag (Ember Library 1967) by Don Holliday; e-book (GLB Publishers, 2006) by Victor J. Banis; included in Tales from C.A.M.P. - mystery (C.A.M.P. # 6)
  12. The Gay Dogs (Ember Library, 1967) by Don Holliday; (Wildside Press, 2007) by Victor J. Banis - mystery (C.A.M.P. # 7)
  13. Holiday Gay (Phenix Companion Books, 1967) by Don Holliday; included in That Man from C.A.M.P. - mystery (C.A.M.P. # 8)
  14. Stranger at the Door (Late Hour Library, 1967) by Don Holliday; (Wildside Press, 2007) by Victor J. Banis - novel
  15. Three on a Broomstick (Adult Books, 1967) by Don Holliday - novel
  16. Sex and the Single Gay (Leisure Books, 1967) by Don Holliday - advice
  17. Blow the Man Down (Late Hour Library, 1968) by Don Holliday; (GLB Publishers, 2006), e-book by Victor J. Banis; included in Tales from C.A.M.P. - mystery (C.A.M.P. # 9)
  18. Brandon's Boy (Adult Books, 1968) by Jay Vickery; The Greek Boy (Wildside Press, 2007) by Victor J. Banis - novel
  19. Man into Boy (Adult Books, 1968) by Jay Vickery - science fiction
  20. Gay Treason (Ember Library, 1968) by J. X. Williams - World War II romance
  21. Homo Farm (Brandon House, 1968) by Victor Jay; Kenny's Back Wildside Press, 2007) by Victor J. Banis - mystery
  22. Friar Peck and His Tale (Greenleaf Classics, 1969), published anonymously - novel
  23. The Gay Haunt (The Other Traveller, 1970) by Victor Jay; (Traveller's Companion, 1972; Wildside Press, 2007) by Victor J. Banis - supernatural novel
  24. Shadows (Lancer Books, 1970) by Jan Alexander - gothic romance
  25. The Wolves of Craywood (Lancer Books, 1970) by Jan Alexander; (Wildside Press, 2007) by V. J. Banis - gothic romance
  26. House of Fools (Lancer Books, 1971) by Jan Alexander - gothic romance
  27. The Second House: A Novel of Terror (Beagle Books, 1971) by Jan Alexander - gothic romance
  28. White Jade (Popular Library, 1971) by Jan Alexander; (Wildside Press, 2007) by V. J. Banis - gothic romance
  29. The Devil's Dance (Avon, 1972) by Jan Alexander; (Wildside Press, 2007) by V. J. Banis - gothic romance
  30. House at Rose Point (Avon, 1972) - gothic romance
  31. The Girl Who Never Was (Lancer Books, 1972) by Jan Alexander - gothic romance
  32. The Glass House (Popular Library, 1972) by Jan Alexander; (Wildside Press, 2007) by V. J. Banis - gothic romance
  33. The Glass Painting (Popular Library, 1972) by Jan Alexander; (Wildside Press, 2007) by V. J. Banis - gothic romance
  34. Moon Garden (Popular Library, 1972) by Jan Alexander; (Wildside Press, 2007) by V. J. Banis - gothic romance
  35. The Bishop's Palace (Popular Library, 1973) by Jan Alexander - gothic romance
  36. Darkwater (Pocket Books, 1975) by Jan Alexander; (Wildside Press, 2007) by V. J. Banis - gothic romance
  37. The Haunting of Helen Wren (Pocket Books, 1975; Thorndike Press, 2004) by Jan Alexander - gothic romance
  38. Blood Ruby (Ballantine, 1975) by Jan Alexander; (Thorndike Press, 2004) by V. J. Banis - gothic romance
  39. The Sword and the Rose (Pyramid Books, 1975) by Victor Banis; (Wildside Press, 2007) by Victor J. Banis - novel
  40. The Lion's Gate (Berkley Medallion, 1976) by Jan Alexander; (Wildside Press, 2007) by V. J. Banis - gothic romance
  41. Green Willows (Pocket Books, 1977; Thorndike Press, 2004) by Jan Alexander - gothic romance
  42. This Splendid Earth (St. Martin's Press, 1978; Wildside Press, 2007) by V. J. Banis - historical romance
  43. Blood Moon (Lancer Books, 1979) by Jan Alexander - gothic romance
  44. The Earth and All It Holds (St. Martin's Press, 1980; Wildside Press, 2007) by V. J. Banis - historical romance
  45. The Moonsong Chronicles (Pinnacle, 1981) by Jessica Stuart - Moonsong Chronicles # 1
  46. A Westward Love (Warner, 1981) by Elizabeth Monterey; (Wildside Press, 2007) by V. J. Banis - romance
  47. San Antone (Arbor House, 1985; Wildside Press, 2007) by V. J. Banis - western romance
  48. Spine Intact, Some Creases: Remembrances of a Paperback Writer (ECIG, 2004) by Victor J. Banis, edited with an introduction by # Fabio Cleto; revised (Wildside Press, 2007) - memoirs
  49. That Man from C.A.M.P.: Rebel without a Pause (Harrington Park Press, 2004) by Victor J. Banis, edited with an introduction and an interview by Fabio Cleto - anthology (three novels)
  50. Tales from Camp: Jackie's Back (GLB Publishers, 2006) by Victor J. Banis, with an interview and checklist by Drewey Wayne Gunn - anthology (three novels)
  51. Avalon (Wildside Press, 2007) by V. J. Banis - romance
  52. Longhorns (Carroll & Graf, 2007) by Victor J. Banis, with a foreword by Michael Bronski - western romance
  53. Come This Way (Regal Crest Enterprises, 2007) by Victor J. Banis, edited by Lori L. Lake with a foreword by Drewey Wayne Gunn - collection of short fiction
  54. The Wolves of Craywood (Wildside Press, 2007) by V. J. Banis - supernatural romance
  55. The Devil's Dance (Wildside Press, 2007) by V. J. Banis - supernatural romance
  56. The Astral: Till the Day I Die (Wildside Press, 2007) by V. J. Banis - supernatural romance
  57. Life and Other Passing Moments (Wildside Press, 2007) by Victor J. Banis, edited by Robert Reginald - collection of short fiction
  58. Drag Thing (Wildside Press, 2007) by Victor J. Banis
  59. Lola Dances (ManLoveRomance Press, 2008) by Victor J. Banis
  60. A Deadly Kind of Love (Dreamspinner Press, 2011) by Victor J. Banis

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ Long, Thomas L. "Editor's Welcome: Short Shorts." Harrington Gay Men's Literary Quarterly, 8.3 (2006), page 2.
  2. ^ Gunn, D. Wayne, "Pulp Legacy, Part II: An Interview with Victor J. Banis and William J. Lambert III", Books to Watch Out for 2 (11), retrieved 2007-12-05 
  3. ^ Banis, Victor J. Spine Intact, Some Creases, edited by Fabio Cleto. Genova, Italy: ECIG, 2004, pages 17-19.
  4. ^ Banis, Victor J. Spine Intact, Some Creases, edited by Fabio Cleto. Genova, Italy: ECIG, 2004, pages 137-142.
  5. ^ Banis, Victor J. The Golden Age of Gay Fiction. Edited by Drewey Wayne Gunn. Albion, New York: MLR Press, 2009, page 249.
  6. ^ Banis, Victor J. Spine Intact, Some Creases, edited by Fabio Cleto. Genova, Italy: ECIG, 2004, pages 26, 117-118.
  7. ^ Banis, Victor J. "Paperback Virgin." e.I, 2.1 (January 2003). http://efanzines.com/EK/ eI6/ (downloaded Nov. 29, 2007). Banis, Victor J. Spine Intact, Some Creases, edited by Fabio Cleto. Genova, Italy: ECIG, 2004, pages 27-32, 87-96.
  8. ^ Banis, Victor J. Spine Intact, Some Creases, edited by Fabio Cleto. Genova, Italy: ECIG, 2004, pages 106-108. Gunn, Drewey Wayne. "Victor Banis: An Appreciation." Lambda Book Report, Fall 2007, page 32.
  9. ^ Norman, Tom. American Gay Erotic Paperbacks: A Bibliography. Burbank, CA: private printed, 1994, page. 60. Munroe, Lynn. "The Man from C.A.M.P." e.I, 2.1 (January 2003). http://efanzines.com/EK/ eI6/ (downloaded Nov. 29, 2007). Cleto, Fabio. "That Very Man: Interview with Victor J. Banis." That Man from C.A.M.P.: Rebel without a Pause, by Victor J. Banis. New York: Harrington Park Press (Southern Tier Editions), 2004, pages 327-346. Gunn, Drewey Wayne. The Gay Male Sleuth in Print and Film: A History and Annotated Bibliography. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2005, pages 18-20.
  10. ^ Munroe, Lynn. "The Man from C.A.M.P." e.I, 2.1 (January 2003). http://efanzines.com/EK/ eI6/ (downloaded Nov. 29, 2007). Kemp, Earl. "Authors: Pseudonyms." Sin-a-rama: Sleaze Sex Paperbacks of the Sixties, edited by Brittany A. Daley et al. Los Angeles: Feral House, 2005.
  11. ^ Munroe, Lynn. "The Man from C.A.M.P." e.I, 2.1 (January 2003). http://efanzines.com/EK/ eI6/ (downloaded Nov. 29, 2007). Banis, Victor J. "My Books." Spine Intact, Some Creases, edited by Fabio Cleto. Genova, Italy: ECIG, 2004, pages 353-369.
  12. ^ Kennedy, Hubert C. The Ideal Gay Man: The Story of Der Kreis. New York: Haworth Press, 2000, page 44. Stryker, Susan. Queer Pulp: Perverted Passions from the Golden Age of the Paperback. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2001, passim. Bronski, Michael. Pulp Friction: Uncovering the Golden Age of Gay Male Pulps. New York: St. Martin's Griffin, 2003, pages v, 305-306. Gunn, Drewey Wayne. The Gay Male Sleuth in Print and Film: A History and Annotated Bibliography. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2005, pages 18-20.
  13. ^ Gunn, Drewey Wayne. "Foreword." Come This Way, ed. Lori L. Lake (Nederland, TX: Royal Crest, 2007, pages vii-x.
  14. ^ Bronski, Michael. "Looking for Victor Banis." Longhorns by Victor J. Banis. (New York: Carroll & Graf, 2007), pages vii-xiv.

External links[edit]

  • [1] Gay History Writers' Project website page for Victor J. Banis
  • [2] The Wildside Press official website
  • [3] The efanzines website
  • [4] The ManLoveRomance Press official website