Monthly Archives: May 1994

They Came from the Newsstand: Pulp Magazines from the Browne Library

On Display, Summer 1994

Case 1

Short Stories. July 10th, 1939. Cover by Leo Morey (d. 1965)
Love Fiction Monthly. June, 1939. Cover by Redmond.
Railroad Magazine. August, 1939.
Weird Tales. August, 1939. Cover by Virgil Finlay (1914-1971)
Argosy. June 24, 1939. Cover by Rudolph Belarski (1900-1983)
Thrilling Wonder Stories. June, 1939. Cover by Howard V. Brown (b. 1878)
Astounding Science-Fiction. July, 1939. Cover by Graves Gladney (1907-1976)
Detective Fiction Weekly. July 1, 1939. Cover by Emmett Watson.
Blue Book Magazine. August, 1939. Cover by Herbert Morton Stoops (1888-1948)
Street & Smith’s Western Story Magazine. August 19, 1939. Cover by Harold Winfield Scott (1898-1977)
Thrilling Sports. July, 1939.
Popular Love. September, 1939.

These magazines represent a small sample of the multitude of pulp magazines available at newsstands during the summer of 1939. This is also a sample of the collection of more than 8,500 pulp magazines in the Browne Library. Often crude, but always vital, pulps were an important publishing outlet for some of the finest American writers of the first half of the century. The artists who illustrated the covers and stories created an expressive visual vocabulary that is undeservedly forgotten today beyond the world of pulp magazine collectors.

Case 2

Anthony P. Morris. Electro Pete, The Man of Fire; or, The Wharf Rats of Locust Point, A Baltimore Detective Tale. Cleveland, Ohio: The Arthur Westbrook Company, c1884.
Argosy All-Story Weekly. December 15, 1923. Cover by Modest Stein (1871-1958)
The Lariat Story Magazine. January 1926. Cover by Elliott Dold, Jr. The pulp magazine era began with Frank A. Munsey’s 1896 decision to omit everything but fiction from his Argosy magazine. The audience Munsey and his competitors attempted to reach with their new, cheap all-fiction magazines had already acquired the habit of reading westerns, romances, detective tales, and fantasy fiction in the form of dime novels, nickel weeklies, and cheap paperbound reprints, such as Electro Pete. The golden age of the pulps begins in the twenties, when competition between publishers drove the creation of a dizzying profusion of magazines.

Western Story Magazine. January 12, 1929. Cover by Will James (Joseph E. N. Dufault, 1892-1942)
Blue Book Magazine. August, 1935. Cover by Herbert Morton Stoops (1888-1948)
West. March, 1948. Pulp magazines were sold primarily at newsstands rather than through mail subscriptions, and, by 1914, the dramatic, illustrated cover had emerged as the primary means of attracting readers away from the competition. Beyond the cover, pulp editors worked to encourage repeat buyers by printing fiction by famous writers like Max Brand, or stories about famous character like Zorro.

Weird Tales. December, 1932. Cover by J. Allen St. John (1872-1957)
Weird Tales. June, 1938. Cover by Margaret Brundage (1900-1976)
Weird Tales. December, 1939. “Lords of the Ice,” by David Henry Keller (1880-1966), illustrated by Virgil Finlay (1914-1971) Weird Tales is the most famous of all the pulps. At its height in the thirties, the magazine counted H. P. Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, and Seabury Quinn among its regular contributors. J. Allen St. John, best known for his covers for Edgar Rice Burrough’s Tarzan books, alternated cover assignments with Margaret Brundage, whose erotic pastels were as scandalous as they were popular. In the late thirties, Virgil Finlay became the third major artist to paint regularly for the magazine. Finlay also provided black-and-white interior illustrat

Case 3

Amazing Stories. August, 1927. Cover by Frank R. Paul (1884-1963)
Amazing Stories. August, 1928. Cover by Frank R. Paul. In 1926, Hugo Gernsback founded Amazing Stories, the first magazine devoted exclusively to what he called “scientifiction.” Early issues were filled with reprints of classic stories, but the magazine caught on and soon original work crowded out the reprints. The August 1928 issue contains Philip Francis Nowlan’s “Armageddon–2419” which introduced Buck Rogers to the world. Frank R. Paul was the staff artist who created both the covers and interior illustrations for the early issues of Amazing Stories and in the process created an influential style for the genre which marks him as the first master of American science fiction illustration.

Astounding Science-Fiction. February, 1940. Cover by Hubert Rogers.
Startling Stories. January, 1948. Cover by Earle K. Bergey (1901-1952)
Planet Stories. March, 1951. Cover by T. Anderson.

Though science fiction magazines were never a large part of the pulp market, they received a great deal of negative publicity due, in part, to work of cover artists like Earle Bergey. He was best known for his lush illustrations of scantily-clad women in perilous situations. In the January 1948 issue of Startling Stories, Bergey illustrates a story by fellow cover artist Hannes Bok. Bergey’s work sold magazines and other artists like T. Anderson carried on the Bergey “brass brassiere” tradition well into the fifties. In contrast, Hubert Rogers’ covers for Astounding Science-Fiction are utterly distinctive by virtue of their restraint.

Amazing Stories. October, 1936. “Uncertainty,” by John W. Campbell, Jr. (1910-1971), illustrated by Leo Morey (d. 1965) Hugo Gernsback was instrumental in defining science fiction as a distinct genre through Amazing Stories, but he lost control of the magazine in 1929. Its new owners cut it down to conventional pulp size in 1933 but without Gernsback, Amazing Stories became one among the many science fiction pulps that had sprung up in its wake. John W. Campbell, Jr., published occasionally in Amazing Stories, but in 1939 was appointed editor of Astounding Stories (later Astounding Science-Fiction) and from that post discovered or developed many of the best writers of the forties, including Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein, and published them in his magazine. Campbell was as fundamental to the development of science fiction in the forties as was Gernsback in the twenties.

Case 4

The Phantom Detective. March, 1939. Contains “Murder Preferred” by Norman A. Daniels, writing as C. K. M. Scanlon.
Ten Detective Aces. April, 1939. Contains “Crime Co-Operative” by Norman A. Daniels. Cover by Norman Saunders (b. 1907)
Black Book Detective. November, 1948. Contains “The Killer and his Dead” by Norman A. Daniels. Cover by Rudolph Belarski (1900-1983) These pulps are Norman A. Daniels’ file copies of his own work. His papers, with those of his wife, romance writer Dorothy Daniels, are part of the manuscript collections of the Browne Library. Daniels published under his own name and a variety of pseudonyms, writing sports fiction, westerns, science fiction, and romances, as well as radio scripts for the Nick Carter radio series. After the demise of the pulps in the fifties, he covered the same wide variety of genre for paperback publishers.

Love Adventures. March, 1933. Cover signed: A. L. H.
Love Book Magazine. January, 1937. “Don’t Call Me Darling” by Peggy Gaddis (1895-1966), illustrated by Clinton Spooner.
Street & Smith’s Love Story Magazine. May 18, 1940. Cover by Modest Stein (1871-1958) Romance fiction was one of the largest selling pulp genres, but it has been little studied and is rarely collected. One of the most prolific contributors to the romance pulps of the thirties and forties was Peggy Gaddis, who is best known as the author of more than one hundred romance novels, many of which are still in print.

Case 5

Popular Love. November, 1943. Cover by Earle K. Bergey (1901-1952)
Street & Smith’s Love Story. December 28, 1943.
Ranch Romances. October 19, 1956. Cover by Kirk Witson. During the years of World War II, artists did their part by painting covers which connected romance to the war effort and offered a new emphasis on the presence of women in the work force. After the war, adventure/romance magazines like Ranch Romances continued to feature cover heroines who worked and fought for control of their own destinies. Detective Fiction Weekly. June 4, 1938. Cover by Emmett Watson.
Black Mask. January, 1944. Cover by Rafael De Soto (1904-1987)
Dime Detective Magazine. July , 1949. “Hellcat of Homicide Highway” by Bruce Cassiday (b. 1920) Cornell Woolrich, Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler an Erle Stanley Gardner all wrote some of their best stories for the detective pulps. Long after Hammett, Chandler, and Gardner had moved up to slicker publications, craftsmen like Bruce Cassiday worked the hard-boiled vein in a multitude of detective magazines.

The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. April, 1954. Cover by Emsh (Edmund Emschwiller, b. 1925)
Raymond Chandler (1888-1959). Five Sinister Characters. New York: Avon, c1945. Inscribed to E. T. “Ned” Guymon by the author.
Dashiell Hammett (1894-1961). The Return of the Continental Op. New York: Dell, [1947] Cover by Gerald Gregg (b. 1907)
Abraham Merritt (1882-1943). Seven Footprints to Satan. New York: New Avon Library, c1942.
The Pocket Book of Science-Fiction. Edited by Donald A. Wollheim. New York: Pocket Books, c1943. During World War II, many pulps suspended publication or published in the smaller, digest format in response to paper rationing. After the war, the magazines that survived faced new competition from other entertainment media, notably paperback books and television. Some pulps lived on as digest magazines; the greatest of the postwar science fiction magazines,

The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, was founded in 1949 as a digest and set the style for science fiction periodicals to follow. Functionally, the pulp magazine, a 10-by-7-inch magazine printed on cheap paper, was dead as a form by the late fifties. Many of the paperback houses that contributed to the decline of the genre–Ace, Dell, Avon, among others–were actually started by pulp magazine publishers. They had the presses, the expertise, and the newsstand distribution networks which made the success of the mass-market paperback possible. These pulp-oriented paperback houses mined the old magazines for reprints. This kept pulp literature, if not pulp magazines, alive. The Return of the Continental Op reprints material first published in Black Mask; Five Sinister Characters contains stories first published in Dime Detective; and The Pocket Book of Science Fiction collects material from Thrilling Wonder Stories, Astounding Science-Fiction, and Amazing Stories.

ions which are masterpieces of meticulous virtuosity.