The official blog for the Pulp Magazines Project, an open-access digital archive of early twentieth-century pulp magazines

Archive for the month “October, 2011”

Black Mask, November 1920

Romance, November 1919

Edited by Arthur S. Hoffman (who was also the editor of Adventure), the first issue of Ridgway Co.’s Romance magazine from November 1919 featured a new serial by Joseph Conrad, The Rescue. Conrad’s novel was also serialized that same year in the British weekly, Land & Water.

Daily Pulp Covers on our Facebook Group Page

Do you ever need a little snap in your morning, a little pep in your day? Well, we can supply that with our daily pulp cover images over at our Facebook Group page.
We at the Pulp Magazines Project add cover images every weekday, drawing from all the decades and genres of the pulp magazine. When possible we’ll also give you informative tidbits on the magazines, artists, authors, and publishers — as well as give you notices of when the PMP and this blog are updated. Wander over to FB and join our group. Here’s a sampling of what you’ll get…

History of Ginger Stories now available

Ginger Stories was a magazine whose covers promised reading that was “Piquant, Pungent, Peppery, Pleasing.” It was launched in November 1928 and ran for 31 issues before its publisher, Frank Armer, changed the title to simply Ginger with the June 1931 issue. The magazine ran for another 10 issues under this title before ceasing publication in April 1932…

For a full history of the magazines see http://pulpmags.org/database_pages/ginger_stories.html

"Ginger will be preserved"

History of Top-Notch Magazine Now Available

The first issue of Top-Notch Magazine appeared in March 1910. It began as a magazine for teenagers and, even as a pulp, concentrated mostly on sports stories, before switching to a men’s adventure magazine in the 1930s. During its twenty-seven year run, the magazine was published twice-monthly, and became one of Street & Smith’s circulation leaders in the pulp market, directly behind The Popular Magazine and People’s Magazine. Top-Notch featured such notable authors as Jack London, Gilbert Patten, Octavus Roy Cohen, Arthur Conan Doyle, Robert E. Howard…

For a full history of the magazine, see: http://pulpmags.org/database_pages/top_notch.html

History of Wonder Stories Now Available

In June 1929, Hugo Gernsback released his second SF-centric periodical, Science Wonder Stories, after having sold Amazing Stories (1926-) earlier that year on account of bankruptcy. Wonder Stories (“Science” was dropped from the title a year after its debut) was every bit the successor to Amazing: its “bedsheet” format featured both new authors and perennial favorites such as Jules Verne and H.G. Wells…

For a fuller history of the magazine, see:


History of Western Story Magazine Now Available

Western Story Magazine

On July 12, 1919, the first all-western pulp, Street & Smith’s Western Story Magazine, arrived on newsstands. Dated September 5th, and priced at $.10, the inaugural issue promised quality entertainment with “Big Clean Stories of Outdoor Life.” For the next thirty years, Western Story passed under the pens of three editors (Frank Blackwell [1919-34], Dorothy Hubbard [1934-7], and John Burr [1937-49]), yet always maintained its initial editorial commitment to clean, quality westerns…

For the extended history, go to:


Pulps, Preservation, and Active Reading

Recently returned from the Modernist Studies Association conference in Buffalo, and while there the Pulp Magazines Project had the opportunity to meet with a book trader, now retired, who started dealing in science fiction and genre magazines in the late 1940s. Needless to say, this was at the dawn of the age of modern science fiction (at least the post-Gernsback era). To put this in perspective, the first science fiction convention was 1937. Regardless, it was a rare treat conversing with him and hearing his stories.

Unfortunately, he sold off his pulp collection of 10,000+ items a few years ago, but we did score some interesting things – namely, a collection of bound pulps. These aren’t complete issues, but hodge-podge selections of stories or novels selected and rebound by a fan / collector. Any pulp collector who has been at it for a while will have seen such odd little homemade anthologies, and they usually steer away from them. And (perhaps) rightly so, because for the most part such “collections” are tattered and coverless amateur jobs, bound with a drill and some string or even duct tape and construction paper covers.
These volumes are different. They are professional, yet still have little touches that make them amateurish, personal labors of love: hand-calligraphy spine titles and pulp-cover illustrations embedded into the boards…

bound pulps

I find these volumes really quite charming, like pulp scrap books. And for a print or publishing historian, they offer plenty of critical fodder.

It is so rare that the modern historian or critic can trace the actual reception and audience or readership for magazines or even books. “Audience” is usually conjecture. This is why so much literary criticism confines itself to the critical reception in contemporary magazines, newspapers, and reviews. But a book critic isn’t the general audience. Literary historians like Michael Denning, Jonathan Rose, and Erin Smith have written excellent monographs that attempt to reconstruct the popular audience, but for the most part these remain conceptual – well, with the exception of Rose who, in The Intellectual Life of the British Working Class, relies upon correspondence and reading diaries. Smith’s Hard-Boiled is a very important book for bringing pulps into the critical spotlight, but it perhaps suffers by being too reliant upon ads, letters to the editors, and studies on the readership of the pulps done at the time, but which were skewed by cultural prejudice. These tools feed into theoretical abstraction as a means to construct the pulp audience.

How refreshing then to come across these lovingly bound volumes which mark an effort to not only preserve the fragile material of the pulps, but effectively remediate the pulps. Binding the pulps in this manner is more than an act of collection or canonization, but an act of legitimization which counters the prejudices against the pulp magazines as purely disposable and ephemeral fiction. The person who did these added high-quality end-papers, decorative boards, chose to bind in the original covers, and added typewritten tables of contents. And whereas many pulp collectors and magazine historians would just see these as marred, imperfect, incomplete magazines missing the majority of the ads, departments, contents, metadata, and contextualization, I see them as singular editions. They are evidence of not only active reading, but of text-making. And isn’t this what the pulps, which were always so attentive to their readers’ desires, always invited? These volumes embody active involvement in the texts, in production, and, finally, in preservation.
It should be plain to see why we at the Pulp Magazines Project think so.
–David Earle
p.s. and don’t forget to visit pulpmags.org

PMP at MSA and daily pulp cover

Daily Pulp Image, Argosy March 28, 1931. Cover painting by Paul Stahr

The Pulp Magazine Project (Pulpmags) is attending the 13th Modernist Studies Association in Buffalo. But that doesn’t mean that we are not tirelessly scouring the city for more magazines: Twenty minutes after checking into the hotel, we stumbled upon a box of 1930s Argosy Magazines at Old Editions Bookstore on Huron. Argosy is the most common, and most inexpensive pulp magazine. These were a little pricey ($15 or two for $25 — you can usually find Argosy in the $5-10 range if there aren’t any big names in that issue), but the addiction kicked in and your PMP representative grabbed some.

IF you happen to be at MSA 13, you can see David M. Earle present on True Confession Magazines and the Post-Mencken Smart Set on the “Modernist Manuals” panel, Friday at 10:30, and Patrick Scott Belk will be participating in the seminar on “Modernism and Seriality” today at 3:00.

All-Story Weekly, June 5 1919


Your Daily Pulp Cover—All-Story Weekly, June 5 1919; featuring J.U. Giesy’s The Mouthpiece of Zitu—brought to you by http://www.pulpmags.org.


The Pulp Magazines Project.

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