Tuesday, June 1, 2010


If they were still around, how many of us would be churning out tales for the pulps?

The inexpensive fiction magazines were published from around 1896 through the 1950s. The typical pulp magazine was seven inches wide by ten inches high, a half an inch thick, and 128 pages long. Pulps were printed on cheap paper with ragged, untrimmed edges.

They coined their name from the cheap wood pulp paper on which the magazines were printed. Those printed on better paper were called "glossies" or "slicks." In their first decades, they were most often priced at around a dime while competing slicks were 25 cents apiece.

Although many respected writers wrote for pulps (Elmore Leonard, Philip K. Dick and Tennessee Williams) the magazines are best remembered for their scandalous and exploitative stories and sensational cover art.

Adventure stories catered to its overt male audience and featured glamour photography and lurid tales of adventure that featured wartime feats of daring, exotic travel or conflict with wild animals.

As for the inside, it was all very un-PC and filled with typically fictionalized or over-embellished stories of war, survival, crime, safari, and the Old West.

The adventure mags are generally considered the last of the true pulp magazines and had reached their circulation peaks long after the genre-fiction pulps had begun to fade. These magazines were also colloquially called "armpit slicks", "men's sweat magazines" or "the sweats", especially by people in the magazine publishing or distribution trades.

Enjoy the slideshow (which I did not make).

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  1. *sighs* Guess that I was born 3 or 4 decades too late. How about those Spicey-Adventure stories...scantily clad women being carried off by men with knives clenched between their teeth. I see what you mean by the un-PC.

  2. I wish those magazines were still around. There is such a small market for stories.
    I remember my dad's friend always had these stashed under his coffee table.
    While I am far too young and female for such things, I do remember picking up Alfred Hitchcock Presents and enjoying those short stories.
    Those were the days, ma friend...
    (World's best cover art, by the way)

  3. If they were still around everyone in publishing would wonder how these fiction-centric pubs were still alive, let alone the ten best-selling magazines in the world. They would hypothesize that culture was in decline, that young'uns found prose debauchery and machismo that somehow couldn't translate to the silver and silicon screens, and that the mags were fudging their sales figures. None would expect that it was because I was controlling the hypothesis. Nobody ever suspects themselves of being a hypothesis.

    Sorry. I don't what happened to me there.

  4. This makes me sigh. Back in the days when entertainment was simple. We didn't need hd tvs or super duper perfectly told tales. I was watching an old western the other day. They were lighting candles on their christmas tree, giving young'uns guns *just in case*.

    Today seems so * safe * and *perfect* it sickening. It's as if we have forgotten what it really means to live. Of course, people probably live longer (because we have electric toothbrushes). Okay, enough ranting. Thanks for the pulpy memories, Ant. Loved the very first one of Tarazan ;-)

  5. Yeah, cracking looking magazines.

  6. To bring back the pulps and have them still be shocking these days, you'd have to have wartime feats of daring, exotic drugs and sex with wild animals; and I mean just to get in the proper mindset for writing the story.

    Seriously though, to really be shocking today you'd probably only have to be slightly racist and a little bit bigoted, like a lot of them probably were. Beware those rose-tinted spectacles; they might have been made using child labour in a third-world country.


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