Although it’s not as widely collected as its successors — magazines such as BLACK MASK and DIME DETECTIVE — Street & Smith’s DETECTIVE STORY MAGAZINE was a trailblazer. Its debut issue, dated October 5, 1915, was the first pulp magazine successfully dedicated to one fiction genre. Its first editor, Frank E. Blackwell, explained in an early issue, “I feel that stories dealing with the detection of crime are of more interest to the reading public than any others.” Many more specialty pulps would follow in the ensuing years, culminating in single-character magazines such as THE SHADOW or DOC SAVAGE MAGAZINE.
DETECTIVE STORY MAGAZINE was a continuation of the nickel weekly, NICK CARTER STORIES, in which the first part of the lead story of the new pulp — “The Yellow Label” — had appeared. According to dime novel and story paper expert, J. Randolph Cox, “The intent was to transfer the reading public of Nick Carter’s adventures over to a more adult and sophisticated fiction magazine.” Judging from its long life — DETECTIVE STORY would run for thirty-four years, from October 5, 1915 through the Summer of 1949, a total of 1,057 issues — Street & Smith’s intent was very ably achieved.
Unlike its highly prized successors — particularly BLACK MASK, the magazine where the hard-boiled detective story first took shape — DETECTIVE STORY emphasized the more traditional or “clued” detective story. Carolyn Wells, Ernest M. Poate, Arthur B. Reeve, Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, Ellery Queen, and others all wrote stories along the traditional line, while Edgar Wallace, J. S. Fletcher, Johnston McCulley, Christopher Booth, Herman Landon, and more offered tales of rogue or “bent” heroes. Sax Rohmer was also a contributor to the magazine, introducing the “yellow peril” theme to the magazine’s mix. In later years, the fiction took on a more realistic tone, resembling the stories found in ELLERY QUEEN’S MYSTERY MAGAZINE, the mystery digest that had debuted during the second half of 1941.
Although DETECTIVE STORY MAGAZINE did little to further the development of the detective or crime story, its success would lead to a proliferation of pulp magazines devoted to a single theme or genre. According to the late pulp and science-fiction scholar Sam Moskowitz, “While not the first of the specialized fiction magazines, being preceded by THE OCEAN and THE RAILROAD MAN’S MAGAZINE, it accomplished what they had not by creating a trend that would result in the proliferation of the pulps into western, love, air, science fiction, and supernatural, as well as detective.” Likewise in 1931, the CBS radio series inspired by the magazine’s fiction, DETECTIVE STORY HOUR, would introduce the public to The Shadow, the announcer for each episode. Soon thereafter, Street & Smith would launch THE SHADOW DETECTIVE MAGAZINE, and the single-character pulp would be born.
In 2016, PulpFest intends to salute one-hundred years of the specialty pulp, first popularized during the fall of 1915, when DETECTIVE STORY MAGAZINE premiered. Join us at the Hyatt Regency Columbus from July 21 – 24, 2016. It should be a very special convention!
(The first issue of DETECTIVE STORY MAGAZINE featured front cover art by John A. Coughlin, a Chicago-born artist who got his start in his home town’s advertising business. Coughlin moved to New York City in 1912 and painted his first pulp cover a year later — for Street & Smith’s THE POPULAR MAGAZINE. Other pulp clients included ARGOSY, DETECTIVE FICTION WEEKLY, SHORT STORIES, TOP-NOTCH, and WILD WEST WEEKLY. He also contributed cover art for HARPER’S WEEKLY, FARM AND FIRESIDE MAGAZINE, and THE SATURDAY EVENING POST. According to pulp art scholar David Saunders, Coughlin’s cover for the March 7, 1931 issue of DETECTIVE STORY MAGAZINE marks the first painted appearance of The Shadow on a pulp magazine.)
Every year, PulpFest invests a lot of time, thought, and effort to come up with a top-notch programming schedule. We think 2015 was one of our best yet. Our celebration of Standard Magazines had presentations on a wide range of topics, including looks at sports and western pulps, once popular genres that are little explored. We even touched on Standard’s line of Golden Age comic books. Of course, the highlight of our “Thrilling” salute was Philip Sherman’s intimate presentation on his uncle, Leo Margulies, the managing editor of the Standard line of pulp magazines.
This year also marked the 125th birthday of H. P. Lovecraft, the master of cosmic horror. PulpFest celebrated this important anniversary with panels on the author’s so-called “Cthulhu Mythos” and WEIRD TALES, the pulp magazine where the bulk of his work appeared. We also featured films that were inspired by Lovecraft’s fiction as well as presentations featuring WEIRD TALES artists and authors inspired by his tales.
We kept you apprised about all these exciting topics through our website and social media sites and we’ll continue to do so as we plan for our 2016 convention, scheduled to take place from July 21 – 24 at the Hyatt Regency Columbus and The Greater Columbus Convention Center. But such things cost money and we have site sponsors such as PureCostumes.com to thank for their help to defray such costs.
The PulpFest organizing committee is now hard at work, planning for next year’s convention. In the months ahead, we’ll be redesigning our website for another go-round and announcing our plans right here, thanks to PureCostumes.com and our other site sponsors. So please bookmark www.pulpfest.com or follow us on RSS. You’ll also be able to find information at our Facebook site and through our Twitter account. Additionally, we’re in the process of adding Instagram and Tumblr accounts and reviving our email update list. All aboard!!!
(Although John A. Coughlin’s depiction of the grim reaper appeared on the February 7, 1931 issue of Street & Smith’s DETECTIVE STORY MAGAZINE, we could not resist using it for this year’s Halloween post. It’s a good one, don’t you think? Notice the blurb for the contest to describe The Shadow who, at the time, was the announcer for the CBS radio series, DETECTIVE STORY HOUR. The direct result of this advertising campaign was the first of the single-character pulp magazines, THE SHADOW DETECTIVE MAGAZINE. Its success would lead to the hero pulp explosion of 1933 and all of the great character pulps to follow.)
This year marks the 40th anniversary of DOC SAVAGE: THE MAN OF BRONZE, producer George Pal’s film adaptation of the Street & Smith pulp hero’s first adventure.
To celebrate, Doc Con XVIII has lined up a very special guest: actor Ron Ely, who starred as the Man of Bronze in the 1975 film. (He also played another pulp character, Tarzan, for two seasons on TV in the 1960s.) Ely will talk about the movie and be available for photos and autographs.
Other guests will include Bob Larkin, who painted more than 50 covers for Bantam’s Doc Savage paperback series; Anthony Tollin, publisher of Sanctum Books, who expects to finish reprinting all of the Doc Savage novels by the end of the year; and sociologist October Surprise, who has studied the readership of DOC SAVAGE MAGAZINE through its letter columns.
Doc Con XVIII will be Friday through Sunday, Oct. 9-11, 2015, at the Comfort Suites, 9824 W. Camelback Rd., Glendale, Ariz. You can find out more about Doc Con on its Facebook page, or by emailing Jay Ryan at JRyanDS@aol.com.
Interested in buying a copy of THE PULPSTER #24, our Lovecraft issue? Highlighted by a round-robin article on H. P. Lovecraft and WEIRD TALES with contributions from filmmaker Sean Branney; Marvin Kaye, the current editor of WEIRD TALES; W. Paul Ganley, founder of WEIRDBOOK; Derrick Hussey, the publisher at Hippocampus Press; authors Jason Brock, Ramsey Campbell, Cody Goodfellow, Nick Mamatas, Tim Powers, Wilum Pugmire, Jessica Amanda Salmonson, Darrell Schweitzer, and Chet Williamson; poet Fred Phillips; and pulp scholars and collectors John Haefele, Don Herron, Morgan Holmes, S. T. Joshi, Tom Krabacher, Rick Lai, Will Murray, and J. Barry Traylor, it’s truly a slam-bang issue from the esteemed editor of our highly popular program book, William Lampkin. With less than forty copies remaining, it’s quickly disappearing.
For a limited time, you can get free shipping on THE PULPSTER #24 if you pair it with an order for a copy of THE PULPSTER #23, released at PulpFest 2014. That number focuses on the 75th anniversary of the blossoming of science fiction’s Golden Age, when fantastic fiction “grew up.” Additionally, the magazine also examines the so-called “shudder pulps,” magazines such as Terror Tales and Spicy Mystery Stories.
Leading off the issue is “Science Fiction and the Pulps,” the unabridged version of Mike Chomko‘s “History of Magazine Science Fiction,” serialized on the PulpFest home page in 2014. Munsey Award winner Garyn G. Roberts is on board with an article on Futuria Fantasia, the fanzine that Ray Bradbury debuted at the first World Science Fiction Convention. Don Herron, the creator of San Francisco’s Dashiell Hammett Tour, the longest-running literary tour in the USA, takes a look at Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, Fritz Leiber’s classic characters that made their first appearance in the August 1939 Unknown. Dwayne Olson contributes several letters written by Donald Wandrei concerning the death of his friend, Hannes Bok, born one-hundred years ago on July 2, 1914. Additionally, Argentine pulp writer Alfredo Julio Grassi is profiled by Christian Lawson.
Weird-menace fiction came into its own in 1934 and The Pulpster looks back to those days with “Pulp Horrors of the Dirty Thirties,” written by Don Hutchison, author of The Great Pulp Heroes and many other works. Archaeologist Jeffrey Shanks is also on hand with a look at “Zombies from the Pulps,” an overview of the undead writings of H. P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, Manly Wade Wellman, Henry Kuttner, and other great pulpsters.
Filling out the issue is editor Bill Lampkin’s editorial, Tony Davis’ “Final Chapters,” and a tribute to the late Frank M. Robinson, written by John Gunnison of Adventure House.
As long as copies of both issues remain, you can get THE PULPSTER #23 & 24 for $20 from Mike Chomko, Books. This offer is good only in the United States. Mike will accept payments made via check or money order or through Paypal. Please write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 2217 W. Fairview Street, Allentown, PA 18104-6542 for further instructions. Quantities of both issues are very limited.
(Ed Cartier painted the cover used on THE PULPSTER #23. It originally appeared on the December 1939 issue of Street & Smith’s UNKNOWN and illustrated L. Sprague de Camp’s classic fantasy novel, “Lest Darkness Fall.” Four of the sixteen illustrated covers for UNKNOWN were painted by Cartier. He also created the cover for the 1948 reprint issue, FROM UNKNOWN WORLDS.)
PulpFest 2016 is still 10 months away, but it’s not too soon to start thinking about writing an article for THE PULPSTER.
Editor Bill Lampkin is looking for a variety of features on the pulps, and the writers, editors, and illustrators who worked on them. If you have an idea, he’d like to hear about it. You can contact him at email@example.com.
Next summer’s issue — #25, if you’re keeping count — will debut in July at PulpFest 2016, but the magazine must be edited and assembled before then. Deadline for submissions is May 1, 2016, but early submissions are encouraged.
If you’re interested in advertising in THE PULPSTER, please write to PulpFest marketing and programming director Mike Chomko at firstname.lastname@example.org. Mike can provide pricing and print specifications.
Looking for a copy of the 2015 issue? Mike Chomko, Books has THE PULPSTER #24 available for $13, postage paid. The issue features articles on Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson, adventure writer and the founder of DC Comics; the Thrilling Group of pulps and comic books; Erle Stanley Gardner; DETECTIVE FICTION WEEKLY; and other topics. The highlight of the issue is a round-robin article on H. P. Lovecraft and WEIRD TALES featuring contributions from filmmaker Sean Branney; Marvin Kaye, the current editor of WEIRD TALES; W. Paul Ganley, founder of WEIRDBOOK; Derrick Hussey, the publisher at Hippocampus Press; authors Jason Brock, Ramsey Campbell, Cody Goodfellow, Nick Mamatas, Tim Powers, Wilum Pugmire, Jessica Amanda Salmonson, Darrell Schweitzer, and Chet Williamson; poet Fred Phillips; and pulp scholars and collectors John Haefele, Don Herron, Morgan Holmes, S. T. Joshi, Tom Krabacher, Will Murray, and J. Barry Traylor. It’s truly a slam-bang issue from the esteemed editor of our highly popular program book. With less than forty copies remaining, it’s quickly disappearing.
You can also order back issues of THE PULPSTER through Mike Chomko, Books. Copies of THE PULPSTER #4, 5, 6, 9, 15, 17, 20, 22, and 23 are also available for $13 each, postage paid. All other issues of THE PULPSTER are out of print. Reduced postage is available on orders for multiple books. A copy of THE PULPSTER Mini-Edition, published in 2005 and featuring a history of the Lamont Award, will be included free of charge with every order of three or more books. These prices are good only in the United States. Buyers from other countries must inquire about shipping charges before ordering. Mike will accept payments made via check or money order or through Paypal. Please write to him at email@example.com or 2217 W. Fairview Street, Allentown, PA 18104-6542 for further instructions. Quantities of most issues are very limited.
(THE PULPSTER #24 features a round-robin article on H. P. Lovecraft and WEIRD TALES written by a wide range of contributors. Copies are quickly disappearing. Write to Mike Chomko, Books at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn how you can order the issue.)