The Aristocrat of the Pulps

Jul 21, 2014 by

Famous Fantastic Mysteries 40-03In a letter published in “The Readers’ Viewpoint” column in its June 1948 issue, Robert Boyer labeled Famous Fantastic Mysteries as “. . . the Aristocrat of the Pulps, the acme of stf perfection,” a title that can likewise be conferred upon the magazine’s later companions, Fantastic Novels and A. Merritt’s Fantasy Magazine.

Started by the Frank A. Munsey Company in the fall of 1939 and edited by Mary Gnaedinger, Famous Fantastic Mysteries was created to reprint the scientific romances originally published in The All-Story, Argosy, and The Cavalier. Welcomed by readers anxious to experience the classics found in the Munsey files, Famous Fantastic Mysteries was joined by a companion title, Fantastic Novels, in the early summer of 1940. For most of the next year, the two magazines were published in alternating months.

In late 1942, Munsey sold many of its pulps—including their two classic reprint magazines—to Popular Publications. Reluctant to take on a pair of fantasy titles, the new publisher opted to continue Famous Fantastic Mysteries, but not Fantastic Novels. Popular would wait until 1948 to return Fantastic Novels to the stands, once again relying on the Munsey archives for its content. A third title, A. Merritt’s Fantasy Magazine, was added in late 1949.

On Thursday, August 7th, beginning at 8:30 PM, Ed Hulse, author and editor of Blood ‘n’ Thunder and Nathan Madison, popular culture historian and author of the Eisnernominated Anti-Foreign Imagery in American Pulps and Comic Books, 1920-1960, discuss Famous Fantastic Mysteries, one of the major science-fiction titles started in 1939, as well as its two brethren, Fantastic Novels and A. Merritt’s Fantasy Magazine. Highly regarded during the pulp era, all three remain highly collectible pulp magazines, given their exceptional fiction and beautiful illustrations.

Fantastic Novels 48-03

Click on the illustrations to learn more about the images.