LOVE STORY MAGAZINE and its Romantic Sisters

Jun 14, 2016 by

Love Story 37-05-29Although the Munsey group published the first specialized pulp magazines — beginning with THE RAILROAD MAN’S MAGAZINE in 1906, followed by THE OCEAN in 1907 — both pulps were a mixture of fact and fiction. It would be up to Street & Smith to originate the specialized pulp fiction magazine in the fall of 1915 when it introduced DETECTIVE STORY MAGAZINE to the reading public.

Originally published twice a month, DETECTIVE STORY became a weekly before the end of its second year of publication. Despite its great success, the new pulp did not immediately inspire many imitators. It would be up to Street & Smith itself to develop the trend: WESTERN STORY MAGAZINE arrived in 1919, followed by LOVE STORY in 1921, SEA STORIES in 1922, and SPORT STORY MAGAZINE in 1923. It was not until 1924 that the single-genre fiction pulp would start to take off as other publishers began to release their own specialty pulps. Many more specialty pulps would follow in the ensuing years, culminating in single-character magazines such as THE SHADOW and DOC SAVAGE MAGAZINE.

When Street & Smith’s LOVE STORY MAGAZINE was launched in 1921, the pulp fiction magazine industry was changed forever. During the Roaring TwentiesLOVE STORY’s circulation would grow until it hit 600,000 in the early 1930s, a record that would never be broken by any other pulp magazine. The romance genre, along with the western, would become the best-selling pulp fiction genres through the Depression and World War II. Almost every pulp publisher, at one point or another, would attempt to break into the “love pulp” field. Sometimes their attempts would be successful, other times their magazines would fade after a few issues. And never would they be able to topple the circulation record set by LOVE STORY MAGAZINE.

In her talk, “LOVE STORY MAGAZINE and the Romance Pulp Phenomenon,” Laurie Powers will discuss the magazine, its famous editor Daisy Bacon, and the romance pulps that followed in its footsteps. Accompanied by many rare photos and artifacts, Laurie will tell how LOVE STORY began, what made it so popular, and how Daisy Bacon influenced its success. In addition, she will discuss LOVE STORY’s competition, including the long-running ALL-STORY LOVE STORIES — a pulp that was managed by LOVE STORY’s original editor and Daisy’s rival, Amita Fairgrieve — and the longest-running pulp fiction magazine, RANCH ROMANCES, a pulp that would spearhead a brand new genre, the romance western. Laurie’s look at LOVE STORY and its romantic “sisters” will take place at 9:40 PM on Friday, July 22 in the Union Rooms on the second floor of the Hyatt Regency.

Laurie Power’s interest in pulp fiction began in 1999 when she discovered that her paternal grandfather, Paul S. Powers, (1905–1971) had been a successful writer of stories that appeared in magazines such as WEIRD TALES, WILD WEST WEEKLY, WESTERN STORY MAGAZINE, REAL DETECTIVE TALES, and many more.  During her research, she discovered her grandfather’s unpublished manuscript, PULP WRITER: TWENTY YEARS IN THE AMERICAN GRUB STREET, which was published by the University of Nebraska in 2007. Since then, Laurie has been very active in the community of pulp magazine historians and collectors. In recent years she has been writing a biography of Daisy Bacon, editor of LOVE STORY MAGAZINE. Laurie also publishes Laurie’s Wild West, an Internet blog site that has become a favorite destination for those interested in the pulps.

Join “Summer’s AMAZING Pulp Con” as we salute a century of the specialty pulp from July 21 through July 24 in the Columbus, Ohio Arena district at the Hyatt Regency hotel and the city’s spacious convention center. You’ll have a LOVEly time. Please remember that the Hyatt Regency Columbus is sold out of rooms for July 21 through July 23. At www.columbusconventions.com/thearea.php, you’ll find a list of area hotels courtesy of the Greater Columbus Convention CenterAlternately, you can search for a room at tripadvisor or a similar website to find a hotel near the convention. Thanks so much to everyone who has reserved a room at our host hotel. By staying at the Hyatt Regency, you’ve helped to ensure the convention’s success.

(Modest Stein began contributing covers to the pulp market in 1910, selling to both the Munsey and Street & Smith chains. By the twenties, he was largely employed by the latter, painting covers for ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION, CLUES, CRIME BUSTERS, DOC SAVAGE, FAR WEST ILLUSTRATED, LOVE STORY MAGAZINE — including the May 29, 1937 issue — ROMANTIC RANGE, THE SHADOW, UNKNOWN, and other Street & Smith titles. Following the publisher’s 1949 exit from the pulp field, Stein worked predominantly as a portrait artist. He died in 1958.)

Happy New Year from PulpFest

Jan 1, 2016 by

Love Story 38-12-31

Ring in the new year by planning to join PulpFest 2016! You’ll be as content as the two lovebirds featured on Modest Stein’s cover to the December 31, 1938 issue of Street & Smith’s LOVE STORY MAGAZINE.

Although the Munsey group published the first specialized pulp magazines — beginning with THE RAILROAD MAN’S MAGAZINE in 1906, followed by THE OCEAN in 1907 — both pulps were a mixture of fact and fiction. It would be up to Street & Smith to originate the specialized pulp-fiction magazine in the fall of 1915 when it introduced DETECTIVE STORY MAGAZINE to the reading public.

Originally published twice a month, DETECTIVE STORY became a weekly before the end of its second year of publication. Despite its great success, the new pulp did not immediately inspire many imitators. It would be up to Street & Smith itself to develop the trend: WESTERN STORY MAGAZINE arrived in 1919, followed by LOVE STORY in 1921, SEA STORIES in 1922, and SPORT STORY MAGAZINE in 1923. It was not until 1924 that the single-genre fiction pulp would start to take off as other publishers began to release their own specialty pulps.

In 2016, PulpFest will be saluting one-hundred years of the specialty pulp with presentations on the development of the pulp western and the romance pulps. Join us at the Hyatt Regency Columbus from  July 21 – 24, 2016 for a look at these fascinating magazines. It should be a very special convention! Stay tuned to www.pulpfest.com to learn more about “Summer’s AMAZING Pulp Con.” We’ll be offering an argosy of special announcements in the weeks to come.

(Modest Stein began contributing covers to the pulp market in 1910, selling to both the Munsey and Street & Smith chains. By the twenties, he was largely employed by the latter, painting covers for ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION, CLUES, CRIME BUSTERS, DOC SAVAGE, FAR WEST ILLUSTRATED, LOVE STORY MAGAZINE, ROMANTIC RANGE, THE SHADOW, UNKNOWN, and other Street & Smith titles. Following the publisher’s 1949 exit from the pulp field, Stein worked predominantly as a portrait artist. He died in 1958.)

Merry Christmas from PulpFest

Dec 21, 2015 by

Detective Story 27-12-24One-hundred years ago, Street & Smith launched the first successful specialty fiction pulp — DETECTIVE STORY MAGAZINE. Its popularity would lead to a proliferation of pulp magazines devoted to a single theme or genre — western, love, air, science fiction, supernatural, and, of course, detective.  Many more specialty pulps would follow in the ensuing years, culminating in single-character magazines such as THE SHADOW and DOC SAVAGE MAGAZINE.

Even though John A. Coughlin’s Santa Claus is stopping traffic, it doesn’t look like he’s going to get very far with that huge bag of toys. So why not treat yourself to a gift of your own by signing up for a registration to PulpFest 2016? It will take place at the Hyatt Regency Columbus from  July 21 – 24, 2016 and should be a very special convention! Stay tuned to our website to learn more about “Summer’s AMAZING Pulp Con.”

In the meantime, your PulpFest organizing committee — Jack and Sally Cullers, Mike Chomko, Bill Lampkin, Barry Traylor, and Chuck Welch — would like to wish everybody a healthy and happy holiday season.

(John A. Coughlin’s Santa Claus graced the front cover to the December 24, 1927 issue of Street & Smith’s DETECTIVE STORY MAGAZINE.)

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100 Years of the Specialty Pulp

Oct 8, 2015 by

Detective Story 1915-10-05Although 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.)