Give Thanks for Pulp!

Nov 19, 2018 by

If there’s one thing our media does well, it’s tell us how wrong everything is in our world. This week is a good one to remember to give thanks for all that is right in our lives. It could be our health, our home, our family, our pets, our friends, our hobbies, or our jobs. We all have something in our lives that help us make it through the hard times and the drudgery. These are things for which we should be grateful.

The pulp community has much to be grateful for in particular: dealers and reprint specialty publishers who preserve the treasures of the past; an involved community who meet up at pulp cons across North America several times each year; staying connected online, giving us a thriving network of friends and second families to share our passions and joys.

THE POPULAR MAGAZINE was the prototype pulp magazine bringing Boys’ Own Adventure tales by H. Rider Haggard, H. G. Wells, Rafael Sabatini, Sax Rohmer, John Buchan, Zane Grey, Arthur B. Reeves, Edgar Wallace, and countless others to readers from 1903 to 1931. This seminal Street & Smith publication featured artwork by the likes of N. C. Wyeth and Leslie Thrasher.

Pulp made a very big world accessible to readers who had no internet and a limited ability to travel. Our world shrunk as together we explored new civilizations, discovered new cultures, and transformed our lives in the process. 103 years ago this week, Leslie Thrasher’s cover for THE POPULAR MAGAZINE illustrated just how far our world had come in only half a century since the abolition of slavery.

Another century and another millennium have come and gone since then. Let’s all be thankful for all that is right in the world and look forward to celebrating our shared interests and passions from Thursday, August 15 to Sunday, August 18 when PulpFest 2019 celebrates our shared heritage as “Children of the Pulps.”

You can book your room directly through our website. Book early and don’t miss the chance to stay at the beautiful DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Cranberry. Just click the link that reads “Book a Room” below the PulpFest banner. You’ll be redirected to a secure site where you can place your reservation.

(The legendary Leslie Thrasher (1889-1936) was synonymous with THE SATURDAY EVENING POST, but his amazing artwork also graced the covers of RED BOOK, COLLIER’S, LIBERTY, and THE POPULAR MAGAZINE, included the November 20, 1915 number. A veteran of The Great War, he studied under the esteemed Howard Pyle and was a friend and colleague of Norman Rockwell. He suffered respiratory ailments for years following exposure to poison gas during the First World War. Complications from smoke inhalation during a house fire prematurely ended his life at age 47.)

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The Munsey Magazines

Apr 15, 2014 by

All Story 1905-01Shortly after The Argosy had been converted to the first all-fiction magazine in 1896, and not long thereafter the first pulp magazine, its circulation had doubled to about 80,000 copies per issue. By 1907, the year the periodical celebrated its 25th anniversary, its circulation had reached a half million copies, earning its publisher about $300,000 per year.

From its beginning, The Argosy made a home for fantastic fiction, reprinting “Citizen 504,” a dystopian short story written by Charles H. Palmer, in the December 1896 issue. Other reprints, from a variety of sources would follow. As the century turned, original fiction of a fantastic nature began to appear in The Argosy, including works by Jared L. Fuller, Park Winthrop, and longtime dime novelist William Wallace Cook. Edgar Franklin Stearns also began to contribute his humorous fantasies concerning off-beat contraptions to the magazine.

As its readership grew, The Argosy was bound to attract some imitators. Street & Smith, the longtime publisher of dime novels and story papers, was first to meet the call, debuting The Popular Magazine with its November 1903 issue. As the circulation of the new magazine grew, it became apparent to Frank Munsey that there was room on the newsstand for more than one pulp. At the end of 1904, the publisher debuted The All-Story Magazine.

allstory_tarzanMore than any other periodical prior to the introduction of the specialized science-fiction and fantasy pulps, The All-Story became the major repository for the “different” tale or the pseudo-scientific yarn. It was soon joined by other Munsey magazines–The Scrap Book and The Railroad Man’s Magazine (both 1906), The Ocean/The Live Wire (1907), and The Cavalier (1908). All of these, The Cavalier in particular, published fantastic fiction. However, it was all but a prelude to the serial novel that would begin in the February 1912 issue of The All-Story– “Under the Moons of Mars”–credited to Norman Bean.

Bean’s novel—the first published fiction of Edgar Rice Burroughs—would introduce John Carter of Mars to readers. It would soon be followed by the author’s “Tarzan of the Apes,” published in its entirety in the October 1912 issue of The All-Story. These two novels, along with the pseudo-scientific works of H. G. Wells and his American disciple, George Allan England, would serve as templates for much of the science fiction written over the next twenty-five years, generating a type of fiction best known as “the scientific romance.” The Munsey chain in particular worked to develop this school of fiction, creating a stable of writers–Ray Cummings, J. U. Geisy, Victor Rousseau, Francis Stevens, Charles B. Stilson, and the best of all, Abraham Merritt–able to contribute such stories.

Adventure 1910-11Although the fiction of Burroughs and Wells and those “inspired” by their work would remain popular for some time to come, its share of the pulp market would diminish as new magazines began to arrive on the scene. Beginning with Adventure Magazine, introduced by the Ridgway Company in 1910, these specialized pulps lessened the attraction of the general fiction magazines for those who enjoyed a certain type of story–mystery, romance, western, or straight adventure. In not too many years, the fantasy and science-fiction fan would likewise be served.

To learn more about the images used in this post, click on the illustrations. Click here for references consulted for this article.