The Little Giant of the Pulps

May 22, 2015 by

Phantom Detective 33-02Soon after Ned Pines was asked by The American News Company to start a chain of pulp magazines that it would distribute for him, the young publisher approached former literary agent and Frank A. Munsey employee, Leo Margulies, to be the managing editor of the new enterprise. With the country gripped by the Great Depression, the two men came up with a daring idea for the rough paper market–a ten-cent pulp magazine. It soon became apparent that the American public was more than ready for such an idea.

Standard Magazines, better known as “The Thrilling Group,” launched THRILLING DETECTIVE, THRILLING ADVENTURES, and THRILLING LOVE in late 1931, each selling for a dime. Within two years, the line was expanding, first with THE PHANTOM DETECTIVE, and soon thereafter with THE LONE EAGLE, SKY FIGHTERS, THRILLING RANCH STORIES, and THRILLING WESTERN. And as the company grew, Leo Margulies became the company’s face.

Respected by authors and editors alike, Margulies became known as “The Little Giant of the Pulps.” As author and screenwriter Steve Fisher described in an article written for a writer’s magazine, “. . . there was a sudden silence. Fifty people stopped eating and looked up. Leo Margulies made his usual dramatic entrance. . . . I thought for a moment (American Fiction Guild) president Art Burks was going to leap to his feet and salute.”

On Friday, August 14th, PulpFest will welcome Leo Margulies nephew, Philip M. Sherman, to the convention to discuss his uncle Leo on both a personal and professional level. “Not only was Leo an outstanding editor and publisher . . . he was also an outstanding uncle,” Mr. Sherman writes. Philip–who is working on a biography of his uncle–will discuss Margulies’ relationship with his own family as well as the “Little Giant’s” relationship with writers, as expressed in his personal correspondence. Mr. Sherman will also be sharing family photos of his Uncle Leo as well as excerpts from letters written by the managing editor of Standard Magazines.”

Joining Mr. Sherman on stage will be popular culture scholars Ed Hulse, editor of BLOOD ‘N’ THUNDER, and Will Murray, author of “The Wild Adventures of Doc Savage and Tarzan” from Altus Press. Following Mr. Sherman’s intimate presentation on his uncle, the three will discuss the unique methods used by Margulies to manage the Thrilling chain of pulp magazines. The convention would like to thank former organizing committee member Ed Hulse for helping to arrange Philip M. Sherman’s appearance at PulpFest 2015.

“Leo Margulies: The Little Giant of the Pulps” will begin at 7:05 PM on Friday evening, August 14th. Register for “Summer’s Great Pulp Con” to be sure not to miss this historic presentation by clicking here.

(Following the success of Street and Smith’s single-character pulp, THE SHADOW MAGAZINE, Ned Pines entered the hero pulp market with THE PHANTOM DETECTIVE. Its first issue was dated February 1933 and featured front cover art by Bertram James Glover, an illustrator and landscape artist who began painting pulp magazine covers in 1927. You can learn more about THE PHANTOM DETECTIVE and the hero pulp boom of 1933 by purchasing a copy of THE PULPSTER #22. Write to Mike Chomko at for additional details.)