Science Fiction and Archie Comics

May 27, 2014 by

Science Fiction 39-03Before he helped found MLJ Comics–later Archie Comics–Louis Silberkleit published pulp magazines. The mentor of Martin Goodman, Silberkleit was a follower of trends, hoping to obtain a quick profit through the magazines he published. Noting the growing science-fiction market in 1939, Silberkleit issued a pair of magazines.

First to the gate was Science Fiction, released in the second month of the year. Future Fiction came late in the year, its first issue dated November 1939. Former Gernsback editor Charles D. Hornig helmed both magazines, working on a freelance basis from his home. Produced on tight budgets, neither magazine offered much in the way of memorable fiction since most authors could find better-paying venues for their work. Both pulps became repositories for stories rejected by other publishers with real author names hidden behind pseudonyms.

Future Fiction 39-11During the summer of 1940, Silberkleit added a third science-fiction title—Science Fiction Quarterly—to the mix. Featuring a complete novel in each issue, the magazine reprinted a handful of Ray Cummings’ early novels as well as the lead stories from the first two issues of Hugo Gernsback’s Science Wonder Quarterly. Arthur J. Burks also contributed a pair of original novels.

In the spring of 1941, Robert W. Lowndes became editor of both Future Fiction and Science Fiction Quarterly. Soon thereafter, Science Fiction was merged with Future Fiction to become Future combined with Science Fiction. Under Lowndes, the quality of the Silberkleit science-fiction pulps improved markedly as the new editor coaxed fiction from his friends among the Futurians, a group of science-fiction fans based in New York City. However, despite Lowndes’ efforts, the publisher decided to cancel both science-fiction titles in 1943 as war-induced paper shortages took their toll on the industry.

Science Fiction Quarterly 58-02

During the 1950s science-fiction boom, Louis Silberkleit resurrected all three of his science-fiction magazines. The quarterly lasted into 1958 while Future Science Fiction and Science Fiction Stories lasted until the spring of 1960.

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