|Vintage Pulp||Feb 28 2016|
We last wrote about Short Stories in December 2008 and said we’d get back to it soon. Seven-plus years? That’s about par for us. That last post was five covers from the British edition of the magazine, which lasted from 1920 to 1959. The covers here, featuring the familiar red sun motif or clever variations thereof, are from British and American editions.
|Vintage Pulp||Sep 8 2013|
Well, that’s probably not what’s going on here, but as an alternative reading we like it. This issue of Challenge is from this month in 1958 and the cover is by Mel Crair, who painted covers for such western pulp magazines as Exciting Western, Texas Western, and Western Short Stories, and later did adventure magazine illustrations such as this one above and painted promo posters for Hollywood film companies. We’ll have more from Crair later.
|Vintage Pulp||Feb 11 2010|
The great Hindu writings the Upanishads tell us that in the same way a man begins his life innocent, and in the fullness of time becomes cynical, thus doth the editorial content of a men's adventure magazine begin pure, and slowly evolve into softcore porn. We’re paraphrasing, of course. We were talking yesterday about how Short Stories changed its format in order to try and survive the death of the pulp markets, so today we thought we’d show you an explicit progression. Below is a selection of Male covers that begin in adventure territory in the 1950s, but reach near-porn status by the early ’70s. And thanks to Male, we now know what to do with Pulp Intl. if our traffic drops off.
|Vintage Pulp||Feb 10 2010|
Short Stories was one of the most successful and longest-running pulp magazines ever published, appearing on the tenth and twenty-fifth of every month from 1890 to 1949, at which point it became a monthly. In 1918 it adopted a distinctive red sun motif, and kept this visual identifier—with rare deviations—until the magazine was redesigned in the late 1950s in an effort to attract a wider readership. But the pulp market was dying and change failed to save Short Stories. After more than 1,100 issues it closed it doors in August, 1959. The issue above was published today in 1947, and you can see our previous post on this subject here.
|Vintage Pulp||Feb 2 2010|
Two Terror Tales pulp magazines with woman-in-danger cover art by Rudolph Zirm, 1934 and 1935. Zirm’s work is collectible today, but he never had much chance to make a go of being a fulltime artist. He did about thirty pulp covers during a six-year career, including several for Short Stories, but financial needs prompted a move into the field of lithography, where he worked for the rest of his life. The two examples above show what a loss that was for the world of pulp illustration. You can see more Zirm covers at the comprehensive website pulpartists.com.
|Hollywoodland||Jun 11 2009|
In our continuing chronicle of mid-20th century tabloid magazines we have a new player—Whisper magazine. Whisper was founded as a girlie magazine in 1946 by Confidential owner Robert Harrison. By the time he sold out in 1958 Whisper was already a clone of Confidential in style and content, although sometimes it sported a simpler cover motif with a celeb framed inside a circle. In this example from 1956, the circle becomes a blood red disc reminiscent of the old Short Stories covers, but which is probably supposed to suggest werewolves. The spotlight here is on George Sanders, one of the more interesting Hollywood characters of the time. Born in Russia, Sanders was British by lineage, and built a film career playing aristocrat types, often with an air of menace. This was most aptly displayed in 1950's All About Eve, a role for which he won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar.
Sanders was known as a smooth operator, but his personal life was a wreck. He married four women over the years—including serial bride Zsa Zsa Gabor, and her older sister Magda. He would have been between marriages at the time of Whisper’s alleged strike out with an unnamed ingénue, but he’d be back in the saddle by 1960, marrying actress Benita Hume. Health problems eventually robbed Sanders of his acting talent and he finished his career in the low budget stinker Psychomania. Eventually, he also lost the ability to indulge in his beloved hobby of playing music, which prompted him to destroy his piano with an axe. Not long after, he took a fatal dose of Nembutal, leaving behind a suicide note addressed to the world that read in part: I am leaving you with your worries in this sweet cesspool. Good luck.
|Vintage Pulp||Dec 5 2008|
Assorted Short Stories covers, Britain, circa 1932 to 1934. Note the setting (or rising) sun motif in each piece. This is one of the older magazines considered to be pulp. We’ll have more on it later.