What were pulp magazines?

..... In the days of yore, even before comic books and paperback novels, there were pulps. They derived their title from the material they were printed on, cheap ‘pulp’ paper. Most were untrimmed, cheaply assembled, and designed to survive only a few readings. Displayed at curbside corner newsstands, and sold alongside cigars, candy bars and soda pop, the pulps were exposed to rain, sleet, sunlight and snow. They were bound with twine for delivery, clipped, stapled, clothespinned, or nailed to overhead boards to attract the eye. And yet, despite all this, many collectors have accumulated rare, near-mint collections of these ‘disposable’ magazines.

Western, detective and horror pulp magazines were prominently displayed in the most accessible area of this newsstand in 1935

Western, detective and horror pulp magazines were prominently displayed in the most accessible area of this newsstand in 1935.

..... The vast horde of pulp titles offered a rainbow of titillating painted covers in bright red, yellows and blues. They served up a succulent sampling of luridly illustrated, sensationally written, westerns, science fiction and action-adventure. Although pulps had been around for nearly forty years, descendants of the so-called ‘penny-dreadfuls’, it was in the early 1930’s that pulps celebrated their rise to fame. It was the age of the Great Depression. Millions were unemployed, homeless, or ‘lost souls’. But, for one thin dime, they could transcend their mediocre, destitute existence for a few hours and travel through the old west, explore other worlds, battle crime or solve mysteries. Or become heroic ‘mystery men’ who traveled the globe, seeking to right wrongs, and save kith and country. Millionaire, playboy philanthropists dedicated to solving crime and sometimes even saving the world from diabolical madmen. Needless to say, pulp magazines shaped an entire generation of depression-era readers.

Pulp Fan

..... Thousands of writers and artists contributed to the steady flow of pulps. Robert E. Howard, Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler. Edgar Rice Burroughs, Ray Bradbury, Arthur Conan Doyle, Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, Robert Block, L. Ron Hubbard, Louis L’Amour, H.G. Wells, Clarke Ashton Smith, Mark Twain, H.P. Lovecraft, Frank Herbert, and hundreds of others all got their start in the pulps.
..... For twenty years, pulps dominated the shelves of the newsstands, outselling all other printed media. Over one thousand separate titles were published during this time period. But, unfortunately, all good things must come to an end.
..... By 1949, the world had survived, and was beginning to recover from, World War II. The Depression was over and the American ecomomy was slowly recovering. Throughout the United States, glamour magazines, nicknamed ‘slicks’ because of their glossy covers, filled the shelves. Newsstand magazines were now available in supermarkets, making them more accessible to a growing market, house wives. Paperbacks, the smaller brother of the pulps, soon replaced the few remaining titles.

..... And pulps became as extinct as the great dinosaurs.

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