What were pulp
..... 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.
..... 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.
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.
..... And pulps became as extinct as the great dinosaurs.
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