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Fun Fact Friday: Pulp Fiction

Before e-readers and audio books…

Before television…

Even before paperbacks and comic books…

There was PULP FICTION!

The Pulp…

Rough and untreated paper made from wood pulp, as opposed to the shiny and higher priced “glossy.” This low quality paper allowed for a cheaper publication cost, and therefore wider circulation of the magazines.

The Fiction….

A bevy of stories across all the genres written by a varied flock of writers. The writers would often use multiple pen names so they could have more than one story in a single magazine. They weren’t paid very well, so they would need to pump out as many stories as they could, as quickly as they could. 

The Pulp + The Fiction…

Pulp fiction refers to the cheaply printed magazines that invited, lured, and sometimes enticed the American public with colorful and sometimes lurid covers and the promise of adventure. Magazine stands from the late 1890s into the 1950s were filled with these “pulps.” But the high point in sales and popularity was definitely the 1920s – 1930s. Sources vary on the total sales but the most popular during this time could sell upwards of a million per issue!

The insides were without illustrations.

The edges were rough.

But the stories…ah the stories…

These stories provided readily available entertainment, adventure, or in some cases escape. 

Heroes rescuing damsels in distress from mustache twirling villains. 

Cowboys taming the wild wild west. 

Eerie science fiction and scary horror stories. 

Adventures in far off lands. 

Spicy romance and mysteries being solved by brilliant detectives.  

All this for about a dime an issue!

Reminds me of my Papa and his “2 cartoons and a movie for 12 cents” stories from his childhood…which happens to be towards the end of the popularity of the pulp magazines. He used to say, “Who knows? The shadow knows.” Cracked me up! But I found it that The Shadow was actually a popular pulp fiction character, as were Hopalong Cassidy, Conan the Barbarian, Tarzan, and Zorro!

Point to ponder while you wander… “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin…” Zechariah 4:10 NLT

This blog is my small beginning.  Encouraging me to write at least a few days a week. But for some famous authors their small beginning was the pulp magazines. Don’t believe me? Check out a few of the many vastly underpaid pulp fiction writers who became household names:

Ray Bradbury (Fahrenheit 451)

Edgar Rice Burroughs (Tarzan, John Carter)

Agatha Christie (Murder on the Orient Express)

F. Scott Fitzgerald (The Great Gatsby)

Dashiell Hammett (The Maltese Falcon, The Thin Man Series)

Rudyard Kipling (The Jungle Book)

Louis L’Amour (Hopalong Cassidy and a whole lot of other westerns)

Uptown Sinclair (The Jungle)

Mark Twain (The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The Advenures of Huckleberry Finn)

H.G. Wells (Time Machine, War of the Worlds)

Tennessee Williams (Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Streetcar named Desire)

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