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Pulp Culture: The Art of Fiction Magazines [Paperback]

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Item description for Pulp Culture: The Art of Fiction Magazines by Frank M. Robinson...

From its origins in the late nineteenth century, when adventure stories reigned, through almost six decades of slinking sleuths, galloping ghouls, nitty-gritty gals, and invincible warriors, the pulp magazine transported readers to new frontiers of the mind. The proving ground for scores of writers and illustrators who went on to achieve great fame, these publications helped popularize authors such as Dashiell Hammett, Ray Bradbury, and Edgar Rice Burroughs. Taken collectively, they now provide a panorama of some sixty years of illustration and social commentary. Hailed as "lush" by the New York Times, this is the most comprehensive compilation ever published on the subject. Winner of the "Pop Culture Book of the Year" by the Independent Publisher's Association, it is a must for graphic artists, fiction lovers, and anyone who appreciates the art of pulp fiction's golden age.

Outline Review
Penzler Pick, November 2001: Pulp magazines reigned for about a quarter of a century as the most popular entertainment medium in America. They were cheaply produced and, during the Great Depression, were blessedly cheap to buy, generally a dime.

And they were plentiful. After a low-key beginning, when a few magazines displayed their tasteful covers to an appreciative readership, their success spawned countless competitors. The covers became more and more garish, and promised ever greater excitement. Western covers went from an illustration of an Indian gently paddling his canoe to furious cattle stampedes, a huge gang of obviously ferocious savages attacking a defenseless family, and depictions of shootouts in every conceivable locale. Mystery covers went from showing a cop on the beat to villainous thugs tearing the clothes off a helpless young woman (most frequently a generously endowed young blonde) or any other sort of action that promised the reader endless excitement.

And they delivered. Pulp writers knew how to write thrilling stories and books. Many of the best went on to extremely successful careers in book form. Dashiell Hammett wrote most of his stories and novels for the pulps, and he is now recognized as one of the most influential fiction writers of the 20th century. Raymond Chandler, too, wrote stories for the pulps and is frequently conceded to be the great mystery writer of the 20th century.

Pulps became more and more specialized as their numbers increased, soon appealing to fans of jungle stories, science fiction, fantasy, railroad stories, romances, Westerns, Western romances, aviation, the Foreign Legion, engineering, the outdoors, courtrooms, Wall Street, newspapers, firefighters, and so on. Now there is a new book that recalls that Golden Age of the pulp magazines (roughly 1920-1945) with a knowledgeable and nicely written text that covers all the highlights of the major magazines and the major writers, who are sometimes remembered today and, alas, sometimes not.

And there are those fabulous covers! Magnificently produced in Hong Kong, Pulp Culture is a genuine bargain. Here are the Shadow, Max Brand, Talbot Mundy, Erle Stanley Gardner, Black Mask, Sax Rohmer and Fu Manchu, C.S. Forester, and Captain Horatio Hornblower, Doc Savage, the Phantom Detective, and on and on.

For the old codgers among us, this gorgeous book will produce a happy trip down memory lane. Younger readers, eat your heart out. It will show you what you missed in a time of great storytelling that today's television shows can't ever match. --Otto Penzler

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Item Specifications...

Pages   206
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 11" Width: 10.4" Height: 0.8"
Weight:   2.3 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jan 30, 2007
Publisher   Collectors Press
ISBN  1933112301  
ISBN13  9781933112305  
UPC  826210000599  

Availability  0 units.

More About Frank M. Robinson

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Frank M. Robinson was born in 1926. He served in the U.S. Navy during both WWII and the Korean War, in between earning a B.S. in physics at Beloit College, Wisconsin, and afterward an M.S. in journalism at Northwestern University in 1955. He then worked at a number of magazines, including "Science Digest" (1956-59), "Rogue" (1959-65), and "Cavalier" (1965-66). After working as a staff writer for "Playboy" from 1969 to 1973, Robinson became a freelance writer. He now lives in San Francisco, California, and is the co-author of "Death of a Marionette,"

Frank M. Robinson currently resides in San Francisco, in the state of California. Frank M. Robinson was born in 1928.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Arts & Photography > Art > Art History
2Books > Subjects > Arts & Photography > Art > General
3Books > Subjects > Arts & Photography > Art > Art Instruction & Reference > General
4Books > Subjects > Arts & Photography > Graphic Design > Pop Culture
5Books > Subjects > Arts & Photography > Graphic Design

Reviews - What do customers think about Pulp Culture: The Art of Fiction Magazines?

PULP Keeper!  Mar 29, 2007
The BEST collection of pulp genre ever. Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? Is there a Doc Savage in the house? Can I get that Fu Manchu to go? how about some Lovecraft? I guess it all should have warped us, but it didn't, and all that we watch and read today has drawn strength from these wonderfully cheap reads. Totally sweet from design to content. Robinson knows his stuff and it all makes for a CHERISHED collectible book!
They finally got it right  Mar 16, 2007
This is a fully revised edition of the first pictorial history of the pulp magazines to be published and the authors finally got it right. There is a complete index of magazine titles and the artists who painted their covers, the images have been rescanned to eliminate any "moire" patterns that may have degraded the paintings, and the most unusual cover ever published has now been included (a painting by John Held Jr., famous for his "sheiks and shebas" of the Jazz Age). The cover has been redesigned and features the image of a pirate far more fearsome than Johnny Depp. This is the book that started it all and the price is now more than right. --Frank M. Robinson (I'm one of the authors).
Hard-boiled Detectives, mysterious heroes, shadowy villains, evil oriental masterminds, and dames in distress...they are the stuff of the pulp magazines and the subject of this wonderful book by Frank Robinson which traces the history of pulp magazines and provides covers to hundreds of these great pulp magazines, so many lost in the antiquity of time...not to mention paper drives of the 1940's war years.

Robinson begins by tracing the roots of the pulps back to the dime novels of the late 1800's. Argosy would premiere as the first true pulp back in 1896 and before long dozens of competitors would emerge such as Popular Magazine, All-Story Weekly, New Story and so many more. Street & Smith, long a major publisher of dime novels would convert their Nick Carter series into Detective Story Magazine in 1915. The pulps were born!

Early on, adventure pulps were the most popular as they transported readers to strange and exotic lands in a time when few would ever leave their own state. It's where we first read the exploits of Tarzan, and heard the names of writers such as Burroughs, Mundy and Rohmer. Adventure magazine was among the most popular of those early days and they even had their own organization you could join called "The Legion" which would one day evolve into the American Legion. Adventure printed more than just fiction, they had many regular columns including "Wanted: Men & Adventurers" where real life mercenaries could advertise their skills for hire.

In the 1930's, detective pulps became the most popular as there were literally dozens of detective pulps being published. Among the most prominent pulps of the day was Black Mask Magazine, started by prominent newspaperman and political commentator H.L. Mencken. But he considered the pulps so low-brow that he didn't want his name associated with them. Still, Blackmask was a breeding ground for some for some of the great mystery and detective writers ever to pen a story including Dashiell Hammett, Erle Stanley Gardner, Lester Dent, and Raymond Chandler.

Robinson's narrative moves from one pulp genre to the next, with a short, but concise history of each. He examines the Western pulps and the interesting history of the man known as Max Brand. Brand was the most prolific pulp writer ever, appearing in 622 issues of Western Story magazine from 1920 - 1935. From there it's on to the hero pulps and the birth of the most famous pulp characters of all including "The Shadow", "Doc Savage", and "The Spider". The Shadow's covers were always among the most evocative and terrifying, especially those by the great George Rozen.

But the genre that gave us the most outrageous and grisly covers of the pulp era belongs to the "shudder pulps". Bondage, torture, sadism, nudity...nothing was held back in covers for such pulps as "Terror Tales" and "Horror Stories". These pulps are some of the most sought after today by collectors.

Romance, spicy adventures, sports, war...all of these get their just do in Pulp Culture but it's the sci-fi and fantasy section that will be a major appeal for many fans. It was here where some of the most famous and long-running pulps made their mark. Hugo Gernsback would usher in the age of Sci-fi pulps in 1926 with Amazing Stories. Soon there were dozens of competitors including Wonder Stories, Astounding Stories, and many more. And then there is perhaps the most famous, most collectible of all pulps, Weird Tales. Weird Tales would unleash the enormous talents of Robert E. Howard, H.P. Lovecraft, Robert Bloch, August Derleth, and countless others with stories that would endure, and continue to be reprinted, decades after their original publication. There are dozens of covers provided featuring the works of artists like Margaret Brundage and Virgil Finlay.

Robinson closes his book by providing an appendix to a handful of pulp dealers and notes on pulp values. This book would be worth the $40 price tag alone JUST for the hundreds of stunning covers re-printed, but Robinson's concise history of pulps just adds to the luster of the book. Simply a magnificent book for any fan or collector of pulp magazines.

Reviewed By Tim Janson
A marvelous and instigating book   Mar 6, 2005
This book is a marvelous journey to a time that will not come back.Guided by two wonderful connoisseurs: writer ,pulp magazines scholar and collector Frank M. Robinson and Lawrence Davidson,"PULP CULTURE" was a beautiful gift that I bought(via this ,from the NIGHT OWL CAFE Bookshop in North Hampton,NH) for myself.Reviewing this work for January magazine,David Middleton said:"For me it's mostly about covers.Those lurid,sensational covers." Well,for me it's about everything.I love the covers,of course(see the HANNES BOK painting for the November 1941 cover of WEIRD TALES),but I admire, too,the stories and writers.The adventure tales written by H.BEDFORD JONES and TALBOT MUNDY;the mystery and detective stories created by legends like DASHIELL HAMMETT and RAYMOND CHANDLER;the western yarns concocted by pulp giants like MAX BRAND and FRANK GRUBER.And the Magazines!It's titles!It's alluring titles:THE ARGOSY,THE ALL-STORY,BLACK MASK,DIME DETECTIVE MAGAZINE,ADVENTURE,THE BLUE BOOK,THE POPULAR MAGAZINE,WESTERN STORY,THE SHADOW MAGAZINE,G-8 AND HIS BATTLE ACES,TERROR TALES,HORROR STORIES,STRANGE STORIES,AMAZING STORIES,ASTOUNDING STORIES,FANTASTIC ADVENTURES,FAMOUS FANTASTIC MYSTERIES,THRILLING WONDER STORIES,PLANET STORIES and so on...I have a good envy of collectors like Frank M. Robinson who owns hundreds and hundreds of these shiny magazines with their garish covers,a happy guardian of these rare and precious popular art objects.
The books published by Collectors Press are already much sought after for it's exquisite design and intrinsic quality."PULP CULTURE" is one of them.
Beautiful overview of pulp cover art  May 22, 2002
I puchased this book for 50% off, and after reading it, I can say that even at full price, it would have been worth it. Page after page of bright clear reproductions of pulp covers, many almost full-page, with any extra space filled with smaller images. The book is divided into chapters based on subject matter: Westerns, Super Heroes, Sci-Fi, Horror, Gangsters, etc. The text is informative, but minimal - it provides just enough background on each chapter's subject and then lets the art speak for itself. Each cover is accompanied with information on the issue and artist, plus some informative personal commentary from the author. Plenty of top-notch artists are included, such as Wyeth, Baumhofer, etc. Don't buy this for an in-depth analysis of pulp magazines; the star here is definitely the art, and it delivers in spades.

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