Saturday 30 May 2015

Harold Lamb on selling his first story of Khlit the Cossack

This article was originally published in the February 25, 1918 issue of THE EDITOR magazine. Harold A. Lamb talks about the influence of editors on his first story of Khlit the Cossack and how he came to write it. The editor he refers to in the story is likely Arthur S. Hoffman.

Original heading for the first appearance of Khlit the Cossack in Adventure, November 3, 1917
Original heading for the first appearance of Khlit the Cossack in Adventure, November 3, 1917

"Khlit" (Adventure) is a patch of a story—it came near being a misfit patch. The generating idea was the need of a check !

Some attractive notes on the early Cossacks suggested that a tale might be wound around the arrival of a young Cossack at the war encampment of his elders. There must, of course, be something to mark the arrival of the new warrior at the Zaporogian Siech—lsland camp of the Cossacks, and it occurred to me that he might be made to swim the Dneiper, as all arrivals strove to make an impression by some display of wealth or daring.

Further complication was necessary to make a story out of this, and it was natural that one of the older Cossacks should be awaiting the appearance of the novitiate—his god-son. The complication began to focus when Khlit, the elder Cossack, wagered the bulk of his wealth with a gambler that his god-son would arrive at the Siech as no Cossack lad had done before. A wager is always of human interest. Readers like to know the result.

Here we have Khlit risking his moderate riches in his pride in his god-son, and on the young Cossack's promise that he would arrive on a certain day. Gambler opposed to warrior—and old alignment, but one full of interest. Here is where the patch story of Khlit came near being a misfit patch. Because if the wager had been won for Khlit by some unexplained bit of daring on the part of his god-son, the tale would have missed fire.

In studying over the character of Khlit it seemed to me that he had something in common with the viewpoint of a certain celebrity who favored keeping his powder dry. Khlit's pride trusted in the arrival of his god-son on the promised day. But the wager was that the arrival was to be without precedent, and all the Siech was watching.

So when the tale was nearly complete, it occurred to me that Khlit really ought to conceal the oars of the one ferry to the Island camp—still trusting in the promised arrival of his god-son. Consequently the young Cossack swam the Dneiper.

The tale was helped by the fact that a reader must guess at what goes on in Khlit's mind until the last paragraph. Readers like to guess—until the last sentence. But it was the advice of the editors of Adventure that showed how to clear up the obscurity that threatened to cloud my vision.

My first story was printed only two years ago. It was the joint product of unlimited hopefulness on my part and endless patience of an editor. A note had summoned me to the editor, and I waited upon him to hear with great anxiety the defects of two stories I had submitted. The editor was smoking a very bad cigar, and relapsed into silence et the end of his verdict. I suggested that it would improve one tale to interchange the characters who were hero and villain of the plot.

"Do you think you could do that?"

"I certainly do!"

"Try it."

Eventually the strange evolution came to pass. Editors give a new writer his first impetus into the world of fiction— and they stick by him. They have their pet features, which in most cases count in favor of the stories they pass on. Also the editor can tell a new writer what to do—while the fiction schools, text books, etc., can do little more than warn him from things he should not do. But the newcomer must show ability. And he has to face setbacks.

At one time I called in person to inquire the whereabouts of a manuscript t had sent to a strange office. The story had been returned previously with suggestions for change, and a hint at acceptance. The assistant editor heard my query with a tolerant smile. "Haven't you got it back yet? " he asked.

It seemed the manuscript had been lost at the office and it was necessary to rewrite it. The new version was an improvement upon the lost story. Subsequently I sold a good many thousand words to these people. From them I learned an effective system of filing newspaper clippings and of outside reading which did not include other fiction. All along editors have been my best friends, and such success as came to me I owe to them.

Saturday 23 May 2015

Howard Van Lieu Bloomfield - Author, Editor, Sailor, Newspaper Publisher

Howard V. L. Bloomfield was one of the better editors of Adventure magazine after Arthur S. Hoffman left the magazine. He increased the page count of the magazine, which had dropped to 96 pages an issue, increased its frequency from monthly to twice a month and revitalized the magazine by getting new stories from old timers like Talbot Mundy and Gordon Young.

He also put together the 25th anniversary issue of Adventure in November 1935.

This article originally appeared in the November 4, 1988 issue of the newspaper The Star-Democrat from Easton, Maryland.

Howard Van Lieu Bloomfield, c. 1922
Howard Van Lieu Bloomfield, c. 1922

A writer's life, a sailor's life
Howard Bloomfield leads both

People who know him invariably describe Howard Bloomfield as one heck of a nice guy. He is. But Bloomfield is more than just a nice guy, He's an interesting man who has led an interesting life; a writer's life, a sailor's life. A newspaper man in the Roaring '20s, editor of detective and adventure magazines in the '30s, book author, magazine short-story writer, farmer, columnist, newspaper editor and lover of sailing. Through it all, a lover of sailing. Bloomfield, a longtime Oxford resident, lives in the cozy house he designed and built on the edge of Town Creek. With its rustic paneled walls, towering bookshelves, wood stove and waterview, it's a warm and inviting little home, an ideal environment for a writer.

As he sat by the fire in his well-worn armchair overlooking the sun-flecked surface of the water, Bloomfield reminisced about how he caught the writer's bug in the first place. He was born in New Jersey, the descendant of 17th-century English settlers. (There's a Bloomfield, N.J., in fact, named after his forebear Joseph Bloomfield, an 18th-century governor and a major in George Washington's army.) As a kid, Howard discovered the joys of boating paddling around in a canoe, building a raft out of railroad ties. But the addictive pleasure and endless challenge of writing caught hold of him when he was a senior at Plainfield High School, where he won an award called the Babcock Short Story Contest The winning story, titled, "A Man's Part," was set in the trenches of World War I.

Contest rules specified that story lengths be 800 to 1,000 words. Bloomfield's winning tale was only 776 words, but "I thought 24 more words would be superfluous," he said. His concern for concision paid off, of course, for he won the contest. He credits an English teacher, Ellen Cummings, with encouraging him to become a writer. The contest prize was $25 worth of books, which he had Cummings help him select. It was a mini-reference library, "And the pile was so high when I carried it off the stage I was looking around the corner of it to see where I was going. I have wondered if $25 could buy all those books, or if Mrs. Cummings had contributed a few herself." One of those books was a six-inch-thick dictionary. Taped, cracking and worn out from years of use, it still sits on Bloomfield's bookshelf.

After high school, he went on to Harvard, graduating with a degree in English and literature. At the time, a writer named Irvin Cobb was enjoying a degree of popularity. Cobb had written that the best way to break in to the writing business was to work as a reporter. Bloomfield took heed, and embarked on a six-year career as a newspaper reporter. He worked at various New York newspapers the Brooklyn Eagle, the New York World-Telegram, etc. then packed his bag, hitchhiked to Florida, and got a job on the Miami News. Then he hitched across country to California and worked for the L.A. News. After a stint there, he boarded a ship and sailed back through the Panama Canal to New York, It was the 1920s, and Bloomfield was footloose and fancy-free, traveling, gathering experiences, working as a journalist back in the days when smoke-filled newsrooms resounded with the loud incessant clacking of manual typewriters, and staffers hollered to be heard. It was an exciting milieu, but when Bloomfield sold his first short story to a magazine, he left the newspaper biz to freelance full-time.

He churned out the stories at an admirable clip, collecting rejection slips and waiting for another break. An anecdote he tells conveys the random whimsy that often governs the publishing world. He'd written an adventure yarn called "Fever River" and submitted it to Sea Stories magazine. The story was rejected. Bloomfield let a few months lapse. "Then I typed the first page over exactly, but I changed the title." The story's title became "At the End of the Rope." He re-submitted the piece every word identical, only the title switched to Sea Stories magazine, and it was accepted. He got a letter from the Sea story editor, along with the check, saying "On account of the similarity of your title to Joseph Conrad's story 'At the End of the Tether,' we are changing your title to 'Fever River."'

From 1928 to 1934, Bloomfield was editor of Detective Fiction Weekly. It was the golden age of the pulp magazines, and Bloomfield's magazine was in direct competition with the famous Black Mask magazine and a slew of other crime pulps. As editor at Detective Fiction Weekly, he bought stories from, and thereby helped nurture, the careers of some mystery writers who would go on to achieve greater fame and fortune. Years before he created the immortal "Perry Mason," Erie Stanley Gardner wrote stories for Detective Fiction Weekly. Gardner was "a big breeze out of the West," Bloomfield said. "He'd come in to the office and slap a new Stetson on my head." Gardner's short stories for Detective were about a hero named Lester Leith, "sort of an urbane Robin Hood character." 
Cornell Woolrich, the dark genius who's the subject of a recent biography, also wrote stories for Bloomfield. In the '40s, Woolrich would become famous for his imaginative, existential thriller novels, some of which became successful films: "Rear Window," "The Bride Wore Black," "Night Has a Thousand Eyes," etc. But Bloomfield knew Woolrich back before he became a literary celebrity. "I bought a lot of stuff from him," Bloomfield said. "But he wasn't really one of the boys... I recall he lived in some hotel in New York City with his mother...He wrote very well."

The great Western writer Max Brand (real name Frederick Faust), was a good friend of Bloomfield's as well as a contributor to Detective Fiction Weekly. "He was the best writer I ever knew, an instinctive writer, an observer," Bloomfield said of Brand. Best known for his numerous Western stories, the prolific Brand wrote in other genres as well. Bloomfield even once helped him convert a Western into a mystery story for Detective Fiction Weekly. In all, he speaks fondly of the acquaintance.
During this time, Bloomfield was avidly sailing, and reading all the boating magazines every month. In one such journal he came across an article that talked about a place called Oxford, Md. Bloomfield was intrigued, and checked the town out. The contrast of sleepy, maritime Oxford to big, busy New York City was an appealing one, and Bloomfield bought a house, to use as a vacation retreat "until the big day finally came when I'd shake New York."

Meanwhile, Bloomfield moved up from Detective Fiction Weekly to Adventure magazine, a top publication in the men's pulp field. He worked as an editor there until 1940, writing articles for Yachting magazine on the side. Of his success in the New York publishing world, Bloomfield said, "I think' what I had was an ounce of talent and a pound of persistence," It was time to take a stab at full-time free-lancing again. In 1940, he left New York to live, year-round in Oxford. The house needed work, his 30-foot sloop, the Kittiwake was docked right outside, and sailing fever took over. Bloomfield, his wife Constance and their one-year-old son set sail for adventure in the warmer climes of the Florida coast. They lived on the boat for a year. Bloomfield's book, Sailing to the Sun, chronicles the voyage. It was published by Dodd, Mead & Company in 1942, and is available at the Talbot County Free Library. For the next 10 years, Bloomfield enjoyed success as a free-lancer.

From his Oxford home base, he sold stories to top-name publications such as Collier's and the Saturday Evening Post. "All writers liked the promptness of the Saturday Evening Post," he said. "Where other magazines might take three weeks to decide on a story, when a writer was hungry for a check, it was said the Post didn't like to keep a manuscript overnight. There was a story that the Saturday Evening Post would meet a manuscript on the train halfway to Philadelphia and buy it right then or turn it around and send it back."

Bloomfield pieces that appeared in the Post included an article on the Chesapeake Bay oyster fleet, titled "Chesapeake Shell Game," which was later reprinted in Reader's Digest; and a Shore-set mystery story, "The Case on Turkey Point." " Collier's bought a Bloomfield story called "The Trap," an action-thriller about a man overboard and an ensuing death-duel on a deserted island. It's a ripping yarn with a neat surprise ending, and has been reprinted in various magazines, most recently in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine in 1984, which ran it as the monthly "Crime Classic" feature. John Pike, the noted watercolorist who did the illustration for the story when it first appeared in Collier's, gave the original watercolor to Bloomfield, with the inscription, "For Howard Bloomfield, who wrote the best yarn I ever illustrated.".

This was a busy period for Bloomfield. He was camping editor for Hunting and Fishing magazine, for which he wrote a monthly column under the pseudonym "Bill Hardrock." He wrote novelettes and a couple of novels. And one assignment, which he describes as a "real piece of luck," was to rewrite It was a first novel that a military doctor had written about his World War II experiences. Doubleday offered Bloomfield a 50-50 royalty split with the author to do the rewrite; the book enjoyed big sales both here and abroad, and was serialized in Cosmopolitan. "It was the most remunerative thing I ever got into."

In the '50s, "A big unfortunate change was coming." It was the death of the fiction-oriented magazines. "The magazines began to go. Where I'd once counted 70 magazines (that specialized in fiction) it got down to where I counted five magazines that just printed a single (fiction) story."  So Bloomfield concentrated on writing articles. He landed a staff-writer position with the venerable Country Gentleman magazine; the position involved a lot of expenses-paid traveling around the nation. Bloomfield bought a big working farm in Trappe; things were looking up again. "This was a great life. Then, after 10 years, it came to an end as suddenly as a clap of thunder." A hostile buy-out of the 100-year-old Country Gentleman by its main competitor, Farm Journal put Bloomfield, and the entire CG staff, out of work. The deal, according to the rumors at the time, was made over a golf game.

Bloomfield's next venture was newspaper-publishing. In the late '50s, the Star-Democrat, then a weekly, had a competitor, a small paper called the Easton Journal. Bloomfield bought it, ran it for a year or so, boosted its circulation considerably, but came to realize the paper was a no-win proposition. One thing he initiated at the Easton Journal, though, was the printing of tide tables, something the Star-Democrat wasn't doing at the time. Today, The Star-Democrat does print tide tables, and guess who does them? "Thirty years later (after initiating it at the rival paper) I'm doing tide tables for the Star-Democrat," Bloomfield said, and laughed. '

Other projects ensued: a history of the U.S. Coast Guard, a series of articles for American Forests magazine. Nowadays, though, Howard Bloomfield is officially retired. But as you glance around his living room, noticing the stacks of typewritten pages arranged by chapter across his couch and on his desk, it becomes clear that the writing bug Bloomfield caught back at Plainfield High School has not worn off. He's working on the second draft of a mystery book, and is making good headway, he says. Retirement means more time on his sailboat, docked outside. Retirement means waking up in the morning whenever you want. But also, Bloomfield said, "Retirement means working on a mystery novel."

Saturday 16 May 2015

Charles Agnew McLean - Editor of the Popular Magazine

From the April 10, 1920 issue of the magazine Advertising and Selling, comes this article about Charles Agnew Maclean, the editor of the Popular Magazine.

The Men and Women Who Make Our Mediums: CHARLES AGNEW MACLEAN


One of a Series of Informal Visits with the Leading American Editors and Publishers with the Object of Interpreting What They Mean to Advertisers


Charles Agnew Maclean, Editor of The Popular Magazine
Charles Agnew Maclean, Editor of The Popular Magazine

AFTER a trip of several hundred miles on horseback, a party of travellers, in the year 1911, was crossing the Painted Desert of Arizona, on their way from Flagstaff to Navajo Mountain. Arriving at the canyons, toward the tops of which are great caves left by prehistoric natives, the curiosity of the explorers was aroused to the point of insisting that they be shown the way to the Old dwellings. The Indian guides made their stand perfectly clear—they would not approach these places and could not be bribed to do so. The travellers were assured that any so venturesome as to "inquire within' would be struck dead by some dread force, or, if the caves were by some chance possibly reached and entered, at least the trespassers would be blinded instantly by the evil spirit. This superstition was sufficient to keep the Navajo Indians from investigating the "dead houses," as they are called. But it held no terrors for Zane Grey, the author, and his- party, which included Charles Agnew MacLean, editor of The Popular Magazine and editor-in-chief of the large group of publications issued by the firm of Street and Smith. Years before, the latter had become thoroughly familiar with all that is grewsome about death, for he had made the New York City morgue, at Bellevue Hospital, as well as the police stations, his special study, and had haunted these place from S p. m. till r .30 a. m. while on his first newspaper job—with the New York Sun.




Rut the adventures at the morgue had become too irksome to the boy, then only sixteen, and, fortified with an education secured in the public schools of Brooklyn, he left that work to do a variety of reporting for the New York Times, with which newspaper he stayed a year and a half. That made a total of three years on the newspaper side of journalism. Mr. MacLean refuses to admit that, with enough training. he might have grown to be a star reporter, but believes the intimate daily contact with all that is sordid in the city, from the pathetic suicides to the identification of poor, maimed persons, was too strenuous for any young nervous system, and this drove him away from newspaper work. For a year, after breaking all connections with editorial offices and setting all forms of writing aside, he joined a group of mining engineers and weighed ore, when not occupied in bossing a batch of thirty laborers.


Then came the longing for a legal career and he studied law with devotion. The time was not wasted, for it helped him to write "dime novels" in his spare hours and he was at least as fond of the latter diversion as he was devoted to reading law. There were many plots for stories to be found in connection with the courts,


However, about 1905. when The Popular Magazine made its debut, Mr. MacLean became its editor. In the fifteen years he has been connected with that publication, he has helped many writers of fiction to do their best. The names of authors with wide reputations who found their first stimulus from the editorial office of The Popular Magazine, would make a list of considerable length. Mr. MacLean is proud of having bought and published the first novel by Zane Grey. "The Heritage of the Desert."



On the subject of men who are doing the best fiction today, this editor puts Peter B. Kyne, Clarence L. Cullen, Albert Payson Terhune and Booth Tarkington in the first rank and gives the palm to the latter as the best all around, thoroughly American writer with the finest, most artistic workmanship, He also maintains that the historical novels of Winston Churchill have a permanent value. Too many American writers, Mr. MacLean believes, copy the English ways of writing, and English ideas—which do not fit with the ideal American treatment. It seems to be all right to learn and use technique according to the ways of the English writers, but they should not be imitated. In other words, our truly national work can not be a copy but, rather, must be a real picture, preferably direct from the soil of America.


In this particular, Mr. MacLean believes that Frank Norris applied the right idea, but, perhaps, lacked sufficient opportunity to Work it out before his untimely death. Rupert Hughes is considered by Mr. MacLean to have written some of the best short stories that have been done during the last ten or fifteen years.



In spite of the high cost of print paper and the rise in price of the magazines we are accustomed to bur, probably few of us will live long enough to spend two million dollars for fiction, but this editor has done that very thing and terms himself a wholesale purchaser of raw romance fresh from the typewriter. The total value of the material submitted and turned down in his office, if estimated by the authors of the work, would probably exceed the fabulous German war debt.

As a reader of published work, Mr. MacLean has satisfied himself on the contents Of every book and Story that has ever come within his reach. Robinson Crusoe was, on demand, repeated to him in words of one syllable so often that he is still able to quote verbatim several hundred words from the opening of the Story. At about the same time his nurse wore out a couple of editions of "Alice in Wonderland," because of the boy's fondness for listening to that masterpiece. Later, Shakespeare began to appeal and soon Midsummer Night's Dream" caught up and ran neck and neck with "Peck's Bad Boy" for first choice.

One of his fondest memories is of "Sister Carrie," a novel, by Theodore Dreiser, which several times had been stalled in publication. Drieser, who was MacLean's associate, was then unknown as an author, and he lost spirit and health because of the book's failure to get proper publicity. The plates of the book finally were sold for junk by one publishing firm, and the writer of the story thought they never could be saved from destruction, When Mr. MacLean cheered him up by investing several hundred dollars in an effort to keep them from the melting furnace until someone could be found who would finance the work. For years the type remained in the backing boxes and was used only as a convenient footrest. Finally, however, the book was produced and the author is now known wherever English is read.

Mr. MacLean feels confident that the present tendency to pay high prices for the work of popular authors, and to make the writing of fiction really worthwhile for those who are giving their time to trade, craft or profession, will not in the least lend to it an ugly, commercial angle and ruin authors. Rather, he believes that when modern business methods were brought into the relations between writers and publishers, the death sentence of the old-time author-propagandist was pronounced. The spirit of paying an honest price for good fiction will stimulate production of a much higher grade than can be produced by the starving author in the proverbial garret. 


Mr. MacLean is an enthusiastic golf player, a venturesome hunter and lover of the Adirondacks; a keen judge of good pipe tobacco and an ardent follower of the prize ring. A fair assortment of hobbies, isn't it? And enough to prove a cleverly balanced mind out of the office when the day's work is done. But add to these a great fondness for music of all kinds, and particularly a love for the opera and musical "shows," and the list is nearer complete. Gilbert and Sullivan, of course, come first on the list of composers of light opera, but George Cohan is close to the top, and his ' 'The Royal Vagabond" is a favorite with this heavy thinker. "Three Little Maids," an operetta which was produced a few years ago, is prominent among the pleasant memories of this critic, while "The Marriage of Figaro," an opera not frequently produced in this country, is chosen for preeminent preference.


When Charles Agnew MacLean first presented himself to his Scotch-Irish parents in Larne. County Antrim, Ireland. his mother declared at once that he was to be a preacher and. at the same time. his father made it clear that in his opinion the obviously proper career to predict for the Infant was that of a physician. Nevertheless. among the many occupations so far taken up, he has shown no desire to follow either of these professions. But there is yet ample time to fulfil both the prophecies, for Mr. MacLean is still a young man, just thirty-nine.


Saturday 9 May 2015

Notable artists of Adventure

The previous article covered the top cover artists of Adventure magazine in terms of number of covers. There were many artists who stood out for one reason or another while not being on that list. I decided to write them up here. All covers courtesy of the Fictionmags index.
Other notable artists who contributed to Adventure magazine include:

Rolf Armstrong – noted pin-up artist

Ralph Barton – the noted Art Deco cartoonist for the New Yorker

Dean Cornwell – the “Dean of illustrators”. Cornwell’s only other appearance on a pulp cover was on Blue Book magazine. I like this cover better than the Blue Book one.

Ruth Eastman – The only woman artist to have painted a cover (to my knowledge), she was a member of the Eastman family of Eastman Kodak fame

Anton Otto Fischer – Famous Saturday Evening Post illustrator, one of whose covers was used twice. The only time that happened, to my knowledge. Arthur S. Hoffman chose it to go along with the reprint of Brethren of the Beach, expanded by H.D. Couzens into novel form and published posthumously.


Frans Hals – the only time I think a classic painting was a cover for a pulp magazine, also qualifies as the oldest artist J

H. O. Hofman – Another New Yorker artist who did one spectacular Art Deco cover



C. C. Illers – A typographer whose two covers stand out as spectacular silhouettes




Lon Megargee – One of the two artists that were real cowboys


W. C. Tuttle – The only author who was a cover artist and a cowboy to boot.



John R. Neill – Better known for his Wizard of Oz illustrations. This issue has the first adventure of Harold Lamb's Khlit the Cossack.



Roy Pomeroy – The only Oscar winner to draw a pulp cover as far as I know. Born in India, and to my knowledge the only illustrator from India to draw a cover. So we now have an Indian illustrator in addition to an Indian author.

Mon Randall – A motion picture artist. He was not credited with the cover, though his signature appears on it. This is the cover for the September 8 1926 issue, which is credited to W.F. Soare instead. The mistake is in the table of contents for the magazine. No idea why.


Paul Stahr  – The illustrator who did almost all the Argosy covers for more than 100 consecutive issues shows up here with one cover from March 1944.


Gustaf Tenggren – A Disney animator draws a pirate  cover. I can’t imagine another instance where this happened with a pulp magazine.

George Hand Wright – The founder of the Westport Artists Colony, where so many magazine illustrators lived, did a beautiful Viking cover. Looks like a comic illustration to me, probably a watercolor.

I don't know if the Ridgway Company, the publishers of Adventure, had an exceptional art director who was able to select such a diverse pool of artists, or whether this was the work of the editor, Arthur S. Hoffman. Either way, I think this adds weight to the claim  that Adventure was indeed the No. 1 Pulp magazine.

On a side note, doing the research for this pair of articles was not easy. The FictionMags index data is not very clean, there were multiple mistakes in it that I had to fix. Some names were spelled incorrectly, and finding out the right name was hard. Information on some artists was impossible to find. The illustrators seem to have been given almost no attention by newspapers. I could find almost no interviews.
All of which is to say, please support the wonderful work being done by the folks who bring out Illustration magazine.  Subscribe to them (60$ for an annual subscription in the US). That’s 15$ an issue for some of the best research being done today. And of course the gorgeous artwork is a bonus. Or you could buy any of their books.

And please share your views by leaving a comment below. Getting off the soapbox now. Thanks for listening.

PS: I really debated doing this article as I was worried it would create additional competition in the market for these already scarce issues. I appeal to all collectors out there who collect this for the art, take a photo and send the magazine to me. :-)

Tuesday 5 May 2015

Appeal: Author Gordon Young's relatives - contact information

Some time ago, I wrote an article on the author Gordon Young on this blog. The author's grand-daughter, Christine, left a comment on the blog:

Greetings. This is Christine, the granddaughter of Gordon Young. My mother and I attended Pulpcon those so many years ago.
I trust all is well with you.
Thank you for your continued interest in my grandfather's literary works.
PS the picture at the top is not of my grandfather. If you would like a picture, please let me know. thank you

Since then, I have been contacted by another relative of the author, a lady whose great-aunt was Gordon Young's wife. She would like to get in touch with Christine. But I have no contact information for Christine.

Christine, if you read this article, please drop me an email and I'll get you in touch with your relatives. And I would be happy to get a picture of your grandfather as well.

The email address to contact is pulpflakes (AT) gmail DOT com.

And by the way, I ran across some photos of Gordon Young's house in Los Angeles. Enjoy them here:

Saturday 2 May 2015

Top Artists of Adventure

As I have been realizing over time, the artists of Adventure magazine are an even more obscure lot than the authors. So I decided to put together an article on them, but realized it was becoming too big. So I broke it into a two part article, with the first part being the top cover artists and the second one covering other notable artists.

The following illustrators together created more than half the covers of Adventure magazine during the time when it was a pulp magazine (1910-1953).  The numbers in brackets are the number of covers which they did.


Hubert Rogers
Hubert Rogers
Prolific artist, painted  adventure and science fiction covers. Many of his covers featured men in profile.

Also illustrated the cover for Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon in Black Mask. Many of his covers depicted boats and cowboys.
Gerard C. Delano
Gerard C. Delano
Probably the most successful of Adventure artists. Painted many themes but his most beautiful ones are the very muted American Indian themed covers, in my opinion.

Rafael DeSoto
Rafael DeSoto
Another prolific artist who spanned the adventure, detective and western genres. Almost all his covers featured people who never directly looked at the reader, for some reason.

Colcord Heurlin
Colcord Heurlin
Pioneering Alaskan painter of many northwestern covers, also a bush pilot. Instantly recognizable by his pastel color palette in northwestern scenes.
Did many outstanding cover illustrations for Famous Fantastic Mysteries and other science fiction pulps. Many of his covers feature a man attacking an assailant who is out of the scene.

A. L. Ripley
A. L. Ripley
Specialized in pirate covers, seems to have been inspired by Howard Pyle. One of his covers features rats leaving a ship.
Painted many covers for the slicks (The Saturday Evening Post, Colliers’, Popular Science among others) and the pulps. All his covers in Adventure were on marine themes.

Walter M. Baumhofer
Walter M. Baumhofer
Started his career with Adventure, went on to paint for many magazines (pulps and slicks). Called the King of the Pulps. I really liked his covers featuring a monkey.
Illustrated adventure and crime fiction, moved to men’s adventure mags after the pulp era. Many of his covers featured a man shouting.
Did covers under his name and also under the alias “Ray Dean”. No idea why, it’s one of life’s little mysteries.

Dominic Cammerota (11)
Could not find out anything about this artist

Illustrated adventure and western pulps. All his covers for Adventure are western themes.
V. E. Pyles
V. E. Pyles
 V. E. Pyles (11)
Painted the cover for the last pulp issue of Adventure.

Arthur Schwieder
Arthur Schwieder

 Arthur Schwieder (11)
Seems to have worked exclusively for Adventure before starting an art school in 1928.

Charles Durant (10)
Could not find out anything about this artist
Charles Livingston Bull
Charles Livingston Bull

The pre-eminent wildlife artist of the time, responsible for many of the most beautiful late teens animal covers. Also did circus posters for Barnum and Bailey and many other books
Illustrated many covers for the Saturday Evening Post. Almost all of his covers have a man clutching a weapon.

William F. Soare

This artist passed away early at the age of 42. He worked across western, adventure, crime and “spicy” pulps.

Rockwell Kent
Rockwell Kent
Was the sole artist for the entire time in 1926-27 Adventure tried to become a slick magazine.


Hibberd V. B. Kline (10)
He was a university professor. One of his covers features two hands reaching for a gun and is a masterpiece of minimalism.

 Watch out for part 2 next week. There's lots of interesting stuff there.