Saturday 24 November 2018

Link Roundup Nov 2018

A few interesting links, not pulp related but close.

Bram Stoker did not intend for Dracula to serve as fiction, but as a warning of a very real evil, a childhood nightmare all too real.

Worried of the impact of presenting such a story as true, his editor, Otto Kyllman, of Archibald Constable & Company, returned the manuscript with a single word of his own: No.

For many years, books considered trash or worthless were consigned here. That happened till the library found itself sitting on a irreplaceable collection of immense cultural and historical value . Sound familiar?

The Tower Collection is an Aladdin’s cave for book lovers and historians alike where valuable first editions jostle for shelf space alongside Victorian toys and games, colourful children’s books, Edwardian fiction (beautifully preserved in their original dust jackets) and popular magazines of the day.

Read more here, it's an excellent article. 

And finally, some heartwarming book news (I'm thankful to have books in my house).

The donkey libraries of Colombia

Travelling with his two loyal donkeys, Alfa and Beto, Luis Soriano has been spreading the joy of reading to children in rural Colombian communities for over 20 years.

Saturday 17 November 2018

Western author Norman A. Fox's website, maintained by his family

Western author Norman A. Fox (c. 1930s)

I recently found an excellent website on the western author Norman A. Fox, a founder of the Western Writers of America. It has a biography and photos of the author, a bibliography of his stories and movies, and even has a video of a presentation on him made to the Montana Historical Society.

Excellent work by the website creator.

Saturday 10 November 2018

Crazy Cows and Horrified Horses - The western art of George Harrison Wert

I like pulp covers, but i have to confess that most of the people portrayed on the covers had a total lack of expression comparable to the Great Stoneface, Buster Keaton himself. They could be dealing with a rogue elephant, a runaway stagecoach or a snarling man eating beast, and they would serenely confront them, as if the artist were trying to show Buddha vs. Beast.

Saturday 3 November 2018

Pulp Phenomenon - Harold Hersey

[Had my curiosity aroused by a few recent posts on Facebook about some rare Hersey pulps, so decided to do an article on him. All pictures are from the FictionMags Index. The only Hersey pulp i have is a coverless copy of Spy Stories, v1 n1 that i picked up at a recent convention.]

Harold Hersey is described in the Science Fiction Encyclopedia thus:
(1893-1956) US editor, publisher, short-story author and poet. A man of great energy and relatively little talent (italics are mine – Sai), Hersey edited such sf Pulp magazines as Thrill Book, Miracle Science and Fantasy Stories and Mystery Adventures, though most of his editorial work was not sf-related.

A brutal but probably accurate assessment of his impact on the pulp world. For a more detailed biography, see David Saunder’s article on Hersey at his always excellent Field Guide to Wild American Pulp Artists website.

This was the first pulp that Hersey edited, published by Street and Smith. This was a milestone in the field, the first attempt at a magazine of weird and fantasy fiction, considered by many to be the predecessor to Weird Tales magazine – the home of H.P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard and Clark Ashton Smith among many other luminaries. Like many Hersey edited magazines to come, this was unsuccessful.

Hersey then went to work for William Clayton, the publisher of the Clayton magazines – Ace-High, Cowboy Stories, Clues and many others. It was probably at Clayton that Hersey got the inspiration for the design of the magazines that the was to launch later – a distinctive layout with a band running on the left side, white backgrounds with vignettes, and cover art from the best artists. Cover art sold pulps, a fact that many failed experiments over time proved – Adventure in the late 1920s, Argosy in the early 1940s and others that I’m sure readers of this blog know. At Clayton, Hersey was responsible for launching Ranch Romances, the longest lived of the pulps.

Hersey left Clayton Publications in 1927, and went to work for Bernarr MacFadden, where he might have had a hand in Ghost Stories, a strange magazine featuring purportedly true stories of ghosts.

It was after this stint that Hersey would become a publisher for the first time, with Magazine Publishers Inc. where he was a Vice-President. This was where he would publish the pulps that are now mostly sought after more for their cover art and rarity than their written content, including the extremely rare Fire Fighters of which I believe known copies are in the low single digits.

Famous Lives
Fire Fighters
Flying Aces
Golden West
Loving Hearts
No cover found
Main Street
A general interest magazine, not a pulp from the looks of it. No cover found
Murder Mysteries
Sky Birds
Spy Stories
Under Fire Magazine
The Underworld Magazine
Western Trails

Next was the line of magazine published by the Good Story Magazine Company. I believe this line of magazines was funded by Bernarr MacFadden, who may have not wanted to associate his name with them. And considering some of the gangster titles, I’m not surprised. There were many organizations and politicians in New York state that tried to have these magazines banned as they were thought to be glorifying crime and making it attractive to younger, impressionable minds.

Blue Band Magazine
Complete Flying Novel Magazine
Courtroom Stories

No fiction in this.
Detective Trails
Eagles of the Air
Flying Stories
Gangland Stories
Gangster Stories
Love and War Stories
Lucky Stories
No cover found
Miracle Science and Fantasy Stories
Murder Stories
Outlaws of the West/ Western Outlaws
Prison Stories
Quick-Trigger Western Stories
Racketeer and Gangland Stories
Racketeer Stories
Riders of the Range
Speakeasy Stories
Thrills of the Jungle


Complete Gang Novel Magazine
Medical Horrors

This was a really bad idea given magazines were distributed via newsstands and drugstores.


By 1931, MacFadden publications were hit by the Great Depression and he stopped funding the pulps. Headquarters Publishing was Hersey’s second attempt to become a publisher by himself.

American Autopsy

Not a pulp
Front Page Stories
Headquarters Stories
New York Stories
Speed Stories

The last gasp of Hersey’s publishing empire was his attempt to get in on comics publishing in 1936/37.

Dan Dunn Detective Magazine
Tailspin Tommy Air Adventure Magazine
Flash Gordon Strange Adventure Magazine

Other oddities

Harlem Nights

FictionMags has no listing for it. I initially thought this might be Harlem Stories, but I then came across New York Nights, so maybe this existed?

New York Nights
French Night Life Stories
Strange Suicides

Maybe the strangest genre of pulp ever published. Not sure what he was thinking!

And if you’re feeling a little overwhelmed by all this weirdness, you might want to get some Harold Hersey wine 😊. (Seek and ye shall find, the good sage Google says).

And for those brave souls who are more interested in Hersey’s career than wine, here’s a few books that have more information on him.

Biography of Harold Hersey, and a selection of stories from this rare magazine.
Includes a few articles by Hersey himself on writing, editing and publishing.
Nineteen shot-filled stories from the gangster pulps.
Thirty four spooky stories, author and artist biographies and a history of the magazine.
Hersey’s auto-biography, written in 1928. Has a lot of covers, though everything inside is published in black and white.

A contemporary review of the book is amusing:

It acknowledges the usefulness of the knowledge while managing to sneer at the pulp magazine industry and gives Hersey's writing skill a few knocks while at it.