Adventures in a Golden Age of Storytelling
by SAMUEL WILSON,
Author of "Mondo 70," "The Think 3 Institute," etc.
Sunday, January 3, 2016
THE PULP CALENDAR: January 3
On a week-to-week basis the main rival of the Munsey company, which published Argosy and Detective Fiction Weekly, was the venerable firm of Street & Smith. The publisher of such hoary characters as the college athlete Frank Merriwell and the detective Nick Carter, Street & Smith is best known now as the home of The Shadow and Doc Savage, the definitive hero pulps of the Thirties and Forties. Westerns were among the company's most popular titles; it published not one but two weekly titles. Of those, Western Story was the more mature title, compared to Wild West Weekly (which we'll see soon) though its cover long emphasized "clean stories of outdoor adventure." That makes you suspect that Western Story itself is kiddie fare, but I've read some respectable stories from the likes of the legendary Max Brand and "cowboy author" Walt Coburn in the issues scanned at unz.org. This January 3, 1931 issue isn't one of those. I picked this one not just because of the date but because it introduced an unusual gimmick. For the first few months of 1931, Western Story's covers belonged to "Slim," the gunman pictured above, each week illustrating some different aspect of the daily life of a cowboy. I'd guess there was a text feature inside describing Slim's doings at greater length, but I don't know that for certain. This is still a pretty bland cover design, but Western Story would look much better by the late Thirties, as you'll see down the line sometime.