Thursday, January 21, 2016


There's a stark quality, almost abstract by pulp standards, to this 1939 Wild West Weekly cover by Harold Winfield Scott. This sort of close-up, with no faces visible, seems atypical of pulp cover art. As I've said already, there's a high standard of design to Street & Smith covers from this period, but I do wonder how well this one sold the issue to its target audience. Along with series hero the Silver Kid, who gets the cover story, this week's issue features one continuing character, Pete Rice, who used to have his very own magazine back when Street & Smith thought they could do hero pulps in all different genres. It also includes the last appearance of a short-lived series character, Guy L. Maynard's Far-Away Logan, who starred in six stories in as many weeks between December 17, 1938 and this issue. Maynard had greater success in Wild West Weekly with his Senor Red Mask. In addition to these prose personalities, there's a continuing comic strip character, Warren Elliot Carleton's Dusty Radburn, in the middle of a run that lasted from November 1938 to March 1939. Most of the authors in this issue are unfamiliar to me, so I can't really say more other than to admire that cover again.


  1. I've noticed these interesting covers during this period also. Both WWW and WESTERN STORY started to use symbolic covers and the scenes depicted were often shot from unusual angles. For instance a barroom fight seen from the ceiling or the floor. Scott's granddaughter was at Pulpfest a couple years ago and she bought some pulps from me with his covers. She has a lot of his paintings but I couldn't talk her into selling me one.

  2. Walker, it seems to have been a 1939 thing. I see that S&S reestablished a cover band for both western weeklies at the end of the year -- check out my 1940 Western Story cover for Jan. 13 -- and that took some of the oomph out of the overall cover design. I wonder what sort of business or aesthetic calculations went into that decision.

  3. Yes it is puzzling as to why they would make a decision that makes the cover look smaller. Without the cover banner the covers look larger and less cluttered. Of course when WESTERN STORY and the rest of the Street & Smith pulps changed to the small digest size because of the paper restrictions in 1943, then the covers really looked tiny.