Thursday, January 28, 2016


There's something peculiar about this 1939 Argosy cover. Look it over for a moment. Does something seem missing? Look at nearly any other Argosy and its cover will most likely promote the title of one of its stories. This issue only offers generic descriptions of its three big novelets: hockey novelet (Judson P. Philips's "Skate, You Sinners"); Civil War novelet (Richard Sale's "Him and General Lee"); adventure novelet (the third installment of Cornell Woolrich's anthology serial The Eye of Doom). A big headline for any one of them probably would have put more energy into this G. J. Rozen cover. Relatively unusual, also, is Argosy's failure to promote this week's new serial, but that might be explained, if the Fiction Mags Index is correct, by the new serial, George W. Ogden's Steamboat Gold, being an old serial, a reprint from the All-Story Weekly circa 1918. Short stories by Weed Dickinson, Nard Jones and Alexander Key, and the latest chapter of Edgar Rice Burroughs's Synthetic Men of Mars round out the issue. Hard to believe as it may be, but sports pulps were a popular genre for a long time, dating back to the dime-novel exploits of Frank Merriwell. I don't know if sports pulp stories are worth anyone's attention, other than Robert E. Howard's boxing stories, but Argosy would put sports on its cover about three or four times a year, mostly illustrating stories by Philips. He probably has little to do with this issue's collector value, which probably has everything to do with Burroughs and Woolrich, whose presence makes this number probably more pricey than it's actually worth.


  1. There are two genres that have practically no interest at all among pulp collectors: sport pulps and love pulps. They were popular among readers back in the pulp era but collectors nowadays have no real interest in them. I can think of a couple collectors who collect sport and love pulps: Michelle Nolan and Sheila Vanderbeek. There most be a couple more and that's it. My theory is the deadly formula defeats us and makes the stories almost unreadable.

  2. How many kinds of sports stories can there be? Mismatched teammates learn teamwork. Athlete seeks redemption for failure/disgrace. Injured athlete overcomes handicap for the team/school. Athlete or coach resists gamblers. There are probably a few more, but unless your sports author is a true stylist any story you read must seem like you've read it many times before.