Adventures in a Golden Age of Storytelling by SAMUEL WILSON, Author of "Mondo 70," "The Think 3 Institute," etc.
Thursday, March 31, 2016
THE PULP CALENDAR: March 31
For slightly less than a year Street & Smith went head to head with Argosy by publishing a general-interest weekly pulp to go with its western, detective and romance weeklies. The Popular actually had been around since 1903, starting as a monthly before going twice-a-month in the fall of 1909. In the fall of 1927 Street & Smith made The Popular a weekly, starting with the October 1 issue. The experiment lasted until the end of June 1928. It reverted to twice-a-month until early 1931, when it became monthly. It merged with the company's twice-a-month Complete Stories later that year. It would be odd if Jerome Rozen's cover illustrated Edison Marshall's serial Og the Dawn Man because that story actually started in the previous week's issue. Marshall's the only author this issue that I've heard of, and I know him mainly because the 1958 movie The Vikings is based on one of his books. I also see an occasional copy of one of his novels among the vintage paperbacks in local bookstores. My ignorance of one of the authors, William Hemmingway, is excused by the discovery that, with one exception, he wrote exclusively for The Popular. You got two serials per issue with The Popular, the second this time being the conclusion of W. B. M. Ferguson's The Reckoning, which could have been about anything with that title. There's a series character in Howard Fitzalan's Leguerre of the Lost Division, who was appearing on an almost weekly basis despite the author (real name George Bronson-Howard according to the Fiction Mags Index) being dead since 1922. Roy W. Hinds, James Anthony Murphy and William Slavens McNutt round out the lineup. I leave it to those with experience to say whether any of them was any good.
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Edison Marshall's Dian of the Lost Land is a pretty good lost world adventure novel. Worth picking up if you come across a copy.ReplyDelete
The editor of the magazine, Charles Agnew MacLean, died on June 17, 1928. That was the beginning of the end for the magazine.ReplyDelete
I'm glad Sai mentioned Charles Agnew MacLean. He was editor of THE POPULAR for over 20 years and responsible for discovering many authors. In fact when he died in 1928, Street & Smith published a booklet in a slipcase full of letters from many writers testifying that he had a big influence on their careers. As far as I know this is the only booklet I've ever come across dedicated to the memory and life of a pulp editor.ReplyDelete
THE POPULAR is a big favorite with me and I have all the 600 or so issues. It was once called the training ground for THE SATURDAY EVENING POST and there was a long two part article in BLOOD n THUNDER magazine covering the history of the magazine.
It's largely forgotten today and most collectors do not seem to be aware of just how important it was. This must be because of the magazine's death in 1931, a victim of the depression. Issues used to be easy to find back in the 1980's when I got most of my issues but now they are rare.
When MacLean died there was an obituary that said he died due to his love of scotch. He was fairly young, still in his forties and I guess an alcoholic.