Adventures in a Golden Age of Storytelling by SAMUEL WILSON, Author of "Mondo 70," "The Think 3 Institute," etc.
Monday, March 7, 2016
THE PULP CALENDAR: March 7
We're getting a little ahead of ourselves in charting the decline and fall of Argosy as a Munsey publication. There are two cover format changes to come between the hideous collage design circa February 1941 and this redesign from 1942. By this point the venerable weekly was no longer weekly; it had gone twice-a-month the previous October, and would decline to monthly by May of this year. Photo covers weren't standard; there had been four since the latest redesign. Since these movie-star photos -- Dorothy Lamour had been preceded by Henry Fonda, Sabu and Fay McKenzie -- have nothing to do with the contents inside, I wonder whether they were paid advertising from these actors' respective studios. The "Argosy" on the cover is in a new, more streamlined font, with a plane replacing the ship that had been part of the cover design since the magazine gave up on cover paintings in 1940. Since the switch to twice-monthly Argosy had put more emphasis on its non-fiction lead story; this issue's Gestapo expose outranks the Arthur Lawson novelette, for instance. The majority of the magazine was still fiction, including serials by Charles Marquis Warren and Louis C. Goldsmith. George Michener contributes a sci-fi story, "Last Stop - Earth," while Don Tracy delivers a short story. Lawson's an okay western writer and Goldsmith is pretty good, and if Warren's serial is on the level of his Bugles Are For Soldiers then even this product of Argosy's decrepitude probably is still worth having.
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I'm going to guess, Sam, that, yes, the studios paid the publishers of Argosy to put the stars on their covers. A clear case that Argosy was bleeding money and should've quit while it was ahead.ReplyDelete
Soon after this Popular Publications bought the Munsey titles and ARGOSY was revived as a quality man's magazine. It was a big success in the bedsheet format of 8 1/2 by 11 inches.ReplyDelete
If I recall correctly, Popular first restored Argosy to pulp dimensions for most of 1943, then redesigned it as a bedsheet that fall. In that format Argosy survived until 1978, though toward the end it had little fiction and a lot of speculation about Bigfoot and similar stuff. "Fact" became an increasing preoccupation of Argosy, Bluebook and Adventure (once it finally went bedsheet) in the 1950s. It makes you wonder whether something like the "Reality TV" fad had hit the the magazine market.ReplyDelete