Wednesday, January 25, 2017


In a survey of Collier's it seems difficult not to run into Ernest Haycox. This day in 1936 finds the top hand western writer finishing his serial Trail Smoke. The other pulp alumni in this issue are Sidney Herschel Small, whose "Gunpowder Tea"is one in his series about the Bartlett family's adventures in China; Arthur Somers Roche, who appeared in the pulps back in the teens, and Karl Detzer with the short story "Butter for Breakfast." Detzer touched all bases as an author, landing not only in the pulps (where he specialized in firefighting stories) and the slicks (he appeared in The Saturday Evening Post more often than in Collier's) but also in more literary magazines like The North American Review, and as a nonfiction contributor to a wide range of titles. "Butter" is a railroad rather than a fire story, and its essential "slick" character is established in the table of contents, which defines the story as "Romance on Rails." The header on the opening page elaborates on that slightly, calling it "a story which, to be appreciated, should be read in the depths of a comfortable armchair before a nice, roaring wood fire." In part that's because the hero rescues the girl from a snowdrift, but it still gives you an idea of how stories in the slicks served as a different kind of comfort food from pulp stuff. If you're looking for something just slightly more pulpish and exotic, yet with romance still in the forefront, try the Small story. His Collier's stories turned me on to him before I read any of his pulp work. George de Zayas did the cover.


  1. From the list of pulp alumni, you left out Gouverneur Morris, whose serial in the first issue of Adventure was one of the reasons for that magazine's success.

    Of all the slicks, i think Collier's was the closest to the general fiction pulp magazines - except for the mandatory romantic aspect.

    Small's story is likely based on the experiences of his family business in China.

  2. Thanks for pointing out that blind spot. I must have taken it for granted that Morris had always stuck to the slicks. I haven't read enough of the Saturday Evening Post -- and where is that digital archive they were talking about five years ago? -- to make a thorough comparison, but I think you're right about Collier's. With stuff like Wetjen's Wallaby Jim stories for that magazine you're looking at just about pure pulp.