Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Era of the Pulp Fiction Super Heroes

It was the great depression and the world was at war. During this tense economic and uncertain era, America was ready for the welcome relief of the pulp fiction magazine.

With the poor economy, many of the slick magazines and novels were out of reach for the mainstream public. When the cheaply made pulp magazines made its way to the shelves they were being scooped up in droves. They were mostly dime novels with artfully done illustrations. As the popularity of these issues increased, the stories and the art work on the covers became increasingly more garish and fantastic. The quaint stories of the American west became harsher, wildly descriptive, bloodier and bolder than it had ever been and we could not get enough.

The pulp fiction era was from the 1920s up to the 1950s and during that period as many as one million copies per month were flying off the shelves. Many great writers honed their skills writing pulp fiction stories and went on to become accomplished, successful and influential novelists. Novelists such as Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, H. P. Lovecraft and L. Ron Hubbard are a few of the most successful writers to come from this era.

The genres were plentiful and appealed to a wide audience so there was something for everyone. There was saucy pulp, exotic pulp such as tales from the Orient, mystery, romance, fantasy and science fiction, westerns, hard boiled and spicy detective, sea and air adventures and so on. From this vast body of work some of our most beloved characters were born, many of which lived on in comics, television and movies.

This era produced the likes of "Sherlock Holmes,' "Buck Roger," "Doc Savage," "Fu Manchu," "Hopalong Cassidy," "The Spider," "Tarzan," "Zorro," " The Shadow" and "Conan The Barbarian" etc., too many to list here. It took the incredibly creative minds of these writers to churn out on a regular basis these fabulous stories.

The pulps ruled for almost thirty years and then the television and motion picture era began. But it is the pulps that are responsible for much of the characters and story lines we have had the privilege to enjoy and many of the pulp characters were expanded upon, super sized if you will, which may not have come about without the pulp writers.

I find it fascinating that because of the depression and war our pulp super heroes were so well received. When people are struggling in their lives, it is seems we have a desire to out create the unpleasantness and embrace almost super human qualities. The success of the pulps is self evident.

After almost eighty years most of the pulps have been collecting dust in basement and attics or mom and pop bookstores and can be difficult to find. However, there has been a renewed interest in these stories and a vast number of the stories are back in print and are currently being recorded as audiobooks for a new generation to enjoy.

Fred Duckworth is working to reintroduce Stories from the Golden Age, a line of 80 books and multi-cast, unabridged audio books, featuring 153 stories written by L. Ron Hubbard in the 1930s and 1940s. Click here to view the "Spy Killer trailer;

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