Did you know that much of our blockbuster entertainment of today – from Indiana Jones to comic book superheroes, to Star Trek – all owe an astonishing debt to the pulp magazines that were printed between 1896 and the 1950s?
From bold, sensational graphics, to well-written and imaginative plot lines by respected authors, the “Pulps” set the bar for popularizing science fiction, action-fantasy, and adventure genres in novels and screenplays, especially in the last 40-50 years.
The University Libraries are excited to showcase their extensive holdings of original pulp magazines in their latest exhibit, running from March to September 2013.
Among the Pulps, you will find a legion of important authors, from Conan Doyle, Sax Rohmer, Philp K. Dick, Erle Stanley Gardner, Zane Grey, L. Ron Hubbard, Issac Assimov, Louis L’Amour, and even F. Scott Fitzgerald and Upton Sinclair!
You’ll also find many familiar fictional characters, including Tarzan, Buck Rogers, Nick Carter, The Shadow, Zorro, Hopalong Cassidy, Conan the Barbarian, and Fu Manchu!
If you are interested in these early pulp magazines, please feel free to contact The University Libraries at California State University, East Bay to set-up an appointment to investigate these marvelous cultural treasures.
In terms of storytelling sensibilities, it can easily be argued that pulps still exist today—but in the more-familiar forms of the mass-market paperback book and the digest magazine, including Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine and Analog—both of which had their origins in the pulps. Indeed, the term “pulp fiction”—in addition to serving as the title of Quentin Tarantino’s memorable movie—is often applied to mass market paperbacks. This format has served as home not only to long-running original series such as The Destroyer and Don Pendelton’s The Executioner [both of whom would have been very much at home in the pulps], but to occasional revivals of pulp heroes such as The Shadow and Doc Savage [the latter of whom is currently starring in a series of original novels written by Will Murray and published by Altus Press.] And many publishers have made a tidy profit by mining the pulp magazines for content to reprint and thereby introduce to a new generation of readers.
The Internet is proving to be a tremendous boon for those who wanting to read stories that originally appeared in the pulps. A handful of websites are posting electronic versions of full issues of pulp magazines, even while a variety of publishers are making available e-book versions [albeit of variable quality] of the contents of numerous pulp magazines—many of which had never before been comprehensive or systematically reprinted. So, while the “Golden Age” of pulp magazines may be long gone, it is very close to being a “New Golden Age” for those who want to (re)-read the stories that made the pulp magazines so memorable.
Wow! This was one exhausting production - largely because it was so easy to become distracted, either buy the sensational graphics, or because of the great stories represented in the various pulp magazines that we had access to in the CSUEB Library's collection!
The final wall exhibit we created consisted of twenty-two 36" x 72" posters (not all are reproduced in this Guide, but may be at some point in the future).
Without the willing and careful help of Anna Graves in the University Archives (who provided high-resolution scans of our archival copies of fragile pulp issues), and librarian Doug Highsmith (who provided us with a much-needed historical perspective on this topic), we would not have been able to pull this off in any meaningful manner.
We hope you find the exhibit as informative and as fun as we did!
Producers: Richard Apple
Concept and Content Development: Doug Highsmith, Diana Wakimoto, Richard Apple
Text: Richard Apple, Linda Dobb, Doug Highsmith
Posters and Graphic Design: Richard Apple
Archival Support: Diana Wakimoto, Anna Graves
Copyright 2013 by the CSUEB University Libraries