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Amazing Pulp Magazine Collection Exhibit: The Pulp Collection at CSUEB

Exhibit showcasing the Library's extensive pulp magazine collection and provides historical context for this wildly popular - and influential - form of entertainment from the early 20th century.

Collection Overview

This collection includes numerous out-of-print pulp magazines from the 1920s through the 1950s, including Astounding Stories of Super Science, Amazing Stories, and others.

The imaginative science fiction and adventure stories in these early 20th century magazines, directly influenced the growth of the comic book (graphic novel) starting in the 1930s, Hollywood serials of the 1940s, and feature films, especially after 1977.

Pulp Titles at CSUEB and years represented

Adventure (1927 – 1949)

Air Wonder Stories (1929 – 1930)

Amazing Science Fiction (1958)

Amazing Science Fiction Stories (1958 – 1960?)

Amazing Stories (1926 – 1958)

Amazing Stories Quarterly (1928 – 1934)

Analog Science Fact, Science Fiction (1961 – 1965)

Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact (1965 – 1991)

Astonishing Stories (1940 – 1943)

Astounding Science Fiction (1938 – 1960)

Astounding Stories (1933 – 1938)

Astounding Stories of Super Science (1930 – 1933)

Comet (1940 – 1941)

Famous Fantastic Mysteries (1939 – 1946?)

Fantastic Adventures (1941 – 1952)

Fantastic Story Magazine (1950 – 1953)

Mad Magazine (1952 – 1975)

Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction (1949 – ?)

Mystery Novels Magazine (1932 – 1934)

Planet Stories (???? – ????)

Science Fiction (1939 – 1941)

Science Wonder Quarterly (1929 – 1930)

Science Wonder Stories (1929 – 1930)

The Shadow Magazine (1934 – 1935)

Short Stories (1941 – 1943)

Startling Stories (1942 – 1952)

Street & Smith’s Unknown (1939 – 1940)

Super Science Stories (1940 – 1951)

Thrilling Wonder Stories (1937? – 1955?)

Unknown Worlds (1941 – 1943)

Weird Tales (1925 – 1954)

Wonder Stories (1931 – 1936)

Wonder Stories Quarterly (1931 – 1933)

What Is a Pulp Magazine?

What Is a "Pulp" Magazine?


Pulp magazines were inexpensive magazines that featured fictional stories in several genres, including scientific (later termed “science fiction”), mystery, and adventure tales.

Most “pulps” were 7″ x 10″ and ran approximately 128 pages. They were more substantial than a comic book in size and content, but were printed on the same cheap paper made from wood pulp – hence the term pulp magazines. In the early years, after 1896, most of the pulp publications were priced at 10 cents, and were the direct successors to the dime novels and fiction magazines of the late 1800s.

Because of advances in printing, the pulp magazines of the 1900s onward, eventually came to have colorful and sensationalistic cover art. They also featured recurring heroes in their novel-length stories, and, in that sense, are themselves the predecessor to the comic book superheroes that began in the 1930s.

What Makes a "Pulp" Magazine?

Pulp magazines generally had certain shared characteristics.

  • Cover art was usually colorful, eye-catching, and melodramatic!
  • Traditional pulps were 7” wide by 9” tall;
  • The inside of the front cover usually contained an advertisement in black and white;
  • While some pulps had a contents page just inside the cover on page 1, others just had ads;
  • The one thing all pulps had in common was the cheap paper on which they were printed - the use of paper made from unrefined wood pulp kept costs at a minimum!
  • A contents page was located shortly after the inside cover which listed story titles, authors, date and volume of the magazine;
  • Most pulps introduced each story with a title page, illustrated in black and white - frequently bleeding across both pages for dramatic effect;
  • Pulps had at least one hundred pages, with the stories set in standard, two-column layout
  • Many of the back pages of pulp magazines carried black and white ads (usually mail order) that were targeted to their readership;
  • Ads continued intruding on the text, and the inside of the back cover frequently presented a full-page black and white ad on the inside of the slick cover stock;
  • The back cover of the pulp had the only full color ad, and was printed as part of a continuous impression during printing, that included the front cover art, the vertical spine, and the back ad.

Typical pulp volume from the CSUEB collection, showing dimensions