This was a widespread source of affordable fiction in the first half of the 20th century. They were essentially regular periodicals printed on cheap paper (hence "pulp") featuring original text stories, in contrast to the slick magazines printed on higher grade paper.
Inside these mags were stories of almost every genre possible depending on a particular magazine's focus. While the Action-Adventure
series in the spirit of Indiana Jones
(like The Shadow
or Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze
) series are best remembered today, there were vast varieties like science fiction (like Amazing Stories
), crime & detective (like Black Mask
), horror (H.P. Lovecraft
's stories) romance and many others.
Very few involved, including the writers who often were paid a penny a word, thought the fiction created had real value the way novels often tried to. But the stories were at their best in the wild scenes of furious action, and influence their descendant media to this day. Many Dead Horse Tropes
were new and original in the pulps
. For instance, the Super Hero
and Spy Hero stories like James Bond
owe a lot to the medium's influence.
Eventually, it was killed off by competition from movies, comic books, television and the paperback novel, newer forms of affordable entertainment.
See also Two-Fisted Tales
, works directly inspired by the pulps. Compare with Dime Novel
. Space Opera
, Planetary Romance
and Sword & Sorcery
became distinct genres in the pulps. Airport Novels
are the closest modern equivalent
, although Extruded Book Product
plumbs some of the same depths as the worst of the pulp serials.
Not to be confused with the band called PULP
. The movie Pulp Fiction
derives its title, and some of its style, from stories in pulp magazines.
- Amazing Stories
- The Avenger - something of a cross between the Shadow and Doc Savage, but with a more tragic dimension.
- Conan the Barbarian and anything else by Robert E. Howard
- Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze - a big influence on Superman
- The Shadow - a big influence on Batman
- The Spider - a more bloodthirsty, violent and (in later installments) more Catholic version of above. According to Stan Lee, one of the indirect influences on Spider-Man
- Tarzan and anything else by Edgar Rice Burroughs.
- As the storm clouds gathered over Europe and the Far East, pulp hero Secret Service Operator #5 (1934 - 1939) fought attempts by various foreign armies from South America, Europe and the Orient to conquer the United States. The events are completely over-the-top as benefits the pulp genre, except for the time the Japs destroy an entire city (Philadelphia) with their evil atomic bomb. Only Orientals would do such a dastardly deed...
- Sadly, due to the cancellation of the magazine, the "Purple Invasion" epic was left permanently unfinished at a Cliffhanger.
- Danger 5 is a modern TV pastiche of pulp magazine cliches set in WWII. On its website, it has an online pulp magazine edition. Its creators have directly stated their intent to pay tribute to pulp.
- Gojira: Written and serialized by pulp novelist Shigeru Kayama.
- Weird Tales, a hugely influential magazine with fantastic, horror-themed stories. Authors who had their stories published in the magazine include Robert E. Howard, H.P. Lovecraft, Henry Kuttner, C. L. Moore and many, many others.
- Semi Auto Semla is a webcomic that seeks to emulate the genre and the tone, complete with the often gratoitous amounts of damsels in distress and heavy-duty action.