|Real Nazi Sex UFO Man-Eater Cults!
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|True put the whole segment back on the map. Following its success, many firms reentered the pulp
market. Like Fawcett, many of the firms had cut back during the war. Also like Fawcett, many of
them had gone into comic books. In some histories, pulps die, comics rise and that’s the end of
Comic books certainly did have an impact on the pulps. First, they could be shipped overseas.
Second, they appealed to an audience which the publisher could easily reach—kids. Kids were still
around while half the pulp audience was at war. Third, for the paper ration, you couldn’t get a
bigger bang for the buck. The male oriented pulps started to vanish. The romance pulps continued.
Once war time conditions ended, comic books became considerably less attractive.
The paper rationing system ended with the war. This caused paper prices to go up 400% overnight.
Couple this with the flash Depression of 1946-1947 and you find a lot of pulp publishers sucking
Except for the publishers who had gone into comics. They are flush with cash. Much of this money
will be utterly squandered attempting to buy or establish women’s magazines. (Don’t ask.) Or slick
journals of right wing opinion. (Also don’t ask.) Some of it will be spent on vertical integration:
expanding into crossword magazines and reentering the pulp market. There were a tricky few years
ahead and lots of bad choices to be avoided. Just getting through the war was difficult.
Argosy, whose publisher had failed in comics and was waiting out the war with crosswords and
romance pulps, followed True in converting to slick after first stumbling with a price change and a
conversion to photographic covers. After a year or so, it cloned itself entirely after True. Both True
and Argosy had something of a war news focus. During the war both True and Argosy ran rather
lurid accounts of Axis atrocities as their perpetual lead features.
|It must have spiked sales. Like all bad things, it soon spread to the Love magazines.
Once installed, those sexy Nazis never left.
|And to think, this is the magazine that
had once spawned Tarzan.
Soon the pulp world was ablaze in Truth. By ‘true’ of course the pulps meant ‘fiction’ or true events
being used as a condiment for a ripping yarn. When the pulps did chance upon a truly lurid story,
they beat it to death as you can see here. For the most part, the pulps were lying,
Truth had a very long history of being fiction in
the pulps. After a fashion, it was the way they
got their start. Many early pulps contained
news stories with just a whiff of news and a
pound of sensation. Or maybe no news at all,
except that it said it was news. One of the
earliest and most successful pulps was True
Story, which had swum fully formed out of the
pages of Bernarr Macfadden’s now forgotten
muscle mag Physical Culture in 1919.
Macfadden was the Arnold Schwarzenegger of
his day, although during his day he was
thought of as the modern successor to Eugene
Sandow. He was sort of Charles Atlas, but with
more industry. In any case, he was one in a
long line of self-made American strongmen
who also turned out to be business geniuses.
True Story started as an advice column in
Physical Culture. As a feature, it handled both
accounts of various different life issues and
offered advice about biological problems. It
was very rare for any magazine to cover
biological issues confronting women. Many
women’s magazines added a similar section in
response to this. The accounts of life’s little
problems were also very popular—so popular
that True Story was launched as a stand alone
|A 1938 issue. Note the Nazi mention.
True to pulp truth form, True Story was entirely
When launched in 1937, True was just a way
for Fawcett to ride Macfadden’s True Story
coattails. This version of ‘domain jumping’ was
quite common in pulps. Part of the fun was that
there was no way that Macfadden could
trademark the word ‘True’.
In a perfect world, Fawcett, Macfadden and
Argosy’s publisher Popular Publications should
have owned the post war pulp world. Three of
the four biggest publishers of the pre-war era
were leaving for reasons which had little to do
with the pulp market. Munsey Publications, the
industry originator, was being shut down by the
probate court. Powerhouse Street & Smith was
being dismantled by its heirs. And the girl’s
smut king Young Publications had become
incidental to another transaction. That’s like
Ford, GM and Chrysler all folding shop all at
one time. (Rather unthinkable, right?)
Instead, they were flanked by a player who had
spent the war waiting in the weeds.
Also known as Magazine Management, Manvis Publications and Atlas Distribution Company,
amongst other names, this firm was operated by Martin Goodman, who had started in pulps
working under Hugo Gernsback of Amazing Stories fame. If nothing else, he seems to have
learned from Gernsback’s mistakes. Whereas Gernsback burnt through several small fortunes
trying to peddle a form of haughty ‘hard’ science fiction with limited popular appeal, Goodman
wasn’t so high minded.
Like Dell and Fawcett, Goodman had made a killing in
comics during the war. Unlike many, he didn’t blow his
money attempting to become legit. Goodman felt,
however, that once the war was over, comic books would
become very expensive to produce. Even during the war
creatives were jumping ship for more money and, in
some cases, bypassing the comic book companies to go
into the business for themselves. (For shame!) He could
only see this process accelerating. Since the only
portion of the process that was still controllable was
distribution, that’s where he decided to focus his efforts.