Sunday, July 30, 2017

Sunday Morning Bonus Pulp: Blue Book, March 1942

During the war years, BLUE BOOK got away from using historical covers as much and added some contemporary ones to the mix. This one by Herbert Morton Stoops features British tanks in the North African campaign and is excellent. BLUE BOOK always had a great blend of fiction as well, and this issue is no different with stories by H. Bedford-Jones (a BLUE BOOK regular, and this issue is a little unusual in that it has only one story by him, with nothing by his pseudonyms Gordon Keyne or Michael Gallister), Georges Surdez, Peter B. Kyne, Arch Whitehouse, Irvin S. Cobb, Jacland Marmur, Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson, and Samuel Taylor.


Walker Martin said...

I'm just back from Pulpfest where I saw several bound volumes of BLUE BOOK with white paper. Beautiful!

Anonymous said...

You didn't buy them, Walker?


Walker Martin said...

I have a run already but you are right, I would have bought them but Ed Hulse beat me to them.

S. Craig Zahler said...

i read about a dozen stories from this pulp magazine---from authors i didn't know and also ones i usually liked---and they all seemed very formulaic and uncommonly mild fiction. and often told with a light ironic twist that got very obvious/predictable after the first few tales. i know this pulp is put alongside argosy and adventure, but i adore those two pulps, especially the latter, and was bored cold by blue book. my sampling was small, but the pattern was evident right away and didn't change.

walker---do you have a favorite, especially robust or surprising issue or two to recommend?

Walker Martin said...

Craig, wish you could have attended Pulpfest. I bet we would have had some interesting conversations. My report on the convention is at

Maybe you can attend Windy City or the next Pulpfest. Concerning Blue Book, I know what you mean. It's an attractive magazine with several illustrations per story but you have to love H. Bedford Jones a lot because he appeared in the magazine hundreds of times. My run of BLUE BOOK is complete from about 1920 to 1955 or thereabout. I still prefer ADVENTURE, SHORT STORY and ARGOSY however.

But BLUE BOOK is worth collecting. Ed Hulse was all excited because he found several bound volumes at Pulpfest. The thirties are the best period and I can recommend two great serials by James Francis Dwyer:

CARAVAN TREASURE begins in March 1936 and goes for 5 parts.
THE TREASURE OF VANISHED MEN in February 1937 and goes for 4 parts.

Both serials are illustrated by one of the greatest illustrators: Flanagan. I have a double page spread from on of the serials.

I recommend that also read the 20,000 word history on BLUE BOOK written by Mike Ashley. It appeared in PULP VAULT 14 and is available from Mike Ashley is probably the foremost writer on fiction magazines. He's done a 4 volume history of the SF magazines and a great book on the British fiction magazines titled THE AGE OF THE STORY TELLERS. He's done many other things also.

S. Craig Zahler said...


Thanks for the info. Yes, I'd like to attend a pulp con for sure, but I've been working about 2.5 years straight--I'm currently shooting my third movie (Dragged Across Concrete) in Vancouver. Perhaps after this one I'll take some time off and go to a convention, though if you turn up in New York City, I'd happily meet up for a meal (my treat), and conversation. This invitation is warmly extended to Mr. Reasoner as well.

Currently reading Burroughs, The Mucker on my very limited time off, and I found an issue of All American Fiction up here in Canada with Joel Townsley Rogers, HBJ, James F. Dwyer, Richard Sale and Max Brand in it. Talk about a great line up!

Walker Martin said...

ALL AMERICAN FICTION was a strange case of a magazine that the publishers and editors tried to produce a quality fiction magazine with the very best writers but it was a big failure and only lasted a few issues. The circulation never justified the effort and it had to cease publication. I think this was one of the first signs that the Munsey company was in big trouble. Soon they sold their big titles like ARGOSY and DETECTIVE FICTION WEEKLY to Popular Publications and went out of business.

A couple years ago Matt Moring of Altus Press bought the rights to Munsey and Popular Publications and during a visit he showed me some of the paperwork involving the takeover of Munsey by Popular, including the pen used to sign the legal papers.

S. Craig Zahler said...


Very cool. I'd like to see this stuff someday.

Qualitatively, how would you rate the All American Fiction stories?
I have two issues and am planning on digging in after Burroughs.

Walker Martin said...

The magazine lasted 8 issues and started off monthly at 160 pages but soon went bi-monthly and decreased to 144 pages and then to 128 pages, all signs of circulation problems. I would recommend the earlier issues, maybe the first 4 or 5, as the best but the entire run is of interest since they were trying to put out a quality title. By the way, Munsey tried the same thing with DOUBLE DETECTIVE, publishing the better known names in the pulp detective field. Same result but instead of killing the title, they changed it into a hero character pulp with the Green Lama.

Cornell Woolrich and Bedford-Jones each had several stories of interest and so did Richard Sale and Max Brand. But having said all the above, I still think that ADVENTURE during this period under Popular Publications was still the better magazine.

I still recommend reading ALL AMERICAN FICTION and it would be interesting to see if you also think ADVENTURE was better. At any rate, the magazine failed, despite the well known names and soon the bigger titles of ARGOSY and DETECTIVE FICTION WEEKLY, also failed and had to be sold to Popular Publications.

By the way, BLOOD n THUNDER had an article in issue 41 which gave Ed Hulse's opinion of the magazine. It's just been reprinted in PRIDE OF THE PULPS by Hulse and is available at the Murania Press website or on He called it The Noble Experiment.

S. Craig Zahler said...


thanks for the feedback. i read that issue of blood n thunder and was curious regarding your feelings on the magazine. i intend to read the july aug 1938 issue, which is the one that i have on hand.