Sunday, March 03, 2019

Sunday Morning Bonus Pulp: Mystery Novels and Short Stories, December 1939

I don't know who did the cover for this issue of MYSTERY NOVELS AND SHORT STORIES, but that's some inspired lunacy right there, right down to the tattoos on the whip-wielding dwarf's arms. And the fact that you can use the term "whip-wielding dwarf" in describing this cover tells you a lot about the magazine. Despite being called MYSTERY NOVELS AND SHORT STORIES, this is clearly a Weird Menace pulp. The authors, however, aren't really known for that genre although some of them are fairly big names. Arthur J. Burks, of course, wrote almost everything, so he doesn't really count, but I think of Frank Belknap Long more as a Weird Fiction author (and that's not the same thing as Weird Menace) and G.T. Fleming-Roberts is an actual mystery and action writer. And wait, who's this I see on the Table of Contents? None other than Norman A. Fox, one of the stalwarts of the Western pulps. That's one thing I love about the pulp era: if there was a paycheck to be had, guys chased it. I've always been the same way.


Anonymous said...

That is William Soare. He did covers for gangster and detective pulps, a handful of Spicies, even a Secret Agent X or two. David Saunders has a nice little write-up on his site Pulp Artists.

And yeah, that cover is something else...!

- b.t.

James Reasoner said...

Thank you!

JasperAK said...

I don't care what anybody says, I like Weird Menace. You know, the kind of stories that don't take themselves too seriously. Sometimes I just want some seriously gonzo'd up stuff that I can really only get from the pulps. Dwarves with whips or Space Jocks with ray guns, I love it all. A lot of pulp may be hack work, but it sure is fun. I can't remember the last time I read something from this century where I imagined the writer having fun while writing. Dismounting my horse now.

James Reasoner said...

I'm sure a lot of the time it wasn't much fun trying to write enough to make a living at a penny a word--quite a few of the pulpsters wound up committing suicide, after all--but that was the real life part of it. The stories themselves, at least those by the best of them, do indeed read like the writers were having a great time pounding them out. There are still some writers like that around, but it probably is harder to find them these days. So many writers seem to take everything so seriously, including themselves. I like to remind myself that I'm just a guy making up stories about cowboys, like I did when I was six years old.

Anonymous said...

I can sympathize with JasperAK, but I do think there are a number of 21st century authors who seem to me to be having fun while writing -- Ron Goulart (though more of a 20th century guy), Kim Newman, and the late Terry Pratchett come first to mind.

Denny Lien