Sunday, November 08, 2020

Sunday Morning Bonus Pulp: Spicy Mystery Stories, April 1942

The usual good cover by H.J. Ward on this issue of SPICY MYSTERY STORIES, the Spicy line's sort-of-Weird-Menace pulp. Inside are stories by the usual group of authors under the usual mix of pseudonyms and house-names: Robert Leslie Bellem (at least twice), Hugh B. Cave (as Justin Case), Laurence Donovan, Edwin Truett Long, Colby Quinn, and more. I really like the Spicy pulps, as most of you know. I find them consistently entertaining, although formulaic enough that I have to space them out some.


Anonymous said...

I always thought this was one the finest Spicy covers ever— you simply can’t get much sleazier looking than that villain and the shadow of the pistol on his shoulder literally makes the viewer into the hero coming to the rescue.

Does anybody know if this was the first time they used this cover? I recall hearing that this image in particular led to an outcry against the most lurid pulps, but I thought that happened before 1942.


Anonymous said...

Okay, I had to look deeper. I recalled that NYC mayor Fiorello La Guardia was involved, spotting this issue and being appalled by it, but I was convinced this happened in the 1930's.
I was wrong.


James Reasoner said...

Thanks, John. I didn't remember the details myself. The author of that article gets one thing wrong in the first paragraph: Mayor La Guardia didn't force the publisher out of business. But the magazines were toned down slightly and retooled into the Speed line instead of the Spicy line. The article also makes me want to read "Black Pool for Hell Maidens" (by Hal K. Wells, from the June 1938 issue of MYSTERY TALES, with a Norman Saunders cover, no less, and not even from the same publisher!) and "Six Gun Saga of Blue Strange" (by Curtis Bishop, from the January 1946 issue of LARIAT STORY MAGAZINE, cover by Allen Anderson, and again, not even the same publisher!) But to get back to the subject at hand, yeah, that's about the most brutish bad guy I've ever seen on a pulp cover. I agree it's a top-notch job by Ward.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, the Voice article is okay... but I just found it today and it's not where I originally heard about La Guardia coming down on the pulps.
I'm sure I read about it in a book-- maybe Ron Goulart's Informal History of the Pulps? Jones Shudder Pulps?

The thing is, I remember reading that there was a crackdown on the more lurid pulp mags around 1938 and that it tempered the Spicie's content and basically pulled the teeth of the Weird Menace mags. But my memory has failed me and I have nothing to back it up. Frustrating.


Spike said...

I had read that the downfall of Weird Menace happened with the real life horrors of WWII, not just censorship. Which makes 1942 make sense.

There are a couple of collections of Hugh Cave weird menace out there. Consistently great stuff, he was amazing.

On another topic, I am reading a collection of Seabury Quinn stories, many new to me. Someone bound a bunch together in the 1940s (from Weird Tales and elsewhere). I thank that person and am grateful I found this. Bound pulp stories have always intrigued me (consumer bound not publisher).