Wherever I have been buying books, there has always been a small bundle of Pulps tied up in hairy white twine, unloved and unwanted in the corner. They promise uniform delights within, but always disappoint with their empty promises, manly skills required, and a staggering pointlessness of information. There are plans for objects to be made by the predominately male audience. There are celebrities who make hat-racks, and people who collect barbed-wire.
The average Pulp magazine starts with a garish cover behind which is a welter of small classified ads (Stuffed Animals, Puny Torsoes, Be a Postman...) There then is a layer of small ads without a single illustration. The masthead then announces the rich diet of tosh for the month. The lead story can be something as seismic as Nuclear War, or the Movie Industry. The double page spreads at the front of the Pulp are complex and rich. Discarded fragments of each article can be found in chaotic scenes at the back of the book, like a brantub.
After the lead features come recognisable sections for Handymen, Lathe Operators and Photographers. At the end there are unsteady objects to be made such as Bunk Beds with concealed speakers and Multiple Use Hostess Trollies.
The paper is (even in periods of full employment and affluence) brittle and very, very smelly. My own failing is a frenzied love for the bouquet and contents of the American Pulps. Flick the pages under your nostrils, and you will see what I mean. Their British equivalents are drab, sensible and visually illiterate.
The left hand column of this site represents a considered analysis of the subject matter explored by the Pulp Magazines I have in my collection, from 1930 - 1970.
In the right hand column I tried to assemble in a more diffuse way some the imagery that delighted me, and kept me coming back for more. There are images (see oddities and still life first) of great mystery, as if some concealed issue lurks unseen in an ominous way. The people who feature (see two galleries of Demonstration ) have to assert themselves in the photograph, but are often overwhelmed by the sinister accessories and unleashed machinery.
In several images, disconnected hands enact sinister rituals, and objects take on a life of their own. The rooms offered as exemplars for Easy Living represent the wishes of the readership. Look more closely and there is a dimension of hysteria and hidden malice that I have seen in David Lynch's Twin Peaks.
All in all, they are offered to Clare Strand as my small contribution to the projects which she has in hand at this moment.
PULP NOVEL COVERS