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Love And Romance: The Magazines And I. Chapter 9, Part 1.

June 27, 2021

Love and Romance Magazines … is the 9th chapter from the serialized book I am writing on the magazines of 1953, specifically March 1953, the month I was born.  This is chapter nine, part one.  Feel free to back track for chapters one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, and eight in previous blogs.  Enjoy.

Pulp fiction was more than a movie starring John Travolta. It was a breed of magazines that crashed like an inexpensive swell through a variety of categories in the 20th century. From science fiction to adventure to romance, pulp magazines were a force to be reckoned with during the 1940s and 1950s.  

In this chapter, we examine the romance genre of pulp magazines. The inexplicable covers that promised desire, tears, and love, all rolled up into one issue. These titles were the successors of dime novels and short fiction of the 19th century. 

The term “pulp” came from the cheap wood pulp paper that the magazines were printed from. Often they had ragged and untrimmed edges and were in direct contrast to the higher-quality, glossy-type magazines of the same eras.  

But the heartbeat of pulp romance magazines were the many respected writers who wrote for them during their heyday. The most successful of the pulps could sell up to one million copies per issue and were very affordable reads during times of economic hardships, such as during the Great Depression. 

Romance in its many forms was indeed a pulp magazine staple. Pulp publishers were constantly trying to reinvent the wheel by specializing and grafting different genres and types of romantic fiction for their inventory. From the Western Romance to the Modern Romances, love was definitely in the air of pulp.

Let’s take a look at some “pulp” love from March 1953, shall we?

FIFTEEN LOVE STORIES

Popular Publications, the publisher of Fifteen Love Stories, was one of the largest publishers of pulp magazines, having 42 different titles in its repertoire at one point. The company was founded by Henry “Harry” Steeger during the Great Depression. Steeger was a smart businessman and knew that the times called for a bit of escapism and there was money to be made, so he began pumping out pulp fiction fast and furiously. Fifteen Love Stories was one of those moneymakers. 

The March 1953 magazine was filled with just that, novels and short stories on love, with tips on romance and cosmetic cues from some experts. It was non-stop love escapism, fringed with designs on romance and other Cupid-related topics. 

LOVE BOOK MAGAZINE

Love Book Magazine was another Popular Publications title and continued the pulp love trend admirably. It had love stories and features that brought women into the world of romance in a special way, showing them that when love was involved, anything was possible.

The March 1953 issue had seven complete love stories along with feature departments such as Beau Catcher and Pen Pals. It was page after page of content that had very little advertisements and a whole lot of love.

MODERN ROMANCES

Published by Dell, which was one of the largest publishers of magazines, including pulp magazines, Modern Romanceswas a long running true love magazine featuring short stories of love, passion, lust, divorce, and betrayal, usually all in one issue. The magazine was targeted toward “good girls” (don’t shoot the messenger, it was a different time) and showcased stories on how to get a man and keep him.

The March 1953 issue had a cover line that read: Ether Party – A girl’s first step to ruin. (I can only imagine) and I Blackmailed For Love. The magazine was over 100 pages and chocked full of stories such as those, along with ads galore. The tagline below the title on the table of contents page read: Every Family Begins With Romance. 

And it’s hard to argue with that.

MY STORY

Love stories at their best, My Story was a Dell Publication that offered book length novels and short stories, along with articles that offered women advice on marriage, virtue, and her husband’s finances. It was published annually and had more of a high-quality appeal than the other pulp magazines.

The March 1953 edition had plenty of love stories, along with six complete book length novels. The young woman on the cover had a fresh appealing demeanor next to cover lines such as Cocktail Wife and Strange Wedding Night. The incongruity cannot be ignored.  

To be continued…

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