Archive for the ‘News and Views’ Category

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Men’s Adventures Magazines 1953: The Magazines And I. Chapter 10 Part 4.

July 22, 2021

Men’s Adventures Magazines … is the 10th chapter from the serialized book I am writing on the magazines of 1953, specifically March 1953, the month I was born.  This is chapter ten, part four.  Feel free to back track for chapters one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, and nine in previous blogs.  Enjoy.

THRILLING RANCH STORIES

Another magazine published by Thrilling Publications, Thrilling Ranch Stories offered just that – thrilling stories set with a ranch backdrop. The magazine was a quarterly that held readers enthralled with stories about rustlers and rangelands. The covers were almost always colorful illustrations of a handsome cowboy with his equally attractive heroine by his side. 

The March 1953 issue was an over-the-top edition with over 100 pages of stories such as Rustler’s Run and To Wed An Oregon Man. Between the western excitement and the ever-present romance that filled the pages, the magazine was a great addition to the flock.

TRIPLE WESTERN

With three novels loaded into one magazine, Triple Western was sure to captivate even the most hard-to-please Western fan. The magazine was true-to-form in that it offered western adventure on a large scale. Published by Best Publications, another umbrella of the Thrilling Group, the title proves that good things can also happen in threes.

The February/March 1953 issue of the magazine is complete with a novel called Trail West, one entitled Wide Loop and one called Merrano of the Dry Country. And while they all fit the bill of the 1950s era western story, each is a stand-alone piece of content that really shines with vivid characters and rich backgrounds.

WAR REPORT

War Report is a comic book all about the complexities of war and its travesties, rolled into a compilation of two different stories. Published by Farrell Publications under the umbrella of Excellent Publications, the company was founded and operated by Robert W. Farrell in the 1940s and 1950s. Farrell also published romance, adventure, superheroes, and funny animal comics.

The March 1953 issue had stories about U.S. soldiers facing combat action as the Korean War heated up and promised military adventure in a big way. It was adventure done comic book style and it was vastly popular.  

WEST

West magazine was in the Thrilling Publications stable of titles and continued to follow the highly successful course that their other pulp publications did. Published every other month, the magazine offered complete novels and a variety of short stories and special features.

The March 1953 magazine was filled with stories such as Good Smoke, Ruthless Return and a novel by Walker A. Tompkins called Barb-Wire Embargo. The cover illustration had a cowboy hid behind a fallen log, trying to evade another cowboy with a long-necked rifle in his hand. Above the title reads: New, Complete Stories Never Before Published. An excellent title to add to the repertoire. 

ZANE GREY’S WESTERN

Zane Grey, of course, had a very successful career writing western novels. So it’s no surprise that the pulp fiction Western adventure magazines that Dell published bearing his name were also a big success. Grey was a complicated man who led an unusual life, but his somewhat odd idiosyncrasies in life seemed to play a major role in his writing, prompting him to continue churning out bestsellers.

The March 1953 issue of Zane Grey’s Western magazine provided loyal fans with stories that even the master would read. While in this issue nothing was actually written by Grey, it seemed to be a given that he placed his stamp of approval on each piece. From Danger Rides The River to The Widow Packed A Six-Gun, the stories were typical Western adventure and the public loved them.

Now that we’ve revisited adventure in the jungles, the Wild West and explored many oceans around the globe, it’s time to see what the world of Sports had to offer in March 1953. So, let us cheer on our favorite team sports as we open the door on Chapter Eleven… Stay tuned.

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Men’s Adventures Magazines 1953: The Magazines And I. Chapter 10 Part 3.

July 20, 2021

Men’s Adventures Magazines … is the 10th chapter from the serialized book I am writing on the magazines of 1953, specifically March 1953, the month I was born.  This is chapter ten, part three.  Feel free to back track for chapters one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, and nine in previous blogs.  Enjoy.

SAGA

Another Macfadden publication, Saga magazine claimed to be “True Adventures for Men.” The stories were filled with testosterone and an overabundance of danger, but they were just what the doctor ordered when it came to men’s adventure in the 1950s. 

The March 1953 edition of this monthly title was complete with stories such as Knives in the Night and Death Speaks Loudly. There were guns, blood, guts, and glory – to some degree, and a huge amount of thrills. Fans of the genre had to be pleased. 

STAG

There were various men’s adventure magazines published from the 1930s through around 1960 or so with the name Stag. This version is the second rendition published by Official Magazine Corporation. It appeared on the scene around 1951 and was eventually taken over by Martin Goodman of Marvel Comics fame. The magazine offered “true-life” fiction in an adventurous setting. Oddly enough, Mr. Goodman had threatened fledgling publisher Hugh Hefner with a lawsuit in those days due to a trademark infringement issue of Hef’s up and coming magazine he planned to call Stag Party. No problem, Hefner just changed his title’s name to Playboy and let it roll.

The March 1953 issue of Stag spurred excitement through stories of war and mayhem. From Find Me A Pistol to Wild Dogs of the Ramapos, the magazine was not lacking in adventure and larger-than-life situations that many men would run from. But not our story characters. The content was exceptionally well-written and often had that “true” feeling, which the magazine claimed in its words 25 True Men’s Adventures. Whether they were actually true or not, they were exciting to read.

TALES OF THE SEA

Tales of the Sea was published by Ziff-Davis Publishing Company and fell into the group of men’s adventure fiction that the company published during the early 1950s  along with their comic books. The magazine was a digest-sized title that was published quarterly. The Ziff half of the publishing company, William B. Ziff, had been interested in publishing high-quality magazines with art and photography as their focus, he’d really had no interest in fiction. But his partner Bernard G. Davis had other ideas when they acquired Amazing Stories in 1938. 

The March 1953 issue, which was the very first, featured dramatic sea stories such as The Unsinkable Ship That Sank and Are You A Weekend Sailor. For 35 cents, one could satisfy their need for sea-faring adventure from writers like Nobel Prize winning author Ivan Bunin and his story The Gentleman From San Francisco. In short, it was an admirable first issue.

TEXAS RANGERS

Texas Rangers also belonged to the Thrilling Publications family. It was a title that fit in wonderfully with all their other pulp Westerns, offering fans a glimpse into the exciting world of lawmen in the Wild West. 

The March 1953 issue featured an illustration of a very capable-looking Texas ranger on the cover, hand on the butt of his gun, which was strapped securely around his hips. The magazine offered Sword of Amontillo, which was a gun-swift novel by Jackson Cole, an alias for a number of different Western authors writing for Better Publications, the umbrella that this particular magazine was written under. An interesting time for men’s adventure stories when many different authors wrote under the same pseudonym. 

TEXAS WESTERN

It seemed to be  a given that Thrilling Publications knew what their readers wanted, with another Western title that offered the Wild West, Texas-style. Texas Western magazine had it all: adventure, brave Texans, unlawful activities and the men and women who had to deal with the nefarious creatures wreaking the unlawful havoc. 

The March 1953 issue offered up Texas Is For Texans and many other new and complete stories, as the magazine’s cover promised, to tantalize its readers. Once again, there was minimal advertisement and content that did not apologize for being formulaic. It definitely made the cut. 

Stay tuned for more Men’s Adventures magazines of March 1953

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Men’s Adventures Magazines 1953: The Magazines And I. Chapter 10 Part 2.

July 15, 2021

Men’s Adventures Magazines … is the 10th chapter from the serialized book I am writing on the magazines of 1953, specifically March 1953, the month I was born.  This is chapter ten, part two.  Feel free to back track for chapters one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, and nine in previous blogs.  Enjoy.

CLASSICS ILLUSTRATED

Classics Illustrated was a comic book/magazine series that proclaimed “Stories By The World’s Greatest Authors” and was created by Albert Kanter. Known for its adaptations of literary classics such as Les MiserablesMoby-DickHamlet, and The Iliad, the magazine evolved many times over throughout its lifespan, which ran from 1941 to 1969. The magazine started out as Classic Comics, but changed its name to Classics Illustrated in 1947 and became more standardized in the 1950s. 

The March 1953 issue features a very ferocious-looking tiger on its cover with the cover line Bring ‘Em Back Alive above the animal’s head. The cover art was effective and the stories within did not disappoint: Giant Jungle Man, Two Rhinos and Elephant Temper to name a few. The comic book magazine took readers on a wild adventure that many probably thought they might not return from. 

EXCITING WESTERN

This magazine was published by Thrilling Publications, also known as Beacon Magazines (1936–37), Better Publications (1937–43) and Standard Magazines (1943–55) and was operated by Ned Pines, who was known for publishing many pulp titles. Between Pines and a young man named Leo Margulies, they came up with what became known as the “Thrilling Group” of which Exciting Western was a part. 

In March 1953, the magazine showcased stories such as Hell Moved To Montana and Who Ain’t Bloodthirsty? The cover art was apropos of the stories and inside the pages was minimal advertising and offered over 100 pages of adventurous content. It was a very good read.

IMPACT

Macfadden Publications brought this magazine to life. It was one among many titles in Bernarr Macfadden’s publishing empire of Physical CultureTrue DetectiveTrue Romances, Dream World, True Ghost Stories, Photoplay and the tabloidNew York Graphic, along with True Story. The magazine was touted as the title for “He-Men,” a read for men who liked their reading rough and ready, tough and tense, powerful and provocative. Macfadden was nothing if not original. 

The March/April 1953 issue was jam-packed with fast-paced adventure and spine-tingling thrills – the publication’s description, not exactly mine. However, I would agree that the stories were both entertaining and heady, in an intriguing way. There were great images inside the covers of the magazine of both men and a few scantily-clad ladies. But even without all the hype, the magazine was a good read. 

MAX BRAND’S WESTERN MAGAZINE

Popular Publications was at it again when they “branded” a Western title with the “King of Action Western’s” moniker across the top of the magazine’s cover. It was then that Max Brand’s Western Magazine was born. With one of the most successful Western pseudonyms ever created, “Max Brand” who was really Frederick Schiller Faust, became a household name in the world of Western fiction. And Popular Publications made good use of that.

The March 1953 issue did the man justice. Stampeders of Big Hell Canyon was the cover story and had the illustration to match. The magazine touted itself as a producer of Famous Classics Of The Fighting West. And with Mr. Brand’s renowned  moniker attached, the magazine was a sure-fire success. In March 1953, everyone was happy with the content.

NEW WESTERN MAGAZINE

New Western Magazine also belonged to Popular Publications and offered the same type of Wild West content. The magazine fell into step beside its many counterparts and rolled with the powerful punches this genre tended to dole out to its competition. During the 1950s, Western adventure had many players on the frontier, so it was always a constant battle to stay at the head of the herd.

March 1953 saw an issue that was both familiar and different, in that the stories seemed to be more diverse, yet within the Western formula that was so successful at the time. From The Rider From Wind River to Blind Canyon Manhunt, the bimonthly magazine brought another Western dish to the table.

More Men’s Adventures magazines of 1953 to come… stay tuned….

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Men’s Adventures Magazines 1953: The Magazines And I. Chapter 10 Part 1.

July 13, 2021

Men’s Adventures Magazines … is the 10th chapter from the serialized book I am writing on the magazines of 1953, specifically March 1953, the month I was born.  This is chapter ten, part one.  Feel free to back track for chapters one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, and nine in previous blogs.  Enjoy.

From exotic jungle locales to wartime feats of derring-do, with a bevy of pin-up beauties thrown in for good measure, men’s adventure was a genre of magazines that reigned supreme during the 1950s era. 

Western publications that were many times called “Dime Western Magazines” figured into the men’s adventure equation with an impact that cannot be denied. From Zane Grey to Max Brand, these magazines were looped into the “pulp” category, but not so much so that they didn’t do their due diligence when it came to success and magnitude of performance. And how could they miss with the heavy weight of popularity their namesakes brought the titles. Zane Grey is known as the father of the modern American western novel, after all and Max Brand is no less notable.

Looking at these adventure titles that were aimed at men and often offered wild animal conflicts in the far-flung jungles of  some unknown land or the explosive backdrop of a world at war, these publications brought many male readers (and dare I say, female readers as well?) many hours of great escape and dreams of daring exploits. 

Let’s take a look at these larger-than-life adventure magazines that could transport us from lands ravaged with war to dangerous jungle environments that no mere mortal man could survive to the thrilling ranches of the West where romance and danger lived forevermore.

44 WESTERN MAGAZINE

Published by popular Publications, which was a mass producer of pulp titles, 44 Western Magazine was touted as The Big Frontier Western Magazine. Popular Publications was formed in 1930 by Henry “Harry” Steeger during the Great Depression, when escape fiction was at an all-time high. The magazine was a bimonthly that definitely provided an adventurous escape. 

The March 1953 edition was filled with novelettes that lived up to the big frontier theme, with titles like Guns Wait In Spanish Spur,  Stage To Buckhorn, and Hunted Lawman. There was only a modicum of advertisement in the magazine, so for the most part it was strictly content. And content that was sure to enthrall and entertain even the staunchest of Western title fans.

ACTION

The magazine was published by Picture Magazines Inc. and was a title that strove to live up to its name. It was action personified with stories of “true adventure,” exposés, and sports in action, but also articles and features that offered a strong viewpoint and voice. 

The March 1953 issue had features such as The World’s Strongest Bartender and an article on the Male Body, buffered with action stories like The Flag of the Stonewall Brigade and Payoff On Horror Hill. The March 1953 issue was Vol. 1, No. 1, so its premier was a definite attention-grabber.

ADVENTURE MAGAZINE

After it was purchased from the Butterick Publishing Company by Popular Publications, Adventure Magazine became one of the most profitable and acclaimed of all the pulp fiction magazines. It drew the reader into a world of larger-than-life adventure and just refused to let them leave. And why would they want to? The magazine shouted to the world that it was the finest in fiction for men. 

The March 1953 issue did not disappoint when it came to that wild adventure theme. Hellwater Run by Hayden Howard was one of the cover line stories and the illustration on the cover matched the title vividly as a wild wave of oceanic proportions had two men fighting it valiantly in a small canoe. An absolutely great read.

BEST WESTERN

Best Western magazine was a part of Martin Goodman’s plethora of titles. Goodman launched the company that would eventually become Marvel Comics. Goodman’s strategy was to use several different names while publishing whatever genre he deemed popular at the time. Best Western was published under the Stadium Publishing Corporation umbrella. 

With the popularity of western adventure in the 1950s, Goodman saw success waiting to happen and began a stable of western titles, such as Five Western NovelsGunsmoke Western and many others including Best Western

The March 1953 edition held to the traditional, with a cowboy/beautiful woman on its cover, and stories such as Gunmen In The Streets and Thirteen Rode Out. The tales were compelling for the western fan and filled with just enough romance and adventure to balance the stories out.

BIG-BOOK WESTERN MAGAZINE

Another title by Popular Publications, Big-Book Western Magazine was one among many western adventures that the company published. 

The March 1953 edition featured the cover story called The High-Iron Killer, a dramatic epic of the Steel Train. And the illustrated cover complemented that title. The magazine had over 100 pages, giving it that “big-book” feel and proclaimed Frontier Fiction by Tophand Authors! 

To be continued…

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Love And Romance: The Magazines And I. Chapter 9, Part 2.

July 5, 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 two.  Feel free to back track for chapters one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, and eight in previous blogs.  Enjoy.

PERSONAL ROMANCES

Published by Ideal Publishing Corp., a very lucrative smaller publisher that loved pulp magazines, Personal Romancesactually began as Personal Adventure, which in turn had begun as Personal Adventure Stories. Publisher William Cotton made it a slick replica of another one of his titles Movie Life. The magazine was somewhat thin for a Love Confessions pulp, but it served the purpose with tantalizing stories of love, lust and mayhem.

The March 1953 issue promised us stories on Girls Who Are Too Easy and I Got Her In Trouble. There was even a homemaking section that taught us how to make a perfect spaghetti dinner. And the ads were plentiful. In short, it did what any good pulp romance should do: it got women reading the stories. 

RANCH ROMANCES

Ranch Romances was the last of the original pulps. It was really the most successful titles of the western romance pulp magazines, with a 47-year run and 860 issues published between 1924 and 1971. Fanny Ellsworth edited the title for half its existence and it had three different publishers from 1929 to 1953. Warner Publications took over Ranch Romances in late 1933. It shrank to a 7-by-10, trimmed-edge format in its final decade, but never became a digest.

The March 1953 issue had stories, novels, serials and regular departments, such as Trail Dust and Out of the Chutes. It was a love story magazine with a western backdrop that women (and dare I say, men too) loved to read. 

RANGELAND ROMANCES

Another Popular Publications title, Rangeland Romances was its first and longest running title in the western romance pulp genre. It was their main title, even though they launched many others. And it was very successful.

The March 1953 issue had stories like Two Queens for a Gambler and Little Texas Rebel. It was light on advertisements and heavy on western love and commitment, with over 100 pages of content. 

REAL ROMANCES

Real Romances was a Hillman Periodicals publication and the first of the company’s dive into “love pulps.” In fact, Alex Hillman was one of the biggest and longest lasting publishers in the field. By calling this title “Real,” Hillman followed the same path that he had with Real

Detective and Real Story and seemed to lay down the gauntlet to other pulp publishers that his magazines were the real deal, so to speak.

The March 1953 issue featured three complete full length novels: Love Is Not Enough, Invitation To Sin, and Man-Huntress. From the titles of the novels, I’m sure you’re seeing a pattern here for love pulp magazines, but if it ain’t broke, you shouldn’t fix it, and these magazines were definitely not broken. Monthly sales were through the roof and women all across America were scooping them off the stands, especially in March 1953. 

YOUNG ROMANCE

Young Romance was launched in fall 1947 and was told from a first-person perspective. The romantic comic book series was created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby for the Crestwood Publications imprint, Prize Comics and is considered the first romance comic. It ran for 124 consecutive issues and then 84 more after Crestwood stopped producing comics and DC Comics took it over. It was an instantaneous hit after the first publication, and within the first two years Crestwood was capitalizing on its success by churning out companion titles.

The March 1953 issue was number 55 in the series and featured the Afraid To Go Home, Heartless, and Tell It To The Judge segments. It was artful and creative and had very few ads, just page after page of comic book story with enough romance to fill any young woman’s heart. 

Up next: Chapter 10 Men’s Adventure Magazines… coming soon.

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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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True, Detective, And Confessions Magazines: The Magazines And I. Chapter 8, Part 3.

June 21, 2021

True, Detective, and Confessions Magazines … is the 8th chapter from the serialized book I am writing on the magazines of 1953, specifically March 1953, the month I was born.  This is chapter eight, part three.  Feel free to back track for chapters one, two, three, four, five, six, and seven in previous blogs.  Enjoy.

TRUE CASES OF WOMEN IN CRIME

Maybe we’re all a little bit obsessed with “true crime” stories. Just look at TV shows like 48 Hours or Dateline NBC. People have watched and kept them on the air for years. But when it comes to “true” crime magazines, especially of the March 1953 era, there was one for every taste. True Cases Of Women In Crime was published by a company called Special Magazines Inc. The March 1953 issue had the illustrated cover of a very voluptuous redhead behind bars, smoking a cigarette and being questioned by police. 

Inside the magazine is a disclaimer that reads: The illustrations on the following pages of this magazine were all specially posed by professional models, and it goes on to list the page numbers. The magazine is filled with ads and stories such as “She was fair, she was French, she was deadly.” This magazine is one among many that took the idea of “true crime” and possibly exploited it a bit.

TRUE CONFESSIONS

Beginning in 1922, True Confessions was a Fawcett Publication targeted at young women. During the 1930s, the magazine climbed to a circulation of two million with a readership of females between the ages of 20 and 35. With True Confessions, Fawcett was in direct competition with Bernarr MacFadden who had such titles as True Story and True Romance in his repertoire of titles, and Hillman Periodicals that had Real Story and Real Confessions. These “true” confession magazines soon felt a bit of a slump by 1949 due to the new comic book trend that hit.

The March 1953 issue of True Confessions had the cover story line of “Rendezvous With Shame – A Story For Every Wife Who Feels Love-Starved.” The magazine had special features and a section on “Your Home,” with articles such as Adventures in Food and If Father’s Been Away. It was a magazine that supplied fantasy and adventure for women in the 1950s .

TRUE CRIME DETECTIVE

True Crime Detective magazine was a digest-sized magazine that was published quarterly by Casebook Publications, a division of Mercury Publications which published The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. The magazine never made it to a monthly frequency and was not one of the most popular of its time, due (according to its publishers) to the lack of diversity in the crimes the magazine presented. Most were murders with no recognition given to lesser crimes. That being said, the magazine folded after one year in publication. 

The spring 1953 issue had stories such as The Truth About Lizzie Borden and Death and the Farmer’s Daughter, with a few others thrown in. There were no ads (save one for the magazine itself) and no pictures. The magazine didn’t exactly follow the blueprint of the other “True Crime” magazines and definitely paid the ultimate price. 

TRUE DETECTIVE

Another MacFadden title, True Detective (formerly True Detective Mysteries) was a true crime magazine that was published from 1924 to 1995. During its heyday, it sparked many copycats and was an extremely popular read with fans. It started out focusing on mystery fiction, but also mixed it up a little with some non-fiction crime stories. The non-fiction became so important to the magazine, gradually the fiction was phased out and it became True Detective, and the one that all imitators were held up to. 

The April 1953 issue had a cover story called Beauty and the Corpse – She Inspired Me To Violent Passion and Violent Death. And with a tagline that read: The Authentic Magazine of Crime Detection, the other stories in that issue were just as dramatic-sounding: Redhead and the Torture Slayer and Manhattan Gun Battle to name a few. These magazines were definitely a bit campy, but an integral part of publishing history nonetheless.

TRUE STORY

Born in 1919, True Story was the first of the confessions magazines and carried the subtitle  Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction. It was a prominent title in Bernarr Macfadden’s publishing empire of Physical Culture, True DetectiveTrue RomancesDream WorldTrue Ghost StoriesPhotoplay and the tabloid New York GraphicTrue Story had a circulation of two million by the time 1929 rolled around, with most of the stories sent in by readers, purported to be true, only to be rewritten by staffers at the company. Eventually however, submissions by professional freelancers were being used or issues were completely staff-written. 

By the 1950s, the magazine was focusing on a younger female audience with stories reflecting teenaged girls and their choices in life. The March 1953 issue had a young lady on the cover, smiling, with cover lines above her head that read: Jail Bait – Story of a Teen Temptress, I Was Wedding Ring Crazy, and Are You Satisfied With Your Husband – Vital Facts About Ideal Marriage. The magazine was filled with ads of all kinds, from hair color to Q-Tips, it was clear MacFadden didn’t discriminate. With over 140 pages, the magazine was a dream-come-true for anyone starving for wild love stories and a serious shopping passion. It was possibly ahead of its time.

After a dose of “truth” magazine style, next up, we take a look at romance and love in the magazines of March 1953. It was a totally different ballgame then as you will soon see…

So, get ready for Chapter Nine – Romance and Love in March 1953.

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True, Detective, And Confessions Magazines: The Magazines And I. Chapter 8, Part 2.

June 17, 2021

True, Detective, and Confessions Magazines … is the 8th chapter from the serialized book I am writing on the magazines of 1953, specifically March 1953, the month I was born.  This is chapter eight, part two.  Feel free to back track for chapters one, two, three, four, five, six, and seven in previous blogs.  Enjoy.

FRONT PAGE DETECTIVE

In 1921, George T. Delacorte, Jr., founded the Dell Publishing Company with the intent of entertaining readers dissatisfied with the genteel publications of the time. Known more for puzzle magazines, and Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, Ellery Queen’s Mystery MagazineAsimov’s Science Fiction, and Analog Science Fiction and FactFront Page Detective was still in the mystery genre, but had more of a “true crime” feel and look.

The March 1953 issue offered up a very beautiful redhead on the cover with the line: Necklace of Death for Rosamond. With ads galore and stories as murderously sensational, the magazine fit right in with the crime drama sections of newsstands.

HEADQUARTERS DETECTIVE

Published by Hillman Periodicals, who were also known for their true confession and true crime magazines, and for the long-running general-interest magazine Pageant, Headquarters Detective was another “true” crime title. Competing with MacFadden and Fawcett, Hillman put out titles such as true confessions magazines (Real Story, Real ConfessionsReal Romances) and crime magazines (Crime DetectiveReal DetectiveCrime Confessions).

The April 1953 issue had cover lines such as Honeymoon of Horror and My Girl’s Being Murdered and offered 16 extra pages, with a very voluptuous blonde woman on the cover. A photograph made to look like an illustration, of course, the 1953 cover was striking, while the cover lines were definitely alluring. 

INSIDE DETECTIVE

Another Dell publication, Inside Detective fell into step with Front Page Detective and the other “true crime” titles on the market. 

The March 1953 issue proclaimed: She Was A Kiss and Tell Killer and had a young woman with a glass of alcohol sitting at her elbow on the cover. The magazine had professional models within the pages, yet had the same sense of “true crime” style throughout.

MANHUNT

Launched in January 1953 as a monthly digest, it played briefly (from March 1957 to May 1958) with a larger format to enhance newsstand sales. However, that wasn’t successful, and it soon went back to its digest size and shortened its frequency to bimonthly. The magazine ran for almost 15 years and brought on a succession of reprints, from the U.K. to Australia.

The March 1953 issue had a fantastic cover with a wide-eyed woman, fear plain in her gaze, and a man’s hand heading for her throat, with no cover lines, but a list of magnificent authors. From Mickey Spillane to Craig Rice and stating every story new, the issue may have been digest-sized, but it was chocked full of great content, including a serial by Mickey Spillane called “Everybody’s Watching Me.”

MASTER DETECTIVE

Master Detective was one of Bernarr MacFadden’s publications and was a sister title to MacFadden’s highly successful True Detective. These titles appealed to the same working class audience as its pulp fiction competitors, and became very popular with audiences. The March 1953 cover of Master Detective has a wide-eyed woman with flaming red hair above a cover line that reads “Beautiful, But Deadly. She had a way with men, a gun to back it up.” Apparently, women were deadly creatures in March 1953. In the world of true crime magazines anyway.

The magazine itself is filled with stories about women with evil intent and the men they intended to bestow that evil upon. True? Possibly. Within the genre, True Detective was regarded as the standard bearer of quality and reliability. Maybe its sister Master Detective followed suit.

STARTLING DETECTIVE

Startling Detective is another Fawcett Publication and makes a play for real life mystery stories by using actual photographs as its illustrations. The March 1953 issue contains 10 true features including Two Telegrams From A Corpse and Fickle Fiancée and Murder. And of course, all the stories lend well to illustration. The actual photographs coupled with the very good illustrations make this magazine a definite standout. 

To be continued…

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HGTV Magazine Celebrates Its 10th Birthday With Color, Excitement & Special Fun – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Vicki Wellington, Senior Vice President, Group Publishing Director & Chief Revenue Officer, & Sara Peterson, Editor in Chief, HGTV Magazine…

June 14, 2021

“There is a digital research company called Kantar Millward Brown and we do a lot of convergent partnerships with our partners HGTV and we obviously do a lot of research to see how a campaign does and whenever print was added into the mix, everything went up. Likelihood to buy went up; preference for the brand went up. It happens so often that I literally said to the director who was running this digital research company, I keep noticing that print keeps raising the numbers. And he said that was always true. And I’ve always felt this way, but it continues to be proven by the research. Print adds a lot to the formula.” Vicki Wellington…

“I sometimes take the magazine home and look at it in home-lighting because I know that’s how people are going to look at it, not in an office setting with calibrated fluorescent lights. They’re going to probably have a 60-watt bulb in their lamp. So I ask myself, can you see the type? Can you read it okay? Things like that are fun for me when making the magazine. So, print matters because it makes the experience of seeing a story special.” Sara Peterson…

HGTV Magazine will be celebrating its 10th birthday this year in October. But the magazine is taking a celebratory stance in every issue, according to its Chief Revenue Officer Vicki Wellington. It’s doing so by celebrating phenomenal subscription sales, renewals and newsstand numbers, and by, according to Editor in Chief Sara Peterson, providing the value of insider advice from trusted experts, as well as the enjoyment of taking a look inside real people’s homes with its “decorating truths” and upbeat, friendly content. Even during a pandemic, HGTV Magazine seeks to bring light-hearted and useful content to its loyal readers. And for that colorful continuity, I’m sure we’re all very thankful.

I spoke with Vicki and Sara recently about the 10th birthday and all their celebratory plans for this powerhouse brand. And about the special issue that will showcase why the magazine’s longevity was never in question. It’s a fun interview with two people who have a mutual respect and camaraderie that shines through in their conversation. A conversation that covers the earlier, darker days of the pandemic, yet shows the hope and determination of people who never gave up on their mission: to provide service journalism as heartily and enjoyably as possible, without forgetting what the entire world was going through and showing that compassion accordingly.

So, please enjoy the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Vicki Wellington, Senior Vice President, Group Publishing Director & Chief Revenue Officer, and Sara Peterson, Editor in Chief, HGTV Magazine.

But first the sound-bites:

On how HGTV Magazine is doing during the changes the pandemic brought (Sara Peterson): We’ve always been “change is good” type of people, so we’re good at adapting and keeping on going; it’s so nice to look back on the year of the pandemic, to look back instead of just being in the midst of it. Whenever things are challenging or tough, either in your personal life or in the world in general, I always like to focus on the work and the great distraction and fun of making a magazine. That didn’t change.

On whether the business side of selling is easy to do virtually (Vicki Wellington): It is totally different. But I will say this, one thing that’s positive is now our meetings are super-tight and condensed. So, where we might have had an hour with an advertiser or a client, now it’s much less time but it’s great because we focus in on what we want to talk about. So remarkably, it’s really been fine. We’ve gotten clients on the phone; everybody is open for meetings. I’m amazed with all that’s gone on, HGTV Magazine is having a great year.

On HGTV Magazine being one of the few magazines that did not cut its print frequency during the pandemic (Vicki Wellington): And still has a nice variety of advertisers. Fifty percent are “home” advertisers, but fifty percent are still other things. We get a lot of food, a lot of business and finance. If you’re on Zoom constantly, you love when the magazine arrives and you get to sit back, relax and enjoy it. And in this case, really do something with it. Shop from it and create a new world for yourself inside. And I think business has reflected that as hard as it’s been.

On creating “fun” during the dark days of the pandemic (Sara Peterson): Well, you have fun momentum. You are this brand and I have a lot of adjectives that I can substitute for fun: positive outlook, upbeat, friendly, colorful; that attitude and personality. And the conversational copy that we have in the magazine. I think those are ways that we deliver “fun.”

On Vicki Wellington being the chief revenue officer for both HGTV Magazine and the Food Network Magazine (Vicki Wellington): Yes, I’m a lucky girl, Samir. Who’s luckier than me? I mean, Food Network and HGTV are gigantic global brands. It’s awesome and I love it. And I haven’t been here with Sara for the whole 10 years, I came in about a year and a half ago. So she and her team deserve the credit much more than I do. I’m actually the pandemic publisher for HGTV Magazine. I’m just very lucky to be here.

On the plans for celebrating the magazine’s 10th birthday (Sara Peterson): This was a lot of planning. You can imagine. All the thinking about how you’re going to make this issue special. You only get one 10th birthday to do. I’ve always loved the fact that in magazines, you always get another issue, so you always have another take to do that story you wanted or another cover idea, but the feeling of having a birthday issue, the 10th birthday, and we did have a fifth birthday issue, but 10 is bigger. So the pressure was on, but also the opportunities were there. How were we going to celebrate ourselves and all we’ve done. but also still deliver new ideas and new content in the magazine, not just do a look-back?

On the role print plays in this digital age (Vicki Wellington): People want less time on the computer and we can prove it. Right now our subscriptions are up. They’re purchased digitally, but they’re print subscriptions. Just as an example, our renewals are up. HGTV Magazine happens to have one of the highest renewal rates in the company. And that’s between $30 and $45, so that’s a lot of money as you know for a magazine subscription.

On anything either of them would like to add (Vicki Wellington): Just that HGTV Magazine is having a very strong year. I think the product continues to serve a purpose, part of a major power brand. It’s nice to have such a powerful brand that’s so well-recognized and loved. And it’s safe; it’s not about the pandemic; it’s not about politics. And I think advertising has backed all that up in every category. All my vital signs are good. Subscriptions are good; newsstand is good; renewals are good; advertising is good. Those are all the positives.

On what keeps them up at night (Vicki Wellington): After going through a pandemic, you know what, I don’t worry as much. It really put things into perspective. What am I worrying about? Once we’ve gotten through this crazy time and we don’t have to worry about just going out of our houses or going out without gloves. So honestly for me, I don’t worry about a lot because we’ve lived through this crazy time. The minor things at this point would be just doing a good job and getting my work done.

On what keeps them up at night (Sara Peterson): I find myself thinking how much better I’m sleeping lately. There were times in 2020 where many nights I was wide awake between 2:00 a.m. and 4:00 a.m. I would think about people I missed, work, things I needed to do, was my Amazon order going to arrive on time. Did I get the groceries delivered or should I go there? Should I buy more masks and which masks, that sort of stuff. And having that tone down a little, the anxiety level, that hopefully we’ve all lowered some anxiety, sleeping better and also knowing there’s a plan now for the immediate future, has helped.

And now the lightly edited Mr. Magazine™ interview with Vicki Wellington, Senior Vice President, Group Publishing Director & Chief Revenue Officer, and Sara Peterson, Editor in Chief, HGTV Magazine. 

Samir Husni: Change is the only constant in the magazine media business, and with everything that has happened within the last year, between the pandemic and the unrest the country has seen, change has been paramount. So, with those changes, how are things going at HGTV Magazine?

Sara Peterson: We’ve always been “change is good” type of people, so we’re good at adapting and keeping on going; it’s so nice to look back on the year of the pandemic, to look back instead of just being in the midst of it. Whenever things are challenging or tough, either in your personal life or in the world in general, I always like to focus on the work and the great distraction and fun of making a magazine. That didn’t change. 

We still had readers that expected a magazine on the newsstand, in the mailbox, and that was like a comfort; it’s always a comfort, but especially in times of enormous change and unknowns. And that’s a constant. We know how many pages we had to fill; every issue we had to plan the stories as usual; we still had to do photo shoots and write stories and do layouts. I found myself especially thankful to have that work that I love and the people who I really enjoy working with to do those things that we know how to do and that we’ve been doing for 10 years now. 

Vicki Wellington: And I’m shocked, as I think the world is, that everyone acclimated so quickly. I was one of the last people out of the Hearst Tower. I was packing up my stuff and I found myself thinking, how was all of this going to work? And remarkably, everyone did great. It really is amazing what people are capable of doing and learning and troubleshooting; every one of us had all kinds of IT issues.

Sara Peterson: I had not heard of Zoom; I had never done Zoom. 

Vicki Wellington: It’s just amazing. And I’m impressed, to be honest, not only with our team, but with the entire company and the entire country and world. I think we’ve discovered this whole other avenue, the silver lining to the insanity of it all. The ability of people to adjust and adapt because you have to immediately.

Sara Peterson: And it was overnight. Literally, one day we were in the office, another day we were told not to come in. And we didn’t know for how long, but it was literally overnight that we all started working from home. From watching the news and the cases that were popping up, I had the thought in early March that everyone should have a laptop. 

Before the pandemic, we didn’t all have laptops. We really collaborated and worked in the office, routing physical paper copies of stories. Sure, we emailed and we had Slack, and we used those tools in the office sometimes, but not anything to the extent of physically sharing and routing in the office. So it was a real shift to virtual work.

Samir Husni: When it comes to the business side, the selling part, was it easy to do that virtually?

Vicki Wellington: It is totally different. But I will say this, one thing that’s positive is now our meetings are super-tight and condensed. So, where we might have had an hour with an advertiser or a client, now it’s much less time but it’s great because we focus in on what we want to talk about. So remarkably, it’s really been fine. We’ve gotten clients on the phone; everybody is open for meetings. I’m amazed with all that’s gone on, HGTV Magazine is having a great year. 

You know it’s a birthday year, and of course we’ll talk about that, but we’re up. I don’t know if you’ve seen our most recent issue, which I love, the July/August issue; I just love it. Every issue Sara does I love. 

Sara Peterson: Oh, thank you, Vicki. I don’t know if you felt this, but because the whole world was in this together, no one could look ahead that far during this time and that made it kind of easier, because we were all trying to figure it out together. If you’re the only one changing, it can be more difficult. There were moments in the beginning where we would ask ourselves how we wanted to do this, but we adapted very well.

Vicki Wellington: And when all our screens were blank and no one had their cameras on, we put the rule in that our staff show their faces, that’s how we roll. But so many people not on staff had a blank screen, so you’re presenting to clients and you’re excited, but it’s difficult speaking to a blank screen. 

But think about what went on this year. Again, this brand, HGTV was also a silver lining, the perfect brand to help the country during this. We played a part and to be a piece of such a big, fun, exciting brand that’s all about the home where everybody is living, what an advantage from my side, the business side, because that’s what was hot and happening. We saw the advantage of that, our subscriptions are way up, everybody has been into their homes, and who does home better than us?

We happened to have been lucky and coincidentally had research out in the field; we worked with a company called MarketCast and had this national research study being done while we were home. So we knew people painted and made things, did things they never did before and they took their money and created rooms for themselves and took on projects and were successful at them. So what an advantage to be at HGTV Magazine during this crazy year. 

Sara Peterson: We delivered what we always had, but in an even bigger way because we were doing more. So cleaning, decorating, DIY gardening; all of it, inside and out, but we were also changing rooms into offices, making them dual-functioning. That’s how we touched on the times. We’re all more intimately acquainted with our homes now than we ever were before. 

Samir Husni: During the pandemic, HGTV is one of the few magazines that did not cut its print frequency and is still doing very well. Still has the same number of pages.

Vicki Wellington: And still has a nice variety of advertisers. Fifty percent are “home” advertisers, but fifty percent are still other things. We get a lot of food, a lot of business and finance. If you’re on Zoom constantly, you love when the magazine arrives and you get to sit back, relax and enjoy it. And in this case, really do something with it. Shop from it and create a new world for yourself inside. And I think business has reflected that as hard as it’s been. 

Sara Peterson: I’m not sure if it was a silver lining, but it was definitely an advantage being HGTV Magazine. I’ve always thought of us as being the magazine that works the hardest at being really relatable, real and authentic about your home. And featuring real people in their homes has always been a thing of ours. In the house tours and the decorating stories, there’s a lot of people in the photos in the magazine; we always photograph the homeowner with their home. And that makes it feel more relatable and real when you see kids and dogs and maybe the cereal and milk is still left out on the counter in the kitchen, these are things you can relate to in real life. 

Samir Husni: Sara, I interviewed you when the magazine was first launched 10 years ago and you talked a lot about how much fun HGTV Magazine was going to be. Tell me, how can you create “fun” during a time when fun was not exactly a word people were using?

Sara Peterson: Yes, in an un-fun time. Well, you have fun momentum. You are this brand and I have a lot of adjectives that I can substitute for fun: positive outlook, upbeat, friendly, colorful; that attitude and personality. And the conversational copy that we have in the magazine. I think those are ways that we deliver “fun.” 

Maybe we weren’t having parties, but we were still picking out beautiful flowers to look at in our yards and in our homes; we were picking out paint colors and trying different DIY projects that hadn’t been tried before. Making things, but also food and entertaining ways to distract ourselves. We couldn’t go out, so we had to do stuff at home. So that’s how we delivered the fun.

We did have this long-running column from the first issue called “How Bad Is It.” Answers, conundrums and scratch-your-head questions about home life across the board. Things like how bad is it to leave the laundry in overnight, to leave it in the washing machine, just questions you might have about your household things. 

But I had seen different magazines talking about how bad is it in terms of the pandemic, with the numbers and all. And I wasn’t worried about how we were going to deliver cheerful, upbeat, fun ideas, but would it seem like we were ignoring some really bad stuff, if we had a column called “How Bad Is It,” and it was about how bad is it to have a conversation with your dog. Was that too superficial or too shallow, that it seemed to be ignoring the big worry?

So we tweaked the design and we had less serious questions and I think, if I’m not mistaken, that we skipped it one or two issues. We just didn’t run it. I did see The New York Times often did “how bad is it” with the pandemic numbers, the stats on everything, so I didn’t think it was always appropriate. 

Samir Husni: Vicki, you’re the chief revenue officer for both the Food Network Magazine and for HGTV Magazine.

Vicki Wellington: Yes, I’m a lucky girl, Samir. Who’s luckier than me? I mean, Food Network and HGTV are gigantic global brands. It’s awesome and I love it. And I haven’t been here with Sara for the whole 10 years, I came in about a year and a half ago. So she and her team deserve the credit much more than I do. I’m actually the pandemic publisher for HGTV Magazine. I’m just very lucky to be here. 

Samir Husni: As you get ready to celebrate the magazine’s 10th birthday in October, what are the plans?

Sara Peterson: This was a lot of planning. You can imagine. All the thinking about how you’re going to make this issue special. You only get one 10th birthday to do. I’ve always loved the fact that in magazines, you always get another issue, so you always have another take to do that story you wanted or another cover idea, but the feeling of having a birthday issue, the 10th birthday, and we did have a fifth birthday issue, but 10 is bigger. So the pressure was on, but also the opportunities were there. How were we going to celebrate ourselves and all we’ve done. but also still deliver new ideas and new content in the magazine, not just do a look-back?

The biggest section is called the “Giant Birthday Special” and that is a celebration of our Top 10 decorating truths. Now, we don’t really like decorating rules at HGTV Magazine because so many people are creative in their homes and inventive and express their personalities. So imposing rules on decorating isn’t really our style. But our decorating truths – after going into homes and seeing how people live and decorate for 10 years, you pick up on some patterns. And you pick up on things that have worked well for people and designers in every style of home. Small homes, big homes, cottages, ranch-style homes, brick homes, just every style you can imagine.

We’re taking these Top 10 truths and making little chapters in the magazine section about those Top 10. One chapter in the section is “Add a Pop of Color.” We have always loved adding pops of color, so we’re talking about the ideas that we’ve loved, to mix old and new things. I feel that people do that so well. I’ve always been impressed at how people mix old and new things in their homes to tell their story. Things like inherited pieces or some cool flea market finds and then some new pieces throughout your home too. But that mix is always really interesting for the storytelling. 

We like to really tell the story of the home as well as the decorating ideas that people can replicate. And the mixing of old and new is really a good one too. 

Vicki Wellington: And on the business side, we have a number of things that we’re selling. We’ve got three different levels, silver, gold and platinum, and what’s nice is there’s something special for everybody. Some are native ideas, some are high-impact units. Many will be running in October, but we are celebrating the birthday in every single issue.

Sara Peterson: When Vicki invites me to a client meeting, I always use the word “special,” because it’s true. It is a special issue like no other. And if you want to be in the issue, you’re coming to a party. You’re coming to a birthday party. So, we want to have a celebratory vibe. We’ve been working on native ideas with clients that feel like a celebration. It will feel like a birthday. 

We’re also asking a ton of HGTV stars to wish us a Happy Birthday. Stars who have been in the magazine throughout the years and have had photo shoots and fun times with us. And it’s fun to see their quotes and answers, because some have been with us from the beginning too. The Property Brothers were just launching their show on HGTV when we were launching the magazine. So they go way back. And there are a lot of other stars too. And it’s fun to see them all together. 

Samir Husni: What role does the print magazine play in this digital age? 

Vicki Wellington: People want less time on the computer and we can prove it. Right now our subscriptions are up. They’re purchased digitally, but they’re print subscriptions. Just as an example, our renewals are up. HGTV Magazine happens to have one of the highest renewal rates in the company. And that’s between $30 and $45, so that’s a lot of money as you know for a magazine subscription. 

Sara Peterson: And I’m pretty proud of our newsstand numbers.

Vicki Wellington: Yes, we’ve been in the Top 10 forever. And as an example, talking about young people, our millennial numbers have grown. In the past five years, it’s grown over 30 percent. So, what the numbers tell me is that we have people buying and enjoying reading the magazine. 

And as another example, there is a digital research company called Kantar Millward Brown and we do a lot of convergent partnerships with our partners HGTV and we obviously do a lot of research to see how a campaign does and whenever print was added into the mix, everything went up. Likelihood to buy went up; preference for the brand went up. It happens so often that I literally said to the director who was running this digital research company, I keep noticing that print keeps raising the numbers. And he said that was always true. And I’ve always felt this way, but it continues to be proven by the research. Print adds a lot to the formula.

And from our circulation numbers, which are all strong, we see that people are buying and reading. They’re being pushed to go online. They love the way Sara and her team curate. They go online and it can be so overwhelming. Sara puts out this beautifully orchestrated, curated product for people first, then they go online and do their shopping.

Sara Peterson: If you ask me to talk to students, they all want to be storytellers. We’re all storytellers. And you can do that well a lot of different ways. You can pick your platform. You can have multiple platforms. You can do videos, blogs, digital; you can do a book, a magazine, a newspaper. There does come a time when you want to pick your medium for how you want to tell your story. Once you do that, what is it about that particular medium that is special and unique that can’t be done by others with your story? And what is the experience you want your readers to have with a magazine? 

With me early on, back to college, it was so satisfying to make a product. It is physical. You have this thing that you make. Sometimes I joke about being in the manufacturing business. We have to be aware of things like ink, printing, glue. I can’t tell you how much I know about glue. (Laughs) These things you need to learn about manufacturing your product. There is something so satisfying about having your hands on the thing that you make. 

I sometimes take the magazine home and look at it in home-lighting because I know that’s how people are going to look at it, not in an office setting with calibrated fluorescent lights. They’re going to probably have a 60-watt bulb in their lamp. So I ask myself, can you see the type? Can you read it okay? Things like that are fun for me when making the magazine. So, print matters because it makes the experience of seeing a story special. 

Samir Husni: Is there anything either of you would like to add?

Vicki Wellington: Just that HGTV Magazine is having a very strong year. I think the product continues to serve a purpose, part of a major power brand. It’s nice to have such a powerful brand that’s so well-recognized and loved. And it’s safe; it’s not about the pandemic; it’s not about politics. And I think advertising has backed all that up in every category. All my vital signs are good. Subscriptions are good; newsstand is good; renewals are good; advertising is good. Those are all the positives.

We continue to work with the brand on convergent ideas and that’s an advantage for this product as well. Not everybody can do that in that kind of major way. We’ve got on-air involved, digital involved. 

Samir Husni: My typical last question; what keeps you up at night?

Vicki Wellington: After going through a pandemic, you know what, I don’t worry as much. It really put things into perspective. What am I worrying about? Once we’ve gotten through this crazy time and we don’t have to worry about just going out of our houses or going out without gloves. So honestly for me, I don’t worry about a lot because we’ve all lived through this crazy time. The minor things at this point would be just doing a good job and getting my work done. 

Sara Peterson: I find myself thinking how much better I’m sleeping lately. There were times in 2020 where many nights I was wide awake between 2:00 a.m. and 4:00 a.m. I would think about people I missed, work, things I needed to do, was my Amazon order going to arrive on time. Did I get the groceries delivered or should I go there? Should I buy more masks and which masks, that sort of stuff. And having that tone down a little, the anxiety level, that hopefully we’ve all lowered some anxiety, sleeping better and also knowing there’s a plan now for the immediate future, has helped. 

We know our summer schedule for work. We know we’re going to phase back to the office starting in September. It’s crucial for magazine editors to have plans; we’re always planning in advance, sometimes a year in advance. And to not have a roadmap is really unnerving. So to have some things on the calendar feels good and I’m sleeping better. 

I will say the birthday issue did keep me up because I was thinking this was an amazing chance, and did I get it right? Did I do everything that I could? I had one shot; it was like my Olympics. I had been training for this for 10 issues and I had one shot. All of the issues are important to me, of course, but this one just felt so special and I wanted to be sure to get it right. So yes, that kept me up. 

Samir Husni: Thank you both. 

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True, Detective, And Confessions Magazines 1953. The Magazines And I: Chapter 8, Part 1

June 10, 2021

True, Detective, and Confessions Magazines … is the 8th chapter from the serialized book I am writing on the magazines of 1953, specifically March 1953, the month I was born.  This is chapter eight, part one.  Feel free to back track for chapters one, two, three, four, five, six, and seven in previous blogs.  Enjoy.

Confession magazines were a staple of March 1953. And “truth” be told (pun intended) they’re still on  newsstands today, just not as plentiful. True Story was the first of the confessions magazine genre, having launched in 1919. With the tagline Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction, the magazine set out to prove just that. 

True Story was published by Bernarr MacFadden, of Physical Culture fame. The magazine was actually MacFadden’s wife’s idea. According to Mary MacFadden’s memoir of she and Bernarr’s life together, Dumbbells and Carrot Sticks, “Broken-hearted women sent [MacFadden’s Physical Culture magazine] letters after they had done two hundred knee bends, twice a day, and thrown away their corsets, only to find that the Greek gods wouldn’t give them a tumble. These are true stories…Let’s get out a magazine to be called True Story, written by its readers in the first person.”

Originally, the magazine was just what it professed: true stories sent in entirely by readers. Mary did confess that clergymen were brought in to censor the stories somewhat and give them a sense of decency according to the times. But as far as fact-checking to make sure the stories were in fact “true,” there was no proof of that. 

In fact, MacFadden had become embroiled in a feud with Anthony Comstock, who founded the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice because of his  “Monster Physical Culture Exhibition” showing men and women exercising in leotards. Mr. Comstock had Bernarr arrested for public indecency. The two men despised each other after that — and True Story became an attempt on MacFadden’s part to demonstrate that he too could be a guiding moral compass.

According to studies done, one by sociologist George Gerbner, there were about forty romance/confession magazines on the market by the year 1950, with a circulation of about sixteen million. These titles were sold for the most part in small southern and Midwestern towns with females of course the target audience. These magazines were the entertainment and sustenance for many of these small town women, dealing with taboo issues such as pre-marital sex, illegitimacy, adultery, unemployment, social relations, and crime, with the occasional still photo of each story’s most dramatic moments, a kiss, a temptation, and then horrible realization of what they had done and a vow to make it right.

MacFadden became so enamored of the confession/romance genre that he garnered his own Women’s Group eventually and expanded it to include: True StoryTrue Confessions, True RomanceTrue Experience, Modern Romances, and True Love, and hired writers to keep up with the demand, many male freelancers.

Looking at this genre for March 1953, let’s explore these fascinating magazines that may very well have been one the largest category of the 1950s.

CONFIDENTIAL CONFESSIONS

Confidential Confessions magazine was published under the Periodical House name, but was a part of the Ace Magazines stable. Aaron and Rose Wyn, who had been publishing pulp fiction since 1928, owned Ace Magazines, and were also well known for their comics, which they published between 1940 and 1956. Their romance and confession titles were sensationalistic and spicy, fitting the genre perfectly.

The March 1953 issue had cover lines such as No Chance To Be Good, All-Night Date and Our Marriage Became A Scandal. If a lover of confessions and romance-type magazines couldn’t get into this one, they probably needed to reevaluate the content they liked to read.

CRIME DETECTIVE

Hillman Periodicals was in direct competition with Bernarr MacFadden and Fawcett Publications. With Crime Detectivemagazine they offered up a title that vied for newsstand space admirably. Crime Detective was the longest running of all of Hillman’s “true crime” pulp titles. When it came to the content of the magazine, it was very much like all of the other true crime titles, however the cover was where it differentiated. Each issue featured a cover painting of a woman reacting to an unseen danger. It never varied.

The March 1953 issue offered up a cover line of Who Killed The Redheaded Actress and had a very beautiful woman staring back at you with a question in her brown-eyed gaze. It promised 16 extra pages and didn’t disappoint.

DARING DETECTIVE

A Fawcett Publication, Daring Detective was one among many of the magazines that Wilford Hamilton “Captain Billy” Fawcett had in his stable of titles. From Daring Detective to Dynamic Detective to Cavalier, Fawcett knew how to cater to his readers and put out magazines. 

In the March 1953 issue of Daring Detective, the cover story was Sin Slave – Murder of the Betrayed Redhead and had a very seductive redhead on the cover in minimal attire. Features included: The Kiss-Off, Out of the Deep, and The Trooper Played a Hunch. The magazine was published bimonthly and followed along the lines of the other detective titles of its time. 

DETECTIVE WORLD

Action, adventure and true crime cases, Detective World magazine put it all on the line. The magazine was published bimonthly and could sometimes ask the burning question: What Makes Gangsters Glamorous? as it did in the March 1953 issue. In this issue the magazine promised seven spectacular new crimes and three shocking exposes. Plus inside features that showed the world how the underworld worked. It was a magazine that knew it had plenty of competition and did what it had to do to remain relevant among its more widely-read counterparts. 

To be continued…

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