Noun. Popular or sensational writing that is regarded as being of poor quality.
Named after the cheap, ‘pulp’ paper that they were printed on, pulp magazines became popular in America during the 1930s and 1940s. The magazines covered a range of genres from hardboiled crime, to science fiction, and they were known for their bright and lurid covers which featured buxom dames and manly heroes. Looking at some of the covers now, they might seem dated and maybe even offensive, but amidst the prolific rate of writing that filled the pages between the covers, some true classics emerged that are still popular today. Raymond Chandler, H.P. Lovecraft and Ray Bradbury all started out writing for the pulps.
Pulp’s literary ancestors were the ‘penny dreadfuls’, serial publications that were sold cheaply in Victorian Britain. They became popular due to rising rates of literacy and industrialisation, which also helped lead to reading becoming seen as an acceptable leisure pursuit. Today’s huge book publishing industry has its roots in the humble beginnings of the penny dreadfuls and pulp magazines that brought reading to the masses.
I started this blog because I’m a huge fan of the pulp genre and I think that for anyone who wants to find it, the fun and excitement of the early pulp magazines is still out there in today’s popular culture. I wanted to share my love for a medium that has so often been overlooked and looked down on for not being ‘highbrow’ enough. Pulp covers a wide range of subjects, from comic books to crime novels, so I will be reviewing anything and everything that I think brings that sense of wonder and energy back into popular culture. Because of its vintage origins, the things I review will tend to have some retro flair, and there will be a focus on American media. Hopefully, my posts will interest people who are already interested in the pulp genre, and introduce newcomers to the wealth of material out there.