Black Mask bonus pulp: Dirge in Bolero Time

Another Norman Saunders cover painting, this time for January 1950 It might not have quite the Innsmouth vibe that some earlier and rougher pulp covers did, but still, a frogman abducting a dame in a slinky dress is about as pulp as it gets.

The painting in cover context:

And that about covers it for pulp for a while. But fear not, because starting tomorrow we’ll be turning to American pulp’s weird and sexy continental offspring. Stay tuned!

Bonus pulp: A little Black Mask mad science

Although Black Mask had a principle focus on detective fiction after about 1926, mad science would from time to time find its way in.

The provenance of this cover from Pulp Covers was a little bit mysterious. It shows up as a “March” cover but not in the main Galactic Central index. A little sleuthing shows a similar, but not identical, cover, published in January 1944.

It turns out that the January cover is from the main U.S. edition of Black Mask, but that there was also a Canadian edition that published a similar cover in March (apparently also with similar content). Why the difference in covers? That’s a minor mystery I don’t have the answer to. The U.S. cover is a bit scarier; the cover character looks somewhat more nuts and what is more he is pointing his revolver straight at the viewer, instead of slightly up and to the viewer’s left. Perhaps these details needed to be censored to accommodate the sensibilities of Canadian authorities.

Bonus pulp: Black Mask uses silhouettes

Black Mask was a pulp running mostly detective fiction, some of which was very fine indeed, as one might infer from the September 1929 cover:

The magazine had an unusually long life for a pulp, running in some form from 1920 until 1951. Some of the cover art was also quite interesting; the subject here is an experiment undertaken in its 1937 art with dynamic silhouettes used to suggest action, unusual in the level of abstraction used to convey ideas. Here is September:

May boils some story down to its most fundamental ideas: hero, villain, damsel.

But for sheer dynamism and sense of threat it seems hard to match January cover with its heroine supine, vulnerable, threatened and yet armed. Like the others, it’s a story in itself.

All covers found on the Galactic Central index page.