Tuesday, February 22, 2011


     First, I would like to offer my thanks for your visiting this site, or rather, this excuse for a site; it is a work in progress, and a work begun rather recently, at that.

     It is my desire for this to become something of a gathering place for information concerning a wide variety of twentieth century American ephemeral literature; pulps, certainly, but also dime novels, "penny dreadfuls," "shilling shockers," comic books, and their related ilk. The title of the page comes from "Argonotes," the letters page of the Munsey magazine Argosy (in this case, the scanned banner comes from the December 23, 1933 edition of Argosy All-Story Weekly). The adjoining covers (Argosy All-Story Weekly May 28, 1921 and Marvel Science Stories February 1939, respectively) are simply issues from my personal collection that happen to contain stories I am rather fond of.

     Through both undergraduate and graduate work, I have come to find that the objects which I have spent years collecting are wellsprings of historical information; the very best of primary sources as to what the average American was reading during such periods as the Boxer Rebellion in Qing China, the supposed "descent into decadence" following the First World War, and the depths of the Great Depression. Sadly, such objects are not recognized as  historical treasures by many, both academic and not. Many of those who consider themselves the most progressive of scholarly thinkers are not able to step beyond the "they're trash" mentality concerning many of these works, the great pulps of the 1920s-1940s especially. Either not reading them due to some illusion that they are too expensive (eBay would argue with that) or that they are too difficult to come by (the immense collections available at the Library of Congress, among other libraries, would argue with that, as well), many recent authors have written about pulps and dime novels, using only secondary sources, and, even worse, hearsay, to argue for or against them, but usually against. I believe it is high time such a practice is recognized for the fallacy it is. It is the height of unprofessionalism on the part of the so-called "historian," and a grave injustice to both the individuals who place value on such ephemera today, as well as the authors and writers who put the effort into crafting them decades past.

     It is my hope that this page becomes something of a discussion point concerning such literature; reviews and opinions are welcome, but, more so a deeper, historiographical understanding of what they tell us about society, culture and America during the years which they were written, nothing less than our own history. I hope that fans and followers of such literature find something of interest here, as I would hate to be just another rambling fool online (and please, let me know if that is the case). If newcomers to the study, and collecting of, inexpensive escapist literature have their curiosity piqued, all the better. I have a few posts in mind that I will be putting up shortly, introductions to the pulps for newcomers, and some reviews and opinions on stories, authors and series well known to the collector.

     I simply wanted to post an introduction of sorts, to let any confused visitor know that I intend for this page to be more than just a poorly-constructed masthead. Thank you again for your time, and again, after the real posts are up, any and all comments, suggestions, opinions and conversations are welcome.

No comments:

Post a Comment