Saturday, January 12, 2013

New Book! - Anti-Foreign Imagery in American Pulps and Comic Books, 1920-1960

     I am quite pleased to announce that my first book is finally out, and available for purchase from the publisher, McFarland Books, directly, as well as from fine booksellers such as Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and others!

Photobucket      Anti-Foreign Imagery in American Pulps and Comic Books, 1920-1960 began as my Master's thesis at Virginia Commonwealth University in the Fall of 2010. I was ( and admittedly, still am) fairly new to the pulps, so with what little I already knew, I engaged in a crash course in both pulp history itself, as well as the specific topic of my research, nativist imagery in such periodicals. I have always been interested in such depictions found in literature and comic books of the time; as I wrote in my Pulpfest 2012 report in the newest issue of Murania Press's Blood 'n' Thunder, I was always seeking out older comics and reprints of works from the 30s and 40s, when most of the other kids my age were buying the newest, sensationalized titles that predominated the comics medium in the early 1990s. It was a fascination that continues to this day, and it seemed an excellent topic for my Master's thesis when the time approached; the addition of pulp magazines, a fairly recent interest for me at the time, I thought only furthered the possibility of producing a unique work of cultural, American history.

     A number of changes have occurred between the end of my final semester in 2010 and the present; I have revised and rewritten the work a good deal, and with semestrial constraints no longer an issue, I was able to go back and add in a large amount of further information and sources, that I believe have helped create a better, and more coherent whole. Several sections, one dealing with the role of gender in nativist imagery throughout the years in question, is, for the most part, an entirely new addition absent from the original thesis, as is a brief historical narrative in the Introduction, concerning nativism's existence in the United States since colonial times.

     Above all else, I am hoping that I have produced a quality work that helps further pulp studies, and also gets away from the stigma of pulps as "gutter literature," as many works, academic and not, often portray them. I have no doubts that many veterans of pulp history will find something amiss, or that I did not spend as much time as I should have on a particular author, publisher or title of their preference, and I can certainly understand that, and really welcome any criticism, as long as it's constructive. Again, it is my central hope that I have contributed to the study of these literary artifacts, while also shedding some light on possible reasons behind the growth, and death of nativism as a popular, American sentiment within their pages.

     With this work now complete, I have a number of projects to work on. I was recently asked to write an introduction to a collection of Robert J. Pearsall's pulp stories for Altus Press and am both honored and excited to be working on that soon, just as I am concerning an upcoming article for the Pulp Magazines Project regarding race and gender in the pulps. I hope to have more time to devote to Argonotes; and from the research I am doing at work, I am hoping to produce an article for an academic, southern history journal, particularly concerning immigrant labor in various fields in post-Civil War Virginia, or something along those lines - as always, I have to see where the research takes me. And, as always, I am collecting information related to Frank Andrew Munsey, in the hopes of producing a work about him, and his role in the 1912 Presidential Elections.

     Thank you to all who read Argonotes, and to any and all who check out my book; I am hoping that it meets with your approval!


  1. I love books about the pulps and I buy them all as they come out. I've already ordered your new book from

    I enjoyed your article in the new BLOOD N THUNDER and despite the fact that I have been attending pulp shows for 40 years, I can still identify with your experience as a new attendee. When I went to the first Pulpcon in 1972 I was only 30 years old. I have to warn you Nathan, you are now probably addicted to scent of old magazines and it will last your entire life.

    I hope to read more of your pulp research and I'll continue to follow ARGONOTES.

  2. Nathan: I found your book very informative and the most detailed on the subject. I was surprised about your comment regarding William F. Wu's reliance on secondary sources only, because he had access to the original pulps in Bill Blackbeard's Academy of Comic Art collection. Bill even told me about Williams research visits. If we agree that the Asian images of the Yellow Peril variety are a negative phenomenon, we can call them historical and of their time, but why perpetuate these images under the rubric of "new pulp"? I understand somebody is writing NEW Fu Manchu stories. What is your take on that?

  3. Thanks for the support Walker, and it was a real pleasure to see you again! Regarding being addicted to old books - I've had that need to smell out books and magazines after I buy them, so I think I'm already there in that regard!

    Alfred, thank you for posting! Regarding Mr. Wu's work, which overall I think was great, his reasons for not using primary sources in that section (which he noted in the opening of the chapter, at least in the edition I had), especially with access to such a repository, I can't really say, although I'm sure he had a good reason for it. However, from what I gather, the Blackbeard collection doesn't really have anything to do with pulps, but more so comic strips (and especially comic strips, given Blackbeard's noted disdain for comic books)?

    Concerning the new Fu Manchu works, I have to say I have not had a chance to read them yet; however, from what I understand about them, they are less continuing on a stereotype, but rather focused on a criminal mastermind who just happens to be Asian - of course, the character itself comes with all sorts of baggage that may be difficult to dispel when one takes its past into account, but (and again, I intend to check out the new works soon enough), from what I understand, there has been some distancing in these new books from the original, nativist framework that preceded them.

  4. Nathan: Despite the name of Blackbeard's academy, he had an extensive pulp collection as well. Since I live 50 miles south of San Francisco, I had visited his place before he moved to Santa Cruz and sold most of his collection to Ohio State. I will check my copy of Wu's book on his reason for not using primary sources.
    If the new Fu Manchu does not try to take over the US government or torture white women, then you may be right, but I do not see the point in rehashing old pulp characters when one can read the originals.

  5. Yes, the original pulp stories are readily available and even if you cannot find the original magazines, we live in the golden age of pulp reprints. I have no interest in the so called new pulp movement and I fail to see how they can even begin to compare with the original pulp authors.