Blog: Thoughts and comments on the world of the pulp magazines

Selling the pulps with posters

Posted by at 10:00 am Tuesday, July 8, 2014 in Pulp Art, Pulp Collectibles, Pulp History, Pulps
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

The Shadow pulp ad illustrationUpdated: July 24, 2014.

As pulp collectors, we mostly focus on the actual product of the whole publishing process: the pulp magazines themselves, the stories contained within them, and the art on the covers.

I’ve touched on the premiums aspect of collecting — the club pins, membership cards, etc. — in previous posts. But before all of that, the publishers had to get the magazines off the rack, sold and into the hands of eager readers.

Doug Ellis, who published Pulp Vault, helps run the Windy City Pulp and Paper Show and is an avid pulp and pulp art collector, uploaded a number of advertising posters from his collection to Facebook recently. He’s generously given me permission to show them off here.

Also included is a Short Stories ad from the files of pulp fan and collector Richard Hall.

These posters were typically tacked to walls, shelves or counters of newsstands or shops hawking the latest titles. If you click over to the pulp photos gallery here at ThePulp.Net, you’ll notice pulp advertising posters in a couple of the images. In particular, look for the image from December 1929. It includes two interesting cutout standups for Ace-High Magazine.

Most of the posters below were printed, but three feature actual pulp covers on them. Two of Street & Smith posters use generic posters onto which different magazine covers could be glued; in these examples it’s Love Story and Doc Savage.

The Short Stories poster of Richard’s is similar, but just a cover glued onto a yellow poster board.

(I should note that many of the posters are different sizes and are not to scale.)

The first couple of advertising items come from my collection. (After a closer examination and talking with Dwight Fuhro, it looks as though this item promoting The Shadow Magazine ran as an advertisement. For more info, please see my “Ads for The Shadow” post.)

The Shadow poster

A poster for Detective Story Magazine

The next nine posters are courtesy of Doug:

A poster for Ace-High Magazine

A poster for Argosy-All-Story Weekly

A poster for Bill Barnes, Air Adventurer

A poster for Brief Stories

A poster for Complete Stories

A poster for Cowboy Stories

A poster for Love Stories

A poster for Sport Stories

A poster for Wild West Stories and Complete Novel Magazine

And, Richard’s Short Stories ad:

A poster for Short Stories

Next up, it’s a Street & Smith poster for its Doc Savage Magazine. (I apologize, I don’t recall where this poster came from.)

A poster for Doc Savage Magazine

Here’s a late addition (hat-tip to Richard for calling my attention to it). Like the poster above, it’s a cover for Black Mask attached to a backing poster. It comes from the Hake’s auction house website.

An advertising poster for "Black Mask"


  1. Great pulp posters. I wish I had some of them (or all of them). I think I have only seen one of these before.

  2. I’ve managed to pick up several pulp posters over the years but my favorites are two cloth banners, quite large, that advertise issues of WESTERN STORY and ARGOSY. They must of hung these things on newsstands or on the sides of the delivery trucks. I have them hanging in the basement because I’ve run out of wall space.

  3. Great stuff, Bill! Thanks to you and Doug and Rich for sharing.

  4. The Shadow poster is obviously from the pulp’s earliest days when the slouch hat, red scarf and cloak wasn’t yet his trademark. (the image could be that of the Green Lama!) I hope you’ll show more pulp posters in the near future!

    • The image definitely came from The Shadow’s early days, but based on the twice-monthly references, it must be from late 1932 onward.

      Check back soon. I’ll have a few more to share.