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

Selling the pulps with posters, II

Posted by at 10:00 am Tuesday, December 13, 2016 in Pulp Art, Pulp Collectibles, Pulp History, Pulps
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Selling the pulps with posters, II

street-and-smithIt’s easy to think of the pulp magazines as solitary items today — 70, 80, 90 or more years after they were for sale on newsstands — and forget that there was a whole business behind them. There were writers, artists, editors, publishers, printers, secretaries, vendors, and others who depended on getting magazines sold so that they could get paid.

Just like with retailers today, pulp publishers in the first half of the 20th century had to advertise to make readers eager to shell out their nickels, dimes, or quarters for the latest fiction magazine. The covers did a lot of the selling, but posters provided a larger canvas to promote the magazines, one that could be seen farther away.

A couple of years ago, I featured a selection of posters that publishers used to advertise their pulp magazines. I thought it would be fun to take look at a few more.

This time out, we’re focusing on the Street & Smith Publications pulps.

First off is a general promotional poster for Street & Smith itself.

Street & Smith Publications poster

Going in alphabetical order, here’s one from Astounding Stories. (Click this image to see it larger.) This is probably from 1931 to 1938 (with the exception of January through March 1933). That’s the time period in which the magazine’s title was Astounding Stories.

'Astounding Stories' poster

A poster for Clues is next.

'Clues' magazine poster

Promising action is a poster for Detective Story Magazine.

'Detective Story Magazine' poster

This poster for Love Story Magazine focuses on the women.

'Love Story Magazine' poster

The next poster features the cover of the first number of Pete Rice Magazine (November 1933).

'Pete Rice Magazine' poster

And, finally, here are a pair of posters for Western Story Magazine. The use of color in these two posters is particularly striking.

'Western Story Magazine' poster

'Western Story Magazine' poster


  1. In his “Nameless” Detective story “The Pulp Connection”, Bill Pronzini has his pulp-collecting private eye solve a locked-room murder from a dying message with three pulp mags; the first one is a Street and Smith Clues!

  2. I have several pulp posters but an even rarer advertising item was the cloth banners used to advertise magazines. These are quite large and few survived. I have one for ARGOSY advertising a Max Brand issue and one from WESTERN STORY.

    • I can certainly see how the smaller posters (like those posted here) survived; they could be tucked away easily and forgotten. But the large, cloth banners you mention would have required someone to intentionally save them I would think. So I’m not surprised at their rarity.

  3. Fascinating stuff here. A very interesting bit of Pulp history so thanks for sharing this Bill.

  4. Great posting! Some of these I have, some I have seen, and some I have never seen! The first issue from Street & Smith of Astounding Stories was dated Oct. 1933, so no dates sooner.

    • Good point, Sheila. I’d forgotten that Astounding started out as a Clayton pulp, and that S&S acquired it after Clayton went bankrupt.