Spurred on by a wartime ban on the importation of non-essential foreign goods, including the lurid magazines from below the 49th parallel commonly referred to as “pulps”, the Canadian pulp magazine industry flourished during World War II and the decade after. Like all good pulp publications, the featured stories often blurred the lines between fiction and reality and routinely served up tales that were risque, grisly, shocking and as often true as not. Avid readers ate up this stuff!
Adding to its diverse holdings, Library and Archives Canada acquired in the late 1990s a core collection of pulp magazines dating back to the golden post-War era of such publications. These cover images are from the Archives’s fascinating “Tales From the Vault” exhibition. Of these covers, I think my favorite might be the fairly simple red-and-black layout above that promises dirt on a Vancouver cult and Winnipeg’s pock-marked Frankenstein. I’ll bite!
Wow this is so neat! Thanks for sharing!
Yes, the vintage images are cool!
These pages have something about them that immediately “dates” them in their style. Also, many of the women are of a certain type, as are the men. They almost look the same on each one. A “type” at least.
There was definitely a “type” that the magazines played to, which is part of their distinctiveness.
Yes, you know right away you are looking back into the “old days.”
These are amazing. (or should I say uncanny?)
That’s funny! 🙂
These are so schlocky – in the best way possible. I remember finding a huge old stash of these in my uncle’s house when I was about 12. I knew they were brain junk but whenever I visited, I avidly (and with a high degree of guilt) combed through them. Great post. I’d forgotten about these.
What a wonderful memory! For a young child this kind of stuff was like a forbidden treasure.
It certainly was. Your post recalled that sense of delicious guilt I experienced at the time.
I love these…… and looking at the first one, I got to wondering about that Vancouver cult. 😀
Chris, me too! 🙂
Excellent artwork! My favourite is the intriguing blend of man’s head and octopus. (That’s not a sentence you write too often)
Great observation! The sci-fi ones are especially lurid.
Oh, those splendidly dreadful covers
Splendidly dreadful is a perfect description! 🙂
Those covers are impressive, women are beautiful. men handsome, and we know who is a woman , who is a man, nowadays you can´t be always sure of that.
Love the art! ❤️
Me too! 🙂
Wonderful collection. In the early 60’s my little sister and I used to amuse ourselves no end with the True Confessions ones for women. We absolutely loved their excess.
The stories made those mags hard to put down! 🙂
Oh, My! indeed! I particularly like the ‘Torch Murder’ cover! [Not sure what that says about me. Ahem.]
Karen, haha! That torch murder cover is a close second for me among all these images! 🙂
I’ll have to ask around about that Vancouver Cult… And some day we (we polite Canadians) should do something about having you declared an honorary citizen.
Penny, that cult reference is funny because the very idea of a cult was scandalous, even without saying what sort of cult it might be. Nowadays, we’d probably not think as much about such a thing.
Thanks for the suggestion, although I like straddling the line. A lot of folks here (meaning in the U.S.) and that read my blog think I’m Canadian, and that’s already a sort of honorary designation. Always makes me smile. 🙂
Speaking of straddling the line, I actually have a photo of my feet straddling the US/Canadian border. There’s a little metal plaque in the ground on the trail to the source of the Connecticut River.
Oh, that sounds cool!
And, as Phylllis & I just proved with Tuesdays, we can unilaterally make an honorary whatever-we-want! So if Friday can be Tuesday, you can be …
I was immediately struck by how incongruous the women’s expressions are with the story the drawing is supposed to be illustrating: Ah, so pleasant to make a little money posing for a magazine cover in my underwear.
Back in the day, I’m sure models did just that! 🙂
, 15cents- Oh the good old days 😉
A nickel and a dime went a lot further then! 🙂
These are fascinating – I love the colourful artwork on the suggestive covers! Who would have thought such provocative “literature” would have been available in the prim and proper Canada of the 1940s and ‘50s?
Come to think of it, I’m sure we had similar paperbacks at the family cottage, probably purchased by family members years earlier for rainy day reading!
Many thanks, Brett, for shedding some light on Canada’s racy literary past!
Even back then the human spirit needed to be fed in its many ways. 🙂
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I utterly love these covers, Brett! But I must admit I’m having cognitive dissonance! After all, my ‘home and native land’ seems rather far flung from the stories surely contained in these compelling mags! Nonetheless, I’m intrigued at the same time! Thank you for posting these, Brett! Cher 🙂
Cher, the dissonance is in order. As I understand things, the Canadian publishers mirrored their lurid American counterparts by setting many of these stories south of the 49th parallel or mining the U.S. for the “true” stories that these were based upon. 🙂
Ah, that explains a lot, Brett! Thank you for freeing my dissonance! *grin*
Might I also add the Winnipeg reference was especially interesting to me, having lived there for many years. Somehow I missed Frankenstein all that time! 😉
How neat about having lived in Winnipeg. (That city name has a whimsical element to me!) Whatever that Frankenstein thing was, I guess there was some local connection, So Canadians were putting their good imaginations to work!
Well I quite agree about the name! Did you know that “Winnie the Pooh” was named after Winnipeg, Brett? Tis true! No doubt there was some local connection and the “Winnipegers” took full advantage of incorporating it into their work, didn’t they? 🙂
I like this, almost like a tribute to “film noir,” Brett. Great choice for a blog post. 🎩🕴️⛑️
Yes, there are some eye-catching ones among this group. Fun stuff!
My favourite “Death and a Dame”. Thanks for sharing!
That’s a cool one! 🙂