Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Love Story, March 10 1934
Here’s an older scan and post, but I’ll take a chance to rehash it because yardwork and the end of the school year are eating my typing time, heaven forbid. For this scan, I decided to take a look at a genre of pulp that is the cheapest of the cheap, the lowest of the low – the romance pulps. Romances seem to be even less desirable than Westerns in terms of collectability, but I have to say this issue of Love Story Magazine was a fun read.
It starts with a stunning cover by Modest Stein. I love this scene – it's a natural moment between a young man and a woman caught off guard in a gust of wind. Definitely romantic. Stein's covers really appeal to me, and I think he's a master of the form. With just a single frame, he sets up a whole inviting world. Some of his covers are just so full of detail that he is able to establish intricate scenes in a mere nanosecond. The expressions on the player's faces, the mood, the little objects, and the atmosphere all combine to suggest an entire story. I've gotten a few of these Love Stories with Stein covers and will provide some more examples of his work when I'm in the mood for love.
I guess interest in the pulps is just an area dominated by men these days. A lot of the most valuable pulps (and this is absolutely not meant to be offensive to any of you collectors out there) seem to be the pulps that sport covers that are sensational, "spicy", and perhaps a bit exploitative. There is the notion that the pulps are solely men's magazines, but I don't think that is necessarily the case. The pulps certainly must have appealed to women, too, as the number and scope of romance pulps produced is staggering (and this is not to say that there isn't plenty in SF and Western and other pulps that would have appealed to women as well). Unless I'm mistaken, Love Story Magazine was the most popular pulp of all time in terms of numbers sold.
So what's in these romances? When I think of the modern romance novel, I think of one of those cheap paperbacks at the grocery store with some Fabio-looking dude ripping his shirt off on the cover. The other thing I think of when hearing the term "romance" would be something like the romantic comedies that Hollywood is so fond of making (not my favorite genre but certainly comedy works very well with romance and a good romantic comedy, though seemingly rare, can be quite the find). The stories in this pulp aren't really like either of those, as the content isn't too racy (as far as sex goes), and the stories certainly aren't meant to be comedy per se. Most of these stories seem to involve a young maiden having to choose between a pair of men and maneuver about the social customs of society and courtship. Often, the woman makes some sort of discovery that the seemingly more desirable guy (the stable, rich one most often) is in fact the lesser man than the poor guy that's been vying for her attention all along. There's certainly some taboo topics just in the background of many of these stories – rape, suicide, loose morals, and love of married men to name a handful, and the stories certainly contain a fair amount of insight into apparently antiquated systems of romance.
The one story I liked above the others would be "Going Primitive" which despite its turn-on-a-dime type ending (which these stories seem to do quite often), has a pretty neat plot that makes for good drama. I also enjoyed the first story, "Extra Sheer," for its bizarre usage of a wax museum and the surprise turn at the end of "The Love Pawn". "Two in Love" made me chuckle a bit as well with some metaphorical language that seems to veer in to the hot-and-heavy territory. Most of these stories end with a kiss and there are some all-too-sudden realizations of eternal love, but overall I admit I enjoyed this pulp despite it's not-so-manly nature.
Scan of this issue of Love Story
And in case I'm getting too mushy, this weeks uber-gross study in c2c:
P.S. I scanned this a good while ago and it remains the only romance pulp scan I've seen. I've got more romances in my scan pile, but I'd be thrilled if some of the scanners out there would throw a little mercy in the direction of these love pulps. They are wholly deserving of some modern attention, and the reprint houses certainly can't be counted on to reproduce this type of pulp...