Happy Easter, Scan Land. I hope you have good times with your families today and perhaps indulge in a bit of chocolate.
A little bit of mission statement today and scanner diary stuff, if you don't mind -
Since diving back into the scan pool, I've been reconnecting with all sorts of friends and visiting some of the many disparate locales in the scanner ecosystem which has been totally awesome if not diverting. I've been organizing my old scans to get my own house in order as well as catch up on some of what I've missed in the way of published scans (my main interest being in the pulps and other magazines of roughly 1920-1950 and golden age comics, as ever). Otherwise, what I'm working on -
Research. These areas will be deep-dive subjects of great personal interest to yours truly. I understand tastes may vary, but this is my core motivation in returning to scan land.
- The Birth of the Girlie Pulp, Philadelphia, PA. I've written a little about the birth of the girlie pulps here and elsewhere but have mostly focused on characters like Frank Armer and Harry Donenfeld. I'm turning my attention now to an even earlier innovator in the field, Paris Nights. I may get into some of the semantics of the definition of a girlie pulp is, I may not, it's really not as fruitful as just looking at various issues within and on the peripheries of the genre. Paris Nights and sister magazines like Laughter and American Beauties came out of Philadelphia and were associated with Brief Stories, an intriguing if not scarce AF publication that began all the way back in 1919 edited by William Kofoed. I intend to explore this publishing house and to determine what happened when/if the Shades took over in the late 20s and learn a little bit more about George Shade in the process. All this aside, these are glorious magazines.
- Bernarr MacFadden's Physical Culture and Magazine and Tabloid Explorations of the 1920s. That's a big ass topic there, for certain, but it's going to be a blast. MacFadden is kind of a lost but towering figure over both the realm of American publishing as well the arena of self-improvement in American Life. As a fitness buff, I'm hugely attracted to the nutritional and wellness philosophies in Physical Culture and other MacFadden magazines, and MacFadden's influence on more well known influencers (Charles Atlas, Jack LaLanne, Arnold) should be duly noted. As a magazine lover and historian, I recognize both the innovation and ambition on display in the wide variety of MacFadden publications as well as the incredible industry involved from MacFadden and the many, many editors and writers that helped build his empire. My personal approach is likely to be a number of posts on Physical Culture (and Woman's Physical Development) and then a number of posts of examples of many of his "niche" magazines of the 1920s as well as a series on the New York Evening Graphic.
- Young's Magazine, the Breezy genre, Courtland H. Young, and Phil Painter. I want to look more closely at Young's and Breezy, perhaps a little studied area in the pulps. Courtland Young was an early comer in the pulp game, though Breezy would last on after many pulps had faded (and Courtland had died) under the helm of Phil Painter. Both characters have intriguing personal histories, and the fiction in Young's and Breezy to my knowledge has never been examined closely. The "Snappy," "Breezy," "Live" variety stories of these earlier (and contemporaneous) titles is of a very different variety than the girlie pulp fiction I've looked at recently here at Darwination Scans. I want to take a little survey through issues (FULL SCANS) of Young's, Breezy, Droll, and Yellow Book as well as looking at close relatives from other publishers.
- Index work. I've been working on an index of the girlie pulps and related magazines. Rewarding in many ways, taxing in others, but essential. I'm gaining ground, but this is a work in progress. Much of this involves gathering what images I can from the web. Thumbnail images are not sufficient in this effort, so I thank anybody and everybody including eBay sellers, MyComicShop, Heritage, and bloggers that populate the web with nice big images of the girlie pulps.
Presentation. Presentation of materials and ready availability of primary sources is a key and transformative method in digital history and scholarship. Get with the program, muh dudes (and ladies). It's essential in collaboration. We have to have a readily accessible library of popular magazines available if we want more progress in their research. Relying on the expertise and opinion of a handful of collectors simply will not get the job done.
The fruits of the (ongoing!) labor of the golden age comic scanners in filling out the digital archive has been key in expanding the Grand Comics Database and comics scholarship in general, and I see similar fruits happening in pulp and fiction magazine indexes. Index work is a very important part of this, too, and perhaps a way that collectors that don't like to scan can contribute. Just gathering cover images and contents from eBay and sharing with the indexes can be fun and helpful in figuring out what authors appeared in which issues for the fictionmags index. Artist ID on the GCD is particularly important while those that know best are still with us. So let's do it to it.
-Flickr. I'm having a blast with this. The accessibility, phone-centricness (good lord what word did I just try and use), and presence of ads on Flickr are problematic, but what a nice gallery space it is. The placards give me a spot to give a little history (without going on too long like I sometimes do) and the image hosting allows for big beautiful display of art. If you click a cover, there's a mediafire link in the placard to the full scan. Not many have noticed this but perhaps it will be of use to the scan savvy from here on the blog. Also, I'm doing some cover only work there that's not gonna make it here. Some faster restores, some more intensive - it's a great way to present magazines when I only intend to scan the cover.
-Darwination Scans at the Internet Archive. I'm trying to put up one or two scans at Archive.org a day. Fellow scanners have pointed me to their shelves, and it's an excellent resource. I avail myself of many resources here in my own research and am happy to contribute to a people's library. Also, various issues with filehosting through the years (and the expense) make this a nice backup and gives me confidence that my scans will stay available. The downside is I have to hack up the old scans for two page view (funny considering all the time myself and other editors put into putting them together), but it does also give those that prefer the split pages in their readers that option as well (and .pdf (shudder) options, etc.). Judging from what I've seen, this is a good place to get scans seen, as well, as the traffic is pretty good.
-Darwin Scans blog. If you're here, you already know what this is about :) I love to write and have neglected this part of my brain for too long. Often you'll see poor grammar and half-examined ideas. I do try and edit, but also understand this is a different medium than either heady journal or a lowly troglodyte Reddit thread. I remind myself to think before I type, though I am often banging out hasty copy in the midnight hour. I'm repairing old posts with dead links here as I can, but it's low priority. Hit me up with dead link requests in comments in the appropriate post if you feel like it, and I'll likely oblige and prioritize fixing that particular entry.
Scanning. In the past, this is the part I focused on. A scanner likes to work in the shadows. The "presswork" is the thing. Buy. Scan. Edit. Release. Repeat. Daily. Sometimes twice daily. While I admire the heads-down work ethic in many of my peers, I don't think I can match previous output (and there are/were many more prolific than myself) nor do I want to.
I intend to read more pulp and enjoy more of the scans as they come in versus being compulsive in their collection. Most stuff I'm scanning right now is in my own areas of research. Alternately, I've got pubs in the scanpile that are more of contributing to broader preservation efforts and scanning of donated materials. The bottom line is that group buys and collections donations is what it will take to get anything like a full library of the pulps. Scanners tend to be of modest means - we need help from the old timers that picked up runs of pulp on the cheap when they were still to be found. Recent deaths of friends and collectors have me contemplating the urgency of sharing our collections (and what's in our heads for that matter). A dear friend and pulp scholar, Ufikus, others though nearly not as many know him by his real name, one of the founding members with myself and Cimmerian of the Digital Pulp Preservation group, passed during Covid. The wealth of information he held between those ears is lost and irreplaceable. On the other hand, you can see many of his scans up at the Internet Archive, a type of legacy that I find heartening. I am very thankful for what I did learn from him and also to know such a funny, giving, and sweet person. This is very much motivation for me to get my butt in gear in sharing both my magazines and any of my own unique insights I may have gained through my years of digging in the pulp.
Restoration. I'll be doing more cover only work and illustration piece work. This goes against my purpose of celebrating the entirety of a magazine in lieu of what I feel is a cover-centric approach (in pulps especially), but art and graphics design might be my highest interests. I love doing cover restoration and can get to a lot of art I want to work with by letting the rope go a bit on the c2c scanning.
Lastly - fun! I'll continue to feed nostalgia. I'm not sure I see the magazines of my youth with clear eyes, but all the better to celebrate them with. Gen X rules, and I've got the magazines to prove it. And whatever the hell else I feel like putting on the glass. Where the muse goes, I'll follow. Oh so many goodies in these boxes of all stripes. The velvet kind, pure ice cream.
P.S. a post without a picture - tempting, but I can't do it! A little, unsigned illo cut from Laughter, June 1927, a different approach from John Held, Jr.? Hit me in comments with the ID if you've got a solid notion, as I don't.