Saturday, March 11, 2023

Joy Stories v01n03, February 1930 / Worth Carnahan Pt. 3/ Origin Story for the DC Empire


Joy Stories, February 1930.  Cover design by Worth B. Carnahan.  Full hi-resolution scan available here: Joy Stories v01n03 (1930-02.Irwin) (Darwin-DPP)

or you can view and download in various formats from the Internet  Archive here.

After seeing firsthand the success of Frank Armer's girlie pulps and art photo magazines, Harry Donenfeld entered the pulp field with what may have been his first independent publications, Juicy Tales and Hot Tales, in November 1929, published under the banner of Irwin Publishing Company named after his newborn son.  The next month, Hot Tales would become Hot Stories, and Juicy Tales would see its next issue as Joy Stories in January of 1930.  Neither title made it very far (5 issues for Juicy/Joy and 6 issues for Hot Tales/Stories), but a third title, La Paree Stories, which launched on the heels of Hot and Joy in April of 1930 would run 94 issues lasting until the sunset of the girlie pulps in in the late 30s.  Many of the early Joy/Hot covers feature art from Worth Carnahan who had previously worked with Merle Hersey and Joey Burten with Bohemian on Burten's Follies and The Original Artists and Models Magazine.  Carnahan's covers for these two lines are iconic in girlie pulp art for the use of inventive logos, figurines playing about the masthead, and suggestive but also interesting themes. Hot Stories covers, often featuring the devil at play, are especially prized by collectors.  It wasn't a smooth ride, but would Donenfeld would tack towards the Culture/Trojan/Speed spicy pulp detective line as censors turned the heat up in the thirties and then move into the burgeoning comics field where his DC comics would become an enduring success and massive IP riding the popularity of Superman, Batman, and other characters in tights.  That empire began with these grubby, lovely little magazines.

I'll have plenty of opportunities here to write about Donenfeld's road to success (an epic story right up there with the likes of William Randolph Hearst or Bernarr MacFadden), but tonight let's take a closer look at Carnahan's covers.  These issues are exceedingly scarce, so I'll have to use scans gathered from elsewhere for display, as the only issue I have is the one I've scanned for you.

Juicy Stories v01n01, November 1929.  Suspected Worth B. Carnahan

Doug Ellis' Uncensored: The Hidden Art of the Girlie Pulps identifies the artist as Bayard De Meil, and an indexer on Phil Stephensen-Payne's FictionMags lists the same artist via the contents page.  My guess, knowing Carnahan's fondness for the occasional alias and his knowledge of French from his time in WWI, is that this is Carnahan having some fun.  Zero appearances of this name in other girlie pulps or in a google search back my presumption up, but it wouldn't be the first or last time I was wrong navigating the murky waters of pulp publishing.  The masthead and excellent graphic design also point to Carnahan, as graphic design is his strength.  A FR 1.0 total beater copy (I feel dirty even using comic grading terminology) sold recently for over $1,000.  You newbloods in the pulp collecting hobby are really but really driving me nuts, wtf are you smoking?!  This cutie's smoking, too.

Hot Stories v01n01, December 1929

 I'm not sure this is Carnahan (he did like to get a signature on his work, he had multiple different signatures), but it is certainly possible.  The line work seems a little different even if I can't identify the artist, but the masthead and design I'm pretty are sure his.  I'm including it in the post because of the possibility and because it's smashing.

Hot Stories v01n02, January 1930. Worth Carnahan.

The first of the devil covers for Hot Stories.  This devil seems none too menacing, he's too enthralled by the Burning Mama.  Including the HA attribution there because even I can't afford the rarities at their auction house, at least they put up nice images of pulps and original art.

Hot Stories v01n03, February 1930. Worth Carnahan.

This devil seems more tormented than tormentor.  He doesn't seem to mind too much, as he seems to be conducting.  The blue stripes and shadow against are the background are fantastic.

Hot Stories v01n04, March 1930.  Worth B. Carnahan.

Now our devil has had enough, and this poor lass is in for a spanking.  She does not seem to mind too mcuh.  Again, great design, the raised hand extending up into the center of the logo, the bullseye, the dark forest of the id in the background.  It's the design that makes these covers so good.

Hot Stories v01n06, June 1930. Worth B. Carnahan

The final issue of Hot Stories and our last Carnahan cover via Waterfowl Stamps and More via Doug Ellis' Uncensored.  This may be the best of the lot.  What's our fiery redhead fallen asleep reading? A magazine, a book of incantations, or is it sheet music?  The crop is unfortunate as that's a turtle carrying the candle.  She seems to be smiling at the tickling, I'm not sure who's more mischevious.  You can expect to see this image now on a lot of goth girl's social media, black magic!

More on the progression of Carnahan's career in the pulps here on Darwin Scans in the near future, I'm still tracking down a lead or two, but my favorite, seldom seen, Carnahan cover is yet to come.

Contents for the Joy Stories issue on the way out, girlie pulp mainstays Frank Kenneth Young and Jack Woodford along with art deco doodles, saucy poetry and more.  Sweet dreams to all you little devils out there in scanland.

P.S. Do I ever shut up?? I've got a new Flickr feed which seems like a pretty fun format for a scanner gallery. You can peep it here.  Fresh links to old scans and a bit of chatter in the image notes.

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