|Cover images mostly courtesy of Galactic Central|
On March 24 of last year, I began this post thus:
Michael Shayne Mystery Magazine (which quickly grew less formal and became Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine) was the first and last magazine of what turned out to be Leo Margulies's most sustained publishing venture, Renown Publications.
--And there was a crucial mistake...for while I think (and hope to be told if not so) I did gather all the other Renown magazines and annuals for at least citation below, I'd crucially forgotten one item which Margulies had purchased along with the rights to Weird Tales...those to its more recently folded eventual stablemate, Short Stories (Dorothy McIlwraith had edited both titles over their last decade at what became Short Stories, Inc.).
The first new Margulies issue was not too handsome, if promising (September 1956, same cover-date as the first Michael Shane Mystery Magazine)
--and even has a Salvatore Lombino/Ed McBain/Evan Hunter story by "Hunt Collins" within...
Margulies soon had illustrations back on the covers:
...but that didn't help sufficiently, and the Margulies Short Stories folded with the August 1959 issue, by then promising "true adventures" mixed with the fiction, which in this last issue included a Theodore Sturgeon reprint from Weird Tales and a new story by Elmore Leonard...
(And now we return you to the post as it was last year at this time...)
As did Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, it began life in 1956, when there was no lack of crime-fiction digest-sized magazines on the newsstands, in the wake of the still remarkably successful Manhunt and its offshoots and imitators--MSMM was somewhat one of Manhunt's imitators, if less ultra-hardboiled to the point of nihilism--and the steadfast and popular Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine (The Saint Detective Magazine, a property that Margulies had sold his interest in to his publishing partner at King-Size Publications not long before, and its stablemate, the fantasy and sf magazine Fantastic Universe, were more or less imitations of the Mercury Press titles EQMM and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, though with their own flavor).
Richard Moore on reading, and writing for, MSMM.
James Reasoner on writing Shayne; the Reasoner and Livia Washburn Shayne novelets.
|The first issue, 1956.|
|A good cover...pity about the photo.|
|My first issue, May 1978|
|The last of three annual issues of a companion title.|
|Not long after the the sale of MSMM to the Goldsteins|
|Renown published the first revival of WT, 4 issues, 1973-74|
|Reprinting Bloch's WT story seems odd in |
context...but perhaps a portent...
|Two All-American agents? |
Soviet spy, Brit actor, Brit edition, no less...
|A surprisingly quick mid-'60s failure. 9 issues.|
|They had no Stephanie Powers photos on hand|
while doing covers for the short-lived spin-off.
|The first issue, 1956...Ms. "Craig Rice" didn't write much sf...|
Despite MSMM being the consistent lynchpin of Renown during its existence, Margulies (and his wife, frequent editor and briefly publisher Cylvia Kleinman), had started again in 1956 with both a crime-fiction and an sf title, in this case Satellite Science Fiction, which revived a policy of a novel in each issue that worked pretty well for Startling Stories, eventually the most popular of the sf pulps and the last fiction magazine to fold in the Thrilling Group, where Margulies had worked in the 1930s and '40s...the first issue featured the (sadly least good) Algis Budrys novel, in book form as Man of Earth. But Satellite was unable to find a niche as easily as Shayne, and barely made it into its fourth year.
However, that didn't daunt the Margulieses from trying again in 1966, first with a licensed magazine devoted to The Man from U.N.C.L.E. television series, which ran for two years (the short-lived Girl [sic] from U.N.C.L.E. series inspired a correspondingly short-run magazine), and the surprisingly unsuccessful Shell Scott Mystery Magazine (where Scott creator Richard Prather had never been too enthusiastic about the project).
Zane Grey Western Magazine had been a solid and fondly-remembered property for Dell Magazines in the 1940s and '50s, thanks to good editorial work by Don Ward (the best issues of this digest were the ones that had the least Grey reprint fiction in them), so why not revive that in the nearly empty market for western fiction magazines of the late '60s, with only the hardy Ranch Romances and Adventures barely plugging along...sadly, though, despite early work by the likes of Bill Pronzini, the quality of the new Grey magazine was rarely first-rate, and though it ran for nearly five years (1969-74), it never made too much of a splash...some excellent covers couldn't make up for mediocre fiction.
Weird Tales, but probably did the magazine no favors by hiring his old friend Sam Moskowitz (who had ghosted rather dull WT anthologies for Margulies in years past) to edit...the first WT revival lasted four issues, staggering into 1974.
For what turned out to be the last new Renown magazine, Margulies thought to again mine nostalgia and license a character, and came up with Charlie Chan Mystery Magazine, an idea whose time had probably passed by then, even given that Chan was a reasonably positive stereotypical Chinese-American character. Four issues beginning in late 1973. (Robert Hart Davis, one will note, is the most common of Renown "house names," pseudonyms used by any number of writers...much as any number of writers borrowed Davis Dresser's "Brett Halliday" tag while ghosting the Mike Shayne stories for that magazine...) Clearly, after 1974, Margulies and Kleinman were willing to let MSMM be their sole project; a few years after Margulies's death in 1975, Kleinman sold the magazine to the Goldsteins, who published it with Charles Fritch as editor until mid-1985, with a number of now-important writers in crime fiction and other fields getting their start in the magazine's last decade...thanks to editors Sam Merwin, Fritch and Cylvia Kleinman herself.
For more of today's books, stories and perhaps even other magazines, please see Patti Abbott's blog.
|The last new Renown magazine...and the first appearance of a cover recycled |
above...the whole painting appearing again on the March 1980 MSMM...