Monday, January 9, 2017

some crime fiction magazines on the newsstands for August 1964

All indices and images courtesy The FictionMags Index at Galactic Central.

If one was to go to a theoretical newsstand that somehow had all the US, UK and Australian crime-fiction magazines in late July/early August 1964, these are the issues you'd probably find.  Considering how many (mostly down-market) Manhunt imitators you'd've found a few years before, this is both a pretty good selection and surprisingly thin on the racks. Manhunt itself was already well into its long decline...and Chase was almost stillborn. But most of the established titles had at least a fair amount of life in them, even if sometimes only a few more years. The magazines are arrayed below by the first issue date of the primary edition of each title, with obvious groups of magazines gathered together.  Thus, EQMM is the oldest magazine of this group (and barely old enough to vote in 1964), while the brand new Edgar Wallace is the youngest, though barely younger than Chase, originally meant to be published by the same folks who published sf/fantasy/horror/suspense magazine Gamma; they couldn't come up with the money, so their distributor (Acme) and publisher of such titles as the Magazine of Horror (Health Knowledge) took it on as a three-issue project...perhaps certain commitments were already in place, or simply the material was already purchased. Life on the fringes of publishing...which EQMM and AHMM at least were far less than they might be seen as being today. (And among the appended titles, British Argosy and Ranch Romances were both much older than EQMM, and even the attempt at "shudder pulp" revival in digest form, Web Terror Tales, had roots in a decent fantasy/sf magazine called Saturn, edited by Donald A. Wollheim, from several years before several of these other magazines.)

The mothership EQMM is pretty impressive...Avram Davidson, Dorothy B. Hughes, Gerald Kersh, Françoise Sagan, Allen Lang (the last all but forgotten but doing often very impressive work particularly in the early '60s)...and Anthony Boucher reviewing...

...while the February issue of the US magazine as redeployed in Australia might've been even more impressive, even without a Davidson, Hughes or Kersh story...

....and the April issue was pretty spookily impressive, too, as repackaged in the UK, with a Davidson, a Cornell Woolrich as William Irish, and another slew of major writers...

...and the reprint magazine not that much more overqualified...

L. P. Davies would be the big draw for me, though Phil Stephensen-Payne notes that a fair amount of each issue is actually fantasy and horror. 
While Edward Wellen would be the big draw in this issue from Manhunt's waning years...EQMM was almost certainly outselling it by '64, and not EQ alone...
    Interesting how the material is juggled between the US and UK editions at this point...with the UK issue reprinting from "outside" US sources, and the US from UK magazines...and variant "Saint" stories, as well...Robert Bloch and to a lesser extent Hal Ellson the big draws, Dan Sugrue the forgotten writer...
    No image available....Zoë Fairbairns being the draw along with Creasey for me in this issue...

    A pretty brilliant choice of reprints this issue...certainly the Sturgeon, and probably the Burnett, might well outshine even the Perowne and Hoff originals.

    Hitchcock's then as now seemed to be the second-best-selling crime fiction magazine, and the lineup, particularly the early pages in this issue, indicates why, in part, quite aside from the gimmick of having Hitchcock all over the package (while not even actually writing the brief editorial).

    And even more AHMM favorites in this rebound set: Clark Howard, C. B. Gilford, Lawrence Block, Lawrence Treat, Nedra Tyre, August Derleth for the hell of it...and Jack Ritchie, Richard Deming, and Arthur Porges popping up again...


    Robert Lowndes rather than Gamma's Jack Matcha or Charles Fritch editing this third and last issue of Chase is demonstrated most clearly by Lowndes "discovery" Ed Hoch having a reprint story...but Jack Vance, Ed Lacy and Fletcher Flora are all notable writers to cluster around the low-budget project. 

    Wallace himself the only writer whose work I know I know here...though Arthur Kent, house name or no, sounds familiar...




    And...two extremes of periphery to the CF titles:
    One of the magazines I rather envy the British, to have continued in this manner into the 1970s, though the US Short Story International was pretty comparable; reprints one of the stories I loved from Joan Aiken from my youth; Dahl, Thomas, Kersh and Hemingway do add some obvious marquee value...

    While the most lurid things in the Manhunt or the Wallace magazines are almost certainly tame in comparison to this s&m-driven magazine...an FB correspondent notes that this was the saddest magazine he'd ever read, and in the most literal even more than the most obvious way. No contributors I've heard of, and even by the standards of this magazine in this last stage of its run, this is a particularly inept cover. 

    And this one a bit more like Argosy in quality....

    So much western fiction is also crime fiction that the heavy writer crossover between the two fields isn't too surprising...given the romance angle in this magazine, fading toward the end of its run, it might have a little less (but not much less) criminous content. Only the reprint contributors are the writers I'm most familiar with...by the end, RR was all reprints.

    And I suppose I could attempt to include all the "true adventure" and "true confessions" magazines from this month...but, well, no. 

    4 comments:

    Prashant C. Trikannad said...

    I particularly liked the lineup in Ellery Queen's Anthology 1964, The Saint and London Mystery magazines. I didn't know Paul Gallico wrote mystery stories (EQMM, The Roman Kid). I can see from his bibliography that he was both prolific and versatile.

    Chap O'Keefe said...

    Oh, what a feast, Todd! But even then distribution tended to be patchy and production standards for some titles somewhat low-budget. Arthur Kent (Edgar Wallace MM) was not a house name but a real person. A journalist in the syndication department of the (London) Daily Express, his bestselling opus was the novelization of war movie The Camp on Blood Island (1958), produced quickly for around £50 in collaboration with an Express colleague, Gordon Thomas. Arthur has reported since: "Gordon thought we’d save a few bob by not using an agent—it was a colossal mistake. It sold about a million copies here and a quarter of a million in the States." Arthur had also been an author of Sexton Blake detective novels, one of many EWMM contributors I knew from working earlier on the editorial staff of the SB series at Fleetway. Later, he wrote several Westerns for Robert Hale Ltd. So you could say our career paths crossed at several points. -- Keith Chapman

    Todd Mason said...

    Prashant--Yes, Gallico was a versatile talent. As noted, for me the AHMM crown is about as familiar from my reading through the years as the EQMM and SAINT writers, the LONDON MYSTERY somewhat less so...but you've lived your life in the Commonwealth, and I in the States, so no surprise!

    Keith--It really is quite an impressive selection, with some magazines rather more so than others, of course. Thanks for the refresher on Arthur Kent's career...one hopes an agent might well've done a rather better deal than £50 for them..I imagine that if Kent somehow was to have reviewed the book for the EXPRESS, they wouldn't've paid him much if any less for the review.

    David Pringle notes on a discussion list that Fairbairns would've been in her mid-teens when that story was published in JCMM...perhaps her first, or very nearly her first, professional publication.

    Todd said...

    Richard Fidczuk confirms that it was 15yo .Zoë Fairbairns's first published story, as far as the JCMM folks were aware, at very least.