Thursday, September 7, 2017

FFM: 1960 crime fiction magazines in English (augmented)

Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine
Ellery Queen's Anthology
Bestseller Mystery Magazine
London Mystery Selection
John Creasey Mystery Magazine
Manhunt
The Saint Mystery Magazine
The Saint Mystery Library
Tightrope!
77 Sunset Strip
Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine
Mike Shayne's Mystery Magazine
Trapped Detective Story Magazine
Guilty Detective Story Magazine
Web Detective Stories
Off Beat Detective Stories
Two-Fisted Detective Stories
Keyhole Mystery Magazine
Shock
Double-Action Detective Magazine (on the cover)
Ed McBain's Mystery Book
Mystery Digest

...and most of them good or good enough...
Most issues pictured below cover-dated June 1960 or as close as could be found, courtesy the FictionMags Index.

Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine
Ellery Queen's Anthology
...EQMM was in 1960 a couple of years into its ownership by B. G. Davis and his still relatively new Davis Publications, founded in 1958 after he left Ziff-Davis, after the death of his cofounding partner William Ziff. Davis Publications would continue until 1992, buying Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine in 1975, launching Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine (shortened after the Dell purchase to the current Asimov's Science Fiction) in 1977, and buying Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact in 1978; when losses on a personal finance magazine led Joel Davis, B. G. Davis's son and heir, to fold or sell his magazines to various other publishers, Dell Magazines bought the Davis fiction magazines, briefly added Louis L'Amour Western Magazine to their number, and then sold their magazine group to current publishers Penny Press in 1996. 

Stefan Dziemianowicz thinks the cover model on this issue is Robert Arthur, and he might be right (the angle is rather different from those of the few other photographs of Arthur I've seen)--no mention is made in the magazine itself, if so. Frederic Dannay, the half of "Ellery Queen" the writing duo of cousins who edited the magazine from founding till his death, goes on to a tiresome extent about how EQMM didn't reprint much of anything from other crime-fiction magazines, in the course of introducing the Holly Roth story, a fairly recent (1957) reprint from Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine. James Holding's first story is in this issue, as well.
A hardbound presentation copy of the magazine issue
Meanwhile, one of the innovations Frederic Dannay and B. G. Davis introduced at Davis Publications in 1960 was the originally annual, then semi-annual Ellery Queen's Anthology magazine, where the (usually) reprinted contents in an issue would also be sold as a package to book publishers to be offered in hardcovers with more elaborate titles. Davis Publications would eventually extend this kind of companion magazine to its other fiction titles as they were acquired or launched. 

Bestseller Mystery Magazine

EQMM had been purchased from Mercury Press, created to continue publishing The American Mercury, the skeptical right-wing politics and arts journal founded by H.L. Mencken. By 1960, Mercury Press had sold or folded all their magazines except The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (which had just absorbed its short-lived companion magazine Venture Science Fiction) and Bestseller Mystery, which had absorbed Mercury Mystery Book-Magazine, and became, along with a few Dashiell Hammett short story collections which Mercury Press would also offer in the early '60s, the last vestiges of their long-running newsstand/digest-sized paperback series Mercury Mysteries and Bestseller Mysteries, among others.  (There had also been a short run of Bestsellers magazine in the mid-'40s, competing with Book Digest and similar magazines.)

This was the last Mercury Mystery:

London Mystery Selection
John Creasey Mystery Magazine
The two notable UK crime fiction magazines in 1960, along with UK editions of US titles, and I have a copy of one issue each I hope to read soon. The London magazine was notable for having a fair amount of horror fiction in its remit, along with the crime; the Creasey was a bit more purist but nearly as wide-ranging, and by 1960 published by Creasey himself. Ziff-Davis had published a facsimile US edition of London Mystery briefly in the mid 1950s, and Norman Kark continued to send some copies west on their own later;  there had been a brief effort to import the Creasey to US newsstands in 1959.

Manhunt

The bloom was definitely off the rose for Manhunt by 1960...it, as now a bimonthly, hadn't been the bestselling crime-fiction magazine for some years by then, though it's a claim it would leave on its increasingly cheap-looking covers for at least another several years...but still publishing some good writers and some good fiction in 1960, which would be less true by its last issues in 1967. All of its stablemates had folded by the end of the '50s, though several of its downmarket imitators muddled on...as it slid downhill to join them.

The Saint Mystery Magazine
The Saint Mystery Library
Tightrope!
77 Sunset Strip

Great American Publications bought King-Size Publications' two notable fiction magazines, The Saint and Fantastic Universe, as part of an ambitious plan for expansion into fiction-magazine publishing in 1960, which also included their launch of a horror-fiction magazine, Fear!, and a US edition of the UK sf magazine New Worlds. Unfortunately, Great American's licensed television-series-tie-in pulp-sized magazines both folded quickly...though Tightrope! magazine lasted longer than the tv series did...and presumably under-capitalization led to the folding of nearly all their properties by 1961, aside from some sold to other publishers...only the Saint magazine managed to find a new publisher among the fiction titles, and the magazine ran till 1967 (as opposed to the library, in mass-market paperback format though issued as periodicals, which folded with GAP in 1960). Editor Hans Stefan Santesson had been editor of the Unicorn Mystery Book Club before hiring on at King-Size and continuing with The Saint till its end.

The last story in the Tightrope! issue is by Harlan Ellison (see the indices at the end of this post) and has a bad-taste twist ending that he has mentioned not being proud of.




Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine

Founded in 1956 in part to capitalize on the appearance of the television series Alfred Hitchcock Presents the same year, this was published for its first two decades by HSD Publications, then sold to Davis Publication who began publishing it in 1976. At HSD, Patricia Hitchcock, AH's daughter, usually had some title and presumably had a hand in to watch out for her father's interests. AHMM is the only other of these magazines to still be publishing, along wth its long-term stablemate EQMM; happily, the current publishers have long since given up on the often hideously-composed covers, mixed in with a few good ones, which featured some photograph or caricature of Hitchcock, the photos particularly leaning toward the poorly-cropped and awkwardly "cute"...nonetheless, AHMM rather comfortably outsold all the other cf magazines aside from EQMM, and briefly EQMM as well, over most of its run so far. A series of Alfred Hitchcock's Anthology, similar to the EQA, began in 1977 at Davis. 

Mike Shayne's Mystery Magazine
Also founded in 1956, as Michael Shayne Mystery Magazine but going less formal by the next year, this one was also a durable title and throughout the '60s, '70s and early '80s other magazines would come and go, but the reliable US digests were EQMM (and EQA), AHMM and MSMM, till it finally folded in 1985. While all three magazines published a range of crime fiction, EQMM in the late '70s when I began reading new issues was still overseen by Frederic Dannay, and still leaned toward coziness and classic detection, though no little suspense and espionage fiction was in the mix; AHMM was a bit more noirish in general tone, certainly still prone to sardonic twist endings in its stories, while MSMM was the most hardboiled of the trio and the one least likely, till final editor Charles Fritch took over in the '80s, to mix a horror story in with straightforward crime fiction. Also notable were the levels of language policing...I noted that in 1978 someone could be "called an epithet" in EQMM, be "a stupid bastard" in AHMM, and could be a "fucking son of a bitch" in MSMM. Shayne founding publisher Leo Margulies had attempted to continue, introduce or revive a number of other fiction titles in his years with his publishing company Renown, but none other than MSMM lasted more than a few years, including mid -'60s The Man from UNCLE and The Girl from UNCLE magazines (and three Mike Shayne Annual issues in the early '70s, which reprinted short stories heavily from the UNCLE magazine back pages), the quasi-revival Zane Grey Western, Shell Scott and Charlie Chan Mystery Magazines and the first revival of Weird Tales, which Margulies had purchased the rights to in the course of buying, and publishing the last issues of, its stablemate Short Stories. Shayne, like most Margulies magazines, also paid less for fiction than the industry leaders, and the lead novellas attributed to "Brett Halliday" (originally Shayne-creator Davis Dresser) were usually written by a range of others, often younger writers such as James Reasoner. This, however, put it ahead of AHMM in transparency, where the editorials and blurbs attributed to Hitchcock were written exclusively by others. 

Trapped Detective Story Magazine
Guilty Detective Story Magazine
Trapped and Guilty were also launched in 1956 (about three years after Manhunt came roaring onto the marketplace), and both were edited by W. W. Scott, whom Harlan Ellison has eulogized for his acumen at putting together intentionally rather déclassé magazines, but not bad ones (see Web Detective for bad), and particularly for Scott's ability to replace an author's story title with one more lurid, or, if that wasn't practically possible, at least with one that was punchier. Ellison was also rather happy with the magazines' mid-range pay rates and prompt payment, not always guaranteed to freelancers. While both magazines would continue till 1962, I'm guessing by the dressing-down visible between these two sequential covers and those which followed (fewer colors used, less-professional art) that the publishers were already feeling the pinch by early 1960. 

Web Detective Stories
Off Beat Detective Stories

Peter Enfantino, in the course (for his critical magazine bare*bones) of reading through and rating each story in the short run of Web Detective, as it abruptly changed from Donald A. Wollheim's Saturn sf and fantasy magazine into DAW-less Saturn Web Detective, then Web Detective, and after a break re-emerged as Web Terror Stories--the last a full-on sadism-fiction magazine in the "shudder-pulp" tradition--didn't find too much to enjoy, even when, as in this issue, a young Edward Hoch has a story (though some of those stories by writers with talent were a bit of relief from the all-but-pure and clumsy sadism and nihilism that Web featured, as a very downmarket near-parody of Manhunt, striving to get a piece of the latter's audience as well as those who found the "men's sweat" "true adventure" magazines a bit tame). Perhaps the worst sustained and admitted fiction magazine (as opposed to various "true"-story titles) of the late '50s and early '60s, after the Saturn/Wollheim issues. But certainly one that tried to find its niche audience (and Peter does find one 1961 issue surprisingly good--two issues before the conversion to "shudder"). Its publisher would also buy the next two magazines' titles (see below), and produce similarly atrocious magazines to sully the memory of their good, first short run.

A fairly typical example of what Peter found in reading the stories:

"You'll Die Laughing!" by Arnold Sherry * (2100 words)

Marvin, a decorated war hero, and his wife Donna are closing up the diner they own for the night when two thugs enter. The men beat Marvin and rape Donna repeatedly, all in the name of chuckles. A pointless, nasty exercise in torture and degradation. Brian De Palma would probably want to take out an option on this one.


And one I did forget: the even less notable companion to Web Detective, Off Beat Detective, which began its run as as Sure-Fire Detective. Pontiac Publishing hacks predominate, with the previous issue to this one featuring an Edward Hoch story and a Talmage Powell appearing a couple of issues later, being among the rare contributions from a writer of any consequence. One gathers they hope, with the consistent cover blurb "All New Sock Stories," to give the sense of fiction with punch, but one can't help but wonder if the masturbatory pun was intentional.

Two-Fisted Detective Stories
Another yet I'd forgotten, that might or might not actually have been published by another firm, or just the Pontiac people doing business as Reese...every story title, at least in the table of contents features an exclamation point. Or ! 

Keyhole Mystery Magazine
Shock
Two rather good, even impressive, respectively crime fiction and horror/suspense magazines, though apparently undercapitalized and probably too wedded to cute gimmicks, such as Shock having no credited (human) editor and Keyhole featuring a cover story about singer Fabian Forte as a detective. Both were apparently edited by writer Dan Roberts. And both titles folded after three 1960 issues, only to be "revived" in traduced form as sadistic sex-crime digests, with slightly revised titles, in 1962, when they didn't last too long, either.

Double-Action Detective Magazine
Robert A. W. Lowndes was reaching the end of his long tenure at Columbia Publications in 1960, after nearly twenty years of editing all sorts of fiction magazines, pulps and digests, western, sports, sf and fantasy (those the closest to his primary interest) and crime fiction...and this was the last issue of their last cf title. Edward D. Hoch had been one of Lowndes's two big 1950s "discoveries" as an editor--the other had been Carol Emshwiller--and Hoch never forgot, and contributed stories to Lowndes's new, no-budget Health Knowledge Publications magazines in the '60s (which would also publish the first professional-magazine stories by Stephen King and F. Paul Wilson, among others) as well as contributing stories about his Simon Ark series character, which were offered as the star feature in the last issues of Double-Action. The next closest to major among the writers in this issue is Basil Wells, not too close, or a pseudonymous reprint by fellow ex-Futurian (along with Lowndes) Walter Kubilius--and one does wonder how many of the contributors might be Lowndes himself in disguise. (The last issue of Lowndes's Columbia magazine Science Fiction is somewhat more impressively staffed...thus:
Ed McBain's Mystery Book
One wonders why this magazine didn't do better than it did, seeing only three undated issues in two years...given the talent boasted of in each issue, and the sharpest interior design of any of these magazines, I have to wonder if it simply was a matter of publisher Pocket Books not being sure they wanted to be in the magazine business...and if not, why start one, and so half-heartedly support it? Unlike some of the other featured titles here, I know where my copies of the first two (1960) issues are, and hope to read them soon and perhaps have more to say. 

Mystery Digest
While I'm not at all sure where I set down my short stack of this relatively eccentric digest, here caught in the middle of its 1957-63 run, and featuring essentially no Big Names nor famous stories once we're past this issue's Wilkie Collins reprint (one of several over the years). Another case where I hope to have more to say later...I will note that Donald Westlake did contribute "Richard Stark"-signed stories to both earlier and later issues...wonder if this magazine was a better market for him than the more obviously "hardboiled" magazines...

Have any thoughts you'd like to share about this class of '60? Which, if any, magazines did I foolishly overlook? (Two added from initial post.)


For more of today's books and perhaps other non-books surveyed, please see Patti Abbott's blog.

The indices for the June bugs above:
A Man Named Thin and Other Stories by Dashiell Hammett, edited and with an introduction by Frederic Dannay as Ellery Queen 
Series Title: Mercury Mysteries, no. 233 (1963).

 * A Man Named Thin [Robin Thin], (nv) Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine Mar 1961
 * Wages of Crime, (ss) Brief Stories Feb 1923, as “The Sardonic Star of Tom Doody” by Peter CollinsonEllery Queen’s Mystery Magazine Nov 1957
* The Gatewood Caper [The Continental Op], (ss) The Black Mask Oct 15 1923, as “Crooked Souls”; .Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine May 1953
* The Barber and His Wife, (ss) Brief Stories Dec 1922, as by Peter Collinson; .Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine Apr 1958
* Itchy the Debonair, (ss) Brief Stories Jan 1924, as “Itchy”; Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine Nov 1958
* The Second-Story Angel, (ss) The Black Mask Nov 15 1923
* In the Morgue, (vi) Saucy Stories Oct 15 1923, as “The Dimple”; Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine Aug 1959
* When Luck’s Running Good, (nv) Action Stories Nov 1923, as “Laughing Masks” by Peter CollinsonEllery Queen’s Mystery Magazine Dec 1959

    Guilty Detective Story Magazine [v4 #6, June 1960] ed. W. W. Scott (35¢, digest) “I’m Not Chicken” by Dan Malcolm, “Motel Girl” by Mark Ryan" and “Thanks for Killing Me” by Richards are listed on the cover, but all appeared in the May 1960 issue of Trapped Detective Story Magazine (the first as by Charles D. Hammer).
Bonus:



13 comments:

Bill Crider said...

I miss the old days.

George said...

I read many of the magazines you display on this post. Sadly, most of them never survived the 1960s. By the Seventies, almost all magazines were struggling to stay viable.

Jack Seabrook said...

Boy, those were the days to be a mystery fan!

Todd Mason said...

1970s inflation didn't help, no, George, though I think the real attenuation of the audience for fiction magazines came in the 1980s and '90s, as even the specialist audience that saw fiction magazines as a default form of reading started to thin out. The increasing(?) audience for webzines and retroist(?) audience for little magazines might help today...

It was still indeed a pretty impressive year on the newsstands, Jack, though so many of these were mayflies and a few wheezing codgers that in today's situation, with so many little magazines and POD and webzines, that we might have a comparable amount of titles...though the amount of money earned from those titles by writer/contributors and by editors and publishers is probably a fraction of what it was, by any measure. The 1950s, thanks largely to the success of MANHUNT in '53-'56 and its better imitators, had been good times for CF digests and the like...and then the selling off of near-monopoly distributor American News Co. for its liquidated parts and the same other expenses and crunches faces by sf/fantasy and other magazines in the latter '50s really started thinning the herds.

Mathew Paust said...

As the "fiction" was missing from your link title, Todd, I thought maybe something I wrote back in the day might pop up. I did a few for the True Detective outfit in the '70s. Kept me in beer money.

Todd Mason said...

Well, that's how Patti has it entered at the moment, anyway. (She was having Computer Fun yesterday, didn't check in with her on it today.) Were your articles for the TRUE 'TEC' magazines documented reportage, or did they kinda sorta not care too much how much fiction you introduced into your contributions? I remember the '70s market listings were pretty straightforward about how TRUE CONFESSIONS magazines were fiction, while most of the true crime titles stressed how much they were Not interested in anything but reportage. I've barely read true crime, aside from what's in the newspapers and similar media and the occasional article in the CF magazines, but it's mostly Not Getting Around to it. Read some of Robert Bloch's writing thus and that of a few other CF writers, and such editors as Anthony Boucher and J. Francis McComas, and T.E.D. Klein, have edited seemingly responsible true-crime magazines as well as fine fantasy magazines.

Jerry House said...

I was really disappointed when Ed McBain's Mystery Book went belly-up; all three issues seemed exceptional. The much inferior Ed McBain's 87th Precinct Mystery Magazine from 1975 (and from a different publisher) lasted four issues and had some decent writers with meh stories. EM87thPMM continued the numbering from EMMM, with the first issue listed as Volume 1 Number 4 -- a ploy that no one fell for, methinks.

Todd Mason said...

It was a much more fly-by-night outfit that put out the 87TH PRECINCT magazine...they even managed to misspell "McBain"(!) in the logo on the front cover of the first issue. Given that, a lack of much else going for it doesn't come as surprising news.

Mathew Paust said...

Straight, true crime stories, Todd. As I was a full-time newspaper reporter then, I used the psuedonym "Ben McGillicutty."

Todd Mason said...

That works. I LOVE LUCY drive the pseudonym choice at all?

Mathew Paust said...

It might have subconsciously, but I'd seen the name more recently on the business license some cop friends obtained for a sting operation fencing stolen goods. I probly thought the cops--at least the ones featured in the pieces--would get a kick out of it.

Anonymous said...

Decades ago when I was in junior high and high school, I used to buy old issues of Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine at garage sales and read them cover to cover. Sure wish I had saved them all.

Denise

Todd Mason said...

Well, Denise, of all the cf magazines, EQMM from the '70s and '80s, or even earlier, is among the easiest to collect...even now...