Discovering AMAZING STORIES in 1926

(Edited by John L. Coker III – First Published in First Fandom Annual 2016, Reprinted Here by Permission)

AMAZING STORIES, Vol. 1, No. 1 (Artwork by Frank R. Paul)


Forrest J Ackerman

“In October 1926, little nine-year-old me was standing in front of a newsstand, and a magazine called Amazing Stories jumped off the newsstand and grabbed hold of me.  You’re not old enough to know, but in those days, magazines spoke.  That one said, “Take me home little boy, you will love me.”

Three months later my mother was quite concerned.  She took me aside and she said, “Son, do you realize how many of these magazines you have?  I counted and you have twenty-seven.  Can you imagine?  By the time you are a grown man, you might have a hundred.”  Eventually, I had 50,000 science fiction books.  You look skeptical.  I’ve read every last word in my collection.  It wasn’t so difficult.  I just turned to the last page and read the last word.”


Forry Ackerman in the late-1920s
AMAZING STORIES (October 1926)

 Julius Schwartz

“When I was a teenager, there were dime novels, which sold for fifteen cents.  When they came out originally, they sold for a dime.  They were small in size, maybe a hundred thirty pages.  There were detective stories, mainly about a fellow named Nick Carter, and there were sports stories, featuring Frank Merriwell.  I liked Nick Carter stories because his main villain was a character named Dr. Quartz, which sounded like Schwartz.  There were war stories, with the Boy Allies.

One day, I had no reading material.  So, I said to my friend, “Charlie, I have nothing to read.  It’s a rainy day, so we can’t go out and play stickball.  Have you anything to give me to read?”  He said, “I think my father has something.”  He went and brought out a magazine that I’d never heard of, called Amazing Stories.  “Wow,” I said.  “Amazing Stories, that sounds good.”  I looked at the cover, then opened the magazine and saw a story called “The Runaway Skyscraper.”

And that story changed my life, mainly because the opening line grabbed me and I had to keep reading.  We call that line a narrative hook.  That narrative hook not only got me started reading science fiction, whenever and wherever I could find it, but it also influenced my editorial career as a comic book writer.  Many of my stories and covers were based on narrative hooks.  When you saw that cover you had to read that issue.


Originally published in ARGOSY (February 22, 1919)
Reprinted in AMAZING STORIES (June 1926)

“The Runaway Skyscraper” was written by Murray Leinster.  The opening line was as follows: “It all began when the clock on the metropolitan tower started to run backwards.”  So, I had to keep reading and found out that it was a story about time travel.  Of course, there were stories by other writers such as Jules Verne and H.G. Wells in that large issue, which sold for twenty-five cents.”

Conrad H. Ruppert

“I was born in 1912, in the borough of Brooklyn, in New York City.  When I was ten years old, the doctor confined me to bed for ten days with rheumatic fever.  My mother helped me pass the time by providing several magazines for me to read.  Among them was an issue of Science and Invention published by Hugo Gernsback.  Every month various articles were featured and a fictional story was serialized.  I enjoyed learning about the possibilities offered by science, and I soon began haunting the newsstands for more issues.  After reading it regularly for a couple of years, I applied for a card that made me an official reporter for Science and Invention.  I actually wrote and submitted several articles that Gernsback published in his magazine.

In my hunger for more material, I spent a lot of time in the library reading books by Jules Verne and H.G. Wells.  Finally, in 1926, Amazing Stories was issued and I had a constant source.  In my correspondence with Gernsback I asked him to continue including in his letter columns the complete names and addresses of fans who wrote to the magazines, so that I could contact them.  I wrote many letters back and forth with Forry Ackerman and enjoyed reading Amazing Stories whenever I could.”



Source: Auto Draft

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1 Comment

  1. I always like seeing things like this. In fact, there’s a staged photo of 4E reading the first issue of Amazing Stories done for a newspaper report on his unusual interest/collecting. That photo can be seen here, also courtesy of Mr. Coker –

    And, a few years back I devoted a little time to attempting to identify the very first issues of pulp magazines read by some of our late-and-greats. You can find that here –

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