News Stand Anniversaries

Over on Facebook, I posted  an image of SF/F/H magazine covers (pulps and digests) collecting the cover images for all of the magazines that would have been on the stands in September, fifty years ago (1973).

Click the cover to order

Tom Easton (one of the authors of Amazing Selects’ most recent release – ESPionage: Regime Change – asked “What about 70 years ago?”, a date closer to his own pulp discovery era.  That would have been 1953, which just so happens to be the year that the largest number of individual magazines and magazine issues associated with SF/F&H fiction were published.  I complied.

Both posts were well-received as such things go and I thought, why not take a look at this in a bit more depth?  A comparison of anniversary year offerings might be somewhat instructive, would give at least a visual sense of what publishers through would appeal to readers, graphically demonstrate the waxing and waning nature of publishing in the field.

Here’s what was on the stands in September of 1933, ninety years ago.  Oh, and some of these covers may not BSFW.


In 1933, yes, that is a Brundage cover for Weird Tales, one of the more “notorious ones”, fans were probably wondering if there would be an Astounding in the racks when they went there…the magazine had ceased publication a couple of months before – half a year before in fact – and didn’t resume until its purchase by Street & Smith was completed, the publisher it would stay with for almost thirty years.

Both Wonder Stories and Amazing Stories would normally have been accompanied by Quarterly companions, but neither appeared.  They would resume the following year.

Also,  Strange Tales of Mystery and Terror, which had begun the year before would fail to show as well.  So Fans had to be content with three issues – four when Astounding would actually arrive accompanied by sighs of relief.

A quick note to describe a little of the process here.  First, I’m displaying the covers based on the date of  initial publication of each title:  Weird Tales, 1923, Amazing , 1926, Wonder 1929, etc.  Second, whether a magazine was on the stands or not during a given month I’m based on the cover date – which is not entirely accurate.  The month on a cover is typically the removal date, but with missing issues, quarterlies, bi-monthlies, annuals and etc., its easiest to just go by cover date.  Besides, news stands were not always consistent, sometimes leaving two months worth of issues out.  For accuracy’s sake, that image above would most likely have been on the stands from sometime in August to sometime in September.  I’m also only displaying those magazines that were available in the United States.  Ninety years ago there weren’t many “foreign” editions.

Eighty years ago and the world was embroiled in World War II, a “small interruption” in the course of Fannish history.  This affected all of the publishers owing to paper shortages.

The news stand, eighty years ago – 1943:


As noted, this was in the midst of World War II and the paper shortage caused many periodicals to miss issues, or cease publication entirely.

Earlier in the year, a handful of other magazines would have been on display – Future Combined with Science Fiction Stories, Science Fiction Quarterly, Astonishing Stories, Super Science Stories.  Wars are very inconvenient!

We’ve already looked at fifty and seventy years ago (maybe I’ll re-do those images in the current format), so tomorrow we’ll go back to 1963 and 1983 and take a look there;  ’63 was a “bust” year, as was ’83.

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