The availability of a vintage pulp magazine

Updated 12 Mar 2024

On Mastodon (as I had done on Twitter), I follow various pulp accounts that post old books and magazines (and less frequently, albums) that have covers of some interest, often grouped together in a theme. Vintage computer ads, Harlequin romance, ridiculous robots from 50s sci-fi, pin-ups, magazine illustration from mid-century, etc. Site’s like Pulp Covers and Pulp Artists are also good sources for such wonderful nonsense and from those I found the cover artists for many of the pulp sci-fi books I’ve read. The Mastodon accounts are a good way to break up your feed with something visually interesting, kindof like a pop culture museum exhibit.

As I walk by the exhibits, I’ll pause at some and get tempted to hunt down–and purchase–some of the gems that strike me. “Hey-can-I-own-that” is a natural impulse, but maybe more so because I’m a collector. One exhibit included the undeniably groovy three-issue comic series Planet of Vampires from 1975, published by the long-forgotten Atlas Comics. I mean, just wow:

image from Comic Vine

Another exhibit/thread, from @PulpLibrarian, included various romance paperback covers of a specific theme and prompted My visit to the land of romance. I had always wondered what those books were like. Now I… know? Pretty salacious, but no regrets.

a cache of scandalous, sinful, and amorous tales

One recent cover that was posted (can’t find the original post) was of a “gentlemen’s magazine” from 1960 called Midnight. It was somewhat a throwback to the characteristically tame covers of the 50s, but not yet the lewd magazines that began in the late 70s. It was both sexy and an excellent illustration (in the art dept. at college, I was always envious of the artists that could be illustrators because they were facile in all media and all styles (fuckers)). Let’s hunt down the sources for Midnight magazine (spoiler, they are few, but one is basically the definitive source).

“Collectors [sic] Edition”!, image from Galactic Central

Updated 12 Mar 2024

Fun Fact: The model on the cover is Judi Reding who, along with her not-at-all limited modeling career, had a somewhat-limited acting career. One movie she was in is the MST3K-riffed Tormented (a fact I discovered from the blog monsterminions).

First, the best and definitive source I found and where I copied the above image: Galactic Central. It is an astounding reference for magazine covers, publishers, and authors covering what appears to be the entirety of the 1900s. The site was created by Phil Stephensen-Payne (see his entries at The Internet Speculative Fiction Database and The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction) and has been updated as recently as October of last year (even though its humble design screams Geocities). The site has Library-of-Congress-level completeness.

The web-site was originally dedicated to bibliographies, specifically those related to science fiction and fantasy authors, and introduced a list of fiction magazines as a useful reference. However, this latter list grew and grew with time.

Midnight magazine (covers) was published from 1960-1974 and includes three annuals. Galaxy Central also has a list of its publishers and editors and the TOCs for every article along with their authors. Through the years the covers get successively trashier–even the font becomes icky–until the final issue, when I assume its dated reputation carried with it a stuffiness despite its upgrades/downgrades such that it couldn’t compete with the newer lot of smut available and sealed in plastic behind the counter.

Aug/Sep/Oct 1974

Despite the final issue’s logo being very Space: 1999 (1975-1977), design-wise it doesn’t hold up to the simplicity of the first.

Second, finding copies for sale. From an image search I found an Etsy listing for Vol. 1, No. 1 but it had already sold. $49.99! However, a seller on Amazon has the following copies available for absolutely absurd prices:

WorthPoint has several issues. That site doesn’t sell anything but rather just lists the value for collectors to get a sense of what the market will bear.

(Warning: if you visit their site too many times, they will lock you out with 403s. Go delete local storage and cookies to regain your freedom.)

What the site does have is a few images from each and they are exactly as you’d expect, but kind of quaint. Wholesome smut?

The final resource I found was a site that had the original cover proofs for three magazines of that same genre, one Midnight Vol. 1, No. 2, Snap Vol. 1, No. 4, and Tonight Vol. 1, No. 2. They sold for $350 which honestly sounds reasonable for original, one-of-a-kind prints.

Lesson: I will not be getting into vintage adult magazine collecting and just stick to sci-fi movie posters and lobby cards.

image from Well-Stacked Books, lol