Last year we featured an overview article on pulp novel cover design, and since then we’ve continued to look for other resources on mass market book and magazine cover design from the 30s, 40s and 50s. In a recent search I stumbled on pulpcovers.com, a site which features hundreds of covers, tending towards the more risque and unusual, including vintage erotica, exploitation fiction and men’s magazines.
The collection is large and the images are of very high quality, but the blog-style format in which they are presented is cumbersome. That aside, there are a couple of qualities here which stand out. The first is the emphasis on quality cover art. The covers are picked for the excellence of the illustration and in many cases the featured covers include not only the cover as published, but variant versions and in some cases copies of the original art without titles. The second is that the collection is very strong on early science fiction, adventure, mystery and fantasy magazines, going back into the early 1900s. And, of course, if your tastes run to the salacious there are a lot more good examples of early erotica and “true crime” magazines than I’ve seen in other collections, plus a large selection of classic lesbian pulp.
For our purposes the site is mainly useful for research. It’s not as strong on outstanding cover lettering as some other sites, but it’s great as a guide to more obscure publications and even early out of copyright illustrated magazines which might be worth adding to our collection in the future, thought I suspect we’d have to be very lucky and very persistent to find copies of some of the magazines on the site in decent condition.
Visitors should be aware of some of the peculiarities of the site. Although the material is presented in a random chronological order, all of the postings are arranged into categories, which are quirky but can be useful. You may also notice postings following peculiar patterns, such as relationships of similar titles or themes.