Wednesday, August 26, 2009

No Match for Murder, Julius Long and the Fiction Mags Index

This morning I wasn't in the mood to jump into a novel or novelette or even a standard short story. So I picked up "No Match for Murder," by Julius Long, in the September 1943 issue of Black Mask because it looked like something I could read in 5 minutes. You all remember this issue; I've been reviewing stories in it for the past few weeks. I'm almost done with the entire magazine, save for the Erle Stanley Gardner story, "The Gong of Vengeance," which Ed Hulse tells me is the last pulp story Gardner ever wrote. Whether or not that increases the value of the copy, I don't know. I doubt it. But it doesn't matter, because I'm not selling it.

Anyway, getting back to No Match for Murder. It's a pretty mundane story about a defense attorney Jake Manders. The story begins:

Without moving his lips, Jake Manders whispered: "Wipe that guilty look off your face! Do you want to convict yourself?"
His client seemed not to hear his warning. Marion Ward, ash-blond show girl on trial for the murder of her wealthy play-boy husband, seemed hypnotized by the voice of Lew Brice, district attorney, whose every word seemed to bring her a step nearer to the electric chair.

When I first read that, I thought, Ooo, she's got something for the district attorney. Now that would be a good story. Sorry, folks, she doesn't.

Marion apparently claims that her little revolver went off when she dropped it taking it out of her purse and shot her playboy husband. D.A. Brice doesn't think so, however, and claims there is overwhelming proof that the gun in question could never go off accidentally. When Manders gets up to present his closing argument, he walks over to the exhibit table and picks up the gun in question before anyone, including the judge, can object. Manders accidently drops the gun and it goes off.

Manders, of course, had jimmy-rigged the gun with blanks so it would go off, unbeknownst to everyone, including Marion. The story just kind of rolls along from there, in which Manders goes back to Marion's apartment to collect his fee (a tidy one hundred thousand dollars) only to have Marion object. No way is she paying that amount of money. Finally, she relents when Manders tells her why the gun discharged and Manders goes to get her checkbook.

It's a neatly tied up ending, a total of 5 1/2 pages, and with nothing really to say. Julius Long, who, from what I gather, was an experienced pulp writer all through the 30s and 40s writing for magazines such as BM and also Dime Detective and the UK versions of those, probably wrote this in his sleep.

But it did get me interested in him and on the trail to find out more about him. Sleuthing after these lesser known pulp writers is turning into a lot of fun.

By the way, wanted to tell you all about the Fiction Mags Index. I don't know how accurate it is, but it seems to be fairly comprehensive. On the Table of Contents page is a substantial list of other indexes you can find online. And then it breaks down each issue of say, Black Mask, and gives you the stories, the authors, and a scan of the cover. Nice. Here's one cover that I love and I know a lot of my writer friends will too.

A good source, but I need to check with my "experts" to find out how reliable it is. Like most things historical that you read about pulp magazines, check and double check and triple check the "facts" before you repeat them.


Walker Martin said...

Julius Long mainly wrote shorter stories for Black Mask but my favorites remain the longer, novelet length as written by Merle Constiner, Fred Davis, Robert Reeves, etc. Often the shorts are not properly developed and seem to be page fillers.

Concerning the Black Mask cover that you scanned showing the gun and typewriter, I once owned the original painting. It's just about the fastest I ever spent $1,000. About 20 years ago I sold a painting in NYC for a thousand and immediately caught a taxi to Illustration House, which took about 15 minutes. The owner showed me a pulp painting which no one seemed interested in and I recognized it as a Black Mask cover. There went my thousand dollars in just a few minutes.

Laurie Powers said...

Walker!!! I don't know what hurts more: that you say you "used to" own this painting or that you paid only $1,000 for it. I certainly hope that if you had to part ways with it that the price you got made the pain of giving it up worth it!

Walker Martin said...

Laurie, you and I and the present owner are just about the only people who expressed a liking for the painting. During the many years I owned it, most collectors complained about how there was no girl in the painting and no action between crooks, police, etc. I like the image of a gun firing over the typewriter, but most everybody else wanted the typical sexy, action portrait. I like that type also but a Black Mask painting is a Black Mask painting!


I'm loving these reviews - a lot of these names are new to me.

Barry said...

I have been finding your Black Mask story reviews interesting Laurie so keep up the good work.
Since you such a big baseball fan I wondered if you have read any Baseball Stories I have one copy which I admit have never read.

Laurie Powers said...

I've read two of them so far Barry. Keller's Designated Hitter by Lawrence Block, one of the first stories, and Two-Bagger by Michael Connelly. I enjoyed both, although Designated Hitter seemed to be a more developed story. But I liked Two-Bagger because the climax takes place in Dodger Stadium and one of the subjects of conversation between the two main characters (a detective and his new partner) is whether the new partner was at the game when Kirk Gibson hit the home run in the 1988 World Series. If you know anything about that home run, it's considered the Holy Grail of Home Runs for Dodger fans, and according to the old cop, a lot of people lie and say they were there to see it when they really weren't.

Barry said...

Whoops! I should have been a bit more clear in what I wrote. I should have asked if you have ever read any issues of the pulp magazine "Baseball Stories"?

Laurie Powers said...

No prob, Barry. No, I haven't. I think I saw a few issues of it floating around at Pulp Fest, but couldn't be sure. I don't know if it's a hard-to-find pulp or not.

Walker Martin said...

Being a baseball fan since 1955, I at one time had quite a collection of sport pulps. That is until I tried reading a few. Then I sold all of them to a friend who then sold them to a bookstore specializing in books about sports.

The sport pulps unfortunately are almost as bad as the love pulps; they both are trapped into a strict formula which is always followed without exception. The big game is coming up, but the star pitcher, boxer, football player, etc is having problems, however by the end of the story everything turns out ok and the big game is won. No room for unhappy endings or any unusual plots.

However, outside the sport magazine field, there was room for some good fiction in the general fiction magazines. But the actual sport pulps seemed to want to follow the same old tired formula.

I know of a couple collectors who are into collecting love pulps but come to think of it I've never really run into anyone who was seriously interesting in building up an extensive set of sport pulps. I guess they are just so unreadable that even baseball fans like Laurie and myself have no real interest in them.

Barry said...

I have a few Love/Romance pulps in my collection. I never tried to read any of them Walker just bought them for the cover art. A few Western Romances, Sweetheart Stories, S&S Love Story, Rangeland Love Stories and a couple All-Story Love with Gloria Stoll covers. I really like her art.

Chap O'Keefe said...

Another site I love for pulp fiction covers is

All kinds there, including westerns. And the westerns, too, are typically full of action and sexy. Shame that most generic western covers these days avoid including glamorous damsels in distress!

Walker Martin said...

Barry, Gloria Stoll was a guest at Pulpcon a few years ago and I had a couple conversations with her. She was influenced in the 1940's by the great pulp artist Raphael DeSoto. They even shared a studio and he got her into doing covers for Popular Publications. She did alot of love covers but also covers for Black Mask and Dime Detective. I see a resemblance between her work and DeSoto.

If you want to know more about her career Illustration Magazine #25 had a very long article on her life. Plus there is a website showing many of her paintings and interiors,

Barry said...

One of the things that have fascinated me about pulp magazines for many years is how they changed names within the run of a title.
For instance I have a copy of Rangeland Love Stories (April, 1937) and through the magic of John Gunnison's wonderful pulp mag index have found that Popular started the title in June 1935 as Rangeland Romances then from 8/36 to 5/37 it became Rangeland Love Stories then in 6/37 went back to Rangeland Romances.

Barry said...

Walker, I also met Gloria Stoll at that Pulpcon and she was such a nice lady. I was not going to tell her that I at one time used to mistake her work for DeSoto.
I remember thinking that I did not know DeSoto did covers for Love pulps.
Always something new to learn.

Laurie Powers said...

I just want to say Thanks to all of you who have been posting such interesting comments to this blog lately. One, for purely selfish reasons, it helps me keep in touch with all of you that I met at Pulp Fest. But it also enriches my blog so much with your informative responses and I'm sure those readers out there who are interested in pulps appreciate the comments as well.

Barry said...

Glad you do not mind these posts I've been making. It's a good way to communicate with both you and Walker.
As Walker is the resident "Adventure" expert I wanted to ask him something about the magazine. I was just checking out all the Adventure covers at and was a bit surprised to see the cover for the December 1911 issue. I never saw a pulp cover before that I can recall with the logo at the foot of the cover.
Also I wanted to get Walker's thoughts on the issues with the ladies on the cover. I have a hunch their circulation dropped like a stone when they tried that experiment.
This magazine is making me wish I had collected more of them when I was buying all the Weird Tales.

Walker Martin said...

Barry points out an unusual ADVENTURE cover with the logo at the lower half of the cover.(Dec 1911). Back then if was not unusual for the artist to paint the logo on the painting also and I guess that is what happened with this cover. I once attended an exhibit at the Brandy Wine River Museum and saw an original ADVENTURE cover painting by Charles Livingston Bull that had the logo painted on it by the artist. I also own an Adventure preliminary cover or perhaps it is a rejected unfinished cover that has the logo painted on it.

In the teens the general fiction magazines often had portraits of pretty girls on the covers even though the fiction was mainly western or adventure. They all did it: ADVENTURE, ALL STORY, ARGOSY, BLUE BOOK, POPULAR. I guess it helped circulation but ADVENTURE went against this policy when the editor decided the magazine would not concentrate on printing too many stories with what he called "woman interest", meaning love or romance stories. This applied to the covers also and for a very long time ADVENTURE stopped showing women on the covers. I don't believe they showed a woman until the 1940's, several hundred issues later. The ironic thing is that ADVENTURE eventually became a girly magazine in the 1960's showing rather sedate photos of topless girls, etc.