Monday, June 7, 2010

The Trailblazing Pulp Western: DIME WESTERN MAGAZINE

DIME WESTERN MAGAZINE was launched in December 1932 and the world of the pulp Western would never be the same. The publisher of DIME WESTERN, Popular Publications under the guidance of Harry Steeger, employed editor Rogers Terrill who had strict requirements for his stories. They were not to be of the old fashioned "pulpy" style, meaning that they weren't full of action and little else. Full of lean, hard-hitting, well turned stories, DIME WESTERN employed such writers as Walt Coburn, Harry F. Olmstead, Ray Nafziger, Bart Cassidy, and for three times, Frederick Faust writing under Max Brand. These stories were tough and realistic, and I think it's safe to say that DIME WESTERN MAGAZINE was one of the forerunners of the realistic Western.

August 1935

Coburn was probably the biggest contributor to DIME WESTERN, and continued to write for the magazine well into the 1940s. Olmstead was another heavy contributor, and Cobrun, Olmstead and Bart Cassidy could be counted on to have a story in almost every DIME WESTERN. Many Western pulp anthologies carrying reprints of pulp stories include stories from DIME WESTERN.

As for cover artists, it would be hard to not mention Walter Baumhofer's work for DIME WESTERN, because he was the sole artist for the magazine for the first several years.

December 1935

DIME WESTERN quickly became a threat to the largest selling western pulp, WESTERN STORY MAGAZINE, and for many years the covers carried the declaration that it was "The Nation's Leading Western." It would remain a strong seller for many years, although according to some, the best years for collecting are between 1933-37.

DIME WESTERN would remain a monthly (there were a few years in the early 30s in which it was a semi-monthly) until the early 1950s, when it was cut to a bimonthly magazine. Its last issue was in September 1954.

DIME WESTERN had a policy that all covers had a red logo and yellow background. In addition, the vast majority of covers featured either a man and woman, or two men and a woman. The common denominator for all the covers was the gal, another departure from many of the other western pulps of the day. WILD WEST WEEKLY, for example, never had a woman on its covers. Perhaps Popular and editor Terrill felt that western readers were grown up enough now to handle the presence of females in the stories, because not only were women on the cover, they were also many stories with romantic angles.

Personally, although I appreciate the presence of women on the covers, I find the never-changing theme of man-shooting-accompanied-by-damsel, as well as the ever-present red and yello, end up making the covers boring. But that wouldn't keep me from buying a few if I ever fell across them at say, PulpFest this summer. The promise of really good western stories is enough for me.

June 1937

June 1939

June 1940

February 1941

April 1944

Sources for this post:
THE ADVENTURE HOUSE GUIDE TO THE PULPS (Ellis, Locke, Gunnison; Adventure House, 2000)
THE PULP WESTERN (John Dinan; Bear Manor Media, 2003)


Deka Black said...

Western pulp is, for me, a unknown thing. Maybe because when i was a kid i drowned in western films (and toys too, y had a fort made of wood, very cool stuff). And now i search something different.

But i know the western is one of the most popular genres. I don't know why, but the works about western talk by themselves!

Anyway... i'm reading now Wings of the Black Death (i LOVE the Spider), butt i promise my following reading will be a western. Try something doifferent will be good. And i let you know my imporessions ;)

pattinase (abbott) said...

I'd almost drive to Columbus just to see there wonderful covers.

07_TeddyF_Silvey0 said...


Evan Lewis said...

The yellow/red scheme certainly gave the mag a distinctive look and would have made it easy to spot on the newsstand. An interesting marketing decision.

Laurie Powers said...

Deka, would love to hear what you think of the western - let us know what you decide to read.

Patti, Columbus isn't that far from where you live, right? I'm kidding.

Dave, besides the colors, the fact that each cover had almost the same identical theme...strange.