Back in the day, long before Fonzie jumped the shark and loaves of bread came out of their packages pre-sliced, our grandparents and great-grandparents read pulp magazines. It was a really affordable form of mass entertainment to produce – the pulp paper from which the magazines took their name was of very low quality, the stories plentiful, and the writers worked for peanuts. They were the spiritual successor to penny dreadfuls, banking on cheap thrills and tawdry covers to sell, sell, sell. As such, the yarns inside pulp magazines were usually awful; mind-numbing tales of mysteries and horrors that had prudish grandmothers hiding them away while young adults looking for blood, booze, and babes gobbled them up.
Not all the stories were horrible, mind you. In fact, pulp fiction helped introduce the world to one of the most influential creative forces in recent history: H.P. Lovecraft. The author, whose work has inspired minds like Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, and Alan Moore, jump-started his career by writing fiction for submission to pulp magazines. Mainstream publishers were hesitant to print his work, as the fiction inspired by his infamous night terrors was often deemed too weird and too unusual for public consumption. This, of course, wasn’t too much of a problem for pulp magazines like Weird Tales, who thrived on such bizarre material (although some pulps still did have issues publishing some of his work).