Take the hero. He has to be red-blooded, plenty tough, virile, clean-minded, active, pure, good, and a model any boy might be glad to emulate.

     It follows, then, that the people reading the pulps want to read about fine fellows. These people buy the pulps because of the stories. Why, then, must an advertising man insist that the pulp paper book is the place for such an ad.

     Maybe I’m dumb, I dunno. But the whole pulp code is built upon one fact. One book, one dish. The taboos run the same, the stories run in the same channel. Every editorial effort is based upon that one thing.

     Then why doesn’t the same method apply to the ads?

     Two and two, in my day, made four. In pulps ads they make me sick.

     I am generally very broad-minded. In fact, my mind, they tell me, is simply a wide-open space.

     I read the pulps for amusement, the same as anyone else, not entirely for business. And when I read about red-blooded men I am seeking escape and more escape. I want to be right out there in the jungle knocking the hell out of the natives with the hero. I feel like I’m big and tough, too, and that I can climb mountains, get wounded, climb mountains and still be so virile that I can still climb more mountains. I want to be like the hero and these heroes aren’t too far drawn at that.

     But in the midst of my reading, the page turns, right while I’m in my glory of being tough with Mr. Hero, and I read:



     Swell thought while I’m busy being tough.

     But, they tell me, ads pay writers indirectly. That’s why I can’t understand it. If ads pay me at all, then why the devil don’t they pay me big.

[ Picture]
     In the waiting room of a big pulp publisher I heard an ad man – and God knows they have their troubles too – selling a man on an inch spread.

     “We have, in these books,” said the ad man – poor devil – “A guaranteed circulation of one million. Your ad will be run in each book and it will reach all these people. Now if you don’t get results, you’ll get your money back, and if you don’t get the guaranteed circulation, you’ll get a rebate.”

     Well, I guess he had to tell that guy something, but it’s puzzled me ever since. One million circulation for that string of books. There’s less duplication than you think. A western reader snarls and snaps at your hand when you offer him an air book. And a love pulp reader isn’t likely to be caught reading horror stories.

     But now, with one million circulation, which is what a few slicks boast, and a lot of them far less, a slick goes out and gets swell drawings and full color and good copy. They advertise soap and furniture and cars and electric iceboxes of fine make. They get plenty of money for those ads, otherwise they’d have to get more money for their books.

     I dunno, I’m just a writer. I’m not supposed to worry my head about such things. But my pulp rates aren’t anything to brag about, and neither are yours so don’t sneer, and sometimes I get funny ideas about word rates, thinking in my dumb way that after all, my wife deserves to eat once in a while.

     And so we come back to the ads and the pulps. The pulps – so one well-known publisher whose name would surprise you – are known for their advertising, and are damned for it. He said that was the main trouble with the pulps – this big man with his million circulation – and that the ads held the pulps back.

     But I haven’t seen him doing anything about it in his books.

     Maybe he can’t do anything about it. Certainly there is no agency to handle pulp ads, although one has vaguely given a statement upon this to ...

     Let’s take the grand old man of the pulps, the book which is greater than all the other books and which has a fine type of readers.

The Pulp Paper Puzzle continued...

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