A History of Adventure Magazine

by Richard Bleiler


I

In October 1910 a new magazine appeared on American newsstands, the November 1910 Adventure magazine. 1 In ten years Adventure would be internationally famous, with a fanatically devoted following that numbered in the hundreds of thousands; in 25 years it would be hailed as “The No. 1 Pulp” by Time magazine; 2 in 50 years it would be a dying embarrassment, printing grainy black and white pictures of semi-nude women and attempting to survive as a men’s magazine in a market increasingly dominated by Playboy; and in 75 years it would be virtually forgotten, remembered by only a handful of former writers and a few fans. Despite such changes in fortune and popularity, Adventure magazine has never been the subject of serious, extended study; indeed, very few of the popular magazines that flourished during the first half of the twentieth century have been studied in any detail, researchers in popular culture having concentrated on the initially unpopular science fiction, fantasy, and weird fiction magazines, and on the mystery, espionage, and detective magazines. 3 The purpose of this essay, therefore, is to provide a comprehensive history of Adventure magazine.

The Ridgway Publishing Company was Adventure magazine’s first publisher, and the older, more educated readers of 1910 would have recognized that the Ridgway Publishing Company was also the publisher of the sensationalistic but family oriented Everybody’s Magazine. Erman Jesse Ridgway had acquired Everybody’s Magazine in 1903, and, realizing that sensation sold, devoted about two-thirds of the magazine’s contents to sensationalistic nonfiction. From 1904 to 1907, “Frenzied Finance,” Thomas William Lawson’s melodramatic, muckraking expose of the infamous rich, enthralled readers and helped the circulation of Everybody’s Magazine climb to more than half a million. 4

Nevertheless, in 1910 the Ridgway Publishing Company was no longer the sole property of Erman Ridgway. He had sold it in 1909 to the Butterick Publishing Company, a Boston-based manufacturer of women’s dress patterns that was also one of the largest publishers of magazines in America. 5

Neither the Butterick Publishing Company nor the Ridgway Publishing Company has left any statements as to why Adventure was started, but it seems probable that market research de monstrated that the readers existed for another adult fiction/ fact magazine. Argosy, started in 1882, had survived a shaky beginning and name changes, had switched to an all fiction format and cheap paper in 1896, and was a thriving monthly in 1910; a companion, All-Story Magazine, (started in 1905) was also doing well. 6 The Red Book (which survives today as Redbook) and Popular Magazine were started in 1903; they, too, were thriving in 1910. 7The Blue Book Magazine, started in 1905, 9 had a smaller but secure share of the popular magazine market, publishing fiction as well as pictures and articles about contemporary events. These magazines offered relatively intelligent material to a reasonably sophisticated reading audience.

The potential audience for the new magazine might also have included the maturing readers of the Dime Novels, people who wanted excitement in their stories but who were no longer content with juvenile fiction that tended to be plotless, repetitive, and ineptly written.

Although the above reasons for starting Adventure are hypothetical, the reasons for the Butterick Publishing Company’s choice of its first editor seem more obvious. In addition to being a very capable novelist and journalist, Trumbull White was noted as an explorer and as a generally venturesome personality.

Trumbull White was born in Winterset, Iowa, in 1868. He attended Amherst College from 1886 - 1888, but left to become a journalist, working in Evansville, Indiana, and Chicago, Illinois. While in charge of The Chicago Record’s news service, he covered the 1897 Cuban insurrection, the Cuban and Puerto Rican campaigns of 1898, and the 1897 and 1898 establishment of colonies in Hawaii, Samoa, New Zealand, and Australia. During 1899 he was a correspondent in Central Asia, the Caucasus and Siberia; and in 1901 he was passenger on the first experimental trip by steamer from Chicago via the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River to Europe, and back. Ten years earlier, White and his wife had explored northwestern Ontario in a canoe. 10

In 1892, White published his first book, The Wizard of Wall Street, a biography of Jay Gould, and between 1893 and 1906, he wrote and edited at least ten additional works, including books about the 1892 World’s Fair and at least one book about his travels. In 1896 he published an account of his bicycling experiences.

In 1903 White became the first editor of The Red Book. He left in 1906 to become editor of Appleton’s Magazine , holding that position for four years; and in 1910 he became the first editor of Adventure. It should be observed here that White’s name appears nowhere in the magazine during his tenure as editor, but the decision to remain invisible may have been his. Adventure was a new magazine with an uncertain future, and White may not have wanted to be associated with a potential failure. On the other hand, White may have been told to remain unobtrusive by the officials of the Ridgway Publishing Company. We will never know.

The cover of the first issue of Adventure has the word “Adventure” across the top of the page in bright yellow lettering and the price: 15. Beneath the lettering, positioned as though along the hypotenuse of a triangle, are three figures, all male. The head of the topmost figure partially blocks the A of the Adventure; he is staring intensely at the man in the lower right foreground. Immediately below the first man is an Asian, stooping to stare at the man in the lower right foreground. The picture is unclear, but one of the first two figures, probably the Asian, is holding a lantern that provides the light for the picture. The lantern is in the lower left foreground, establishing the base lines of the triangle and creating for the cover a closed composition that is almost classical in its arrangement figures.

The focus of the examination (and of the picture), is clean-shaven, well-dressed, but slumped, with his eyes closed; he is perhaps asleep, deeply in thought, unconscious, or even dead. 11 The faces of all three men are precisely detailed, painted by M. Leone Bracker with an almost photographic accuracy. 12

The upper right side of the cover contains no figures, but instead presents in white lettering the words “Yellow Men / and Gold” / A Serial by / Gouverneur Morris. (The quotation marks are present on the cover.) Apart from the yellow lettering in the name of the magazine, the cover’s colors are muted; the heads loom from a dark background; the light from the lantern is harsh white and casts shadows. The overall impression left by the cover is one of quiet suspense, tension with an exotic element.

The first issue of Adventure contained 19 stories on 188 pages, but prior to the first story was a message on pages [iii] and [iv]. It is signed The Ridgway Company but may have been written by White or perhaps even by Arthur Sullivant Hoffman, the man who would become his successor; it provides the editorial philosophy of the new magazine:

Have you ever noticed how the recital of an adventure always finds ready audience?
The witness of an accident never wants for listeners, and if peculiar and mysterious circumstances surround the accident, the interest is all the keener. The man with a story of some stirring adventure always gets the floor. Men will stop the most important discussion to listen, women will forget to rock the cradle, boys and girls will neglect any sport or game.
Try it some time and see how it grips all kinds, all ages.
And the reason is that none of us ever really grows up. We are always boys and girls, a little older in years, but the same nature—alert to the new, questioning, investigating, growing, living; stirred by martial music; thrilled by the sight of the fire-horses dashing madly down the street; lured by tales of subtle intrigue and splendid daring.
It will be a sad day for this old world if men and women ever lose this capacity to be gripped by tales of heroism. The man whose heart leaps for joy at sight of a heroic deed is the man who will act the hero when his turn comes.
No, the love of adventure will never be lost out of life. It is a fundamental of human nature, just as sentiment is a fundamental, and it is almost as moving. So we reasoned that a magazine edited for this universal hunger of human nature for adventure ought to have a wide appreciation and appeal, and we decided to publish such a magazine and call it ADVENTURE.
It is published in the hope and belief that hundreds of thousands of men and women will be glad to have a magazine wherein they can satisfy their natural and desirable hunger for adventure.
A magazine wherein they can find adventure without being obliged to read through reams of stuff they care little about for the sake of getting a little they care a lot about.
A magazine published by the publishers of Everybody’s Magazine and edited with the same care and concern as is Everybody’s Magazine, but frankly made for the hours when the reader cannot work, or does not wish to, or is too weary to work. Frankly made for the reader’s recreation rather than his creative hours.
If you care for stirring stories (and who does not?) — if you wish to get away for a brief time from the hard grind of the daily mill so that you can come back to it again with new zest, so that you can walk through the knotty problems and nagging limitations with renewed courage — get a copy of Adventure.
You can get away for such a trip every month for 15 cents or you can get a season ticket entitling you to twelve trips for $1.50.
No other kind of story in the magazine; just Adventure Stories. Factstories as well as fiction stories. If you don’t like that kind, don’t buy; but if you do like that kind, Adventure is sure to delight you.

Although it provides the official rationale for starting Adventure, the introduction is unusual for a number of reasons, first and foremost of which is the odd equation of adventure and childhood. The statement is aimed at awakening readers’ feelings of nostalgia, for it is almost a glorification of a child’s psychological immaturity. This is unusual, implying that the publishers of the magazine considered the sense of “adventure” to be unsophisticated, merely a juvenile emotion that can be stirred by such simple externals as the galloping of fire-horses. It would seem that the publishers were attempting to reach a relatively unsophisticated reading market, and yet the reading market had to be mature enough to regret the passing of its childhood, and it would have to be sufficiently wealthy to be able to afford to buy a magazine that was quite frankly escapist, “made for the reader’s recreation rather than his creative hour.”

Also unusual is that the Ridgway Company attempted to bring women into the readership of Adventure magazine. In 1910, the magazines and novels that were read by women tended to deal with “domestic and community life.” 12 Good Housekeeping, for example, had covers that “featured bright colors and pictures of children and lovely young women;” 13 The House Beautiful published articles with titles such as “Successful Furnishing and Decoration on an Income of $3500 a Year;” 14 and the bestseller of 1910 was Florence Barclay’s religiose The Rosary. 15 Women did not openly read adventure stories in 1910, a fact of which the Ridgway Publishing Company and Trumbull White were surely aware.

One thus wonders how the Ridgway Publishing Company planned to market a magazine with material appealing to both sexes, for there is no doubt that this was their intention; the contents of Adventure are undoubtedly meant to appeal to both the men and women of 1910. The first issue contains male-oriented adventure tales: Gouverneur Morris’s “Yellow Men and Gold” is an account of treasure seeking in the South Pacific, P. C. Macfarlane’s “Sergeant McCarty and the Black Hand Red” describes police investigating a kidnapping among Italians, Walter J. Kingsley describes in a factual article (somewhat reminiscent of Kipling’s “The Man Who Would Be King”) being king of Botel-Tabago, William Le Queux’s “The Red Ring” is an espionage story, and Dr. John I. Cochrane’s “The Crook and the Doctor” is a crime adventure. Nevertheless, sharing the pages with these male-oriented stories are stories with titles such as “Can a Man Be True?” by Winifred Graham and “Carmelita Sofia McCann” by Clarice Vallette McCauley; the latter is blurbed as “A Soldier of Fortune in Petticoats.”

Finally, the introduction is the only concrete evidence of editorial presence in the magazine during White’s editorship. The issues of Adventure edited by White contain no editorials, no letter columns, and have only minimal notes at the beginning of each issue to indicate that the magazine was the brainchild of one man. The general mixture of stories — perfumed romances sitting next to the greasy accounts of Soldiers of Fortune and dusty westerns — is uneasy and incongruous. There is little to make a reader want to buy another issue except, perhaps, the desire to see how the serialized stories concluded.

This, however, is not to say that White was a failure or unsatisfactory as an editor, for such is not the case. Adventure had no personality, but the magazine itself is attractively laid out, and the covers are of good quality, as are the interior illustrations. White obviously spent time working with Adventure and was firmly in control of what went into the magazine and the way in which it was presented. It is equally obvious that White’s Adventure needed a spark to bring it to life, but White did not seem to know how to jolt his creation into movement.

Lifeless and confusing though his magazine was, White seems to have realized at an intuitive level that a story did not have to be set in an exotic location; an adventure could happen at home as easily as it could in the Far East, the Pacific Northwest, India, the Italian Renaissance, or deepest Africa. Thus, from the first, Adventure published stories set in contemporary America.

Moreover, White seems to have had an editorial policy that the stories be as “correct” as possible: escapism was fine, but it had to be historically, geographically, and socially accurate escapism.

The last issue of Adventure edited by Trumbull White was probably the one of January 1912. With White’s name nowhere in the pages, it is impossible to tell precisely when he left to take up the editorship of Everybody’s Magazine, and one source lists him as editor for Everybody’s Magazine in 1911. 16 It is of course possible that White was editor of both magazines simultaneously.

White served as Everybody’s Magazine’s editor until 1915, when he left to become vice president of Leo L. Redding & Co. He died in New York City in 1941, 17 having lived long enough to see Adventure described as the “No. 1 Pulp” in a celebration of its 25th anniversary. 18 In 1941 White’s son Kenneth was the editor of Adventure, efficiently carrying out the policies that his father had so quietly instituted 31 years earlier.


II

Trumbull White was essentially invisible as an editor. His editorial replacement was as invisible as a herd of African elephants at high noon and was tenacious, tendentious, contentious, and brilliant. This man was Arthur Sullivant Hoffman; and Adventure’s reputation as the finest of the pulps stems entirely from Hoffman’s editorial achievements. It is not possible for a magazine to be all things to all readers, but Adventure under Hoffman succeeded in satisfying very nearly everybody. Under Hoffman, Adventure’s sun never set.

Arthur Sullivant Hoffman was born in Columbus, Ohio, in 1876. He graduated from The Ohio State University a Phi Beta Kappa in 1897, taught high school in Coshocton, Ohio, and in 1902 and 1903 did graduate work in English at the University of Chicago without receiving a degree. He edited a weekly newspaper in Troy, Ohio, before entering magazine work; and from 1902 - 1911, he held editorial posts on the Chautauquan, The Smart Set, Watson’s Magazine, Transatlantic Tales, and the Delineator, working in New York City under editor Theodore Dreiser. 19 It is not known precisely when he became involved with Adventure, but in an editorial of 15 June 1927, Hoffman claims to have been with magazine “since it was born.” This may however be editorial overstatement.

Hoffman’s name appeared in Adventure for the first time in November 1911, at the bottom of an introduction that praised the magazine’s contents and briefly discussed the contributors to the magazine. The following issues also contained brief introductions by Hoffman, and in February 1912, his name was prominently displayed on the table-of-contents page, just beneath the magazine’s name: Arthur Sullivant / Hoffman / Managing Editor.

Despite the public acknowledgment of an editor, there was initially no other change in the magazine; Hoffman was presumably using the stories purchased by White and probably negotiating for greater editorial freedom. It is nevertheless a pleasant coincidence, and undoubtedly fortuitous for Hoffman, that the single most popular story ever to appear in Adventure, Talbot Mundy’s “The Soul of a Regiment,” was also first published in February 1912. In many respects the archetypal Adventure story, “The Soul of a Regiment” thrilled readers from its first appearance and was reprinted eight times during Adventure’s life; it was even separately published as a book in 1925. 20 (Mundy was also present in February 1912 with a story under the pseudonym “Walter Galt;” but this tale never achieved the fame of “The Soul of a Regiment.”)

“The Soul of a Regiment”’s popularity undoubtedly aided Hoffman in a drive for additional editorial freedom; and in June 1912 Hoffman introduced the department that rapidly became Adventure’s most popular and enduring feature, the letters-to-Adventure and editorial pages column called “The Camp-Fire.”

Subtitled “A Meeting Place for Readers, Writers and Adventurers,” “The Camp-Fire” was initially written by Hoffman and his good friend, the (then) would-be novelist Sinclair Lewis. Hoffman had employed Lewis while serving as editor for Transatlantic Tales in 1907, and had brought him to Adventure when he was appointed editor. Mark Schorer, Lewis’s biographer, says that:

Lewis and Hoffman shared the job of reading manuscripts, copy editing, correcting proofs, setting up dummies, and every other bit of routine that the publishing of a magazine involves, and the relationship between them was always amicable…
“[The Camp-Fire] is the one place in the world,” they announced in their issue of February 1913, “where every adventurer is welcome and where all who love adventure can gather to ask questions or to answer them, to talk over old times or plan new tilts with fate, to make new friends or once more to grasp the hands of old ones.” Here they published letters of reminiscence, plans for expeditions, inquiries about expeditions being planned. 21

Lewis left Adventure in August 1913, and, so far as is known, had no further professional dealings with either Hoffman or Adventure magazine. Despite winning the 1930 Nobel Prize for Literature, Lewis’s reputation as a novelist is currently low, but even his harshest critics admit that Lewis’s novels are thoroughly researched. It is also worthy of note that Lewis’s earliest works are accounts of travels, exactly the material that Hoffman and he were publishing, though without the action-centered plots. Thus, although none of Lewis’s biographers has commented upon the possibility, it seems probable that Adventure magazine and Hoffman, with his emphasis on accuracy and original research, may have played a part in Lewis’s intellectual development.

“The Camp-Fire” began as a letters column, but even in its earliest days, the letters were not merely laudatory comments, for Hoffman was a master at printing the portions of the letters that would arouse interest and create antagonism in the form of additional letters. The resulting discussions included tributes to and accounts of Jack London; the deaths of “Bully” Hayes, “Wild Bill” Hickock, George Armstrong Custer, and Billy the Kid; the rifles used by Buffalo Bill and Chief Sitting Bull; and the whereabouts of old plainsmen and scouts. Easily the most enduring debate was the one started by Talbot Mundy, on the character of Julius Caesar, in the issue of February 10 1925:

I have followed Caesar’s Commentaries as closely as possible in writing this story, but as Caesar, by his own showing, was a liar, a brute, a treacherous humbug and conceited ass, as well as the ablest military expert in the world at that time, and as there is plenty of information from ancient British, Welsh and Irish sources to refute much of what he writes, I have not been to much trouble to make him out a hero.
Rome rooted out and destroyed the Mysteries and gave us in their place no spiritual guidance, but a stark materialism, the justification of war, and a world-hero — Caius Julius Caesar, the epileptic liar, who, by his own confession, slew at least three million men and gave their women to be slaves or worse, solely to further his own ambition. Sic transit gloria romae! 22

What scholar could resist arguing with that?

At times, the readers’ responses showed a singular lack of imagination. T. S. Stribling, one of Adventure’s regular writers for many years and a noted social satirist, recounted his run-ins with the readers in his posthumously published autobiography:

These readers were scattered all over the earth. I have received corrections from the Fijis, from Ceylon, from Canada. In fact, I received corrections on any subject I ever attempted to write about. And they were not just corrections. They were bitter, acrid, devastating outpourings of despisal and sarcasm directed at any writer who made a mistake on a subject which they themselves knew so well.
I recall a letter from a maker of motorboats. I had written about a hero in a motorboat. I had made a mistake in my motorboat. I had it geared up apparently so that it would have run backward if it had run at all. Just a trifle wrong, but you would have thought from the letter that this manufacturer of motorboats wrote to me that I had stolen his wife…
One story I determined that nobody should criticize for incorrect facts was “The Web of the Sun.” I avoided my usual pit by using no facts. I made up every detail from start to finish. To back up such preposterous invention, I invented excerpts from encyclopedias, scientific works, and quotations from great scientists giving details of the matter I set forth. This story came out in Adventure [January 30, 1922], and I received scores of letters from the readers asking me where they could find the exact articles I quoted and the names and addresses of the great scientists; they wanted to learn more about the actual background of my amazing happenings. Such is the sad result of the factual mind. Such persons can’t even read a good ghost story without wanting to call in the American Psychical Research Society. 23

In addition to providing reader-writer debates of the sort that sell magazines, “The Camp-Fire” became an impartial disseminator of information. As Schorer points out, Hoffman (and Lewis) realized early that the magazine could function as the nexus for hordes of explorers and adventurers. Hoffman printed scores of letters like the following from Byron M. Ehler, which appeared in April 1915:

I found these letters —K.V.K.X— on the chest of an ex-cavalry lieutenant who was shot by Madero last January (1914). He went by the name of Bert Williams. He was fully 6 ft. 3 in. tall, light-brown hair, almost a sunburned black, and a .45 hole through both cheeks. Have you had any inquiries for such a man? If so, he is buried together with about fifty others in a trench two miles from Torreon, Mexico.

Nor was “The Camp-Fire” the only place in Adventure that provided impartial, unsolicited information. On occasion, the interior of the front cover would be utilized to publicize a discovery. The issue of January 1916, for example, publishes a photograph “taken by C. K. McBride about May 15, 1913, in the bush near Mile 98, Canada, in the hope that it might lead to the identification of the lone white man whom he found dead on the trail and buried there — evidently a victim of exposure or starvation.” In March 1916, Hoffman announced in “The Camp-Fire” that the body had been identified and that next-of-kin were being notified, though the corpse’s identity was tactfully withheld.

Finally, it became a tradition that new writers and readers would provide a biographical sketch about them-selves. “The Camp-Fire” is thus a major (largely untapped) source of biography, often revealing that Adventure’s readership included some notable and fascinating figures. Colonel James Morris Morgan revealed that he was a reader in the issue of 30 April 1924:

I was born in New Orleans - in 1845 and was a midshipman on board of the historical frigate Constitution when the Civil War commenced in 1861. I resigned and entered the Confederate Navy. Was the midshipman aid of Commodore Hollins commanding the Confederate flotilla on the Mississippi. His flagship, the McRae, was sunk when Admiral Farragut captured New Orleans. I afterward served at Richmond and Charleston, S.C., and in October, 1862, ran the blockade out of that port and joined the Confederate cruiser Georgia engaged in destroying commerce on the high seas. Returning to the Confederacy in July, 1864, I ran the blockade into Wilmington, N.C., and served in the naval batteries on the James River below Richmond until the end came.
I am the only survivor of those who accompanied Mrs. Jefferson Davis south when Richmond was captured - in fact, Col. Harrison, Mr. Davis’s private secretary, and myself were the only men in the party.
I am the only survivor of the American officers who accompanied General Charles P. Stone, U.S.A., to Egypt in 1869 and entered the Khedive’s army.
In 1880 I accompanied the famous Governor Shepherd, popularly called the “Boss” of the District of Columbia, to Mexico in search of a silver mine. I was in charge of the conductas of silver, taking it to either Mazatlan on the Pacific coast or to the city of Chihuahua for shipment to the United States.
In 1883 I was engaged with my old Egyptian commander General Stone, who was the chief engineer in the erection of the “Statue of Liberty” in New York harbor. I am the only one of his assistants left.
In 1885 Mr. Cleveland appointed me Consul General to Australasia with headquarters in Melbourne.
Since 1889 I have resided in Washington, D.C. I am the author of “The Recollections of a Rebel Reefer,” published by Houghton Mifflin Company and which for a five-dollar book has met with quite a large sale, having gone through the first edition and is still selling.

Fascinating though these accounts are, they are also data that should be approached with caution, for writers did not hesitate to embellish their lives. The most notable fabrications in “The Camp-Fire” are probably those of Talbot Mundy. In an autobiographical statement of approximately 5000 words published in “The Camp-Fire” of 1 April 1919, Mundy claimed to have gone to India as a foreign correspondent and to Africa to fight in the Boer War; he describes himself as an explorer, hunter, and herder who, when badly wounded, recovered upon learning that his grave was being dug and that he was expected to occupy it:

A marauding band of Masai tackled me not far from Shirati and drove off the whole lot [of cattle]. Naturally I resented it and, in the process of doing so, I received a spear-wound in my right leg. Kazi Moto killed my assailant with the butt end of a gun and then proceeded to suck my wound. He said he was sucking out poison and that he wasn’t sure that he had got it all out. I didn’t believe him, but he called up six other of my men, and among them they threw me on the ground and cauterized the wound thoroughly with firebrands. During the proceeding I bit Kazi Moto, who was sitting on my head, rather severely, but he never bore any malice about it.
The cattle being my only visible wealth and the cattle being all gone, all my men except Kazi Moto ran away, taking their loads with them in lieu of wages; and Kazi Moto and I set out to reach Muanza, a place nearly two hundred miles away, where the nearest doctor was. By the time I reached there I was naturally about all in, although, but for the fact that it was full of insects, my wound was not so bad as might have been expected.
The Germans were not at all pleased to see me, but, as I had developed black-water fever, they gave me a place to go away and die in. It was a dark and very dirty shed with a grass roof, which, besides me and Kazi Moto, had to shelter nearly all the rats in East Africa. Kazi Moto used to go out every day and steal things for me to eat, and once a day the doctor would come, look at me, give me a bottle of physic, grunt and go out again.
One morning he brought a sergeant with him and I heard him say to the sergeant, “All right…he’ll be dead by this afternoon…you’d better send the chain-gang over to the burial-ground and get his grave dug, then we can get him out of the way before dark.”
He didn’t come in that morning, but just looked at me through the door; what he said to the sergeant, though, did me more good than all his physic. Up to that time I had not particularly wanted to get well; I had neither money nor prospects and was feeling much too ill to care, and I haven’t the least doubt that if he had said nothing I would have died either that day or the day following. But I hated the man so, and was so utterly disgusted with his treatment of me, that I made up my mind to disappoint him, and from that minute I began to get better. When the chain-gang came with a sack to tie me up in I was sitting up with aid of Kazi Moto. Two days later I leaned on Kazi Moto’s shoulder and walked out to have a look at the grave; I was so weak that I very nearly tumbled into it.

In reality, Mundy had led quite a different life. As Peter Berresford Ellis’s researches have shown, the young Mundy (born William Lancaster Gribben) was an unsavory character, with extensive experience as a swindler and a con-artist. Mundy was born into a well-to-do English family and, following his father’s death, became its proverbial Black Sheep, losing his scholarship to Rugby in his late teens before running off to the continent and, later, India and Africa. He was named as corespondent in at least one divorce, became so promiscuous with the African women that the natives had a special and uncomplimentary nickname for him, and was arrested and deported from a number of African towns. Upon his arrival in America, Mundy was badly beaten by some gamblers. He reformed while in the hospital, and spent the rest of his life writing successful fiction, reinventing his past in the pages of “The Camp-Fire.” 24

More recently, the biography of Gil Paust in the issue of October 1964 stated that he was born in Arizona. He was not, but at the time he submitted his work to Adventure he and his wife were vacationing in Arizona, and he thought it would be nice to be from such a beautiful state. 25

There is no question but that Hoffman took “The Camp-Fire” seriously, and the “Meeting Place for Readers, Writers and Adventurers” soon added a few paragraphs of explanation, for a new reader might find the debates and discussions utterly meaningless. The following is from the issue of August 20 1925:

Our Camp-Fire came into being May 5, 1912, with our June issue, and since then the fire has never died down. Many have gathered about it and they are of all classes and degrees, high and low, rich and poor, adventurers and stay-at-homes, and from all parts of the earth. Some whose voices we used to know have taken the Long Trail and are heard no more, but they are still memories among us, and new voices are heard, and welcomed.
We are drawn together by a common liking for the strong, clean things of out-of-doors, for word from the earth’s far places, for man in action instead of caged by circumstance.
But something besides a common interest holds us together. Somehow a real comradeship has grown up among us. Men can not thus meet and talk together without growing into friendlier relations; many a time does one of us come to the rest for facts and guidance; many a close personal friendship has our Camp-Fire built up between two men who had never met; often it has proved an open sesame between strangers in a far land.
Perhaps our Camp-Fire is even a little more. Perhaps it is a bit of heaven working gently among those of different station toward the fuller and more human under standing and sympathy that will some day bring to man the real democracy and brotherhood he seeks. Few indeed are the agencies that bring together on a friendly footing so any and such great extremes as here. And we are numbered by the hundred thousand now.
If you are come to our Camp-Fire for the first time and find you like the things we like, join us and find yourself very welcome. There is no obligation except ordinary manliness, no forms or ceremonies, no dues, no officers, no anything except men and women gathered for interest and friendliness. Your desire to join makes you a member.

In early 1913, Hoffman introduced into “The Camp-Fire” two popular columns, both of which continued to establish Adventure as more than merely a magazine. The first of these columns was “Lost Trails,” a department whose purpose was to help re-unite readers with lost family and friends. Hoffman printed thousands of inquiries from people wishing to reestablish friend- ships, nor was he adverse to publicizing the department of “Lost Trails” by printing the letters from people whose searches had been successful. The following is from the May 1914 issue and is by Joseph R. Brandamour of Plattsburg, New York.

I have located Thomas J. Kelly, whom I had you place a notice in your Lost Trails dept. of Adventure Magazine [sic] for. And I can’t speak too much in praise for Adventure in helping me out the way it did. After I looked for Kelly for three years Adventure found him the second month they printed my notice, which I think is doing fine. I got one answer from Exeter, Cal., and another from Oakland, Cal., and my third from Kelly himself in New York City.

The second column was called “Wanted—Men and Adventurers,” and is best described as a combination of the “Help Wanted” and “Help Needed” pages in a news- paper. In brief, anybody who was looking for excitement could anonymously advertise his qualifications in the pages of Adventure and receive letters or inquiries through the offices of the magazine. The following example from “Address No. W. 96” in the issue of October 1913 may seem an exaggeration, but it is typical of the advertisements that appeared in “Wanted—Men and Adventurers.”

Have traveled all over the world from 60 degrees South Lat. to 50 degrees North Lat. and taken in all ports and places near the water. Started out at 13 years. Served at 14 under British Government on Nile expedition; after that went to sea again; served as a gunner on Brazilian Warship Aquidaban during revolution under Admiral Mello; during China-Japan War was laying mines in Chinese harbors. After that in Chinese customhouse service. Next instructor in seamanship to cadets at Annapolis Academy under Lieut. Benson. In several expeditions along the Central American coasts. Served 4 years in U.S. Navy as petty officer with Admiral Dewey at Manila Bay and all engagements also up in North China during Boxer trouble. Held rank as lieutenant and commander in two small navies; also an officer in U.S. army transports. Later a special agent for a foreign government: I know where all the principal forts are in the world; have boarded all the largest warships in the world. Hold a master’s license for ocean steamers, U.S. Am 42 years of age, quick and active. Looking for employment where there is some life. Will give advice to any one on places where I have been.

Also in 1913, Hoffman developed and introduced the concept of identification cards for Adventure’s readers. If the bearer were killed or incapacitated, and if he were carrying Adventure’s identification, the magazine’s offices would assume the responsibility for notifying the next-of-kin. Hoffman first introduced the idea in the issue of April 1913:

This little idea we have been working on is a very simple one. But after you’ve turned it over in your mind a while you’ll begin to realize that it has some very real advantages. It’s like a gun in Texas— maybe you’re not likely to need it often, but when you do, you need it most awfully — bad.
Briefly, this is it: A species of identification-card, good all over the world in case of real emergency. But your name does not appear on it any where… But how identify without a name? Use a serial number. The durable little cards will each be printed in as many of the following languages as it will hold, say six or eight: English, French, German, Spanish, Arabic, Russian, Chinese, Hebrew, Portuguese, Japanese, etc. Its brief message, in each of these languages, will be about as follows: “In case of death or serious emergency to bearer, address serial number of this card, care Adventure, New York, U.S.A., stating full particulars, and friends will be notified.”
In our office, under each serial number will be registered the name of bearer and of one friend, with permanent address of each. Letters will be forwarded unopened by us. The names and addresses filed under each serial number will be treated as confidential. We assume no other responsibility; nothing else is needed.

The idea of anonymous identification proved immediately popular, probably because many of Adventure’s readers were apparently compulsive travelers, with a good percentage of these apparently being soldiers of fortune, involved in insurrections wherever there was one to be had. Hoffman published a picture of the card in the issue of August 1913, and by November 1913 he was railing at the people who were incapable of obeying the simple procedures for obtaining a card:

I would give almost anything if I could invent a way to make all applicants for identification-cards comply with the very simple and easy conditions. Why not give us the name and address of the person to be notified in case of trouble? What earthly use could the card be in an emergency if we have the name of no one to notify? We could, of course, notify the man himself that he was in trouble, or address a few lines of sympathy to his corpse, but he might just as well write to his own corpse in advance.
Oh, yes, I’m sore!

The bearers of these cards frequently knew each other, and from their friendships was born The Adventurers Club of New York. At first informal and later more established, it permitted people with adventurous pasts the opportunity to have dinner and swap stories with each other. 26

“The Camp-Fire” discussions frequently contained questions and answers, but until the issue of February 1917, Hoffman made no attempts at dealing with the questions on any regular basis. However, in the February 1917 issue, “The Camp-Fire” was expanded to include “Ask Adventure,” a column that proved immediately popular.

The premise of “Ask Adventure” was simple: if a reader had a question, he need only send his question to Adventure and receive a personal response, a letter providing names, addresses, brand-names, biological facts, anthropological data — in brief, any and all information relevant to the answering of the question. Furthermore, these were serious, considered responses by people acknowledged internationally as the experts in their fields. Starting at first with only seven, the people serving on Adventure’s panel of experts grew to well over 100 by the time the magazine celebrated its 25th anniversary in 1935. For each question answered, they were paid 50 cents, and it is unfortunate that 1934 is the only year for which data exist on the number of questions answered: in that year, they answered 3380 letters. And that was when the magazine’s circulation was down to a mere 100,000 due to the Great Depression. At its prime under Hoffman, Adventure had a circulation of over 300,000. 27

T. S. Stribling wrote of his visits to Adventure’s offices in his autobiography, and his account of the “Ask Adventure” experts at work is amusing, informative, and typically sardonic:

They would argue bitterly and learnedly about any outdoor topic under the sun: guns, bowie knives, Mayan hieroglyphics, Pennsylvania pepper pots, the difference between Kamchatkan and Alaskan seals, the diet of hippopotami, and the dentition of the Solomon Islanders. It was an organization of experts to tack down
with precise figures and facts the wildest fancies of the maddest scribblers. Among all their contributors, I was the only butterfly unimpaled on the pin of their statistics. I fluttered about in an ecstasy of the incredible, dabbling often into the impossible under my own personal byline, “Off the Trail.” How far off, even the Adventure experts could not approximate.
The Adventure boys were regional. One reader would know all about Mexico and Central America. Another would be an authority on digestive disturbances in extinct Siberian mammoths. Yet another would know all the rifles in the world, their makes, bores, ranges, uses, velocities, trajectories, and so on. But the trouble with the Adventure boys was that although they were cast regionally, they would not stay regional. All of them would slop over into the other Adventure boys’ territory, and that was the basis of the terrific and bitter arguments that rent the air of the Adventure office.
Arthur Hoffman was cast as arbitrator or referee or
umpire in the general melee, but he, too, would get out of character. He would enter as an active belligerent, first on one side, and then on another. For years, it was my unexpressed opinion that the expert on whose side Arthur was not, counted himself winner. 28

“Ask Adventure” was established during the first World War. Two short years earlier, in 1915, Hoffman and his friends established the one department that has outlived its incubator. This department is the American Legion, hatched in the offices of Adventure magazine by Hoffman and his friends, were concerned about the United States’ role in World War I, then being fought. In the issue of November 1915, the purpose of the American Legion was given as follows:

The Legion believes in making instantly available to our country, in case of war, all men who already have military or technical training valuable in modern warfare by land or sea. Members of the Legion enroll themselves in advance for this purpose to be used as the Government (not they themselves) may see fit, according to their qualifications.

Like so many of Adventure’s departments, the idea of the American Legion proved popular. The February 1960 issue of Adventure reprints the late George Sutton’s account of the founding of the American Legion; and what Sutton says is important enough to bear quoting at length:

The next time you are marching in an American Legion parade, ask the man next to you the following question: “When, where, and by whom was the American Legion founded?” He will probably reply, “I dunno.” If he knows anything about it at all he will say, “It was organized in 1919 in Paris by Teddy Roosevelt, Jr., Dick Derby, Chuck Kerwood, and a few other veterans of World War I.”
Then you say to him, “No. The Legion was born in the office of Adventure Magazine [sic] in 1915 and was incorporated March 6 of that year.[”]
As one who took an active part in the beginnings of the Legion, I can recite the following facts, fully documented, which are practically unknown today.
The American Legion was the brainchild of a wandering adventurer named Stephen Allan Reynolds, an erstwhile contributor of stories to Adventure Magazine [sic], and a member of the Adventurers Club of New York, a still flourishing body organized in 1909 by Arthur Sullivant Hoffman, former editor of Adventure.
In 1915, the entire country was disturbed by our lack of preparedness for war, in spite of the fact that the European conflict was waging hotly, the German submaries [sic] were sinking our merchant ships and German spies were everywhere. It seemed inevitable that we would be drawn into the hostilities, and yet our military and naval equipment was at a point approaching zero. And Mr. Wilson was telling the world that we were too proud to fight.
As usual, the American public was thinking way ahead of the Government. In New York we had a huge preparedness parade, and J. Stuart Blockton, head of the Vitagraph Company, produced a film called America Prepare which whipped up public opinion from coast to coast.
At the Adventurers Club we tossed out several members who made speeches that we considered disloyal. One of them was Sinclair Lewis.
In those days the Government did not keep a record of a man after his term of enlistment in the armed services was up. Steve Reynolds was aware of the potential of these people in the event that the United States went to war.
He took his idea to Art Hoffman, who sparked to it at once. Arthur submitted it to Major General Leonard Wood, then in command of our East Coast Army area, with headquarters at Governor’s Island in New York Harbor.
General Wood was an active member of the Adventurers Club, and one of the country’s most vigorous spokesmen for the immediate strengthening of our military resources. He saw the value of Steve Reynold’s idea, and was instrumental in getting together a group of members to work out details. Young Teddy, as every one called him, belonged to this committee.
They realized that the war in which they felt we were soon to be embroiled, would be a mechanized one that would need thousands of men with mechanical skills, as well as veterans with military experience. He was aware, too, of the important part to be played by doctors and nurses.
As treasurer of the Adventurers Club, and a contributor of lusty fiction tales to Adventure Magazine [sic], I was right in the middle of the hectic doings which ensued.
At the next meeting of the club a plan was submitted and adopted - and so the American Legion was born.
Offices were set up at 10 Bridges Street, New York City…
The directors and officers were: President, Alexander M. White, Vice Presidents, E. Ormonde Power, Julien T. Davies, Jr., Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., Arthur S. Hoffman, Secretary, Dr. John E. Hausmann, Treasurer, Henry Rogers Winthrop.
The executive council, which actually worked on the project, consisted of Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft, former United States President[s], and Elihu Root former Secretary of State, Jacob M. Dickenson, Henry L. Stinson and Luke E. Wright, former Secretaries of War, and George von L. Meyer, Truman H. Newberry and Charles J. Bonaparte, former secretaries of the Navy.
Control of the Legion was vested in an advisory membership of three hundred…
On April 6, 1917, when war was declared, the Legion’s work was done. We had secured 23,000 members, and their pledge cards, neatly cross-indexed, were sent to the War Department where they gathered dust for six months, until suddenly the Army needed more mechanics.
The cards were dug out and, from the information listed, it was possible to recruit two top regiments of aviation mechanics.
In February, 1919, young Teddy, Dick Derby and a number of others at a meeting in Paris, proposed the organization of our veterans of World War I…
If asked for an opinion, I would go on record as saying our humble organization was the pappy of the great Legion of today. If pressed, I would even claim our paternity of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the other important veterans’ groups. And I would certainly name Adventure Magazine [sic] as the grandpappy of all of them.

In addition to using the editorial pages to drum up support for the American Legion, Hoffman printed speeches by Theodore Roosevelt and began publishing two anti-German columns, “Fighting the Hun Web” and “How to Help Win the War,” starting them in the issue of October 1 1918. The letters in “The Camp-Fire” also became anti-German, and Hapsburg Liebe came under fire because of his name, from a reader who did not know that Liebe was really Charles Haven Liebe, born and raised in Tennessee. Liebe’s response corrected the contentious reader, but anti-German feelings still ran high. It is fortunate that the First World War ended when it did, for the letters are an uncomfortably racist portion of Adventure’s history.

“The Camp-Fire” and “Ask Adventure” were the two most important columns started by Hoffman, but by the issue of January 1920, they were but two of many. At this time, every issue of Adventure contained a listing of names and addresses called “Various Practical Services Free to Any Reader.” A reader with questions about or interests in any type of propulsive weapon could read “Firearms, Past and Present,” while those who enjoyed hiking and fishing could revel in “Fishing in North America” and learn of the best fishing holes and equipment.

In 1922 readers could learn which radio programs to listen to for the best in adventure stories, and the magazine not only gave the ancestry of folk and military songs in the column “Old Songs that Men have Sung,” it had expanded “Firearms, Past and Present” into “Weapons, Past and Present” to deal with inquiries about the histories and merits of edged and unusual weapons. Readers could buy the equipment recommended by Adventure’s experts for a forthcoming trip; the column “Mountains and Mountaineering” would tell them which mountains were the best for hunting, which for climbing, and which for relaxing; and if they should happen to find anything interesting during their trip, the column “Our Assaying and Oil Services” would provide the answers to their inquiries about its possible value.

In 1919, Hoffman suggested that readers establish places to meet with like-minded readers. His idea was taken up enthusiastically, and in 1920 there were 27 such places across the continental United States; they were called “Camp-Fire Stations.” Within the next five years there were hundreds of Camp-Fire Stations, one in practically every country of the world. The members of the Camp-Fire Stations wore Camp-Fire buttons to recognize one-another, and in 1924, a reader from the Canal Zone wrote that he thought that every fifth man down there was wearing the Camp-Fire button.

By 1924 Adventure was without question the most important “pulp” magazine in the world. Three issues were being published per month, and its circulation was numbered in the hundreds of thousands. 29 Hoffman could afford to hire the best artists to do its covers, which he did, and he could afford to pay the best action writers to work for him, which he also did. Naturally, this reputation as the best magazine for men had its occasional drawbacks, for there are always challengers. In 1919 The Thrill Book, a Street and Smith publication, attempted to copy Adventure’s content and layout, and its column “Cross-Trails” is virtually identical in design to “The Camp-Fire.” Nor was Adventure immune from attack from abroad; on June 14, 1923, an English court refused to grant the Ridgway Company’s request for an injunction against the London publishing house of Hutchinson. Hutchinson was publishing Hutchinson’s Adventure-Story Magazine, which the Ridgway Company saw as an obvious attempt at copying their product. The judge disagreed, saying that nobody had a monopoly on the word adventure. 30

Whether or not one sympathizes with the editors of The Thrill Book or agrees with the Justice is irrelevant, for Adventure maintained its rule. The Thrill Book never emerged from 1919 and lasted but sixteen issues, and Hutchinson’s Adventure-Story Magazine was extinct before 1930. (Though one would not expect the two magazines to share any contents, Mike Ashley notes that Sewell Peaslee Wright’s “Interference,” published in February 1928 in what had become Hutchinson’s Adventure Mystery Story Magazine, was reprinted in the Adventure of 15 May 1930.) 31

Thus far I have refrained from discussing Hoffman’s personality, which permeates the magazine, but something must be said about Hoffman’s editorial ability as well as the stories he chose. This is a difficult task, for although a clear statement of Hoffman’s editorial requirements from 1921 survives, and is reproduced below, the statement seems to be an abstraction, an ideal rather than the reality that was Adventure. It remains nevertheless unpleasant reading, redolent of the racism and xenophobia of the 1920s:

As Adventure readers include the cultured and critical as well as those of simple tastes, we seek the kind of workmanship that will stand the difficult test of meeting the approval of both groups. But in selecting our fiction it always seems to us that only part of the story is effective that reaches the reader’s mind and the highest literary attainment is likely to go hand in hand with simplicity and clearness.
We regard it as vitally important that the illusion should be kept up. We want the reader to leave his own world and to live entirely in the world of the story. For this reason we dislike too pronounced mannerisms of style, too unusual names for characters, misstatements in local color, improbability in plot details. We also wish that the author would avoid the obtrusion of his own personality into the story, too much surface cleverness, the specific call upon the reader to philosophize (thus making him think, rather than keeping him in the receptive mood), a too cynical or sophisticated attitude on the author’s part. In general the two points - clearness and keeping the illusion - are probably those which we emphasize most particularly. We had in addition certain types of story that we try to avoid: — those that involve international or political questions; we dislike stories of opium smuggling; stories in which all of the main characters are “natives”; stories which feature intermarriage. Generally speaking, we do not care much for a villain in the rôle of central character; nor for much high society atmosphere; millionaire circles; prisons; slums; lost wills; psychopathic cases; gangsters. Of course exceptions to all of the above sometimes force themselves upon us by sheer merit.
We do not insist upon the accepted idea of the “happy ending” but we prefer stories that uplift rather than depress. We consider only the net effect of the story on the reader for the man or woman who is reading a magazine, is doing so, primarily with the idea of enjoying or relaxing, not to be made uncomfortable or unhappy. However, a story to sell to Adventure need not be artificially shaped. We are looking for stories that will please our readers and the range of selection is wide indeed. 32

Furthermore, although the contents of the magazine could be buoyant, exuberantly accepting and celebrating the cultures of other peoples, Hoffman’s editorials can be at times downright painful to modern sensibilities. In the issue of 30 April 1924, Hoffman railed against the public officials who were permitting a Jewish woman, Esther Kaplan, from being deported from the United States, concluding his editorial with the following:

The incident is a small and petty one, but it is significant of the things that will inevitably dry-rot this country to her ruin unless checked by a tremendous effort. Unfortunately there isn’t only one Honorable Samuel Dickstein in public office, exhibiting just such examples of sacrificing the public weal for individual or racial ends. The name may be Irish, German, English, Italian, Scandinavian, anything. The breed is not limited to any race or creed. And we let them get away with it. It’s time we began not letting them get away with it.
Such immigration restriction as we have is constantly being made ineffective by those with some interests of their own at stake, too often by those in public office. There is no really effective remedy save one - stop all immigration.

Perhaps the simplest conclusion about Hoffman is a cliché: he was a man of his times, embodying and exemplifying the best and worst aspects of his culture. He was an able businessman and editor, literate, capable of acts of great patriotism and generosity, yet also sexist, xenophobic, and racist, unwilling to recognize the worthiness of “natives” as leading characters or to accept that intermarriage did not spell the doom of humanity or lead to unworthy fiction.

At its best, the fiction published under Hoffman tended to ignore his restrictions or to treat them as a framework to be built upon rather than as bars to restrict. Like John W. Campell of Astounding or Joseph Shaw of Black Mask, Hoffman was able to create and maintain a “stable” of writers. Perhaps the best way to approach a discussion of these writers is to start with a discussion of Adventure’s most famous story, Talbot Mundy’s previously mentioned “The Soul of a Regiment.”

“The Soul of a Regiment” is the tale of Billy Grogram, an ordinary man who nevertheless exemplifies the best of the English tradition in his dogged perseverance and innate honor. Grogram is a Sergeant-Instructor in the First Egyptian Foot, a British Regiment stationed in Egypt. He drills his native soldiers into a fighting regiment, teaching them to march and dance; and his troops come to respect and love him. Grogram goes with his troops into battle against the fearsome Mahdi and none return, though there are rumors that a few have survived. Years pass and Grogram is forgotten, though stories of a mad dancer beaten and tortured by Arabs occasionally filter back to the British, who do not have time to investigate them. At the height of the holiday festivities, a ragged, battered scarecrow of a man (and four others, musicians) appears in front of the Army: they are all that survive of the First Egyptian Foot. Grogram presents the regimental colors, which he has preserved by wearing them around his body, and dies at the feet of the Sirdar. His tombstone reads HERE LIES A MAN.

This tale, still moving despite slightly racist touches in the depiction of the native Blacks, is perhaps the archetypal Adventure story in its depiction of loyalty to an ideal. An underlying assumption is the belief that differences can and will be settled not by negotiations but by violence, and this violence will allow men to demonstrate an innate heroism; women and children are only peripherally involved in the story, and they are considered helpless and as objects to be cared for by men; the action is essential to the plot and is not thrown in to pad the story; the characterization of the protagonist/hero is completely acceptable, and although the characterization does not allow immediate reader identification, it does allow readers the opportunity to become curious as to Grogram’s fate; and the story itself is set in an entirely convincing foreign locale and demonstrates the essential superiority of the European/Anglo-Saxon culture. This last is not meant as an attack on Mundy, who was anything but a bigot and wrote angrily against abuses of power; but those themes are present in “The Soul of a Regiment,” and denying them will not make them go away.

Mundy became Adventure’s most famous writer. A new story by him would always be featured on the cover; and Mundy soon had a national reputation. He wrote knowingly of India and Africa, although his last cycle of magazine stories was set in Ancient Rome. The best of Mundy’s works offered the reader authentic pictures of exotic locations, believable and sympathetically described native characters, and psychological as well as physical action. There are frequently tinges of Eastern mysticism, for the reformed Mundy was a practicing Theosophist, and there are even women in his stories, some of them richer and better educated than the men, but the men in the stories do not marry them and settle down. Bachelors can have adventures; married men rarely do.

In addition to whatever Mundy submitted, the contents of a typical Hoffman-edited Adventure might include one of Henry Christopher Bailey’s action/mysteries. Another English writer, Bill Adams, came from a nautical background, and his stories, essays, and poems about the sea and sailors were phenomenally popular with Adventure’s readers. H. Bedford-Jones wrote westerns and general action stories, as did the Irish writer F. R. Buckley, who also contributed historical adventures, including tales of intrigue in the Italian Renaissance. Harold Lamb — who would be given a Guggenheim award in 1929 and a medal by the Persian government in 1932 — also wrote historical adventures, but his tales involved the crusades, the Far East, and pre-modern Europe. The Northwest was the province of Robert and Katharine Pinkerton, a husband-and-wife writing team, and little-known facets of American history belonged to Maine writer Hugh Pendexter, whose adventure tales were often accompanied by extensive reading lists of the books that were used in writing the story. Stories of life in the Near East were told by George Edmund Holt, who wrote from the authority of having been the American Vice and Deputy Consul General in Morocco, and the explorer and adventurer Arthur Friel wrote of the steaming jungles of Central and South America and of the people and animals that inhabited them. Berton Braley contributed poems about the manly life, and Leonard Nason provided authentic accounts of army life. Thomas Samson Miller explained the curious (to the Western view) customs of native African culture, rubbing shoulders with the full-blooded Zulu Santie Sabalala, whose accounts of life in Africa were absolutely authentic. Rafael Sabatini wrote of Captain Blood; F. St. Mars wrote about animals; W. C. Tuttle wrote slapstick accounts of cow-pokes; and T. S. Stribling poked his stick at the cage of humanity and, as seen, cheerfully violated all of Hoffman’s mandates for factual accuracy.

Adventure published much that was excellent, but it must also be remembered that Hoffman had to fill at least one and sometimes as many as three issues per month. Naturally, there was only so much first class work around, and on occasion the fiction was merely routinely commercial. It must be admitted, too, Hoffman published his share of crudely written tales, sometimes with an unpleasant tinge of racism in them. Such is the case with William Hope Hodgson’s novella, “Jack Grey, Second Mate,” from the issue of July 1917. Describing the hands of the Carlyle, Hodgson writes:

The fore-hands of the big steel bark Carlyle were a new lot who had been signed on in Frisco, in place of the outward-bound crew of Scotch and Welsh sailormen, who had deserted on account of the high pay ruling in Frisco. The present crowd was composed chiefly of “Dutchmen,” and in each watch, consisting of eight men and a boy, there were only two Americans, one Englishman and a German. The remainder were dagoes and mixed breeds.

This story, which ranks among Hodgson’s worst, is perfectly typical of the fillers used by Hoffman, but it is important to remember that Hodgson was writing, and Hoffman was publishing, before the United States developed more than a rudimentary social conscience. Although the above example is taken from the pulp pages of Adventure, the same attitude is also found in most of the early twentieth -century periodicals, books, and newspapers. Furthermore, while some of its elements are racist, “Jack Grey, Second Mate” is an action/adventure story about mutineers, not a racist diatribe.

It should also be remembered that Hoffman was among the first editors, if not actually the first, to publish tales in which blacks were more than merely ignorant savages. In addition to the work of Santie Sabalala, T. S. Stribling’s work questioned Americans’ racial attitudes and, in at least one instance, had a black as its protagonist; and the works of Mundy and numerous other authors were very sympathetic towards non-western people and cultures. Hoffman seems never to have chosen a story in which the racist material was the foremost element; accurate action and adventure were what mattered to him. This attitude towards race relations differed substantially from that of other editors in other pulp magazines; The Black Mask, for example, in 1923 published a Ku Klux Klan issue containing material that tacitly supported and encouraged the group. 33

Like any good editor, Hoffman was always searching for fresh talent, and he knew how to encourage new writers. Fairfax Downey remembers Hoffman as being “the sort of editor in whom young writers rejoice — kindly, encouraging.” 34 Leslie McFarlane, who had but seven stories in Adventure, recounts his first encounter with Hoffman in his autobiography:

The victim [of the story],of course, would have to be deserving of such a fate [having a load of molten slag dumped on him], so I worked out a fiction about a scamp who was making a clean getaway from pursuing lawmen when he mistook the slag dump for a railway embankment and the slag train for a way freight, thereby meeting a fiery comeuppance for his sins. This grisly tale of retribution was despatched to the editor of Adventure.
The story had the same homing instinct as its predecessors. It came back. But instead of carrying a rejection slip, it returned with a letter and a long page of comments from Editor [sic] Arthur Sullivant Hoffman. The letter allowed that I had some detectable ability as a wordsmith and suggested that Mr. Hoffman would be willing to look at an other story. This cheered me immensely.
The page of comments, how ever, dissected the yarn paragraph by paragraph, even line by line in some passages. Although the story was short, Mr. Hoffman gave it a thorough going over. In one page he managed to compress the essence of an entire course in the writing of commercial fiction. The burden of his complaint was that I knew practically nothing about the business of telling a story. This depressed me so deeply that it seemed there was no other course but to go out and take a walk. A long one, straight into the lake. Although after I read the letter over a few times, I realized that this was advice with a value beyond rubies. Mr. Hoffman was a man who knew, an editor moreover who wasn’t above taking time out to give a hand to a beginner who needed help. What he had done, simply, was to save this beginner about two years of trial and error. 35

In the spirit of try and try again, McFarlane submitted another story to Adventure:

I titled it “The River Trail,” and mailed it to Adventure and awaited the congratulations of Mr. Hoffman. I could imagine the comments already. “A new voice in adventure fiction”…“brings the Canadian Northland alive”…“stirring tale of rivalry among the Northern fur traders”…“gripping”… “better than Jack London.”
The story came back in a week. This time Mr. Hoffman’s paragraph-by-paragraph, line-by-line critique went on for two pages, and it amounted to another lesson in the writing of popular fiction. 36

McFarlane’s rewritten story finally met Hoffman’s approval and McFarlane got $300.00 for his efforts, upon acceptance. “The River Trail” appeared in the issue for March 20 1925. It is perhaps worth mentioning that had McFarlane sold a story of comparable length to the newly founded Weird Tales, he would have been fortunate to have received $30.00 upon publication and threat of lawsuit. 37

Figures are unavailable, but numerous books reprinted the stories that had first appeared in the Hoffman-edited Adventure magazine, including a sizable number of titles by such authors as Thomas Addison, Berton Braley, Arthur O. Friel, H. Bedford-Jones, Harold Lamb, Talbot Mundy, Leonard Nason, Hugh Pendexter, R. T. M. Scott, and W. C. Tuttle. Nevertheless, only one anthology was directly derived from Adventure, a Hoffman-edited anthology of eighteen stories that appeared in 1926. 38 Adventure’s Best Stories - 1926 received mixed reviews. The reviewer for the Literary Review praised the book, writing “there is not a poor yarn in the lot and there are a few that are worth the price of the whole book several times over.” 39 On the other hand, the reviewer for The Saturday Review of Literature dismissed the collection:

Examination has not yet shown any blood circulating in these tales, despite all that is spilled on the ground. The figures are cut out of tin according to standard patterns, and coated with a bright-colored and factitious sheen of adventure. 40

The collection does not appear to have sold poorly, but no additional Hoffman-edited anthologies of Adventure stories were forthcoming.

In the majority of cases, the books derived from Adventure’s pages received favorable notices; and on some occasions they received reviews of such enthusiasm that one wonders that the books have not survived. In one such instance, Bill Adams’ Fenceless Meadows: Tales of the Sea (New York: Stokes, 1923) was praised as “good, most excellently good” and as possessing “haunting directness of style. His stories are simple, as great things are,” wrote the book reviewer of The New York Tribune, 42 and the reviewer for Outlook lauded Fenceless Meadows as “a good book, a rare book, a book for all who would taste on their lips the salt of sea adventure.” 43 Despite these books no longer being generally available, they have not been completely forgotten: when the editors of Charles Scribner’s Sons were compiling their 1984 military dictionary, the novels of Leonard Nason were combed for authentic World War I military slang. 44

Hoffman and Adventure steam-rolled along until late September 1926, when the Ridgway Company was sold. That the buyer and new owner was the Butterick Publishing Company implies a corporate reorganization, for the Butterick Publishing Company was already the owner of Adventure: it had owned the Ridgway Company since 1909. Nevertheless, the Butterick Company behaved as though it were newly arrived and talked of making changes in all departments.

Some of their changes are immediately evident. Prior to 1917, it was not uncommon to find an attractive woman’s face as the cover of Adventure magazine, and although this was doubtless done in an effort to attract a female readership, it is improbable that the readers of the traditional womens’ magazines purchased Adventure more than once. (Simply put, there was nothing in it for the traditional readers of women’s magazines.) From 1917 until the sale, Adventure’s covers usually illustrated a scene from a story and left very few doubts that they surrounded a magazine containing stories for men in which women were not significant. Adventure’s covers from 1917 were entirely male-oriented, and were so successful that Hoffman’s contemporary and competitor Harold Brainerd Hersey wrote in praise of them:

Adventure Magazine [sic] has earned an enviable reputation for its covers, whether vignette or overall. Arthur Sullivant Hoffman, the editor who built up this valuable magazine property, went in for window dressing on a high, wide and handsome scale that has never been quite equalled by any other pulp before or since. But then his periodical was more than a mere fiction sheet; the covers were the proper symbols for literary contents on a par with any other publication, smooth-paper and pulpwood alike. 45

This is not to say that Adventure’s artwork was by any means bloody, or violent, or in any way undignified. Adventure’s artists were masters of suggestion, of conveying a maximum of exotic atmosphere and character in a minimum of brush-strokes. The cover for the issue of November 10, 1925, for example, has only the bust of a man against a solid blue background. He is an elderly Asian, with a graying beard and wisps of gray and white hair spreading out from under a tawny fur hat. He wears a skin jacket, laced in front, and around his neck he has knotted a red and white checked kerchief. Apart from the bright yellow Adventure over his head, he is the only easily visible object on the cover; the month, year, and price are present, as are the names of a number of the writers, but they are in small black letters, barely visible against the blue background. The cover as a whole is easily visible, with the yellow Adventure proclaiming the magazine like the sun against the sky, yet the overall effect is one of dignity and restraint.

Under the Butterick Publishing Company’s new policy, the pictorial covers were dropped, replaced by listings of the authors and the titles of their stories.

Under Hoffman, Adventure’s table-of-contents had grown to two pages, with most stories possessing an enticing blurb beneath their titles. For example, “The Old Dog Learns New Tricks” by Chester L. Saxby in the issue for January 10 1925, is blurbed “West-wit versus a gun,” letting the reader know that he can expect a western of some kind. At times the blurbs provided what was almost a plot summary; “Ten Thousand Hectareas” by Farnham Bishop in the April 1 1920, issue has the following beneath its title:

“Buy me five hundred Winchesters,” says Captain Kessler to Barstow, “and I’ll clear those San Blas Indians off your rubber concession. “ But in the Central American jungle Barstow meets “Enrique Arcilla” — “Henry Clay” — experiences a thrill felt by no man since the days of Balboa and finds that there are other things in life besides rubber concessions.

The reasons for the italicized names are not given; presumably the emphasis helped readers identify characters or follow a series.

Under the Butterick Publishing Company’s new policy, the table-of-contents’ two pages were reduced to one terribly cramped page. Space is saved by compressing the open areas and by (horribile dictu!) putting the regular features into columns. A few blurbs remain, but they add to the clutter rather than enticing a reader.

Under Hoffman, the magazine was printed on paper that had not been treated with sizing. This highly acidic paper yellowed quickly and cracked readily. Bad paper adds an indescribable charm to the magazine, but, charm aside, it makes even the best tale into an ephemeral piece, one preserved only by the right combination of fortunate environmental conditions and good intentions.

Under the Butterick Publishing Company’s new policy, Adventure magazine was printed on good quality paper, the kind of “slick” paper used by such magazines as Cosmopolitan, National Geographic, and American Magazine.

In brief, under the Butterick Publishing Company, Adventure became a “slick” publication and became “literary.” It became an imitation of such literary magazines as Scribner’s and Harper’s; and although no statements of intent exist, it is obvious that the Butterick Publishing Company’s executives were trying to capture a new market with their new Adventure. They did not take into account the old market: the stories did not change, the authors remained the same, but circulation fell off by twenty percent. 46

It took nearly a year for the Butterick Publishing Company to realize that their marketing experiment was a failure, and in that time Hoffman had become disgusted. He had seen the baby he had nursed into gianthood emasculated, taken from the great outdoors and put into the parlors. He decided to leave Adventure, a decision he painfully announced in the issue of June 15 1927:

To have been with Adventure ever since it was born in 1910, nearly nineteen years ago, and at last to say good-by makes something of an occasion, at least as far as I am concerned. While I go of my own will, it is not possible to sever without a very real regret my relations not only with the magazine itself but with all of you who gather at Camp-Fire. We have met and talked together through the years, been friends, and saying good-by is not easy for me. So little easy that I shall say it briefly and have done. 47

Hoffman went on to become editor of McClure’s Magazine for 1927 and 1928, and then retired to his home in Carmel, New York. He taught writing via correspondence for a number of years and appears to have been a very capable teacher. He wrote several well-received books on how to write and sell fiction, and in 1935 contributed the following widely quoted statement to the celebration of Adventure’s twenty-fifth anniversary:

We can take pride in the fact that Adventure has kept itself clean and decent… As to its literary quality it has pretty well proved itself… It had to struggle against the feeling of both the critics and the general public that no action story could be literary. That is, of course, absurd… If action, however violent, evolves from character, there is no higher literary expression and the ultimate crystallization of character is likely to lie in physical rather than psychological action. 48

Hoffman died in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania, in 1966. His obituary in the New York Times provides biographical data, states (incorrectly) that he founded and was a former president of the Adventurers Club, and deals briefly with Hoffman’s involvement with Adventure by naming some of the people who were contributors. 49 He is today remembered by only a few, and perhaps the most telling statement about him comes from Harold Hersey, who wrote in 1937 that “Mr. Hoffman made history in the trade. As time advances, this man who retired at the heyday of his career, looms larger and larger against the background of the past.” 50


III

The years immediately following Hoffman’s departure were transition years, but this is not to say that Adventure changed. The formula established by Hoffman was in place; and although new editors would come and go, the magazine would not change substantially for another 30 years. Paradoxically, this is one of the reasons that Adventure began to decline once Hoffman was gone. Had the new editors attempted to vary the formula, to make Adventure more reflective of their individual idiosyncrasies, Adventure might have endured longer. But the succeeding editors attempted to maintain Hoffman’s standards without being able to duplicate the quirky and contentiously brilliant persona that Hoffman revealed every month in each “The Camp-Fire.” In brief, Adventure without Hoffman was merely the shell of a magazine. Furthermore, the Adventure editors after Hoffman did not seem to have attempted to attract new readership, and they were generally unsuccessful at creating a stable of writers willing to write primarily for Adventure. As the older readership and the authors died or moved onto other magazines, they were not replaced. There are thus many reasons for the gradual death of Adventure, not one.

Hoffman’s immediate successor was Joseph Cox, who served as editor from July 1, 1927, to October 1, 1927, a total of eight issues. Under Cox’s editorship Adventure recovered its pulp look. The slick paper was dropped, replaced by the cheaper wood pulp; and the covers once again featured illustrations, not “literary” lists.

The highest point of Cox’s brief editorship probably came from the first three reports (in July 1, 1927; September 1, 1927; and October 1, 1927) of an expedition initially organized and funded by Hoffman. Led by noted explorer and adventurer Gordon MacCreagh, this expedition set out for Abyssinia in early 1927, in search of the lost Ark of the Covenant. 51 MacCreagh and his wife shot animals, collected specimens of wildlife, and ended up in the mountains near the mouth of the Takazzee River, where the Ark was rumored to be hidden. 52

It need not be said that they did not find the Ark, but MacCreagh’s account of their escapades makes lively reading even today. It is also worth mentioning that Ark-seeker MacCreagh was born in Indiana, the state that happens to be the first name of the fictional explorer who succeeds in locating the Ark in a 1981 motion picture.

Joseph Cox was succeeded by mystery novelist Anthony Melville Rud, who served as editor from October 15, 1927 until February 15, 1930. Prior to becoming editor, Rud had published a number of stories in the popular magazines of the day, including two in Adventure. His term as editor is undistinguished, but this is not to imply that it was lacking in any respect. Rud published the remaining accounts of MacCreagh’s adventures in Abyssinia, as well as tales by all of the writers brought to prominence by Hoffman, including Mundy and Stribling. Most importantly, he successfully quashed rumors that Adventure was dying and/or about to be sold.

Rud was followed as editor Albert Abram Proctor, a journalist who lasted until February 1, 1934. Although the Great Depression had hit the rest of the world, Adventure did not initially show it; but under Proctor’s tenure the lack of money started to tell. The magazine became thinner, with the number of stories in each issue dropping off sharply. The stories themselves became more escapist; fewer of them were set in contemporary America, and those that were (such as Ared White’s) involved the Army or a secret agent engaged in repelling a potential invasion.

Adventure’s publishing schedule changed, too. In June 1933 it ceased its two issues per month and became a once-monthly magazine. Despite the reduction in the number of issues, the cover price, which had hit a low of ten cents per issue (from September 1, 1932 to May 15, 1933), jumped back up to 15 cents in June, 1933. The price would stay at 15 cents for ten years, until July 1943.

Adventure was being published once monthly when William Corcoran assumed editorship in the issue of March 1, 1934. He lasted less than one year, but it may be argued that in changes-per-month, Corcoran’s editorship was almost as eventful as that of Hoffman. It was under Corcoran’s aegis that the Butterick Publishing Company changed owners, and was sold to Henry Steeger’s Popular Publications. The ownership changed with the issue of May 1934; but only the truly sharp-eyed reader was likely to notice the change in publishers, for there were no significant changes in Adventure’s covers, tables-of-contents, or general layout. Only the addresses of the owner’s editorial offices, printed in small type at the bottom of each table-of-contents, showed that there was a new publisher.

The next change in Corcoran’s Adventure were increases in the number of interior artists associated with each magazine. Prior to its acquisition by Popular Publications, Adventure’s covers had been drawn by one man, the interior artwork accompanying each story being drawn by another. (There were exceptions, as in Rockwell Kent’s covers and illustrations for the 1927 issues of Adventure, but these were the exception, not the norm.) During Corcoran’s editorship, the interior artists multiplied until each item in Adventure had its own illustrator. It must be admitted that the variety of artistic styles is pleasant, for many of the new artists were exceptionally talented, but under Corcoran’s editorship the number of stories per issue dropped to as low as six, and the pages of interior decoration cannot hide the lack of prose content.

The final change under Corcoran’s editorship was the Popular Publications Company’s decision to resume a twice-monthly schedule. The last issue with Corcoran’s name on it is the issue of August 1934; and in September 1934 Adventure was once again a twice-monthly magazine.

Corcoran was succeeded by Harold Van Lieu Bloomfield, a Harvard-educated editor and writer. Bloomfield was editor when Adventure celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary. The number of stories per issue under Bloomfield was usually eight, but the November 1935 issue of Adventure contained twelve stories on 176 pages. There were six stories by new writers and six old favorites, reprints from the golden days of Arthur Sullivant Hoffman. Naturally, one of the reprints was Talbot Mundy’s “The Soul of a Regiment.”

Furthermore, the twenty-fifth anniversary celebration attracted national attention, and Newsweek and Time provided favorable coverage of the celebration. The former headlined its article “Adventure: Dean of the Pulps Celebrates Its Silver Jubilee;” 53 the latter simply stated “No. 1 Pulp,” certain that its readers would know which pulp was meant. 54 Both magazines recounted the history of Adventure, mentioned Bloomfield as the current editor, and devoted the majority of the article to Hoffman, listing the names of the writers whose careers began under him; they repeated Hoffman’s statement on the importance of physical action in determining characterization. A similar article in The Publishers’ Weekly was headlined “Adventure Is 25 Years Old”; briefer than the previous two stories, it mentions Hoffman’s name twice and Bloomfield’s name but once, in the concluding sentence. 55

Although the twenty-fifth anniversary issue is all for which he is remembered, Bloomfield’s term as editor encompassed such changes as the magazine’s return to a once-a-month publishing schedule. Never again would there be more than one issue of Adventure per month, and the final return to a monthly publishing schedule is especially poignant when one realizes that it commenced with the twenty-fifth anniversary issue.

The stories published during Bloomfield’s tenure initially bore little relationship or relevance to life in America during the 1930s. They tended to be escapist pieces, seemingly ignorant of the realities of Depression-era America and of the political events transpiring in Europe and the Pacific Basin. But the real world became at last too powerful to ignore, and Bloomfield began to publish essays, stories and poetry set in the easily recognizable world of the 1930s. The actions of the Axis and Allies were to provide an almost infinite source of material for stories; and by the 1940s, a sizable percentage of Adventure’s contents was stories in which the Germans and the Japanese figured as despicable and faceless villains, fit only to be exterminated in large numbers.

The last major event to occur during Bloomfield’s editorship was the death in 1940 of Talbot Mundy. Mundy had been away from Adventure since the mid-1930s, concentrating on writing the radio program “Jack Armstrong, the All American Boy” and contributing only occasionally to magazines. He was nevertheless the most popular writer ever to appear in Adventure, and his death on August 5, 1940, was duly noted in the issue of October 1940. The 30th anniversary issue of Adventure was the issue for November 1940, and “The Soul of a Regiment” was reprinted yet again, as a final tribute to Mundy.

Bloomfield left his editorship with the issue of December 1940 and was replaced by Kenneth S. White, son of Trumbull White. White served as editor until the end of 1948, and under his editorship Adventure continued its slow, sad, inexorable decline. “Ask Adventure” and “The Camp-Fire” were still present and would remain integral parts of the magazine for many more years, but in its contents Adventure was merely one more action-oriented pulp magazine, and White could not change that.

It may be that White did not see the decline in the quality of Adventure’s contents as anything to worry about. World War II was raging in Europe, and in America the war effort was causing a paper shortage. The cheap wood pulp paper, used by so many magazine publishers, suddenly became more expensive and was rationed, dooming many magazines. Artists were caught up in the production of posters and propaganda, finding that their talents were more appreciated by the government than by poorly paying magazines. Writers too were becoming scarce, for they, too, found work in the government offices to occupy their time and talents. Moreover, White had an added drain on his energies, for in addition to his post on Adventure, he was also the editor of the major detective/mystery magazine, The Black Mask, also published by Steeger’s Popular Publications. 56

White kept Adventure alive by several means, all of them viable publishing strategies. Cover artwork became brighter, more garish, with colors designed to catch the eye of a newsstand buyer. Gone were the somber, sober, deliberate pieces of the ’teens and ’twenties. “Adventure” was determined to mean physical action, and physical action was what was promised by the covers.

The contents, too, provided action, and shifted to reflect contemporary American thoughts and feelings. Foreign cultures were no longer worthy of admiration and even veneration; what mattered was America, her citizens and values. “The Camp-Fire” editorials became virulently anti-German and anti-Japanese; were they reprinted today, they would be seen as racist propaganda, material meant to maintain hatreds and incite violence. Nevertheless — and this must be stressed — Adventure was by no means exceptional in these anti-German, anti-Japanese editorial stances. The 1940s were a time of war and xenophobia; they were the decade when the U.S. Marines could recruit men by issuing them a license to hunt Japanese, and when the peaceful Nisei on the west coast could be taken from their homes and gardens and interned in camps across America. In all of its belligerent editorials, Adventure under Kenneth White is merely a product of its times.

The 1940s were also a time of terrible attrition, and Adventure lost many of its major, established writers. In addition to Mundy, the popular writers who died included such established stars as H. Bedford-Jones, Captain Dingle, J. Allan Dunn, Henry Herbert Knibbs, Hugh Pendexter, Arthur D. Howden Smith, Georges Surdez, Gordon Young, Albert R. Wetjen, and Ared White. Each of those men had a following, and when they died their fans no longer found a need to buy the magazine. And, as said, no successful attempt was made at establishing a new readership.

White left The Black Mask in 1948 57 and in January 1949 was succeeded at Adventure by Kendall Goodwyn. Goodwyn was the first editor younger than the magazine, having been born in 1912, and he was an intelligent and energetic young man with plans. It is not completely inconceivable that under his guidance the slowly withering Adventure could have regained some of its former stature, but this was not to be.

The Popular Publications Company determined that the magazine would contain more reprints of older stories; the older issues of Adventure were thus mined, and the better pieces were republished. Furthermore, Henry Steeger’s Popular Publications Company had acquired Argosy in 1942, and stories from the older issues of Argosy began to appear in the pages of Adventure.

To make matters worse for Goodwyn, with the issue of December 1950, Adventure missed its first issue in nearly thirty years. In January 1951, Adventure briefly became smaller, digest sized, missing the issue of June 1951, but it returned to its former size in July 1951; it began a bimonthly publishing schedule, with issues appearing in September, November, and December of 1951. After eighteen months as editor, Goodwyn went on to other magazines, finishing his career as editor of Popular Science. 58 The last issue of Adventure with his name on it is dated September 1951.

In addition to altering the magazine’s size, Goodwyn also succeeded in changing Adventure’s internal appearance, though again for only a short time. In January 1951, Adventure abruptly stopped using interior illustrations. The reasons behind the decision to exclude interior art-work have never been given — they are perhaps budget-related — but the decision to run unillustrated pages does not seem to have been a popular one, for one of Adventure’s great charms was its excellent interior illustrations. The most famous of all of its artists was Rockwell Kent, but later illustrators included the phenomenal pen and ink work of the father-and-son team, Lawrence and Peter Stevens, and in the 1940s and 1950s, the magazine had illustrations by such notables as Everett Raymond Kinstler, Herb Mott, Gordon Grant, Nick Eggenhofer, and Rafael De-Soto. Each of these artists had a specialty — Eggenhofer did western art, Grant did maritime art, the Stevens did historical action art — and their artwork never less than capably done and often superior to the art-work in the slick magazines.

Without illustrations, the stories in Adventure seemed somehow unfinished, and it would seem that the Popular Publications Company also realized that the interior artwork added much to the naked pages, for in September 1951 — Goodwyn’s last issue — interior art was again used, though the artists were not credited. Nor would the artists again have their names in Adventure until November 1952.

One of the sole interesting moments during Goodwyn’s editorship involves a letter that appeared in the February 1951 “Camp-Fire” that guessed the truth about Talbot Mundy’s past. John Wilstach wrote to say that he had heard that Mundy was the black sheep of a well-known English family; he asked if anybody else could confirm or deny this. Wilstach’s letter — which was correct in its surmises — attracted no attention, and Mundy’s true background would not be publicly revealed until 1983, when Peter Berresford Ellis’s biography was published. 59

The three editors succeeding Goodwyn did not last long, nor did they do anything to restore the moribund Adventure to anything approaching its former status. The first of the three, Ejler G. Jacobsson, served as editor for fifteen months, from November 1951 until March 1953. He came to Adventure after having been editor for the science fiction magazine Super Science Stories. 60 Under him, Adventure continued its bimonthly publishing schedule, with issues in January, March, May, July, September, and November of 1952, and issues in January and March of 1953.

Jacobsson was succeeded by Jerry Mason, who remained as editor for exactly two issues, the April and June issues of 1953. Mason thus had the briefest tenure of any of Adventure’s editors, but James B. O’Connell who followed him did not last much longer. O’Connell served as editor from August 1953 until June 1954, a total of six issues.

Brief though Mason’s editorship was, he was the editor when Adventure adopted its new look, the first truly major change in layout and format since Joseph Cox’s term as editor. Prior to the redesign, Adventure’s table-of-contents had been headed by the name of the magazine at the top of the page. The letters overlapped each other, and the t had an especially long horizontal cross stroke, extending over the r. This was flanked by two little shields, each quartered. The upper left quadrant of the shield contained a single palm tree; the upper right quadrant contained an airplane; the lower left quadrant held a three- masted schooner; and the lower right quadrant held a single evergreen or pine tree. This design had been used in “The Camp-Fire” since 1920, and it had been on the table-of-contents page since 1932; it was aesthetically pleasant, and was easy to understand as representing the domains and dominions of adventure.

The new table-of-contents no longer included the shields, and the name of the magazine was given in block Roman lettering, in a shaded box on the upper left side of the page. For the first time, a subtitle was added, appearing beneath the title, also in the shaded area: “The Man’s Magazine of Exciting Fact and Fiction.”

The pre-April 1953 issues were cavalier about the order in which the fiction and the fact appeared; story and article mingled on the table-of-contents page in no particular order. The pieces were followed by little teasers, the blurbs that whetted the reader’s appetite for the adventures to come, and the magazine’s departments were always listed at the bottom of the table-of-contents page.

Following the redesign, the departments were still at the bottom of the table-of-contents page, but the rest of the page was streamlined. The teasers were gone, and the page was divided by a vertical line a quarter of the way in from the left margin. To the right of this line is the listing of the contents, to the left is whether the piece is a story, a novel, a true adventure, a department — or a pictorial feature. Though it was still printed on poor quality paper, Adventure started to publish photographs as a regular part of its contents.

The last changes in the magazine’s appearance are in its size and construction. The pre-April 1953 issues were compact, measuring roughly 10 by 7 inches. The new Adventure was expanded to bedsheet size, its pages measuring roughly 8½ by 11 inches. The larger pages enabled the publishers to print the magazine on fewer sheets of paper, thereby saving money. Moreover, the pages were no longer glued into the spine in signatures but were stapled together, the spine glued to the stapled mass of papers. Again, this would seem to be a change designed to save money.

No statements have been left on the reasons for the changes in format and layout, and none appear necessary. The Popular Publications Company was obviously attempting to market the magazine to a new audience, and the changes were an attempt to bring the magazine into step with other magazines published during the 1950s. They were attempting to move into the market dominated by such magazines as Look and Colliers, and they were attempting to drop their reputation as a pulp magazine.

In hindsight it is easy say that, in deciding to change Adventure’s appearance, the Popular Publications Company made the wrong choice, but this ignores the realities of the times. The market for pulp magazines was withering in the 1950s. Many pulp magazines were dying, and the few that survived did so only by becoming smaller, often switching to digest size while running fewer stories. The new Adventure survived for eighteen years after its changes, so it is evident that, however unpleasant the new Adventure may be to sensibilities that prefer the pulp look, the Popular Publications Company’s decision was the correct one — for the time.

In August 1954, James B. O’Connell was replaced as editor by Alden Norton. Norton, an editor and anthologist, was to remain Adventure’s editor for ten years, longer than any other editor except Hoffman. It was Norton who ushered the doddering magazine into the 1960s, and under his administration Adventure became a low quality girlie magazine, with most issues composed of pseudonymous fillers, little original prose, and an increasing number of dull pictures of half-naked women.

The switch from prose to pictures began abruptly, with the issue of April 1953. The switch from action-oriented pictures to pictures of semi-nude women was also abrupt. The Adventure for October 1954 contained a series of grainy photographs of “’Peel Street,’ U.S.A.”; the subject of the photographs was a woman in one of New York City’s strip joints. The next issue of Adventure featured a fully visible, scantily-clad woman. The “girlie” Adventure was born.

There is something terribly embarrassing and almost horrifying about the pictures in the first girlie issues. They are hidden in the pages, sandwiched between reprinted older material, and their captions attempt to make them appear exotic and erotic when they are neither. One comes upon these pictures unaware, for the covers are of such traditionally male pastimes as deepsea diving, shark fishing, wild horse breaking, and the like; they give no indication that the magazine was abruptly breaking a “no women” tradition of more than 40 years. Discovering the girlie pictures in the hallowed pages of Adventure is somewhat akin to discovering that the inhabitants of the local monastery have taken to decorating their walls with centerfolds.

Once women appeared inside Adventure, they were there to stay, and in the issue of August 1959, the magazine became more forthright about its contents. The cover painting shows a fully-clothed blond man battling with a swarthy, half-naked, sword-clutching, turban-wearing palace guard. There are four scantily -clad women on the floor near the struggling men. They are posed to exhibit maximum cleavage without revealing anything more explicit, and none of them appears interested in helping to resolve the fight.

The Popular Publications Company evidently realized that nudity (or near nudity) sells magazines, because from August 1959 to December 1970 every cover but two contained a drawing or photograph of a scantily- clad woman or women. (The two exceptions date from 1964 and consist of a close-up portrait of a highly decorated African native and Donald Crowley’s drawing of a number of weapons.) And from 1967 - 1970, the cover was a photograph of a lightly- dressed woman, posed enticingly in a bathing suit or a halter top; but as always, none of their charms is ever explicitly revealed on the cover or inside the magazine, for the cover photographs had nothing to do with the contents. It is sad to say so, but by 1970 the cover photograph and the interior artwork were usually the best parts of the magazine.

Alden Norton served as editor from 1954 until 1964. He was also responsible for writing most of the contents, fiction and non-fiction; to do this, he used at least nine pseudonyms. Despite the magazine’s reprinting earlier fiction and material from Argosy and True Adventure, a few new writers were still willing to appear in Adventure’s pages. The most notable of these was Norman Mailer, who had a short story in the issue of December 1958, with potentially offensive language removed.

Mailer was nevertheless an exception, and much of Adventure’s contents for the late 1950s and 1960s is pseudonymous. Furthermore, it would appear that at least one of the hacks filling Adventure’s pages possessed a copy of Who’s Who in America or the Directory of American Scholars, and selected names from it whenever he needed a byline. Thus, a number of the names appearing in Adventure’s pages are of notables who had nothing whatsoever to do with the magazine: Ralph Anderson (“Topless Shebas of Asmara” in August 1969) is not the manufacturer; Karl Angermayer (“We Tamed the Devil’s Sandspit” in October 1964) is not the metals executive; Robert Embree (“Edge of Madness” in October 1960) is not the botanist; Stuart Evans (“Bored? Pioneer a Pacific Island” in June 1965) is not the agricultural chemist, and so on. Nor do the publisher’s records reveal the ultimate source of the story; indeed, at times they complicate the issue. “Fredson Bowers” is listed as author of “The Queen’s Desperado” in the issue of April 1958, and the publisher’s records reveal that “Fredson Bowers” did two additional stories under the names of “Roy C. Rainey” and “Peter G. Wichman.” Nevertheless, “Fredson Bowers” is not to be confused with the noted scholar and bibliographer (1905 - 1991), who never wrote fiction. 61

Alden Norton’s successor was Gil Paust, who assumed the editorship in October 1964 and held it until August 1965. Like Norton, Paust was a prolific writer, who used at least twenty-six pseudonyms in his pieces for Adventure. It is possible that more were used, but — again — the publisher’s records are incomplete, and Paust did not keep records.

There is nothing exceptional about the issues of Adventure during Paust’s brief tenure as editor. Under Norton, Adventure had settled into the format that it would follow through the 1960s. Its prose typically consisted of sensationalistically titled articles, often with some variant the word sex in the title. In an apparent attempt at imitating established men’s magazines such as Playboy, many of the articles claimed to be descriptive pictorials of the hot spots around the world, the areas where the half-naked women eagerly awaited American travelers.

With the issue of October 1965, the name Peter Hill Gannett appeared on the masthead as editor. No such person existed; the magazine was edited by whomever happened to be around the offices of Popular Publications, including Alden Norton and Bruce Cassiday. Paust had been made field contributor, and although his work still appeared in Adventure, he no longer had any editorial connections with the magazine. Under the aegis of “Gannett” Adventure continued to feature numerous third-rate “girlie” pictures, and the fiction was either reprinted from Argosy or True Adventure, or pseudonymous.

Nevertheless, despite the absence of new fiction, and in spite of the uninspiring erotica, the issues of Adventure published during the 1960s are not completely without interest. One may use them as cultural documents, materials unwittingly reflecting the attitudes of their times, and if that is done, it becomes evident that the Popular Publications Company was attempting to reach several very different markets.

The first of these markets was the youth market, the group that was just starting to make itself felt as a power during the 1960s. Many of the attitudes traditionally associated with the young males of the 1960s — the concept of dropping out of society, the idea of living off the land or moving to some exotic village in the middle of nowhere and, above all, the belief in sexual freedom and openness — are exhibited in the pages of Adventure. A number of the questions in the “Camp-fire” concern the best types of metal detectors to buy for a life on the beaches; and the noted expert in hidden treasure, Robert Nesmith, contributed a regular column on the treasure troves that awaited some lucky finder. 62 And surely the pictorials on the women of far-away lands are meant to appeal to younger readers: the unattached younger generations were the only ones sufficiently mobile to do extensive exploring.

Another of the markets that Popular Publications Company was aiming for probably can best be characterized as the middle-aged lower middle class male. This reader was a veteran of either World War II or the Korean War and was conservative politically, believing in the importance of the Vietnam conflict. This reader was also homophobic, reflecting the attitudes of the times; a significant number of Adventure’s articles deal with imaginary threats to the American way of life from homosexuals (e.g., “Don’t Underestimate the Homos” and “America’s Gay Mafia”). Furthermore, this category of readers accepted the status quo. The civil rights and social rights movements may have been disrupting the outside world, but they are blissfully absent from the pages of Adventure.

Shrewd though the idea of aiming at two audiences may have been in theory, it did not work in practice. Figures are not available, but circulation obviously declined, for neither market appears to have bought the magazine in any quantity. It offered nothing that was not available in other men’s magazines. Indeed, the relative upstart Playboy (established in 1953) had become highly successful using a number of the techniques established by Hoffman. The Playboy “Reader’s Advisor” is merely a version of “Ask Adventure.”

It was obvious that Adventure was dying. It was not quite dead, and the issue for June 1970 shows the Popular Publications Company’s attempt at reestablishing Adventure as a fiction magazine. Although the cover artwork is suggestive, the contents are nearly completely prose; there are a few cartoons, but there are no “girlie” pictures. Several of the stories are reprinted from Argosy, but a number are from Adventure’s glory days. Indeed, “The Soul of a Regiment” makes its eighth and final appearance in the issue of June 1970, mistitled “The Soul of the Regiment.”

Instead of continuing to print prose and attempting to re-establish their readership, the Popular Publications Company again changed the concept of Adventure magazine, and the issue of August 1970 featured pictures of half-naked women. So too did the issue for October 1970.

With the issue of December 1970, Adventure underwent its final metamorphosis, in what was the Popular Publications Company’s last attempt at saving the dying magazine. The most immediate of the changes was a drastic reduction in size: for the second time, Adventure became digest-sized. Bruce Cassiday replaced “Gannett” and became Adventure’s sixteenth and last editor. The magazine once again featured prose, not pictorials, and its interior artwork was quietly capable. Furthermore, although a number of the stories were reprints, a few new names appeared. Noted mystery writer Bill Pronzini had an early story in the December 1970 issue, and the April 1971 issue featured a story by the equally noted mystery writer, Edward D. Hoch.

The changed magazine is certainly an improvement over the issues of the 1960s. The ofensive pictorials are gone, and so too are the omnipresent sexism and homophobia. Indeed, the digest-sized Adventure could have been a slightly off-trail version of Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine or one of the other digest-sized fiction magazines. Given a sufficient budget and a few years, the new Adventure might have succeeded in acquiring a new generation of readers and a subscription base.

Time and money were not to come, for it would seem that very few people were left to buy the magazine. The readers who once purchased Adventure for its stories had died or had left when the magazine went “girlie” in the 1950s. And the decreasing number of readers who purchased the magazine for its pictorials had stopped buying when the magazine once again went back to prose. It would seem that the only people buying the new and improved Adventure — and it certainly was a new and improved version — were the spontaneous buyers, those who bought the magazine at newsstands and magazine shops. But what was to make them want to buy another issue?

The issue of April 1971 is thus the final issue of Adventure. It died quietly, with nothing in its pages to indicate that no more would be forthcoming. It is doubtful whether even a few hundred people noticed its passing or mourned its loss.

In its final days Adventure had become an anachronism, a dinosaur, and the most surprising thing about its death was that it had taken almost twenty years. Nevertheless, by the time it finally died, Adventure had outlasted virtually all of its rivals; much like Billy Grogram, it had clung grimly to life and stoically died after its responsibilities were discharged. And although in its death Adventure was a pathetic survivor living on the shards of its glorious past, we should take pleasure in the knowledge that it was a glorious past. Adventure had lived a life that no other magazine ever will.


NOTES

1.      From November 1910 (Vol. 1, no. 1) until May 1951 (vol. 124, no. 6), the magazine’s title as listed on the table-of-contents page was only Adventure. There were no subtitles, and the word magazine was not part of the title. Those people who refer to it as Adventure Magazine do so in error.

The issue for July 1951 (vol. 125, no. 1) is the first issue of the magazine to have on its table-of-contents page the word magazine as part of its title (Adventure Magazine). The magazine would change its name again, with the issue of April 1953 (vol. 126, no. 6), when it became Adventure: The Man’s Magazine of Exciting Fact and Fiction.

In February 1954 (vol. 127, no. 5), there was no subtitle, merely the word Adventure, and in April 1954 (vol. 127, no. 6), the magazine was Adventure: The Man’s Magazine of Exciting Fiction and Fact. With the issue of December 1964 (vol. 141, no. 2), the magazine was called Adventure: The No. 1 Adventure Magazine for Men, a monumental overstatement. It remained so-titled until December 1970 (vol. 147, no. 3), when it became Adventure: The No. 1 Fiction Magazine for Men, another overstatement but the name it held at its death.

Such data are of interest primarily to librarians and are not particularly germane to this history of Adventure magazine.

2.      “No. 1 Pulp,” Time, 21 October 1935, p. 40.

3.      There are at least five indexes to Weird Tales, and virtually every science fiction or weird fiction magazine ever spawned has been written about or has had its influence acknowledged. Nevertheless, these magazines were not the ones that were widely read or had a following, and their contemporary reputation is aptly described in the foreword of E. Hoffmann Price’s Far Lands and Other Days (Chapel Hill, North Carolina: Carcosa House, 1975), p. xii.

When Union Carbide fired me, 1932, I decided to be a full time writer. I needed an agent. In the course of sizing me up, the agent-to-be said, ‘Those twenty yarns you’ve sold, that’s nice-but have you ever sold to a real magazine?’ That is how fantasy rated, then, and until pulps folded.

4.      Frank L. Mott, A History of American Magazines, 5 vols. (Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press at the Harvard University Press, 1930-1968), V: 72-87. Hereafter referred to as Mott.

5.      Theodore B. Peterson, Magazines in the Twentieth Century (Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1964), p. 165. Also: Ron Goulart, Cheap Thrills: An Informal History of the Pulp Magazines (New Rochelle. N.Y.: Arlington House, 1972), pp. 31-32. (Hereafter referred to as Goulart.)

6.      Mott, IV: 417-423. Also: Donald H. Tuck, The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy, 3 vols. (Chicago, IL: Advent, 1974-1982), III: 534, 545-547. All-Story was initially published by Frank A. Munsey of New York; Argosy was initially published by E. G. Rideout and Co., but in 1910, Frank H. Munsey had been publisher for 27 years.

7.      The Red Book was initially published by the Red Book Corporation in Chicago.

8.      Popular Magazine was initially published by the Street and Smith Company of New York City.

9.      The Blue Book Magazine, however, was not originally named The Blue Book Magazine. From its start in May 1905 until August 1906 it was called The Monthly Story Magazine ; from September 1906 until April 1907 it was titled The Monthly Story Blue Book Magazine; and from May 1907 until its death in 1956 (?), it was titled The Blue Book Magazine. Publishing details are given in Tuck, above.

10.      Goulart, p. 31. Also: “White, Trumbull,” Who Was Who in America (Chicago, IL: Marquis, 1968 - ), 1: 1336. All further references to Trumbull White, with the exception of his obituary, are derived from these volumes.

11.      Readers of “Yellow Men and Gold” will learn that the man is the hero, and he is unconscious in the hold of a ship.

12.      Mott, V: 133.

13.      Mott, V: 128.

14.      Mott, V: 156.

15.      The Encyclopedia of American Facts and Dates, 1987 ed. S.v. “1910.”

16.      Who Was Who in America (Chicago, IL: Marquis, 1968 - ), 1: 1336.

17.      “Trumbull White, Ex-Editor, 73, Dies,” The New York Times, 14 December 1941, p. 69.

18.      “No. 1 Pulp,” Time, 21 October 1935, p. 40.

19.      “Hoffman, Arthur Sullivant,” Who Was Who in America (Chicago, IL: Marquis, 1968 - ), VI: 195. Additional biographical material on Hoffman may be found in Schorer (q.v.), in Hoffman’s obituary (q.v.), and in Adventure magazine itself.

20.      Talbot Mundy, The Soul of a Regiment (San Francisco, CA: Alex Dulfer Printing Co., 1925). This is a pleasant little book, 25 pages, printed on what appears to be hand-laid paper and bound in light blue paper with the title stamped onto the cover in darker blue; the spine is white cloth. Mundy’s signature is stamped on the title page, which is also page [5]; preceding it, on p. [3], is the following statement:

In “The Soul of a Regiment” Talbot Mundy has written a great story — which deals directly with the basic principle of man — COURAGE. When your back is “to the wall” and encouragement is what you need, read this story. It will help.
Three things make A MAN - COURAGE, LOYALTY and VISION. The first is COURAGE; with that almost all men are supplied, for a brave man is not the exception, the exception is the man who is not brave. Upon that foundation there must be LOYALTY. Without loyalty, courage goes for naught and a man is but half a man given one without the other. Of one thing I am convinced: No man has been truly loyal who is not also courageous. VISION is the third and by no means the least of the three elements. A man may have loyalty and no vision, a man may have courage and no vision, but no man ever climbed the heights and fulfilled his vision who has not had also courage and loyalty. It is romance, the inspired thought which makes a dreamer of the boy and a creator of Empires of the man.
So, my friend, believing that you believe that COURAGE, LOYALTY and VISION are the main essentials of A MAN, I am humbly sending you the story of one.
[Signed] Franklin R. Kenney.

No statement of limitation is present in the book, but it is unlikely that more than a few hundred copies were printed.

21.      Mark Schorer, Sinclair Lewis: An American Life (New York: McGraw Hill, 1961), pp. 194 - 195.

22.      Talbot Mundy, “The Camp-Fire,” Adventure, 10 February 1925, quoted in: Talbot Mundy: Messenger of Destiny, compiled by Donald M. Grant (West Kingston, RI: Donald M. Grant, 1983), pp. 151 - 152.

23.      T. S. Stribling, Laughing Stock (Memphis, TN: St. Luke’s Press, 1982), p. 152.

24.      Peter Berresford Ellis, “Willie-Rogue and Rebel,” in Talbot Mundy: Messenger of Destiny, compiled by Donald M. Grant (West Kingston, RI: Donald M. Grant, 1983), pp. 27-69.

25.      Conversation with Anne Paust, 3 June 1988.

26.      Although never president of the club, Hoffman was an active member for many years; and in 1960, he was elected President Emeritus and made an honorary life member. An account of the New York Adventurers Club may be found in The Adventurers’ Golden Jubilee, 1964. A History of The Adventurers Club of New York Available to Members and Their Friends. (S.L.: The Adventurers Club, Inc., of New York, 1965). Hoffman’s honorary status is given on p. 141.

27.      “No. 1 Pulp,” Time, 21 October 1935, pp. 40 - 41.

28.      Stribling, Laughing Stock, p. 156.

29.      The number of issues of Adventure per month requires more information than may justifiably be put into a footnote. See the section labeled “Frequency” at the end of this section for a statement of the magazine’s publishing history.

30.      “Ridgway Company Loses,” The New York Times, 15 June 1923, p. 23.

31.      Mike Ashley, “The Trail of Adventure and Mystery: Uncovering the Hutchinson Pulp Magazines,” Pulp Vault 10 (1992): 4-14.

32.      Arthur Sullivant Hoffman, “Adventure” in The Stories Editors Buy and Why, compiled by Jean Wick. Boston: Small, Maynard & Company, 1921.

33.      E. R. Hagemann, “The Black Mask,” in Mystery, Detective, and Espionage Magazines, compiled by Michael L. Cook (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1983), p. 64.

34.      Fairfax Downey, Letter, 7 March 1988.

35.      Leslie McFarlane, Ghost of the Hardy Boys (Toronto, etc.: Methuen, 1976), pp. 140-141.

36.      Ibid., p. 144.

37.      E. Hoffmann Price, “Farnsworth Wright,” in The Weird Tales Story, written and edited by Robert Weinberg (West Linn, OR: Fax Collector’s Editions, 1977), p. 7. Price’s account of meeting Farnsworth Wright also provides information on Weird Tales ’ near-bankruptcy and payment habits.

38.      For the curious, Adventure’s Best Stories - 1926, edited by Arthur Sullivant Hoffman (New York: George H. Doran, 1926), contained the following: “Foreword” by Arthur Sullivant Hoffman; “The Song of Madame” by Crosbie Garstin; “The Soul of a Regiment” by Talbot Mundy; “Habit” by F. R. Buckley; “Strange Fellers” by Alan LeMay; “A Gulp of Water” by Lynn Montross; “Home from the Wars” by James Parker Long; “The Knell of the Horn” by Captain Dingle; “Breeches” by Leonard H. Nason; “Corn” by Fiswoode Tarleton; “Antonio” by F. St. Mars; “Marea’s Fancy Man” by Bill Adams; “A Pair of Mules” by Nevil G. Henshaw; “The Gap in the Fence” by John Eyton; “Alias Whispering White” by W. C. Tuttle; “One Night and the Morning” by Aaron Wyn; “King’s Bounty” by Wilkeson O’Connell; “John Jock Todd” by Robert Simpson; “The Victor” by Dale Collins.

In light of the reviews cited below, this writer feels obligated to add his opinion about the stories in the collection: they are generally capable, and some are exceptional; but my overall impression is that Hoffman could have chosen better. Stronger adventure tales existed in Adventure and should have been used.

39.      Review of Adventure’s Best Stories - 1926, edited by Arthur Sullivant Hoffman (New York: George H. Doran, 1926), in The Literary Review, 1 May 1926, p. 8, quoted in The Book Review Digest: Twenty-Second Annual Cumulation (New York: H. W. Wilson, 1927), p. 8.

40.      Review of Adventure’s Best Stories - 1926, edited by Arthur Sullivant Hoffman (New York: George H. Doran, 1926), in The Saturday Review of Literature, 26 June 1926, p. 892, quoted in The Book Review Digest: Twenty-Second Annual Cumulation (New York: H. W. Wilson, 1927), p. 8.

41.      Donald M. Grant, “Books,” in Talbot Mundy: Messenger of Destiny, compiled by Donald M. Grant (West Kingston, RI: Donald M. Grant, 1983), pp. 175-216.

42.      Review of Fenceless Meadows, by Bill Adams, in The New York Herald Tribune, 25 November 1923, p. 23, quoted in The Book Review Digest: Nineteenth Annual Cumulation (New York: H. W. Wilson, 1924), p. 3.

43.      Review of Fenceless Meadows, by Bill Adams, in Outlook, 16 January 1924, p. 116, quoted in The Book Review Digest: Nineteenth Annual Cumulation (New York: H. W. Wilson, 1924), p. 3.

44.      John R. Elting, et al., Dictionary of Soldier Talk (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1984); personal communication from the “ghost-editor,” Everett F. Bleiler.

45.      Harold Hersey, Pulpwood Editor (1937; rptd. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1974), p. 55.

46.      “No. 1 Pulp,” Time, 21 October 1935, pp. 40.

47.      Arthur S. Hoffman, “The Camp-Fire,” Adventure 15 June 1927, quoted in Talbot Mundy: Messenger of Destiny, compiled by Donald M. Grant (West Kingston, RI: Donald M. Grant, 1983), p. 156.

48.      “Adventure: Dean of the Pulps Celebrates Its Silver Jubilee,” Newsweek, 26 October 1935, p. 23.

49.      “Arthur Hoffman, Editor, Teacher,” The New York Times, 15 March 1966, p. 39.

50.      Hersey, Pulpwood Editor, p. 55.

51.      This expedition is briefly mentioned in two articles in The New York Times: “To Seek Ark of Covenant,” The New York Times, 1 January 1927, p. 16. Also: “Explorer in Abyssinia to Use Short Wave Lengths,” The New York Times, 20 February 1927, VIII: p. 20.

52.      “Takazzee” is now spelled “Tekeze.” It is the head-stream of the Atbara, and is about 470 miles long. It rises into North Central Ethiopia and flows North, then West, crossing into Sudan, where it is called the Satit. “Tekeze,” in Webster’s New Geographical Dictionary (Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, 1984), p. 1194.

53.      “Adventure: Dean of the Pulps Celebrates Its Silver Jubilee,” Newsweek, 26 October 1935, p. 23.

54.      “No. 1 Pulp,” Time, 21 October 1935, pp. 40-41.

55.      “Adventure is 25 Years Old,” The Publishers’ Weekly, 2 November 1935, p. 1667.

56.      E. R. Hagemann, “The Black Mask,” in Mystery, Detective, and Espionage Magazines, compiled by Michael L. Cook (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1983), p. 66.

57.      E. R. Hagemann, “The Black Mask,” in Mystery, Detective, and Espionage Magazines, compiled by Michael L. Cook (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1983), p. 66.

58.      Kendall Goodwyn, Letter, 22 February 1987.

59.      Peter Berresford Ellis, “Willie-Rogue and Rebel,” in Talbot Mundy: Messenger of Destiny, compiled by Donald M. Grant (West Kingston, RI: Donald M. Grant, 1983), pp. 27-69.

60.      “Jakobsson, Ejler,” in The Science Fiction Encyclopedia, general editor Peter Nicholls (New York: Dolphin Books, Doubleday & Co., 1979), pp. 317-318.

61.      Fredson Bowers, Letter, 29 January 1988.

62.      The name of the department had been changed from “The Camp-Fire” to “Campfire” in the issue of April, 1953, but although editor Mason would soon be gone, the change in title remained.


The Frequency of Adventure Magazine

From its birth in 1910 until its death in 1971, Adventure magazine was published on a fairly regular schedule. The 881 issues that comprise the total run of Adventure were published with six numbers to a volume, but those volumes could be completed in anywhere from two months to a year. Nevertheless, although the magazine appeared at varied intervals, its numbering stayed consistent; there were a few mis-numberings and misdatings, but these were always silently corrected by the time the next issue appeared.

From November 1910 (Vol. 1, no. 1) until August 1917 (Vol. 14, no. 4.), Adventure appeared once monthly.

From September 1 1917 (Vol. 14, no. 5) until September 15 1921 (Vol. 30, no. 6), Adventure appeared twice monthly, with the second issue called the “mid-month” issue. As “mid-month” is at best a nebulous term, this index dates these undated issues to the fifteenth of each month, the exception being the issues published in February, which have been dated the fourteenth.

There were no May 1920 issues due to a printer’s strike.

From October 10 1921 (Vol. 31, no. 1) until March 30 1926 (Vol. 57, no. 6), Adventure appeared three times monthly, published on the tenth, twentieth and thirtieth of each month. The exceptions were the February issues, published on the tenth, twentieth and twenty-eighth of each month; and in 1924 (a leap year), the February issue appeared on the twenty-ninth.

From April 8 1926 (Vol. 58, no. 1) until November 23 1926 (Vol. 60, no. 4), Adventure was published on the eighth and twenty-third of each month.

There were three issues in December 1926, appearing on the eighth, twenty-third and thirty-first (Vol. 60, no. 5 to Vol. 61, no. 1). This was the last time that Adventure had three issues in a single month.

From January 1 1927 (Vol. 61, no. 2) until May 15 1933 (Vol. 86, no. 5), Adventure was published twice monthly, on the first and the fifteenth of each month. The January 1 1928 (Vol. 65, no. 2) issue was misdated January 1927.

From June 1933 (Vol. 86. no. 6) until August 1934 (Vol. 89, no. 2), Adventure was published once monthly, on the first of the month.

On September 1 1934 (Vol. 89. no. 3) Adventure again became twice monthly, published on the first and the fifteenth of each month. It stayed twice monthly until October 15 1935 (Vol. 93, no. 6). This was the last time that Adventure had two issues in a single month. The November 15 1934 (Vol. 90, no. 2) issue was misnumbered as Vol. 89, no. 6.

From November 1935 (Vol. 94, no. 1) until November 1950 (Vol. 124, no. 1), Adventure appeared once monthly, published on the first of the month.

There was no December 1950 issue, but the magazine continued monthly publication from January 1951 (Vol. 124, no. 2) until May 1951 (Vol. 124, no. 6).

There was no June 1951 issue, and in July 1951 (Vol. 125, no. 1) Adventure became bimonthly. Issues were published in September, November, and December of 1951; in January, March, May, July, September, and November of 1952; in January and March (Vol. 126, no. 5) of 1953.

The April 1953 (Vol. 126, no. 6) issue seemed to mark a return to a once-monthly schedule, but Adventure again became bimonthly, with the rest of the 1953 issues published in June, August, October, and December. In 1954 issues were published in February, April, June, August, October and December; and 1955 began with issues published in February, April, June and August.

The September 1955 (Vol. 129, no. 3) issue of Adventure started a once-a-month schedule, which lasted until April 1958 (Vol. 134, no. 4). The January 1956 (Vol. 130, no. 1) issue is misdated January 1955.

With the June 1958 (Vol. 134, no. 5) issue, the magazine again became bimonthly, with issues for the rest of 1958 published in August, October, and December.

From February 1959 (Vol. 135, no. 3) until April 1971 (Vol. 148, no. 1) Adventure was published bimonthly, with issues in February, April, June, August, October, and November. The April 1971 issue is misnumbered and should be Volume 147, no. 5.

After April 1971 no further issues of Adventure were published.