Pulp fiction is back as entertainment, according to box office and publishing reports. America’s fascination was evidenced with Hollywood’s three top-grossing films for 2008, Dark Knight, Iron Man, and Indiana Jones 4, garnering well over $2,000,000,000 worldwide and each based on pulp heroes. While in publishing, L. Ron Hubbard’s multi-genre pulp fiction series, Stories from the Golden Age, Walter Gibson’s The Shadow and Lester Dent’s Doc Savage all saw marked increases in distribution and sales in traditional and non-traditional outlets for 2008.
Pulp classics date back to the 1930s and 40s — the time known as the Golden Age of Pulp Fiction and the last period that America faced both an economic collapse and multiple wars.
Hollywood-based Galaxy Press alone reported a 300% sales increase spurred by a strong domestic demand from the library, education, and transportation markets for its 80 pulp fiction line of print and audio books.
“It’s clear that these audiences are looking for high-action entertainment with a broad appeal to readers of all ages — including readers who need to see the story take off right away,” said John Goodwin, president of Galaxy Press, publishers of the Stories from the Golden Age book series.
“During the 1930s and 40s, America was going through the Great Depression, war had just finished, and another was looming,” Goodwin said. “Americans needed an escape and the pulp writers — at least the very good ones like Hubbard, Gibson, Dent and Borroughs — provided that desperately needed outlet.”
Pulp fiction characters, like the stories, were bigger than life and that is what appealed to the 30,000,000-plus readers caught in harsh economic times. America needed and wanted heroes and the pulps provided them. Adventure House publisher, John Gunnison, a Maryland-based republisher and distributor of pulp fiction, understands why Hollywood is so enamored with pulp fiction, stating,
“There’s no better heroes than the pulp heroes.”
“For a few decades,” Goodwin added, “Americans didn’t need their heroes with America’s global expansion, housing, technology and Internet booms — who needs a hero to save you if you’re not in danger?”
Based on film success and publishing numbers, America’s love for heroes and desire to see them win has definitely returned.