Amazing Stories

On Cover Mentions

The other day I got into a brief discussion of cover mentions throughout the history of the science fiction magazine.

Of course we all focus on the cover image first, but unless it is a really extraordinary sample of the genre’s art (between BEMs and brass brassieres it’s a bit tough to hit “extraordinary”) the very next thing we look at are the names of the authors to be found within.

To the first time buyer, these mean little to nothing.  To the aficionado however,  they can serve as an instant assessment of the expected quality of the issue.  Lots of top names, stands a chance of being an excellent issue.  No recognizable authors – well, either the title is on its way out (the editors are scraping the bottom of the submission barrel) or – we’re about to discover the next great thing to come down the genre pike.  This latter possibility can only be found in the “vanishingly small probability” box, and represents more of a hope for the reader than a real possibility.

I decided to take a look at how the various magazine titles handled this bit of self-promotion.  I then decided to use 1953 as my exemplar year.

Why 1953?  Because 1953 was THE banner year for science fiction and fantasy magazines.  And because the frenzy surrounding this boom year somewhat resembles what we’ve been seeing for the past several years – an explosion of electronic magazine titles, each of which carefully lists it’s available contents.

1953 was also a year in which the genre was changing;  more markets meant that more authors could stretch, had a few more places they could pitch to.  Many of the “old guard” were still publishing, and a lot of familiar names had become firmly established.  The short story was still the dominant form for the genre and thus, it’s at least as good a year as any other to pick on.

(Wikipedia only lists 219 SF novels published in 1953.  There were undoubtedly a handful of others, but this is a pretty good indicator of how few novels were published, as opposed to short fiction in the magazines.)

Here’s a gallery, displaying the magazine covers from 1953, in alphabetical order by magazine title.

AMAZING STORIES

Published by: Ziff-Davids Publishing Company
Edited by: Howard Browne
Format: Pulp

Charles Creighton, Mallory Storm, Chester Geier, Guy Archette, E. K. Jarvis, Paul Lohrman (2), Jack Lait, Lee Mortimer, Ray Bradbury, Robert Heinlein, H.L. Gold (2), Theodore Sturgeon, Harriet Frank, Walter M. Miller Jr., Kendall Foster, Henry Kuttner, Algiss Budrys, R. W. Krepps, Richard Matheson, Robert Skeckley (2), Vern Fearing, William P. McGivern, Wallace West, Evan Hunter
2/26

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION

Published by:  Street & Smith Publications
Edited by: John W. Campbell, Jr.
Format: Digest

Poul Anderson (3), H. Beam Piper, John J. McGuire, John Loxmith, Hal Clement, John E. Arnold, Lee Correy, Mark Clifton (2), Alex Apostildes (2), Tom Godwin, Raymond F. Jones

0/11

AVON SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY READER

Published by: Avon Novels Inc, & Stratford Novels Inc.
Edited by: Sol Cohen
Format:  Digest

Arthur C. Clarke (2), John Jakes (2), Alfred J. Coppel Jr., John Christopher, Milton Lesser (2), Jack Vance

0/9

BEYOND FANTASY FICTION

Published by:  Galaxy Publishing
Edited by:  Horace L. Gold
Format:  Digest

Ted Sturgeon (2), Damon Knight, T. L. Sherred, Jerome Bixby (2), Joe E. Dean, Richard Matheson (2), Roger Dee, Frank M. Robinson, James McConnell, Isaac Asimov, Robert Bloch, T. R. Cogswell, Philip K. Dick, John Wyndham, Wyman Guin, Richard Deeming, Algis Budrys, Franklin Gregory, Zenna Henderson, Ted Reynolds

1/23

COSMOS SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY MAGAZINE

Published by Star Publications
Edited by Laurence M. Jannifer
Format:  Digest

Poul Anderson, Carl Jacobi (2), Philip K. Dick, Evan Hunter (2), Ross Rocklynne, John Jakes, Bertram Chandler (2), Robert S. Richardson (2), B. Traven, N. R., Jack Vance

0/15

DYNAMIC SCIENCE FICTION

Published by: Columbia Publications
Edited by: Robert A. W. Lowndes
Format: Pulp

Cyril Judd, Raymond Z. Gallun, James Blish, Michael Sherman, Algis Budrys

0/5*

FAMOUS FANTASTIC MYSTERIES

Published by:  All Fiction Field (imprint of Popular Publications)
Edited by:  Mary Gnaedinger
Format:  Pulp

Talbot Mundy, H. Rider Haggard, Ayn Rand, Kafka

1/4

FANTASTIC

Published by: Ziff-Davis Publications
Edited by: Howard Browne
Format: Digest

Samuel Hopkins Adams, Joseph Shallit, Kris Neville, Edgar Allan Poe, John Collier, Billy Rose, B. Traven, Stephen Vincent Benet, William P. McGivern (3), Isaac Asimov, Alfred Bester, John Wyndham (2), Esther Carlson, Evelyn Waugh, Ralph Robin (3), Walter M. Miller Jr., Robert Sheckley (2), Richard Matheson, Frank M. Robinson, Rog Phillips, Robert Bloch

2/27

FANTASTIC ADVENTURES

Published by: Ziff-Davis Publications
Edited by: Howard Browne
Format: Pulp

Frank McGiver, Peter Dakin, E. K. Jarvis, Mallory Storm, Ivar Jorgensen, Alexander Blade

1/6

FANTASTIC STORY MAGAZINE

 

Published by:Best Books
Edited by: Samuel Mines
Format: Pulp

Edmond Hamilton, Murray Leinster (3), L. Sprague de Camp (4), Thomas L. McClary, Leigh Brackett, Henry Kuttner, Carl Jacobi, Horace L. Gold, Jerry Shelton, Ed Weston, Kevin Kent, Jack Townsley Rogers, Frederic Brown, Cleve Cartmill, Manly Wade Wellman, Otis Adelbert Kline, Roscoe Clark, Robert Moore Williams

1/23

FANTASTIC UNIVERSE SCIENCE FICTION

Published by: King-Sized Publications
Edited by: Sam Merwin
Format: Digest

Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke, Frank Belknap Long, E. Hoffman Price, Evan Hunter, Irving Cox, William Campbell Gault, A. Bertram Chandler (2), Walt Sheldon, Clifford D. Simak, Poul Anderson, Richard Matheson, Eric Frank Russell, Jean Jaques Ferrat, William F. Temple, Wallace West, C. M. Kornbluth, William Morrison, Philip K. Dick, Evelyn E. Smith

1/21

THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION

Published by: Mercury Press
Edited by: Anthony Boucher
Format: Digest

Fritz Leiber, Mabel Seeley, John Wyndham, Idris Seabright (2), Robert Louis Stevenson, R. Bretnor (2), L. Sprague de Camp, Fletcher Pratt, Oliver la Farge, J. T. McIntosh, Wilson Tucker, Richard Matheson, Anthony Boucher (2), Kris Neville, Chad Oliver, Esther Carlson, Alan Nelson, William Bernard Ready, Poul Anderson, Ward Moore, John D. MacDonald, Edward W. Ludwig, Arthur Porges, Manly Wade Wellman, Winona McClintic, Tom McMorrow Jr.,

4/29

FANTASY MAGAZINE/FANTASY FICTION

Published by: Future Publications
Edited by: Lester Del Rey
Format: Digest

Robert E. Howard (2), John Wyndham, (Philip K) Dick, Elliot, Fritch, (H.B.) Fyfe, H. Harrison, MacLean, L. Sprague de Camp, Pletcher Pratt

0/10

FUTURE SCIENCE FICTION

Published by: Standard Publications
Edited by: Robert A. W. Lowndes
Format: Pulp

John Wyndham, Poul Anderson, William Tenn, Gordon R. Dickson, Kriss Neville, Robert Sheckley

0/6

GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION

Published by: Galaxy Publishing
Edited by: Horace L. Gold
Format: Digest

Philip K. Dick, Damon Knight, H. L. Gold, Willy Ley (3)*, F, L. Wallace, J. T. McIntosh, Theodore Sturgeon, Isaac Asimov

0/10

GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION NOVELS

Published by: Galaxy Publishing
Edited by: Horace L. Gold
Format: Digest

This “magazine” Doesn’t really count as these are single novel publications.  However, for completeness’ sake:  John Taine, Isaac Asimov, J. Leslie Mitchell, James Blish (2), Lewis Padgett*, Edmond Hamilton

0/7

IF WORLDS OF SCIENCE FICTION

Published by: Digest Publications
Edited by: Larry Shaw
Format: Digest

Walter M. Miller Jr., Ivar Jorgenson, Arthur C. Clarke, Jack Vance, Walt Sheldon, H. B. Fyfe, James Blish, William Tenn, Mark Wolf

0/9

ORBIT SCIENCE FICTION

Published by: Hanro Corporation
Edited by: Donald A. Wollheim
Format: Digest

Richard English, August Derleth (2), Mack Reynolds, Charles Beaumont (2), Paul Brandts, H. B. Fyfe, John Christopher, James Causey

0/10

OTHER WORLDS

Published by: Clark Publications, later Bell Publications
Edited by: Raymond A. Plamer & Bea Mahaffey
Format: Digest

H. B. Fyfe, Richard S. Shaver (2), L Sprague de Camp (3), Eric Frank Russell, (William F.) Temple, (Robert Moore) Williams, Edward L. Smith, (Joe) Gibson, (Raymond A.) Palmer, S. J. Byrne, Robert Bloch, James McConne

0/15

PLANET STORIES

Published by: Love Romances
Edited by: Jack O’Sullivan
Format: Pulp

Bryan Berry (4*), Roger Dee, Gardner F. Fox, Robert Moore Williams, Ross Rocklynne, William Tenn, Ray Gallun, B. Curtis, Gordon R. Dickson, Hayden Howard, Stanley Mullen, Leigh Brackett, Ray Bradbury, Fox B. Holden

1/17

ROCKET STORIES

Published by: Space Publications
Edited by: Lester Del Rey, Harry Harrison
Format: Digest

(?) Bernard, (Henry) De Rosso, (John) Jakes, (Milton) Lesser (2), (Poul) Anderson, (Algis) Budrys, (?) Cox, (James) Gunn, (A. F. ?) Loomis, (?) Mullen

0/12

SCIENCE FICTION ADVENTURES

Published by: Space Fiction/Future Publications
Edited by: Lester Del Rey, Harry Harrison
Format: Digest

(William) Morrison (2, (Alan E.) Nourse, (George O.) Smith, (Erik) Van Lhin* (5), (Chad) Oliver, (Algis) Budrys, (Raymond Z.) Gallun, (Theodore R.) Cogswell, (Robert) Sheckley, (Poul) Anderson, (Irving E.) Cox (Jr.) (2), (Samuel) Moskowitz, (Richard) Snodgrass, C. M. Kornbluth

0/20

SCIENCE FICTION PLUS

Published by: Gernsback Publications
Edited by: Sam Moskowitz
Format: Slick

Eando Binder (2), Hugo Gernsback (2), Philip Jose Farmer (2), John Scott Campbell, Dr. Donald H. Menzel, Richard Tooker, Clifford D. Simak (2), Raymond Z. Gallun, Frank Belknap Long, F. L. Wallace, Robert Bloch, Harry Walton, Murray Leinster (2), Pierre Devaux, H. G. Viet, Gustav Albrecht, Frank R. Paul, Chad Oliver, Thomas Calvert McClary, Jack Williamson, Eric Frank Russell (2), Harry Bates, James H. Schmitz

0/29

SCIENCE FICTION QUARTERLY

Published by: Double-Action Magazines
Edited by: Charles D. Hornig, Robert A. W. Lowndes
Format: Pulp

Poul Anderson, Philip K. Dick, Randall Garrett, Milton Lesser

0/4

SCIENCE FICTION STORIES

Published by: Columbia Publications
Edited by: Robert A. W. Lowndes
Format: Digest

Poul Anderson, Raymond Z. Gallun, Robert Sheckley, Algis Budrys, Philip K. Dick, Noel Loomis, M.C. Pease

0/7

SCIENCE STORIES

Published by: Clark Publishing, Bell Publishing
Edited by: Raymond A. Palmer, Bea Mahaffey
Format: Digest

Jack Williamson, John Bloodstone, S. J. Byrne, T. P. Caravan, Mack Reynolds, Edward Wellen, Richard Dorot

0/7

SPACE SCIENCE FICTION

Published by: Space Publications
Edited by: Lester Del Rey
Format: Digest

H. Beam Piper, (John) Christopher, (William) Morrison (2), Damon Knight, T. L. Sherred, Lester Del Rey, Poul Anderson

0/8

SPACE STORIES

Published by: Standard Magazines
Edited by: Samuel Mines
Format: Pulp

Leigh Brackett, William Morrison, Sam Merwin Jr.

1/3

SPACEWAY STORIES OF THE FUTURE

Published by: Fantasy Publishing Co
Edited by: ?
Format: Digest

Only a movie title is listed.

STARTLING STORIES

Published by: Better Publications
Edited by: Samuel Mines
Format: Pulp

Damon Knight, Murray Leinster (2), George O. Smith, Sam Merwin Jr (3)., Chad Oliver, Kendall Foster Crossen, Willy Ley, Fletcher Pratt, Noel Loomis, Philip Jose Farmer, Theodore Sturgeon, Edmond Hamilton

0/15

THRILLING WONDER STORIES

Published by: Beacon/Better/Standard Magazines
Edited by: Samuel Mines
Format: Pulp

L. Sprague de Camp, Kendall Foster Crossen (3), Damon Knight, Katherine MacLean, Wallace West, R. J. McGregor, George O. Smith, Dwight V. Swain

1/10

TOPS IN SCIENCE FICTION

Published by: Love Romances
Edited by: Jack O’Sullivan, Malcolm Reiss
Format: Pulp

(Ray) Bradbury, Leigh Brackett (2), (Robert) Abernathy, (Hugh Frazier) Parker

TWO COMPLETE SCIENCE-ADVENTURE BOOKS

Published by:Wings Publishing
Edited by: Katherine Daffron
Format: Pulp

Like The Galaxy SF Novel, these “magazines” only published two full length novels, so it doesn’t really fit the standard pulp magazine cover listings thing.  However –

James Blish, Vargo Statten, Killian Houston Brunner, Bryan Berry, Poul Anderson, John D. MacDonald

0/6

UNIVERSE SCIENCE FICTION

Published by: Bell Publications, Palmer Publications
Edited by: Raymond A. Plamer, Bea Mahaffey
Format: Digest

Theodore Sturgeon, Murray Leinster, Nelson Bond, Robert Bloch, William T. Powers (2), William Campbell Gault, Gordon R. Dickson (2), Mark Clifton, Sylvia Jacobs, Roger Flint Young, Poul Anderson, (Isaac Asimov, (L. Sprague) de Camp, (Eando) Binder, F. L. Wallace, George H. Smith

1/18

VORTEX SCIENCE FICTION

Published by: Specific Fiction
Edited by: Chester Whitehorn
Format: Digest

(Nobody listed on the cover, probably owing to the fact that this was a terrible magazine.)

WEIRD TALES

Published by: Weird Tales Inc
Edited by: Dorothy McIllwraith
Format: Digest

Everil Worrell, Joseph Payne Brennan, Leah Bodine Drake, August Derleth (2), (Manly Wade) Wellman, C.(lark) A.(shton) Smith

2/6

WONDER STORY ANNUAL

Published by: Best Books
Edited by: ?
Format: Pulp

Jack Williamson, Ray Bradbury, Robert Heinlein, Henry Kuttner, Isaac Asimov

0/5

***

Text markup key:  A bolded name is an author who still resonates today (at least in my estimation); italics indicate a pseudonym – sometimes a house name, sometimes not; a number in ellipses indicated that the author was cover mentioned more than once during the year’s run.

The numbers following the names related the ration of female/male mentions for the year’s run.  The best that can be said about this is that Space Stories managed to achieve 33%, while the majority of the magazines featured no female authors.

***

Thirty Eight different titles, if we include serious name changes:

Amazing Stories, Astounding Science Fiction, Avon Science Fiction and Fantasy Reader, Beyond Fantasy Fiction, Cosmos Science Fiction and Fantasy Magazine, Dynamic Science Fiction, Famous Fantastic Mysteries,Fantastic Adventures, Fantastic*, Fantastic Story, Fantastic Universe, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Fantasy, Fantasy Fiction*, Future Science Fiction, Galaxy Science Fiction, Galaxy Science Fiction Novels, If Worlds of Science Fiction, Orbit Science Fiction, Other Worlds, Planet Stories, Rocket Stories, Science Fiction Adventures, Science Fiction Plus, Science Fiction Quarterly, Science Fiction Stories, Science Stories*, Space Science Fiction, Space Stories, Spaceway, Startling Stories, Thrilling Wonder Stories, Tops in Science Fiction, Two Complete Science-Adventure Books, Universe Science Fiction, Vortex Science Fiction, Weird Tales, Wonder Story Annual.
(*This was a title change) (and I’ve got 32 of the 38 first issues in my personal collection!)

Phew!

Incidentally, if you’d purchased all of these at the newsstand back in the day, it would have set you back a grand total of $55.80.  Adjusted for inflation, it would be a bit over $500 bucks today.  That’s a bit low.  There are 176 issues in question and current asking price for a digest magazine on the stands these days is $7.99.  At that price, these issues would have set you back about $1400.00.  This suggests that things really were cheaper back then!  (It’s also a lot easier to scrape up 25 cents looking for pennies on the street than it is to find $7.99….)

Beyond anything else, I simply can not imagine what it must have been like to be standing in front of the racks of a 1953 news shop.  During they heyday of my purchasing magazines from news shops, I had Amazing, F&SF, Fantastic, Galaxy, If, Analog, Odyssey, Galileo, and a handful of reprint mags to choose from, as well as a number of “graphic” magazines like Heavy Metal and “media” magazines like Star Warp.  I’d have been overwhelmed and terribly frustrated to find 38 different titles – I wouldn’t be able to choose which ones to spend my nickles on!

Truth be told, though, the regularity of these magazines was anything but regular.  If you averaged out their production over twelve months, there’d only be 15 titles to choose from at any given time.

No doubt quality suffered to some degree, but the chances of finding good stories was also increased.

Note, interestingly, that only 45 percent of these titles include the identifier “science fiction” in their name.  Among those that don’t include “science fiction”, seven consist of a descriptor and the word “stories”:  Amazing, Planet, Rocket, Science, Space, Startling, Thrilling Wonder, and two a descriptor plus “story” – Fantastic and Wonder.

I think it safe to say that the majority of magazines back in 1953 still felt the need to be very specific about what they were offering readers.  The cover image was apparently not quite enough, though I’m sure they worked hand-in-hand:  the outre image would catch your eye and the properly worded title would confirm your suspicions:  rocketships plus “Amazing” equals “science fiction”.  (Anyone seeing a scantily clad “space babe” and hoping for titillation was going to be sorely disappointed, and unlikely to be interested in anything “science stories”.)

Those two elements were probably believed to be sufficient come-ons to new customers, none of whom had a computer or databases to consult.  (In fact, whether or not you ever even saw a particular title on the newsstands was often hit or miss:  if the magazine distributor didn’t cover a particular territory (or deliver to that territory that month), you’d never see the issue(s).

But then, most of the magazines also went ahead and put two other items on their covers.  Frequently a statement about the contents was made -All New Stories!- and the title and author of at least one story listed on the table of contents.

I find it interesting that they felt a need to proclaim “All Stories Complete!”  “All New Fiction!” and even “A Selection of the Best Stories of Fantasy and Science Fiction, new and old.”  This was of course due to the fact that there were numerous reprint magazines on the stands (Famous Fantastic Mysteries among them) and woe to the reader who spent that hard-earned quarter, only to discover contents they’d already read!

Another thing regularly stuck on the cover of these ‘zines was a sort of sub-title:  Strange Adventures on Other Worlds…Preview of the Future…Stories of the Future…Science Fiction…Best in Fantasy….

If you stand back and take a look at all of the covers shown previously, you may notice that there seem to be two general format layouts – “framed” and “unframed”, and further that the unframed titles break down into two sub-groups – boxes or no boxes.

Framed layouts present the cover image, untouched, and surround it with (usually) an inverted ‘L’ shaped border (Galaxy, Space Stories), while unframed titles print a full-sized cover image and slap text directly over the image.  Some of these restrict the listing of contents or highlighted story in an opaque box (which is printed over the image).

It seems that two different schools of design thought were expressing themselves.  Both have advantages:  unframed present a larger image, framed present one that lets you see everything, no textual interruptions, please, but are small in area.

Also note that 1953 was a year of transition for magazine format:  some of the titles shown were published in “pulp” format (about 9 inches tall), such as Two Complete Science-Adventure Tales and Fantastic Adventures, while most had or were switching to the familiar digest (about 7 inches tall) format – such as Fantastic Universe and Galaxy.

The larger format almost exclusively utilized an unframed layout, while many of the digests went with the framed format, though not exclusively.  Notably, Amazing Stories seems to be all over the place.

Now, with all that being said…why’d they put those names on the cover?

These magazines had three basic markets they were trying to reach – the educated fan, the fan who didn’t know they were a fan, the casual reader.

The publishers didn’t really have to worry about the educated fan too much;  chances were they were a subscriber, or belonged to a club that subscribed, or had fellow fans who shared issues around.  Fan readers of SF&F were always hungry for more and needed no other motivation than “the new issue is on the stands” to go and seek it out.

Further, this kind of consumer had already developed their tastes and would have been pretty familiar with the regularly published authors and those who were considered to be headliners.  Any given name on the cover stood a 50-50 chance of attracting or deterring that reader.  You could get a lot for a quarter and a dime back then – almost a beer, almost a movie ticket; Mark Watney would probably like to know that ten pounds of potatoes cost the same as a magazine.

I ponder the wisdom of a promotional campaign that runs the risk of turning your potential customer off, up to fifty percent of the time.

On the other hand, publishers, at least in regards to this demographic, were probably counting on a few other things as well:  most fans were rabid fans by necessity.  Even if every single author in a given issue was disliked, there was still the editorial and the letter column (often worth the price of admission alone), whatever other features might be included and, of course, the cover, along with the interior illustrations.  (Remember those?)  Having probably already been through the demise of many prior titles, the experienced fan back then probably had a well-honed sense of historical preservation.  All of which would tend to encourage them to ignore front cover unpleasantness.

One thing is for sure though:  this segment of the market didn’t have to be sold.  They were already bought and paid for.  The only competition a magazine faced with this particular buyer was whether or not a competing title was more “attractive” this month.  Which suggests that one purpose of the names on the cover was to play one-ups-manship with the other titles.

This then leaves us with two segments – the unrealized fan and the casual reader.

The only difference between these two market segments is that the unrealized fan reader might have heard of an author or two.  I stress might, since the novels they might have been exposed to were few and far between and no one was advertising SF magazines on television or radio, nor even in the mass-circulation magazines of the day.  You weren’t going to see Isaac Asimov on a Wheaties box (though this might not be a bad idea…), Jack Parr wasn’t interviewing Ray Bradbury and the movies they might have caught rarely, if ever, mentioned the origin of their script.

Space Patrol, Tom Corbett, Tales of Tomorrow (ended this year), some fans might have caught Atom Squad, some kids were maybe watching Johnny Jupiter, Rod Brown was competing with Tom, and it would be several years before Science Fiction Theater, The Twighlight Zone and Men Into Space would grace the small screen;  these 1953 television shows did little to elevate the profile of the science fiction author.

Likewise, radio (still a popular medium) wasn’t producing much of serious fan interest either:  Dimension X had been off the air for a couple of years, and it would be a couple more before X Minus One would air (both prominently featured stories largely drawn from Astounding Science Fiction).  The radio companion for Space Patrol was airing, but, again, any author involved probably tried to keep as low a profile as possible.

The only real benefit any of the magazines might have derived from these other media might have been creating the initial interest in the subject matter.  Given the right circumstances, it is entirely possible that a consumer walking past a newsstand would make the connection between a television show featuring outer space and the image of a rocketship on the cover of one of the magazines.

This works, potentially, for the unrealized fan, though it begs a question:  why didn’t any of the magazines attempt to capture this television show audience with various forms of tie-in?  (Tom Corbett Isn’t the ONLY Space Cadet.  We’ve got space cadets in every issue!  A New Short Story by the author of the latest Tales of Tomorrow episode!)  It could be suggested that most of SF on television back in the day was focused on “kids”, and that the magazines were going after an older audience, but most of the magazines on sale were perceived, at least  by the general public, as being kid-stuff too.  I can imagine a well-meaning parent, noting their child’s interest in Space Cadets, picking up a copy of Universe, or Science Fiction Plus, or Science Fiction Adventures (check out the cover art) as an attempt to support the kid’s interest.  But then again, we’re talking about an era that generally despised science fiction, so it’s more likely that mom or dad would be scheduling homework time during Corbett’s 15 minute episodes….

The casual reader…the only thing I can imagine that would attract them to an SF pulp (or digest) would be the cover art, perhaps reinforced by one of the come-ons.  But certainly not the names.

This of course brings us back full circle.  It’s pretty well established that the names on the cover did little to help market these titles.  Existing fans knew the titles and would pick them up regardless of who was featured;  unrealized fans could make no informed judgement about the content, and the casual reader would be attracted by art and possibly blurbs.

So why?  Why go to the trouble to select the names, why the belief that doing so was beneficial?  There’s probably only two reasons:  tradition (magazines had been printing the contents on the cover from the beginning) and ego boo:  ego boo for the authors (who were getting paid very little and had only two sources of fan interaction – letters and conventions.  Not to mention wanting to keep valued authors on the submission hook.  And ego boo for the editors and publishers who got to brag among themselves and play a game of one upsmanship.

So what have we got?  Here’s the list, most cover mentions to least, in alphabetical order.  There are quite a few names we still engage with these days…and quite as many we have forgotten.

14 Anderson Poul
11 de Camp L. Sprague
 8 Leinster Murray
 7 Dick Philip K., 7 Sheckley Robert
 6 Asimov Isaac, Budrys Algis, Matheson Richard, Morrison William, Sturgeon Theodore, Wyndham John
 5 Berry Bryan, Blish James, Bloch Robert, Brackett Leigh, Bradbury Ray, Crossen Kendall Foster, Gallun Raymond Z., Knight Damon, Lesser Milton, Lhin Erik Van,
 4 Chandler A. Bertram, Clarke Arthur C., Derleth August, Dickson Gordon R., Gold Horace L., Hunter Evan, Jakes John, Ley Willy, McGivern William P., Merwin Jr Sam, Oliver Chad, Russell Eric Frank
 3 Binder Eando, Christopher John, Clifton Mark, Cox Irving, Farmer Philip Jose, Fyfe H. B., Hamilton Edmond, Jacobi Carl, Kuttner Henry, Miller Jr. Walter M., Neville Kris, Robin Ralph, Simak Clifford D., Smith George O., Tenn William, Vance Jack, Wallace F L., Wellman Manly Wade, West Wallace, Williams Robert Moore, Williamson Jack,
 2 Apostildes Alex, Beaumont Charles, Bixby Jerome, Boucher Anthony, Bretnor R., Byrne S. J., Carlson Esther, Cogswell Theodore R., Dee Roger, Gault William Campbell, Gernsback Hugo, Heinlein Robert, Howard Robert E., Jarvis E. K., Jorgensen Ivar, Kornbluth C. M., Lohrman Paul, Long Frank Belknap, Loomis Noel, MacDonald John D., McIntosh J. T., Mullen Stanley, Piper H. Beam, Powers William T., Pratt Fletcher, Reynolds Mack, Richardson Robert S., Robinson Frank M., Rocklynne Ross, Seabright Idris, Shaver Richard S., Sheldon Walt, Sherred T. L., Storm Mallory, Temple William F., Traven B.,
 1 Abernathy Robert, Adams Samuel Hopkins, Albrecht Gustav, Archette Guy, Arnold John E., Bates Harry, Benet Stephen Vincent, Bernard (?), Bester Alfred, Blade Alexander, Bloodstone John, Bond Nelson, Brandts Paul, Brennan Joseph Payne, Brown Frederic, Brunner Killian Houston, Campbell John Scott, Caravan T. P., Cartmill Cleve, Causey James, Clark Roscoe, Clement, Hal, Collier John, Coppel Jr. Alfred J., Correy Lee, Cox (?), Creighton Charles, Curtis B., Dakin Peter, De Rosso Henry, Dean Joe E., Deeming Richard, Del Rey Lester, Devaux Pierre, Dorot Richard, Drake Leah Bodine, English Richard, Fearing Vern, Ferrat Jean Jaques, Fox Gardner F., Frank Harriet, Fritch Elliot, Fyfe H.B., Garrett Randall, Geier Chester, Gibson Joe, Godwin Tom, Gregory Franklin, Guin Wyman, Gunn James, Haggard H. Rider, Harrison H., Henderson Zenna, Holden Fox B., Howard Hayden, Jacobs Sylvia, Jones Raymond F., Judd Cyril, Kafka , Kent Kevin, Kline Otis Adelbert, Krepps R. W., la Farge Oliver, Lait Jack, Leiber Fritz, Loomis (A. F. ?), Loxmith John, Ludwig Edward W., MacLean Katherine, MacLean Mabel Seeley, McClary Thomas Calvert, McClary Thomas L., McClintic Winona, McConne James, McConnell James, McGiver Frank, McGregor R. J., McMorrow Jr. Tom, McGuire John J, Menzel Donald H., Mitchell J. Leslie, Moore Ward, Mortimer Lee, Moskowitz Samuel, Mundy Talbot, Nelson Alan, Nourse Alan E., Padgett Lewis, Palmer Raymond A., Parker Hugh Frazier, Paul Frank R., Pease M.C., Phillips Rog, Poe Edgar Allan, Porges Arthur, Pratt Pletcher, Price E. Hoffman, R. N., Rand Ayn, Ready William Bernard, Reynolds Ted, Rogers Jack Townsley, Rose Billy, Schmitz James H., Shallit Joseph, Shelton Jerry, Sherman Michael, Smith Clark Ashton, Smith Evelyn E., Smith George H., Smith Edward L., Snodgrass Richard, Statten Vargo, Stevenson Robert Louis, Swain Dwight V., Taine John, Tooker Richard, Tucker Wilson, Viet H. G., Walton Harry, Waugh Evelyn, Wellen Edward, Weston Ed, Wolf Mark, Worrell Everil, Young Roger Flint

Resources for this article were obtained from Galactic Central and the Internet Science Fiction Database.

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