Black Mask

Black MaskAttachments9:47 AM (1 hour ago)
to me
I received this very gracious message from Black Mask Magazine in response to my query about their June 1, 1923 Ku Klux Klan issue.

Hi Martha,
I’ve attached a pdf of the stories here. I wish the scans were more square & less wavy, but the magazine is so rare, so I’m grateful for having scans in any shape.
There are some universities that concentrate on specific pulp titles: they may specialize in sci fi or detective titles, for example. And the Library of Congress has a lot of pulps on microfilm. But the LOC considered Black Mask as too important to destroy in order to create the microfilm. UCLA has a near-complete set, but they’re cagey about making copies due to their fragility. And with Hammett and Raymond Chandler appearing in so many issues, they’re pricey to purchase (when they turn up).
JMU has many BM issues scanned, as they scanned them for us. In fact, they may have been the source of this KKK issue.
As such, it’s been important to us to acquire a set of BM for reprint/reference purposes. We’re working on a digital-first set. We’ve got a nice accounting of the run, but many still elude us. I’ve attached a spreadsheet of what we have & what we’re looking for.

Good luck with your project: as an aside, the depictions of minorities in the pulps would be an interesting subject. Sure, it would be a layup to find plenty of prose that would be offensive people in 2020, but there are a surprising number of characters who were shown to be heroic and respected. A lot of the more popular pulp writers were world travelers and had experienced a variety of cultures… this no doubt affected their work.
Black Mask Magazine


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4 responses to “Black Mask

  1. spencertricker

    Thanks for sharing this, Martha. Interesting PR going on in that last paragraph!


  2. C. Saper

    Thanks Martha, I write about one or two of the Black Mask writers (before and decades after 1923, but who fled the US in 1917) — who did travel the world — although I’m not sure if that lessened the primitivist racism. It is just difficult to know who wrote the stories because of pseudonyms, and I wonder if Black Mask had a structural racism involved in their imagined audience? Let us know if you find out more.


  3. mhpatterson

    Hi Craig,
    I don’t know if you have seen this TOC list for Black Mask, but here it is:


    • C. Saper

      Ah. Thanks. I’ve used it for another project, but now I see that the editor of The Smart Set has an article in the Klan issue. Hmmm. George Jean Nathan.


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