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Adventure [magazine]

Entry updated 3 July 2023. Tagged: Publication.


US general-fiction Pulp magazine that became a men's magazine from October 1954. It ran for a total of 881 issues from November 1910 to April 1971, and was a standard pulp for most of those years except for a period as a Slick from October 1926 to July 1927, as a Digest from January to May 1951, and as a letter-size semi-slick from June 1953 to October 1970. Its last three issues, December 1970-April 1971, were again as a digest. It was initially published by The Ridgway Company, a subsidiary of the Butterick Publishing Company of Boston, Massachusetts, which also published Everybody's Magazine. It was acquired by Popular Publications from July 1934 on. It was monthly until August 1917, but then came out twice monthly until 15 October 1935 with periods in between when it became thrice monthly (10 October 1921-30 March 1926 and 8 December-31 December 1926), such was its popularity, and monthly (June 1933-August 1934). It reverted to monthly from November 1935 and remained so until April 1958 except for a period when bimonthly (July 1951-August 1955) and then went bimonthly from June 1958 to the end. Its first editor was Trumbull White, but its undoubted heyday was under his successor, Arthur Sullivant Hoffman (1876-1966), under whose influence (February 1912 to 15 June 1927) Adventure came to be called "the Number One pulp", a term still used by Time magazine in 1935.

The magazine concentrated mostly on exotic or historical adventure, including Westerns, and during the war years on war stories, and it only occasionally ran anything close to science fiction. Indeed, Hoffman had a policy against publishing anything overtly fantastic. It is noticeable, though, that under his predecessor, Adventure responded to the general worldwide interest in the potential of aircraft and portrayed super-planes in "The Sword Edge of Chance" (December 1910) by Donovan Bayley (1881-1939) and in the Grey Ghost series by Muriel A Pollexfen, a cousin of W B Yeats, already published in England as The Grey Ghost (coll of linked stories 1910) and run in Adventure, April-September 1911. Adventure also published a number of Lost Race stories and serials, a theme still highly popular at that time. These include "The Adventurers" (January-April 1915; 1915 as Wings of Danger) by Arthur A Nelson, with an East African kingdom descended from the Vikings, and "The City of Baal" (mid-January 1921) by Charles Beadle, with a lost Phoenician kingdom in Zimbabwe.

Two writers, though, Talbot Mundy and T S Stribling, were head and shoulders above the others in their depiction of lost, and often more advanced races. Mundy was one of Adventure's prize contributors, indeed the magazine had made his reputation, and many of his novels and stories, a high proportion of which are set in remote corners of the world or outposts of Empire, involve some element of advanced or occult science. Notable serials, in his JimGrim series, include "Khufu's Real Tomb" (10 October 1922; 1933 as The Mystery of Khufu's Tomb); "The Gray Mahatma" (10 November 1922; 1924 as Caves of Terror), The Nine Unknown (20 March-30 April 1923; 1924); "Om" (10 October-30 November 1924; 1924 as Om: The Secret of Ahbor Valley), and "King of the World" (15 November 1930-15 February 1931; 1931 as Jimgrim).

Stribling's lost world stories began with one that was overtly science-fiction, which Hoffman introduced as an "Off-the-Trail" story: "The Green Splotches" (3 January 1920), which was reprinted in Amazing Stories in March 1927 and was an influence on Jack Williamson. Explorers discover a remote part of Peru where extraterrestrials have landed and are studying Earth's flora and fauna. "The Web of the Sun" (30 January 1922) is a complete novel which remained unreprinted until included in The Web of the Sun and The Green Splotches (coll 2011) and features a remote community descended from Spanish explorers in the midst of Peru that worship a giant spider. Fombombo (20 August-20 September 1923; 1923) is a more realistic novel but considers the chance of creating a Utopian society in a remote part of Venezuela. Stribling's other sf works in Adventure were "Christ in Chicago" (8 April 1926), which remains unreprinted, and is set in a future Chicago where there is a plot to reduce the population by selective eradication of the enfeebled, and "Mogglesby" (1 June 1930), with its race of intelligent gorillas.

Although Arthur O Friel was a regular contributor to Adventure, his novel "In the Year 2000" (15 May-15 June 1928) is untypical and concerns the outcome of a future war, which the white races win, but is otherwise a tale of intrigue in a privately owned kingdom. This was the last overt sf story to appear in Adventure during its pulp days. Under subsequent editors, of which there were many, and particularly when it was taken over by Popular Publications, the emphasis was on more macho testosterone-driven manly adventures and from October 1954 it changed completely into a man's magazine, with the emphasis on sex. Just before this change, and somewhat out of place, Arthur C Clarke appeared with the first of three stories from his Tales of the White Hart sequence, "Armaments Race" (April 1954). Adventure also published the first story (non-sf) by Philip José Farmer, "O'Brien and Obrenov" (March 1946) and one of the last by Sax Rohmer, "The Death Flower" (April 1955). Otherwise the last 17 years were an ignominious decline for what was once the most celebrated of all pulp magazines. [MA]

see also: Nictzin Dyalhis.


  • Trumbull White, November 1910-January 1912
  • Arthur Sullivant Hoffman, February 1912-15 June 1927
  • Joseph Cox, 1 July 1927-1 October 1927
  • Anthony M Rud, 15 October 1927-15 February 1930
  • Albert A Proctor, 1 March 1930-February 1934
  • William Corcoran, March 1934-August 1934
  • Harold Bloomfield, 1 September 1934-December 1940
  • Ken White, December 1940-December 1948
  • Kendall Goodwyn, January 1949-September 1951
  • Ejler Jakobsson, November 1951-March 1953
  • Jerry Mason, April 1953-June 1953
  • James O'Connell, August 1953-June 1954
  • Alden H Norton, August 1954-August 1964
  • Gil Paust, October 1964-August 1965
  • Peter H Gannett, October 1965-October 1970
  • Bruce Cassiday, December 1970-April 1971

further reading

  • Richard Bleiler. The Index to Adventure Magazine (Mercer Island, Washington: Starmont House, 1990) [nonfiction: two volumes: also available on CD-ROM (Oakland, California: Locus Press, 2000): hb/]
  • Robert Kenneth Jones. The Lure of Adventure (Mercer Island, Washington: Starmont House, 1989) [nonfiction: chap: pb/]


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