Entry updated 19 June 2023. Tagged: Publisher.
US magazine-publishing house, founded in 1927 and based in Chicago until 1950, then New York. It entered the sf field in 1938 when it bought Amazing Stories from Teck Publishing Corp, New York, the first Ziff-Davis issue being April 1938, edited by Raymond A Palmer under Bernard G Davis (the Davis of Ziff-Davis) as editor-in-chief. Under Palmer and later Howard Browne, Amazing was the most juvenile and lurid of the pulp SF Magazines. The Ziff-Davis stable was expanded in May 1939 with the founding of a new title, Fantastic Adventures, also lurid. Local Chicago writers, many of them hacks, churned out material for Ziff-Davis at immense speed, and often under the huge variety of house names that characterized these magazines and made them a bibliographer's nightmare: Chester S Geier, David Wright O'Brien, Rog Phillips, Leroy Yerxa and many others whose work was hardly known outside the Ziff-Davis publications. Covers were colourful, to say the least, J Allen St John being especially notable in this regard; Robert Fuqua was also a regular cover artist and Rod Ruth drew many interior illustrations.
From 1950 Ziff-Davis also issued a number of Comics titles, though not including any overt Superheroes. Approved Comics was an associated imprint. Titles of sf interest include the anthology comic Amazing Adventures (1950-1952); Lars of Mars (1951); Crusader from Mars (1952); Space Busters (1952); Space Patrol (1952) a licenced title based on the Television series Space Patrol (1950-1955); and the Horror anthologies Nightmare and Weird Adventures. Additionally, test issues of comics based on Amazing Stories and Fantastic Adventures were prepared though apparently never distributed. So-called "ash-can" copies of the 1950 comic Amazing Stories #1 are known to exist. Most of the company's comics output was in other genres, and many titles were short-lived. The comics line ended in 1957, when those successful titles still being published were sold to other comics companies.
As the pulp era drew to a close in the 1950s, many sf magazines failed, and others converted to the Digest format, as Amazing did in 1953. By then Ziff-Davis had founded a new digest magazine, Fantastic, in 1952. This covered similar ground to Fantastic Adventures, which it absorbed in 1953. The only sf/fantasy addition to the stable thereafter was the short-lived Dream World, edited by Paul W Fairman, in 1957, though Ziff-Davis did publish occasional Comics titles, like Space Patrol in 1952. Stories created by factory-production techniques continued in the new digest magazines, now based in New York; Robert Silverberg was one who learned his craft in the 1950s by being slotted into the assembly line. Both Amazing and Fantastic improved enormously under the editorship of Cele Goldsmith 1958-1965, but it was too late. Bernard G Davis had left in the 1950s, and fiction magazines were becoming anomalies in the Ziff-Davis line-up, now largely concentrated (because of the potential for advertising revenue) on specialist nonfiction magazines like Popular Photography and Popular Electronics. Fantastic and Amazing were sold in 1965 to Sol Cohen's Ultimate Publishing Co, where he made a good thing for years recycling Ziff-Davis backlist stories in new magazines, as well as continuing the two main titles. The newly married Goldsmith stayed with Ziff-Davis to work on Modern Bride. Bernard Davis's son Joel went on to form his own publishing company, Davis Publications, which founded Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine (now Asimov's Science Fiction) and later bought Analog. The Davis sf dynasty, therefore, continued, in a much different guise, until 1992, when Dell Magazines bought both journals. [PN/GSt/DRL]
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