ADVENTURE Magazine Profile
This was the canonical "Adventure" pulp; click here to go directly to the gallery of cover images. Begun in 1910 as a way for publisher Ridgway to tap into a new market, it specialized in stories of danger and thrills. At this time other pulp and popular magazines contained a wide variety of stories ranging from danger to romance (even when these are not the same thing). Its creation was a logical response to the success of pulps like ARGOSY, which by 1910 were selling hundreds of thousands of copies of each issue; but the focus on adventure was something new.
ADVENTURE was about Adventure, the chance that something unusual might happen even to you, or at least to someone you could read about. The covers reflected this. It was bought by men. However, in early 1915 ADVENTURE changed its cover designs, which had been filled with red-blooded, dangerous men and animals, often in life-threatening situations, to showing exclusively pretty women in everyday or romantic poses. At the same time they adopted a new cover slogan: "Stories of Life, Love, and ADVENTURE." Clearly they were trying to appeal to women as well as men. This did not seem to work; in February 1917 they returned to the original approach, and kept things this way until the magazine changed to a "men's adventure" magazine in April 1953. This final incarnation of the magazine lasted until 1971, sometimes emphasizing girls and sometimes carrying new or reprint fiction. In its last hurrah in 1970-1, the magazine (now in digest format) returned to its original title logo and and claimed to be "The Number 1 Fiction Magazine for Men."
Phil Stephensen-Payne's Galactic Central provides the following summary of ADVENTURE'S publishing history, compiled from sources including The Adventure House Guide to the Pulps, Tim Cotrill's Ultimate Guide to the Pulps and It's a Man's World : Men's Adventure Magazines:
Total Issues: 878 (of which 753 were pulp or pulp-digest, and the remainder in the larger, "men's magazine" format)
Another title originally from the same publisher was EVERYBODY'S MAGAZINE, a mass- circulation journal which carried both fact articles and fiction by famous writers. By the late 1920's EVERYBODY'S had become an all-fiction magazine (to all intents a pulp), and as sales were faltering it was combined in 1929 into Ridgway's pulp fiction magazine ROMANCE. In a way this closed the circle; for ADVENTURE had come about as an extension of the company into the pulp fiction area.
Ridgway's other magazine ROMANCE had been created in 1919 as a stablemate of ADVENTURE, and at first published fiction in the swashbuckling mold of heroic "romance" as the term was used in the 19th Century. It came out with a dozen monthly issues and stopped; in November 1928 it was revived and ran monthly until January 1930, combined with EVERYBODY'S beginning with the June 1929 issue. We have cover images of nearly all of the issues online. Its attempt to attract women readers was clear from the beginning, but the 1929 covers always contain the specific word "love" somewhere in their descriptions of contents. (It may be the case that the 1919-20 version of the magazine published some of the material originally bought for ADVENTURE in the mid-teens during its "Life and Love" phase, but not published before the format changed back; this would be an interesting research project.)
Richard Bleiler's history of the magazine is available for free at Phil Stephensen-Payne's excellent website. You will also find there a complete index to the contents and cover artists. A hardcover edition of this information was published, and is available for those with plenty of money.
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