Pulp Era Heroes: The Overlooked Collectible

by Lauren Sisselman

040422E-1024x536 Pulp Era Heroes: The Overlooked CollectibleOne of the more interesting periods in the American comic scene is the pulp era, which roughly ran from 1896 to the mid-1950s. These stories laid the groundwork for today’s comic books, and they also introduced a number of heroes in the process. These heroes include Buck Rogers, Conan the Barbarian, Zorro, The Shadow, Tarzan, John Carter, and Doc Savage — there was something for every type of reader during this time.

Pulp era magazines get their name from the type of paper they were printed on. Pulp-wood paper is the cheapest paper that could be used. It’s also important to note that any sales data shown is reflective of raw/ungraded pulp magazines. Typically, pulp’s don’t get graded, though it is not entirely unheard of. We’ve tracked pulp auctions in the past, but if pulp comics have just caught your eye, here are some of the coolest (and sometimes priciest!) pulp magazines out there.

argosy-189610-210x300 Pulp Era Heroes: The Overlooked Collectible

The Argosy Magazine October 1896

The Argosy Magazine had been around prior to 1896 as a children’s weekly, starting in 1882. Yet when dwindling sales were a viable threat, publisher Frank Munsey switched to an adult-oriented pulp — thus giving pop culture its first pulp magazine!

The first issue had 192 pages and no illustrations. The cover itself is fairly dull by today’s standards. Copies of this magazine are extremely hard to come by.

It’s safe to assume that due to how cheaply pulps were made, many copies of this magazine did not survive. Finding price records for this collectible is even harder. If you can find a copy of this pulp, chances are good it will be out of most people’s price range.

The All-Star Story October 1912download-2-2 Pulp Era Heroes: The Overlooked Collectible

Edgar Rice Burroughs created a number of popular pulp-era heroes, but arguably the most popular of said heroes is Tarzan.

Introduced in The All-Star Story October 1912 magazine, this magazine is the hardest to find, as there are possibly less than 20 that have survived.

Heritage sold a copy in 2006 for $59,750. The price did drop to $41,825 in September of 2011 for an apparent good/very good copy.

The Living Shadow April 1931download-3-1 Pulp Era Heroes: The Overlooked Collectible

The Shadow didn’t actually start out as a literary figure — he was originally the narrator for the Detective Story Hour radio series.

But, in 1931 The Shadow was further brought to life thanks to Walter B. Gibson in The Living Shadow.

This story is one of the most reprinted Shadow stories to date. Like most of its contemporaries, this magazine is rare.

Heritage recently sold a fine condition copy for $156,000 in May of 2021 — 11 years prior Heritage sold a restored copy for $2,629.

Amazing Stories August 1928download-4-1 Pulp Era Heroes: The Overlooked Collectible

Not all pulp magazines are hard to find. Amazing Stories August 1928, the first appearance of Buck Rogers!

This magazine is easy to find — and can be found in a variety of conditions. An apparent very good copy sold on eBay for $709 in February of 2022, while Heritage sold an apparent very good+ for $2,400 in January of 2022.

If you’re looking to buy a key pulp, Amazing Stories should be at the top of your list.

Are you a pulp magazine collector? Tell us about your collection in the comments below!

AAA-Baltimore-Lauren-Blogger-Footer Pulp Era Heroes: The Overlooked Collectible*Any perceived investment advice is that of the freelance blogger and does not represent investment advice on behalf of GoCollect.

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