BLACK MASK Magazine Profile

BLACK MASK was founded to make money. It did. Its success funded the publication of THE AMERICAN MERCURY, and it was quickly sold. Its new owners made it famous, and it provided the outlet for stories by Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler. Rare issues with stories by these authors can command prices of a thousand dollars and more. You can click here to go directly to the gallery of cover images.

BLACK MASK was arguably the most famous crime pulp. But in its earliest days, it wasn't devoted solely to crime; it covered "Western, Detective, and Adventure Stories," and you can see the transition in the legend at the top of the cover in the issues we have for you.

We could write a history of BLACK MASK that would talk about its famous authors, its importance in the history of pulp magazine publishing, and its lasting effects on American popular culture. But you could be the one to do it. Not us, you. If you think you'd like to write about BLACK MASK for this summary page, send us e-mail. Meanwhile, take a look at the short entry on the Wikipedia site, and Keith Alan Deutsch's tribute site BlackMaskMagazine.com (we call it a tribute site, but Keith owns the copyrights).

We would like to thank Hartmuth Freihoff for his excellent work in restoring these first issues, from inadequate photographs to something very close to their original brilliance.

Specialist bookseller "Terry's Comics" graciously allowed us to photograph several of their rare pulps, on display at the 2006 World Science Fiction Convention.

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Update history:

  • 12 January 2007: Added 40 more high-resolution cover images, from eBay seller listings.
  • 11 January 2007: New version of this document, for new website version.
  • 30 October 2006: Created this section and uploaded the first examples of BLACK MASK.