Rockstar Recommends: True Crime Detective Magazines (Taschen)
Left: True Crime Detective Magazines 1924-1969 – an amazing compendium that’s proved a valuable reference asset for us; Right: One of the over 450 original vintage detective magazine covers that appear in the book, this one from the post-Dahlia period in 1951. (All images from “True Crime Detective Magazines” by Eric Godtland and Dian Hanson, (ISBN: 978-3-8228-2559-4) courtesy Taschen, 2011)
Just as popular as the movies themselves during the seminal ‘film noir’ period of the 1940’s and 50’s, was the multitude of detective magazines that were ubiquitous, filling newsstands and magazine racks across the nation. Along with the pulp fiction novel trend set by writers like Hammett and Cain, and detective crime thriller radio serials broadcasted regularly – America’s fascination with lurid tales purportedly spun from the journals of hardnosed detectives and private eyes was a full-blown phenomenon.
With widely-read titles like Black Mask Magazine, Detective Story, True Detective, and countless others – these crime thriller ‘zines were geared primarily towards adults with titillating, shocking and sensational stories of sex and violence told from the perspective of those who’ve seen it all.
One of the most amazing compendiums of them that we’ve seen is the stunning hardcover book, “True Crime Detective Magazines” published by art book publisher Taschen. With over 450 original detective magazine covers spanning from 1924 through 1969, the information and artwork they’ve compiled has proven to be an invaluable reference guide for us into the narratives and aesthetic of the noir-era crime thriller.
With chapters arranged by decade, the book covers each period in detail along with insight on how the genre evolved over time and what some of the influential cultural milestones were that affected it.
Of particular interest:
“By the end of 1946 the war was well over, but the detective magazines showed no sign of recovering their pre-war glory. Then, in January of 1947, a crime occurred that foreshadowed the direction for the genre for the remainder of its life span. The Black Dahlia murder case, in which the naked and mutilated body of a beautiful Hollywood starlet was found in a vacant lot in Los Angeles, riveted the detective readership. Horrible as it all was, the obvious sex appeal lurking in the back story of this case was not lost on publishers struggling to hold a shrinking readership. New publisher Skye Publications was the most aggressive at playing the sexy-death hand in Best True Fact Detective and Women in Crime, but before the decade ended most titles had switched to stories with prurient fascination and were playing up the sexual angle in every possible crime. It was a line that, once crossed, could never be retraced.”
Check it out at Taschen’s site here:
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