Pulp Magazine Genres

Pulp magazines covered a wide variety of genres, but may be divided into two main types: adventure fiction and detective fiction. Adventure pulps were aimed at young men and featured stories about exotic locations, foreign lands, pirates, spies, war heroes and adventurers. Detective pulps featured detectives investigating mysteries such as murders or robberies. Some had supernatural elements such as ghosts or monsters. Some detective pulps had strong sexual content.

But, ultimately, there were many different genres of pulp magazines and a lot of the genres bleed over into other genres.

The most popular genres included adventure stories set in exotic locations with heroes who were strong and brave. They often had to fight against pirates or other villains who wanted to get their hands on hidden treasures. Detective stories that featured detectives solving crimes using their wits and intelligence. Westerns stories that took place on the American frontier, with cowboys and outlaws as key characters. Science fiction stories about space travel, aliens and other futuristic topics. And, horror stories that covered ghosts and monsters.

As early as 1896, there were over 200 pulp magazines on the market in America.

Pulp Magazine Genres

AdventureAviationCrimeDetectiveEspionageFantasyGangsterHorrorHumorMysteryOccultRailroadRomanceScience FictionSérie NoireSpicy/SaucySportsWarWeird MenaceWestern
Argosy vol 354 no 6 June 1962

Adventure Pulp

The Adventure Pulp genre is a combination of action, mystery, and suspense. It typically features a hero who is thrust into a dangerous situation and must use his wits and physical prowess to survive. Adventure Pulp Magazines featured stories of pirates, lost worlds, and ancient civilizations. Some examples of Adventure Pulp Magazines include: Argosy, Amazing Stories, and Weird Tales.

Flying Aces December 1939

Aviation Pulp

The Aviation Pulp genre is a type of fiction that typically features stories about airplanes and pilots. These stories often have elements of adventure, danger, and suspense. Aviation Pulp Magazines often featured stories about daring pilots and their adventures. Some examples of Aviation Pulp Magazines include Ace High, Air Stories, and Flying Aces.

Dime Detective Magazine v67-3 August 1952

Crime Pulp

The Crime Pulp genre is a type of fiction that typically features stories about criminals and their crimes. Crime Pulp Magazines are typically filled with stories of suspense, violence, and sex. Some examples of Crime Pulp Magazines titles include: Black Mask, Dime Detective, and The Shadow.

Black Mask Magazine September 1929

Detective Pulp

The Detective Pulp genre is a type of crime fiction that was typically told from the perspective of a private investigator who was hired to solve a crime. The stories were often fast-paced and full of twists and turns. Many of the most popular detective pulp magazines were published in the United States, but the genre was also popular in other countries, such as the United Kingdom. Some of the most famous detective pulp magazines were The Black Mask and Detective Fiction Weekly.

The Spider Pulp Magazine October 1933

Espionage Pulp

The Espionage Pulp genre is a type of crime fiction that typically feature stories of international intrigue and espionage, and often include elements of mystery, crime, and suspense. Some examples of Espionage Pulp Magazines titles include: The Shadow, The Black Mask, and The Spider.

Famous Fantastic Mysteries V14 N2 Feb 1953

Fantasy Pulp

The Fantasy Pulp genre is a combination of fantasy and pulp fiction. It typically features stories with elements of sword and sorcery, adventure, and mystery. Some examples of Fantasy Pulp Magazines titles include Weird Tales, Strange Tales, and Astonishing Stories.

Gangster Stories 1931 June

Gangster Pulp

Gangster Pulp is a subgenre of crime fiction that typically features stories about gangsters and other criminals. The stories often have a gritty, realistic style and are often set in urban environments. Gangster Pulp Magazines often have titles such as Gangster Stories or Crime Stories.

Terror Tales Oct 1934

Horror Pulp

The Horror Pulp genre is a type of fiction that combines elements of horror and pulp magazines. Horror Pulp Magazines often feature stories of monsters, mad scientists, and otherworldly creatures. These stories are often set in dark and suspenseful settings, and they often end with a twist or a shock ending. Some examples of Horror Pulp Magazines titles include Strange Tales, Startling Stories, and Terror Tales.

College Humor Dec 1933

Humor Pulp

Humor Pulp is a genre of fiction that is characterized by its light-hearted and comedic tone. Humor Pulp Magazines often feature stories with elements of satire, parody, and farce. Some examples of Humor Pulp Magazines titles include College Humor, Ballyhoo, Capt. Billy’s Whiz Bang, and Fun House Magazine.

The Shadow Pulp Magazine June 1942

Mystery Pulp

The Mystery Pulp genre typically featured stories with elements of crime, suspense, and the supernatural. Some examples of Mystery Pulp Magazines titles include The Shadow, Weird Tales, and Strange Tales.

Weird Tales March 1942

Occult Pulp

The Occult Pulp genre is a sub-genre of horror that includes stories with elements of the occult, supernatural, and/or paranormal. Examples of Occult Pulp story elements include ghosts, vampires, werewolves, witches, zombies, and other monsters. Occult Pulp titles include Weird Tales, Strange Tales, and Tales from the Crypt.

Railroad Stories v17 n03 1935

Railroad Pulp

The Railroad Pulp genre is a subgenre of the Pulp fiction genre that focuses on stories that take place on or near railways. Story elements often include crime, adventure, and romance. Examples of Railroad Pulp Magazines titles includeThe Railroad Man’s Magazine and Railroad Magazine (considered to be the first pulp to specialize in a genre in 1906).

Romance Pulp

The Romance Pulp genre is a subgenre of the Pulp Fiction genre that focuses on stories with a romantic element. Some examples of story elements that are common in Romance Pulp stories are damsels in distress, dashing heroes, and exotic locations. Some examples of Romance Pulp Magazines titles are Love Story Magazine, Ranch Romances, and North-West Romances.

Analog Science Fiction and Fact Feb 1967 v78 n6

Science Fiction Pulp

The Science fiction Pulp genre is a subgenre of speculative fiction that typically deals with imaginative and futuristic concepts such as advanced science and technology, space exploration, time travel, parallel universes, and extraterrestrial life. Some of the many scifi pulp titles include Amazing Stories, Galaxy Science Fiction, Fantastic Universe, and Analog Science Fiction and Fact.

Detective-Dragnet Magazine Apr 1930

Série Noire

The Série Noire are French crime pulps, although most of them were originally english. The gener itself showed the French interest at the time in stories that focused on the dark and seedy side of human nature, often featuring characters that are criminals or otherwise involved in unsavory activities. Série Noire magazines typically feature stories with gritty, realistic settings and characters that are often flawed and morally ambiguous. Some examples of Série Noire titles include Black Mask and Detective-Dragnet Magazine.

Spicy Detective Stories v2 n6 Apr 1935

Spicy Pulp

The Spicy pulp genre was a subgenre of pulp magazines that were published from the 1920s to the 1950s. These magazines were characterized by their focus on sensational, often titillating stories with explicit visuals. Spicy pulp magazines often featured stories about topics such as crime, sex, and violence, as well as stories with a more lighthearted and humorous tone. Some examples of Spicy pulp magazine titles include Spicy Detective Stories, Spicy Mystery Stories, and America’s Spiciest Stories.

Sport Story Magazine Sept 1942

Sports Pulp

The Sports pulp genre is a subgenre of pulp fiction that typically deals with sports-related stories. Common story elements include athletes, coaches, teams, and games. Examples of Sports pulp Magazines titles include Thrilling Sports, Sport Story Magazine, and Fight Stories.

The American Eagle Oct 1941

War Pulp

The War pulp genre is a subgenre of the pulp magazine genre that featured stories about wars, both past and present. War pulp story elements include stories about wars and battles, stories about soldiers, sailors, and aviators, stories about heroism and bravery, and stories about adventure and excitement. Some examples of War pulp magazines titles include Yankee Doodle, Air War Magazine, The American Eagle, and Starry Flag.

Strange Tales Of Mystery And Terror v1n1

Weird Menace Pulp

The Weird Menace Pulp Genre was a subgenre of Pulp Magazines that focused on stories with a supernatural or horror element. Common story elements included mad scientists, evil aliens, voodoo priests, and zombies. Some examples of Weird Menace pulp magazine titles include Dime Mystery Magazine, Terror Tales, and Strange Tales.

Wild West Weekly Aug 7 1939

Western Pulp

The Western Pulp Genre was a subgenre of American pulp magazines that were popular in the first half of the 20th century. Western pulp magazines typically featured stories about cowboys, gunfighters, and outlaws, and often had dramatic cover art. Some common story elements included shootouts, stagecoaches, and barroom brawls. Some examples of Western pulp magazine titles include Western Story Magazine, Wild West Weekly, and Frontier Stories.