Saturday, November 7, 2015

11/7/1950 Black Mask fires its last editor

November 7, 1950.  H.L. Mencken and George Jean Nathan founded Black Mask in 1920, a more commercial spinoff from their literary magazine, Smart Set  (whose mascot was Satan wearing a black mask).  Eight issues later they sold it for 25 times their initial investment.

While Black Mask started willing to publish any commercial genre it soon found its focus on hardboiled crime fiction, especially under the legendary editor Captain Joseph Shaw.  Many great mystery writers found a home there including Raymond Chandler, Erle Stanley Gardner, and Dashiell Hammett (The Maltese Falcon began as a serial there).

But after World War II magazines of this type started to lose their market.  On this day in 1950 Black Mask fired Henry Steeger, their last editor.  Steeger, by the way, was a co-founder of  Popular Publications, one of the major producers of pulp magazines, including Battle Aces and Terror Tales.

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