Columbia Publications was an American publisher of pulp magazines featuring the genres of science fiction, westerns, detective stories, romance, and sports fiction. The company published such writers as Isaac Asimov, Louis L'Amour, Arthur C. Clarke, Randall Garrett, Edward D. Hoch, and William Tenn; Robert A. W. Lowndes was an important early editor for such writers as Carol Emshwiller, Edward D. Hoch and Kate Wilhelm.
|Founder||Louis Silberkleit and Maurice Coyne|
|Country of origin||U.S.|
|Headquarters location||(nominal) Springfield, Massachusetts and Holyoke, Massachusetts|
(actual) 60 Hudson Street, New York City
|Key people||Robert A. W. Lowndes|
|Publication types||Pulp magazines|
|Fiction genres||Science fiction, Western, Detective stories, Crime fiction, Mystery fiction, Romance fiction, Sports fiction|
|Imprints||Winford Publications (1934–1940)|
Northwest Publishing (1935–1940)
Chesterfield Publications (1936–1939)
Blue Ribbon Magazines (1937–1941)
Double Action Magazines (1938–1941)
Operating from the mid-1930s to 1960, Columbia's most notable magazines were the science fiction pulps Future Science Fiction, Science Fiction, and Science Fiction Quarterly. Other long-running titles included Double Action Western Magazine, Real Western, Western Action, Famous Western, Today's Love Stories, Super Sports, and Double Action Detective and Mystery Stories. In addition to pulp magazines, the company also published some paperback novels, primarily in the science fiction genre.
Columbia Publications was the most prolific of a number of pulp imprints operated in the 1930s by Louis Silberkleit. Nominally, their offices were in Springfield, Massachusetts and Holyoke, Massachusetts (the addresses of their printers, binders, and mailers for subscriptions), but they were actually produced out of 60 Hudson Street in New York City.
Louis Silberkleit and Maurice Coyne[n 1] (two out of three of the men who later founded MLJ Magazines (Archie Comic Publications)) started publishing pulps in Sept. 1934 with the publisher brand Winford Publications and the title Double Action Western Magazine, soon joined by Real Western. The two men launched the Northwest Publishing imprint in 1935, Chesterfield Publications in 1936, Blue Ribbon Magazines in 1937, and Double Action Magazines in 1938. Silberkleit ran the companies while Coyne acted as a silent partner and business manager.
Meanwhile, Silberkleit and Coyne had started Columbia Publications in late 1937. Columbia's first titles were Western pulps: Western Yarns debuted in January 1938 and Complete Cowboy in January 1939. Beginning with the June 1940 issue, Columbia took over publication of Western Action from Winford Publications. The same happened in November 1940 with Double Action Western Magazine and Real Western.
Editor Charles Hornig was hired in October 1938. He had no office; he worked from home, coming into the office as needed to drop off manuscripts and dummy materials, and pick up typeset materials to proof. He was given broad freedom to select what he wanted to publish; he reported to Silberkleit's chief editor, Abner J. Sundell.
In 1941, Silberkleit essentially consolidated all his pulp publishing companies under the Columbia Publications umbrella. Extant titles Columbia took on that year included Famous Western, Science Fiction, Hooded Detective (started in 1938 under a different title), Future Fiction, Sports Winners and Super Sports. At that point, in mid-1941, Robert A. W. Lowndes came on board, becoming Columbia's lead editor. In late 1941, Silberkleit merged Science Fiction with Future Fiction.
Two years later Columbia cancelled both Future and Science Fiction Quarterly (launched in 1941), deciding to use the limited paper they could acquire for their line of Western and detective titles instead. (The U.S.'s 1941–1942 entry into World War II brought about a paper shortage, which equally effected other pulp publications.) Both magazines, as well as Science Fiction, were revived in the 1950s.
In addition to pulp magazines, Columbia published a few paperback books, most notably Noel Loomis' City of Glass (1955) (a "Double Action Pocketbook"; originally published in 1942 as a shorter piece in Standard Magazines' Startling Stories) and the five-issue series Science Fiction Classics (1942), which included novellas by Earl Binder and Otto Binder writing as "John Coleridge," and John Russell Fearn writing as "Dennis Clive".
As television supplanted magazines as the dominant form of mass entertainment in the 1950s, the pulps suffered from slumping sales. In February 1960, when Columbia's distributor refused to carry any more of the company's titles, that signaled the end of Columbia Publications.
Silberkleit, Coyne, and fellow Archie founder John L. Goldwater immediately founded Belmont Books, a low-rent paperback publisher devoted to science fiction, horror, and mystery titles. In its early years, Belmont published a number of science fiction anthologies that featured content from Science Fiction, Future Fiction, Science Fiction Quarterly, and Dynamic Science Fiction, all of which had been published by Columbia Publications.
Gerald G. Swan reprintsEdit
British publisher Gerald G. Swan (1902–1980) published 16 issues of Swan American Magazine from 1946 to 1950, the contents of which were culled from Columbia Publications titles. The Swan issues focused on Western and detective titles, with a couple of science fiction-themed issues thrown in. Five individual issues of Swan American Magazine were devoted to material reprinted from Columbia's Famous Western, two to Western Yarns, and two to Complete Cowboy.
Swan American Magazines issues:
- Western Yarns (1948)
- Detective Yarns (1948)
- Crack Detective Stories (1948)
- Famous Western (1948)
- Western Yarns (1948)
- Famous Western (1948
- Hooded Detective (1948)
- Famous Western (1948)
- Crack Detective (1948)
- Famous Western (1948)
- Future Fantasy and Science Fiction (1948)
- Complete Cowboy Wild Western Stories
- Famous Western
- Complete Cowboy Wild Western Stories
- Science Fiction Quarterly (1950)
- Black Hood Detective (1950)
In 1960, Swan also published three issues of Weird and Occult Library, which mostly featured old stories from Columbia's science fiction pulps.
|Title||Genre||Imprint||1st pub. date||last pub. date||Notes|
|published by Chesterfield in the 1930s and Columbia in the 1950s|
|Adventure Yarns||Adventure||Columbia||1938 August||1938 December|
|Air Action||Adventure||Double Action||1938 December||1940 September||later known as Sky Raiders|
|All Sports Magazine||Sports||Columbia||1939 October
|Blue Ribbon Sports||Sports||Blue Ribbon||1937 December||1940 October|
|Blue Ribbon Western||Western||Blue Ribbon
|1937 July||1950 April/May||published by Blue Ribbon from July 1937–(Jan.) 1940, by Double Action from (Feb.) 1940–Sept. 1940, then picked up by Columbia|
|Complete Cowboy||Western||Columbia||1939 January||1950 April/May||later known as Complete Cowboy Novel Magazine|
|Complete Northwest Novel Magazine||Adventure||Northwest||1935 September||1940 April||later called Complete Northwest Magazine and then Complete Northwest|
|Cowboy Romances||Western||Blue Ribbon||1937 August||1938 July|
|Cowboy Short Stories||Western||Blue Ribbon||1938? October||1940 September|
|Detective and Murder Mysteries||Detective||Blue Ribbon
|1939 (March)||1941 February||published by Blue Ribbon from Mar.–Nov. 1939, then continued by Columbia|
|Detective Yarns||Detective||Blue Ribbon
|1938 June||1957 July||later known successively as Black Hood Detective, Hooded Detective, Crack Detective, Crack Detective Stories, Famous Detective, Famous Detective Stories, and Crack Detective and Mystery Stories|
|Double Action Detective Stories||Detective||Columbia||1954||1960||later known as Double Action Detective and Mystery Stories|
|Double-Action Gang Magazine||Detective||Winford||1936 May||1939 July||later known as True Gangster Stories|
|Double Action Western Magazine||Western||Winford
|1934 September||1960 May||published by Winford from Sept. 1934–Nov. 1939|
|Dynamic Science Fiction||Science fiction||Columbia||1952 December||1954 January|
|Famous Western||Western||Blue Ribbon
|1937 May||1960||published by Blue Ribbon from 1937–Apr. 1940, by Double Action from July 1940–Spring 1941, then picked up by Columbia|
|Future Science Fiction||Science fiction||Blue Ribbon
|Published by Blue Ribbon as Future Fiction Nov. 1939–Aug. 1941, then continued by Double Action as Future Combined with Science Fiction from Oct. 1941–Aug. 1942, and then Columbia|
|Gay Love Stories||Romance||Columbia||1943 April||1960 Summer||title refers to "gay" in the sense "lighthearted and carefree"|
|Ideal Love||Romance||Columbia||1941 April||1960 February||later known as Ideal Love Stories|
|Intimate Confessions||Romance||Blue Ribbon||1937 September||1938 November|
|Mystery Novels and Short Stories||Detective||Double Action||1939 September||1941 September|
|Personal Confessions||Romance||Blue Ribbon||1938 March||1938 November|
|1935 January||1960 April||published by Winford from Jan. 1935–Sept. 1939; later known as Real Western Stories|
|Real Western Romances||Western||Columbia||1949 December||1960 December||later known as Western Romances|
|Romantic Love Secrets||Romance||Blue Ribbon
|1938 July||1959 September||published beginning in July 1933 by Graham Publications as Romantic Love Secrets Magazine; later known as Romantic Love (Double Action) and Today's Love Stories (Columbia)|
|Science Fiction||Science fiction||Blue Ribbon
|published by Double Action from Mar. 1940–Jan. 1941, then merged with Future Fiction under the title Future Combined with Science Fiction|
|Science Fiction Quarterly||Science fiction||Double Action
|Sky Raiders||Adventure||Columbia||1942 December||1944 Summer|
|Smashing Detective Stories||Detective||Columbia||1951 March||1958 February||later known as Fast Action Detective and Mystery Stories|
|Smashing Novels Magazine||Adventure||Winford
|1936 May||1939 December||published under Winford Publications from May 1936–Apr. 1939, then title changed to Adventure Novel and picked up by Chesterfield from Feb. 1937–Jan. 1938, then picked up by Columbia and title changed to Adventure Novels and Short Stories|
|Smashing Western||Western||Chesterfield||1936 September||1939 October|
|Sports Fiction||Sports||Blue Ribbon
|1938 April||1951 September|
|Sports Winners||Sports||Blue Ribbon
|1938 April||1952 April||published by Double Action from June 1940–Jan. 1941|
|Super Sports||Sports||Blue Ribbon
|1939 March||1957||published by Blue Ribbon from Mar. 1939–Oct. 1941|
|Ten Story Gang||Detective||Winford
|1938 August||1940 September||published by Double Action as Gangland Detective Stories from Nov. 1939–Sept. 1940|
|Undercover Detective||Detective||Double Action||1938 December||1939 April|
|Western Action Novels Magazine||Western||Winford
|1936 March||1960 April||published by Winford from Mar. 1936–Feb. 1940, then by Columbia as Western Action|
|Western Love Story Magazine||Western||Blue Ribbon||1938 May||1938 December|
|Western Yarns||Western||Columbia||1938 January||1944 Spring|
- Lowndes, Robert A. W. "The Columbia Pulps," The Pulp Era No. 67 (May–August 1967), edited by Lynn A. Hickman
- A 2003 account by journalist and later Archie Comics publicist Rik Offenberger, writing about the formation of Archie, maintains that, "In the early 1930s Louis Silberkleit, Martin Goodman, and Maurice Coyne started Columbia Publications" – a company unrelated to the later Columbia Comics, which began in 1940. "Goodman soon left that company and it was owned solely by Louis Silberkleit and Maurice Coyne. Columbia was one of the last pulp companies, putting out its last pulp in the late 50s..." Bell and Vassallo's 2013 book disputes that Goodman was involved in Columbia Publications, saying, "[T]here is no evidence that Columbia Publications existed before Goodman and SIlberkleit parted company in 1934." The authors add: "Sources contributing to the myth: the late Jerry Bails's Who's Who of American Comics, the late Les Daniels in Marvel: Five Fabulous Decades of the World's Greatest Comics, and David Saunders in Illustration Magazine #14, Summer 2005."
- Silberklet entry, Who's Who of American Comic Books, 1928–1999. Retrieved February 27, 2017.
- Ashley, Mike; Thompson, Raymond H. (1985). "Science Fiction". In Tymn, Marshall B.; Ashley, Mike. Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Weird Fiction Magazines. Westport CT: Greenwood Press. pp. 511–519. ISBN 0-313-21221-X.
- Saunders, David. "LOUIS H. SILBERKLEIT (1900–1986)," Field Guide to Wild American Pulp Artists. Retrieved February 26, 2017.
- Offenberger, Rik (March 1, 2003). "Publisher Profile: Archie Comics". Borderline No. 19 via MightyCrusaders.net. Retrieved April 2, 2008.
- Bell, Blake; Vassallo, Michael J. (2013). The Secret History of Marvel Comics. Seattle: Fantagraphics Books. p. 17. ISBN 978-1606995525.
- "LOUIS SILBERKLEIT, CO-FOUNDER OF ARCHIE COMICS, DIES AT 81," The New York Times (February 25, 1986) (last visited on July 19, 2015).
- Ashley, Mike (2000). The Time Machines: The Story of the Science-Fiction Pulp Magazines From the Beginning to 1950. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press. ISBN 0-85323-865-0, p. 260.
- Davin, Eric Leif (1999). Pioneers of Wonder: Conversations with the Founders of Science Fiction. Amherst NY: Prometheus Books. ISBN 1-57392-702-3, p. 102.
- Davin (1999), pp.111–112.
- Davin (1999), p. 119.
- Ashley (2000), p. 149.
- Ashley, Mike (1985d). "Future Fiction". In Tymn, Marshall B.; Ashley, Mike. Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Weird Fiction Magazines. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. ISBN 0-313-21221-X, p. 280.
- Feldman, Michael. "The Secret Origin of Tower Comics," in The Thunder Agents Companion by Jon B. Cooke (TwoMorrows Publishing, 2005), p. 85.
- Hyfler, Richard. "Books For Bus Terminals: Whatever Happened to Belmont Productions?" Forbes (September 15, 2010).
- "Gerald G. Swan," Grand Comics Database. Retrieved March 22, 2017.
- Pulp Magazines, Galactic Central website