butterfly on a skull on a book

An embarrassingly long time ago, my patient friend Dr. Iago Faustus at Erotic Mad Science gave me a research commission to look into the death of the so-called “shudder” or “weird menace” pulps that flourished so luridly in the late 1930s and were extinct for all practical purposes by World War II. In particular, he asked me to look for hard evidence of the often-repeated common wisdom that they were killed off by censorship pressure.

I spent far too much time on research — and a bunch more on procrastination — with the end result that the written product of my efforts reads a lot more like hastily-typed-up notes than like a polished … anything. And I’m forced to admit that I’m far from completely satisfied with my own findings. Working as I do from rural Red State Heck, my access to primary sources was scattershot, having more to do with random vagueries of what happens to have been scanned and made searchable than with what I truly needed to access. So, in the end, I assembled a series of telling anecdotes, a constellation of data points, a handful of supporting primary sources, some firm opinions, and some hand-waving. But at least I can say that it’s more than anybody else has ever compiled on this particular question! It was fascinating to delve into the question in such detail, and I am debt to Dr. Faustus for his generosity in making the work possible.

The work has been appearing as a series of posts at Erotic Mad Science, but Dr. Faustus has now also compiled those posts onto a unitary What Killed The Shudder Pulps page for easy reference and reading convenience. Enjoy!

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