Last week the Wolfsonian at Florida International University in Miami Beach opened In the Shadows, an exhibition of mid-century American pulp magazine and paperback cover art. Focusing on the stereotypical ‘tough guys,’ and ‘helpless females,’ often featured on pulp covers of the era, the exhibition was organized in collaboration with FIU students to explore gender and violence.
In a review, Nicole Martinez writes, “Because pulps were cheaply produced, illustrations among their pages were scarce. Instead, pulps concentrated on creating exciting, melodramatic covers that incorporated color and movement to entice readers.” That drama was often depicted with stereotypical, violent, and xenophobic imagery. Kudos to FIU not only for engaging those topics, but also for encouraging students in this type of book and art history study.
The exhibit remains on view through July 9.
Image: Murder for What? by Kurt Steel (paperback, 1943) is one of the pulps on exhibit. Courtesy of the Wolfsonian.