The Digest Enthusiast: Book Five

On the first page after its table of contents, THE DIGEST ENTHUSIAST’s fifth issue notes that four fiction digests — those bearing the brand names of Alfred Hitchcock, Isaac Asimov and Ellery Queen — have shifted from a 10-issue yearly schedule to a mere half-dozen. The cost-cutting measure is a sign of these tough publishing times.

Luckily, it’s one that ENTHUSIAST doesn’t have to worry about, for two major reasons: First, editor and publisher Richard Krauss is more focused on covering the past history of these magazines, whose heyday is long behind them. And second, being an indie publication in today’s print-on-demand technology, pesky things like “unsold copies” do not exist. Praise be!

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The Digest Enthusiast: Book Three / Book Four

digestenthusiast3I am way behind on digging into Larque Press’ acclaimed magazine (although packaged like a paperback), THE DIGEST ENTHUSIAST, as BOOK THREE and BOOK FOUR came out earlier this year in January and June, respectively. I don’t feel the least bit guilty about it, though, because the whole point of the publication is looking back. (Okay, so editor Richard Krauss and his contributors typically are glancing not months, but decades behind them; however, the thought is the same.)

But, to look back at the mag’s still young life, the issues continue the upward slope, not to mention the awfully generous, meaty page count, hovering around 150.

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The Digest Enthusiast: Book Two

digestenthusiast2No sophomore slump exists with the second issue of THE DIGEST ENTHUSIAST, Larque Press’ perfect-bound paperback quarterly dedicated to the world of digest magazines past and present … but mostly the past, given the narrowed state of physical-copy publishing in today’s times. (Ironically, that same technology that has reduced newsstand readership has allowed this very publication to exist.) In fact, BOOK TWO is even better than BOOK ONE, and not just because the page count has leapt from 116 to 152.

Carrying over the debut issue’s mix of essays and reviews with a smattering of original fiction, discovery lay at the heart of editor Arkay Olgar’s project, perhaps best illustrated (no pun intended) by Joe Wehrle Jr.’s article on a long-running action-comics digest from Italy, starring eponymous he-man MISTER NO. Where else would we learn of such a thing on this side of the globe?

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The Digest Enthusiast: Book One

digestenthusiastWhen a publication about your obsessive hobby reads interesting even to someone who doesn’t share that obsessive hobby, you’re doing something right.

Clearly, THE DIGEST ENTHUSIAST is doing something right.

Printed appropriately in near-digest form, the magazine devotes itself to — what else? — the world of digest magazines. Carrying the label of BOOK ONE, the new pub debuted in late January. Get aboard now so the out-of-love endeavor may continue.

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Unlimited #8

unlimited8New York-based photographer Mark Anthony Lacy unconditionally adores the work of Bettie Page. That goes without saying for anyone flipping through UNLIMITED, his PDF-only magazine that simultaneously revives and pays tribute to ’50s girlie-mag culture. 

The latest issue is #8, at 48 pages. Like the three other editions I have seen, it’s a colorful, glossy, bachelor-pad mix of pictorials and articles. The latter is not as heavy in words as the former is in breasts.

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Pulp Modern: Autumn 2011

Unlike many crime-fiction collections that have come out of late, the Alec Cizak-edited PULP MODERN: AUTUM 2011 is a bit different, in the sense that it’s divided into three distinct genres: crime, fantasy and Westerns, each of which had a foothold in the pulps of old.

The 170-page inaugural issue begins with a reprint of a Lawrence Block story, “Murder Is My Business.” While it’s a great way to kick it all off, most readers will see exactly where it’s going. But then, that might have been the point, since the rest of the collection is no by-the-numbers affair.

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Bull Spec #6 / Shock Totem #4 / Tales of Blood and Roses #2

Love. Exciting and new.

There’s the love I have for a delicious meal. There’s the love I have for a good movie. There’s the love I have for good music. There’s the love I have for finely crafted literature. And then there’s … well, I’ll get to that.

In addition, there’s a special place in my heart for the small press. I love that there are places where literature that does not necessarily appeal to the general reading masses can still find a home and be enjoyed by those of us who like the offbeat. And generally when I speak about “offbeat,” I’m talking about genre fiction, specifically stuff that falls somewhere out on the fringes of such.

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Tales of Blood and Roses #1

This is a tough time to be launching a new print periodical, especially one that caters to a niche market. While many print magazines and newspapers are struggling to stay in business, there are many that are simply closing up shop (R.I.P. WIZARD) or going to a strictly online publication format.

Or, as in the case of THE COMICS JOURNAL, are doing regular online publishing with an annual print edition. Even the webzines are struggling; R.I.P ThugLit … although it did last five years, which is damn good stamina in a market dominated by YA fiction and paranormal romance.

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Needle: A Magazine of Noir #1

A new magazine catering to crime short fiction is a tough enterprise. I mean, you really have to deliver the goods with your opening shot, because if you limp along with lackluster material, you can forget about ever seeing issue two.

The debut issue of NEEDLE: A MAGAZINE OF NOIR is lean, mean and all about the dark world of crime. (Yes, they’re up to #3 now, so we’re behind.) This ain’t for pussies. With a lineup of names that have been working the short-fiction circles, you know these people will deliver like a fist to the gut. Put together by editor Steve Weddle, this debut blows away a certain anthology series that is barely treading water in whatever city they are using to cash in.

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DOUG’S DIGS >> The Lone Ranger Magazine: May 1937

Unearthing buried treasures from pulp literature’s yesteryear!

“It’s The Man Who Rides Alone Who Meets Danger In The Most Dramatic Fashion … The Lone Rider Carries Excitement Wherever He Goes! Follow The Adventures Of The Lone Ranger In Every Thrilling Issue Of This Magazine.”

Well, it wouldn’t take you long to read “Every Thrilling Issue of This Magazine,” because THE LONE RANGER MAGAZINE lasted only eight issues before morphing into ROMANTIC WESTERN. Because of its short run, it’s a tough pulp to track down. Recently, a copy sold for almost $800 on eBay. I wonder how many silver bullets you’d have to melt down to raise that kind of cash?

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