Pulp Archive

OWEN EARL   16 April 2021

A library of old cowboy pulp magazines


The Cowboy Collective Pulp Archive is a library of over 100 cowboy-themed pulp magazines and comics, dating all the way back to the 1800s. It features high-quality scans that can be navigated like a book, with the option to download the magazines/comics in a PDF format. These are all in the public domain, so feel free to remix and redistribute at your leisure. I will continue to expand the Cowboy Collective Pulp Archive with time, so be sure to check back in the future.

The Inspiration
I’m working on a Cowboy Collective project that is unrelated and will hopefully be ready to share soon. For this other project I need some cowboy illustrations, but I’m not advanced enough at drawing to do this myself, so I started searching around the internet for public domain sources of cowboy drawings.

Eventually I stumbled upon a PDF of a 1940s cowboy pulp magazine, and felt I had hit the jackpot. The thing is chalk-full of dynamic cowboy illustrations, but I also liked paging through it and reading the absurd ads for “giant frogs” and “learning electricity.” I downloaded the magazine, and spotted another. I downloaded that one too, and spotted another. My collection kept growing, until I was unable to remember if I had already downloaded a magazine or if it was new. If only there was a way to keep track of all these magazines!

Building the Archive
I decided it would be a worthwhile diversion if I built a little archive of the cowboy pulp magazines, if only for myself. I started writing down the name, date, and volume/issue number of the magazines until I had over 100 entries.

The majority of the magazines were coming from archive.org, which has a brilliant little feature that lets you turn through the pages as if you are reading a physical book without downloading it. I love it and decided I would like to build a web page that would act like a library, where you could pick up a magazine that catches your eye, flip through it, and put it back.

Archive.org has some smart formatting, in that there is a predictable hyperlink for everything, so if you have a link to a PDF (https://archive.org/download/1926-05-frontier-stories-v-004n-002/1926-05%20Frontier%20Stories%20v004n002.pdf) you could figure out the link to embed the page-turning feature on your site (https://archive.org/embed/1926-05-frontier-stories-v-004n-002/) as well as the cover image (https://archive.org/download/1926-05-frontier-stories-v-004n-002/__ia_thumb.jpg).

This is great because I will only have to write down one link per entry, and the computer can figure out the other necessary information.

It does mean that for pulp magazines not already on archive.org, copies have been uploaded to the Cowboy Collective page. I am proud to feel as though I am contributing to something as cool as the archive.org library.

I would like to acknowledge the amazing time, energy, and expertise that has gone into the many projects that make this archive possible, including archive.org, the Pulp Magazines Project, and Phil Stephensen-Payne’s incredible FictionMags Index.

The hope is the Cowboy Collective Pulp Archive makes discovering and navigating cowboy themed pulp magazines and comics easy and fun.