Enter “The Magazine Rack,” the Internet Archive’s Collection of 34,000 Digitized Magazines

Before we kept up with culture through the internet, we kept up with culture through magazines. That historical fact may at first strike those of us over 30 as trivial and those half a generation down as irrelevant, but now, thanks to the Internet Archive, we can all easily experience the depth and breadth of the magazine era as something more than an abstraction or an increasingly distant memory. In keeping with their apparent mission to become the predominant archive of pre-internet media, they've set up the Magazine Rack, a downloadable collection of over 34,000 digitized magazines and other monthly publications.

Magazines haven't gone away, of course, and at the Internet Archive's Magazine Rack you can do just what you might have done at a traditional magazine rack: flip through brand new issues of publications like Tech Advisor, Aviation History, and America's Civil War. But quite unlike a traditional magazine rack, where recency was all, you can also read back issues — in some cases quite far-back issues, stretching all the way to the mid-18th century. The London Magazine, or, Gentleman's Monthly Intelligencer vol. XXII for the Year 1753, the oldest magazine on these digital shelves, offers such articles as "Remarkable accidents," "Danger of the empire's being without a head," and "Life and character of Christina, queen of Sweden."

As British magazines of the past go, it also delighted me personally to find in the Magazine Rack many issues of Computer and Video Games (also known as CVG) which did much, given its inexplicable availability at the library of the Seattle suburb where I grew up, to shape my worldview. Other titles catering to "nerdy" interests, broadly speaking, have — perhaps predictably — been archived with a special extensiveness: computer and gaming magazines have their own vast sections, but the collections of early Scientific American, sci-fi fan magazine Starlog, vintage men's magazines (some, of course, NSFW), and the long-running amateur radio journal 73 Magazine come not far behind.

The Magazine Rack also contains plenty of publications of the kind we tend to reference here on Open Culture, including quite a few titles devoted to pulp fictionthe influential Moebius- and H.R. Giger-featuring "adult fantasy magazine" Heavy Metal, the Hugo Award-winning science fiction magazine IF, and the made-for-PDF-format international art magazine Revolutionart. Spend enough browsing time there and you'll remember — or learn — that, especially in the print-saturated twentieth century, magazines didn't just let us keep up with the culture, they helped create it.

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Enter the Pulp Magazine Archive, Featuring Over 11,000 Digitized Issues of Classic Sci-Fi, Fantasy & Detective Fiction

Pulp Fiction will likely hold up generations from now, but the resonance of its title may already be lost to history. Pulp magazines, or “the pulps,” as they were called, once held special significance for lovers of adventure stories, detective and science fiction, and horror and fantasy. Acquiring the name from the cheap paper on which they were printed, pulp magazines might be said, in large part, to have shaped the pop culture of our contemporary world, publishing respected authors like H.G. Wells and Jules Verne and many an unknown newcomer, some of whom became household names (in certain houses), like Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, and Philip K. Dick.

Beginning in the late 19th century, the pulps opened up the publishing space that became flooded with comic books and popular novels like those of Stephen King and Michael Crichton in the latter half of the twentieth century.




They varied widely in quality and subject matter but all share certain preoccupations. Sexual taboos are explored in their naked essence or through various genre devices. Monsters, aliens, and other features of the “weird” predominate, as do the forerunners of DC and Marvel’s superhero empires in characters like the Shadow and the Phantom Detective.

Unlike higher-rent “slicks” or “glossies,” pulp magazines had license to go places respectable publications feared to tread. Genre fiction now spawns multimillion dollar franchises, one after another, purged of much of the pulps’ salacious content. But paging through the thousands of back issues available at the Pulp Magazine Archive will give you a sense of just how outré such magazines once were—a quality that survived in the underground comics and zines of the 60s and beyond and in genre tabloids like Scream Queens

The enormous archive contains over 11,000 digitized issues of such titles as If, True Detective Mysteries, Witchcraft and Sorcery, Weird Tales, Uncensored Detective, Captain Billy’s Whiz Bang, and Adventure ("America's most exciting fiction for men!"). It also features early celebrity rags like Movie Pictorial and Hush Hush, and retrospectives like Dirty Pictures, a 1990s comic reprinting the often quite misogynist pulp art of the 30s.

There's great science fiction, no small amount of creepy teen boy wish-fulfillment, and lots of lurid, noir appeals to fantasies of sex and violence. Swords and sorcery, guns and trussed-up pin-ups, and plenty of creature features. The pulps were once mass culture’s id, we might say, and they have now become its ego.

Enter the Pulp Magazine Archive here.

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

A Digital Archive of Heavy Metal, the Influential “Adult Fantasy Magazine” That Featured the Art of Moebius, H.R. Giger & More

In making a time capsule of the late 20th century, one would be remiss if they did not include at least an issue or two of Heavy Metal magazine. Yes, it specialized in unapologetically turning women in metal bras into sex objects. The gleeful amount of T&A on its covers, surrounded by spaceships, swords, and sorcery, mark it as a relic of its era that appealed to a specific demographic. But Heavy Metal was much more than sexy sci-fi mascots drawn in lurid pulpy styles. Along with its share of erotica, the “adult illustrated fantasy magazine” provided a vivid showcase for some of the most interesting artists and storytellers working in the mainstream and in various subgenres of fantasy and sci-fi. (It continues to do so.)

Debuting in 1977, the year of the first Star Wars film, Heavy Metal was not named after the brand of guitar rock pioneered by Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath, though there’s an obvious influence, but after a French magazine that started two years earlier called Métal hurlant, or literally “Howling Metal.” (We've featured it here on OC before.) When publisher Leonard Mogel decided to adapt the original for an American readership, he changed the name, but kept the content, republishing work by Jean Giraud—the artist better known as Moebius—and many other accomplished European illustrators.

Founded and staffed by the creators of National Lampoon, the magazine later featured original work from artists like H.R. Giger, interviews with Dennis Hopper, John Waters, Francis Ford Coppola, John Carpenter, Roger Corman, and even Federico Fellini; and with musicians like the Eurythmics and Debbie Harry. It ran popular serialized stories, showcased graphic literary adaptations (of Paradise Lost, for example), and published authors like Ray Bradbury, Stephen King, and other heavies. Rock, comics, film, and fiction all got their due in between the magazine’s extravagant pinup covers, many of which inspired the art painted on the side of many a carpeted van in the 70s.

You can see a sizable collection of scanned Heavy Metal magazines, from the first, 1977 issue to the mid-90s, at the Internet Archive. Part of Archive.org’s extensive “Magazine Rack,” a digital library of thousands of scanned periodicals, the Heavy Metal collection was launched in 2012 by archivist Jason Scott. Though it doesn’t contain the magazine’s complete run by any means, it offers a broad enough sampling of all of its major themes and tendencies.

Heavy Metal’s interests are very focused, one might say, but the few things the magazine does, and has done since 1977, it has done exceptionally well. Enter the archive here.

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

Hunter S. Thompson’s Decadent Daily Breakfast: The “Psychic Anchor” of His Frenetic Creative Life

Image  via Wikimedia Commons

Is breakfast really the most important meal of the day?

It certainly seems so from all the carefully staged photos of overnight oatmeal on Instagram.

The physical and mental benefits are well documented. A nutritious meal in the morning boosts blood glucose levels, improving concentration, boosting energy levels and maintaining healthy weight.

Sadly, many Americans gobble their breakfasts on the fly. How many hundreds of film and television scenes have you seen wherein the main characters hurtle through the kitchen snatching bananas, granola bars, and travel mugs on their way to the door?

The late gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson would surely not have approved, though he may have enjoyed the sense of superiority these morning scrambles would have engendered.

This was a man who bragged that he could “cover a hopelessly scrambled presidential campaign better than any six-man team of career political journalists on The New York Times or The Washington Post and still eat a three-hour breakfast in the sun every morning.”

Reporting for Rolling Stone in “Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail 76,” he intimated that he viewed breakfast with the “traditionalized reverence that most people associate with Lunch and Dinner.”

One wonders who exactly he meant by “most people”?

Texans? The Irish? Rabelais?

Regardless of whether he had been to bed, or what he had gotten up to the night before, he insisted upon a massive repast—consumed al fresco, and preferably in the nude. The sun he enjoyed basking in was usually at its zenith by the time he sat down. The meal, which he called the "psychic anchor" of "a terminally jangled lifestyle, consisted of the following:

Four bloody Marys

Two grapefruits

A pot of coffee

Rangoon crêpes

A half-pound of either sausage, bacon, or corned beef-hash with diced chilies

A Spanish omelette or eggs Benedict

A quart of milk

A chopped lemon for random seasoning

Something like a slice of Key lime pie

Two margaritas

And six lines of the best cocaine for dessert

Last summer, a Danish Vice reporter recreated Thompson’s breakfast of choice, inviting a poet friend (and “aspiring alcoholic") to partake along with him. It ended with him vomiting, naked, into a shrub. His guest, who seems to be made of sturdier stuff, praised the eggs benedict, the Bloody Marys, and dessert.

Thompson preferred that his first meal of the day be consumed solo, in order to get a jump on the day’s work. In addition to the edible menu items, he required:

Two or three newspapers

All mail and messages

A telephone

A notebook for planning the next twenty four hours

And at least one source of good music

Read "Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail 1976" here. The key breakfast quote reads as follows:

I like to eat breakfast alone, and almost never before noon; anybody with a terminally jangled lifestyle needs at least one psychic anchor every twenty four hours, and mine is breakfast. In Hong Kong, Dallas, or at home—and regardless of whether or not I have been to bed—breakfast is a personal ritual that can only be properly observed alone, and in a spirit of genuine excess. The food factor should always be massive: Four bloody Marys, two grapefruits, a pot of coffee, Rangoon crêpes, a half-pound of either sausage, bacon, or corned beef-hash with diced chilies, a Spanish omelette or eggs Benedict, a quart of milk, a chopped lemon for random seasoning, and something like a slice of Key lime pie, two margaritas, and six lines of the best cocaine for dessert... Right, and there should also be two or three newspapers, all mail and messages, a telephone, a notebook for planning the next twenty four hours, and at least one source of good music... All of which should be dealt with outside, in the warmth of the hot sun, and preferably stone naked.

And just in case, here is a recipe for Crab Rangoon Crepes…

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Follow her @AyunHalliday.

The Not Yorker: A Collection of Rejected & Late Cover Submissions to The New Yorker

What's happened to the thousands of cover designs that have been submitted to The New Yorker? And then been rejected, either summarily or with much consideration? Probably most have faded into oblivion. But at least some are now seeing the light of day over at The Not Yorker, a web site that collects "declined or late cover submissions" to the storied magazine. See a gallery of declined illustrations here.

The creators of the new site encourage illustrators to submit their rejected covers here. And lest there be any doubt, The Not Yorker is not officially affiliated with The New Yorker.

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If you'd like to support Open Culture and our mission, please consider making a donation to our site. It's hard to rely 100% on ads, and your contributions will help us provide the best free cultural and educational materials.

via Kottke

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The Tree of Modern Art: Elegant Drawing Visualizes the Development of Modern Art from Delacroix to Dalí (1940)

Selecting certain features, simplifying them, exaggerating them, and using them to provide a deep insight, at a glance, into the subject as a whole: such is the art of the caricaturist, one that Miguel Covarrubias elevated to another level in the early- to mid-20th century. Those skills, combined with his knowledge as an art historian, also served him well when he drew "The Tree of Modern Art." This aesthetically pleasing diagram first appeared in Vanity Fair in May of 1933, a time when many readers of such magazines would have felt a great curiosity about how, exactly, all these new paintings and sculptures and such — many of which didn't seem to look much like the paintings and sculptures they knew at all — related to one another.

"Because it stops in 1940, the tree fails to account for abstract expressionism and other post–World War II movements," writes Vox's Phil Edwards, in a piece that includes a version of the Covarrubias' 1940 "Tree of Modern Art" revision with clickable examples of relevant artwork.




But "the organizational structure alone reveals a surprisingly large amount about the way art has evolved," including how it "becomes broader and more inclusive over time," eventually turning into a "global affair"; how "artistic schools have become more aesthetically diverse"; how "the canon evolved quickly"; and how "all art is intertwined," created as it has so long been by artists who "work together, borrow from each other, and grow in tandem."

You can also find the "Tree of Modern Art" at the David Rumsey Historical Map Collection, a holding that illustrates, as it were, just how wide a swath of information design the term "map" can encompass. "The date is estimated based on the verso of the paper being a blue lined base map of the National Park Service dated 12/28/39," says the collection's site. "This drawing was found in the papers of B. Ashburton Tripp" — also a mapmaker in the collection — "and we assume that Covarrubias and Tripp were friends (verified by Tripp's descendants) and that the blue line base map was something Tripp was working on in his landscape architecture business."

The legend describes the tree as having been "planted 60 years ago," a number that has now passed 130. Many more leaves have grown off those branches of impressionism, expressionism, post-impressionism, surrealism, cubism, and futurism in the years since Covarrubias drew the tree, but for someone to go back and augment such a fully-realized creation wouldn't do at all — as with any work of art, modern or otherwise.

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Hear a Complete Reading of the Newly-Discovered Kurt Vonnegut Story, “The Drone King”

Twenty some years before a young engineer named Ray Tomlinson invented email, writer Kurt Vonnegut invented bee-mail in “The Drone King,” a story that didn’t see the light of day until his friend and fellow author Dan Wakefield unearthed it while going through old papers for a new Vonnegut collection.

The collection’s co-editor, Vonnegut scholar Jerome Klinkowitz, estimates that it was written in the early 50s, likely before the publication of his first novel, Player Piano, in 1952.

This early work, recently published in The Atlantic as well as Wakefield and Klinkowitz's collection, shows an author whose gallows humor is already firmly in place.




Several of his favorite themes crop up, too: the enthusiasm of the misguided entrepreneur, the battle of the sexes, and technology taken to absurd extremes (i.e. bees delivering scraps of messages in soda straws tied to their thoraxes).

If we’re not mistaken Indianapolis, Vonnegut’s boyhood home, now host to his Memorial Library, puts in an unbilled appearance, as well. The story’s Millennium Club bears an uncanny resemblance to that city’s Athletic Club, now defunct.

The self-pitying male haplessness Vonnegut spoofs so ably feels just as skewer-able in the post-Weinstein era, though the doddering black waiter’s dialect is rather queasy-making, especially in the mouth of the white narrator reading the story, above.

You can buy "The Drone King" as part of Kurt Vonnegut Complete Stories collection or read it free online here. The Atlantic was also good enough to create an audio version. It's excerpted up top. And it appears in its entirety right above.

"The Drone King" will be added to our Free Audio Books and Free eBooks collections.

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Follow her @AyunHalliday.

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