Evolution of the Crime Magazine
|It's fun to track the
evolution of the imagery created on the cover of mid-century Detective
Magazines. which later became Crime magazines and then made a slippery
slide into the shadowy world of Exploit-a-rama!!
The following images are taken from covers of various magazines starting in the 1920's on through to 1990's. Starting out as Detective Stories, these publications with lone wolf protagonist who much like Dashiell Hammett's Sam Spade work outside the system neither criminal nor police and incorporate stories which have a substantial element of mystery in their content. The Black Mask cover from 1920, first line left side, describe the magazine as "A Magazine of Mystery, Romance. and Adventure. By 1922 it's motto has become "A Magazine of Mystery and Detective Stories". Evidence of the idea that mystery had a major influence on the goings on rendered in these stories.
After studying the progression of the covers it's not hard to see that the Detective Magazines later become Crime Stories which as time passes actually provide a conduit for sexual exploitation. The need to constantly manufacture shock for readership turns the intellectual give and take of a mystery story into what could be called shock value dirt literature.
The graphic progression found in the iconography of these magazines was parroted by American film a bit later. Take a look at the style and content differences between the films 'Phantom Lady' (1944) and 'Screaming Mimi' (1957). Now check out the magazine covers of that same period.