The cover of ‘Uncensored Detective’ 1946.
Oddball vintage publications are one of my favorite things to write about here on Dangerous Minds—and like many of you just when I think I’ve seen it ALL (whether I wanted to or not), some “new” vintage weirdness comes across my radar. People often ask me how we find all the high octane, low brow goodness that we feature here on the blog every day. Unfortunately, the answer to that question is also the same as the answer to the first and second rules of Fight Club. Besides, you should consider yourself lucky as these eyes have seen some really, really weird things. (Things no one should see!) Which is a perfect introduction to the subject of this post—bizarre vintage pulp novels and magazines that feature circus clowns gone bad on their covers. And when I say bizarre I mean gorilla-shooting, sneaky, knife-throwing, clowns.
Though most of the fictional clowns on the covers of the various pulp novels and magazines posted below are up to no good, there is at least one that preferred to behave like a Robin Hood of sorts known as “The Crimson Clown.” Created by playwright, novelist and screenwriter Johnston McCulley—the man behind masked swashbuckler Zorro—the Crimson Clown stories were really popular with the detective lit-lovers set since his first appearance in Detective Story Magazine back in 1926. The Crimson Clown would steal from people he deemed “too rich” giving half of his booty to charity and keeping the rest for himself. He was also known to carry a syringe full of some sort of drug that would render his victims unconscious. But just because he was vigilante who liked to help out the needy doesn’t necessarily make the idea of a clown with a syringe full of cuckoo-juice running amok any less terrifying. Nope. Nothing creepy about that at all. I’ve posted the covers of all the clown-oriented vintage pulp I could dig up and man, there was a lot. Of course, if you are at all coulrophobic, you might want to look at the images below in your “safe place.” See you under the bed!
‘Detective Magazine’ 1948.
‘Detective Novels Magazine’ February 1944.
“The Crimson Clown” making his debut on the cover of ‘Detective Story Magazine’ 1926.
The cover of ‘Exciting Love’ magazine. Spring, version three, 1943.
‘Popular Detective’ June, 1945.
“The Crimson Clown” on the cover of ‘Detective Story Magazine’ April, 1927.
‘Ten Detective Aces’ May, 1941.
‘Official Detective Stories’ May, 1962.
The cover of ‘Short Stories’ a bi-monthly series of vintage pulp. This edition was published in October, 1930.
‘The Phantom Detective’ March, 1936.
‘The Better to Eat You,’ a pulp novel by Charlotte Armstrong, 1954.
The cover of ‘Unhappy Hooligan,’ a 1957 pulp novel by Stuart Palmer.
The cover of men’s interest magazine ‘Frolic’ 1964.
Another appearance by “The Crimson Clown” on the cover of ‘Popular Detective’ 1944.
‘Phantom Detective,’ October, 1942.
‘The Phantom Detective,’ 1939.
“The Crimson Clown” on the cover of ‘Detective Story Magazine,’ 1931.
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
12-year-old Christopher Walken in clown makeup will make you hate clowns a little less (or will it?)
Diabolical dioramas depict murderous clowns, tiny cannibals and their unfortunate victims
Meet Tuttii Fruittii and Toni Tits, the ‘drag clowns’ of London