Michael Shayne Mystery Magazine No. 1

Michael Shayne Mystery Magazine No. 1 Sep 1956In September 1956, Brett Halliday teamed with publisher Leo Margulies to launch MSMM. “It is a project both Leo and I have held in our minds and hearts for many years,” writes Halliday in his introduction. “But we have waited patiently for the exact moment when the signs were right, when the many and varied elements essential to the production and distribution of a truly fine mystery magazine coincided to make the project feasible.”

“Michael” was changed to “Mike” with the seventh issue in April 1957. MSMM began as a monthly, but slipped to bi-monthly during its second year, and returned to monthly during 1958 for the balance of its impressive run. With 337 regular issues and three annuals (1971–1973), MSMM was by far one of the most successful digest magazines ever published. The final issue appeared in August 1985.

Its first editor was Sam Merwin, and he launched the title with a terrific first issue:

Michael Shayne Mystery Magazine Vol. 1 No. 1 September 1956

Brett Halliday: Full Cycle—New Birth (introduction)
Brett Halliday “Bring Back a Corpse!” (Mike Shayne)
Craig Rice “The Quiet Life” (John J. Malone)
Robert Bloch “Water’s Edge”
Charles Irving “You Wash, and I’ll Dry”
Hal Ellson “Walk Away Fast”
Kenneth Fearing “Three Wives Too Many”
John E. Hasty “Unfinished Business”
Louis Trimble “A Pitch for Murder”
Carter Sprague “A Present for Peter”
Matthew Lee “Home Ground”
Norman Daniels “Rooftop”

MSMM Checklist from Galatic Central.

Manhunt Detective Story Monthly Jan. 1953

Manhunt No. 1 coverContents
“Everybody’s Watching Me” by Mickey Spillane (Part 1 of 4) art by Joe Kubert
“Die Hard” by Evan Hunter
“I’ll Make the Arrest” by Charles Beckman, Jr.
“The Hunted” by William Irish
“The Best Motive” by Richard S. Prather (Shell Scott)
“Shock Treatment” by Kenneth Millar
“The Frozen Grin” by Frank Kane (Johnny Liddell)
Backfire by Floyd Mahannah
“The Set-Up” by Sam Cobb
“Who is Vetter?” (coming next issue)

Manhunt No. 1 back cover

Real digest

Real August 1969Excerpt from Tom Brinkmann’s article, “Sharon Tate’s Fate,” from The Digest Enthusiast book six:

Real, the digest, was published bi-monthly and edited by David Zentner (1917–2002) with Peter Wolff as associate editor and was a sold-at-the-checkout-counter type magazine aimed at a mainly female readership. Zentner was born in Shanghai and went to school in the UK; he was the publisher of fifties girlie magazines such as Bare, Keyhole, Topper, and Escapade; he was also the head of Bee-Line Books, an adult paperback imprint that published Real as well. In the seventies, Zentner published Velvet and its sister magazine Velvet Talks, as well as the adult digests Velvet Touch, Velvet’s Vibrations, and Velvet’s Sensuous Letters.

Tom Brinkmann writes about unusual, off-the-beaten-path magazines, digests, and tabloids. His Bad Mags website was active from June 2004–July 2017. His books, Bad Mags Volume 1 (2008) and Volume 2 (2009) are available from secondary outlets, including amazon.

Manhunt Detective Story Monthly

Manhunt No. 1 coverPeter Enfantino’s multipart review/synopses of Manhunt, kicking off with the Jan–Apr 1953 issues, begins in The Digest Enthusiast book six. Here’s an excerpt of his series:

Manhunt By the Numbers
14 years (1953–1967)
114 issues
500+ authors
1100+ stories
13,000+ pages
6,000,000+ words
countless writers influence

Some of the guilty parties: Robert Bloch, Gil Brewer, Leslie Charteris, Jonathan Craig, Harlan Ellison, David Goodis, Ed McBain (and all his aliases), John D. MacDonald, Richard Prather, Craig Rice, Mickey Spillane, Donald E. Westlake (and Richard Stark), Harry Whittington, and Charles Williams.

A collection in paperback, The Best from Manhunt, was published in 1958 by Perma Books.

There were thirteen editions of Giant Manhunt, four-issue collections of regular issues, rebound with the covers removed into Giants. Which four issues varies, the point was for the publisher to recycle returns and make some additional sales. AHMM also used this approach from 1957–1968, titled Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Sampler.

In the UK, stories from Manhunt were published by Tom Boardman as Bloodhound Detective Story Magazine for 14 issues from 1961–1962. In Australia, 13 editions of Manhunt Detective Story Magazine were published by New Century Press in a size larger than the US editions. The Australian run went from 1953–1954.

They Got Me Covered

They Got Me CoveredAn excerpt from Steve Carper’s article for The Digest Enthusiast book six:

“Quick. What’s the bestselling digest paperback of all time? Here are some hints. It appeared in 1941. It was self-published. It sold four million copies. And you’ve probably never heard of it.

“If none of those things seem at all probable, here’s the wholly improbable story of Bob Hope’s They Got Me Covered.”

A sample of the quips inside:
“I grew up with six brothers. That’s how I learned to dance—waiting for the bathroom.”
“I get letters written in all languages: French, Spanish and unmentionable.”
“You know what a fan letter is—it’s just an inky raspberry.”

Steve Carper’s website <>, a history of the Future as seen through 19th and 20th century eyes, led to a book in progress, the first comprehensive history of robots in popular culture. That led to a semi-regular column about robots on <>. His digest novel collection has passed the 1000 milestone.

Sharon Tate’s Eye of the Devil

Witchcraft News ad
Advertisement for Sharon Tate’s first film, Eye of the Devil, from Witchcraft News

Excerpt from Tom Brinkmann’s article, “Sharon Tate’s Fate,” from The Digest Enthusiast book six:

“There was a lot of weirdness concerning Tate’s first movie, 13, aka Eye of the Devil, which starred David Niven, Deborah Kerr, Donald Pleasence, David Hemmings, and introduced Sharon Tate. ‘Look at her long enough and she may be the last thing you ever see!’ claimed an early version of the print ad.”

Manhunt January 1953

Manhunt January 1953 coverManhunt blazed onto newsstands with Mickey Spillane’s “Everybody’s Watching Me,” serialized over its first four issues. Reprinted in June 1955, and in January 1964 as “I Came to Kill You,” it became one of the few stories ever to run three times in the same magazine.

New Concept in Publishing

International Science Fiction #1 cover“A new science-fiction magazine with a new concept in publishing. Each issue will be filled with stories by Foreign Authors. International Science Fiction Will give American readers a chance to read the science-fiction stories by Authors popular in the rest of the world. Written and translated by top writers throughout the world.”
–Inside front cover, International Science Fiction #1 Nov. 1967

Magazine of Horror #36 Apr. 1971

Magazine of Horror #36 coverContents
“Dread Exile” by Paul Ernst (Strange Tales June 1932)
“The Testament of Athammaus” by Clark Ashton Smith (Weird Tales Oct. 1932)
“The Vespers Service” by William R. Bauer
“The Artist of Tao” by Arthur Styron (Strange Tales Oct. 1932)
“The Key to Cornwall” by David H. Keller (Stirring Science Stories Feb. 1941)
“The Executioner” by Rachel Cosgrove Payes
“The Settlement of Dryden vs. Shard” by W. O. Inglis (Harper’s Magazine Sep. 1902)
“The Grisly Horror” by Robert E. Howard (Weird Tales Feb. 1935)