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|Founder||Henry "Harry" Steeger|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Headquarters location||New York City|
|Publication types||Pulp magazines|
Popular Publications was one of the largest publishers of pulp magazines during its existence, at one point publishing 42 different titles per month. Company titles included detective, adventure, romance, and Western fiction. They were also known for the several 'weird menace' titles. They also published several pulp hero or character pulps.
The company was formed in 1930 by Henry "Harry" Steeger. It was the time of the Great Depression, and Steeger had just read The Hound of the Baskervilles. Steeger realized that people wanted escapist fiction, allowing them to forget the difficulties of daily life. Steeger wrote "I realised that a great deal of money could be made with that kind of material. It was not long before I was at it, inventing one pulp magazine after another, until my firm had originated over 300 of them."
In the late 1930s Steeger was under pressure to lower his rate of pay to below one cent a word, which he felt was the minimum decent rate he could offer. He didn't want to have Popular pay less than one cent per word, so a new company, Fictioneers, was started; it was essentially a fictional company, with an address (205 East 42nd St) that corresponded to the rear entrance of Popular's offices at 210 East 43rd St. It was given a separate phone number, and the switchboard girl was instructed to put calls through to staff working on Fictioneers titles only if the calls came to the Fictioneers number. Many staff were working on magazines for both companies at the same time, which made it difficult to maintain the pretense of separation. Science fiction writer Frederik Pohl, on the other hand, was hired specifically to edit two Fictioneers titles: Astonishing Stories and Super Science Stories.
In 1934, Popular acquired Adventure from the Butterick Company. Around the same time, the purchased a number of titles from Clayton Publications such as Ace-High Magazine and Complete Adventure Novelettes. In 1940, they purchased Black Mask from The Pro-Distributors, Inc. In 1942 the firm acquired the properties of the Frank A. Munsey Company In 1949, they acquired all of the pulp titles Street & Smith had recently cancelled, with the exceptions of The Shadow (due to the radio show) and their other hero pulps, and Astounding, although Popular did not publish revivals of them all.
Other imprints used included Fictioneers, Inc. (1939–58), All-Fiction Field, Inc. (1942–58), New Publications, Inc. (1936–60), Recreational Reading (1936–60), and Post Periodicals, Inc. (1936–60).
In 1972, the company was sold to Brookside Publications, a company owned by advertising magnate David Geller. At the time it was still publishing Argosy, Railroad, recently ending Adventure and True Adventure. A handful of years later, Geller sold Popular to French publisher Hachette. In 1981, they sold the rights to Joel Frieman who established Blazing Publications, which in 1988 renamed itself Argosy Communications, Inc. Under those names, it published a few comic book version of characters, as well as allowed the reprinting of several of their properties. In 2014 most of its titles–including all copyrights and associated intellectual property–were acquired by Steeger Properties, LLC, with Argosy Communications retaining only a few pulp heroes such as The Spider, G-8, and Operator #5.