Sensational Tales: Australian Popular Publishing 1850s-1990s
'Real pulp at last!'
'$2.95, real pulp at last!' crowed historian-turned-crime writer Peter Corris when his books were published in paperback in America in 1981.
Corris had established a reputation as a serious thriller writer, and was hailed as leading a renaissance in Australian crime writing as the 1980s saw the emergence of new writers such as:
- Kerry Greenwood (creator of 1920s super sleuth Phryne Fisher),
- Claire McNab (lesbian policewoman Carol Ashton),
- Gary Disher (fast-thinking professional criminal Wyatt),
- Marele Day (tough but tormented private detective Claudia Valentine) and
- Shane Maloney (bumbling political minder Murray Whelan).
The term 'pulp' referred originally to the cheap wood-pulp paper used in mass publishing; it has come to define a style of mass-produced, formula-driven writing.
When new publishers Duffy & Snellgrove launched their ultra-violent Autopsy series in 1994, with stylised covers parodying the vivid colours of the 1950s and the proud assertion that 'this book is printed on recycled trees', the question had to be asked: what is real pulp?