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The Timeline Just Got a Little Steamy All at Once With New ‘Pulp Book Cover’ Trend

I'm not bad, I'm just drawn that way.

Airplane sweating scene

Social media can be a burning landscape of toxicity. When terrible trends pop up (like that one where everyone tried to trick their loved ones into thinking their favorite celebrity died) it is hard to remember why we like social media. But then we get hilarious meme reactions to our favorite shows and we stick around until the next cool trend appears.

One such trend is bringing back some fun to Twitter and shedding some light on a forgotten art form. Plus, it makes everyone’s feed a little steamier, and who could be mad about that? The “Pulp Book Cover” trend is simple, you Google search “(your name) + pulp book cover” and then post the amazing (and sometimes campy) results.

Pulp is good for you

The trend began in 2021, but (thankfully) has seen a recent resurgence. Many modern social media users may not be super familiar with pulp fiction (no, not the movie) and with the iconic art styles that accompanied it. I love that this trend introduces new people to the old-school medium.

Pulp fictions are novels and magazines that were popular in the late 1800s up to the 1950s, with their popularity peaking from the 20s-the 40s. Publishers printed them as inexpensively and quickly as possible to make money. The name comes from the cheap paper where the wood pulp was still visible on the pages.

Pulp fiction encompassed all topics: science fiction, horror, detective stories, westerns, and romances. Whatever people wanted to read would make it into these magazines and books. The way to catch the eye of the consumer would be the cover. So artists had to be as wild as possible to make their fiction stand out among the crowds. (The original clickbait!)

As we all know by now, sex sells. Accompanied by some kind of campy quote, many of the iconic covers featured sexy women in various situations. They could be running from a monster or tying up another woman who wronged them. Any story might get a sexy cover (and some of them get pretty gay), to make sure people bought it. The “spicy/saucy” genre (predecessors to erotica) had some of the best.

Here is the campiest result I got for my name:

Desire in the Ozarks Ace Books
(image: Ace Books)

Hawt, right?

One of the most scandalous illustrators was a woman named Margaret Brundage who drew nearly naked women that often featured BDSM undertones. Another prolific illustrator, Earle K. Bergey, did countless paintings of sci-fi scenes where a monster attacked a brass bikini-wearing woman and a hero rescued her. Those images inspired some outfits in the original Star Trek series, Madonna’s iconic cone bra, and Princess Leia’s legendary “slave” costume. Although the covers of pulp fiction books and magazines were made to sell stories, the images themselves have become pieces of pop culture history. So let’s all drink in some pulp and enjoy it.

(featured image: Paramount Pictures)

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D.R. Medlen (she/her) is a freelance pop culture writer at The Mary Sue. After finishing her BA in History, she finally pursued her lifelong dream of being a full-time writer in 2019. She expertly fangirls over Marvel, Star Wars, and historical fantasy novels (the spicier the better). When she's not writing or reading, she lives that hobbit-core life in California with her spouse, offspring, and animal familiars.