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Friday, September 21, 2012

Pulp Detective, the brand new story magazine

Sometimes the best ideas come from people outside the comic and magazine industries. Next week, on Thursday September 27th, a brand new monthly story magazine males its debut in newsagents, the brainchild of Richard Kavanagh, a bricklayer from Warwickshire.

Pulp Detective No.1 will be an A5 size publication with 136 pages for £3.25. The contents are based around three illustrated short stories. The stories are all set in a fictional 1930’s American city called Bay City, a city over run with organised crime.

The first story of each issue is written from a third person perspective and follows the life of Federal Agent John Munro, as he takes on Bay City’s most notorious criminals. The intention is for the story line to be ongoing through each separate issue, so that the reader always wants the next instalment. This is the same for the second story, which is written from a first person perspective (which works well for private detective novels) and follows the life of Private Detective Henry Reed as he goes about Bay City solving his cases.

The third story in each issue will be random each month. Bank robbers, prize fighters, hit men and other criminals will be the centre of these stories all still set in the underworld of Bay City.

Each story is around 14,000 words and intended for a predominantly male readership of around 10 to 18 years of age. "An age range which, in our opinion, is currently poorly catered for by the magazine industry" says editor Richard Kavanagh.

There are also other features within the magazine like the Character Profiles, Bay City Babe, Gang Territory Map and others that will change each month and evolve with the magazine.

As a recent article in the Coventry Evening Telegraph revealed, the idea for the magazine came to Richard last year when he and his wife Carly, a primary school teacher, were browsing through the Horrible Histories books which use a mixture of prose and comic strip. It occurred to them that a similar approach could be taken with crime and detective stories in an entertaining way to encourage boys to read. (As this article from The Guardian explains, there is a problem today with boys in Britain not developing satisfactory reading skills. See also this article on the subject.) 

Richard Kavanagh
Richard then went to ten universities in the UK and Ireland where he invited aspiring young writers to create a 14,000 word pulp detective story. He then chose the three best stories and matched them with three illustrators he'd hand picked. An unusual approach, but one which ensures the magazine will have its own style. 

Perhaps the most remarkable achievement so far is that Pulp Detective has landed a deal with Seymour Distribution to be sold in WH Smith and selected newsagents across the country. Considering that Smiths often have a reluctance to accept children's magazines unless they're based on a known brand and bagged with a toy this is very impressive.

Equally impressive is that Richard, and his company Plesio Publishing Ltd, have produced a press pack and have set up a nicely designed website. Not only does the site provide information on the magazine it also includes a store locator for people to find the nearest shop that stocks the mag. 

Up until a few decades ago newsagents sold paperback books, story papers, and science fiction "pulps". Today you'd be unlikely to find any prose fiction publication in those shops other than The People's Friend and, if you're lucky, InterZone. (Not helped by the fact that story papers and most pulps have died out of course.) No wonder that so few teenage boys develop the thirst for reading. Let's hope that Pulp Detective manages to rectify that. Good luck to Richard Kavanagh and his team with the launch on September 27th!

Official website:

Facebook page:

Pulp Detective on Twitter:


Mike D said...

I'm going to buy this - it sounds, in theory, ideal for my eldest son. But that cover is a bit crap, isn't it? When I think of pulp fiction I think of fantastic, professionally drawn, lurid covers promising a world of thrills. Not a badly drawn bloke watching a warehouse.

Sorry to be rude, but for this to succeed (and I want it to) it needs to grab the disenfranchised male teenage audience by the balls.

Robert said...

Great idea, really hope it works.

NP said...

I would LOVE this to suceed, it's amazing how 'youngsters' love this pulp fiction stuff - and although I won't find time to read it, I will support it- I'll send it to Ruth, another youngster who loves 'retro' crime stuff!

locusmortiis said...

I picked this up today in my local independent newsagent here in Waterford, Ireland, I was a bit surprised to see it to be honest. Anyway, its a nice chunk of reading for €5 so I figured I'd give it a go.

Interestingly it was racked with the True Crime and True Detective magazines which are mostly bought by women afaik

Richard Kavanagh said...

Thank you very much for all your comments.

We have had lots of feedback that the magazine is being placed in obscure places in W H Smiths so we are trying to get this rectified ASAP.

Be great to hear feedback once you have read the magazine, both positive and negative so we can work on ideas for this magazine to succeed.

Thank you

Richard Kavanagh
Pulp Detective

Lew Stringer said...

I looked for a copy in WH Smith in Birmingham yesterday. No sign of it. Asked an assistant who made a phone call and told me they'd ordered 12 copies but didn't know where they were. I asked him if that meant they were in Smith's warehouse somewhere and he said yes.

Small wonder so few new titles manage to get into shops if that's their attitude. I hope you can get things sorted Richard.

Richard Kavanagh said...

Thanks Lew.Your message has been sent straight to our distributors to get this rectified ASAP for Pulp Detective to stand any chance of working.

Thanks once again.

Richard Kavanagh said...

Also having a lot of feedback that lots of stores have not even got their delivery. Totally out of our control unfortunately. But rest assured we are trying to get the distrubution company to get this rectified ASAP.

Can you please me keep me up to date if you struggle to get it.

Thank you

Lew Stringer said...

I was in Coventry this afternoon so I bought a copy from WH Smith. Nicely displayed in its own box in the children's comics section.

Then I decided to have a look in another central newsagent as your store locator said it'd be there. Couldn't see it, so asked the assistant. She said "Had it in yesterday, sent it straight back. Too small, too thin."

I pointed out that her shop already sold several magazines A5 size or smaller (Reader's Digest, Evergreen, puzzle mags etc). That logic seemed to annoy her somewhat and she boasted that they'd been in the retail trade for 20 years and knew it wouldn't sell. I replied that of course it wouldn't sell if they didn't stock it!

Her attitude was abrupt and defensive from the outset. Anyone would think you were trying to push drugs instead of trying to encourage children to read!

(I could have also pointed out that if it wasn't for publishers, retailers wouldn't even have a business, but I didn't think of that one until after I'd left the shop. ;-))

Lew Stringer said...

PS: I thought it was bizarre that she felt Pulp Detective was "too thin" when it's a chunky 136 page mag!

Ian said...

Bought this yesterday while browsing my local WH Smith. I've read the 1st story already & enjoyed it. I hope the other 2 are as good. Good luck with future sales, I for 1 will continue to buy it

Richard Kavanagh said...

Thanks Lew, feeling extremly frustrtaed and let down at present. What chance will Pulp Detective have if that is their attitude. Your message has been forwarded to our distributor, and they are dealing with this as a matter of urgency.

We really appreciate people giving Pulp Detective a chance, and actually seeking it out.....didnt think this should have been the hard part after 2 years of work.

Also great news Ian, thrilled to hear you enjoyed the 1st story and would love to hear feedback on the others.

Mike said...

Any chance of naming that "Central Newsagent", Lew? Just so I won't find myself accidentally giving them my hard earned money, ever!

Lew Stringer said...

It's in the city centre Mike, by the bus stops. I won't name them here but Richard has been informed who they are.

Martin said...

Went to Smiths today to see if vol 2 was in stock. Very sad to see 8 copies of vol 1 still on the shelves.

Lew Stringer said...

No copies of the second issue here either. I hope it's still going despite some silly attitudes from retailers.

Richard Kavanagh said...

Hi Lew and Martin,

Sadly issue 2 will no longer be avaliable on the 8th November, but will be launching next year as a digital app.

Thank you for your support, I will be in touch in the New year with more information.

Thank you once again!!


Lew Stringer said...

Very sorry to hear the print edition will be no more, Richard. The indifference (and in one instance, outright hostility) towards it from the two retailers I spoke to was ridiculous.

Good on you for trying anyway, and best of luck with the digital app.

Martin said...

So disappointed. Both for the mag generally and for the team behind it.

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