fter several years of far-flung travel — through Asia, the South Pacific and across the Caribbean — L. Ron Hubbard settled into a Beallsville, Maryland, farmhouse where, as he put it, “I took things out of my mind and wrote them into stories.” Initially, of course, the challenge proved considerable, and only those who attempted to “click with fiction” through the early 1930s can appreciate the strain of facing a blank page at the height of the Great Depression. Yet setting himself on a regimen, “to pile up copy, stack up stories, roll the wordage,” he did indeed click with fiction. His first acceptance was a nicely wrought formula piece entitled “The Green God,” loosely drawn from experiences in China. Then, following the sale of two high adventures and a mystery, he set out for that mecca which has always beckoned writers, New York City.
He arrived in the spring of 1935 to join a fairly legendary circle of authors, including Edgar Rice Burroughs, Lester “Doc Savage” Dent and Norvell “The Spider” Page. Their primary vehicle was the equally legendary pulps. So called for the pulpwood stock on which they were printed and generally appearing monthly, these fiercely competitive magazines were easily the most popular publication of their day.
As a matter of fact, with some thirty million regular readers — a full quarter of the American population — only television would finally rival the pulps in terms of sheer appeal. But make no mistake about it, if the pulps were unashamedly popular, they were by no means pedestrian.