Saturday, April 20, 2013
Manhunt: Best Crime Fiction Magazine Ever.
A lot of crime fiction fans would cite Black Mask as the greatest of all crime fic magazines-- after all, it was where Dashiell Hammett prowled, as well as Raymond Chandler, Earl Stanley Gardner, Paul Cain and Raoul Whitfield. Hammett alone would make a strong argument for Black Mask. But honestly, once you get past those greats, well... there was more mediocre stuff in Black Mask than great stuff.
I'm going with Manhunt as the greatest crime fiction magazine ever. I realize a lot of it is down to personal tastes, but come on, just scope out some of these great writers that contributed to Manhunt:
Mickey Spillane. Lawrence Block. Evan Hunter. Gil Brewer. Donald Westlake. Bret Halliday. David Goodis (!!). John D. MacDonald. Helen Nielsen. Honestly, just about every great writer of hard-boiled and/or noir in the '50's and early '60's appeared in Manhunt.
The editors of Manhunt had spot-on taste, were amazingly fearless in the subject matter and types of situations they allowed, and the writing was almost uniformly great.
My first brush with Manhunt came with the great anthology HARD-BOILED, edited by Bill Pronzini and Jack Adrian. There were several stories in it culled from Manhunt, and being the sharpish fella I am, I noticed that all my favorite selections shared that in common. I began seeking out more stuff from Manhunt, came across a paperback original called BEST FROM MANHUNT that served to solidify my opinion.
Since then, I've been collecting original issues when I can afford them (which is not often).
Here's something that would be great: Someone should get a hold of the rights to the name "Manhunt Magazine" (if such rights even exist?), and revive it. Make it a paying market, maybe as an on-line venue, with great art and only the best noir stories available. Yeah, there's plenty of excellent sites featuring dark crime fiction already, but c'mon... if you're a writer, wouldn't you LOVE to have something published in Manhunt?