The nineteen contributors to this 224 page examination of down-market print culture surely know their stuff because the book is crammed with a detailed history of various publishing genres that filled the newsstands from the Thirties onwards.
The survey details regularly published titles rather than fanzines or really obscure stuff like Koren's LA style 'Wet: the magazine of gourmet bathing'. The focus is on fiction magazines from the thirties to the seventies covering crime, adventure, science fiction, mystery and horror, pin-up, comics, humor and music also get a look in. The story about these magazine publishers, editors, contributors and artists are arranged in alphabetical order though, as I found out, rather arbitrarily. Look up Cracked Magazine on page 51 and it says: see Web Detective, this is repeated on the next page (with a large cover of Cracked, too) but get to the Ws and there is no Web Detective listed. The same thing happens with Mystic: see Other Worlds, which is not listed.
Apart from the interesting text the reason I found the book fascinating was for the five hundred or so covers, all in color though they don't all have text about them. Not in any order and they throw up another problem with the book's editing. The covers are not always with the magazine's text. The background to David Carson's Ray Gun is on page 157 with a cover on page fifty-six and another on 151. You can read about Super-8 Filmmaker on page 191 and see the cover on page 113. Page 117 has two Mechanix Illustrated covers with the copy on page 124 and I'm not quite sure why this title was included, hardly a cult magazine. This rather sloppy editing happens frequently throughout the book and I would have it thought it obvious that a cover belongs with its background copy.
Overall I thought this was an interesting (and very detailed) coverage of popular culture publishing but rather let down by inadequate editing, so four stars. A similar book is Tom Brinkmann's Bad Mags Volume 1: The Strangest, Sleaziest, and Most Unusual Periodicals Ever Published! (in two volumes) though it concentrates on sex, biker and movie titles from the sixties onwards and because virtually all the covers are in black and white it lacks the punch of Cult Magazines: A-Z.
***SEE SOME INSIDE PAGES by clicking 'customer images' under the cover.