sunnuntaina, marraskuuta 06, 2005

Seikkailujen Maailma

Tämä on ehkä ilmestynyt Jukkahoon kokoamassa ja julkaisemassa fanzinessa, jonka nimeä en saa päähäni. Enkä tosiaan tiedä, onko juttu ollenkaan ilmestynyt. Kyse on siis legendaarisesta Seikkailujen Maailmasta, ainoasta oikeasta suomalaisesta pulp-lehdestä, jossa ilmestyi mm. ensimmäinen Chandler-suomennos.


The only Finnish pulp, Seikkailujen Maailma

The garish charm of pulp fiction florished in the US and UK in the thirties and fourties and in the beginning of the fifties. Pulp magazines were published in the hundreds or maybe even thousands and many of the pulp writers published lots of classics – Robert E. Howard’s Conan, Raymond Chandler’s pre-Marlowe stories, Ray Bradbury’s early horror stories etc.
Finland got its share of pulpish fever in the form of Seikkailujen Maailma, the magazine that was published from 1937 to 1963. The title of the magazine means The World of Adventures and it was published by the Kanerva printing house from the middle-sized city of Lahti situating in the Southern Finland. In the lead was the charismatic figure of August Kanerva, but the initiative to publish an American-type pulp magazine came from his son, Olavi, and his mate, Reino Helismaa, who was later to get fame as a famous songwriter and singer.
It is as yet unknown where Olavi Kanerva ja Reino Helismaa got their hands on American pulps, but they may have been available through bookstores in Finland, which was a pretty international country between the wars. Or maybe Kanerva and Helismaa got their copies of Dime Detective, Adventure and other magazines straight from foreign countries.
Nevertheless, the boys encouraged August Kanerva to try his hand on magazine publishing. First came Isku (Punch) in 1935, a weekly paper specializing in fast-moving action stories. Many of the stories were published unanonimously, but there were some American stories thrown in. Some of the stories were written by Olavi Kanerva and Reino Helismaa themselves under many pseudonyms.
Seikkailujen Maailma started its life in 1937. This was a good year for pulps all around the world and Seikkailujen Maailma started off very well. The first issue contained stories by the shudder luminaries Paul Ernst, H.M. Appel and George Alden Edson and the Foreign Legion chronicler George Surdez. The issue also had one story by George Bruce, a hacker extraordinaire, and “the king of the pulps”, H. Bedford-Jones.
The same continued throughout the first issues: Carroll John Daly, Ray Cummings, Frederick C. Davis, Theodore Roscoe, Frederick Nebel, to name but a few, got their names on the pages of Seikkailujen Maailma pretty quick. They must’ve made quite an impact on Finnish readers who were not accustomed to pull-no-punches type of stories that the pulps afforded.
The shudder or weird menace stories that were ripped off the pages of Horror Stories and Terror Tales and the like may still well be the most gruesome fiction ever published in the Finnish language. In one of Wayne Rogers’s stories, the boxing manager promises his fighters that whenever they win a fight, they get a woman to rape. The manager kidnaps the protagonist’s wife and says that if the man ever loses a fight, the other men will have their way with the man’s wife. That’s noir for you.
Where the Kanerva family and Seikkailujen Maailma got their pulps and their stories is not known. It has been suspected that the stories were never paid for. It is entirely possible that they just took the stories out of the American pulps’ pages and photographed the illos. Many of the masters of pulp illustrations were known also in Finland: John Newton Howitt and Amos Sewell were published in Finland in quantity, but they couldn’t have known it themselves.
Seikkailujen Maailma was modelled after the Popular Publications magazines, mainly Dime Detective and Detective Tales. They used the same header and the same page size (appr. 7 x 10 inches). The paper is very rough pulp paper. You can almost feel the fibres. Most of the stories came from the Popular’s line – you can spot stories from Adventure, Dime Adventure, Dime Sports, Dime Western, Wonder Stories and of course Dime Detective and Detective Tales. The Popular editor Rogers Terrill had his hands also on Finnish readers’ imaginations.
The Second World War ceased the flow of American stories. American magazines didn’t find their way to Finland during the war. The magazine still published many American stories, but without the author’s name. Whether this was in fear of censors – Finland fought alongside Nazi Germany, after all – or copyright holders is not known.
One important exception was made in the case of Charles Stoddard AKA Henry Kuttner, whose first appearance in Finnish was in the pages of Seikkailujen Maailma in 1945. The story was called “Surman vedet” and it was originally “Waters of Death” (Thrilling Adventures, September 1941). Some other American sf writers were printed in Seikkailujen Maailma – Kenneth Sterling (“The Red Moon”, Wonder Stories, Nov. 1935), Leslie F. Stone (“The Man with the Four Dimensional Eyes, Wonder Stories August, 1935) and Manly Wade Wellman (“The Disc-Men of Jupiter”, Wonder Stories, Sept. 1931). The last one was published in Seikkailujen Maailma under the false byline, D. Kreene. Wherever that came from is a mystery.
Finnish writers made their way to Seikkailujen Maailma during war time. Harry Etelä must be one the more interesting ones. He was later to gather fame as a writer of popular songs, but he had published many songs already when he started scribbling stories for Seikkailujen Maailma in the end of the thirties. One of his tales carries a vivid influence of the shudder pulps: A cannibal-pedophile carries teenage boys to his den. He has now two preys, but they are not easy. They snatch an ax and chop the man to pieces. That’s the true origin of Finnish horror.
After the war there were some regulations due to shortage of paper. Seikkailujen Maailma wasn’t seen to be prestigious enough to get paper to be published monthly. In 1949 they got back on their feet again, now with Olavi Kanerva in the lead. The magazine translated and published many important American pulp writers, Norbert Davis, Robert Turner, Frank Gruber, William Campbell Gault, Harry F. Olmsted, William E. Barrett, again to name but a few. The emphasis was on crime fiction, but it changed during the fifties closer to western fiction. The likes of Robert Mahaffay, John Pearsol and Walt Coburn began to control the pages. The Colts sang a deadly song, but in came some really good stories, by Tom Blackburn, Bill Gulick and Richard Matheson, to name some. Science fiction dropped off almost completely. Rather strangely the only story by Matheson was one of his few westerns (“Gunsight”, Dime Western 1951).
The pulps began to vanish in the beginning of the fifties. Seikkailujen Maailma was thriving – they announced in 1957 that the January issue was sold out and couldn’t be reprinted. Many of the American pulps had by this time ceased to exist or changed their ways to more modest ones and became smaller, digest-sized magazines. Seikkailujen Maailma changed its size to digest in 1955-1956 and started to print stories from the lower end of American magazine publishing, from the likes of Guilty Detective Stories and Double Action Western. Robert Silverberg had one of his first appearances in Finnish in the end of the fifties with a crime story published originally as by Charles D. Hammer. The western stories were not true fiction anymore, they were rather a bit boring true stories where the writer needs no imagination.
The end was already visible. The issues in the early sixties are poor work, anonymous stories with no real content, some translations (one by Donald Westlake!) and some reprints without the author’s name. Covers are very bad. The Finnish writers dabbling in the dens of pulp at the time were, to be modest, not very good. One of them, Harri Kuusa, wrote long enough to see a novel of his in print. It was the swan song of the Seikkailujen Maailma publishing empire. Harri Kuusa’s one novel was called Nikkeliä ihmislihaan (“Nickel into the Human Flesh”) and it was published as by Wesley Nicol. This was in 1963. After that no one heard of Harri Kuusa again.
Seikkailujen Maailma vanished and can be found only in the lower shelves of second-hand book stores. Some of the early issues, with the distinctly American feel in the covers, are sought-after and expensive. The Kanerva printing house existed to the early seventies, but they didn’t publish anything anymore.

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