The Ephemera

The story paper issue(s).

Summer, 2021 / No. 47
Illustration by Hartley Lin
Hartley Lin

If there’s one thing Taddle Creek’s history of successful postal solicitations has taught it, it’s that people love to get mail. Which is why the magazine thought, with so few things to look forward to in these pandemic days, it would spread a little joy by splitting its summer issue up into three individual sections and, at no small cost to itself, mail them to subscribers on a bimonthly basis. (If you’re one of the fifty-three people who, according to the magazine’s most recent covid-era distribution numbers, buys Taddle Creek at the newsstand, unfortunately, this issue means two extra curbside pickups for you. Reader loyalty has its privileges.) Since such a generous undertaking doesn’t come cheap, the magazine has opted to present these issues in the format known as the “story paper,” a late-nineteenth–early-twentieth-century format also referred to as a “nickel weekly” or “penny dreadful.” Story papers were not unlike pulp magazines, though thinner, usually featuring a self-cover, and often aimed at children. While the latter trait is not relevant in Taddle Creek’s experiment, readers still can look forward to two more cheaply printed editions of the magazine as the year progresses.