Crom, the Barbarian in Out of This World Adventures #1, June 1950, art by John Giunta
The early 1950s saw dramatic changes in the world of U.S. science fiction publishing. At the start of 1949, all but one of the major magazines in the field were in pulp format; by the end of 1955, almost all had either ceased publication or switched to digest format. Despite the rapid decline of the pulp market, several new science fiction magazines were launched in pulp format during these years; Out of This World Adventures was one of these.
In 1947 Avon Books launched the Avon Fantasy Reader, a series of fantasy anthologies in digest format, edited by Donald A. Wollheim.[note 1] Two years later,
Joseph Meyers, Avon's president, decided to launch a science fiction magazine, and Wollheim purchased six stories for it before it was cancelled for financial reasons.[note 2] The following year, Avon's printer, J.W. Clements, suggested to Meyers the idea of a pulp magazine which included a few pages of comics. Meyers asked Wollheim to try the idea, thinking that the additional section might draw comics readers to buy a pulp magazine, and in July 1950 Wollheim duly launched Sparkling Love Stories and Out of This World Adventures. The romance magazine was cancelled after a single issue because of poor sales; but Out of This World Adventures seemed promising enough to try a second issue, which appeared in December 1950, along with a third magazine in the part-comic format: Pioneer Western. Neither sold well enough to extend their runs any further.
Donald A. Wollheim was the editor for both issues. His editorial policy was slanted towards interplanetary fiction, according to his editorial in the first issue. The magazine included stories by several writers who were either already well-known or who would go on to more success; the first issue featured A.E. van Vogt, Lester del Rey, Kris Neville, William Tenn, Mack Reynolds, Ray Cummings and A. Bertram Chandler. Science fiction historians Mike Ashley and Wendy Bousfield both regard Tenn's story, "The Puzzle of Priipiirii", as the best in the magazine. The 32-page comics section, which was taken directly from an existing Avon comic called Out of This World, included comics written by John Michel and Gardner Fox; the latter, a pastiche of Robert E. Howard's "Conan" stories, was titled "Crom the Barbarian" and was illustrated by John Giunta. Michel, like Wollheim a member of the Futurians, a group of sf fans and aspiring writers, wrote the lead comic for both issues, though the second issue of the Canadian edition used a different comic section than the U.S. edition. The interior artwork was the responsibility of Avon's art director, rather than Wollheim, and illustrators such as William McWilliam, who worked on Avon's comics, were used.