The first Stag, published by Leeds Publishing Corp., beginning with vol. 1, #1 (June 1937), was a 25-cent, 96-page, digest subtitled "A Magazine for Men" and which included articles and stories by such writers as Carleton Beals, Elsa Maxwell, Bernard Sobel, and Hendrik Willem van Loon. It covered a range of topics, including literature, music, sports, and theater, along with stories on male-female relationships, sexual issues, and such topics as striptease.
A second Stag, published by Official Com. Inc. and edited by Noah Sarlat, appeared circa 1951 as a 25-cent, 82-page, standard-sized men's adventure magazine. This version, containing ostensibly "true-life" fiction of men in wartime or in rugged adventure mode, continued through at least volume 22 in 1971. In 1958, Martin Goodman took over the magazine, using first his Atlas Magazines imprint, and then switching to his Magazine Management imprint circa 1970  with the cover price rising to 50 cents.
In 1953, the publisher at the time threatened fledgling magazine founder Hugh Hefner with a trademark infringement lawsuit unless he changed the name of his planned men's magazine, Stag Party; Hefner redubbed the magazine Playboy.
Writer Dorothy Gallagher reminisced in 1998 that by the early 1960s, when Magazine Management occupied the second floor at 60th Street and Madison Avenue,
...magazines were produced the way Detroit produced cars. I worked on the fan-magazine line. On the other side of a five-foot partition was the romance-magazine line. And across a corridor were the financial staples of the organization, the men's magazines — Stag, For Men Only, Male — for which, at one time or another, Mario Puzo, Bruce Jay Friedman, David Markson, Mickey Spillane and Martin Cruz Smith wrote, until they became too exalted and rich to do it anymore.
Transition to pornography
Stag transitioned to become a men's pornographic magazine, published by Goodman's son Charles "Chip" Goodman at Magazine Management's successor company, Swank Publications. The Magna Publishing Group bought Stag and its sister publication Swank from that company in 1993.
- "Stag". The FictionMags Index. Archived from the original on November 23, 2011.
- Watts, Steven (2008). Mr. Playboy: Hugh Hefner and the American Dream. John Wiley & Sons. p. 64.
- Sumner, David E. (2010). The Magazine Century: American Magazines Since 1900. Peter Lang Publishing. p. 134. ISBN 978-1-4331-0493-0.
- Gallagher, Dorothy (May 31, 1998). "Adventures in the Mag Trade". The New York Times. Archived from the original on April 17, 2009.
- "Frank Soltesz". (official site). Archived from the original on February 8, 2011. Men's magazine illustrations on page 5.
- Flamm, Matthew (June 2, 2002). "A Demimonde in Twilight". The New York Times. Archived from the original on May 7, 2009.
- Day, E.S. (June 6, 2009). "Kickin' It Old School: Swank Magazine". AbortMag.com. Archived from the original on November 23, 2011.