One of the most popular pulp forms of the second half of the nineteenth century was the so-called dime novel (many sold for a nickel) pumped out by a handful of "fiction factories" in lower Manhattan, the publishing capital of the country. Major dime novel genres included westerns, detective thrillers, and sports stories, featuring popular heroes like Buffalo Bill, sleuth Nick Carter, and All-American boy Frank Merriwell.

Eager to capitalize on any topic that might sell books, dime novel publishers also appropriated the thrilling topics of the day. The Red Flag; or the Anarchists of Chicago (such double titles were the norm) is dated August 7, 1886, two weeks before the verdict, and it can generously be said to have been inspired by, rather than based on, the actual events of Haymarket.

Notable is how this piece of fiction reveals the popular fascination with political radicals. The Red Flag also expresses the xenophobia inflamed by Haymarket. The men at an anarchist meeting are described as "unkempt and wild-looking," and the reader is quickly comforted by the fact that "there was not a native American among them."

The cover is a full-blown stereotype of the anarchist. Shaggy-haired, low-browed, his bearded jaw set in defiance, he is set amidst his trappings of death and destruction, including dark flags, dagger, revolver, and, of course, bombs.