By the mid-1950s, pulp magazines had largely disappeared from America’s newsstands. Hence, even those creators who were first getting started when the rough-paper magazines of the early twentieth century were in their last days, have either departed this mortal coil or have a difficult time traveling in our day and age. For these reasons, PulpFest is extremely proud to welcome artist and illustrator Jon Arfstrom as its special guest to this year’s convention. We all owe Greg Ketter, proprietor of DreamHaven Books, our sincerest gratitude for helping to arrange Mr. Arfstrom’s appearance at PulpFest 2015.
Born in 1928, Jon Arfstrom has lived in Minnesota for most of his life. Largely self-taught, the artist also studied with the Famous Artist School, founded by members of the New York Society of Illustrators, and at the Minneapolis School of Art. Always interested in fantasy art, Arfstrom began to contribute to fanzines in the late 1940s, including THE FANSCIENT, FANTASY ADVERTISER, SCIENTIFANTASY, and SPACE TRAILS.
Working in a factory to make ends meet, Arfstom began to submit his work to the digest market around 1950, selling interior drawings to Ray Palmer’s MYSTIC MAGAZINE and OTHER WORLDS SCIENCE STORIES, William Crawford’s SPACEWAY, and Dorothy McIlwraith’s WEIRD TALES. For the latter, he also painted three covers, beginning with the January 1952 issue. He continued working for “The Unique Magazine” until its demise in 1954.
Following the collapse of the pulp market, Arfstrom turned to commercial art, producing illustrations for a large retail store
chain and art for a religious publisher. He also worked as a staff artist for a calendar company. Gradually, he became a major midwestern artist, holding more than thirty one-man shows, winning numerous awards, producing work for many institutions and private collections, and serving as the President of the Northstar Watercolor Society.
During the mid-nineties, Jon Arfstrom returned to the fantasy art field, creating dust-jacket art for Fedogan & Bremer, Haffner Press, and PS Publishing. Robert Bloch’s THE EARLY FEARS, published by Fedogan & Bremer and featuring both jacket and interior art by Arfstrom, won a Stoker Award in 1994 for “Superior Achievement in a Fiction Collection.”
Beginning at 8:45 PM, on Friday, August 14th, and following our guest-of-honor presentation by author Chet Williamson, please join pulp art historian David Saunders for a short interview with fantasy artist Jon Arfstrom, perhaps the last surviving artist to paint covers for the original run of “The Unique Magazine,” WEIRD TALES. Mr. Arfstrom will also have a table at the convention where he will be displaying some of his original art. He will have a sampling of paintings and drawings, mostly from the 1970’s on, that he will be selling at the convention. His table will be next to the DreamHaven Books display in the PulpFest 2015 dealers’ room.
Please register as soon as you can for “Summer’s Great Pulp Con” to be to be part of this exciting event. A prepaid, three-day membership to PulpFest 2015 will cost $30 for those members who will be staying at the Hyatt Regency Columbus and $35 for those staying elsewhere. The price at the door will be $40. Although are host hotel is completely booked, there are still some rooms available through several hotels that that are close to the convention. Remember that PulpFest will be sharing downtown Columbus with Matsuricon in August. Please click here and you’ll find a link to a list of hotels to choose from. Afterward, click the red “register” button on our home page to be assured that you won’t miss this opportunity to meet one of the terrific artists who labored for the long-gone pulp market, Jon Arfstom, the last of the WEIRD TALES artists.
(The January 1952 issue not only featured Jon Arfstrom’s first cover for “The Unique Magazine,” but also August Derleth’s cover story, “The Black Island.” This was the final tale of a series of five connected stories that would later form THE TRAIL OF CTHULHU, published by Arkham House in 1962. Also appearing in the issue is a reprint of Anthony M. Rud’s “Ooze,” the story of a giant amoeba that originally ran in the first issue of WEIRD TALES, dated March 1923.”
As part of its celebration of the 125th anniversary of the birth of H. P. Lovecraft, PulpFest 2015 will be paying tribute to WEIRD TALES, the rough-paper magazine where many of the author’s most influential works were published. The first periodical to be largely devoted to the fantasy genre, WEIRD TALES also introduced readers to the sword-and-sorcery genre through Robert E. Howard’s stories of Kull, Solomon Kane, Bran Mak Morn, and Conan, and shared Clark Ashton Smith’s wonderfully evocative stories of Hyperboria, Averoigne, and Zothique. It gave us C. L. Moore’s “Schambleau” and Jirel stories, Henry S. Whitehead’s voodoo masterpiece, “Jumbee,” and many other classics of fantasy and horror.
Robert Weinberg has stated, “It was in WEIRD TALES . . . that traditions were broken . . . that unusual writing and poetry was featured . . . . It was a magazine where anything might find a home . . . . Most important, it was the policy and nature of the magazine that influenced the entire spectrum of fantasy and SF publishing.”
Even in today’s fast-moving society, WEIRD TALES is still inspiring authors, artists, and publishers. Join PulpFest on Saturday, August 15th, at 1:30 PM as we welcome a talented group of today’s fictioneers — the scribes and word-slingers who are creating the new pulp fiction — to discuss the writers and stories published by “The Unique Magazine,” the genres it helped to generate, and how WEIRD TALES has influenced contemporary writers. It’s called “The Heirs of WEIRD TALES” and promises to be the most fantastic “new pulp” panel we’ve ever assembled.
Ron Fortier, a professional writer for nearly three decades, will be moderating our “Heirs” panel. In 2007, Ron teamed up with illustrator Rob Davis to start Airship 27 Productions and build a home for new adventures featuring many of the pulp characters long remembered by our community. Ron’s own creation, the undead avenger known as Brother Bones, would certainly have been at home with Paul Ernst’s Doctor Satan in the pages of “The Unique Magazine.”
Joining Ron will be “new pulp” authors Jim Beard, a Toledoan whose Sgt. Janus, Spirit-Breaker could certainly have matched wits with Seabury Quinn’s occult detective, Jules de Grandin; Jeff Fournier, author of new and exotic tales of Sinbad; John Hegenberger, author of the Lovecraft-inspired short story, “Howard’s Toe,” and the forthcoming Stan Wade private eye series; Rick Lai, whose character, The Revenant, was trained by Erik, the enigmatic Phantom of the Opera; Michael Panush, author of the Stein and Candle Detective Agency series concerning a pair of private detectives specializing in the paranormal, the supernatural, and the just plain weird (who certainly could have taken on Edmond Hamilton’s “Vampire Master“); and Frank Schildiner, whose latest novel, THE QUEST OF FRANKENSTEIN, has Frankenstein’s monster meet H. P. Lovecraft’s Herbert West: Reanimator.
Given the make-up of this seven-writer panel presentation, expect a very fast-moving hour for your Saturday afternoon listening pleasure! Learn how you can register for “Summer’s Great Pulp Con” to be sure not to miss this powerhouse panel by clicking the red register button found on our home page at www.pulpfest.com. And be sure to book a room! They’re going fast. Visit our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/PulpFest and click on the post pinned to the top of the page. You’ll be directed to a list of hotels to choose from. If you are not from the Columbus area and want to attend PulpFest 2015, please book your room now and not later. Rooms that are relatively close to the Hyatt Regency are rapidly disappearing. When booking through our Facebook link, please be sure to request the Matsuricon group rate.
(Readers first saw Paul Ernst’s Doctor Satan courtesy of WEIRD TALES premier cover artist Margaret Brundage. The character was introduced in the August 1935 issue. “Doctor Satan. A man who took pride in his fiendishness! A man who robbed and killed, and broke the laws of man and God, not for gain, because he already had more than any one person could spend, but solely for thrills! A being jaded with the standard pleasures of the world, and turning to monstrous, sadistic acts to justify his existence and give him the sense of power he craved!” It’s regrettable that he never faced off against Ron Fortier’s Brother Bones, whose “face, hidden forever behind an ivory white skull mask, is the entrance to madness for those unfortunate enough to behold it.”)
Almost one-hundred and twenty-five years ago, on August 20, 1880, Howard Phillips Lovecraft was born in Providence, Rhode Island. According to the late Robert Bloch, author of PSYCHO, Lovecraft was, “A precocious child, he learned to read when he was four and soon experimented with writing. Poor health kept him from college and economic necessity eventually caused him to neglect amateur journalism in favor of ghostwriting or revising the work of others for professional publication. Gradually he began to produce poetry and fiction of his own.” His “career as a professional writer was largely compressed into a span of about sixteen years. He remained virtually unknown except to the limited readership of pulp magazines such as WEIRD TALES in which his work appeared. It earned only a pitiful pittance to supplement the income from a meager inheritance, and he continued his anonymous chores for other writers.”
Bloch continues: “Today Lovecraft is established as a major American fantasy writer, frequently ranked as the equal of Poe. His work is in print here and abroad and the mild-mannered, old-fashioned, conservative New England gentleman has become an acknowledged master of horror fiction.” What then should be made of this magazine that earned “The Copernicus of the horror story,” as author Fritz Leiber described Lovecraft, “a pitiful pittance to supplement the income from a meager inheritance?”
WEIRD TALES was the first periodical to be largely devoted to the fantasy genre. Premiering in early 1923, its publishers envisioned “The Unique Magazine” as a place for a writer to be given “free rein to express his innermost feelings in a manner befitting great literature.” It began to come into its own in late 1924 after Farnsworth Wright was named the magazine’s editor. In the years ahead, the pulp would become known for its fantasy and supernatural fiction, publishing the work of Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, and Clark Ashton Smith. Other substantial writers included Bloch, E. Hoffmann Price, Carl Jacobi, Henry Kuttner, Frank Belknap Long, C. L. Moore, Seabury Quinn, Manly Wade Wellman, Henry S. Whitehead, and others. WEIRD TALES would also become noted for its artists: Hannes Bok, Margaret Brundage, J. Allen St. John, and Virgil Finlay all contributed tremendously to the fantasy art field through their work for “The Unique Magazine.”
In addition to publishing some of the best fantasy and supernatural fiction of the twentieth century, WEIRD TALES, like the Munsey magazines, featured science fiction in its pages, offering tales of interplanetary expeditions, brain transference, death rays, lost races, parallel worlds, and more. Edmond Hamilton was its leading contributor of science fiction. With stories about alien invasions, space police, and evolution gone wild, the author became known as “world-wrecker” Hamilton. Other notable science fiction authors to appear in WEIRD TALES were Ray Cummings, Austin Hall, Otis Adelbert Kline, Moore, Donald Wandrei, and Jack Williamson. In his later years, H. P. Lovecraft spun his own style of science fiction in his tales of cosmic horror.
The original run of WEIRD TALES began with its March 1923 number, with Edwin Baird as the editor, and ran through its September 1954 issue, for a total of 279 issues. During this period, it was perhaps the most important and influential of all fantasy magazines, providing an outlet for stories that probably would not have been published elsewhere. This was especially true during the Wright years when it published many of Lovecraft’s most influential works; introduced the sword-and-sorcery genre through Robert E. Howard’s stories of Kull, Solomon Kane, Bran Mak Morn, and Conan; shared Clark Ashton Smith’s wonderfully evocative stories of Hyperboria, Averoigne, and Zothique; and featured the early work of artists Hannes Bok, Margaret Brundage, and Virgil Finlay. As pulp scholar Robert Weinberg has written, “It was in WEIRD TALES . . . that traditions were broken . . . . that unusual writing and poetry was featured. The outrageous and the ordinary mingled side by side in the magazine . . . It was a magazine where anything might find a home.”
Although Wright did indeed publish some rather substantial stories during his editorship — including Lovecraft’s “The Call of Cthulhu,” “The Whisperer in Darkness,” and “The Haunter of the Dark;” Howard’s “The Tower of the Elephant,” “A Witch Shall Be Born,” “Pigeons from Hell,” and “Red Nails;” C. L. Moore’s “Schambleau” and Jirel stories; Clark Ashton Smith’s “A Rendezvous in Averoigne,” “The Vaults of Yoh-Vombis,” and “Genius Loci;” Henry S. Whitehead’s “Jumbee,” and many others — he was, at the same time, rejecting a great deal of fine work. H. P. Lovecraft was told that “At the Mountains of Madness,” was “too long,” “not easily divisible into parts,” and “not convincing.” “The Shadow over Innsmouth” was rejected for similar reasons. Both have since become recognized as classics. In a letter addressed to Lee Alexander Stone in 1930, Lovecraft wrote: “Henry S. Whitehead . . . says that Wright uniformly rejects his best stories. Very like Wright — whose bland dumbness transcends my utmost limits of comprehension.” In a letter to Richard Searight, written in 1935, Lovecraft summarized his feelings about Wright by stating, “His capricious editorial policy does give me a large-sized cervical pain! He has consistently turned down my best work . . . on the ground of length, while at the same time taking far longer things (for the most part utter tripe) from others. It is clear to me that he does not like my work, no matter what he says to the contrary.”
Howard, Smith, and others experienced similar rejections. In a letter mailed to Wright about a year before his tragic suicide, Robert E. Howard stated, “WEIRD TALES owes me over eight hundred dollars for stories already published and supposed to be paid for on publication — enough to pay all my debts and get back on my feet again.” Some scholars have suggested that Wright’s sometimes difficult stance taken with his best writers may have contributed to the early deaths of Howard and Lovecraft and the premature end of Smith’s writing career.
As part of its celebration of the 125th anniversary of the birth of H. P. Lovecraft, PulpFest 2015 is proud to welcome Don Herron, editor of the scholarly landmark, THE DARK BARBARIAN, and winner of the 2006 Black Circle Award for lifetime achievement in Robert E. Howard studies; Morgan Holmes, longtime member of the Robert E. Howard United Press Association and a book review editor for THE DARK MAN; Professor Tom Krabacher of California State University, Sacramento and a member of the Pulp Era Amateur Press Association; 1979 Lamont Award winner and author of “The Wild Adventures of Doc Savage and Tarzan” Will Murray; and popular culture Professor Garyn G. Roberts, who was awarded the Munsey in 2013, for a presentation entitled “Weird Editing at ‘The Unique Magazine’.” Scheduled for Saturday evening, August 15th, at 7:55 PM, our panelists will discuss the editorial policies of WEIRD TALES, concentrating particularly on the reign of Farnsworth Wright.
Join PulpFest 2015 at the beautiful Hyatt Regency in downtown Columbus, Ohio, beginning on Thursday, August 13th and running through Sunday, August 16th, for a salute to H. P. Lovecraft and WEIRD TALES, just a few short days before the author’s 125th birthday. Although our host hotel is completely booked, there are still some rooms available at nearby hotels. Please visit our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/PulpFest and click on the post pinned to the top of the page. You’ll be directed to a list of hotels to choose from. If you are not from the Columbus area and want to attend PulpFest 2015, we urge to book your room now and not later. Rooms that are relatively close to PulpFest are disappearing fast during the time frame of our convention.
(The first issue of WEIRD TALES, dated March 1923 with a cover illustration by R. R. Epperly, is best remembered for publishing Anthony M. Rud’s “Ooze,” a story concerning a giant amoeba. Also featured in the issue were tales by Otis Adelbert Kline, Joel Townsley Rogers, R. T. M. Scott, and Harold Ward. The issue was put together by Edwin Baird, the editor of the magazine until the November 1924 issue, when Wright took the helm.
Hannes Bok created seven covers for WEIRD TALES. The last appeared on the issue dated March 1942. It was edited by Dorothy McIlwraith, who succeeded Farnsworth Wright following the March 1940 number. McIlwraith would publish Ray Bradbury’s first professional solo story, “The Candle,” in the November 1942 issue. She also helped to launch the careers of author Fritz Leiber and fantasy artist Lee Brown Coye.
Almost two decades after its original demise, WEIRD TALES was revived in 1973-1974 for four issues, edited by Sam Moskowitz. The second issue, from the fall of 1973, featured cover art by Gary van der Steur after Hannes Bok’s cover from March 1940. A paperback series lasting four more issues, edited by Lin Carter, appeared from 1981-1983. The magazine was revived in 1988 by George H. Scithers, Darrell Schweitzer and John Gregory Betancourt and has, more or less, been published on a continuous basis since that time. in 2014, the 362nd issue was released. It is currently published by John Harlacher with Marvin Kaye serving as editor. For more details, visit the magazine’s website at http://weirdtalesmagazine.com/.)
If you are having trouble booking a room for PulpFest 2015, there are still blocks of rooms available through the Matsuricon web site. Visit http://matsuricon.org/hotel-reservations/ to find a room that is close to the convention. When booking through the Matsuricon site, please be sure to request the Matsuricon group rate.
If you are looking for a room mate at PulpFest 2015, please write to Jack Cullers at firstname.lastname@example.org. There are a few people with double rooms at the Hyatt Regency who would like to share their room with another pulp fan. Please let Jack know if you are interested in sharing a room with anyone — whether you are looking for a room or you already have a room and are willing to share.
WE ARE URGING PEOPLE TO BOOK THEIR ROOMS ASAP!!!!! If you are not from the Columbus area and want to attend PulpFest 2015, you need to book your room NOW and not later. Rooms are disappearing fast during the 8/13 – 8/16 time frame because PulpFest and Matsuricon are taking place over the same weekend. PLEASE BOOK NOW!!!!
Soon after Ned Pines was asked by The American News Company to start a chain of pulp magazines that it would distribute for him, the young publisher approached former literary agent and Frank A. Munsey employee, Leo Margulies, to be the managing editor of the new enterprise. With the country gripped by the Great Depression, the two men came up with a daring idea for the rough paper market–a ten-cent pulp magazine.
Standard Magazines, better known as “The Thrilling Group,” launched THRILLING DETECTIVE, THRILLING ADVENTURES, and THRILLING LOVE in late 1931, each selling for a dime. Within two years, the line was expanding, first with THE PHANTOM DETECTIVE, followed by THE LONE EAGLE, SKY FIGHTERS, THRILLING RANCH STORIES, and THRILLING WESTERN. As Standard grew, Leo Margulies became the company’s face.
Margulies was born on June 22, 1905 and raised in Brooklyn, New York. After briefly attending Columbia University, he began working for the Munsey magazine chain, selling subsidiary rights to its stories. His mentor was the legendary editor, Bob Davis, the man who published many of the early works of Max Brand, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Ray Cummings, George Allan England, A. Merritt, and other popular writers.
After Davis left the pulp industry, Margulies started a literary agency with a colleague. He later worked as head of East Coast research for Fox Films; helped to establish Tower Magazines, sold exclusively through Woolworth’s; and founded his own literary agency. After joining Ned Pines’ new publishing venture, he developed a reputation “. . . not only for quick decisions on buying stories but also for swift payment, which made him a writers’ favorite.”
Respected by authors and editors alike, Margulies became known as “The Little Giant of the Pulps.” As author and screenwriter Steve Fisher described in an article written for a writer’s magazine, “. . . there was a sudden silence. Fifty people stopped eating and looked up. Leo Margulies made his usual dramatic entrance. . . . I thought for a moment (American Fiction Guild) president Art Burks was going to leap to his feet and salute.”
During World War II, Margulies enlisted in the military as a war correspondent. He was on board the USS Missouri when the Japanese surrendered. Returning to the USA, he helped launch the Popular Library line of paperback books. In the early fifties, following a lengthy trip to Europe, Leo Margulies left Ned Pines’ employ and started a new publishing venture, King-Size Publications. He returned to the fiction market with two digest magazines — THE SAINT DETECTIVE MAGAZINE and FANTASTIC UNIVERSE. In later years, he established MIKE SHAYNE MYSTERY MAGAZINE, THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. MAGAZINE, ZANE GREY’S WESTERN MAGAZINE, and other fiction digests. He also revived WEIRD TALES in 1973-1974, for four issues, edited by Sam Moskowitz. Leo Margulies died on December 26, 1975 at the age of seventy-five.
As part of its tribute to Ned Pines’ Standard Magazines, PulpFest 2015 will welcome Leo Margulies’ nephew, Philip M. Sherman, to the convention to discuss his uncle Leo on both a personal and professional level. “Not only was Leo an outstanding editor and publisher . . . he was also an outstanding uncle,” Mr. Sherman writes. Philip — who is working on a biography of his uncle — will discuss Margulies’ relationship with his own family as well as the “Little Giant’s” relationship with writers, as expressed in his personal correspondence. Mr. Sherman, the son of Margulies’ sister Ann, will also be sharing family photos of his Uncle Leo as well as excerpts from letters written by the managing editor of Standard Magazines.”
Joining Mr. Sherman on stage will be popular culture scholars Ed Hulse, editor of BLOOD ‘N’ THUNDER, and Will Murray, author of “The Wild Adventures of Doc Savage and Tarzan” from Altus Press. Following Mr. Sherman’s intimate presentation on his uncle, the three will discuss the unique methods used by Margulies to manage the Thrilling chain of pulp magazines. The convention would like to thank former organizing committee member Ed Hulse for helping to arrange Philip M. Sherman’s appearance at PulpFest 2015.
“Leo Margulies: The Little Giant of the Pulps” will begin at 7:10 PM on Friday evening, August 14th. Learn how you can register for “Summer’s Great Pulp Con” to be sure not to miss this historic presentation by clicking the red register button found on our home page at www.pulpfest.com.
(According to John Locke’s introduction to THRILLING DETECTIVE HEROES, during the Second World War, Leo Margulies “answered the higher calling of wartime. He and several other writers and editors joined the Navy for a stint in the Pacific Theater as war correspondents.” Pictured here is Margulies in uniform. Many thanks to Matt Moring of Altus Press for this photograph. It originally appeared in Will Murray’s study of the pulp western, WORDSLINGERS.
About six years after Margulies’ death, MIKE SHAYNE MYSTERY MAGAZINE, one of the magazines the longtime editor founded after his departure from the Thrilling Group, ceased publication, just seven shy of its 300th issue. During its last year, it ran a seven-part series on pulp heroes that was written by mystery author, Michael Avallone, the creator of private eye Ed Noon. Featured in the September 1981 issue — with a cover by Keller — was Avallone’s tribute to THE PHANTOM DETECTIVE, the first hero pulp to be published by Leo Margulies for Standard Magazines.)