James Machin, a PhD student at Birkbeck, University of London, while working on a thesis on early weird fiction, circa 1880 to 1914, has located a letter dated February 2, 1924. It was written by H. P. Lovecraft to J. C. Henneberger, the publisher of WEIRD TALES. Soon after the letter was written, Henneberger offered Lovecraft the editorship of his Chicago-based pulp magazine.
Lovecraft’s letter was found in a folder of theatrical ephemera in the archives of the Ransom Center at The University of Texas at Austin. You can read about Machin’s discovery and view a scan of the letter by clicking here.
PulpFest 2015 will be exploring Lovecraft’s relationship with “The Unique Magazine” as part of its celebration of the 125th birthday of the 20th century’s leading practitioner of weird fiction writing. Click here to learn more details.
(Many thanks to Sam Gafford for drawing attention to this recent rediscovery. Sam writes about William Hope Hodgson, author of the novels THE NIGHT LAND, THE HOUSE ON THE BORDERLAND, THE GHOST PIRATES and THE BOATS OF THE “GLEN CARRIG,” at https://williamhopehodgson.wordpress.com/.)
This summer, PulpFest 2015 will salute Ned Pines’ Standard Magazines, also known as Beacon Magazines, Best Books, Better Publications, Nedor Publishing, and others. It’s most widely known by its nickname, the “Thrilling Group,” bestowed upon it for its use of the word “Thrilling” in many of its titles.
One of the leading publishers of the pulp era, Pines began operations during the Roaring Twenties. In the early years of the Great Depression, he was asked by The American News Company to start a chain of pulp magazines that it would distribute for him. Hiring former literary agent and Frank A. Munsey employee, Leo Margulies, to be his managing editor, Pines 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, and soon thereafter with THE LONE EAGLE, SKY FIGHTERS, THRILLING RANCH STORIES, and THRILLING WESTERN.
Between 1931 and 1958, Pines published more than seventy rough-paper magazines. His titles included ARMY-NAVY FLYING STORIES, BLACK BOOK DETECTIVE MAGAZINE, CAPTAIN FUTURE, DETECTIVE NOVELS MAGAZINE, EXCITING LOVE, EXCITING NAVY STORIES, FANTASTIC STORY QUARTERLY, FIVE SPORTS CLASSICS MAGAZINE, THE GHOST SUPER-DETECTIVE, GIANT WESTERN, G-MEN, HOPALONG CASSIDY’S WESTERN MAGAZINE, THE MASKED DETECTIVE, MASKED RIDER WESTERN, POPULAR BASEBALL, POPULAR DETECTIVE, POPULAR FOOTBALL, POPULAR ROMANCES, R.A.F. ACES, RANGE RIDERS, THE RIO KID WESTERN, RODEO ROMANCES, STARTLING STORIES, STRANGE STORIES, TEXAS RANGERS, THRILLING CONFESSIONS, THRILLING FOOTBALL STORIES, THRILLING MYSTERY, THRILLING WONDER STORIES, TOP DETECTIVE ANNUAL, TRIPLE WESTERN, and WEST. In 1939 Pines debuted a couple of comic book lines, publishing AMERICA’S BEST COMICS, THE BLACK TERROR, COO COO COMICS, EXCITING COMICS, THE FIGHTING YANK, HAPPY COMICS, NEW ROMANCES, REAL LIFE COMICS, SUPERMOUSE, THRILLING COMICS, and many other titles through 1956. Paperback books under the Popular Library banner were added to the mix in 1942. They were still being published in 1977 when the company was purchased by CBS.
Although many pulp collectors find much of the fiction published by the Thrilling line to be somewhat bland, average, or “run-of-the-mill,” they often find the cover art to be quite striking. So why are we celebrating Standard Magazines in 2015? The pulp line, after all, turns 84 this year. That’s hardly a sexy anniversary. However, many leading figures in the history of Pines Publishing have notable anniversaries in 2015: Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson, THRILLING ADVENTURES writer and creator of the first comic book is 125; Tom Curry, western writer and creator of The Rio Kid, and Leo Margulies, managing editor of the “Thrilling Group,” are 115; Norman Daniels, who created the Black Bat and wrote many Phantom Detective, Candid Camera Kid, and Masked Detective stories, and Thrilling publisher Ned Pines are 110; and Mort Weisinger, editor of CAPTAIN FUTURE and other Thrilling magazines, as well as editor of the Superman books for DC Comics, and Leigh Brackett and Henry Kuttner, both noted writers for Standard’s line of science-fiction pulps, are 100 years old. That’s eight reasons to make 2015 the year for Standard Magazines.
So here’s your chance to wish all these giants a “happy birthday” as PulpFest 2015 pays tribute to this leading pulp magazine publisher. The action begins on Thursday evening, August 13th and runs through Sunday, August 16th at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Columbus, Ohio. Click here to learn how to register for “Summer’s Great Pulp Con” and join your friends at the “pop culture center of the universe” for a salute to Ned Pines and the “Thrilling Group!”
(To learn more about Ned Pines and Standard Magazines, pick up a copy of THRILLING DETECTIVE HEROES, edited by John Locke & John Wooley, published by Adventure House, one of the leading purveyors of pulps and pulp reprints. It’s available for $20.)
(Pictured above are the first issue of THRILLING DETECTIVE, dated November 1931 and featuring artwork by an unknown cover artist; the first issue of THRILLING COMICS, dated February 1940 and featuring cover artwork by Alexander Kostuk; and the first issue of DC Comics ACTION COMICS, dated June 1938, and featuring cover artwork by Joe Shuster and the initial appearance of Superman.)
While you’re anxiously awaiting the arrival of PulpFest 2015 in August, we’ll be profiling some of our sister conventions in the world of pulps. We’ll begin with what is hoped to be the first of many southern pulp cons.
On Saturday, February 21st, 2015, the annual one-day Pulp AdventureCon will convert the Universal Palms Hotel in Fort Lauderdale, FL, into a collector’s mecca of rare magazines, movie posters, vintage paperbacks, golden age comics and other pulp-paper memorabilia.
The fifteen-year-old collectors’ event, with a $5 admission, has migrated with its sponsors from New Jersey and added this Florida show to the pulp con schedule. Until now, collectors had to travel to the Midwest for pulp-related events in Columbus and Chicago. Now, like a pair of bookends, the pulp show season will start with AdventureCon in Florida and end with AdventureCon on Nov. 7 in New Jersey.
“In their heyday, before television, comics or graphic novels existed, characters like The Shadow, Tarzan, and Zorro prospered in the pulps,” said show promoter Rich Harvey of Sunrise, Florida. “Authors like Erle Stanley Gardner and Edgar Rice Burroughs started their careers in these rough-edged old magazines, before moving into books and the lucrative Hollywood realm.”
Most superheroes, from Superman to X-Men are rooted in the old magazines. Captain Future appears weekly on a background poster in the situation comedy The Big Bang Theory. Writers like Dashiell Hammett, L. Ron Hubbard and Ray Bradbury filled the pulps with inexpensive entertainment in a world before the Internet and television. Western writers Max Brand and Zane Grey also wrote for the pulps.
Of special note to pulp magazine collectors, 2015 marks the 125th anniversary of pulp author H. P. Lovecraft, known for such terrors as “The Call of Cthulu” and “At the Mountains of Madness.” The Rhode Island-based author was a visitor to the Central Florida area, long before Disney cleared out the swamps.
Pulp AdventureCon will be held Saturday, February 21, 2015 at the Universal Palms Hotel, 4900 N. Powerline Road , Fort Lauderdale, FL 33309. The show runs from 10AM to 5PM. Admission is $5.00. For more information, please visit www.pulpadventure.com.
So what’s this PulpFest thing that has so many people talking? With over two-thousand likes on Facebook and hundreds of followers on Twitter, it certainly has been generating a lot of excitement. But what’s it all about?
PulpFest is named for pulp magazines, periodic fiction collections named after the cheap paper on which they were printed. Frank A. Munsey pioneered the format in 1896 with THE ARGOSY. A decade later, pulps began to pick up steam with titles like BLUE BOOK and ADVENTURE, then exploded in 1912 when ALL-STORY printed a little yarn by Edgar Rice Burroughs called “Tarzan of the Apes.” Soon thereafter, genre titles began to flourish, among them DETECTIVE STORY, WESTERN STORY, and LOVE STORY. In the twenties, publishing legends such as BLACK MASK, WEIRD TALES and AMAZING STORIES took hold. The following decade saw the advent of the so-called “hero pulps” with magazines such as THE SHADOW, DOC SAVAGE, and THE SPIDER attracting new readers to the rough-paper format.
By the early fifties, the pulps were gone, killed by competition from paperback books, comic books, radio, and television. But the fiction and artwork that appeared in these everyday consumables of the early twentieth century kept them alive in the hearts and minds of countless individuals. Haunting back-issue magazine shops, flea markets, science-fiction conventions, and other venues, these hearty souls gradually assembled astounding collections of genre fiction, all published in the rough and ragged magazines known as pulps. Eventually, these collectors organized a convention dedicated to the premise that the pulps had a profound effect on American popular culture that reverberated through a wide variety of mediums—comic books, movies, paperbacks and genre fiction, television, men’s adventure magazines, radio drama, and even video and role-playing games. Today, we call this convention, PulpFest.
The summertime destination for fans and collectors of vintage popular fiction and related materials, PulpFest seeks to honor the pulps by drawing attention to the many ways these throwaway articles have inspired writers, artists, film directors, software developers, and other creators over the decades.
Why not come see what it’s all about? PulpFest 2015 will take place at the beautiful Hyatt Regency hotel in downtown Columbus, Ohio beginning on Thursday, August 13th. It will continue through Sunday afternoon, August 16th. Start planning now to attend PulpFest 2015 and join hundreds of pulp fiction fans at the pop-culture center of the universe! You can book a room by clicking here.
Published by the Frank A. Munsey Company, the October 1912 issue of THE ALL-STORY featured Edgar Rice Burroughs’ novel “Tarzan of the Apes,” published in its entirety. Clinton Pettee painted the front cover art for the magazine.
You want to go to PulpFest 2015, but where do you sleep?!
By staying at the Hyatt Regency Columbus, you’ll help to ensure the convention’s success. To reward loyal attendees who support the convention by staying at the host hotel, PulpFest will provide an early-bird membership at no extra charge.
For PulpFest 2015, it’s easy to book a room at the Hyatt Regency Columbus:
1) Click this Link
2) Make a call to 1-888-421-1442. (Make sure you tell them you would like the PulpFest rate.)
You can reserve a room at the special convention rate of $116 per night plus tax, which includes one free parking pass and free Wi-Fi, if you do so by July 1, 2015. Additional cars will be charged at the discounted rate of $10 overnight with in/out privileges.
Visit (and bookmark) the PulpFest 2015 Hotel Information page for answers to your other questions.