Last Call for Munsey Nominations

Apr 24, 2019 by

PulpFest annually recognizes the efforts of those who work to keep the pulps alive for this and future generations. The Munsey Award is named after the creator of the pulp magazine, Frank A. Munsey. It recognizes an individual or institution that has bettered the pulp community. Past winners have studied and written about the pulps. Others have worked in publishing, as artists, or in convention organizing to preserve and foster interest in pulp magazines.

Anyone is welcome to nominate a deserving individual or organization for the Munsey Award. Please send a brief explanation with your nomination to PulpFest marketing and programming director Mike Chomko. You can reach him at mike@pulpfest.com or at 2217 W. Fairview Street, Allentown, PA 18104-6542.

All members of the pulp community, excepting past winners of the MunseyHevelin, or Lamont Awards, are eligible. The deadline for nominations is April 30, 2019.

The recipient of the 2019 Munsey Award will be selected from the nominees through a vote cast by all the living Lamont, Munsey, and Rusty Award winners. The award will be presented on Saturday evening, August 17, at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Cranberry, the host hotel for PulpFest 2019.

Our 2018 Munsey Award winner was William Lampkin. You can read about Bill by clicking here.

(The Munsey Award was created in 2009 by artist David Saunders, the son of legendary illustrator Norman Saunders. Dan Zimmer of The Illustrated Press and publisher of ILLUSTRATION MAGAZINE has produced a limited edition of thirty-six numbered and signed prints. The PulpFest Committee is indebted to both David and Dan for their generous support of our convention.)

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Lights, Camera, Action: Cinevent 2019

Apr 19, 2019 by

If you’re a fan of silent and early sound films or a collector of motion pictures and related items, then Cinevent 2019 is for you. One of the associated conventions – along with FarmerCon and Monster Bash – found on our home page, this year’s Cinevent runs from May 23 through May 26 at the Renaissance Columbus Downtown Hotel on 50 North 3rd Street in the heart of Columbus, Ohio.

For over fifty years, Cinevent has gathered fans of silent and early sound films, as well as collectors of motion pictures and related items. The convention was co-founded by Steve Haynes — a big fan and supporter of PulpFest — who passed away in April of 2015.

In addition to over one-hundred tables of movie-related collectibles such as posters, lobby cards, press kits, DVDs and 16 mm films, Cinevent hosts one of the country’s largest live auctions of vintage posters. The convention also features an extensive schedule of classic sound and silent films. For a look at this year’s Cinevent film program, click here.

To book a room at the Renaissance Columbus, the convention’s host hotel, click here. And to keep abreast of the latest details on this fun convention, be sure to like the Cinevent Facebook page.

Although PulpFest 2019 will have a limited film program, the convention will have some great programming. Add onto that a dealers’ room featuring tens of thousands of pulp magazines, vintage paperbacks, digests, men’s adventure and true crime magazines, original art, first edition hardcovers, genre fiction, series books, reference books, dime novels and story papers, Big Little Books, B-Movies, serials and related paper collectibles, old-time radio shows, and Golden and Silver Age comic books, as well as newspaper adventure strips. We’ll also have a hospitality suite featuring great beer and snacks. So what are you waiting for? Start making your plans to celebrate “Mystery, Adventure, Science Fiction, and More” at PulpFest 2019.

(One of the highlights of this year’s Cinevent will be the showing of the twelve-part Republic Movie serial HAWK OF THE WILDERNESS, starring Herman Brix. It is based on William L. Chester’s novel of the same title, serialized in BLUE BOOK starting with the April 1935 issue. Herbert Morton Stoops contributed the cover art for the issue.

Started more than 50 years ago by a few folks who had a shared interest in watching films on 8mm and 16mm, Cinevent has grown into a Memorial Day tradition for hundreds of attendees who gather together every year. Movie screenings are available nearly continually every day of the convention from morning through late evening.)

3 Rivers Comicon: Putting Comics Back in Comicon

Apr 17, 2019 by

During the second weekend of May, a couple of Pittsburgh nerds are hoping to make comic con all about comics again. 3 Rivers Comicon will take place May 11 – 12 in the old Macy’s under the bridge in Homestead, Pennsylvania.

New Dimension Comics owner Todd McDevitt and general manager Jon Engel launched 3 Rivers Comicon in 2016 after hearing complaints from customers about the increasing cost of conventions and how the shift to an array of pop culture had left comics in the shadows. “I felt like we were almost being challenged. No one said it, but we made it our mission to do it,” McDevitt said. “This is going to be a comic convention. If you want something else, go somewhere else.”

McDevitt and Engel both have years of experience under their utility belts, attending and also working at comic conventions. From that involvement, as well as feedback from customers, they have the knowledge for what will work at their own event. The show is dedicated to cultivating the comic culture and community by bringing in some of the bigger names in the industry. With over 100 artists, writers, and other creators and almost as many vendors, this show is one not to miss.

Admission is $10 per day or $15 for a weekend pass. Tickets are available through the convention’s website or at any of the six New Dimension Comics locations. They will also be available at the door. Weekend events include panels, gaming, photo opportunities and costume contests for kids and adults. There is also the very popular beer party on Saturday evening. Check out the convention’s Guests page for a look at the many creators attending this year’s show.

3 Rivers Comicon has also commissioned a custom beer by ShuBrew of Harmony, Pennsylvania featuring original bottle label art by Josh Blaylock, creator of Mercy Sparx. Mercy Sparx Sinful Stout will be brewed exclusively for 3 Rivers Comicon and New Dimension Comics. Tickets to the convention’s beer party are $40 and include admission to both days of the convention, entry to the beer release party, two cans of this year’s custom beer, catered food, and a free graphic novel. A VIP pass costing $75 gets you even more!

Let’s hope that 3 Rivers will save a few bottles of their craft brew to help us celebrate PulpFest 2019 from August 15 through 18 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Cranberry, just north of Pennsylvania’s “Steel City.” Although PulpFest will not have its own beer, the convention will have some great programming. Add onto that a dealers’ room featuring tens of thousands of pulp magazines, vintage paperbacks, digests, men’s adventure and true crime magazines, original art, first edition hardcovers, genre fiction, series books, reference books, dime novels and story papers, Big Little Books, B-Movies, serials and related paper collectibles, old-time radio shows, and Golden and Silver Age comic books, as well as newspaper adventure strips. We’ll also have a hospitality suite featuring great beer and snacks. So what are you waiting for? Start making your plans to celebrate “Mystery, Adventure, Science Fiction, and More” at PulpFest 2019.

(Josh Blaylock created the label for Mercy Sparx Sinful Stout, the beer being brewed exclusively for 3 Rivers Comicon and New Dimension Comics.)

Starting Today — 3 Posts a Week

Apr 15, 2019 by

Since last August, we’ve had an announcement about PulpFest once a week. Starting today, we’ll release a post every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. We’ll maintain that pace until mid-July. Then we’ll have one post every weekday. Even the PulpFest promotion department needs a day off.

In the next few weeks, we’ll look at Talbot Mundy, upcoming conventions, the Munsey Award, and SCIENCE WONDER STORIES. We’ll also welcome guest writer Sara Light-Waller, author of ANCHOR: A STRANGE TALE OF TIME and the PulpFest 2018 hit, LANDSCAPE OF DARKNESS. Throughout most of May and early June, we’ll explore our 2019 programming schedule. This year’s convention will focus on the pervasive influence of pulp magazines on contemporary pop culture. We hope you can join us at PulpFest 2019 for “Children of the Pulps and Other Stories.”

So what are you waiting for? Register now for PulpFest 2019! There’s no other way to be part of “Summer’s Great Pulp Con.” While you’re at it, reserve a room at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Cranberry. Click the “Book a Room” button under the PulpFest banner on our home page. You can also call 1-800-222-8733 to book a room. Be sure to mention PulpFest to get the special convention rate. By staying at the DoubleTree, you’ll help to ensure the convention’s success. Given its popularity, we urge every member to book a hotel room for PulpFest 2019 as soon as possible.

(Designed by PulpFest’s artistic director, William Lampkin, our PulpFest 2019 post card features the work of artist Walter Baumhofer. His painting was originally used as the cover art for the March 1933 number of Street & Smith’s DOC SAVAGE MAGAZINE

Our post cards are being distributed by book stores, comic shops, mail order dealers, conventions, book fairs, and other venues. They publicize all the wonders that are PulpFest 2019. If you’d like to help, please email the convention’s marketing director, Mike Chomko, at mike@pulpfest.com.)

Head North Young Pulp Fan

Apr 8, 2019 by

The Fantastic Pulps Show & Sale is celebrating its 23rd year! The show is held annually in the lower level of the Lillian H. Smith Branch of the Toronto Public Library, 239 College Street in Toronto, Ontario.

A small but terrific show featuring a wide variety of pulp and pulp-related items, you’ll find over twenty-five dealers’ tables crammed with collectible pulp magazines, pulp reprints, vintage paperbacks, posters, and other ephemera. There’s also a half-hour pulp magazine cover slide show. It’s a great time for both serious pulp collectors as well as the casually interested, with lots of great stuff to see!

Admission is only $3, with tickets available at the door. Children under ten are admitted free when accompanied by an adult.

So if you reside in the states, head north for the Fantastic Pulps Show & Sale on Saturday, May 4, beginning at 10 AM and running until 4 PM. For additional details, you can email Neil or Leigh Mechem at girasolcollectables@teksavvy.com. Please tell them that PulpFest sent you.

(This year’s Fantastic Pulps poster — designed by Neil and Leigh Mechem — features the art of the great Jerome Rozen. It originally appeared on the cover to the July 1935 issue of NICK CARTER MAGAZINE. A Street & Smith hero pulp, it ran for 34 issues.

The pulp was a revival of a dime-novel character that had debuted in 1886. “America’s top dime novel detective” appeared in several thousand stories, many written by Frederic van Rensselaer Dey. Nick also made it into the movies, both in France and the United States. There was also a radio program entitled NICK CARTER, MASTER DETECTIVE. It ran on the Mutual Broadcasting System from 1943 to 1955.

According to the Thrilling Detective website, “By 1949, it was estimated that Carter had appeared in over 4000 dime novels, pulps, films (both silents and talkies, including many in French), comic books, comic strips and radio shows. There were probably more Nick Carter adventures than those of any other fictional detective.”

Beginning in 1964, the character was revived as a super spy for paperback books. The NICK CARTER: KILLMASTER series was written by Michael Avallone, Bill Crider, Michael Collins, Dennis and Gayle Lynds, Robert J. Randisi, Martin Cruz Smith, and others, all writing under the house name of Nick Carter. At least 261 novels were released by a variety of publishers. The series ran until 1990.

Nick Carter has been inspiring creators for over 130 years. We hope you can join us at PulpFest 2019 to explore “Children of the Pulps and Other Stories.” The convention will begin on Thursday evening, August 15, and run through Sunday afternoon, August 18. It will be held at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Cranberry in Mars, Pennsylvania. Just click the button below the PulpFest banner to “Book a Room.)

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Read All About It! PulpFest 2019!

Apr 1, 2019 by

With the Windy City Pulp and Paperback Convention fast approaching, Jack Cullers and his volunteers have been manning the presses. With the ink barely dry, the latest PULPFEST newsletter is winging your way.

Our newsletter tells all about this year’s convention. You’ll find a programming preview, hotel information, registration and auction instructions, and much more. A registration form for both dealers and regular members is also part of the newsletter.

If you have not received a copy of the PulpFest newsletter by late April, please contact David J. Cullers at jack@pulpfest.com or at 1272 Cheatham Way, Bellbrook, OH 45305. Provide your mailing address and he’ll get one off to you.

If you can’t wait for the mail, you can visit our home page. Click on our registration link and scroll down to the heading that reads “To Learn More.” There, you’ll find a link to our 2019 newsletter.

Although the newsletter contains plenty of info, don’t forget about us here. Be sure to bookmark our home page, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter and InstagramWe’ll have plenty more to tell you before convention time.

Start making your plans to attend PulpFest 2019 and join hundreds of genre fiction fans at the pop-culture center of the universe. We’ll see you August 15 – 18 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Cranberry, just nineteen miles north of Pittsburgh. If you need a hotel room, you can book one directly through the PulpFest website. Just click the “Book a Room” link below our home page banner or call 1-800-222-8733. Be sure to mention PulpFest in order to receive the convention rate.

(Our 2019 newsletter was written by PulpFest’s marketing and programming director Mike Chomko and designed by advertising director and PULPSTER editor William Lampkin.)

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Join the Winning Team!

Mar 25, 2019 by

Be a PulpFest Sponsor!

 

The late Bill Veeck once said, “There are only two seasons – Winter and Baseball.” In a few days, Major League Baseball starts its 2019 season here in the states. It’s time for you to join the winning team!

Sign up to be a PulpFest sponsor. Join AbeBooks.com — the online marketplace for books and collectibles — and the other fine organizations that have signed on to sponsor summer’s great pulp con.

AbeBooks has been one of our website sponsors since 2016. They have also sponsored the convention’s badges, our banners, the PulpFest program book, and more. Along with  science fiction and fantasy publisher Meteor HouseAbeBooks has also helped to sponsor the PulpFest hospitality suite for the last two years.

AbeBooks is a company with a “passion for pulps!” Show your passion as a PulpFest sponsor. Please contact marketing director Mike Chomko at mike@pulpfest.com. He’ll be happy to work out a sponsorship that meets your level of comfort.

Play ball!!!

(Join the winning team of PulpFest! If you or your organization is interested in discussing a PulpFest sponsorship, please contact Mike Chomko, the convention’s marketing director. Perhaps one of our 2019 banners will feature your logo! Imagine your name on that big round baseball, drawn by Norman Saunders for the July 1950 issue of Red Circle’s COMPLETE SPORTS.

And don’t forget, the Pittsburgh Pirates will be in town during PulpFest 2019. The convention will begin on Thursday evening, August 15, and run through Sunday afternoon, August 18. At PNC Park, the Bucs will be battling the Cubs on August 16 – 18. Pulps and baseball! Who can ask for more?)

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150 Years of the Greatest Editor

Mar 18, 2019 by

When one considers the editors of the pulps, invariably thoughts turn to the writers they discovered or nurtured. It is the authors and their stories that measure a magazine’s editor.

For BLACK MASK editor Cap Shaw, it was W. T. Ballard, Paul Cain, Raymond Chandler, George Harmon Coxe, Norbert Davis, Horace McCoy, Frederick Nebel, Roger Torrey, Raoul Whitfield, and many others. Shaw also brought Dashiell Hammett back to the magazine, and helped to develop his skills as a novelist. After his return to BLACK MASK, Hammett wrote RED HARVEST, THE DAIN CURSE, THE MALTESE FALCON, and THE GLASS KEY.

Street & Smith’s John W. Campbell — editor of ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION — helped stage The Golden Age of Science Fiction. He encouraged Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Lester del Rey, Robert A. Heinlein, L. Ron Hubbard, Clifford D. Simak, Theodore Sturgeon, A. E. van Vogt, Jack Williamson, and others to expand their thinking and storytelling.

At WEIRD TALES, it was Farnsworth Wright at the helm. He published Robert Bloch, Hugh B. Cave, August Derleth, Edmund Hamilton, Henry Kuttner, C. L. Moore, Seabury Quinn, Henry S. Whitehead, and, most importantly, Robert E. Howard, H. P. Lovecraft, and Clark Ashton Smith. Artists Hannes Bok, Margaret Brundage, and Virgil Finlay also contributed to “The Unique Magazine” during Wright’s tenure.

What of the great hero pulps that inspired countless imitators? Walter B. Gibson’s THE SHADOW and Lester Dent’s DOC SAVAGE owed a great deal to Street & Smith editor John L. Nanovic. He was also in charge of THE AVENGER — written by pulpsmith Paul Ernst — and other titles.

Other greats included Daisy Bacon of LOVE STORYADVENTURE editor Arthur Sullivant Hoffman; Donald Kennicott, editor of BLUE BOOK; Standard Publications’ “Little Giant” Leo Margulies; and Rogers Terrill, who helped develop the weird menace genre and a great deal more for Popular Publications.

Towering over them all was Robert Hobart Davis, born in Nebraska on March 23, 1869. Trained in the newspaper industry, Davis became the managing editor of Frank A. Munsey’s NEW YORK SUNDAY NEWS in the early 1900s. He soon shifted to fiction editor for MUNSEY’S MAGAZINE. As he added more magazines to his stable, Munsey turned them all over to Davis. THE ALL-STORY MAGAZINE, THE CAVALIER, RAILROAD MAN’S MAGAZINE, THE SCRAP BOOK, and others were all edited by Bob Davis. But what of his writers?

Before others landed him, Davis signed William Sydney Porter — better known as O. Henry — to a five-year contract. It gave Munsey first look at the author’s works. According to Richard Cary, Bob Davis was also the literary godfather to “Edgar Rice Burroughs, Zane Grey, Edison Marshall, Mary Roberts Rinehart, Octavus Roy Cohen, Max Brand, Fannie Hurst, Israel Zangwill, Dorothy Canfield Fisher, Sophie Kerr, Frank L. Packard, Montague Glass, Arthur Somers Roche, Faith Baldwin, James Oliver Curwood, Rex Beach, Louis Joseph Vance, Charles Van Loan, and Ben Ames Williams.” Other writers that he developed included science fiction, fantasy, and adventure fiction greats Max Brand, Ray Cummings, George Allan England, Homer Eon Flint, J. U. Giesy, Austin Hall, A. Merritt, Garrett P. Serviss, and Charles B. Stilson. Davis also acquired the rights to Joseph Conrad’s last major work, “Victory,” for MUNSEY’S MAGAZINE.

Davis protégé Sam Hellman knew of no other editor who had “graduated more writers from pulp to prominent pay.” Pulp historian John Locke also noted that, “More than sixty authors — many of them well-known — dedicated their books to Bob Davis.”

So what was Davis’s secret? According to Richard Cary:

As to Davis’s “force,” it had two salient strands: first, his philosophy of friendship; second, his tremendous versatility. Making friends was his principal hobby; “Know lots of people” his favorite slogan. He was intrigued by the potentialities in human relationships and the values accruing therefrom. He felt that “Every important advancement you ever made was . . . due to some acquaintance,” and he wasn’t talking about opportunism. Because his own capacity to give was inexhaustible he believed that everyone had within him the spark to brighten derelict spirits or to ignite lagging talents.

Bob Davis asked his writers to emphasize character. In 1920, William C. Lengel wrote, “Life is the thing that interests Davis. Life and people. Strange as it may seem he says that ‘plot’ is of no considerable importance, that character in a story is everything. It is the characters and the interest in them that make plot and suspense, he says. Dramatize the moment. Put life into fiction.”

During the summer of 1920, ALL-STORY WEEKLY was merged with ARGOSY. Bob Davis lost his editorial chair to the longer tenured ARGOSY editor Matthew White. Leaving behind most of his editorial duties, Davis launched Service for Authors, a literary agency that was sponsored by Frank Munsey.

Following the death of Munsey in late 1925, Davis became a columnist for THE NEW YORK SUN. Appearing three times a week, the column “chronicled Davis’s adventures, opinions, perceptions and personal encounters as he traveled for the SUN.” The former Munsey editor passed away in Montreal in October 1942. He was traveling for his “Bob Davis Reveals” column.

Bob Davis “harbored no stainless illusions about himself.” He wrote about himself in 1928: “What little success I have achieved as an editor is due entirely to the fact that I have never at any time considered myself a better writer than my contributors. Nor have they.”

(Charles B. Stilson — the author of “Polaris of the Snows” — featured on the cover of ALL-STORY WEEKLY for December 18, 1915, with cover art by P. J. Monahan — was just one of many writers discovered and/or nurtured by Robert Hobart Davis.

In 1925, photographer Doris Ullman published a photograph of Davis in A PORTRAIT GALLERY OF AMERICAN EDITORS: BEING A GROUP OF XLIII LIKENESSES. Arthur Sullivant Hoffman of ADVENTURE and Charles Agnew MacLean of THE POPULAR MAGAZINE are also included in Ullman’s portfolio.

If you’d like to read more about Robert Hobart Davis, we very much recommend Richard Cary’s “Ben Ames Williams and Robert H. Davis: The Seedling in the Sun,” published in the September 1963 issue of COLBY QUARTERLY. Click the link in the previous sentence.

You’ll also find extensive information about Davis in Sam Moskowitz’s UNDER THE MOONS OF MARS: A HISTORY AND ANTHOLOGY OF “THE SCIENTIFIC ROMANCE” IN THE MUNSEY MAGAZINES, 1912 – 1920 (Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1970), John Locke’s THE OCEAN: 100TH ANNIVERSARY COLLECTION (Off-Trail Publications, 2008), and “Bob Davis of MUNSEY’S,” originally published in the January 24, 1920 issue of ADVERTISING AND SELLING. It was republished by Sai Shankar on February 1, 2014 on his PULP FLAKES blog.

Finally, if you’d like to read “I Am the Printing Press,” one of Bob Davis’ best-remembered pieces, click the link in this sentence.

Writer, anthologist, and pulp historian Gene Christie will offer a presentation on Bob Davis at PulpFest 2019. We hope you can join us at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Cranberry in August.)

 

H. J. Ward, Superman Artist

Mar 4, 2019 by

Normally, when we think of Superman’s artists, people such as Wayne Boring, John Byrne, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, Dan Jurgens, Alex Ross, Joe Schuster, and Curt Swan come to mind. Why doesn’t pulp artist, H. J. Ward pop into our heads?

Born on March 8, 1909, Ward studied at the Philadelphia School of Industrial Art. His first sale was made to Teck Publishing’s WILD WEST STORIES AND COMPLETE NOVEL MAGAZINE in 1931. According to artist and art historian David Saunders, “Sensational pulp covers by H. J. Ward were soon appearing on ACE-HIGH WESTERN, ARGOSY, DOUBLE DETECTIVE” and other rough-paper magazines. Although Ward sold freelance covers to many publishers, most of his work was done for Harry Donenfeld’s Trojan line of Spicy pulps. Ward painted covers for THE LONE RANGER MAGAZINE, PRIVATE DETECTIVE STORIES, SPICY ADVENTURE STORIES, SPICY DETECTIVE STORIES, SPICY MYSTERY STORIES, and other Trojan pulps.

By 1940, Donenfeld had assumed control of National Allied Publications, the publisher of ACTION COMICS, Superman’s home. Around that time, H. J. Ward was paid $100 to create a nearly life-size portrait of The Man of Steel. Ward’s painting was used to promote THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERMANa radio show that debuted in New York City on February 12, 1940. The painting hung for many years in Harry Donenfeld’s office at DC Comics, and later, in his townhouse. According to Saunders, it was eventually donated to Lehman College, part of the City University of New York.

As we approach the 110th anniversary of the birth of Superman artist H. J. Ward, we recall that “The Man of Steel” is just one of many “Children of the Pulps.” We hope you’ll join PulpFest 2019 from August 15 – 18 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Cranberry, just north of Pennsylvania’s “Steel City” in Mars, PA. We’ll be celebrating mystery, adventure, science fiction, and more as we focus on the pervasive influence of pulp magazines on pop culture across the globe. Click the “Register” button below our home page banner to learn more about joining “America’s Super Pulp Con!”

(Pulp historian David Saunders learned how the painting “of the guy in a red cape and blue tights came to be hanging in the Lehman College library” while researching his book, H. J. WARD, published in 2012 by The Illustrated Press.

David will be discussing “The Secret Life of Women Pulp Artists” at this year’s PulpFest. We hope you’ll be able to join us on Friday, August 16, for David Saunder’s presentation.)

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One Hundred Years of THE THRILL BOOK

Feb 25, 2019 by

A century ago, Edgar Rice Burroughs, George Allan England, A. Merritt, and others were spinning scientific romances and fantasies for the general fiction magazines. THE ALL-STORY editor Robert H. Davis called such tales, “different.”  “Off Trail” was how Arthur Sullivant Hoffman of ADVENTURE described the story type.

In 1919, Street & Smith circulation manager Henry Ralston, decided to launch “a magazine wholly devoted to different stories.” Unfortunately, he also selected the inexperienced and inept Harold Brainerd Hersey to helm his new magazine.

In a 1955 autobiographical essay, Hersey suggested that, “No one, anywhere, had come up with the notion that this kind of story was leading in a definite direction, except Bill Ralston . . . . others like myself were keenly interested in futuristic stories, but none of us visualized a magazine given over to it entirely.” So began the legend that Street & Smith’s THE THRILL BOOK was the world’s first science fiction and fantasy magazine.

Inpatient to get things underway, Hersey mailed a two-page letter to potential writers for THE THRILL BOOK:

“We are strongly desirous of securing strange, bizarre, occult, mysterious tales . . . We are also in the market for clean, swiftly moving adventure serials, novelettes, and short stories . . . In this magazine accent is laid on the curious twist; the strange angles of human nature; the coming into contact with an unseen world; miraculous but logical happenings; thrilling occult stories with any background either here or in foreign lands; adventures of extraordinary speed and absorbing interest; mysterious occurrences; spiritual and ghostly narratives; romantically woven novelettes and serials, and whimsical things. If you have an idea which you have considered too bizarre to write, too weird or strange, let us see it.”

Hersey’s notice left THE THRILL BOOK open to any kind of story — adventure, mystery, fantasy, romance, or whatever — as long as it was unusual. With a limited budget and imagination, the new editor relied on his friends, former dime novelists, untried authors, and his own poetry to fill out the magazine.

The first issue of THE THRILL BOOK carried the date March 1, 1919. Published as a semi-monthly in the dime novel format, it featured “Wolf of the Steppes” as its cover story, It was probably the high point of Hersey’s editorship. Credited to Greye La Spina, this werewolf story was the first published work of Fanny Greye Bragg. The author would later become an important contributor to WEIRD TALES.

After eight issues, THE THRILL BOOK became a pulp. It also had a new editor — Ronald Oliphant — after Hersey was canned. Although he turned toward Hoffman’s ADVENTURE for inspiration, Oliphant would also publish some of the magazine’s best science fiction. He serialized Gertrude M. Barrows’ dystopian “The Heads of Cerberus” over five issues. Published under the author’s Francis Stevens pseudonym, it was probably the best story to appear in THE THRILL BOOK. Oliphant also ran two early Murray Leinster science fiction novellas.

The sixteenth and final issue of THE THRILL BOOK was dated October 15, 1919. Interestingly, it included two science fiction tales, both by female writers: the concluding segment of Francis Stevens’ “The Heads of Cerberus” and Greye La Spina’s “The Ultimate Ingredient.”

If only THE THRILL BOOK had employed an experienced editor from its start and adhered to the Hersey-described visions of Henry Ralston, perhaps its story would have been very much “different.”

(The final issue of THE THRILL BOOK — dated October 15, 1919 — featured cover art by James Reynolds. The cover story — Murray Leinster’s “Juju” — is an adventure tale.

To learn more about THE THRILL BOOK, see Richard Bleiler’s THE ANNOTATED INDEX TO THE THRILL BOOK, published by Borgo Press in 1991; Sam Moskowitz’s description of the magazine in UNDER THE MOONS OF MARS: A HISTORY AND ANTHOLOGY OF “THE SCIENTIFIC ROMANCE” IN THE MUNSEY MAGAZINES, 1920-1920, published by Holt, Rinehart and Winston in 1970; and Will Murray’s “The THRILL BOOK Story,” featured in PULP VAULT #14, still in print from Black Dog Books and available via Amazon.)