Children of the Pulps — Part Three

Jul 19, 2019 by

The stories and art of the pulp magazines have had a profound effect on popular culture across the globe. They have reverberated through a wide variety of media — comic books, movies, paperbacks and genre fiction, television, men’s adventure magazines, radio drama, and even video, anime, manga, and role-playing games.

Although science fiction can trace its roots to the imaginary voyages, satires, and utopias of the seventeenth century, scholars have repeatedly pointed to Mary Shelley’s FRANKENSTEIN  — originally published in 1818 — as the first science-fiction novel. Twenty-five years later — beginning with “MS. Found in a Bottle” — Edgar Allan Poe began to use logic and science to explain elements of his fantastic stories. The strength of Poe’s stories inspired authors around the world. One was Jules Verne, who introduced “precise, scientific details” into FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON, TWENTY THOUSAND LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA, and other tales.

As the 19th century progressed and more people were reading, magazines naturally developed a wider audience. For the more literary, there were titles such as BLACKWOOD’S MAGAZINE and HARPER’S NEW MONTHLY. For those with less refined tastes, there were dime novels, penny-dreadfuls, and story papers. It was in these publications that the “American Jules Verne,” Luis Senarens, developed the Frank Reade, Jr. series that featured steam-powered contraptions in exciting adventure yarns. During the late nineteenth century, the thrilling yarns of Robert Louis Stevenson and H. Rider Haggard, and later, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and H. G. Wells, helped to develop a market for the British popular fiction magazine. The United States would follow in late 1896 when Frank A. Munsey converted THE ARGOSY to an all-fiction, rough-paper magazine.

From its start as a pulp, THE ARGOSY was home to fantastic fiction, reprinting a dystopian short story in its first issue. Other works featured by the magazine included Park Winthrop’s “The Land of the Central Sun” and William Wallace Cook’s “A Round Trip to the Year 2000.”

Selling in the hundreds of thousands, THE ARGOSY was bound to generate imitators. Street & Smith — the longtime publisher of dime novels and story papers — was first to meet the call, debuting THE POPULAR MAGAZINE with its November 1903 issue. Munsey himself would be next in line, introducing THE ALL-STORY in late 1904.

More than any other pulp prior to the introduction of the science fiction and fantasy fiction magazines, THE ALL-STORY became the major repository for the “different” tale, the pseudo-scientific yarn, the scientific romance, or the “off-the-trail” story. In its February 1912 issue, the Munsey pulp would begin serializing Edgar Rice Burroughs’ “Under the Moons of Mars.” The author would follow with Tarzan of the Apes,” published in its entirety in the October 1912 number.

Burroughs’ two classics, along with the pseudo-scientific works of H. G. Wells and his American counterpart, George Allan England, would serve as templates for much of the science fiction written over the next twenty-five years, generating a type of story best known as “the scientific romance.” THE ALL-STORY editor Robert H. Davis, in particular, worked to develop this school of fiction, creating a stable of writers who could contribute such stories. Davis can very well be thought of as “The Grandfather of Science Fiction.”

Although the scientific romances published in the Munsey pulps remained popular, beginning in late 1915, a trend toward specialized magazines slowly emerged. Street & Smith’s DETECTIVE STORY MAGAZINE was the first successful specialty pulp. Over the next decade, magazines specializing in western fiction, love stories, sea yarns, and sports fiction would follow. In early 1923, a pulp devoted to the fantasy and horror genres — WEIRD TALES — would be launched.

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. Edmond Hamilton — who began selling to the magazine in 1926 — was the pulp’s leading contributor of science fiction. With tales of super-science about alien invasions, space police, and evolution gone wild, the author became known as “World-Wrecker” Hamilton. Other notable science fiction contributors included Austin Hall, Otis Adelbert Kline, Frank Belknap Long, C. L. Moore, Donald Wandrei, Jack Williamson, and H. P. Lovecraft, spinning his own brand of science fiction in tales of cosmic horror.

Although science fiction was frequently found in its pages, WEIRD TALES was not the first specialized science fiction magazine. That was left for Hugo Gernsback to develop. Called “The Barnum of the Space Age” in 1963, Gernsback came to the United States in 1904. He began importing electronic parts and equipment and sold them via mail order catalog. Gernback’s catalog soon evolved into a magazine, MODERN ELECTRICS, selling for ten cents. In 1911, it began publishing fiction, serializing Gernsback’s own story, “Ralph 124C 41+,” in twelve parts.

In the spring of 1913, Gernsback began publishing a new science periodical, THE ELECTRICAL EXPERIMENTER. Before long, it was also publishing fiction alongside technical articles. Beginning with its August 1920 number, Gernback’s magazine became SCIENCE AND INVENTION.

The scientifically-trained Gernsback was committed to educating his audience about science and technology through the fiction he published. That all changed in early 1923 when — perhaps in an effort to boost circulation or to test the waters in the growing market for specialized fiction magazines — Gernsback began publishing fiction that was meant to entertain. He reprinted two short works by H. G. Wells, and later, new works by George Allan England and Ray Cummings. The August 1923 issue of SCIENCE AND INVENTION was a “Scientific Fiction Number.” It featured six “scientifiction” stories including “The Man from the Atom,” a short story by a new author, sixteen-year-old G. Peyton Wertenbaker.

SCIENCE AND INVENTION and his other technical magazines were mere stepping stones for Hugo Gernsback. In the spring of 1926, he introduced a full-fledged science fiction — or as he then termed it, “scientifiction” — magazine. It was hard to miss the first issue of AMAZING STORIES — dated April 1926 — on the newsstand. It was larger than the typical pulp magazine. Vivid, three-dimensional block letters trailed across its masthead, set against a bright yellow backdrop. Frank R. Paul’s cover art depicted a number of ice skaters, gliding in front of snow heaps crowned by two stranded sailing vessels. Looming behind this scene was a bright red, ringed planet and a small moon.

In 1987, the late Jack Williamson wrote: “I don’t think anybody today can entirely understand what it meant to me and many like me then . . . but we found sheer wonder in AMAZING STORIES, a rich new revelation of exciting things to come, a dazzling vision of new ideas and discoveries and inventions that could push our future frontiers wider, make all our lives richer.”

Within months of its introduction, AMAZING STORIES was selling over 100,000 copies of each issue. In establishing the first specialized science-fiction magazine, Gernsback had tapped a vein of wonder shared by lonely individuals scattered across the country, all of them prone to “imaginative flights of fancy.”

The names on the front covers of the early AMAZING STORIES were certainly major selling points: Edgar Rice Burroughs, A. Merritt, Edgar Allan Poe, Garrett P. Serviss, Jules Verne, H. G. Wells, and others. Gernsback also offered story contests. These helped him to acquire a stable of new writers willing and able to write scientifiction: Miles J. Breur, Clare Winger Harris, David H. Keller, S. P. Meek, H. Hyatt Verrill, Harl Vincent, and others. Through the AMAZING STORIES letter column — “Discussions” — Hugo Gernsback also reeled readers into his world of wonder.

With the August 1928 number of AMAZING STORIES, Gernsback introduced his readers to E. E. “Doc” Smith’s “The Skylark of Space.” Also appearing in the issue was Philip Francis Nowlan’s “Armageddon — 2419 AD,” the first tale to feature Buck Rogers. These two “space operas” would color science fiction for well over a decade, turning the genre away from the Munsey type of story — popular with a wide range of readers, both male and female — and toward “that crazy Buck Rogers stuff.”

Although he introduced AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY in the winter of 1928, Hugo Gernsback was increasingly experiencing cash flow problems. Plowing money into his radio interests and paying very hefty salaries to his brother and himself, Gernsback’s Experimenter Publishing Company was forced into bankruptcy.

Although down but not out, Hugo Gernsback used assets tied to his importing and radio businesses to launch a new larger-sized pulp in May 1929. Called SCIENCE WONDER STORIES, Gernsback called the stories in his new magazine, “science fiction.” Unlike “scientifiction,” this name would stick.

With the growth of the science fiction field — both AMAZING and SCIENCE WONDER also issued quarterlies — other publishers began to notice the field. William Clayton — publisher of SNAPPY STORIES, RANCH ROMANCES, and other titles — was the first to take a bite. Not enamored with the Gernsback style of science fiction, Clayton was more interested in stories of action and adventure . . . “that crazy Buck Rogers stuff.” His new magazine would be called ASTOUNDING STORIES OF SUPER-SCIENCE. According to Alva Rogers:

ASTOUNDING was unabashedly an action adventure magazine and made no pretense of trying to present science in a sugar-coated form . . .  The amount of science found in its pages was minimal – just enough to support the action and little more. Lessons in science could be obtained in school or in text books; driving action and heroic adventure was what the reader of ASTOUNDING wanted. Interplanetary wars and space battles, hideous and menacing Bug Eyed Monsters . . . the courage, ingenuity and brains of a single puny man, or small group of men, pitted against the terrible might and overwhelming scientific knowledge of extraterrestrial aliens – with defeat the inevitable fate of the invaders: that was what set the reader’s pulse pounding. . . . Action was the hallmark of ASTOUNDING STORIES OF SUPER-SCIENCE.”

Although the early ASTOUNDING would serve as a repository for space battles and bug-eyed monsters, after it was acquired by Street & Smith in 1933, it would launch what has become known as Science Fiction’s Golden Age. Utilizing writers both old and new, editor John W. Campbell began to set the stage in 1938 and early 1939, publishing such stories as Lester Del Rey’s “Helen O’Loy,” Clifford D. Simak’s “Cosmic Engineers,” Don A. Stuart’s “Who Goes There?” and “Cloak of Aesir,” and Jack Williamson’s “The Legion of Time” and its sequel, “One Against the Legion.”

The July 1939 issue however, is cited most often as the start of the Golden Age of ASTOUNDING and, in turn, of science fiction. Behind a very effective cover by SHADOW cover artist Graves Gladney, the reader would find the first prose fiction by radio soap opera writer A. E. van Vogt as well as the young Isaac Asimov’s first story for ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION. August’s and September’s issues continued the trend with the first stories of Robert A. Heinlein and Theodore Sturgeon appearing in the magazine. October’s number began the serialization of E. E. Smith’s cosmic adventure, “Gray Lensman,” along with another tale by Heinlein.

The start of the new decade brought with it the flowering of Robert Heinlein as he contributed “Reqiem,” his first novel “If This Goes On—,” “The Roads Must Roll,” and “Blowups Happen.” L. Ron Hubbard’s “Final Blackout” as well as A. E. van Vogt’s “Slan,” were also serialized by Campbell during the year. 1941 continued apace with the first of Heinlein’s works as Anson McDonald—“Sixth Column,” “Solution Unsatisfactory,” and “By His Bootstraps”—as well as “—And He Built a Crooked House,” “Logic of Empire,” “Universe,” and “Methuselah’s Children,” all published under his own name. Heinlein however, was not alone in 1941. Leigh Brackett contributed “Martian Quest;” L. Sprague de Camp offered “The Stolen Dormouse;” Theodore Sturgeon shared “Microcosmic God;” Eric Frank Russell and A. E. van Vogt respectively produced the first tales in their “Jay Score” and “Weapon Shops” series; Isaac Asimov presented “Nightfall” and the first of his robot stories; and E. E. Smith began “Second Stage Lensmen.”

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION would continue to publish outstanding works of science fiction throughout World War II and for many years to come. More importantly, it would inspire new magazines dedicated to fantasy and science fiction — GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION, THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION, and others — and older magazines — including AMAZING STORIES and THRILLING WONDER STORIES — to step up their game and publish quality science fiction. We’re still enjoying the results eighty years after that momentous issue of ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION, dated July 1939.

Over the last three days, we’ve explored just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the profound effect of the stories and art of the pulp magazines on popular culture. THE SHADOWWEIRD TALES, and the early science fiction pulps are just a few of the many rough-paper magazines that have inspired pop culture creators over the decades. PulpFest 2019 will focus on the many ways pulp fiction and pulp art have inspired and continue to inspire creators.

We’re calling this year’s theme “Children of the Pulps and Other Stories,” with presentations on Zorro, Dashiell Hammett, Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, Sherlock Holmes, THE TWILIGHT ZONE, and more. It’s all part of our examination of the pervasive influence of pulp magazines on contemporary pop culture. We hope you’ll join us from August 15 – 18 at the beautiful DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Cranberry in Mars, Pennsylvania.

(Soon after starting his monthly SCIENCE WONDER STORIES, Hugo Gernsback debuted a quarterly title. Its first issue was dated Fall 1929. After three quarterly issues, the “Science” was dropped from its title. In his editorial remarks published in the May 1930 issue of SCIENCE WONDER STORIES, Gernsback noted, “It has been felt for some time that the word “Science” has tended to retard the progress of the magazine, because many people had the impression that it is a sort of scientific periodical rather than a fiction magazine.” Although he continued to publish his science fiction magazine, future issues would feature a new title: WONDER STORIES. His quarterly was likewise retitled.

Frank R. Paul painted all of the covers for Hugo Gernsback’s WONDER STORIES QUARTERLY. We believe that that the artist’s cover for the Fall 1932 quarterly aptly depicts the “sheer wonder” that Jack Williamson and other readers found in the early science fiction pulps.

Unlike the Munsey pulps, THE POPULAR MAGAZINE offered a smattering of the fantastic over the years: H. Rider Haggard’s “Ayesha: The Further History of She,” Edgar Wallace’s “The Green Rust,” Fred MacIsaac’s “The Last Atlantide,” and Sean O’Larkin’s “Morgo the Mighty” are a few examples. The latter novel garnered the cover art on three of the four issues in which it was serialized. Howard V. Brown contributed the cover painting for the first installment, which ran in the second August 1930 number. It was one of very few fantastic covers to be featured on the Street & Smith pulp magazine.

Who knows whether the “Scientific Fiction Number” was an effort to boost circulation or to test the waters in the growing market for specialized fiction magazines? Unfortunately, Hugo Gernsback did not share that information. However, we do know that Howard V. Brown painted the cover for the August 1923 issue.

Not long after the appearance of the November 1928 number of AMAZING STORIES — with its wondrous Frank R. Paul cover — Gernsback’s printer demanded payment on past due bills. The publisher filed for bankruptcy. In early 1929, the Experimenter Publishing Company went into receivership. The last issue of AMAZING STORIES to be edited by Hugo Gernsback was dated April 1929.

Prior to creating the cover art for the first issue of ASTOUNDING STORIES OF SUPER-SCIENCE, H. W. Wessolowski had done a half-dozen covers for AMAZING STORIES and its quarterly companion. Beginning with the January 1930 number, he would become the primary cover artist for the Clayton science fiction pulp.

One of the many changes — or “mutations” as he called them — that John W. Campbell instituted at ASTOUNDING after taking over as editor in late 1937, was the hiring of long-time ADVENTURE artist, Hubert Rogers. The free-lance illustrator’s first cover was the February 1939 number. Eventually, he would paint nearly sixty covers for Campbell’s ASTOUNDING, including the April 1940 number, illustrating L. Ron Hubbard’s “Final Blackout.”

To learn more about the influence of the early science fiction pulps, please visit the PulpFest Instagram page.)

Children of the Pulps — Part Two

Jul 18, 2019 by

The stories and art of the pulp magazines have had a profound effect on popular culture across the globe. They have reverberated through a wide variety of media — comic books, movies, paperbacks and genre fiction, television, men’s adventure magazines, radio drama, and even video, anime, manga, and role-playing games.

WEIRD TALES was the first periodical to specialize in the fantasy and horror genres. 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.” In reality, the early issues of the pulp were filled with ghost stories, the decision of the magazine’s editor, Edwin Baird. Far more interested in his company’s REAL DETECTIVE AND MYSTERY STORIES, Baird had little interest in fantastic fiction.

Although never a big moneymaker, WEIRD TALES came into its own in late 1924 when Farnsworth Wright was named the magazine’s editor. In the years ahead, the pulp would become admired for its fantasy and supernatural fiction, publishing the work of Robert E. Howard, H. P. Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, and later, Ray Bradbury. The magazine would also feature substantial efforts by Robert Bloch, August Derleth, Carl Jacobi, Henry Kuttner, Frank Belknap Long, C. L. Moore, Seabury Quinn, Manly Wade Wellman, Henry S. Whitehead, and others. It would likewise become noted for its artists. Hannes Bok, Margaret Brundage, Lee Brown Coye, and Virgil Finlay all contributed a great deal 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 in the magazine included work by Austin Hall, Otis Adelbert Kline, C. L. Moore, Donald Wandrei, and Jack Williamson. H. P. Lovecraft also weaved his own style of science fiction into his tales of cosmic horror.

During the late summer of 1926, H. P. Lovecraft wrote “The Call of Cthulhu.” Initially rejected by WEIRD TALES editor Farnsworth Wright, it was first published in “The Unique Magazine” in its February 1928 issue. Although three minor, related stories predated it in what has come to be known as “The Cthulhu Mythos,” “The Call of Cthulhu” is one of the author’s seminal works. As writer and Lovecraft correspondent Fritz Leiber observed, “Here for the first time, Lovecraft moves horror from the realm of Earth to the stars.”

In the years remaining to Lovecraft following the publication of “The Call of Cthulhu,” he expanded on its themes in such tales as “The Whisperer in Darkness,” “At the Mountains of Madness,” and “The Shadow Out of Time,” depicting a universe of mind-numbing horror that was a reflection of his own materialistic atheism. Lovecraft also invited other writers to pen their own tales using the “synthetic folklore” he had created. “I think it is rather good fun to have this artificial mythology given an air of verisimilitude by wide citation.”  Robert Bloch, August Derleth, Robert E. Howard, Henry Kuttner, Frank Belknap Long, and Clark Ashton Smith were some of the WEIRD TALES writers who authored their own “Mythos” fiction.

In later years — particularly following the death of “the old gentleman” — August Derleth worked to expand Lovecraft’s so-called “mythos,” albeit shaping it in a way that some scholars claim corrupted the original vision. Although he may have twisted H. P. Lovecraft’s ideas, Derleth also helped to popularize the author’s work. His Arkham House Publishers significantly expanded Lovecraft’s reputation, bringing the “Mythos” under the microscope of both academic and amateur scholars. Lovecraft’s stories became more widely read and popular, leading to adaptations in a variety of media including motion pictures, television, comic books, role-playing and video games, and even action figures and other toys. His stories are known the world over and though he lived much of his life in poverty, Lovecraft’s words and ideas have been transformed into a multi-million-dollar industry.

Although an important contributor to Lovecraft’s “Mythos,” Robert E. Howard’s greatest contribution to fantastic fiction was through his tales of Solomon Kane, Kull, and most importantly, Conan.

Howard became a regular contributor to “The Unique Magazine” in 1928, the same year that his first Solomon Kane story — “Red Shadows” — appeared. Kull of Atlantis would follow in 1929. Three years later, the first tale of Conan — “The Phoenix on the Sword” — would appear in the December 1932 WEIRD TALES.

“Conan seemed suddenly to grow up in my mind without much labor on my part and immediately a stream of stories flowed off my pen — or rather, off my typewriter — almost without effort on my part. I did not seem to be creating, but rather relating events that had occurred. Episode crowded on episode so fast that I could scarcely keep up with them. For weeks I did nothing but write of the adventures of Conan. The character took complete possession of my mind and crowded out everything else in the way of story-writing.”

In the stories about Solomon Kane, Kull, and Conan, Robert E. Howard created a genre. As Fritz Leiber wrote in the July 1961 issue of AMRA:

“I feel more certain than ever that this field should be called the sword-and-sorcery story. This accurately describes the points of culture-level and supernatural element and also immediately distinguishes it from the cloak-and-sword (historical adventure) story — and (quite incidentally) from the cloak-and-dagger (international espionage) story too!”

More than ninety years after the first publication of “Red Shadows,” Robert E. Howard’s sword-and-sorcery stories continue to resonate through popular culture. They have inspired motion pictures, comic books, television and animated series, action figures, role-playing and video games, and even heavy metal music and a live-action show at Universal Studios Hollywood. Most importantly, his fiction has inspired other writers to spin their own sword-and-sorcery stories. Lin Carter, Glen Cook, John Jakes, Henry Kuttner, Fritz Leiber, Michael Moorcock, C. L. Moore, Charles Saunders, Karl Edward Wagner, and others have all contributed to the genre that Howard popularized.

Not long after Robert E. Howard’s death in 1936, his friend and correspondent H. P. Lovecraft wrote: “It is hard to describe precisely what made Mr. Howard’s stories stand out so sharply; but the real secret is that he himself is in every one of them.”

Along with Lovecraft’s “The Call of Cthulhu” and Howard’s “Red Shadows,” Clark Ashton Smith’s first story for “The Unique Magazine” also appeared in 1928. Smith was the third member of the WEIRD TALES triumvirate. However, he has not achieved the acclaim of Howard and Lovecraft.

Largely self-taught, Clark Ashton Smith spent the majority of his life in Auburn, California, dwelling in a small cabin erected by his parents. He began to write in his youth and gained some notoriety as a poet. His blank verse poem, “The Hashish Eater,” brought Smith to the attention of H. P. Lovecraft. The pair began exchanging letters. Later, Smith also began corresponding with Robert E. Howard.

The advent of The Great Depression and the declining health of both his parents led Smith to fiction writing. Beginning in 1930 and running through 1936, he published nearly ninety stories, mainly in WEIRD TALES, WONDER STORIES, and STRANGE TALES OF MYSTERY AND TERROR.

Although his work has rarely appeared outside the printed page — a few stories were adapted for television, movies, the graphic format, and role-playing games — the fiction of Clark Ashton Smith inspired other writers.

In a letter to Donald Sidney-Fryer, Harlan Ellison wrote:

“It is often impossible to say where a man’s inspirations come from, but in the lineal descent of my own writings, I have no hesitation in saying had it not been for Clark Ashton Smith and the wonders he revealed to me, at that precise moment of my youth in which I was most malleable, most desperate for direction, I might well have gone in any one of the thousand other directions taken by my contemporaries, and wound up infinitely poorer in spirit, intellect, prestige and satisfaction than I am today. As I owe a great debt to science fiction as a whole, to fandom as a particular, and to the other writers who encouraged me in my work . . . I owe the greatest of debts to Clark Ashton Smith, for he truly opened up the universe for me.”

Other writers who owe a debt to Smith include Fritz Leiber, George R. R. Martin, Michael Moorcock, Jack Vance, Gene Wolfe, and most notably, Ray Bradbury:

“Looking back on the years when I was eleven and twelve, I remember two stories. The first was “The City of the Singing Flame,” the second was “Master of the Asteroid.” Both were by Clark Ashton Smith. These stories more than any others I can remember had everything to do with my decision, while in the seventh grade, to become a writer. In the hardbound book field there were a few writers, of course, who set me going, but in the short-story form CAS stood alone on my horizon. He filled my mind with incredible worlds, impossibly beautiful cities, and still more fantastic creatures on those worlds and in those cities. . . . Take one step across the threshold of his stories, and you plunge into color, sound, taste, smell, and texture — into language.”

“The Unique Magazine” has been inspiring all sorts of creators for ninety-six years. However, WEIRD TALES is just one of the many rough-paper magazines that have inspired pop culture creators over the decades. PulpFest 2019 will focus on the many ways pulp fiction and pulp art have inspired and continue to inspire creators. We’re calling this year’s theme “Children of the Pulps and Other Stories,” an examination of the pervasive influence of pulp magazines on contemporary pop culture. We hope you’ll join us from August 15 – 18 at the beautiful DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Cranberry in Mars, Pennsylvania.

(The first issue of WEIRD TALES — dated March 1923 — featured cover art by R. R. Epperly. It is best remembered for publishing Anthony M. Rud’s “Ooze,” a story concerning a giant amoeba. Also featured in the issue were tales by pulpsters 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.

Writer Alan Moore’s and artist Jacen Burrows’s PROVIDENCE  is a twelve-issue comic book series published by Avatar Press. According to the League of Comic Geeks, PROVIDENCE “deconstructs all of Lovecraft’s concepts, reinventing the entirety of his work inside a painstakingly researched framework of American history.” The series ran from 2015 through 2017.

Although Robert E. Howard’s work — particularly his Conan stories — had been collected in small press editions over the years, the Lancer and Ace paperback editions of 1966 – 1977 delivered the character to the masses. Lancer’s CONAN THE ADVENTURER — released in 1966 — was the first of the volumes. Undoubtedly, it was Frank Frazetta’s stunning cover artwork that initially sold the character to readers. However, it was Howard’s expressive writing that kept them clamoring for more.

C. C. Senf‘s cover for the January 1932 issue of WEIRD TALES is one of three illustrating a Clark Ashton Smith story. The others include the April 1938 issue, illustrating “The Garden of Adompha,” and the September 1947 number, illustrating “Quest of the Gazolba,” an abridged version of “The Voyage of King Euvoran.” The latter stories are beyond Smith’s period of active fiction-writing. By 1936, he had turned away from writing prose, concentrating instead on poetry, art, and sculpture.

To learn more about the influence of WEIRD TALES, please visit the PulpFest Instagram page.)

Children of the Pulps — Part One

Jul 17, 2019 by

Pulp magazines have had a profound effect on popular culture across the globe. Their stories and art have reverberated through a wide variety of media — comic books, movies, paperbacks, genre fiction, television, men’s adventure magazines, radio drama, video, anime, manga, and role-playing games.

Continuing characters have always been with us. Homer told of Odysseus, prevented by the gods from returning to his home for ten years. Then there’s Alexandre Dumas’ d’Artagnan, introduced in THE THREE MUSKETEERS and its sequels. One of the most famous continuing characters is Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. The private detective is the protagonist of sixty-two stories, originally published between 1887 and 1927. And don’t forget about such dime novel heroes as Buffalo Bill, Frank Merriwell, and Nick Carter. The latter debuted in 1886 and continued in varying formats for about a century. Many of his stories were published by Street & Smith, the company that would introduce the first single character pulp.

On March 6, 1931, THE SHADOW: A DETECTIVE MAGAZINE debuted on American newsstands. The first single character or hero pulp, it revived a fiction format that had disappeared with the demise of the dime novels and story papers. Author Walter B. Gibson refashioned The Shadow — the sinister narrator of CBS Radio’s THE DETECTIVE STORY HOUR — into the first pulp hero. Gibson’s character was a dark and mysterious crime-busting super-sleuth who embodied the iconic power of classic villains like Dracula. The Shadow served as the template for other hero pulps and, later, scores of comic book superheroes. Gibson and his occasional fill-in, Theodore Tinsley, also introduced the concept of super-crooks and super-crime.

Lasting 325 issues and spanning eighteen years, THE SHADOW pulp was cancelled in 1949. However, Gibson’s and Tinsley’s character had left his mark on popular culture. The Shadow would travel full circle to his beginnings and become a long-running radio program. The series premiered in late September 1937 over the Mutual Broadcasting System, featuring Orson Welles as the mystery man. Other actors would follow the famed actor and director in the role.

One month after The Shadow debuted on radio, the first of two movie serials appeared. THE SHADOW STRIKES starred Rod La Rocque and was based on a pulp novel by Walter Gibson. In 1946, Monogram Pictures released three Shadow movies starring Kane Richmond. 1958 would see Republic Pictures release INVISIBLE AVENGER, a theatrical film culled from two episodes of a pilot for a Shadow television series. Universal Pictures would release another Shadow film in 1994 starring Alec Baldwin as the title character.

Concurrent to the original pulp series, The Shadow also began appearing in books. Street & Smith got the ball rolling with three hardcovers in their “Ideal Library.” First came THE LIVING SHADOW in 1932, reprinting the initial entry of the pulp series. Whitman Publishing followed with three “Better Little Books” featuring the character.

In 1941, LA Bantam published THE SHADOW AND THE VOICE OF MURDER, the first Shadow paperback. It was a reprint of a Walter B. Gibson pulp novel. Belmont Books began publishing brand new Shadow novels in 1963. Their first book — THE RETURN OF THE SHADOW — was written by Gibson. Over the next twenty years, other book publishers — Grosset & Dunlap, Bantam Books, Dover Books, the Doubleday Crime Club, and The Mysterious Press — would reprint the Shadow’s pulp adventures in various formats. The most successful was Pyramid Books (later Jove Books). From 1974 to 1978, the company reprinted twenty-three Shadow pulp novels, largely featuring cover art by James Steranko. The artist — a pulp collector himself — returned to the original pulps for his inspiration.

During the summer of 2006, Sanctum Books — originally in association with Nostalgia Ventures — began to reprint The Shadow’s pulp adventures as trade paperbacks. Their first volume featured Lester Dent’s “The Golden Vulture,” the author’s sole contribution to The Shadow series. To date, Sanctum Books has published nearly 300 of The Shadow’s original novels. Sanctum will be exhibiting at PulpFest 2019.

In addition to books, radio, and film, the Shadow has also made an indelible mark in the graphic format. While the Columbia Pictures movie serial of 1940 was still playing in theaters, Street & Smith premiered SHADOW COMICS. Doc Savage — another Street & Smith pulp hero — was also featured in the comic book’s early issues. SHADOW COMICS lasted until August 1949, running for a total of 101 issues. From 1940 – 1942, the character also appeared in a newspaper strip written by Walter Gibson and illustrated by Vernon Greene.

In 1964, Archie Comics premiered a new comic book series featuring the Street & Smith pulp hero. Although The Shadow wears his familiar cloak and slouch hat on the cover to the first issue, later numbers feature him in superhero garb. Interestingly, Jerry Siegel, one of the creators of Superman, wrote the final five numbers of the eight-issue series.

In the fall of 1973, DC Comics introduced perhaps the most highly regarded of all comic books featuring The Shadow. Created by Dennis O’Neil, the comic introduced artist Mike Kaluta’s version of The Dark Knight. Unfortunately, the DC comic book lasted a mere twelve issues. The company would try again in 1986 with Howard Chaykin updating the character to modern times. DC would give the character another go-round with THE SHADOW STRIKES, created by writer Gerard Jones and artist Eduardo Barreto. The series returned the character to the 1930s and ran for thirty-one issues.

In 2012, Dynamite Entertainment began publishing a new Shadow comic book. Written by Garth Ennis, Chris Roberson, and others, the series was set in the 1930s. Alex Ross contributed many covers to the series, including this classic depiction of the character on the magazine’s first issue. The series ran until 2014, with a special issue published in 2015.

Dynamite also published a ten-issue miniseries in 2013-14. Written by Matt Wagner, it’s one of the best comic book versions of Walter Gibson’s creation. Wagner also wrote two other series featuring The Dark Knight, including THE DEATH OF MARGO LANE, published in 2016.

Although The Shadow has a lengthy history in the four-color medium, the character’s importance to the world of comic books is better reflected by its influence on the medium’s writers and artists. Many early creators of superhero comics were devoted readers of THE SHADOW MAGAZINE. These included Jerry Siegel, Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, Bill Finger, and Bob Kane.

In the first volume of THE STERANKO HISTORY OF COMICS, Batman co-creator Bill Finger admitted, “My first (Batman) script was a take-off on a Shadow story . . . . I patterned my style of writing Batman after the Shadow . . . . It was completely pulp style.” Pulp historians Will Murray and Anthony Tollin have surmised that Finger was talking about the Theodore Tinsley Shadow novel, “Partners in Peril.” It originally ran in the November 1, 1936 issue of THE SHADOW MAGAZINE.

While artist Bob Kane cited Chester Gould’s Dick Tracy as one of his inspirations — particularly for his villains — Bill Finger, Batman’s writer, suggested, “The villains were patterned after those in the pulps, kind of bizarre and wild.” Doctor Death, the first of Batman’s master criminals, was introduced in DETECTIVE COMICS 29, dated July 1939. An earlier Doctor Death — a mad scientist who desired to remake the world after his own desires — was featured in a short-lived pulp magazine published by Dell. There is likewise evidence that Batman villains The Joker and Two-Face, as well as Police Commissioner James Gordon, may very well have had their origins in the pages of Street & Smith’s hero pulps.

Although The Shadow certainly played the most influential role in the creation of the Batman saga, other pulp characters also inspired Bill Finger and Bob Kane.

Johnston McCulley’s Zorro  — who debuted in a five-part serial beginning in the August 9, 1919 issue of ALL-STORY WEEKLY — wore a mask and black cape, had a hidden lair that he entered through a grandfather clock, and marked his adversaries. Dawson Clade, another McCulley character, was accused of a murder he did not commit. He dons a hood to get revenge against those who had framed him. In his origin story, a bat flies through a window and Clade comes up with his alter ego. He will become “The Bat.” Sound familiar?

Created by D. L. Champion and published by Ned Pines’ Standard Magazines, THE PHANTOM DETECTIVE ran until 1953, totaling 170 issues. Like Bruce Wayne, Richard Curtis Van Loan was a wealthy playboy who trained himself to be “the world’s greatest detective.” When The Phantom was needed, a red beacon on top of the local newspaper building was lit. DC editors Jack Schiff and Mort Weisinger later turned this into the Bat-Signal.

Another Standard character, The Black Bat, debuted in 1939, around the same time as The Batman. Notice the batlike wings on the cover to the Spring 1945 issue of BLACK BOOK DETECTIVE. It bears a marked resemblance to the cape of the early Batman. Although not depicted here, the Black Bat also sported spiked fins on the gloves he wore. Batman co-creator Bill Finger liked the look and suggested that Bob Kane add them to The Batman’s costume.

Considered the world’s first superhero, Doc Savage debuted a month after The Phantom Detective. Published by Street & Smith, the first issue of DOC SAVAGE MAGAZINE was dated March 1933. An adventurer possessing untold wealth, Clark Savage, Jr. was, like Batman, a master detective. Doc was never without his utility vest, a specially designed garment filled with all kinds of gadgets that he had invented. It served as the model for The Batman’s “utility belt.”

As you’ve seen, The Shadow has been inspiring all sorts of creators for nearly ninety years. However, Walter B. Gibson’s character is just one of many pulp characters that have inspired pop culture creators over the decades. PulpFest 2019 will focus on the many ways pulp fiction and pulp art have inspired and continue to inspire creators. We’re calling this year’s theme “Children of the Pulps and Other Stories,” an examination of the pervasive influence of pulp magazines on contemporary pop culture. We hope you’ll join us from August 15 – 18 at the beautiful DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Cranberry in Mars, Pennsylvania.

(The first of our Shadow images is just shy of one-hundred years old. Painted by Modest Stein, the cover art for the April 1931 issue of THE SHADOW originally appeared on the October 1, 1919 issue of THE THRILL BOOK.

Unfortunately, the artist who painted THE INVISIBLE AVENGER movie poster is not known to us. However, George Rozen created the painting used as the cover for THE SHADOW #141, published by Sanctum Books in April 2019. The artwork was originally used on THE SHADOW DETECTIVE MONTHLY for June 1932, published by Street & Smith.

As mentioned above, Alex Ross painted the cover art for THE SHADOW #1, published by Dynamite Entertainment and dated April 2012.

Bob Kane’s Batman — as depicted on DETECTIVE COMICS #31, dated September 1939 — is remindful of the looming headshots found on Standard Magazine’s THE PHANTOM DETECTIVE. The Batarang and the Batgyro made their first appearances in this issue, featuring a villain known as The Monk.

The Black Bat was painted by Rafael de Soto for the Spring 1945 issue of BLACK BOOK DETECTIVE.

To learn more about the influence of The Shadow and other pulp heroes, please visit the PulpFest Instagram page.)

Erle Stanley Gardner — The 20 Million Word Man

Jul 16, 2019 by

When the magazine BLACK MASK is discussed, author Dashiell Hammett generally comes into play. But the creator of Sam Spade and The Continental Op was far from the most prolific contributor to the greatest of the hard-boiled detective magazines. That honor would go to Erle Stanley Gardner, best known for creating Perry Mason. Gardner would appear in THE BLACK MASK over one hundred times. Tomorrow is the 130th anniversary of his birth.

A practicing lawyer interested in a better income, Erle Stanley Gardner forced “himself to churn out four thousand words a night. It took two years, but he made his first sale to the pulps. It wouldn’t be the last.” During his fifty-year writing career, Gardner would publish close to twenty million words of fiction and create “no less than 49 unique detectives and adventurers who made two or more appearances in book or magazine form . . .”

According to Bill Pronzini’s introduction to THE DANGER ZONE AND OTHER STORIES — published by Crippen & Landru in 2004 — Gardner published 128 novels between 1933 and 1970. Eighty-two of these feature Perry Mason, while Bertha Cool and Donald Lam appear in 29 book-length adventures. Crusading district attorney Doug Selby appears in nine novels, while the remaining eight feature other characters.

“All of Gardner’s other series characters . . . were created for the magazine markets, both pulp-paper and slick-paper, and appear only in novelettes and short stories. Several hundred of these yarns saw print from the 1920s into the 1950s, the preponderance in a ten-year-span from 1926 to 1936 when Gardner lived up to his billing as “King of the Woodpulps” by producing and selling an average of one million words of fiction annually. ARGOSY, BLACK MASK, and DETECTIVE FICTION WEEKLY were his favorite pulp markets, printing nearly 200 stories among them. Series tales and one-shots also ran regularly in DIME DETECTIVE, CLUES, STREET & SMITH’S DETECTIVE STORY, TOP-NOTCH, BLACK ACES, ALL DETECTIVE, SHORT STORIES, and a host of others . . . .

 

Foremost among his amazing array of short-fiction creations are Ed Jenkins, the Phantom Crook, an outlaw and ‘famous lone wolf’ who lives by his wits and solves crimes unjustly pinned on him by the police, many of which have San Francisco Chinatown settings; and Lester Leith, debonair man-about-town, whose ‘chain lightning mind’ allows him to both outfox criminals and outmaneuver his butler, Scuttle, an undercover police spy. Jenkins appears in 72 novelettes published in BLACK MASK between 1925 and 1943 . . . Leith can be found in 65 novelettes in DETECTIVE FICTION WEEKLY from 1929 to 1943 . . .”

Other oft-published series characters created by Erle Stanley Gardner include Bob Zane of the “Whispering Sands” tales; Sidney Zoom, master of disguises; Señor Lobo, Mexican soldier of fortune; the Patent Leather Kid; Paul Pry, who steals from crooks; Bob Larkin, an adventurer armed with a billiard cue; attorney Ken Corning; gunslinger Black Barr; and Speed Dash, the Human Fly.

All told, Erle Stanley Gardner published about 600 short stories and novelettes. Called a hack by his critics, Gardner admitted that he wrote “to make money.” He also admitting that he wrote “to give the reader sheer fun.” Who can ask for more from any author?

PulpFest 2019 will begin on Thursday, August 15, and run through Sunday, August 18.  Join PulpFest at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Cranberry, just north of Pennsylvania’s “Steel City” of Pittsburgh. We’ll be celebrating “Children of the Pulps and Other Stories” at this year’s gathering. Click our Programming button below our homepage banner to get a preview of all the great presentations at this year’s event.

To join PulpFest 2019, click the Register button below our homepage banner. To book a room at the DoubleTree by Hilton — our host hotel — click the Book a Room button, also found on our homepage.

(July 17, 2019 is the 130th anniversary of the birth of the prolific writer, Erle Stanley Gardner.

First introduced to BLACK MASK readers with the story, “The Shrieking Skeleton,” published in the December 15, 1923 number under the pseudonym Charles Green, Gardner quickly established himself as a readers’ favorite. Soon thereafter, he introduced his first series character, Bob Larkin. But it was with the January 1925 number that Gardner truly hit paydirt, introducing Ed Jenkins in “Beyond the Law.” By the end of 1926, Jenkins was garnering the cover spot of the magazine, including the March 1933 issue featuring artwork by J. W. Schlaikjer. Erle Stanley Gardner’s Phantom Crook would appear in 72 novelettes published in BLACK MASK between 1925 and 1943.)

Starting Today — A Daily PulpFest Post!

Jul 15, 2019 by

Since mid-April, we’ve had an announcement about PulpFest 2019 three days per week. Beginning today, we’ll have at least one post every Monday through Friday. We’ll be maintaining this pace through the end of the convention on August 18. We may even have an occasional weekend post. However, even our hardworking marketing staff needs a day off every now and then.

In future posts, we’ll discuss our PulpFest 2019 dealers, highlights from this year’s issue of THE PULPSTER, the first of Johnston McCulley’s Zorro adventures, and more. So what are you waiting for? Don’t live on the edge! Register now for PulpFest 2019 by clicking the “Register” button just below our home page banner. It’s the only way to be part of “Summer’s Pulp Con.”

While you’re at it, you can reserve a room at the beautiful DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Cranberry. Simply click the Book a Room button, found on our homepage. Alternately, you can call 1-800-222-8733 to book a room by telephone. When calling, be sure to mention PulpFest to get the special convention rate. Given the convention’s popularity, we urge everyone to book a hotel room as soon as possibleThe convention rate is available through July 31.

To keep abreast of the convention, please bookmark pulpfest.com or like our Facebook page. Over on Twitter, you’ll find tweets with our updates. You’ll also find selected posts on various newsgroups, including Pulpmags. And don’t forget about our Instagram  page! PulpFest is exploring “The Children of the Pulps” on that site.

(Frank R. Paul‘s cover for the November 1929 issue of Hugo Gernsback’s SCIENCE WONDER STORIES is just one of more than 600 images that you’ll find on the PulpFest Instagram site.

Currently, PulpFest is exploring the evolution of science fiction, part of our 2019 salute to “The Children of the Pulps.” Find out why our Instagram feed has been growing in leaps and bounds since we relaunched it last December.)

A Century of Big, Clean Stories of Outdoor Life

Jul 12, 2019 by

The western story got its start with the “Leatherstocking” stories of James Fenimore Cooper. These five novels fictionally adapted the adventures of frontiersman Daniel Boone. In the years following Cooper’s Natty Bumppo tales, authors such as Bret Harte, Francis Parkman, and Mark Twain further expanded the field.

According to an essay written by pulp author John A. Saxon and published in 1945 by WRITER’S DIGEST, the western story became a genre of its own during the second half of the 19th century. In 1869, writer Edward Zane Carroll Judson convinced hunter, scout, and showman William F. Cody to lend his name and reputation to a fictionalized account of his life, “Buffalo Bill, King of the Borderman,” originally serialized in Street & Smith’s NEW YORK WEEKLY. Phenomenally received, Judson found a public hungry for further adventures of the real life hero of the American frontier. Thus started “. . . the fictionalized form of the Western story . . . based partly on fact, but mostly on imagination.”

Given the great success of Street & Smith’s Buffalo Bill tales, nickel weeklies and dime novels devoted to western heroes and outlaws followed: DEADWOOD DICK LIBRARYDIAMOND DICK LIBRARYJAMES BOYS WEEKLYKLONDIKE KIT LIBRARYWILD WEST WEEKLY, and more. These as well as stories featuring detective heroes such as Nick Carter and Old Sleuth and sports heroes such as Frank Merriwell, reigned supreme for nearly forty years. Then, following the introduction of the pulp magazine by Frank A. Munsey in 1896, the story papers and dime novels began to give way to the more economical rough-paper periodicals.

The first all-western pulp magazine was introduced by Street & Smith when they converted their tired old story paper, NEW BUFFALO BILL WEEKLY, to WESTERN STORY MAGAZINE with its September 5, 1919 number. Within a year, the magazine reached a circulation of 300,000 copies and began to be released weekly, a status it enjoyed for the next twenty-five years. Soon thereafter, the magazine began publishing the western fantasies of poet turned pulp writer Frederick Schiller Faust – better known as Max Brand – and really took off. By the late 1920s, WESTERN STORY was competing against countless imitators – ACE-HIGHCOWBOY STORIESFRONTIERGOLDEN WESTLARIATNORTH-WEST STORIESRANCH ROMANCESWEST, and others.

Following the collapse of the world economy in 1929, ten-cent western pulps began to flood the market as publishers sought reliable markets to help them keep afloat. Beginning with DIME WESTERN MAGAZINE — introduced by Popular Publications in late 1931 — many western pulps took on a more mature, often violent tone. Others, including Ned Pines’ Standard Magazines, coupled the western with the highly popular single character magazine. With managing editor Leo Margulies riding herd over “thrilling tales of the gallant West where danger lurks and cowboys are supermen,” Standard introduced Jim Hatfield in TEXAS RANGERS, Wayne Morgan in MASKED RIDER WESTERN, and other western pulp superheroes in their own magazines.

Street & Smith’s WESTERN STORY MAGAZINE would last for thirty years and nearly 1300 issues. Following its launch in 1919, it would change the pulp fiction magazine industry forever. At its peak, it was released once a week and sold 500,000 copies of each issue. Like its predecessor in the specialty pulp market — DETECTIVE STORY MAGAZINE — it inspired a host of imitators and fostered the western genre, helping the pulps to survive the Great Depression and the Second World War. What more can one ask of a magazine of “Big, Clean Stories of Outdoor Life?”

(The work of Stanley L. Wood — an English illustrator noted for his paintings featuring horses in action — was used as the cover art to the first issue of WESTERN STORY MAGAZINE, dated September 5, 1919. Later issues of the rough paper magazine — including the September 3, 1932 number — featured covers by the “King of the Pulps,” Walter M. Baumhofer. The artist is best remembered for his classic covers that appeared on DOC SAVAGE MAGAZINE.

To learn more about WESTERN STORY MAGAZINE, check out part nine of “Collecting Pulps: A Memoir,” written by collector Walker Martin and published by Steve Lewis on the Mystery*File blog.)

Heroines of Science Fiction and Fantasy — Part Two

Jul 9, 2019 by

Yesterday, we learned about the “Heroines of Science Fiction and Fantasy” from the past. Today, we’d like to discuss two PulpFest members who are among today’s “Heroines of Science Fiction and Fantasy.”

It goes without saying that we consider Sara Light-Waller one of our “Heroines of Science Fiction and Fantasy.” Sara is one of more than thirty fiction writers who will be attending PulpFest 2019. An avid reader of pulp science fiction stories, Sara writes and illustrates her fiction in the manner of the Golden Age science fiction from the 1930’s and 40’s. She is the author of ANCHOR: A STRANGE TALE OF TIME and LANDSCAPE OF DARKNESS. Published by Sara’s Lucina Press, they are both available through Amazon.

In 2018, we asked Sara if she’d be interested in writing posts about the first issues of SCIENCE WONDER STORIES and AIR WONDER STORIESShe quickly agreed and offered to write a third post about a subject dear to her heart: the women who helped to develop the science fiction genre. This time, it was our turn to immediately accept the offer.

Sara Light-Waller will be one of our “New Fictioneers” readers on Saturday, August 17, at PulpFest 2019.

Heidi Ruby Miller is our other PulpFest member who we consider to be among the “Heroines of Science Fiction and Fantasy.”

With degrees in Anthropology, Geography, Foreign Languages, and Writing, Heidi knew early that penning fast-paced, exotic adventures would be her life. One of the founders of Dog Star Books — the science fiction adventure imprint of Raw Dog Screaming Press — Heidi is the author of the AMBASADORA series and the Meteor House bestseller, MAN OF WAR. She also teaches creative writing at Seton Hill University, where she graduated from their renowned Writing Popular Fiction Graduate Program. Between writing and teaching, Heidi travels the world with her husband, writer Jason Jack Miller.

Earlier this year, Heidi represented PulpFest in a documentary produced by WQED Pittsburgh concerning pulp artist Gloria Stoll Karn. It’s part of a documentary entitled VISIBLE that aired on WQED, the nation’s first community-supported television station.

Heidi has also penned an article called “New Pulp” for the July 2019 issue of THE WRITER. Based on a class she taught in Seton Hill University’s Writing Popular Fiction MFA program, it concerns the resurgence of this popular fiction genre. The issue is currently available through bookstores and finer newsstands.

A resident of Pittsburgh, Heidi will be part of the Dog Star Books portion of the Raw Dog Screaming Press Rapid-Fire Read and Sweet Sixteen Celebration on Saturday, August 17. She’ll also be hosting our “Popular Fiction from Seton Hill” presentation immediately prior to the Dog Star Celebration on Saturday morning.

Be sure to have the opportunity to meet these two contemporary “Heroines of Science Fiction and Fantasy” by registering for PulpFest 2019 today. You can join the convention by clicking the Register button below our home page banner. If you’d like to pay for your membership via Paypal, you’ll find our Paypal link on our registration page.

If you are not from the Pittsburgh area and have yet to book your room for this year’s PulpFest, you can book your room directly through the PulpFest website. Below our banner, you’ll find a link that reads “Book a Room.” Click on this link and you’ll be redirected to a secure site where you can book a room at the DoubleTree. You can also reserve a room by calling 1-800-222-8733. Please be sure to mention PulpFest in order to receive the special rate. Thanks so much to everyone who has reserved a room at our host hotel. By staying at the DoubleTree, you’ve helped to ensure the convention’s success.

(The daughter of a playwright and a painter, is it any wonder that Sara Light-Waller became both writer and illustrator? Pictured here is the cover art for her first “scientifiction” adventure story, LANDSCAPE OF DARKNESS, published by Lucina Press in 2017. To learn more about Sara and her work, please visit her Facebook page, Twitter feed, or her Instagram site.)

 

What’s This PulpFest All About?

Jul 5, 2019 by

So what’s this PulpFest that has so many people talking? With over 3,200 likes on Facebook, hundreds of followers on Instagram, and nearly 1,100 followers on Twitter, it certainly has been generating a lot of excitement. But what’s it all about?

PulpFest is named for pulp magazines — fiction periodicals named after the cheap pulp paper on which they were printed. Frank A. Munsey pioneered the format in 1896 with THE ARGOSY. Stories like Edgar Rice Burroughs’ “Tarzan and the Apes” and Max Brand’s “Destry Rides Again” really got things moving.

The pulps started to flourish following the introduction of specialized magazines such as DETECTIVE STORY and LOVE STORY. Publishing legends BLACK MASKWEIRD TALES and AMAZING STORIES debuted during the 1920s. The early thirties introduced the hero pulps, while science fiction exploded as the world went to war in 1939.

By the early fifties, the pulps had largely disappeared. Although displaced by paperback books, comics, radio, television, movies, and more, the rough-paper periodicals had a profound effect on popular culture across the globe. They inspired everything from STAR WARS and JURASSIC PARK to Batman and Spider-Man. The fiction and art of the pulps reverberated through comic books, movies, paperbacks, television, and even anime and role-playing games.

PulpFest 2019 will focus on the many ways pulp fiction and pulp art have inspired and continue to inspire creators. We’re calling this year’s theme, “Children of the Pulps and Other Stories,” an examination of the pervasive influence of pulp magazines on contemporary pop culture. To see what PulpFest is all about, click the Programming button below our home page banner to get a taste for the topics that we’ll explore in 2019.

Beyond our programming, the PulpFest dealers’ room will feature tens of thousands of pulp magazines, vintage paperbacks, digests, genre books, original art, first edition hardcovers, series books, reference books, men’s adventure and true crime magazines, dime novels and story papers, Big Little Books, B-Movies, serials and related paper collectibles, old-time radio shows, and collectible comic books and newspaper adventure strips.

The convention will take place from Thursday evening, August 15, through Sunday afternoon, August 18, at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Cranberry, just nineteen miles north of the exciting city of Pittsburgh. You can book your room directly through the PulpFest website. Just click the button below the PulpFest banner to “Book a Room. Alternately, you can call 1-800-222-8733 to book a room by telephone. When calling, be sure to mention PulpFest to get the special convention rate.

Start planning now to join PulpFest 2019 at the “pop culture center of the universe.” You can join the convention by clicking the Register button below our home page banner. If you’d like to pay for your membership via Paypal, you’ll find our Paypal link on our registration page.

(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.

Burroughs’ Tarzan is the most famous character to emerge from the pulps. Others include Zorro, Conan the Barbarian, Dr. Kildare, The Shadow, Buck Rogers, Sam Spade, Doc Savage, and Cthulhu.

Come to PulpFest 2019 and learn how the pulps continue to inspire the world’s pop culture creators.)

Free Stuff at PulpFest 2019

Jul 4, 2019 by

Bring on the fireworks! It’s time to celebrate our nation’s freedom. What better time for PulpFest to say thanks for all of the donations we’ve received? We’ll be giving them to our members free of charge. The only requirement is to attend PulpFest 2019 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Cranberry between August 15 and August 18!

In alphabetical order, we’d like to thank Dustin Wright and Chaosium Inc., the publisher of CALL OF CTHULHU and other role-playing games. Chaosium has donated a selection of horror and fantasy books to be used as door prizes during PulpFest 2019.

Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. has donated several softcover copies of books inspired by the fantastic work of Edgar Rice Burroughs. PulpFest is also happy to welcome Christopher Paul Carey — the Director of Publishing for Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. — to this year’s convention. He’ll be reading from his own fiction and appearing on a number of panels. Christopher is the authorized continuation chronicler of Philip Jose Farmer’s KHOKARSA series and among the stable of licensed authors in THE WILD ADVENTURES OF EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS series.

Gordon Van Gelder and THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY & SCIENCE FICTION — celebrating its 70th anniversary in 2019 — has provided PulpFest with several cartons of back issues. These will be handed out by our registration staff as long as supplies last. The award-winning magazine has been supporting PulpFest — and Pulpcon before it — for many years. We’re extremely grateful for the long-standing support of F&SF.

Science fiction and fantasy publisher Meteor House has sponsored this year’s “Welcome to PulpFest” banner. It will be on display at our registration desk. Watch for our post about this year’s banner in August.

Mike Chomko, Books — a longtime dealer at PulpFest, Pulpcon, and other conventions — has contributed a handful of recent Sherlock Holmes books to be offered as prizes to attendees of “The Game’s Afoot: Sherlock Holmes and the Pulps” on Friday evening, August 16.

Mike is also helping to sponsor our hospitality suite. PulpFest‘s host hotel has provided a room near its elevators where our members can socialize after a hearty day of collecting and programming. Stop by to enjoy drinks and snacks with your comrades in collecting.

Raw Dog Screaming Press — the recipient of the 2018 Horror Writers Association Specialty Press Award for outstanding horror, dark fantasy, and weird fiction — for deciding to hold their “Sweet Sixteen” celebration at this year’s PulpFest. Coffee, tea, and sweets — celebrating sixteen years of high quality fiction — will be available at their “Rapid-Fire Reads” on both Friday and Saturday morning.

We’d also like to thank the many bookstores and comic shops throughout the Pittsburgh area, as well as the book fairs and conventions throughout the United States that have helped to promote “Summer’s Pulp Con” through the past year. Special thanks to Jim Beard, Steve Ericson of Books from the Crypt, Martin Grams, Steve Hager, John Koch, Sara Light-Waller, Todd McDevitt of New Dimension Comics, Heidi Ruby Miller, Curt Phillips, and Rick Thomas for their help promoting us at various venues.

If you are not from the Pittsburgh area and have yet to book your room for this year’s PulpFest, July 31 is the last day to receive the special convention rate. You can book your room directly through the PulpFest website. Below our banner, you’ll find a link that reads “Book a Room.” Click on this link and you’ll be redirected to a secure site where you can book a room at the DoubleTree. You can also reserve a room by calling 1-800-222-8733. Please be sure to mention PulpFest in order to receive the special rate. Thanks so much to everyone who has reserved a room at our host hotel. By staying at the DoubleTree, you’ve helped to ensure the convention’s success.

(On July 4, the United States celebrates Independence Day. Herbert Morton Stoops‘ cover to the March 1946 issue of THE BLUE BOOK MAGAZINE — entitled “The Birth of a Nation” — is a perfect illustration for the occasion. From January through November 1946, BLUE BOOK ran an eleven-part series of Stoops cover paintings entitled “This Is Our Land.”

The first issue of THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY & SCIENCE FICTION was released in the Fall of 1949. Help it celebrate seventy years of publishing great speculative fiction by picking up a copy of the July and August 2019 number, featuring cover art by Mondolithic Studios.)

The Art of Edgar Rice Burroughs

Jul 3, 2019 by

The late Ray Bradbury called Edgar Rice Burroughs “the most influential writer, bar none,” of the twentieth century. In TARZAN: THE CENTENNIAL CELEBRATION, Tracy Scott Griffin labels Burroughs’ Tarzan as “one of the greatest literary achievements in history,” placing the character alongside “King Arthur, Robin Hood, and Superman in worldwide popularity.”

As part of our focus on the many ways pulp fiction and pulp art have inspired and continue to inspire creators, PulpFest 2019 will host an exhibition dedicated to artwork inspired by Edgar Rice Burroughs. On display will be original art for books, newspaper strips, comic books, graphic albums, and fan magazines, created by such major illustrators as Bob Abbett, Richard Hescox, Joe Jusko, and Richard Powers. Other prominent professional and fan artists will also be featured in the show.

A follow-up to last year’s rare gallery showing of original art by acclaimed writer-illustrator Mark Wheatley, here is your chance to view works featured in some of the most prominent archive editions and books featuring Burroughs’ work. With the support of The Burroughs Bibliophiles — the nonprofit literary society devoted to Burroughs and his works — this year’s PulpFest art show promises to be a unique way to experience the creative worlds of Edgar Rice Burroughs.

Join PulpFest 2019 on Friday, August 16, and Saturday, August 17, for this special art exhibition examining of the pervasive influence of Edgar Rice Burroughs on popular culture. “The Art of Edgar Rice Burroughs” will be open for viewing from 2:30 to 4:30 PM on both days.

PulpFest 2019 will begin on Thursday, August 15, and run through Sunday, August 18.  Join PulpFest at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Cranberry, just north of Pennsylvania’s “Steel City” of Pittsburgh in Mars, PA.

To become a member of PulpFest 2019, click the Register button below our homepage banner. To book a room at the DoubleTree by Hilton — our host hotel — click the Book a Room button, also found on our homepage.

(Founded in September 1960, The Burroughs Bibliophiles is a worldwide organization of aficionados who share a love for the works and characters of American author Edgar Rice Burroughs, the celebrated creator of Tarzan. The group’s membership list boasts its fair share of bestselling authors, artists, scientists, teachers, and academicians, as well as readers who simply love a good story well told. Their logo is based upon J. Allen St. John‘s dust jacket art for TARZAN AND THE GOLDEN LION, published by A.C. McClurg & Co. in 1923.)