90 Years of Frank Frazetta

Feb 5, 2018 by

Born in Brooklyn, New York on February 9, 1928, Frank Frazetta would turn ninety years old this week. Although he never worked in the pulp industry, Frazetta  — along with James Bama — drew many into the pulp community. Bama’s Doc Savage cover art and Frazetta’s paintings for Lancer’s Conan paperbacks and Ace Books’ Edgar Rice Burroughs line coaxed many hard-earned quarters from the pockets of youngsters growing up during the 1960s. Many of these then-young enthusiasts became pulp collectors, seeking the source material from whence the paperbacks were drawn.

As a child, Frazetta was enrolled in the Brooklyn Academy of Fine Arts. He studied under Michele Falanga. At the age of sixteen, the talented young artist began working in Bernard Baily’s comic book studio. Recognizing the youngster’s skill, Graham Ingels helped Frazetta find work with Standard Comics. Before long, Frazetta was working in a wide range of genres including fantasy, funny animal, mystery, romance, superhero, war, and western comics. His work was featured in the comic book lines of Avon, Dell, EC, National Comics, and other publishers.

During the 1950s, Frank Frazetta began working with Al Capp on his Li’l Abner comic strip. He also helped Dan Barry with the Flash Gordon daily strip and produced his own comic strip — Johnny Comet — during this period. Eventually, the artist would join Harvey Kurtzman on the Little Annie Fanny strip, produced for PLAYBOY.

In late 1963, Roy Krenkel asked Frazetta to help him paint covers and provide interior illustrations for Ace’s line of Edgar Rice Burroughs books. Between 1963 and 1965, Frazetta produced twenty-five covers and twenty-two interiors for Ace. Soon thereafter, the first of Frazetta’s Conan paintings appeared: CONAN THE ADVENTURER was released by Lancer Books in 1966. The book’s sales assured the artist’s success. He was soon working for Ballantine Books, Dell, Fawcett, Midwood, Paperback Library, Signet, Warner, and many other paperback publishers.

This period additionally featured Frazetta’s spectacular cover work for Warren Publishing’s CREEPY, EERIE, BLAZING COMBAT, and VAMPIRELLA. The artist also began painting movie posters, beginning with WHAT’S NEW PUSSYCAT?, released by United Artists in 1965. His paintings have also been used as covers for record albums, book jackets, calendars, and more.

On May 10, 2010, Frank Frazetta suffered a stroke and died. His bold and inventive work — the artist stated that he read none of the stories that he illustrated, creating his paintings as he saw fit — will long be lauded by the pulp community and those who appreciate illustrative and commercial art.

(The third edition of Ace Books’ THE LAND THAT TIME FORGOT was published in March 1973. Featuring cover art by Frank Frazetta, the painting was originally used as the cover art for the 1964 and 1969 editions of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ BEYOND THE FARTHEST STAR. 

Burroughs novel — the first of three works set on the lost continent of Caprona — takes place during World War I.  From July 26 through July 29, PulpFest 2018 will be honoring the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended The First World War. We’ll be at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Cranberry — just north of Pennsylvania’s “Steel City.” BURROUGHS BULLETIN editor Henry G. Franke, III will discuss THE LAND THAT TIME FORGOT and other works in “Edgar Rice Burroughs and The Great War.” Additional programming on war in popular culture is also planned for the convention.

You can join PulpFest 2018 and FarmerCon 100 by clicking the Register for 2018 button on the PulpFest home page. And don’t forget to book a room at the DoubleTree while you’re visiting the PulpFest site. They’re going fast!)

100 Years of Philip José Farmer

Jan 22, 2018 by

Over the last few months, we’ve been discussing that 2018 marks the centennial of the armistice that ended The First World War. However, our current year is also the hundredth anniversary of the birth of Grand Master of Science Fiction Philip José Farmer. Beginning on Thursday evening, July 26, and running through Sunday, July 29, PulpFest 2018 will honor both the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I AND the century mark of Philip José Farmer. We’ll be celebrating at the beautiful DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Cranberry, just outside Pennsylvania’s Steel City.

Few people think of Philip José Farmer as a pulp writer, but he was a child of the pulps and launched his career in the pulps. Born January 26, 1918 in North Terre Haute, Indiana, Farmer grew up in Peoria, Illinois. He spent much of his childhood reading everything he could find in the local library and drug store. From the classics by Baum, Carroll, Cervantes, Chesterton, Cooper, Defoe, Dickens, Dumas, Homer, London, Shaw, Stevenson, Swift, Thackeray, Twain, Verne, Wells, and others, to popular fiction by Burroughs, Doyle, Haggard, and on through the pulps: AIR WONDER STORIES, ARGOSY, BLUE BOOK, DOC SAVAGE, SCIENCE WONDER STORIES, THE SHADOW, WEIRD TALES  . . . the list goes on and on. He also read the Bible and many books on mythology.

His wide reading prepared Farmer well for a career as a writer. Before trying his hand at science fiction, he wrote mainstream stories. He sold his first story, “O’Brien and Obrenov,” to ADVENTURE magazine. It was published in the March 1946 issue. His first science fiction story, “The Lovers” — published in the August 1952 STARTLING STORIES — is famous for breaking the taboo on sex in science fiction. It launched his science fiction career and won Farmer the 1952 Hugo Award as the “Most Promising New Talent.”

After selling several more stories to STARTLING STORIES, THRILLING WONDER STORIES, and SCIENCE FICTION PLUS, Farmer entered and won the Shasta Prize Novel Contest in 1953. The award included a grand prize of four thousand dollars (about $36,000 in today’s dollars). Though married with two children, Farmer now felt confident enough to quit his job and become a full-time writer. Unfortunately, his career immediately hit a stumbling block when Shasta didn’t pay him the prize money. Instead they strung him along asking for rewrites, while investing the money in the publication of another book. It bombed. Farmer was never paid and by the time the truth came out, he had lost his house and had to find full-time work.

After falling back on manual labor jobs for a few years, Farmer and his family left Peoria in 1956 and moved around the country. He worked as a technical writer for the space-defense industry, eventually ending up in Beverly Hills in 1965. All the while, he continued to write and sell science fiction short stories to such pulps and digests as AMAZING STORIES, ARGOSY, BEYOND FANTASY FICTION, FANTASTIC UNIVERSE, GALAXY, THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY & SCIENCE FICTION, THE SAINT MYSTERY MAGAZINEWORLDS OF IF, and WORLDS OF TOMORROW. He also wrote novels and published stories in anthologies. In 1967, he won a second Hugo Award for the story “Riders of the Purple Wage,” published in DANGEROUS VISIONS. Then — just before the moon landing in 1969 — he was laid off from his technical writing job. Once again, Farmer turned to full-time fiction writing.

In 1970, the Farmers moved back to Peoria and his writing career again began to take off. His World of Tiers series was very popular and he received his third Hugo Award for the first novel in the Riverworld series, TO YOUR SCATTERED BODIES GO. A reworking of the novel that had won the Shasta contest, Farmer’s novel won the 1972 Hugo. Soon thereafter, his career hit another obstacle: writer’s block.

Although fans and publishers alike were clamoring for the next World of Tiers or Riverworld title, Farmer seemed to be out of ideas. Unable to work in those worlds, he spent the next few years looking to his favorite literature and the pulps for inspiration: THE WIND WHALES OF ISHMAEL (a science fiction sequel to MOBY DICK); THE OTHER LOG OF PHILEAS FOGG (the true story behind Jules Verne’s AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY DAYS); THE ADVENTURE OF THE PEERLESS PEER (a pastiche of Tarzan and Sherlock Holmes); HADON OF ANCIENT OPAR and FLIGHT TO OPAR (inspired by Edgar Rice Burroughs and H. Rider Haggard); and VENUS ON THE HALF-SHELL, written “by” Kilgore Trout (wherein Farmer pretended he was Kurt Vonnegut Jr.’s sad-sack science fiction author).

Farmer also penned two biographies during this period — TARZAN ALIVE: A DEFINITIVE BIOGRAPHY OF LORD GREYSTOKE and DOC SAVAGE: HIS APOCALYPTIC LIFE — revealing to the world that the “characters” known as Tarzan and Doc Savage were, in fact, based on real, living people. These books also served to introduce the Wold Newton Family mythos, a concept that may be one of his most enduring creations.

With his writer’s block vanquished by the end of the 1970s, Farmer continued the Riverworld and World of Tiers series. The next two decades also saw the fulfillment of his life-long ambitions to write an Oz book and to author official Doc Savage and Tarzan novels: A BARNSTORMER IN OZ, ESCAPE FROM LOKI, and THE DARK HEART OF TIME.

Farmer enjoyed a long career and attended hundreds of conventions, many of them as a guest of honor  (including PulpCon in 1989). Although he retired from writing in 1999, he worked with an ardent fan base over the next decade that continued to make his work available. Projects ranged from a mammoth collection of rarities (PEARLS FROM PEORIA, published in 2006) to unsold mainstream stories written at the start of his career and collected alongside an unpublished novel (UP FROM THE BOTTOMLESS PIT AND OTHER STORIES, published in 2007). Also published were new editions of novels, new collections, and unfinished works, completed in collaboration with others: “Getting Ready to Write” (with Paul Spiteri), THE CITY BEYOND PLAY and DAYWORLD: A HOLE IN WEDNESDAY (both with Danny Adams), THE EVIL IN PEMBERLEY HOUSE (with Win Scott Eckert), and THE SONG OF KWASIN (with Christopher Paul Carey).

Philip José Farmer passed away on February 25, 2009, shortly after his 91st birthday. His legacy endures and continues to entertain his many fans and readers. Perhaps the best testament to this is the annual FarmerCon gathering, held at PulpFest since 2011.

What better way to celebrate the 100th birthday of Philip José Farmer than by registering for Pulpfest 2018/FarmerCon 100? The Science Fiction Grand Master will be one of the main themes of the conventions, with plenty of programing about Farmer and his work. Also on hand will be the conventions’ Guest of Honor — Joe Lansdale — the author of over forty novels, numerous short stories, and the introduction to THE BEST OF PHILIP JOSÉ FARMERYou can join both conventions by clicking the Register for 2018 button on the PulpFest home page. And don’t forget to book a room at the DoubleTree while you’re visiting the PulpFest site. They’re going fast!

(While working in the aerospace and defense industry as a technical writer, Philip José Farmer continued to write and sell science fiction to the pulp and digest markets. THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION — which published “Open to Me, My Sister” in its May 1960 issue, featuring front cover art by Mel Hunter — was one of many magazines to which he sold.

By the 1970s, Farmer was writing fiction full time, winning the Hugo Award for “Best Novel” in 1972. Additionally, he penned many works inspired by the classics of literature and the pulps of his youth. One of these was the fictional “biography,” DOC SAVAGE: HIS APOCALYPTIC LIFE. A revised edition of this work — with bonus material — was published in 2013 by Meteor House and Altus Press. It featured front cover art by Joe DeVito.

Mike Croteau is one of the founders of FarmerCon and Meteor House. He’s also the founder and one of the developers of Philip José Farmer’s Official Web Page.)

Be a PulpFest Sponsor

Jan 8, 2018 by

Join the PulpFest team! For a number of years, PulpFest has accepted sponsors for its website. A range of organizations have made significant contributions to the convention through their sponsorships. Why not add your organization to the list?

One of our leading sponsors is AbeBooks.com. Launched in 1996, AbeBooks.com is an online marketplace for books. AbeBooks has a strong focus on rare and collectible books as well as ephemera such as maps, posters, prints and photographs.

Millions of rare and used items are offered for sale through the AbeBooks websites from thousands of sellers around the world. The unique inventory of products for sale from AbeBooks sellers includes the world’s finest antiquarian books, countless out-of-print gems, millions of signed, used and new books,  plus a vast selection of collectible items.

AbeBooks is a company with a passion for books, art and collectibles. Sellers love AbeBooks for helping them sell items to buyers around the globe – 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Buyers love AbeBooks for helping them to find and purchase items from its vast online inventory, stretching around the world with six international sites. The AbeBooks blog, Reading Copy, is a valuable daily source of company and book-related news.

PulpFest is extremely proud to have AbeBooks as a sponsor. They’ve been one of our site sponsors — you’ll find their logo on our home page — since early 2016. They have also sponsored the convention’s badges, our welcome banners, and the PulpFest program book. In 2017, AbeBooks — along with FarmerCon — also helped to sponsor our con suite.

AbeBooks is not only passionate about books, but also a company with a “passion for pulps!” If you or your organization would like to join them as a convention or hospitality suite sponsor, please contact Mike Chomko, the convention’s marketing director, at mike@pulpfest.com.

(Join the winning team of AbeBooks.com and 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 2018 banners — such as our hospitality suite banner, designed by William Lampkin and featuring art by Gloria Stoll Karn — will feature your logo!)

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Happy New Year from PulpFest!

Jan 1, 2018 by

Ring in the new year by planning to join PulpFest 2018! We’ll be celebrating the centennial of “The Armistice that Ended The Great War” and the 100th anniversary of the birth of Grand Master of Science Fiction Philip José Farmer. Plus, we’ll have a dealers’ room filled with detective and adventure pulps, science fiction books and magazines, westerns and digest magazines, original art and illustrations, vintage paperbacks and collectible comic books, unique films, and much more. All this plus our guest of honor, Joe Lansdale, author of over forty novels and many short stories. You’ll find it all at PulpFest 2018.

Running from July 26 – 29, the convention will be returning to the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Cranberry. Conveniently located at the intersection of three major roadways, the DoubleTree boasts a world-class restaurant in an open air setting. There are many other restaurants nearby — some within walking distance — suitable for a variety of tastes. The more adventurous can discover plenty of dining, shopping, and nightlife just a short drive away in downtown Pittsburgh. The DoubleTree offers ample free parking, free wifi for its guests, and two complimentary breakfasts per room during your stay.

To thank those members who will be supporting PulpFest by staying at our host hotel, the convention will offer free early-bird shopping on Thursday evening in the PulpFest dealers’ room. That’s a savings of $35 if you stay at the DoubleTree! What a great deal for the holidays!!!

Your PulpFest organizing committee — Jack and Sally Cullers, Mike Chomko, Bill Lampkin, Barry Traylor, and Chuck Welch — wishes everyone a happy and healthy new year.

(The front cover art for the January 1930 issue of Harold Hersey’s LOVE AND WAR STORIES was painted by Alfred George Skrenda. The artist is best remembered for his dust jacket work for the publishing industry. The sole issue of the pulp — published by Good Story Magazine Company — featured stories by Ross C. Holland, Robert H. Leitfred, Leonard S. Norton, E. Quinton, and Carl Ziegler. Except for Quinton and Norton, all of the authors published regularly in the war and air magazines.)

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Happy Thanksgiving from PulpFest

Nov 20, 2017 by

Today, the PulpFest organizing committee would like to wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving. We hope your holiday will turn out far better than the day of this particular soldier.

Over the coming months, we’ll be looking at some of the artists, writers, and publishers who worked in the war genre for the pulp magazine industry. It’s all part of our celebration of the 100th anniversary of the armistice that brought the First World War to an end.

Beginning on Thursday evening, July 26, and running through Sunday, July 29, PulpFest 2018 will focus on the so-called “war pulps” of the early twentieth century as well as the depiction of war in popular culture. Please join us at the beautiful DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Cranberry. We’ll also be celebrating the century mark of Grand Master of Science Fiction Philip José Farmer. PulpFest and its associated convention — FarmerCon — will be saluting the acclaimed author of such works as ESCAPE FROM LOKITHE DARK HEART OF TIME, the classic Riverworld series, and more. And don’t forget that award-winning author Joe Lansdale will be PulpFest‘s guest of honor. We look forward to seeing you in July 2018.

(C. R. Schaare began working at the age of twelve. Trained as an engraver’s assistant, he eventually found employment as a sketch artist for the advertising industry. In 1925 he began to sell freelance pulp magazine covers to ACE-HIGH, AIR STORIES, ALL-AMERICAN SPORTS, GUN MOLLS, LARIAT STORY, MASKED RIDER, NAVY STORIES, WAR STORIES — including the July 5, 1929 cover — and other pulps. He continued to work for the pulps as a cover artist until 1940. He also contributed many covers to the boxing periodical, THE RING.)

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Happy Halloween from PulpFest

Oct 30, 2017 by

The skeleton was a popular motif used on a variety of pulps. Naturally, skulls and skeletons adorned the covers of such magazines as WEIRD TALES, TERROR TALES, and the like. One could also find them on detective pulps, hero pulps, and even on war pulps. In Rudolph Belarski’s cover for the Summer 1944 issue of AIR WAR, the Grim Reaper — wearing goggles and a fighter pilot jacket — urges a World War II fighter pilot to sow death upon his enemies.

Next year marks the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended the hostilities of the First World War. Beginning on Thursday evening, July 26, and running through Sunday, July 29, PulpFest 2018 will honor this anniversary by focusing on the depiction of war in popular culture.

And don’t forget that author Joe Lansdale — winner of ten Bram Stoker Awards, the Horror Writers Association Lifetime Achievement Award, and other awards — will be PulpFest‘s guest of honor.

We’ll keep you informed about our plans through our website and social media sites. So please be sure to bookmark PulpFest.com. We’ll be offering a new post every Monday morning around 9 AM, eastern time. Alternately, you can read our posts via our facebook site or catch our tweets by following our Twitter page.

From ghoulies and ghosties
And long-leggedy beasties
And things that go bump in the night,
Good Lord, deliver us . . . to PulpFest 2018!

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Happy Labor Day from PulpFest

Sep 4, 2017 by

On this day when we honor America’s laborers, PulpFest is pleased to announce that the organizing committee has worked out a deal to return to the beautiful DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Cranberry in 2018.

In his PulpFest 2017 report, Murania Press publisher Ed Hulse wrote: “And what a venue. I’ve been attending conventions of various kinds for exactly 50 years now but have rarely set foot in a hotel more perfectly suited than the DoubleTree for the event it hosted.” Walker Martin echoed Ed’s sentiments in the report he wrote for Steve Lewis’ Mystery*File: “In my opinion, after attending almost all the pulp conventions since 1972, this is the best hotel that we have ever had for our shows.”

Conveniently located where three major roadways intersect, the DoubleTree offers ample free parking, free wifi for its guests, and provides two free breakfast coupons per day to PulpFest members who stay at the host hotel during the convention. Its ember & vine open-air restaurant is also very popular. The room rate will be $129 per night.

PulpFest 2018 will take place over the last weekend in July, beginning on Thursday evening, July 26 and running through Sunday, July 29. We’ll keep you posted about developments here on our home page. So please stay tuned by visiting www.pulpfest.com at least once a week. We’ll be offering a new post every Monday morning around 9 AM, eastern time. Alternately, you can read our posts via our facebook site or catch our tweets by following us via our Twitter page.

(In honor of the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, PulpFest 2018 will focus on the so-called “war pulps” of the early twentieth century. One of the leading magazines of the genre was Fawcett Publications’ BATTLE STORIES. Its leading cover artist was George Rozen who painted about thirty covers — including the April 1931 number — for the magazine. Both George and his twin brother, Jerome, were pulp artists.

Next year just so happens to be the century mark of a certain Grand Master of Science Fiction named Philip José Farmer. PulpFest and its associated convention — FarmerCon — will also be saluting the acclaimed author of such works as ESCAPE FROM LOKI , THE DARK HEART OF TIME, the classic Riverworld series, and more.)

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