Win Scott Eckert — HUNT THE AVENGER

Aug 11, 2019 by

PulpFest 2019 is pleased to announce that Win Scott Eckert will read from his newest book, HUNT THE AVENGER, on Saturday, August 17 at 2:30 PM.

2019 Munsey Award nominee Win Scott Eckert launched the first Wold Newton website, The Wold Newton Universe in 1997. Over the next twenty-two years, he has written or co-written novels and short stories featuring characters such as Philip José Farmer’s Patricia Wildman, cult favorites Honey West and T. H. E. Cat, and classic properties such as The Green Hornet, Zorro, The Scarlet Pimpernel, The Phantom, The Lone Ranger, The Green Ghost, Captain Midnight, Phileas Fogg, Doc Ardan, Sexton Blake, and Sherlock Holmes. His latest novel is HUNT THE AVENGER which pairs The Avenger and The Domino Lady for a new pulp adventure.

Win is the editor of and a contributor to MYTHS FOR THE MODERN AGE: PHILIP JOSÉ FARMER’S WOLD NEWTON UNIVERSE — a 2007 Locus Awards finalist — and co-editor with Christopher Paul Carey of TALES OF THE WOLD NEWTON UNIVERSE. He was co-editor  with Paul Spiteri of FARMERPHILE from 2007–2009. His massive timeline of crossover stories — CROSSOVERS: A SECRET CHRONOLOGY OF THE WORLD— was published by Black Coat Press in 2010. A tireless chronicler of Philip José Farmer’s idiosyncratic view of a broad shared universe, Eckert has shown remarkable fidelity to Farmer’s vision and serves as an inspiration to the many new pulp writers and pulp fiction scholars who have followed in his wake. Like Farmer, Win is one of the leading “Children of the Pulps.”

Win’s Saturday afternoon reading immediately follows his 1:30 PM book signing. After the author reading, please join Win as he takes part in the panel, Contemporary Pulp: Writing Genre Fiction alongside Will Murray, Christopher Paul Carey, John C. Bruening, Craig McDonald, and moderator William Patrick Maynard. Saturday evening at 7:45 PM, Win joins Christopher Paul Carey, Garyn G. Roberts, Jason Aiken, and moderator Paul Spiteri for FarmerCon XIV: Farmer of the Pulps: A Harvest of Influences.

Next year, Win will contribute TARZAN: BATTLE FOR PELLUCIDAR to the new Edgar Rice Burroughs Universe series of canonical novels coming from Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. He will take part in Friday afternoon’s panel, Entering the Edgar Rice Burroughs Universe with Matt Betts, Heidi Ruby Miller, and moderator Christopher Paul Carey. Win is also working on a third Pat Wildman adventure and completing Philip José Farmer’s manuscript of THE MONSTER ON HOLD, the fourth novel in the Secrets of the Nine series.

Win’s appearance takes the place of the previously announced reading by Christopher Ryan, author of Alex Simmon’s Blackjack and The Mallory and Gunner Series. Chris, unfortunately, had to change his plans at the last minute and will not be able to attend this summer’s convention.

(Win Scott Eckert’s HUNT THE AVENGER was recently released by Moonstone Books. It features cover art by Malcolm McClinton.)

100 Years of “The Curse of Capistrano”

Aug 9, 2019 by

In the early 1800s, California was still under Spanish rule. The peaceful indigenous people were victimized by the corrupt military commanders. One man rose to stand against injustice and the abuse of power. One man stirred the hearts of Californians and gave them the spirit to resist tyranny. That man was the masked avenger known as Zorro!

Zorro was introduced in Johnston McCulley’s novel, “The Curse of Capistrano,” when it was serialized in the pages of ALL-STORY WEEKLY in 1919. The first segment of the five-part serial part serial was dated August 9, one-hundred years ago to this very day.

The success of the serial’s 1920 film adaptation as THE MARK OF ZORRO — starring Douglas Fairbanks — convinced the character’s creator to author further adventures. Over the next forty years, McCulley penned a total of five Zorro novels and nearly 60 short stories featuring the masked avenger. The stories appeared in ARGOSYWEST, and other magazines. In book form, “The Curse of Capistrano” was retitled THE MARK OF ZORRO and sold more than 50 million copies. McCulley’s numerous follow-ups never achieved the same level of success. Most were never collected in book form until the definitive editions published by Bold Venture Press.

In addition to the Johnston McCulley’s stories, Zorro has appeared in over forty film and television adaptations, including Walt Disney’s 1950s TV series starring Guy Williams. The character has also appeared in numerous literary pastiches as well as radio, comic books, newspaper strips, and stage plays.

Being one of the earliest examples of a fictional masked avenger with a double identity, Zorro inspired the creation of several similar characters in pulp magazines and other media. McCulley’s hero is a precursor of the superheroes of American comic books, with Batman drawing particularly close parallels to the character. As such, today’s superheroes are very much “Children of the Pulps.” Join publisher/author and 2019 Munsey Award nominee Rich Harvey of Bold Venture Press on the opening night of PulpFest for a celebration of “A Century of Zorro.”

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. We’ll be celebrating “Children of the Pulps and Other Stories” — focusing on the pulp influences in popular culture — 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. And don’t forget to book a room at the DoubleTree. You can reserve a room by calling 1-800-222-8733. Please be sure to mention PulpFest when placing your reservation in order to receive any convention special deals that may still be available. There is ample free parking surrounding the hotel.

(Created by the prolific pulp writer Johnston McCulley, Zorro debuted in “The Curse of Capistrano,” a five-part serial that ran in the pages of the Munsey magazine, ALL-STORY WEEKLY during the month of August 1919. It will be the centennial of the first Zorro story during this year’s PulpFest.

The cover art featured on the August 9, 1919 issue was painted by P. J. Monahan. A native of Des Moines, Iowa, Monahan moved to Brooklyn in 1907. He became one of New York’s most prolific artists for the first three decades of the twentieth century, creating advertisements, movie posters, commissioned art, and, most of all, pulp magazine illustrations and covers.)

Enter the Edgar Rice Burroughs Universe

Jul 30, 2019 by

A century before the term “crossover” became a buzzword in popular culture, Edgar Rice Burroughs created the first expansive, fully cohesive literary universe. Coexisting in this vast cosmos was a pantheon of immortal heroes and heroines. In Burroughs’ eighty-plus novels, their epic adventures transported them to strange and exotic worlds, the lost civilizations of Earth, and even to realms beyond the farthest star. Now the Edgar Rice Burroughs Universe expands in an all-new series of canonical novels written by today’s talented authors!

Join Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. Director of Publishing Christopher Paul Carey for an exclusive first glimpse at the recently announced Edgar Rice Burroughs Universe series. The series represents the first time ERB, Inc., has declared official canon beyond the classic tales of wonder and imagination penned by Mr. Burroughs. Christopher will discuss the secrets of the newly expanding universe. He will be joined by several critically acclaimed authors who will be writing for the series. These include Matt Betts — who will be writing CARSON OF VENUS: THE EDGE OF ALL WORLDS — and Win Scott Eckert — who will be writing TARZAN: BATTLE FOR PELLUCIDAR. Heidi Ruby Miller — author of AMBASADORA: MARKED BY LIGHT and  MAN OF WAR: A TWO HAWKS ADVENTURE — will also be on hand with a special exclusive announcement.

The “Enter the Edgar Rice Burroughs Universe” PulpFest panel will take place on Friday, August 16, beginning at 2:30 PM. It will take the place of our previously announced “New Fictioneers” reading by Christopher Paul Carey.

(Trademark EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS UNIVERSE™ owned by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. The EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS UNIVERSE™ logo is a trademark of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. Used by permission.)

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.)

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.)

 

 

Author Signings at PulpFest 2019

Jun 17, 2019 by

There will be more than 30 fiction writers attending PulpFest 2019. Most of them will be reading from their work or participating in panels on writing and pulp fiction.

PulpFest 2019 will host nine readings by contemporary authors of genre fiction as part of its long-running New Fictioneers series. You can read about this year’s New Fictioneers readings here and here.

The convention will also host the Raw Dog Screaming Press Rapid-Fire Read & Sweet Sixteen Celebration on Friday and the Dog Star Books Rapid-Fire Read on Saturday. Additionally, PulpFest 2019 will showcase Popular Fiction from Seton Hill prior to the Dog Star event. Join Dog Star Books founder and author Heidi Ruby Miller and three writers from Seton Hill University’s Writing Popular Fiction Master’s Program on Saturday morning, August 17, in the convention’s programming hall.

One of the highlights of Saturday’s programming line-up will be a panel on Contemporary Pulp: Writing Genre Fiction. Fu Manchu continuation author William Patrick Maynard will be joined by Midnight Guardian creator John Bruening; Christopher Paul Carey, Director of Publishing at Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc; Philip José Farmer collaborator Win Scott Eckert; Edgar-nominated author Craig McDonald, creator of the Hector Lassiter historical crime series; and Will Murray, author of “The All-New Wild Adventures of Doc Savage and Tarzan.”

In addition to the previously mentioned, PulpFest 2019 will stage two formal author signing sessions, right outside the entrance to our dealers’ room. The signings will take place from 1:30 to 2:30 PM on both Friday and Saturday afternoons. Our writer guests will also have copies of their recent books available for sale.

Friday afternoon’s signings will feature pulp historian and 2004 recipient of the Lamont award John Locke in advance of his Saturday evening presentation, “Born Writing: The Unparalleled Career of Arthur J. Burks;” pulp’s indefatigable Renaissance man, 1979 Lamont award recipient, and official continuation author of Doc Savage, Tarzan, and The Spider, Will Murray; as well as renowned horror, science fiction, and suspense author and PulpFest 2015 guest of honor, Chet Williamson.

Saturday afternoon’s signings will feature the author of ROD SERLING: HIS LIFE, WORK, AND IMAGINATIONNicholas Parisi following his Friday evening presentation, “The Key of Imagination: THE TWILIGHT ZONE and the Pulps.” Also appearing will be critically acclaimed pop culture historian and 2006 Lamont Award recipient John Wooley of Reverse Karma Press following his Friday evening presentation, “Dashiell Hammett and the Detective Story” and 2019 Munsey Award nominee, Win Scott Eckert who will be signing copies of his new novel, HUNT THE AVENGER.

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.

(This year’s PulpFest will host over thirty writers of contemporary genre fiction. Most of them will be part of the convention’s afternoon programming on Friday, August 16, and Saturday, August 17.

Of particular note will be PulpFest’s first organized book signing event. Our guest authors will be more than happy to sign copies of their books on August 16 and 17, from 1:30 to 2:30 PM. So be sure to bring your copy of MR. CALAMITY, the latest Doc Savage adventure, featuring cover art by Joe DeVito.)

 

Lost John Carradine Fu Manchu Screening at PulpFest

Jun 10, 2019 by

There are a number of Holy Grails that every collector seeks. It is said the quest is more important than the treasure. This is probably because few such treasures are ever discovered. For fans of Sax Rohmer’s Fu Manchu series, one of the most obscure relics is a 1952 pilot film shot for NBC for a FU MANCHU television series starring John Carradine as the Devil Doctor. The pilot was never broadcast. A still has never been published in books or magazines. Many fans dismissed the pilot as nothing more than a rumor — an idea that was never actually filmed.

They were wrong.

William Cameron Menzies, the legendary Hollywood production designer, directed the highly stylized pilot film. It is a surprisingly faithful adaptation of the 1912 Sax Rohmer story that started it all — “The Zayat Kiss.” Cedric Hardwicke plays Nayland Smith, the driven British colonial official obsessed with capturing the elusive criminal mastermind, Dr. Fu Manchu. John Carradine — appropriately menacing as a silhouetted figure behind a screen intoning his commands in an educated hiss that is far removed from the province of yellowface performances — is the most faithful Fu Manchu ever to grace the big or small screen.

Born out of imperialist Britain’s fear of a Yellow Peril emerging from the East, Rohmer ingeniously imbued his fictional villain with greater intelligence and integrity than his Western protagonists.  Rohmer’s initial description of the character in “The Zayat Kiss” is unforgettable and one he would strive to re-create over the years without ever falling into direct imitation:

“Imagine a person, tall, lean, and feline, high-shouldered, with a brow like Shakespeare and a face like Satan, a close-shaven skull, and long, magnetic eyes of the true-cat green. Invest him with all the cruel cunning of an entire Eastern race, accumulated in one giant intellect, with all the resources of science past and present, with all the resources, if you will, of a wealthy government — which, however, already has denied all knowledge of his existence. Imagine that awful being, and you have a mental picture of Dr. Fu-Manchu, the yellow peril incarnate in one man.”

Dr. Fu-Manchu does not even make a physical appearance in the story, yet his presence pervades the atmosphere and hysteria of “The Zayat Kiss.” Set in a mad world filled with conspiracy theories, bizarre assassinations, and death traps, there was no way Rohmer’s story could not have been a smashing success when it debuted in print in October 1912. All of the ingredients were there to build a winning formula.

Thursday night, August 15, PulpFest 2019 will offer the first of three public screenings of a complete and pristine print of Carradine’s legendary lost classic. Also featured will be such rarities as the silent FU MANCHU serials made by Stoll Productions in the 1920s. Alongside the lost NBC pilot, these silent chapters are the most faithful adaptations of Sax Rohmer’s works ever attempted. There will be two encore presentations of the lost pilot on Friday afternoon, August 16, and Saturday night, August 17. The silent rarities screened with it during the encore presentations will be unique to each screening. This will allow repeat attendees to maximize their enjoyment. For reasons of copyright control, no copies can be made, distributed, or sold at these free public exhibitions that are open to any attendee of PulpFest 2019.

Join the licensed continuation author of the Fu Manchu thrillers, William Patrick Maynard, for these three very special screenings at PulpFest 2019. You’ll see John Carradine as Fu Manchu for the first time in 67 years and then enjoy the equally rare treat of seeing Fu Manchu serial chapters made nearly a century ago. You’ll bask in shimmering location footage genuinely shot on the streets and alleyways of London — including Limehouse — as it looked in the years when the names of Sax Rohmer and Fu Manchu were on everyone’s breath.

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. We’ll be celebrating “Children of the Pulps and Other Stories” — focusing on the pulp influences in popular culture — 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.

(THE MYSTERIOUS DR. FU MANCHU — directed by Rowland V. Lee and starring Warner Oland in the title role — was released by Paramount Pictures in 1929. The first talking Fu Manchu movie, it was based on Sax Rohmer’s novel, THE MYSTERY OF DR. FU MANCHU. Set during the Boxer Rebellion in China, Dr. Fu Manchu’s wife and child are killed by foreigners. Enraged, he vows to take his revenge on the British army officers he holds responsible for the killings. The poster advertising the film — one of several — was created by an unknown artist.)

Hollywood Pulp — From Pulp Page to the Silver Screen

Jun 7, 2019 by

Join PulpFest 2019 on Thursday, August 15, as we welcome pulp and film expert Ed Hulse for “Hollywood Pulp — From Pulp Page to the Silver Screen.” Ed will be debuting a book of the same title at our convention. Having spent decades researching the pulp-film nexus, Ed has shared his findings in a comprehensive encyclopedia that covers many hundreds of movies adapted from rough-paper fiction.

The motion-picture industry was still in its infancy when producers began licensing stories from pulp magazines for adaptation to celluloid. As early as 1912 — when movies were still novelties, screened primarily in store-front nickelodeons — recurring characters from the pulps were featured in short-subject series. That year the Edison Company enjoyed great success with THE CHRONICLES OF CLEEK. These monthly one-reel installments starred Ben Wilson as Thomas A. Hanshew’s “Man of Forty Faces,” a character then appearing regularly in the pulp SHORT STORIES.

Edison’s Cleek series was typical film fare of the day. During the silent movie era, a one-reel short yielded 12 to 15 minutes of screen time — just enough to tell a perfunctory story that might consume 5,000 to 10,000 words in prose. Nickelodeons ran “programs” that grouped four or five such films together. They changed their programs three to five times per week.

With filmmakers under constant pressure to satisfy thrill-hungry viewers, there was a huge market for adaptable yarns. Producers obtained stories from pulps and slicks alike. The two magazines most frequently tapped for material during the pre-1920 period were THE SATURDAY EVENING POST and THE ALL-STORY or ALL-STORY WEEKLY. During this period, many top pulp writers saw their rough-paper fiction immortalized on celluloid. This august group included Max Brand, Edgar Rice Burroughs, George Allan England, Zane Grey, James B. Hendryx, Johnston McCulley, Frank L. Packard, Mary Roberts Rinehart, and Perley Poore Sheehan, among others.

By 1920, the motion-picture industry had mushroomed. Lavish downtown “picture palaces” replaced the seedy nickelodeons, and practically every small town in the country boasted its own movie theater. Production, initially based on the East Coast, gravitated to Hollywood. Wall Street began investing in the most profitable studios. Weekly attendance soared to 40 million people and would continue to grow throughout the Roaring Twenties. Melodramas were second only to comedies as the most popular and profitable screen subjects. This meant that westerns, thrillers, and detective stories were in constant demand. Writers specializing in these genres could usually find a producer to license their pulp yarns if they looked hard (or had aggressive literary agents).

The demand for pulp fiction lessened somewhat as “talking pictures” took over the movie business in the late twenties. As the Great Depression began to affect American consumers, Hollywood was hard hit. In order to compete for the dimes and quarters that bought tickets, the studios increasingly adapted famous stage plays and mainstream novels. Such stories were carried by dialogue, rather than the melodramatic action of the sort found in rough-paper magazines. The Thirties still saw a significant number of pulp-based films, but they were increasingly low-budget “B” pictures and serials emanating from the Poverty Row studios.

Prominent pulp characters brought to the silver screen were Tarzan, Zorro, Buck Rogers, Sam Spade, The Shadow, The Spider, Doc Savage, Conan the Barbarian, and John Carter of Mars, to name just a few. But there were many others not easily recognizable to today’s aficionados. Ed will identify many of these in his presentation, which will be accompanied by a selection of rare stills and posters from the films.

A journalist for nearly forty years, Ed Hulse has written or edited many books about vintage motion pictures and their stars, as well as numerous books about pulp fiction. He was the editor and publisher of BLOOD ‘N’ THUNDER, the award-winning journal devoted to the study of adventure, mystery, and melodrama of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

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 convention. Please 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.

(THE MARK OF ZORRO — a 1920 silent — is the first of three adaptations of Johnston McCulley’s novel, “The Curse of Capistrano.” It was serialized in five parts in ALL-STORY WEEKLY, beginning with the August 9, 1919 issue. Starring Douglas Fairbanks as the title character and his alter ego, THE MARK OF ZORRO was the first film to be released by United Artists, the company formed by Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, Charlie Chaplin, and D. W. Griffith. The film’s advertising prominently mentioned ALL-STORY WEEKLY, its pulp source. Our presentation, “Hollywood Pulp — From Pulp Page to the Silver Screen,” will include behind-the-scenes information on the making of this historic film.)  

A Century of Zorro

Jun 5, 2019 by

In the early 1800s, California was still under Spanish rule. The peaceful indigenous people were victimized by the corrupt military commanders. One man rose to stand against injustice and the abuse of power. One man stirred the hearts of Californians and gave them the spirit to resist tyranny. That man was the masked avenger known as Zorro!

Thursday night, August 15, at PulpFest, publisher/author and 2019 Munsey Award nominee Rich Harvey of Bold Venture Press presents “A Century of Zorro,” marking not only the centennial of the legendary pulp character, but also the publication of the first matched set of every original Zorro novel and short story in six attractive volumes from Bold Venture Press.

Zorro was created by pulp writer Johnston McCulley. In the original stories, Zorro has a price on his head, but is too skilled and cunning for the authorities to capture him. Zorro is the secret identity of Don Diego de la Vega, the only son of Don Alejandro de la Vega, a wealthy landowner. He adopted his secret identity after learning California had fallen under the thrall of a ruthless dictator. Diego conceals his identity by posing as a cowardly fop.

Zorro was introduced in McCulley’s novel, “The Curse of Capistrano,” when it was serialized in the pages of ALL-STORY WEEKLY in 1919. The success of its 1920 film adaptation as THE MARK OF ZORRO, starring Douglas Fairbanks, convinced his creator to author further adventures. Over the next forty years, McCulley penned a total of five Zorro novels and nearly 60 short stories featuring the masked avenger. The stories appeared in ARGOSY, WEST, and other magazines. In book form, “The Curse of Capistrano” was retitled THE MARK OF ZORRO and sold more than 50 million copies. McCulley’s numerous follow-ups never achieved the same level of success. Most were never collected in book form until Bold Venture Press’ definitive editions.

Zorro appeared in over 40 film and television adaptations, including Walt Disney’s 1950s TV series starring Guy Williams. The character has appeared in numerous literary pastiches as well as radio, comic books, newspaper strips, and stage plays.

Being one of the earliest examples of a fictional masked avenger with a double identity, Zorro inspired the creation of several similar characters in pulp magazines and other media. McCulley’s hero is a precursor of the superheroes of American comic books, with Batman drawing particularly close parallels to the character. As such, today’s superheroes are very much “Children of the Pulps.” Join Bold Venture Press founder Rich Harvey on the opening night of PulpFest for a celebration of “A Century of Zorro.”

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. We’ll be celebrating “Children of the Pulps and Other Stories” — focusing on the pulp influences in popular culture — 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.

(Created by the prolific pulp writer Johnston McCulley, Zorro debuted in “The Curse of Capistrano,” a five-part serial that ran in the pages of the Munsey magazine, ALL-STORY WEEKLY during the month of August 1919. It will be the centennial of the first Zorro story during this year’s PulpFest.

The cover art featured on the August 9, 1919 issue was painted by P. J. Monahan. A native of Des Moines, Iowa, Monahan moved to Brooklyn in 1907. He became one of New York’s most prolific artists for the first three decades of the twentieth century, creating advertisements, movie posters, commissioned art, and, most of all, pulp magazine illustrations and covers.

Along with Bob Fujitani, Bob Correa and Alberto Giolitti, the late pulp artist Everett Raymond Kinstler created the interior pencils and inks for the Zorro stories featured in Dell’s FOUR COLOR COMICS series. Kinstler drew issue numbers 497 — featuring “The Sword of Zorro,” with the cover painted by an unknown artist — 538, and 574. Born in 1942, Kinstler was a freelance artist for the pulp, slick, comic book, and paperback industry before turning to portraiture during the 1950s.)

The Key of Imagination: Pulp Television

Jun 3, 2019 by

 

There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call the Twilight Zone.

 

Sixty Years of THE TWILIGHT ZONE

 

Rod Serling’s THE TWILIGHT ZONE ran on CBS from 1959 to 1964. It remains in syndication to this very day. A new version of the series — narrated by filmmaker Jordan Peele — premiered on CBS All Access on April 1, 2019. Sixty years after its original debut, Rod Serling’s remarkable creation is still very much embedded in the public consciousness.

The creator of THE TWILIGHT ZONE was born on December 25, 1924 in Syracuse, New York. His brother, the late novelist and aviation writer Robert Serling, said: “We were fairly close as kids and we played together a hell of a lot, despite the seven-year difference. The two of us used to read AMAZING STORIES, ASTOUNDING STORIES, WEIRD TALES — all of the pulps. If we saw a movie together, we’d come home and act it out, just for the two of us.”

After serving in World War II as an army paratrooper, Rod Serling entered Antioch College in Ohio. He majored in language and literature and became involved in the college’s radio programming. While still in college, he began to sell his radio and television scripts. Long an admirer of Norman Corwin — a writer and producer who used entertainment to explore social issues — Serling complained that he was “. . . bitter about everything and at loose ends.” He began writing “. . . to get it off my chest.”

Rod Serling’s big break came in 1955 when KRAFT TELEVISION THEATER produced his drama, “Patterns.” It won the writer the first of his six Emmy awards. Serling’s “Requiem for a Heavyweight,” written for PLAYHOUSE 90, won him another Emmy in 1956. “The Comedian,” starring Mickey Rooney, won Serling a third Emmy  in 1958.

At the top of the entertainment world, but still dissatisfied, Rod Serling began to search for a new way to get things off his chest. He had previously written science fiction and fantasy while working for THE STORM, a television series that aired live in the Cincinnati area. He had also attempted to sell a few science fiction scripts to the ABC series, TALES OF TOMORROW. However, having written no published science fiction or fantasy and — according to author Ray Bradbury — knowing little about the field, Serling turned these genres for his first television series. In a 1963 interview published in the first issue of GAMMA, Rod Serling explained:

“Because I loved this area of imaginative storytelling — and because there had never been a TV series like it. The strength of TWILIGHT ZONE is that through parables, through placing a social problem or controversial theme against a fantasy background you can make a point which, if more blatantly stated in a realistic frame, wouldn’t be acceptable. Because of this from time to time, we’ve been able to make some pertinent social comments on conformity, on prejudice, on political ideologies, without sponsor interference. It offered a whole new outlet, a new approach.”

Although he wrote or adapted nearly sixty percent of the series’ 156 total episodes, Rod Serling also employed writers Ray Bradbury, Earl Hamner, Jr., Jerry Sohl, and his “three writing gremlins,” Charles Beaumont, George Clayton Johnson, and Richard Matheson, for the series. Most were actively writing science fiction or fantasy for the magazines of the day.

Join PulpFest 2019 on Friday, August 16, as we welcome Nicholas Parisi for “The Key of Imagination: THE TWILIGHT ZONE and the Pulps.” He will be discussing the creation and history of Rod Serling’s fantastic program and its relationship to the science fiction and fantasy pulps and digests. A former staff writer and editor for GOOD TIMES magazine, Nicholas is the author of ROD SERLING: HIS LIFE, WORK, AND IMAGINATION.

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.

You unlock this door with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension — a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind. You’re moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas. You’ve just crossed over into the Twilight Zone.

(Rod Serling was interviewed for the first issue of GAMMA, a short-lived science fiction magazine that debuted in 1963. In addition to the Serling interview, five authors who wrote for THE TWILIGHT ZONE also had stories in the issue — Charles Beaumont, Ray Bradbury, George Clayton Johnson, Richard Matheson, and John Tomerlin. The cover painting for GAMMA #1 was by Morris Scott Dollens, an artist who got his start in the science fiction fanzines of the late 1930s.)

Two Sought Adventure

May 31, 2019 by

Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser faced each other across the two thieves sprawled senseless. They were poised for attack, yet for the moment neither moved.

Each discerned something inexplicably familiar in the other.

Fafhrd said, “Our motives for being here seem identical.”

“Seem? Surely must be!” the Mouser answered curtly, fiercely eyeing this potential new foe, who was taller by a head than the tall thief.

“You said?”

“I said, ‘Seem? Surely must be!”

“How civilized of you!” Fafhrd commented in pleased tones.

“Civilized?” the Mouser demanded suspiciously, gripping his dirk tighter.

“To care, in the eye of action, exactly what’s said,” Fafhrd explained. Without letting the Mouser out of his vision, he glanced down. His gaze traveled from the belt and pouch of one fallen thief to those of the other. Then he looked up at the Mouser with a broad, ingenous smile.

“Sixty, sixty?” he suggested.

The Mouser hesitated, sheathed his dirk, and rapped out, “A deal!”

 

Eighty Years of Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser

 

Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser first met in the story, “Ill Met in Lankhmar,” published in the April 1970 issue of THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION. Fritz Leiber’s story won both the 1970 Nebula and 1971 Hugo awards in the novella category. However, the characters had been created decades earlier, in a 1934 letter that the beginning author received from his friend, Harry Otto Fischer:

“For all do fear the one known as the Gray Mouser. He walks with a swagger ‘mongst the bravos, though he’s but the stature of a child. His costume is all of gray, from gauntlets to boots and spurs of steel.”

 

Of Fafhrd he wrote that he laughed merrily and was “full seven feet in height. His eyes wide-set, were proud and of fearless mien. His wrist between gauntlet and mail was white as milk and thick as a hero’s ankle.”

 

They met “in the walled city of the Tuatha De Danann called Lankhmar, built on the edge of the Great Salt Marsh . . . and so the saga of the Gray Mouser and Fafhrd was begun.”

After further correspondence with his friend, Fritz Leiber began working on a novella, finishing it in early 1936. It was rejected by Farnsworth Wright of WEIRD TALES as being too full of “stylistic novelties.” Following several revisions, the author showed his manuscript to H. P. Lovecraft, who wrote:

“There will shortly be circulated among the gang . . . a remarkable unpublished novelette by young Leiber — “Adept’s Gambit,” rejected by Wright and now under revision according to my suggestions. It is a brilliant piece of fantastic imagination — with suggestions of Cabell, Beckford, Dunsany, and even Two-Gun Bob — and ought to see publication some day.”

Although the initial tale of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser would not be published until 1947 in NIGHT’S BLACK AGENTS, pulp readers would be introduced to the characters in the August 1939 UNKNOWN. Beginning with “Two Sought Adventure,” the Street & Smith pulp would publish five of Leiber’s tales of the two adventurers. In later years, the stories would be featured in COSMOS SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY MAGAZINE, DRAGON, THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION, OTHER WORLDS, SUSPENSE MAGAZINE, WHISPERS, and, most importantly, FANTASTIC and Donald Wollheim’s Ace Books.

“Two comrades to the death and black comedians for all eternity, lusty, brawling, wine-bibbing, imaginative, romantic, earthy, thievish, sardonic, humorous, forever seeking adventure across the wide world, fated forever to encounter the most deadly of enemies, the most fell of foes, the most delectable of girls, and the most dire of sorcerers and supernatural beasts and other personages.”

Join PulpFest 2019 on Thursday, August 15, as we welcome fantasy and horror writer Jason Scott Aiken and sword and sorcery expert Morgan Holmes, for “Two Sought Adventure — Eighty Years of Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd & the Gray Mouser.” Dr. Holmes is the former official editor of the Robert E. Howard United Press Association and was nominated for a Hugo award in 2016 as Best Fan Writer.

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.

 

(Although the Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser series began in the pulp UNKNOWN, it was Cele Goldsmith of FANTASTIC who took a gamble and commissioned Fritz Leiber to author a new series of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser stories. The first of these was “Lean Times in Lankhmar,” published in the November 1959 issue. FANTASTIC would run eleven tales featuring Leiber’s two comrades, concluding with “Under the Thumbs of the Gods,” published in the April 1975 number, featuring front cover art by Stephen E. Fabian.

Around 1967, Donald A. Wollheim asked Leiber to put the Fafhrd and Gray Mouser tales “into chronological order and write new ones to fill in the gaps.” The result was a series of six paperbacks, beginning with SWORDS AND DEVILTRY — with cover art by Jeffrey Catherine Jones — first published by Ace Books in 1970.

A seventh book of stories — THE KNIGHT AND KNAVE OF SWORDS — was published in 1988 by William Morrow and Company.)

Robert H. Davis — The Grandfather of Science Fiction

May 29, 2019 by

Born in Nebraska on March 23, 1869, Robert Hobart Davis has been called the greatest editor of the pulp era. 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 Munsey added more magazines to his stable, he turned them over to Davis. THE ALL-STORY MAGAZINE, THE CAVALIER, RAILROAD MAN’S MAGAZINE, THE SCRAP BOOK, and others were edited by Bob Davis.

Sam Hellman — a Davis protégé — 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.”

Bob Davis was 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,” according to Richard Cary. He also signed O. Henry to a long-term contract — giving Munsey first look at the author’s works — and acquired the rights to Joseph Conrad’s last major work, “Victory.”

Science fiction and fantasy also owe a great deal to Robert H. Davis. He was a major force in their development during the early years of the twentieth century. Using the scientific romances of Edgar Rice Burroughs as a template, Davis inspired a style of fiction for the Munsey stable of magazines. He called this style the “different” story. The Munsey editor discovered or cultivated the talents of Ray Cummings, George Allan England, Philip M. Fisher, Homer Eon Flint, J. U. Giesy, Austin Hall, Murray Leinster, A. Merritt, Todd Robbins, Victor Rousseau, Garrett P. Serviss, Perley Poore Sheehan, Francis Stevens, and Charles B. Stilson. Robert H. Davis can very well be thought of as “The Grandfather of Science Fiction.”

Join PulpFest 2019 on Thursday evening, August 15, as we welcome Gene Christie for a look at the life of Bob Davis and his importance to the development of science fiction and fantasy.

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. 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.

(Although he cultivated a school of writers to create “pseudoscientific” or “different” stories for the Munsey chain of magazines, Robert H. Davis also turned to Edgar Rice Burroughs for many such works. One was “Thuvia, Maid of Mars.” It was serialized in three parts, beginning with the April 8, 1916 issue of ALL-STORY WEEKLY, featuring cover art by P. J. Monahan.

Gene Christie will explore the life and influence of “The Grandfather of Science Fiction” at PulpFest 2019. A longtime pulp collector and scholar, Gene has edited over a dozen anthologies for various publishers. THE CRIME MAGNET: THE ADVENTURES OF MAJOR BERNARD DE TREVILLE, THE MAN WHO FOUND ZERO: EARLY SCIENCE FICTION AND WEIRD FANTASY FROM THE BLACK CAT, THE PEOPLE OF THE PIT AND OTHER EARLY HORRORS FROM THE MUNSEY PULPS, THE SPACE ANNIHILATOR: EARLY SCIENCE FICTION FROM THE ARGOSY, and THE THING FROM — OUTSIDE are just a few of Gene’s books.)

Dashiell Hammett and the Detective Story

May 27, 2019 by

Dashiell Hammett was born on May 27, 1894, making Memorial Day 2019 the 125th anniversary of his birth. Hammett was not the first pulp author to write hardboiled detective fiction, but he was the most influential. His was an original voice, steeped in cynicism bred by first-hand experience as a former Pinkerton Op. His stories and novels transcend their humble origins and are recognized as literature today. Hammett’s fiction and characters have left an indelible mark on popular culture nearly a century after he first appeared in the pages of SMART SET and BLACK MASK.

Friday night, August 16, at PulpFest 2019, critically acclaimed pop culture historian and 2006 Lamont Award recipient John Wooley of Reverse Karma Press presents “Dashiell Hammett and the Detective Story,” ably assisted with visual support from ADVENTURE HOUSE publisher and editor John Gunnison. Please join us for what is sure to be one of the highlights of this year’s convention.

While legendary Hammett characters such as The Continental Op, Sam Spade, Nick & Nora Charles, and Ned Beaumont started in the pulps (and slicks), they reached an even wider audience in film, radio, and television. Humphrey Bogart, the team of William Powell and Myrna Loy, and George Raft brought  Spade, Nick & Nora, and Ned Beaumont to the silver screen before being succeeded, respectively, by Howard Duff on radio, the team of Peter Lawford and Phyllis Kirk on television, and Alan Ladd in the silver screen remake of THE GLASS KEY. The nameless Continental Op was less faithfully transferred in ersatz adaptations for radio and a spin-off film version as Brad Runyon (rather than Casper Gutman) in THE FAT MAN, and 25 years later in a television mini-series with James Coburn as Hamilton Nash in THE DAIN CURSE. Less memorable variations of these properties preceded and followed these notable versions. Despite the undeniable charm of Nick and Nora on big and small screen and Bogart’s career-defining portrayal of Sam Spade in John Huston’s classic film version of THE MALTESE FALCON, no Hammett adaptation has remained entirely faithful to the written word or matched the depth and flawed moral complexities displayed by Hammett’s characters on the printed page.

The shining light of the BLACK MASK school of detective fiction left behind another legacy, albeit one that is less celebrated 85 years later. Alongside FLASH GORDON creator Alex Raymond, Hammett launched SECRET AGENT X-9 in 1934. The newspaper strip was enormously successful in its day spawning not one, but two Saturday matinee movie serials from Universal Pictures in the 1930s and 1940s. The newspaper strip continued for many decades, crossing over into comic books as well, and eventually becoming SECRET AGENT CORRIGAN. 

Hammett’s background as a Pinkerton man infused his detective stories with a realism few other writers could match. An unfaithful husband and an often absent father, he was a flawed man. His literary output teetered on the precipice as he debated deserting his wife and family. Like Sam Spade in the closing chapter of THE MALTESE FALCON, Hammett faced the consequences of his actions and, in the process, forever extinguished the spark of moral turpitude that lit his creative flames. Twenty years later, he teetered on the moral brink a second time when he struggled with what freedom really meant as an American citizen. His guilt over his violent past as a literal Union strikebreaker fueled his defense of workers’ rights late in life. He tried to make a better choice and was condemned in his own era for resolving to stick to his values once he recognized the wages of sin. A veteran of both World Wars, he served time in a state penitentiary for defending civil rights against the House Un-American Activities Committee. He was released from prison a broken man and died of the tuberculosis that had plagued him since the First World War.

Join John Wooley and John Gunnison at PulpFest 2019 for a celebration of the life and work of the single greatest writer of hardboiled detective fiction, the pulp writer who has achieved the greatest literary acclaim, and a man whose work is still justly celebrated for being as vital and influential today as it was when he typed his first story nearly a century ago.

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. We’ll be celebrating “Children of the Pulps and Other Stories” — focusing on the pulp influences in popular culture — 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.

(H. C. Murphy painted the initial cover for Dashiell Hammett’s five-part serial, “The Maltese Falcon.” It was originally published in the September 1929 through January 1930 issues of BLACK MASK. The story introduced the iconic private detective, Sam Spade.

THE ADVENTURES OF SAM SPADE was a radio series based loosely on Dashiell Hammett’s morally complex private eye, Sam Spade. The show ran for 13 episodes on ABC in 1946, for 157 episodes on CBS in 1946-1949, and finally for 51 episodes on NBC in 1949-1951. It starred Howard Duff as Sam Spade and Lurene Tuttle as his secretary Effie. The series was produced and directed by William Spier and sponsored by Wildroot Cream Oil Hair Tonic.)

 

Born Writing: The Unparalleled Career of Arthur J. Burks

May 24, 2019 by

Pulp writer Arthur J. Burks was fated to be better known for the quantity of his output than the quality of his fiction. A familiar name on many pulp covers, he was a highly effective storyteller who authored approximately 800 stories. On Saturday, August 17, at Pulpfest 2019, the 2004 recipient of the Lamont award, pulp authority John Locke will host a presentation, “Born Writing: The Unparalleled Career of Arthur J. Burks.” We’re all familiar with the amazing million-word-a-year men of the pulps. This talk will focus on how Burks became one of them.

Burks was born to a farming family in Washington state on September 13, 1898. During World War I, he enlisted in the Marine Corps as a private; after rejoining the Corps during World War II, he retired a Lieutenant Colonel. His real passion, though, was writing. While stationed in the Dominican Republic from 1921-24, he witnessed strange things which gave him material for his first professional sales, to a new magazine, WEIRD TALES. In the 1930s, his work seemed to be everywhere. He wrote countless adventure, aviation, boxing, detective, and weird menace tales for AIR STORIES, ASTOUNDING STORIES, FIGHT STORIES, GANGSTER STORIES, MARVEL SCIENCE STORIES, POPULAR DETECTIVE, SKY FIGHTERS, SPORT STORY MAGAZINE, STRANGE TALESTERROR TALES, THRILLING ADVENTURES, THRILLING WONDER STORIES, UNKNOWN, and many others. Burks’ series characters include deaf detective Ewart D’Strange, flyer The Winged Cavalier, New York Chinatown detective Dorus Noel, and gangland boxer Kid Friel.

His friendship with L. Ron Hubbard in the 1930s triggered Burks’s interest in the paranormal and metaphysics. By the 1960s, he was a popular fixture on the lecture circuit, sharing his knowledge with the curious and skeptical alike. Much of Burks’ fantasy fiction centers on the metaphysical. One of his best known works (and one of the few to be published in book form), THE GREAT MIRROR (1942), concerns Martian technology utilized by Tibetan monks to foster ESP and matter transmission.

A writer to the very end, Burks died at age 75 on May 13, 1974.

We hope you’ll join pulp historian John Locke — the world’s foremost Burkologist — at PulpFest 2019 for this very special hour-long presentation on the career of the highly prolific and vastly underappreciated Arthur J. Burks.

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. We’ll be celebrating “Children of the Pulps and Other Stories” — focusing on the pulp influences in popular culture — 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.

(Arthur J. Burks was a prolific and successful pulp writer who usually wrote over one million words per year. He wrote hundreds of stories for the adventure, aviation, detective, fantasy, science fiction, sports, war, and weird menace pulps.

Burks wrote fourteen stories for ASTOUNDING STORIES and its later incarnation, ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION. Most of these tales were of novella or longer length. “The Mind Master” — a two-part serial featured in the January (with cover art by H. W. Wessolowski) and February 1932 issues — concerns a mad scientist who replaces the brains of several apes with human brains. It’s part of a short series that Burks began in 1931 with the story, “Manape the Mighty.”)

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The Game’s Afoot!

May 22, 2019 by

Sherlock Holmes and the Pulps

Today marks the 160th anniversary of the birth of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Although best known as the creator of Sherlock Holmes, the author preferred the historical fiction that he wrote. THE WHITE COMPANY was his favorite among Conan Doyle’s many works. He was extremely prolific.

Conan Doyle began to write while a medical student. His first sale, “The Mystery of Sasassa Valley,” was published when he was twenty. However, countless rejections, low word rates, and lack of author credit, were leading nowhere.

Shortly after graduating from medical school, Conan Doyle married Louisa Hawkins. Armed with his wife’s small estate and encouragement, the author continued to write.

While trying to sell an early novel, Conan Doyle began a new one. It featured a character modeled after C. Auguste Dupin — Edgar Allan Poe’s amateur detective — and Dr. Joseph Bell, one of the author’s medical school instructors. Dr. Bell taught that keen observation and logic were paramount in the diagnosis of disease. Following several rejections, Conan Doyle sold “A Study in Scarlet.” It was published in the November 1887 number of BEETON’S CHRISTMAS ANNUAL. A hardbound book followed.

Although preferring to write historical fiction, Conan Doyle began to notice that readers wanted to learn more about his protagonists from “A Study in Scarlet.” After contracting to provide a forty-thousand word novel to LIPPINCOTT’S MONTHLY MAGAZINE, he obliged his readers. “The Sign of the Four” appeared in the February 1890 number of the magazine. It was not long before the author would return with more stories of Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson.

Looking for a way to efficiently exploit the growing market of monthly magazines, Conan Doyle decided to offer more of Holmes and Watson. In the summer of 1891, “A Scandal in Bohemia” appeared in THE STRAND MAGAZINE. It would be followed by eleven more tales, one per month for the next year. In writing the stories that became THE ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES, Conan Doyle created the first short story series. In the years to follow, his idea would be imitated across the globe. It resounds to our very day in series television and throughout popular culture.

Please join PulpFest 2019 on Friday, August 16, for “The Game’s Afoot: Sherlock Holmes and the Pulps.” Our presentation will begin at 7:55 in the programming area at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Cranberry. It will feature George Vanderburgh, who has published over 600 books, including many volumes of Sherlockian scholarship. His Battered Silicon Dispatch Box has also published many pulp-related volumes and numerous collections of early detective fiction. George also served as the co-editor of Arkham House Publishers until the death of April Derleth.

Joining George will be Garyn G. Roberts, a professor of English and popular culture who has written extensively about the pulps, both professionally and as a fan. Garyn has also edited or co-edited some of the best collections of fiction from the pulps. He is the author/editor of the award-winning THE PRENTICE HALL ANTHOLOGY OF SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY. In 2013, Garyn was presented with the Munsey Award to honor his many contributions to the pulp community. He was also a Mystery Writers of America Edgar Award Finalist for DICK TRACY AND AMERICAN CULTURE in 1994.

Garyn and George will be discussing Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his creations as well as their vital importance to the evolution of popular culture for over 100 years. Please join them at PulpFest 2019, taking place from Thursday evening, August 15, through Sunday afternoon, August 18, in Mars, Pennsylvania.

(Almost ten years after killing Holmes off at the Reichenbach Falls, Conan Doyle brought his character back in “The Adventure of the Empty House.” The story would appear first in the September 26, 1903 number of COLLIER’S, featuring a cover illustration by Frederic Dorr Steele.)

The Secret Life of Women Pulp Artists

May 20, 2019 by

The sensational pulp magazines were illustrated by many legendary artists with colorful personalities. They often competed for free-lance assignments. Among the ranks of this pecking order there were exceptional women, such as Constance Bailey, Margaret Brundage, Dorothy Flack, Madge Geyer, Thelma Gooch, Alice Kirkpatrick, Zoe Mozert, Margery Stocking, Gloria Stoll Karn, Xena Wright, and Irene Zimmerman. These women defied social norms and pursued their own art careers in the male-dominated world of publishing.

Please join PulpFest 2019 on Friday, August 16, as we learn all about “The Secret Life of Women Pulp Artists.” Pulp art historian, David Saunders, will share biographical profiles of these cultural pioneers who worked beyond glass ceilings.

David Saunders is the son of pulp artist Norman Saunders, and is also a foremost scholar of American illustration art. His free public website, Field Guide to Wild American Pulp Artists, has over five-hundred biographical profiles of artists.He has also written artist biographies for ILLUSTRATION MAGAZINE and several coffee-table books on pulp artists. To find out more, visit theillustratedpress.com. A New York artist, David’s own artworks have been exhibited worldwide and are collected by the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Additionally, David is the creator of the Munsey Award.

This year’s PulpFest 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. 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.

(Irene Zimmerman — who used the pen-name Irene Endris — started her commercial art career during the 1920’s in newspapers and THE GOLDEN BOOK MAGAZINE. During the thirties, she began to draw pen and ink interior illustrations for Harry Donenfeld’s spicy pulp magazines. Zimmerman also painted covers for CRACK DETECTIVE, SPEED DETECTIVE, TEN DETECTIVE ACES — including the August 1946 number — and LIBERTY MAGAZINE.

Another woman pulp artist who David will discuss is Pittsburgh resident Gloria Stoll Karn.  The city’s public television station, WQED, recently released a documentary about five visual artists from Western Pennsylvania. Gloria Stoll Karn is one of the artists featured, sharing her work and stories about the rewards and challenges of being a woman in her field.

Entitled VISIBLE, the WQED documentary also features author and PulpFest member Heidi Ruby Miller. You’ll find a link to Gloria’s segment here and to the entire documentary here. PulpFest would like to thank the film’s producers, Anne Casper and Andrew Holman, for the opportunity to contribute to this wonderful project.)

 

Farmer of the Pulps: A Harvest of Influences

May 17, 2019 by

Philip José Farmer is arguably the most influential pulp figure to emerge since the Golden Age. His Wold Newton family of crossover fiction provides the pulp equivalent of the Sherlockian Great Game for its many followers; continues to inspire sectarian groups who form their own variations of crossover chronologies; confounds or infuriates the most ardent canonical purists; and enriches the pulp community as a whole through the peerless research and scholarship into pulp history undertaken in its wake. Since 2011, PulpFest has partnered with FarmerCon to bring pulp fans the biggest and best pulp con in the East while hosting an annual gathering for Wold Newtonians to celebrate our shared literary family tree.

On Saturday, August 17, FarmerCon XIV showcases a panel discussion, “Farmer of the Pulps: A Harvest of Influences” moderated by Paul Spiteri (co-editor of FARMERPHILE magazine and editor of the anthology, PEARLS OF PEORIA). The panel will explore the pulp origins and influences on some of Philip José Farmer’s most notable characters. It will also delve into Phil’s unique take on classic pulp characters in his writings, and the care and research he took to ensure they were treated with the reverence they deserved. Joining Paul on this panel will be a trio of distinguished and erudite pulp scholars.

Garyn G. Roberts, Ph.D. has written extensively about the pulps, both professionally and as a fan. He has edited or co-edited some of the best collections from the pulps including A CENT A STORY: THE BEST FROM TEN DETECTIVE ACES, MORE TALES OF THE DEFECTIVE DETECTIVE IN THE PULPS, THE COMPLEAT ADVENTURES OF THE MOON MAN, THE MAGICAL MYSTERIES OF DON DIAVOLO, and THE COMPLEAT GREAT MERLINI SAGA. His THE PRENTICE HALL ANTHOLOGY OF SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY, a university-level textbook, is notable for the attention paid to the pulp magazines. Professor Roberts was presented with the Munsey Award in 2013 to honor his many contributions to the pulp community.

Recently named the Director of Publishing for Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc., Christopher Paul Carey is also among the most accomplished of the stable of licensed authors in THE WILD ADVENTURES OF EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS series. He is also the authorized continuation chronicler of Philip José Farmer’s KHOKARSA series that bridges the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs and H. Rider Haggard. Carey has authored the novels SWORDS AGAINST THE MOON MEN, BLOOD OF ANCIENT OPAR, HADON — KING OF OPAR, EXILES OF KHO, and THE SONG OF KWASIN. He is also a seasoned editor, comic book writer, essayist, and author of short fiction.

Fantasy and horror writer Jason Scott Aiken is also the host and producer of “Pulp Crazy,” a video podcast devoted to pulp magazines since its inception in 2013. Jason has used this forum to provide overviews of pulp characters and authors, delve into the many pulp genres, and review pulp stories and novels. Jason has also provided audio recordings from PulpFest, with particular coverage of FarmerCon.

Additionally, FarmerCon XIV will see the debut of Meteor House’s latest fantastic collection of stories by Philip José Farmer! GREATHEART SILVER AND OTHER PULP HEROES collects for the first time in hardcover the stories Phil wrote in the 1970s to pay tribute to the pulps he first devoured in his youth.  The volume also features an introduction by pulp historian and panel member, Garyn G. Roberts, Ph.D. The collection gathers rare material that originally appeared in Byron Preiss’ WEIRD HEROES and in the THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY & SCIENCE FICTION.

GREATHEART SILVER AND OTHER PULP HEROES will debut at FarmerCon XIV, but can be pre-ordered now. Meteor House is offering an “Early Bird Special” discount for this fascinating collection of Farmer paying homage to his literary heroes.

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.

(Philip José Farmer was a child of the pulps. Born in 1918, the Science Fiction Grand Master grew up with the pulps. He particularly favored Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan of the Apes. Running a close second was Lester Dent’s Doc Savage.

Farmer’s “biography” of Clark Savage, Jr. — DOC SAVAGE: HIS APOCALYPTIC LIFE — was released by Doubleday in 1973. It featured dust jacket art by Walter Baumhofer, excerpted from the April 1935 issue of Street & Smith’s DOC SAVAGE MAGAZINE.)

ARGOSY, ADVENTURE & BLUE BOOK — The Men’s Adventure Pulps

May 15, 2019 by

ARGOSY . . . ADVENTURE . . . BLUE BOOK . . . when it comes to pulps, these three magazines were the “aristocrats.”

THE ARGOSY was the first pulp magazine, having been converted to an all-fiction magazine with its October 1896 issue. Two months later, publisher Frank Munsey began to print it on wood-pulp paper. The rough-paper fiction magazine — or pulp  — was born.

When THE ARGOSY celebrated its 25th anniversary in 1907, its circulation had reached a half million copies. Given its success, THE ARGOSY was bound to attract imitators. Street & Smith, longtime publisher of dime novels and story papers, was first to meet the call. It debuted THE POPULAR MAGAZINE in late 1903. Munsey countered in 1904 with its second pulp, THE ALL-STORY. One year later, the Story-Press Corporation introduced THE MONTHLY STORY MAGAZINE. Not long thereafter, it became THE MONTHLY STORY BLUE BOOK MAGAZINE. In late 1910, the Ridgway Company introduced the pulp known as ADVENTURE.

These five periodicals —  along with SHORT STORIES — led the pulp magazine industry for decades, publishing some of the field’s best writers: H Bedford-Jones, Max Brand, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Agatha Christie, Zane Grey, H. Rider Haggard, James B. Hendryx, Harold Lamb, A. Merritt, Clarence Mulford, Talbot Mundy, E. Phillips Oppenheim, Sax Rohmer, Rafael Sabatini, Edgar Wallace, and others. They also introduced the world to Tarzan, Zorro, Barsoom, Hopalong Cassidy, Captain Blood, and Pellucidar.

The stresses of World War II — the loss of writers and artists to the war effort, paper shortages, declining readerships, changing tastes — generated a slow but steady metamorphosis of the “aristocrats.” ARGOSY was the first to change.

In 1943, ARGOSY was converted to a bedsheet, semi-slick magazine. Although fiction stories by top pulp writers remained a mainstay of the magazine, true war stories became more common, as did other true or fact-based stories. In the early fifties, ADVENTURE and BLUE BOOK followed suit.

With the contraction of the pulp industry during the 1950’s, men’s adventure magazines began to take off. The successful transformations of ARGOSY, ADVENTURE, and BLUEBOOK (as it was renamed in 1952) brought about a significant increase of men’s adventure magazine titles. Although many were short-lived, more than 150 men’s adventure magazines were launched during the decade, thanks to the three “aristocrats.”

Join PulpFest 2019 on Friday, August 16, as we welcome Bob Deis and Wyatt Doyle for “ARGOSYADVENTURE and BLUE BOOK — Men’s Adventure Pulps,” a look at the metamorphosis of these “pulp giants” into men’s adventure magazines.

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. 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.

(Bob Deis has worked as a teacher, an artist, a musician, a logger, a magazine writer, and a state government bureaucrat. By accident, he fell into a lengthy career as a political consultant. Now retired, Bob spends much of his time collecting, writing, and publishing books about the men’s adventure magazines, including the November 1957 issue of ADVENTURE, featuring cover art by Mort Künstler (as Emmett Kaye) and the May 1954 issue of BLUEBOOK, featuring cover art by John Walter. In 2009, Bob created the popular website about the genre, MensPulpMags.com. Several years later he became friends with another fan of the men’s adventure genre, writer and publisher Wyatt Doyle, co-founder of the New Texture imprint.

Together, Bob and Wyatt co-edit and publish the Men’s Adventure Library series of books that collect classic stories and artwork from the men’s adventure magazines. Their books include WEASELS RIPPED MY FLESH!, HE-MEN, BAG MEN, & NYMPHOS, CRYPTOZOOLOGY ANTHOLOGY, A HANDFUL OF HELL, BARBARIANS ON BIKES, I WATCHED THEM EAT ME ALIVE, POLLEN’S ACTION: THE ART OF SAMSON POLLEN, and POLLEN’S WOMEN: THE ART OF SAMSON POLLEN.)