A Century Ago in a Galaxy Called California

Dec 14, 2015 by

Pardon the play on words in the title, but it was hard to resist with the seventh STAR WARS movie, THE FORCE AWAKENS, premiering in theaters across the world at the end of this week. But why write about STAR WARS on a website devoted to PulpFest, Summer’s AMAZING Pulp Con?

Two words: Leigh Brackett. Four more words: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. Considered by many to be the best of the STAR WARS films, the original treatment for the fifth episode of George Lucas’ series was written by Leigh Brackett. Shortly after delivering her untitled screenplay to Twentieth Century Fox, the so-called “Queen of the Space Opera” passed away. THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK went on to become one of the highest grossing films of all time, and in 1981, received a Hugo Award for best dramatic presentation.

Born one-hundred years ago on December 7, 1915, Leigh Brackett was the wife of author Edmond Hamilton. Together, they were two of the many writers who helped to popularize the so-called “space operas” of the pulp magazines. Ed started first as the leading contributor of science fiction to WEIRD TALES during the 1920s. With stories about alien invasions, space police, and evolution gone wild, the author became known as “world-wrecker” Hamilton. In later years, he was asked by Standard Magazines’ Leo Margulies to work up something involving a “Mr. Future, Wizard of Science.” Eventually, the character evolved into Captain Future, a super-scientist headquartered on the Moon. In each issue of the pulp, Hamilton’s hero and his faithful assistants — known as the Futuremen — would save the solar system and, in later issues, the universe. When Mort Weisinger began working for DC Comics in 1941, he turned to Standard’s leading writers of science fiction — including Hamilton — to write the adventures of Superman and other comic book heroes.

Leigh Brackett came later to the pulps, selling her first story to ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION in late 1939. The bulk of her science fiction appeared in Fiction House’s PLANET STORIES and Standard’s THRILLING WONDER STORIES and STARTLING STORIES. A native of southern California, she began collaborating on screenplays during the middle forties. Supposedly, Hollywood film director Howard Hawks was so impressed by her crime novel NO GOOD FROM A CORPSE that he had his secretary call in “this guy Brackett” to help William Faulkner write the script for THE BIG SLEEP. Released in 1946 and starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, it is considered a classic of film noir. During the fifties and sixties, Brackett, Hawks, and actor John Wayne collaborated on several motion pictures, included RIO BRAVO, HATARI, EL DORADO, and RIO LOBO. Leigh Brackett died in 1978.

In 1972, Brackett and Hamilton served as the guests of honor at the first Pulpcon, the forerunner to PulpFest. Years later in 2009, the town of Kinsman, Ohio — where Brackett and Hamilton lived after they had married — began celebrating this famed couple of pulp history. The celebration evolved into KinCon, a convention exploring the worlds of Edmond Hamilton and Leigh Brackett. Although the event is currently on hiatus, KinCon continues to celebrate these two exceptional pulp fictioneers through its website on Facebook.

Like KinCon, PulpFest seeks to draw attention to the profound effect that the pulps had on American popular culture, reverberating through a wide variety of media — comic books, movies, paperbacks and genre fiction, television, men’s adventure magazines, radio drama, and even video and role-playing games. Planned as the summertime destination for fans and collectors of vintage popular fiction and related materials, PulpFest honors pulp fiction and pulp art by drawing attention to the many ways the magazines and their creators — people like Leigh Brackett and Edmond Hamilton — have inspired writers, artists, film directors, software developers, game designers, and other creators over the decades.

Join PulpFest 2016 to be part of this great celebration of American popular culture. Start making your plans right now to join the 45th convening of “Summer’s AMAZING Pulp Con” in 2016. It will take place July 21st through July 24th at the Hyatt Regency Columbus and the Greater Columbus Convention Center in the beautiful downtown of Columbus, Ohio.

(After studying art by correspondence, Allen Anderson worked as a staff artist for Fawcett Publications in Minneapolis from 1929 to 1939. He moved to New York City in 1940 and began painting covers for pulp magazines published by Ace Magazines, Fiction House, Harry Donenfeld, and Martin Goodman. He also painted comic book covers for Ziff-Davis from 1949 to 1953. From 1947 through 1953, he contributed about thirty front cover paintings to PLANET STORIES — including the Winter 1948 issue — a Fiction House pulp magazine best remembered for the many entertaining space operas that appeared in its rough paper pages. In later years, Anderson opened a small advertising agency and worked as a sign painter. )

Adiós Charles Boeckman Jr.

Nov 2, 2015 by

Boeckman, CharlesPulpdom lost one of its few surviving pulp fictioneers recently. Charles Boeckman Jr., who wrote as Charles Beckman Jr., died Oct. 12, 2015, just a month shy of his 95th birthday.

Boeckman broke into the pulps in the mid-1940s and continued writing for them through the format’s demise. Among the pulps that he wrote for were DETECTIVE TALES, FIFTEEN WESTERN TALES, DIME MYSTERY MAGAZINE, DIME DETECTIVE MAGAZINE, STAR WESTERN, and others. Several of his stories were adapted for television in the 1950s and 1960s, including “I’ll Make the Arrest” (MANHUNT, January 1953) for NBC’s “Celebrity Playhouse.”

When he wasn’t writing, Boeckman toured with his jazz band as a clarinetist and saxophonist. He wrote COOL, HOT AND BLUE: A HISTORY OF JAZZ FOR YOUNG PEOPLE in the late 1960s. His autobiography, PULP JAZZ: THE CHARLES BOECKMAN STORY, which recounted his life as a jazzman and pulp writer, was published earlier this year by Bold Venture Press.

Through the efforts of his wife, Patti, Boeckman found new celebrity among pulp fans in the past decade. Bold Venture also published two collections of his pulp stories, while Pro Se Productions put out new works by Boeckman.

Patti Boeckman wrote the entry for her husband at The PulpWiki. There are interviews with Boeckman on David Cranmer’s blog The Education of a Pulp Writer, and in an episode of Texas Standard news program. His obituary appeared in the CORPUS CHRISTI CALLER-TIMES.

A lifelong Texan, Boeckman was born in Seguin on Nov. 9, 1920. He died in Corpus Christi at age 94.

(The photograph of Charles Boeckman Jr., by George Tuley, originally appeared in the CORPUS CHRISTI CALLER-TIMES.)

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The Organizing Committee Grows

Sep 7, 2015 by

Amazing Stories 1943-09On this day when we salute the American worker, PulpFest is pleased to welcome its newest “laborers,” William Lampkin and Garyn G. Roberts, to its organizing committee.

William Lampkin, or Bill, has been reading fiction from the pulp magazines and collecting the magazines since the 1970s. He became involved in pulp fandom in the early 1990s when he discovered other like-minded individuals on the then-new Internet.

In 1996, he founded what later became ThePulp.Net, a website devoted to the pulps. The five-page website, which originated on AOL as .Pulp, has grown over the past two decades to include blogs, articles, histories, bibliographies, and more. He also writes the Yellowed Perils blog.

He attended his first pulp show in Tampa in the late 1990s, Pulpcon 35 in 2006, was actively involved with Doc Con from 2004 to 2011, and is on a two-year string of PulpFest appearances. In 2008, he became designer of THE PULPSTER. Bill assumed the editorship in 2013 when founding editor Tony Davis stepped down after 20 years.

Bill has been designing promotional material and advertising for PulpFest the past few years. His new role on the PulpFest organizing committee will be as director of advertising. He will also continue designing and editing THE PULPSTER. Why mess with a great thing?

Our other new committee member, Garyn Roberts, is an avid pulp collector and fan. He has written extensively about the pulps, both professionally and as a fan.

Garyn has edited or co-edited some of the best collections of stories from the pulp magazines, 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 anthology, THE PRENTICE HALL ANTHOLOGY OF SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY, a college-level textbook, is notable for the attention paid to the pulp magazines.

In 2013, Garyn received the Munsey Award, which recognizes an individual who has given of himself or herself for the betterment of the pulp community, be it through disseminating knowledge about the pulps or through publishing or other efforts to preserve and to foster interest in the pulp magazines.

A long-time college professor, Garyn also taught a class in science fiction at Northwestern Michigan College.

In addition to pulps, he is an expert on the Dick Tracy comic strip, was a friend of creator Chester Gould, and has written DICK TRACY AND AMERICAN CULTURE: MORALITY AND MYTHOLOGY, TEXT AND CONTEXT. Garyn will help with the convention’s programming.

If you’d like to congratulate Bill or Garyn via email, please write to them at bill@pulpfest.com or garyn@pulpfest.com.

(Robert Gibson Jones, a native of Ohio, began to work as a commercial artist for a Chicago advertising agency during the First World War. Nearly thirty years later, his first pulp magazine cover appeared on the January 1943 issue of FANTASTIC ADVENTURES. According to pulp art scholar David Saunders, “He was soon painting many covers for this title as well as for AMAZING STORIES, MAMMOTH ADVENTURE, MAMMOTH DETECTIVE, and MAMMOTH WESTERN, all of which were produced in Chicago by the Ziff-Davis Publishing Company.” During the 1950s, Jones painted painted covers for OTHER WORLDS SCIENCE STORIES and UNIVERSE SCIENCE FICTION. His cover for the September 1943 is a wonderful depiction of the women who took on many non-traditional roles, helping with the war effort during the Second World War.)

Get Nostalgic at the Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention

Aug 31, 2015 by

Mid-Atlantic Convention

While you’re waiting impatiently for the 45th convening of “Summer’s Great Pulp Con,” we’ll try to keep you posted about other conventions taking place around North America. They just might help to keep your hunger at bay while you wait for the main course – PulpFest 2016, scheduled to take place July 21 – 24, 2016 at the Hyatt Regency ColumbusIt should be an AMAZING time!

The Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention is an annual pop culture event recognizing the by-gone era of classic movies, retro television, old-time radio, pulp magazines and comic books. Hollywood celebrities sign autographs and pose for photos with fans. The movie room features rare films 24 hours a day. Slide show seminars offer insight from museum curators, authors, historians, magazine editors and other authorities on their respective subjects. Over 200 vendor tables offer loads of merchandise. The event is held every September in Hunt Valley, Maryland. Attendance grows an average of 200 people every year — last year’s attendance topped 2,400. This year’s dates are September 17 to 19, 2015. For more information call 443-286-6821 or visit www.MidAtlanticNostalgiaConvention.com.

Sunday at PulpFest 2015

Aug 16, 2015 by

Amazing Stories 26-04PulpFest 2015 is drawing to a close, but there is still time to get in on the action. The dealers’ room will be open from 10 AM until 2 PM today. With most of our dealers getting ready to head for home, our admission for the day is only $10, which includes a copy of our highly collectible program book, THE PULPSTER. Children who are fifteen and younger and accompanied by a parent, will be admitted free of charge. Other than our gaming track, there are no programming events scheduled for Sunday.

Although our dealers’ room will be open, buying opportunities may be limited as most of our dealers will be packing up their displays, preparing for their trip home.

The PulpFest 2015 gaming track will begin at 10 AM today and continue until the end of the convention. All games will be set up in the Clark Room, located on the second floor of the Hyatt Regency. The only requirements to play games at PulpFest 2015 are a PulpFest membership, your imagination, and a desire to have a good time. So if you enjoy pulps and you enjoy games, PulpFest will be the place to be. If you have questions about our gaming track, please write to PulpFest programming director Mike Chomko at mike@pulpfest.com.

If you have not been able to attend PulpFest in 2015, start making your plans right now to join the 45th convening of “Summer’s Great Pulp Con” in 2016. Your PulpFest organizing committee is already starting to plan for next year’s convention. At this writing, it is scheduled to take place July 21 – 24 at the Hyatt Regency Columbus.

To keep informed about PulpFest 2016, bookmark http://www.pulpfest.com/ and visit often. News about the convention can also be found on the PulpFest Facebook site at http://www.facebook.com/PulpFest. And for those who prefer their news short and sweet, follow our Twitter feed at https://twitter.com/pulpfest. Wherever you look for PulpFest on the web, we’ll be sure to keep you informed of our plans.

Many thanks to all of you who attended this year’s convention. We hope that you enjoyed yourself and will return for PulpFest 2016. Bring your friends!

Mike Chomko, Jack Cullers, Sally Cullers, Barry Traylor, & Chuck Welch – your PulpFestOrganizing Committee

(It was hard to miss the first issue of AMAZING STORIES on the newsstand. Letter-size, larger than the typical pulp magazine, with three-dimensional block letters trailing across its masthead and a bright yellow backdrop that framed an alien landscape, a bright red, ringed planet, and a small moon, the magazine certainly stood out on the sales rack. Frank R. Paul was the artist. The issue was dated April 1926.

Within months, the new specialty magazine was selling over 100,000 copies of each issue. In establishing the first specialized science-fiction magazine, Hugo Gernsback had tapped a vein of wonder, shared by lonely individuals prone to “imaginative flights of fancy.”

Next year marks the 90th anniversary of AMAZING STORIES. Please help celebrate this amazing anniversary by joining PulpFest 2016.)

Saturday at PulpFest 2015

Aug 15, 2015 by

Weird Tales 45-07There’s still time to get in on the action. The dealers’ room at the Hyatt Regency Columbus will be open today from 10 AM until 4:30 PM. Although the focus of PulpFest is pulp magazines and related materials, digests, vintage paperbacks, men’s adventure and true crime magazines, first-edition hardcovers, series books, dime novels, original art, Big Little Books, B-movies, serials and related paper collectibles, old-time-radio shows, and Golden and Silver Age as well as pulp-related comic books and games will also be for sale.

Single-day memberships to PulpFest will be available for $20 for Saturday and $10 for Sunday. Children who are fifteen and younger and accompanied by a parent, will be admitted free of charge. Members will be able to register for the convention at any time during regular dealers’ room hours. To help things move smoothly, please bring along a completed registration form. You can download a copy by clicking here. You only need to bring the last page of the form. Please visit our registration page for further details.

The PulpFest dealers’ room will closing at 4:30 PM today. This should allow plenty of time for people to prepare for our Saturday Night Dinner at Buca di Beppo, a get-together arranged by registration and volunteer coordinator Sally Cullers. If you don’t plan to attend, there are plenty of other restaurants close to the hotel. You’ll find a guide to the many fine downtown restaurants by clicking here as well as a map to find them by clicking here.

Whisperer in DarknessOur Saturday afternoon programming will start at 12:30 PM when author Duane Spurlock will read from AIRSHIP HUNTERS and FIGHTING ALASKA. Afterward, Ron Fortier will moderate a New Pulp Fiction Panel on “The Heirs of WEIRD TALES.” It will be followed by a presentation on WEIRD TALES artist Lee Brown Coye and another New Fictioneer reading featuring the weird poetry and prose of Scott Urban. Saturday evening’s events will include the PulpFest 2015 Business Meeting beginning at 7:10 PM, where two lucky members who had booked a stay at the Hyatt Regency will receive full membership refunds. It will be followed by the 2015 Munsey Award Presentation. Our programming for the evening will include Weird Editing at “The Unique Magazine,” The Thrilling Adventures of Rudolph Belarski, and a showing of THE WHISPERER IN DARKNESS and PROFESSOR PEABODY’S LAST LECTURE, part of our Lovecraft at the Movies film series. Tucked in before our movies begin will be our Saturday Night Auction, featuring material consigned by our membership.

Any member of PulpFest 2015 can submit items to the auction. Your PulpFest badge number will be used as your auction bidder and/or seller number. We will begin taking consignments for the auction when our dealers’ room opens on Friday, August 14th. The sooner you submit your consignment to Mike Chomko, the more likely that it will be included in our auction. Mike’s tables will be along the wall, just inside the entrance to the PulpFest dealers’ room. All auction lots must be submitted to Mike prior to 2 PM, Saturday, August 15th. All lots submitted must have a minimum value of $20. All lots that do not receive a bid of $20 or more will be passed. If you plan to offer an auction lot with a reserve price, your reserve must be $50 or more. No lots with a reserve price of less than $50 will be accepted. PulpFest reserves the right to reject any auction material that is unlikely to meet our minimum bid or reserve price standards as well as our content standards. The convention charges sellers 10% of the selling price for anything sold in the auction. For additional information, please click on the auction link on our programming schedule or contact Barry Traylor via email at barry@pulpfest.com.

Highlights of this year’s auction include the original typescript for the Phillip José Farmer novel, DAYWORLD, with notes and corrections in the authors’ hand, along with an original 1930’s Shadow mask.  It was either a premium or sold as part of a Halloween costume. The auction will also feature a number of lots from the estate of Earl Kussman who, along with Ed Kessell and Nils Hardin, organized the first Pulpcon, held in Clayton, Missouri over a June weekend in 1972.

Cthulhu DiceFor pulp fans who like games, gaming fans who like pulps, or just people who like to have fun, PulpFest 2015 will be introducing a gaming track. Many of the themes found in the world of modern games resonate from the pulps and the stories published in those magazines. There are games based on Conan, the Cthulhu Mythos, space operas such as Doc Smith’s Lensman series, westerns, mysteries and, of course, the pulp heroes. Role-playing games, or RPGs, are especially noted for quick action, cliff-hangers, and adventure.

The PulpFest 2015 gaming track will begin at 10 AM on Saturday and last until 10 PM or thereabouts.  On Sunday, games will begin at 10 AM and continue until the end of the convention. All games will be set up in the Clark Room, located on the second floor of the Hyatt Regency. The only requirements to play games at PulpFest 2015 are a PulpFest membership, your imagination, and a desire to have a good time. So if you enjoy pulps and you enjoy games, PulpFest will be the place to be. If you have questions about our gaming track, please write to PulpFest programming director Mike Chomko at mike@pulpfest.com.

For additional details on all of our afternoon and evening programming events, please visit click the red schedule button on our home page for further details. Each entry is linked to a post that provides further information on that event. Just click on the event’s title.

On Sunday, August 16th, the dealers’ room will be open to all members from 10 AM to 2 PM as our dealers pack up. If you are coming just for the day, please be aware that buying and selling opportunities may be limited. Admission to the convention for Sunday only will be $10, the cost of our annual program book, THE PULPSTER.

If you will be needing a hotel room for tonight, please remember that PulpFest is sharing downtown Columbus with Matsuricon. However, there may still be a few rooms available at nearby hotels. Please visit www.pulpfest.com/2015/06/16872/ and you’ll find a link to a list of hotels to choose from. Alternately, we suggest that you search for a room at tripadvisor or a similar website as soon as you possibly can. If you are not from the Columbus area and want to attend PulpFest 2015, we urge you to book your room now and not wait until you arrive.

(Not long after the appearance of the August Derleth anthology SLEEP NO MORE, the book’s illustrator, Lee Brown Coye, began a long relationship with WEIRD TALES. The first of his ten covers for the magazine appeared on its July 1945 number, featured above. He also produced many interior illustrations for the magazine. His work continued to appear in WEIRD TALES until 1952.

As part of its celebration of the 125th anniversary of H. P. Lovecraft’s birth and his relationship with WEIRD TALES, the leading supernatural fiction magazine of its time, PulpFest 2015 is very pleased to offer a fully authorized showing of THE WHISPERER IN DARKNESS. The one-sheet, pictured above, is copyright 2015 by the H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society.

One of the quick games that will be played at PulpFest is called CTHULHU DICE, from Steve Jackson Games. Players take turns rolling the big, custom-designed, twelve-sided die, embossed with tentacles, Elder Signs, and more. The objective of the game is to drive your opponents insane with the cast of your die. CTHULHU DICE plays in 5 to 10 minutes, and is great fun for two to six players.)