PulpFest 2015 Gaming Event Schedule

Aug 10, 2015 by

Arkham Horror

New at this year’s PulpFest will be 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, westerns, mysteries and, of course, the pulp heroes. So if you enjoy gaming, PulpFest is a fantastic opportunity to learn more about the roots of some of the great stories that permeate the hobby.

PulpFest will have a room set up with eight tables where a variety of board games, card games, and role-playing games, or RPGs, will be presented. Thanks to longtime pulp and gaming fan Rick Thomas and several Columbus-based gaming groups, PulpFest 2015 is shaping up to be one of the most fun and exciting conventions in years.

For a look at the many games that will be played at this year’s PulpFest, please click here. You’ll find when each game will be played, descriptions of each game, who will be running the games, and much more.

The Columbus chapter of the Ohio Pathfinder Society will run RPGs dealing with weird tales, ancient ruins, and murder mysteries set in a fantasy world based on the Pathfinder RPG. Another Ohio group, Rogue Cthulhu, will be running role-playing adventures based on H. P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos and other weird tales set in the 1920s. Besides RPGs, there will be a number of board and card games that will be demonstrated and played at the convention. These games can last from twenty minutes to several hours. They will be set up for people looking to find some new and interesting entertainment at PulpFest 2015.  We’ll be offering Cthulhu Dice, Elder Sign, Arkham Horror, and more.

The PulpFest 2015 gaming track will begin at 10 AM on Friday and 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. You can join us at the beautiful Hyatt Regency in Columbus, Ohio, beginning on Thursday evening, August 13th and running through Sunday afternoon, August 16th. Click here to learn how to register for “Summer’s Great Pulp Con,” and now, “Summer’s Great Pulp Gaming Con.” Although advance registrations end at 10 PM on Monday, August 10th, you’ll still be able to register at the door.

Cthulhu is Growing Impatient for Your Arrival!

Aug 7, 2015 by

“Our tangible world is only an atom in a fabric vast and ominous, and that
unknown demesnes press on and permeate the sphere of the known at every point . . .”

Lovecraft

If you’re at PulpFest 2015 on Friday evening, August 14th, you’ll probably be in our programming area, listening to author Chet Williamson, the convention’s guest of honor, explaining how “the old gentleman” of Providence influenced him in his writing. Later, Jon Arfstrom, perhaps the last living artist who contributed covers to the original run of WEIRD TALES, will talk about his career. Closing out the evening will be a pair of panels — a FarmerCon presentation examining “The Weird Tales of Philip José Farmer” and PulpFest‘s main panel of the evening, “The Call of Cthulhu: The Development of Lovecraft’s Mythos.” The evening ends with a showing of THE CALL OF CTHULHUIt will be followed by COOL AIR, a short film made for ROD SERLING’S NIGHT GALLERY and based on the Lovecraft work of the same title. It originally aired in 1971.

On Saturday, our celebration of the 125th anniversary of the birth of H. P. Lovecraft continues at PulpFest 2015. We’ll be turning our attention to WEIRD TALES, the pulp magazine where the bulk of the horror master’s work was originally published.

During our afternoon programming, we welcome a talented group of today’s fictioneers — the scribes and word-slingers who are creating the new pulp fiction — to discuss the writers and stories published by “The Unique Magazine,” the genres it helped to generate, and how WEIRD TALES has influenced contemporary writers. It’s called “The Heirs of WEIRD TALES” and promises to be the most fantastic “new pulp” panel we’ve ever assembled.

Back around the beginning of May, Feral House, a small press with a taste for the outrageous, approached PulpFest with an offer that was very difficult to refuse. Author and collector Mike Hunchback had put together a definitive survey of the later work of illustrator Lee Brown Coye and was interested in presenting a slide show of the artist’s work at this year’s PulpFest. Given that our convention was celebrating the 125th anniversary of the birth of author H. P. Lovecraft, we jumped at the chance to have Mike be part of our 2015 conference. After all, Coye, like Lovecraft, was very strongly associated with “The Unique Magazine, “ WEIRD TALES. Join Mike Hunchback at 2:30 PM for “Pulp Macabre — The Art of Lee Brown Coye” in the PulpFest programming room on the second floor of the Hyatt Regency Columbus.

Our afternoon programming concludes with “Weird Prose and Poetry from Scott H. Urban,” readings of poems and fiction, both old and new. Scott promises to leave the bubbling chaos at home; however, he cannot guarantee that there will not be writhing tentacles and the ensuing loss of sanity.

PulpFest‘s WEIRD TALES programming continues at 7:55 PM with “Weird Editing at ‘The Unique Magazine,’” a panel presentation featuring Lovecraftian and pulp scholars discussing the editorial policies of WEIRD TALES, concentrating particularly on the era of its best-known editor, Farnsworth Wright.

Closing out the evening at 11:30 PM, will be an authorized showing of THE WHISPERER IN DARKNESSa film produced by the H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society. It will be paired with PROFESSOR PEABODY’S LAST LECTUREan episode from ROD SERLING’S NIGHT GALLERY that originally aired in 1971.

And don’t forget PulpFest now has a gaming track. This year, it will be centered around CALL OF CTHULHU and other games inspired by the work of H. P. Lovecraft.

There’s still time to join the celebration! There may even be some 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. The Hyatt Regency where the convention is taking place is totally booked. So what are you waiting for? Book a room and register now for “Summer’s Great Pulp Con.”

(The quotation that begins our post is from “The Descendant,” written by H. P. Lovecraft. It is a story fragment believed to have been written in 1927. It was first published in 1938 in the journal LEAVES, following Lovecraft’s death.

The photograph above, dated 1915 and taken by an unknown photographer, is from Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository.)

One Week to Go!

Aug 6, 2015 by

2015 Full Page AdPulpFest 2015 will start on Thursday, August 13th. The dealers’ room will be open to registered sellers to set up their displays from 4 to 11 PM. Early registration for all convention attendees will take place outside the dealers’ room from 4 to 8 PM. There will be early-bird shopping available to PulpFest members who will be staying at the Hyatt Regency Columbus or those who elect to purchase an early-bird membership from 6 to 10 PM. Our full slate of programming for Thursday evening will get underway at 8 PM. The new PulpFest gaming track will begin on Friday morning, August 15th, at 10 AM.

If you have yet to book your room for this year’s convention, please do so without delay. There may still be some rooms available at nearby hotels. Please click here and you’ll find a link to a list of hotels to choose from. 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. Please book a room for three nights and register now for “Summer’s Great Pulp Con.”

Below, you’ll find our complete schedule for the entire convention. To learn more about a particular programming event, click on its title link. Due to last minute contingencies that may arise, this schedule is subject to change.

Thursday, August 13

Dealers’ Room

4:00 PM – 11:00 PM — Dealers’ Room Set-Up

4:00 PM – 8:00 PM — Early Registration

6:00 PM – 10:00 PM — Dealers’ Room Opens for Early-Bird Shopping

Programming

8:00 PM — Pulpcraft: A Counterintelligence and Espionage Guide to the Pulp Adventures of The Shadow (Tim King)

8:40 PM — Thrilling Detectives (John Wooley and John Gunnison)

9:20 PM — 75 Years of Street & Smith Comics (Anthony Tollin, Tony Isabella, Will Murray, and Michelle Nolan)

10:10 PM — Saddle Up! A Look at the Western Heroes of the Thrilling Group (Ed Hulse)

10:50 PM — Play Ball: A Look at the Sports Pulps (Michelle Nolan)

11:30 PM — OUT OF MIND and PICKMAN’S MODEL (Lovecraft at the Movies)

Friday, August 14

Dealers’ Room

9:00 AM – 10:00 AM — Early Registration and Dealers’ Room Set-Up

10:00 AM – 4:30 PM — Dealers’ Room Open to All

10:00 AM – 10:00 PM — Gaming Track in the Clark Room, Second Floor

Programming

1:00 PM — New Fictioneers Reading: Swords Against Cthulhu (Jason Scott Aiken)

2:00 PM — New Fictioneers Reading: Hardboiled Horrors (John Hegenberger)

3:00 PM — The Pulp Magazines Project (Nathan Madison and Patrick Belk)

7:00 PM — Welcome to PulpFest 2015 (Convention Chairman Jack Cullers)

7:05 PM — Leo Margulies: The Little Giant of the Pulps (Ed Hulse, Will Murray and Philip M. Sherman)

7:55 PM — Our Guest of Honor (Chet Williamson)

8:45 PM — Our Special Guest (WEIRD TALES Artist Jon Arfstrom)

9:10 PM — FarmerCon X: The Weird Tales of  Philip José Farmer (Jason Aiken, Chuck Loridans, and Frank Schildiner)

9:50 PM — The Call of Cthulhu: The Development of Lovecraft’s Mythos (John Haefele, Don Herron, Tom Krabacher, Rick Lai, and Nathan Madison)

10:40 PM — Thrilling Heroes of Standards Pulps and Comics (Matt Moring, Will Murray, Michelle Nolan, and Garyn Roberts)

11:30 pm — THE CALL OF CTHULHU and COOL AIR (Lovecraft at the Movies)

Saturday, August 15

Dealers’ Room

10:00 AM – 4:30 PM — Dealers’ Room Open to All

10:00 AM – 10:00 PM — Gaming Track in the Clark Room, Second Floor

Programming

12:30 PM — New Fictioneer Reading: Flying Saucers and Fisticuffs (Duane Spurlock)

1:30 PM — The Heirs of WEIRD TALES (Jim Beard, Jeff Fournier, John Hegenberger, Rick Lai, Michael Panush, and Frank Schildiner with Ron Fortier, moderator)

2:30 PM — Pulp Macabre: The Art of Lee Brown Coye (Mike Hunchback)

3:30 PM — New Fictioneers Reading: Weird Poetry and Prose (Scott Urban)

5:00 PM — PulpFest 2015 Group Meal at Buca di Beppo (Volunteer coordinator Sally Cullers)

7:10 PM — PulpFest 2015 Business Meeting (meet the convention organizers)

7:40 PM — 2015 Munsey Award Presentation (presented by Randy Cox)

7:55 PM — Weird Editing at “The Unique Magazine” (Don Herron, Morgan Holmes, Tom Krabacher, Will Murray, and Garyn Roberts)

8:45 pm — The Thrilling Adventures of Rudolph Belarski  (David Saunders)

9:30 pm — Saturday Night at the Auction (John Gunnison and Joseph Saine)

11:30 pm — THE WHISPERER IN DARKNESS and PROFESSOR PEABODY’S LAST LECTURE (Lovecraft at the Movies)

Sunday, August 16

Dealer’s Room

10:00 AM – 2:00 PM — Dealers’ Room Open to All (many dealers will be packing up; buying opportunities may be limited)

10:00 AM – 2:00 PM — Gaming Track in the Clark Room, Second Floor

Please note that this schedule is subject to change.

For questions about our programming, please write to our programming director Mike Chomko at mike@pulpfest.com.

For questions about our dealers’ room, please write to our convention chairperson Jack Cullers at jack@pulpfest.com.

Flying Saucers and Fisticuffs: New Pulp from Duane Spurlock

Aug 4, 2015 by

SpurlockDo you want to believe? The truth is out there.

It is 1897 and the skies are haunted by mysterious airships and unfathomable secrets. Tasked with hunting down these strange vehicles of the air and determining their origin and intent, two U.S. government agents toil under unusual conditions to supply their shadowy superiors with information. But that information proves to be as elusive as the airships themselves.

Ride with Agents Valiantine and Cabot across the Midwest as they encounter reports of strange lights, phantom soldiers, unreliable witnesses, and the ultimate source of their airborne prey.

They are the Airship Hunters, and they cannot be waylaid from their path to uncover the greatest mystery of them all.

On Saturday afternoon, August 15th, at high noon, PulpFest 2015 will welcome New Fictioneer Duane Spurlock to its second-floor programming area, at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Columbus, Ohio. Duane will be reading from AIRSHIP HUNTERSa short novel he co-authored with Jim Beard. It will be published as a signed, limited edition trade paperback and will premier at PulpFest 2015.

Duane will also be reading from FIGHTING ALASKA, a novelette concerning a bare-knuckles boxer who travels to the Alaskan gold fields as a way to escape the fight game. Once there, he meets historical figures Wyatt Earp, Rex Beach, and Tex Rickard, plus more trouble than he imagined. It’s part of the FIGHT CARD series of books that are inspired by the boxing pulps of the 1930s and ’40s.

Duane Spurlock writes adventure and fantasy-oriented action tales. He has also has worked as an illustrator, including the book THE BLEEDING HORSE AND OTHER GHOST STORIES, written by Brian Showers. It won the Children of the Night Award from the Dracula Society. Spurlock says, “Genre fiction and popular media have narrative strengths that speak to readers in powerful ways, no matter what era the stories are set in, no matter what the tropes or expectations may be for a given genre or type of story.”

Duane maintains three blogs: The Spur & Lock Mercantile, which examines the western genre in various media; The Pulp Rack, focused on popular narrative fiction during the first half of the 20th Century, its precursors, and its influence on contemporary media; and InterroBang, presenting updates on the author’s current works in progress. Spurlock comes from a long line of long-winded storytellers. He lives with his family in Kentucky, where they garden, doodle, whistle, and tell one another stories.

In its continuing effort to promote the work of writers of “new pulp fiction,” PulpFest is proud to continue its long-running New Fictioneer series of readings. Duane Spurlock is one of four contemporary writers who will be reading at this year’s convention. Click our red “schedule” button to learn about all of the writers who will be offering their work to the PulpFest membership. Afterward, book a room for three nights by visiting www.pulpfest.com/2015/06/16872/ and register now for “Summer’s Great Pulp Con.”

(The cover art for THE AIRSHIP HUNTERS is by freelance illustrator and graphic designer M. S. Corley. A resident of Kirkland, Washington, he’s the cover artist for the APOCALYPSE WEIRD series, an imagined world used to tell a single shared story over the course of several books, from different perspectives, by a multitude of authors. It’s the story of several different “End of the World” scenarios taking place all at once, all connected and influenced by a dark force from beyond the known. Corley has designed and illustrated everything from comic books to video game concept art, producing work for clients such as Dark Horse Comics, Simon & Schuster, Valancourt Books, Henry Holt Macmillian, Microsoft, and Amazon Publishing.)

Hardboiled Horrors: New Fiction from John Hegenberger

Jul 31, 2015 by

HegenbergerAlthough he has been a published author since the late seventies, John Hegenberger still qualifies as a “new fictioneer.” He has been attending pulp conventions for years. In fact, back in 1988, John penned a review of Pulpcon 17 for MYSTERY SCENE MAGAZINE, the oldest, largest, and most authoritative guide to the crime fiction genre.

John got his start with a short story entitled “Last Contact.” It was published in the October 1977 issue of GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION. More than a decade later, he followed with a pair of novellas in AMAZING STORIES, a short story in TALES OF THE UNANTICIPATED, and a third novella in an anthology published by Ace Books. John has also published two non-fiction books about collecting movie memorabilia and comic books, both published by Wallace-Homestead, as well as CROSS EXAMINATIONS, a collection of stories featuring Eliot Cross, a private eye based in Columbus, Ohio, that is “. . . fast-moving, atmospheric, and consistently surprising . . .” It’s available for Kindle through Amazon.

Born and raised in the heart of the heartland — Columbus, Ohio — John Hegenberger is the author of the upcoming Stan Wade L.A.P.I. series from Black Opal Books, father of three, tennis enthusiast, collector of silent films and old-time radio, hiker, Francophile, B.A. Comparative Literature, pop culture author, crime-fighter, comedian, ex-lead in the senior class play, ex-Navy, ex-comic book dealer, ex-marketing exec at Exxon, AT&T, and IBM, and happily married for 45 years. He tells us that he “expects to have contracted and completed a couple of additional novels by the time of the show, for a dozen books sold since mid-March.” It sounds like he’s hitting on all cylinders. He’s currently working on a western and the fifth Stan Wade, L.A.P.I. novel.

Join PulpFest 2015 on Friday afternoon at 2 PM for “Hardboiled Horrors,” a New Fictioneers reading featuring John Hegenberger. He’ll be reading “Howard’s Toe,” a short story of Lovecraftian horror, as well as a Stan Wade story, involving Robert Bloch and Alfred Hitchcock during the filming of PSYCHO.

John’s reading will be one of four New Fictioneers readings — stories by today’s fictioneers, the authors writing the new pulp fiction — at PulpFest 2015. If you have yet to book your room for this year’s convention, please do so without delay. Remember that PulpFest will be sharing downtown Columbus with Matsuricon in August. There are still some rooms available at nearby hotels. Please click here and you’ll find a link to a list of hotels to choose from. If you are not from the Columbus area and want to attend PulpFest 2015, we urge you to book your room now and not later. Rooms that are relatively close to PulpFest are disappearing fast during the time frame of our convention. So what are you waiting for? Book a room for three nights and register now for “Summer’s Great Pulp Con.”

(The October 1977 issue of GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION (combined with WORLDS OF IF) featured front cover art by Stephen E. Fabian. Still active today, Fabian became interested in science fiction and science-fiction art in the early fifties while serving in the U. S. Air Force. Admiring the work of artists such as Virgil Finlay, Lawrence Stevens, Edd Cartier, and Hubert Rogers, Fabian began thinking about learning how to draw and paint like his favorite science-fiction illustrators in 1965. Two years later, his drawings and paintings began appearing in print, both in fan publications and professional magazines. In 2006, he won a World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement.)

Cthulhu Waits for You!

Jul 30, 2015 by

“Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn . . .
In his house at R’lyeh dead Cthulhu waits dreaming.”

Cthulhu Rising

If you’re at PulpFest 2015 on August 13th, you’ll probably be in our programming area, enjoying our showing of OUT OF MIND: THE STORIES OF H. P. LOVECRAFTIt will be followed by PICKMAN’S MODEL, a short film made for ROD SERLING’S NIGHT GALLERY and based on the Lovecraft work of the same title. It originally aired in 1971.

On Friday, August 14th, the celebration of the 125th anniversary of the birth of H. P. Lovecraft begins in earnest at PulpFest 2015.

Our Lovecraftian festivities begin in the afternoon with a pair of readings from today’s fictioneers — the scribes and word-slingers who are creating the new pulp fiction. Join us at 1 PM for “Swords Against Cthulhu,” featuring the horror fiction of Jason Scott Aiken. It will be followed at 2 PM by “Hardboiled Horrors,” with new fiction from John Hegenberger.

Shortly before 8 PM, author Chet Williamson, the convention’s guest of honor, will explain how “the old gentleman” of Providence influenced him in his writing as well as the writing of his peers in the world of modern horror fiction. Next, Jon Arfstrom, perhaps the last living artist who contributed covers to the original run of WEIRD TALES — the magazine that published most of Lovecraft’s original fiction — will talk about his career with pulp art historian, David Saunders.

Our programming continues at 9:10 PM with a FarmerCon panel presentation examining “The Weird Tales of Philip José Farmer.” It will be followed immediately by PulpFest‘s main panel of the evening, “The Call of Cthulhu: The Development of Lovecraft’s Mythos,” featuring a panel of Lovecraftian and pulp scholars, discussing Lovecraft’s best-known contribution to the fields of science fiction and fantasy — the cycle of stories centered around Cthulhu and other cosmic entities.

Closing out the evening at 11:30 PM, will be an authorized showing of THE CALL OF CTHULHUa film produced by the H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society. It will be paired with COOL AIR, an episode from ROD SERLING’S NIGHT GALLERY that originally aired in 1971.

And don’t forget PulpFest now has a gaming track. This year, it will be centered around CALL OF CTHULHU and other games inspired by the work of H. P. Lovecraft.

There’s still time to join the celebration! There may even be some 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. The Hyatt Regency where the convention is taking place is totally booked. So what are you waiting for? Book a room for three nights and register now for “Summer’s Great Pulp Con.”

(The quotation that begins our post is from “The Call of Cthulhu,” written by H. P. Lovecraft. It was first published in WEIRD TALES in its February 1928 issue.

Published in 2006 by Fantasy Flight Games, THE ART OF H. P. LOVECRAFT’S CTHULHU MYTHOS  collects the best art from Fantasy Flight’s acclaimed CALL OF CTHULHU collectible card game, as well as from 25 years of Chaosium’s legendary line of CALL OF CTHULHU role-playing game. Michael Komarck created the dust jacket for the collection. Please click the red “schedule” button on our home page to learn more about PulpFest’s new gaming track.)

Weird Prose and Poetry from Scott H. Urban

Jul 27, 2015 by

UrbanSince 2009, PulpFest has annually featured readings by some of the best writers of today’s pulp fiction. Jim Beard, Christopher Paul Carey, Win Scott Eckert, Dick Eno, Ron Fortier, William Patrick Maynard, Will Murray, and many others have read excerpts from their work, showcasing a wide range of exciting new fiction. This year, given that PulpFest is celebrating H. P. Lovecraft and WEIRD TALES, we searched for creators who have written fiction inspired by the work of Lovecraft, the Cthulhu Mythos, WEIRD TALES and such writers as Robert E. Howard, Clark Ashton Smith, and Seabury Quinn. We think we’ve found some great ones for the PulpFest 2015 New Fictioneers reading series.

PulpFest 2015 is pleased to welcome author and poet Scott H. Urban to its New Fictioneers reading series. Scott will be appearing on Saturday afternoon, August 15th, at 3:30 PM in our second-floor programming area at the Hyatt Regency. Scott’s fiction, poetry, and reviews have appeared in print and across the web. In 1984, he helped to found the Unnameable Press specialty book publisher. During the late 1990s, he edited the small press, horror poetry zine FRISSON: DISCONCERTING VERSE. In 1998, he co-edited THE CONSPIRACY FILES with Martin H. Greenberg. It was published by DAW Books. Some of Scott’s anthology appearances include FEAR ITSELF, SHOCK ROCK II, HOT BLOOD: SEEDS OF FEAR, THE BEAST WITHIN, and TERMINAL FRIGHTS. His early fiction is collected as BLOODY SHOW, available for Kindle through Amazon. His most recent poetry collection is GOD’S WILL. Published by Mad Rush Books, it is available through Lulu.

Scott Urban was in his early teens when he first came across Lovecraft in a paperback book. He immediately fell under the spell of “The Old Gent,” knowing that he had found something special. It was a universe both unfailingly grim and eerily fantastic. He wrote some juvenalia while under the spell of Lovecraft, including poems and stories. While his writing has moved away from direct pastiches, Lovecraft remains in the back of his mind. As Scott writes, “. . . probably will be until I die.”

With a love of old pulp and a tongue firmly affixed in cheek, Scott is proud to be reading as a New Fictioneer at this year’s PulpFest. He will read from BLOODY SHOW, a collection of “Dark Tales of Decay and Dissolution,” as well as other pieces, both old and new. He promises to leave the bubbling chaos at home; however, he cannot guarantee that there will not be writhing tentacles and the ensuing loss of sanity.

Mr. Urban has spent most of his professional career as a public school teacher and administrator on North Carolina’s Cape Fear Coast. In 2011, his family relocated to the mist-shrouded forests of southeastern Ohio, where he teaches at a local college and works with troubled youth. He is currently at work on a novel of erotic horror, slated for publication in 2016. He lives in a renovated Amish farmhouse that isn’t haunted . . . yet.

For information on how to register for PulpFest 2015, please click the red “register” button on our home page. To book a room for this year’s convention, please visit www.pulpfest.com/2015/06/16872/.

Swords Against Cthulhu–The Horror Fiction of Jason Scott Aiken

Jul 24, 2015 by

Swords against CthulhuIt’s called new pulp – stories by modern writers who recreate the style of fiction that appeared in the pulp magazines of yore. Back then, the authors who labored for the rough paper industry liked to call themselves scribes, word-slingers, penny-a-worders, and, perhaps the most favored term of all, fictioneers. Join PulpFest as we celebrate today’s fictioneers — the authors writing the new pulp fiction.

Since 2009, we’ve annually featured readings by some of the best writers of today’s pulp fiction. Jim Beard, Christopher Paul Carey, Win Scott Eckert, Dick Eno, Ron Fortier, Will Murray, and many others have read excerpts from their work, showcasing a wide range of exciting new fiction. Afterward, they’ve talked with their audiences, answering questions, fielding comments, discussing works-in-progress, and selling their books. Both our writers and their audiences have loved these sessions. This year, PulpFest will be offering four afternoon readings — two on Friday and two on Saturday.

Leading off this year’s readings is Jason Scott Aiken, a new fantasy and horror writer who first discovered weird fiction through Del Rey’s publication of the preferred texts of Robert E. Howard’s stories. Reading these stories led him to the works of H. P. Lovecraft, soon followed by Clark Ashton Smith, Seabury Quinn, C. L. Moore, Fritz Leiber, Manly Wade Wellman, Robert Bloch, and H. Warner Munn. Needless to say, WEIRD TALES is Jason’s favorite pulp magazine, which he reads and collects in reprints. Jason has been attending PulpFest and FarmerCon since 2011.

In the last two months, Jason has had three stories published. “The Summoning,” a fantasy tale infused with dark humor, appeared in THE FALL OF CTHULHU, VOLUME II from Horrified Press. Inspired by the works of Clark Ashton Smith and Fritz Leiber, “The Summoning” features a naive young thief, Kasar, who is commissioned to procure a valuable commodity from an isle of sorcerers.

“The Sword of Lomar,” which Jason will be reading, is available in SWORDS AGAINST CTHULHU, published by Rogue Planet Press. A prequel to Lovecraft’s “Polaris,” it concerns a red-haired swordwoman, Nuja of Lomar, who attempts to halt a horde approaching the land of Lomar’s capital, Olathoë. Nuja is heavily inspired by the scarlet-haired warrior women created by Robert E. Howard and C. L. Moore. Nuja also appears in “The Other at the Threshold,” a story featured in BARBARIAN CROWNS,  a sword & sorcery anthology that is a tribute to Robert E. Howard. It is a Barbwire Butterfly book, an imprint of Horrified Press.

In addition to these three short stories, Jason has a Doc Arden story in the forthcoming TALES OF THE SHADOWMEN #12: CARTE BLANCHE, which should be released later this year by Black Coat Press. He is also the host and producer of Pulp Crazy, a video blog and podcast dedicated to classic popular literature, characters, and themes. He often devotes episodes to classic weird fiction from the pulps.

Jason Scott Aiken will be reading in PulpFest‘s second-floor programming area at the Hyatt Regency on Friday afternoon, August 14th, at 1 PM. Please visit http://jasonscottaiken.com to learn more about Jason and his work or @jasonscottaiken on Twitter. And don’t forget to join PulpFest 2015 at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Columbus, Ohio, beginning on Thursday, August 13th and running through Sunday, August 16th. We’ll be paying tribute to H. P. Lovecraft and WEIRD TALES, just a few short days before the author’s 125th birthday. We’ll also be exploring Standard Magazines, also known as the “Thrilling Group,” a long-standing publisher of pulp magazines, comics, and paperback books.

Although our host hotel is completely booked, there are still some rooms available at nearby hotels. Please click here to find a link to a list of hotels to choose from. If you are not from the Columbus area and want to attend PulpFest 2015, we urge you to book your room now and not later. Rooms that are relatively close to PulpFest are disappearing fast during the time frame of our convention.

(SWORDS AGAINST CTHULHU is an anthology of sword & sorcery and Cthulhu Mythos crossovers, edited by Gavin Chappell. Although the “synthetic folklore” that grew from H. P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu-related fiction is generally associated with the horror genre, its influence extended to the work of seminal sword & sorcery writers Robert E. Howard and Clark Ashton Smith, and its pessimistic tone has continued to dominate the genre to this day. However mighty the hero, the forces of chaos, the blasphemous powers of an insouciant universe, are stronger – or are they? All a doomed swordsman can do is face the outer darkness, blade in hand, a song of defiance on his lips, and hope to die fighting. Pictured above is Stephen Cooney’s cover to SWORDS AGAINST CTHULHU from Rogue Planet Press, an imprint of Horrified Press. It features “The Sword of Lomar,” a story by New Fictioneer Jason Scott Aiken.)

 

A Thrilling PulpFest!

Jul 23, 2015 by

40-01 Ghost Super-DetectiveJoin PulpFest in a few weeks for a salute to Ned Pines Standard Magazines — the Thrilling Group! Although many pulp collectors find much of the fiction published by Standard to be “less than thrilling,” they often find the cover art to be quite striking.  So why are we celebrating Standard Magazines? Although the pulp line turns 84 this year — hardly a sexy anniversary — many leading figures in the history of Pines Publishing have notable anniversaries in 2015: Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson, THRILLING ADVENTURES writer and creator of the first comic book is 125; Tom Curry, western writer and creator of The Rio Kid, and Leo Margulies, managing editor of the “Thrilling Group,” are 115; Norman Daniels, who created the Black Bat and wrote many hero pulp stories for the group, and Thrilling publisher Ned Pines are 110; and Mort Weisinger, editor of CAPTAIN FUTURE and other Thrilling magazines, as well as DC’s Superman comic books, and Leigh Brackett and Henry Kuttner, both writers for Standard’s science-fiction pulps, are 100 years old. That’s eight reasons to make 2015 the year for Standard Magazines.

So what will we be doing to THRILL you at PulpFest 2015? There’s plenty! We’ve scattered presentations on Standard Magazines and Comics throughout our programming line-up. Click on the titles below to see what we’ll be offering from Thursday evening, August 13th through Saturday evening, August 15th. We hope that you find it . . . THRILLING!

Thursday, August 13

8:40 PM — Thrilling Detectives (John Wooley and John Gunnison)

10:10 PM — Saddle Up! A Look at the Western Heroes of the Thrilling Group (Ed Hulse)

10:50 PM — Play Ball: A Look at the Sports Pulps (Michelle Nolan)

Friday, August 14

7:05 PM — Leo Margulies: The Little Giant of the Pulps (Ed Hulse, Will Murray and Philip M. Sherman)

10:40 PM — Thrilling Heroes of Standard’s Pulps and Comics (Matt Moring, Will Murray, Michelle Nolan, and Garyn Roberts)

Saturday, August 15

8:45 pm — The Thrilling Adventures of Rudolph Belarski  (David Saunders)

Thrilling Comics 1939-1So here’s your chance to wish all these giants a “happy birthday” as PulpFest 2015 pays tribute to this leading pulp magazine publisher. The action begins on Thursday evening, August 13th and runs through Sunday, August 16th at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Columbus, Ohio. Click here to learn how to register for “Summer’s Great Pulp Con!” Afterward, book a room for three nights by visiting www.pulpfest.com/2015/06/16872/ and join your friends at the “pop culture center of the universe” for a salute to Ned Pines and the “Thrilling Group!”

(That’s the first issue of THE GHOST, SUPER-DETECTIVE, dated January 1940, and featuring cover artwork by Rafael de Soto, as well as the first issue of THRILLING COMICS, dated February 1940, and featuring cover artwork by Alexander Kostuk. PulpFest 2015 will be paying tribute to the Thrilling Heroes of Standard’s Pulps and Comics on Friday evening, August 14th, at 10:40 PM.)

 

Pulp Macabre — The Art of Lee Brown Coye

Jul 11, 2015 by

Weird Tales 45-07Back around the beginning of May, Feral House, a small press with a taste for the outrageous, approached PulpFest with an offer that was very difficult to refuse. Author and collector Mike Hunchback had put together a definitive survey of the later work of illustrator Lee Brown Coye and was interested in presenting a slide show of the artist’s work at this year’s PulpFest. Given that our convention was celebrating the 125th anniversary of the birth of author H. P. Lovecraft, we jumped at the chance to have Mike be part of our 2015 conference. After all, Coye, like Lovecraft, was very strongly associated with “The Unique Magazine, “ WEIRD TALES.

Born in Syracuse, New York in 1907, Lee Brown Coye became very interested in drawing as a teenager and began studying art books on his own. In the late twenties, he was introduced to the technique of scratch-board drawing by woodcut illustrator Howard McCormick. This became the artist’s favored medium.

Coye made his first pulp magazine appearance in the July 1930 issue of GOLDEN BOOK.  However, it was not until the middle forties — after illustrating August Derleth’s SLEEP NO MORE, an anthology of horror and ghost stories for Farrar & Rhinehart — that his work began to appear regularly in the rough-paper market. He was soon illustrating stories and painting covers for pulp magazines such as SHORT STORIES and WEIRD TALES. His work for the latter proved very popular and he became a prolific contributor, sometimes appearing four or five times in a single issue. His drawings for the magazine included a running series of illustrations called “Weirdisms.” Coye pragmatically believed that, “I’d rather have my stuff in pulp magazines where people can see it than in a museum where they don’t.”

Writing in THE WEIRD TALES STORY, Robert Weinberg opined, “There was never an artist who came close to capturing horror and dread like Lee Brown Coye. He was master of the weird and grotesque illustration. Coye’s sketches had the shape of nightmares.”

More Derleth anthologies featuring Coye illustrations followed in the late forties — WHO KNOCKS? and THE NIGHT SIDE. The artist’s work continued to appear in WEIRD TALES until 1952. Beginning in 1962, following a ten-year hiatus from fantasy illustrating, Coye began producing horror and fantasy dust jackets for August Derleth’s Arkham House books. During this same period, his illustrations could be found in AMAZING STORIES, FANTASTIC STORIES OF IMAGINATION, and THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION. In later years, he illustrated books and periodicals from other independent publishers including several for Carcosa, a small press founded by Jim Groce, David Drake, and Karl Edward Wagner. According to the latter, Lee Brown Coye was “enormously talented and possessing the unsettling combination of a certain morbid genius with a whimsical sense of humor.” In the late seventies, Coye twice won the “World Fantasy Award for Best Artist.” He suffered a stroke, which left him partially paralyzed, in 1979 and died in September 1981, at the age of seventy-four.

Pulp MacabreNow, thanks to editors Mike Hunchback and Caleb Braaten, some of Coye’s weirdest and most passionately ghoulish artwork is once again being made available. PULP MACABRE, co-published in 2015 by Feral House and Sacred Bones Records, an alternative record company and publisher from Brooklyn, New York, showcases the art of Lee Brown Coye’s final and darkest era, a period when he was “king of the weird artists,” producing some of his strongest and most fearless work.

On Saturday afternoon, August 15th, at 2:30 PM, Mike Hunchback will discuss Coye’s life and work and share selected images from PULP MACABRE as well as fanzine covers, dust jackets, and photographs from his own collection that were not included in the book. Please be sure to visit www.pulpfest.com/pulpfest-2015-registration-information/ to learn how to register for this great convention and be part of PulpFest‘s salute to H. P. Lovecraft, WEIRD TALES, and the art of Lee Brown Coye.

(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. He also produced many interior illustrations for the magazine, including a series of pen-and-ink drawings that the artist “called “Weirdisms.” His work continued to appear in WEIRD TALES until 1952.

After growing up on a steady diet of horror and fantasy fiction from Arkham House Publishers and old pulp magazines, people such as Jim Groce, David Drake, and Karl Edward Wagner started their own small presses during the 1970s. Another was Stuart David Schiff who, in 1973, began to publish WHISPERS, a magazine that “embraced classic horror pulp fiction as well as then-current Horror Culture. Under Schiff’s editorship, the poetry, short stories, essays, and various forms of artwork featured in the zine often reveled in the type of weird extremes found only in the grisliest pulps. Within just a few issues, WHISPERS elevated the quality of fiction found in fanzines, and other publishers would have to follow suit.

The third issue of Schiff’s magazine was dedicated entirely to Lee Brown Coye. In Schiff’s featured essay from the issue, he wrote: “Lee’s pen conjures up spheres beyond normal perception and brings them to you with both subtlety and gut-wrenching directness.” Lee Brown Coye’s cover art for the issue — dated March 1974 — also serves as the cover art for Mike Hunchback’s and Caleb Braaten’s PULP MACABRE compilation.”)

The Call of Cthulhu and the Lovecraft Mythos

Jul 6, 2015 by

Tales of the Cthulhu MythosDuring 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 related stories predated it — “The Nameless City,” “The Hound,” and “The Festival” — in what has come to be known as “The Cthulhu Mythos,” “The Call of Cthulhu” is a seminal work of its author. 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. During this period, Lovecraft 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.” Some of the authors who responded with their own “Cthulhu” fiction were Clark Ashton Smith, Robert E. Howard, Robert Bloch, Frank Belknap Long, Henry Kuttner, and August Derleth.

“All of our gang frequently allude to the pet daemons of the others — thus Smith uses my Yog-Sothoth, while I use his Tsathoggua. Also, I sometimes insert a devil or two of my own in the tales I revise or ghost-write for professional clients. Thus our black pantheon acquires an extensive publicity & pseudo-authoritativeness it would not otherwise get.”

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 to be a corruption of the original author’s intent. Derleth’s “Cthulhu Mythos,” as the story-type came to be known, shifted away from Lovecraft’s nihilistic universe toward a more “good versus evil” backdrop. Other writers, notably Lin Carter and Brian Lumley, continued this process, basing their work on what Lovecraftian scholars have labeled, “the black magic quote,” purportedly written by Lovecraft:

“All my stories, unconnected as they may be, are based on one fundamental lor or legend: that this world was inhabited an one time by another race, who in practicing black magic, lost their foothold and were expelled, yet live on outside, ever ready to take possession of this earth again.”

Although Derleth may have corrupted Lovecraft’s “synthetic folklore,” twisting it away from its author’s intent, he also helped to popularize Lovecraft’s fiction through his Arkham House Publishers, significantly expanding Lovecraft’s reputation. The New Englander’s visions increasingly came under the microscope of academia and amateur scholars. His fiction 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.

Call of Cthulhu One-SheetAs part of its celebration of the 125th anniversary of the birth of H. P. Lovecraft, PulpFest 2015 is proud to welcome John D. Haefele, author of A LOOK BEHIND THE DERLETH MYTHOSa critically acclaimed account of the birth of the Cthulhu Mythos; Don Herron, editor of the scholarly landmark, THE DARK BARBARIAN, and winner of the 2006 Black Circle Award for lifetime achievement in Robert E. Howard studies; popular culture scholar Rick Lai, who regularly appears as a panelist on podcasts produced by THE LOVECRAFT eZINE; Professor Tom Krabacher of California State University, Sacramento and a member of the Pulp Era Amateur Press Association; and Nathan Vernon Madison, a researcher involved in The Pulp Magazines Project and author of the Eisner-nominated ANTI-FOREIGN IMAGERY IN AMERICAN PULPS AND COMICS for a presentation entitled “The Call of Cthulhu: The Development of Lovecraft’s Mythos.” Scheduled for Friday evening, August 14th, at 9:50 PM, our panelists are promising a lively discussion that will explore the inspirations and origins of the Cthulhu Mythos as opposed to the Lovecraft’s Mythos and the Mythos of his contemporaries, as well as the controversies and personalities involved with these ideas over the years.

Join PulpFest 2015 at the beautiful Hyatt Regency in downtown Columbus, Ohio, beginning on Thursday, August 13th and running through Sunday, August 16th, for a salute to H. P. Lovecraft and WEIRD TALES, just a few short days before the author’s 125th birthday. Although our host hotel is completely booked, there are still some rooms available at nearby hotels. Please click here and you’ll find a link to a list of hotels to choose from. If you are not from the Columbus area and want to attend PulpFest 2015, we urge you to book your room now and not later. Rooms that are relatively close to PulpFest are disappearing fast during the time frame of our convention.

(The first edition of TALES OF THE CTHULHU MYTHOS is credited to “H. P. Lovecraft and Others.” Edited and with an Introduction by August Derleth, it was released in 1969 by Arkham House Publishers in an edition of 4024 copies. The jacket art was created by the incomparable Lee Brown Coye who twice won the “World Fantasy Award for Best Artist.” Coye and his artwork will be the subject of a presentation at PulpFest 2015 on Saturday afternoon, August 15th, beginning at 2:30 PM.

As Lovecraft’s fiction became more widely read and popular, it led 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. It was left to an organization devoted to the live-action role-playing game CTHULHU LIVES, to create one of the most faithful film adaptations of the work of H. P. Lovecraft. In 2005, the H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society released THE CALL OF CTHULHU, a silent movie based on Lovecraft’s 1928 story. PulpFest will be offering a fully authorized showing of this film on Friday, August 14th, beginning at 11:30 PM. It will be accompanied by “Cool Air,” an episode from ROD SERLING’S NIGHT GALLERY that originally aired in 1971. Learn more by reading “The Films of H. P. Lovecraft.”

Please be sure to visit www.pulpfest.com/pulpfest-2015-registration-information/ to learn how to register for “Summer’s Great Pulp Con” and be part of our salute to H. P. Lovecraft, WEIRD TALES, and the art of Lee Brown Coye.)

The Weird Tales of Philip José Farmer

Jul 2, 2015 by

F&SF 79-05To most pulp enthusiasts, the late Philip José Farmer is best known as “A prolific and popular science fiction writer who shocked readers in the 1950s by depicting sex with aliens and challenged conventional pieties of the genre with caustic fables set on bizarre worlds of his own devising.” In science-fiction circles, Farmer is most remembered for his novels. Called “sprawling, episodic works that gave him room to explore the nuances of a provocative premise while indulging his taste for lurid, violent action,” his best were set in the Riverworld and World of the Tiers series. He was named a Grand Master of Science Fiction in 2001. To those who know and love him the best — the members of FarmerCon who first joined our convention in 2011 — Philip José Farmer is revered for his work concerning the Wold Newton Family. But what about Philip José Farmer, the horror writer? In this year when PulpFest celebrates the 125th anniversary of the birth of H. P. Lovecraft, it seems fitting that our FarmerCon friends turn their attention to Philip José Farmer, the writer of weird tales.

Farmer’s short story “The Freshman,” originally published in the May 1979 issue of THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY & SCIENCE FICTION, is certainly the story that owes the most to Lovecraft. Set at the New Englander’s fabled Miskatonic University in Arkham, Massachusetts, it concerns a sixty-year-old occult novelist who enrolls at the university. Soon thereafter, he is invited to pledge at a fraternity called the House of Hastur. A fairly playful horror story, it was selected for the 1990 edition of Arkham House‘s TALES OF THE CTHULHU MYTHOS.

Image of the BeastOther notable Farmer weird tales include such short stories as “Duo Miaule,” “Evil Be My Good,” “It’s the Queen of Darkness, Pal,” “Monolog,” “Nobody’s Perfect,” “Opening the Door,” “The Rise Gotten,” and “Wolf, Iron and Moth.” There are also the science-fiction/horror novels IMAGE OF THE BEAST and its sequel BLOWN. These concern a private detective who is led into a waking nightmare of sexual brutality and supernatural bestiality in a universe populated by erogenous vampires, werewolves and other polymorphic creatures from the darkest recesses of the human imagination. Additionally, the collaborative novel THE EVIL IN PEMBERLEY HOUSE  — written with Win Scott Eckert — is not only an addition to the Wold Newton cycle, but plays with pulp and Gothic horror traditions. Finally, there are elements of Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos to be found in his renowned classic DOC SAVAGE: HIS APOCALYPTIC LIFE and “The Monster on Hold,” the first chapter of an unfinished Doc Caliban novel that originally appeared in the World Fantasy Convention program book for 1983. Win Scott Eckert has entered into an agreement with the Estate of Philip José Farmer to complete this novel.

Help PulpFest and FarmerCon celebrate H. P. Lovecraft’s lasting influence, less than a week before the 125th anniversary of his birth, by attending “The Weird Tales of Philip José Farmer” on Friday evening, August 14th, at 9:10 PM. Featuring Jason Scott Aiken, Chuck Loridans, and Frank Schildiner, all leading scholars of popular culture and Farmerphilia, our FarmerCon X panel will take place in the second-floor programming area of “Summer’s Great Pulp Con” at the Hyatt-Regency Columbus.

Jason Scott Aiken  is a fantasy and horror writer and is also the host of Pulp Crazy, a blog and podcast dedicated to classic popular literature, characters, and themes. He has many episodes devoted to the works of Philip José Farmer and weird fiction from the pulp era. Chuck Loridans is one of the founding members of the New Wold Newton Meteoritics Society with whom he has appeared on panels at San Diego Comic-Con and ArchCon in St. Louis. His essay “The Daughters of Greystoke” appeared in MYTHS FOR THE MODERN AGE: PHILIP JOSÉ FARMER’S WOLD NEWTON UNIVERSE, published by MonkeyBrain Books. He teaches cartooning at the Renzi Education and Art Center in Shreveport, Louisiana and serves as the art director for the Gaslight Players theatre group. Frank Schildiner is a “new pulp” author who has also published several articles on horror in comic books, television, and film including essays on HELLBOY, the Frankenstein films, DARK SHADOWS, and television’s Lovecraftian links. His latest novel, THE QUEST OF FRANKENSTEIN, has Frankenstein’s monster meet H. P. Lovecraft’s Herbert West: Reanimator.

Chuck Loridans, it all started with Tarzan of the Apes, then Doc Savage. At the age of twelve he discovered Philip Jose’ Farmer had connected them. Farmer lead him to the incredible world of Pulp Heroes and the Wold Newton Universe. He is one of the founding Members of the NEW WOLD NEWTON METEORITICS SOCIETY with whom he has appeared in panels at Archon/Tuckercon/NASFIC in St. Louis and San Diego Comic-Con, promoting Wold Newton. He is the creator of MONSTAAH (Maximum Observation and/or Neutralization of Supernatural Terrors, Autonomous Agents Headquarters) and the Wold Newton Scholar who discovered that Tarzan of the Apes had two daughters (MYTHS FOR THE MODERN AGE: PHILIP JOSÉ FARMER’S WOLD NEWTON UNIVERSE, edited by Win Scott Eckert). Chuck makes his living in the real world as a hospital groundskeeper and a cartooning teacher at the Renzi Education and Art Center in Shreveport, LA. He is also the art director for the Gaslight Players theatre group.

Since 2011, PulpFest has hosted FarmerCon, a convention that began in Peoria, Illinois, the hometown of Philip José Farmer. Originally a gathering of Farmer fans figuratively, and literally, right outside Phil’s back door, FarmerCon offered presentations, dinners, and even picnics at the author’s house.  After the passing of Phil and Bette Farmer in 2009, it was decided to take FarmerCon on the road to broaden its horizons. By holding the convention alongside events such as PulpFest, Farmer fans get a variety of programming and a room full of pulp and book dealers to enjoy. As always, PulpFest is  very pleased to welcome its FarmerCon members to our joint conference.

To learn more about Philip José Farmer, please visit The Official Philip José Farmer Web Page. It’s the Brobdingnagian collection of all things Farmerian!

(Farmer’s “The Freshman” was originally published in the May 1979 issue of THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY & SCIENCE FICTION, featuring cover art by British artist David A. Hardy.

As a teenager, Hardy discovered Chesley Bonestell’s pioneering astronomical art and worked to emulate the “Father of Modern Space Art.” He got his big break when Patrick Moore, the host of the BBC’s THE SKY AT NIGHT, asked him to illustrate his next book. So began a lengthy collaboration between the two men. During the 1960s, Hardy became a freelance artist. He began to contribute cover art to science fiction magazines in early 1970. One year later, he started a long association with FANTASY & SCIENCE FICTION, creating more than fifty covers and many interior illustrations. He also painted numerous covers for both ANALOG and INTERZONE.

Farmer’s IMAGE OF THE BEAST was originally published in 1968 by Essex House, a Los Angeles publishing imprint that specialized in highbrow erotica. About half of their forty-two titles were science fiction or fantasy, including novels by Philip José Farmer, Richard E Geis, David Meltzer, and others. In 1979, Playboy Press reissued IMAGE OF THE BEAST, pairing it with its sequel, BLOWN. The cover art was by Enrich Torres, a painter best known for his work on the various Warren magazines, most prominently VAMPIRELLA, for which he rendered many covers.)

 

The Heirs of WEIRD TALES

Jun 27, 2015 by

Weird Tales 35-08As part of its celebration of the 125th anniversary of the birth of H. P. LovecraftPulpFest 2015 will be paying tribute to WEIRD TALES, the rough-paper magazine where many of the author’s most influential works were published. The first periodical to be largely devoted to the fantasy genre, WEIRD TALES also introduced readers to the sword-and-sorcery genre through Robert E. Howard’s stories of Kull, Solomon Kane, Bran Mak Morn, and Conan, and shared Clark Ashton Smith’s wonderfully evocative stories of Hyperboria, Averoigne, and Zothique. It gave us C. L. Moore’s “Schambleau” and Jirel stories, Henry S. Whitehead’s voodoo masterpiece, “Jumbee,” and many other classics of fantasy and horror.

Robert Weinberg has stated, “It was in WEIRD TALES . . . that traditions were broken . . . that unusual writing and poetry was featured . . . . It was a magazine where anything might find a home . . . . Most important, it was the policy and nature of the magazine that influenced the entire spectrum of fantasy and SF publishing.”

Even in today’s fast-moving society, WEIRD TALES is still inspiring authors, artists, and publishers. Join PulpFest on Saturday, August 15th, at 1:30 PM as we welcome a talented group of today’s fictioneers — the scribes and word-slingers who are creating the new pulp fiction — to discuss the writers and stories published by “The Unique Magazine,” the genres it helped to generate, and how WEIRD TALES has influenced contemporary writers. It’s called “The Heirs of WEIRD TALES” and promises to be the most fantastic “new pulp” panel we’ve ever assembled.

Ron Fortier, a professional writer for nearly three decades, will be moderating our “Heirs” panel. In 2007, Ron teamed up with illustrator Rob Davis to start Airship 27 Productions and build a home for new adventures featuring many of the pulp characters long remembered by our community. Ron’s own creation, the undead avenger known as Brother Bones, would certainly have been at home with Paul Ernst’s Doctor Satan in the pages of “The Unique Magazine.”

Joining Ron will be “new pulp” authors Jim Beard, a Toledoan whose Sgt. Janus, Spirit-Breaker could certainly have matched wits with Seabury Quinn’s occult detective, Jules de GrandinJeff Fournier, author of new and exotic tales of Sinbad;  John Hegenberger, author of the Lovecraft-inspired short story, “Howard’s Toe,” and the forthcoming Stan Wade private eye series; Rick Lai, whose character, The Revenant, was trained by Erik, the enigmatic Phantom of the Opera; Michael Panush, author of the Stein and Candle Detective Agency series concerning a pair of private detectives specializing in the paranormal, the supernatural, and the just plain weird (who certainly could have taken on Edmond Hamilton’s “Vampire Master“); and Frank Schildiner, whose latest novel, THE QUEST OF FRANKENSTEIN, has Frankenstein’s monster meet H. P. Lovecraft’s Herbert West: Reanimator.

Given the make-up of this seven-writer panel presentation, expect a very fast-moving hour for your Saturday afternoon listening pleasure! Learn how you can register for “Summer’s Great Pulp Con” to be sure not to miss this powerhouse panel by clicking the red register button found on our home page at www.pulpfest.comAnd be sure to book a room! They’re going fast. Visit our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/PulpFest and click on the post pinned to the top of the page. You’ll be directed to a list of hotels to choose from. If you are not from the Columbus area and want to attend PulpFest 2015, please book your room now and not later. Rooms that are relatively close to the Hyatt Regency are rapidly disappearing. When booking through our Facebook link, please be sure to request the Matsuricon group rate.

(Readers first saw Paul Ernst’s Doctor Satan courtesy of WEIRD TALES premier cover artist Margaret Brundage. The character was introduced in the August 1935 issue. “Doctor Satan. A man who took pride in his fiendishness! A man who robbed and killed, and broke the laws of man and God, not for gain, because he already had more than any one person could spend, but solely for thrills! A being jaded with the standard pleasures of the world, and turning to monstrous, sadistic acts to justify his existence and give him the sense of power he craved!” It’s regrettable that he never faced off against Ron Fortier’s Brother Bones, whose “face, hidden forever behind an ivory white skull mask, is the entrance to madness for those unfortunate enough to behold it.”)

Weird Editing at “The Unique Magazine”

Jun 24, 2015 by

Weird Tales 23-03Almost one-hundred and twenty-five years ago, on August 20, 1880, Howard Phillips Lovecraft was born in Providence, Rhode Island. According to the late Robert Bloch, author of PSYCHO, Lovecraft was, “A precocious child, he learned to read when he was four and soon experimented with writing. Poor health kept him from college and economic necessity eventually caused him to neglect amateur journalism in favor of ghostwriting or revising the work of others for professional publication. Gradually he began to produce poetry and fiction of his own.” His “career as a professional writer was largely compressed into a span of about sixteen years. He remained virtually unknown except to the limited readership of pulp magazines such as WEIRD TALES in which his work appeared. It earned only a pitiful pittance to supplement the income from a meager inheritance, and he continued his anonymous chores for other writers.”

Bloch continues: “Today Lovecraft is established as a major American fantasy writer, frequently ranked as the equal of Poe. His work is in print here and abroad and the mild-mannered, old-fashioned, conservative New England gentleman has become an acknowledged master of horror fiction.” What then should be made of this magazine that earned “The Copernicus of the horror story,” as author Fritz Leiber described Lovecraft, “a pitiful pittance to supplement the income from a meager inheritance?”

WEIRD TALES was the first periodical to be largely devoted to the fantasy genre. 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.” It began to come into its own in late 1924 after Farnsworth Wright was named the magazine’s editor. In the years ahead, the pulp would become known for its fantasy and supernatural fiction, publishing the work of Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, and Clark Ashton Smith. Other substantial writers included Bloch, E. Hoffmann Price, Carl Jacobi, Henry Kuttner, Frank Belknap Long, C. L. Moore, Seabury Quinn, Manly Wade Wellman, Henry S. Whitehead, and others. WEIRD TALES would also become noted for its artists: Hannes Bok, Margaret Brundage, J. Allen St. John, and Virgil Finlay all contributed tremendously 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 authors to appear in WEIRD TALES were Ray Cummings, Austin Hall, Otis Adelbert Kline, Moore, Donald Wandrei, and Jack Williamson. In his later years, H. P. Lovecraft spun his own style of science fiction in his tales of cosmic horror.

Weird Tales 42-03The original run of WEIRD TALES began with its March 1923 number, with Edwin Baird as the editor, and ran through its September 1954 issue, for a total of 279 issues. During this period, it was perhaps the most important and influential of all fantasy magazines, providing an outlet for stories that probably would not have been published elsewhere. This was especially true during the Wright years when it published many of Lovecraft’s most influential works; introduced the sword-and-sorcery genre through Robert E. Howard’s stories of Kull, Solomon Kane, Bran Mak Morn, and Conan; shared Clark Ashton Smith’s wonderfully evocative stories of Hyperboria, Averoigne, and Zothique; and featured the early work of artists Hannes Bok, Margaret Brundage, and Virgil Finlay. As pulp scholar Robert Weinberg has written, “It was in WEIRD TALES . . . that traditions were broken . . . . that unusual writing and poetry was featured. The outrageous and the ordinary mingled side by side in the magazine . . . It was a magazine where anything might find a home.”

Although Wright did indeed publish some rather substantial stories during his editorship — including Lovecraft’s “The Call of Cthulhu,” “The Whisperer in Darkness,” and “The Haunter of the Dark;” Howard’s “The Tower of the Elephant,” “A Witch Shall Be Born,” “Pigeons from Hell,” and “Red Nails;” C. L. Moore’s “Schambleau” and Jirel stories; Clark Ashton Smith’s “A Rendezvous in Averoigne,” “The Vaults of Yoh-Vombis,” and “Genius Loci;” Henry S. Whitehead’s “Jumbee,” and many others — he was, at the same time, rejecting a great deal of fine work. H. P. Lovecraft was told that “At the Mountains of Madness,” was “too long,” “not easily divisible into parts,” and “not convincing.” “The Shadow over Innsmouth” was rejected for similar reasons. Both have since become recognized as classics. In a letter addressed to Lee Alexander Stone in 1930, Lovecraft wrote: “Henry S. Whitehead . . . says that Wright uniformly rejects his best stories. Very like Wright — whose bland dumbness transcends my utmost limits of comprehension.” In a letter to Richard Searight, written in 1935, Lovecraft summarized his feelings about Wright by stating, “His capricious editorial policy does give me a large-sized cervical pain! He has consistently turned down my best work . . . on the ground of length, while at the same time taking far longer things (for the most part utter tripe) from others. It is clear to me that he does not like my work, no matter what he says to the contrary.”

Howard, Smith, and others experienced similar rejections. In a letter mailed to Wright about a year before his tragic suicide, Robert E. Howard stated, “WEIRD TALES owes me over eight hundred dollars for stories already published and supposed to be paid for on publication — enough to pay all my debts and get back on my feet again.” Some scholars have suggested that Wright’s sometimes difficult stance taken with his best writers may have contributed to the early deaths of Howard and Lovecraft and the premature end of Smith’s writing career.

As part of its celebration of the 125th anniversary of the birth of H. P. Lovecraft, PulpFest 2015 is proud to welcome Don Herron, editor of the scholarly landmark, THE DARK BARBARIAN, and winner of the 2006 Black Circle Award for lifetime achievement in Robert E. Howard studies; Morgan Holmes, longtime member of  the Robert E. Howard United Press Association and a book review editor for THE DARK MAN; Professor Tom Krabacher of California State University, Sacramento and a member of the Pulp Era Amateur Press Association; 1979 Lamont Award winner and author of “The Wild Adventures of Doc Savage and Tarzan” Will Murray; and popular culture Professor Garyn G. Roberts, who was awarded the Munsey in 2013, for a presentation entitled “Weird Editing at ‘The Unique Magazine’.” Scheduled for Saturday evening, August 15th, at 7:55 PM, our panelists will discuss the editorial policies of WEIRD TALES, concentrating particularly on the reign of Farnsworth Wright.

Join PulpFest 2015 at the beautiful Hyatt Regency in downtown Columbus, Ohio, beginning on Thursday, August 13th and running through Sunday, August 16th, for a salute to H. P. Lovecraft and WEIRD TALES, just a few short days before the author’s 125th birthday. Although our host hotel is completely booked, there are still some rooms available at nearby hotels. Please visit our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/PulpFest and click on the post pinned to the top of the page. You’ll be directed to a list of hotels to choose from. If you are not from the Columbus area and want to attend PulpFest 2015, we urge to book your room now and not later. Rooms that are relatively close to PulpFest are disappearing fast during the time frame of our convention.

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

Hannes Bok created seven covers for WEIRD TALES. The last appeared on the issue dated March 1942. It was edited by Dorothy McIlwraith, who succeeded Farnsworth Wright following the March 1940 number. McIlwraith would publish Ray Bradbury’s first professional solo story, “The Candle,” in the November 1942 issue. She also helped to launch the careers of author Fritz Leiber and fantasy artist Lee Brown Coye.

Weird Tales 73-FAlmost two decades after its original demise, WEIRD TALES was revived in 1973-1974 for four issues, edited by Sam Moskowitz. The second issue, from the fall of 1973, featured cover art by Gary van der Steur after Hannes Bok’s cover from March 1940. A paperback series lasting four more issues, edited by Lin Carter, appeared from 1981-1983. The magazine was revived in 1988 by George H. Scithers, Darrell Schweitzer and John Gregory Betancourt and has, more or less, been published on a continuous basis since that time. in 2014, the 362nd  issue was released. It is currently published by John Harlacher with Marvin Kaye serving as editor. For more details, visit the magazine’s website at http://weirdtalesmagazine.com/.)

Leo Margulies at 115!

Jun 22, 2015 by

Leo MarguliesLeo Margulies RevisedSoon after Ned Pines was asked by The American News Company to start a chain of pulp magazines that it would distribute for him, the young publisher approached former literary agent and Frank A. Munsey employee, Leo Margulies, to be the managing editor of the new enterprise. With the country gripped by the Great Depression, the two men came up with a daring idea for the rough paper market–a ten-cent pulp magazine.

Standard Magazines, better known as “The Thrilling Group,” launched THRILLING DETECTIVE, THRILLING ADVENTURES, and THRILLING LOVE in late 1931, each selling for a dime. Within two years, the line was expanding, first with THE PHANTOM DETECTIVE, followed by THE LONE EAGLE, SKY FIGHTERS, THRILLING RANCH STORIES, and THRILLING WESTERN. As Standard grew, Leo Margulies became the company’s face.

Margulies was born on June 22, 1905 and raised in Brooklyn, New York. After briefly attending Columbia University, he began working for the Munsey magazine chain, selling subsidiary rights to its stories. His mentor was the legendary editor, Bob Davis, the man who published many of the early works of Max Brand, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Ray Cummings, George Allan England, A. Merritt, and other popular writers.

After Davis left the pulp industry, Margulies started a literary agency with a colleague. He later worked as head of East Coast research for Fox Films; helped to establish Tower Magazines, sold exclusively through Woolworth’s; and founded his own literary agency. After joining Ned Pines’ new publishing venture, he developed a reputation “. . . not only for quick decisions on buying stories but also for swift payment, which made him a writers’ favorite.”

Respected by authors and editors alike, Margulies became known as “The Little Giant of the Pulps.” As author and screenwriter Steve Fisher described in an article written for a writer’s magazine, “. . . there was a sudden silence. Fifty people stopped eating and looked up. Leo Margulies made his usual dramatic entrance. . . . I thought for a moment (American Fiction Guild) president Art Burks was going to leap to his feet and salute.”

Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine 81-09During World War II, Margulies enlisted in the military as a war correspondent. He was on board the USS Missouri when the Japanese surrendered. Returning to the USA, he helped launch the Popular Library line of paperback books. In the early fifties, following a lengthy trip to Europe, Leo Margulies left Ned Pines’ employ and started a new publishing venture, King-Size Publications. He returned to the fiction market with two digest magazines — THE SAINT DETECTIVE MAGAZINE and FANTASTIC UNIVERSE. In later years, he established MIKE SHAYNE MYSTERY MAGAZINE, THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. MAGAZINE, ZANE GREY’S WESTERN MAGAZINE, and other fiction digests. He also revived WEIRD TALES in 1973-1974, for four issues, edited by Sam Moskowitz. Leo Margulies died on December 26, 1975 at the age of seventy-five.

As part of its tribute to Ned Pines’ Standard MagazinesPulpFest 2015 will welcome Leo Margulies’ nephew, Philip M. Sherman, to the convention to discuss his uncle Leo on both a personal and professional level. “Not only was Leo an outstanding editor and publisher . . . he was also an outstanding uncle,” Mr. Sherman writes. Philip — who is working on a biography of his uncle — will discuss Margulies’ relationship with his own family as well as the “Little Giant’s” relationship with writers, as expressed in his personal correspondence. Mr. Sherman, the son of Margulies’ sister Ann, will also be sharing family photos of his Uncle Leo as well as excerpts from letters written by the managing editor of Standard Magazines.”

Joining Mr. Sherman on stage will be popular culture scholars Ed Hulse, editor of BLOOD ‘N’ THUNDER, and Will Murray, author of “The Wild Adventures of Doc Savage and Tarzan” from Altus Press. Following Mr. Sherman’s intimate presentation on his uncle, the three will discuss the unique methods used by Margulies to manage the Thrilling chain of pulp magazines. The convention would like to thank former organizing committee member Ed Hulse for helping to arrange Philip M. Sherman’s appearance at PulpFest 2015.

“Leo Margulies: The Little Giant of the Pulps” will begin at 7:10 PM on Friday evening, August 14th. Learn how you can register for “Summer’s Great Pulp Con” to be sure not to miss this historic presentation by clicking the red register button found on our home page at www.pulpfest.com.

(According to John Locke’s introduction to THRILLING DETECTIVE HEROES, during the Second World War, Leo Margulies “answered the higher calling of wartime. He and several other writers and editors joined the Navy for a stint in the Pacific Theater as war correspondents.” Pictured here is Margulies in uniform. Many thanks to Matt Moring of Altus Press for this photograph. It originally appeared in Will Murray’s study of the pulp western, WORDSLINGERS.

About six years after Margulies’ death, MIKE SHAYNE MYSTERY MAGAZINE, one of the magazines the longtime editor founded after his departure from the Thrilling Group, ceased publication, just seven shy of its 300th issue. During its last year, it ran a seven-part series on pulp heroes that was written by mystery author, Michael Avallone, the creator of private eye Ed Noon. Featured in the September 1981 issue — with a cover by Keller — was Avallone’s tribute to THE PHANTOM DETECTIVE, the first hero pulp to be published by Leo Margulies for Standard Magazines.)

Thrilling Comic Book Heroes

Jun 21, 2015 by

Thrilling Comics 1939-1Since late May, we’ve primarily been exploring the pulp magazines of the Thrilling Group on the PulpFest home page. We’ve discussed the Standard sports pulps, western hero pulps, thrilling detectives, and the pulp heroes of the thirties and the forties. We’ve even found time to explore the lives and careers of Standard’s managing editor Leo Margulies and his assistant Mort Weisinger, prolific author Norman Daniels, equally prolific cover artist Rudolph Belarski, and more. Today, we will turn our attention to the Standard Comics line.

Ned Pines was primarily a pulp publisher with nearly four-thousand issues produced from 1931-1958, along with RANCH ROMANCES through 1971. However, Standard was also a second-tier comics firm from 1940 through 1959, with the circulation of the company’s comic books being somewhat limited on the West Coast. When they started hunting for them, comic book collectors found the Standard Comics to be much scarcer than pulps from Standard, especially given the firm’s prolific publication of science fiction and western pulps.

The firm’s costumed heroes were published only from 1940 through 1949, then made no appearances anywhere–except in fanzines–until a few AC reprints began popping up in the 1980s. Not counting westerns, science-fiction, magicians and jungle characters, Standard/Better/Nedor/Four Star/Pines/Visual Editions published only seventeen strips with costumed characters, most of them beginning during the first half of the 1940s. The only two names commonly recognized today are The Black Terror and The Fighting Yank. Therefore, as colorful as they were, the Standard heroes were far less known among Golden Age comic book collectors than were the super heroes from the likes of top-tier publishers DC, Timely, Fawcett, and Quality.

The company’s flagship character was ostensibly Doc Strange, who appeared in 88 stories beginning with THRILLING COMICS #1, dated February 1940, and running through #64, dated February 1948, and in the anthology title AMERICA’S BEST COMICS #1-23 and #27. Created by writer Richard Hughes, later the editor of the American Comics Group, and artist Alexander Kostuke, Doc Strange gained his powers from a magic elixir and was basically a super-powered Doc Savage. He soon began to resemble a weight-lifter in t-shirt and khaki pants. Doc never had his own title, but he was popular enough to hang around longer than most superheroes of the early forties, lasting almost to the end of the decade.

Exciting Comics #9The real flagship, of course, became the colorful Black Terror, who debuted in EXCITING COMICS #9, dated May 1941, running through the last issue, #69, dated September 1949. Along with Tim, the teen partner he acquired, he was essentially a Batman knockoff and gained his powers through drugs — fitting because he was a pharmacist in civilian life. Unlike other publishers, Standard almost never used recurring villains, instead presenting the most generic of all generic super-hero stories. Also created by Hughes, as well as artist Don Gabrielson, The Black Terror was one of two Standard super heroes with his own title, running in #1-27 from 1942 through 1949. He also appeared in all 31 issues of AMERICA’S BEST COMICS, concurrent with his own title, for a total of 174 stories. All three of the comics that ran The Black Terror were canceled in 1949, and a few years later, the company largely departed the comic book market.

The other Standard character with his own title, The Fighting Yank, first appeared in STARTLING COMICS #10, dated September 1941. His adventures ran through STARTLING #49, dated Jan. 1948, along with FIGHTING YANK #1-29 and AMERICA’S BEST COMICS # 9, 11 and #13-25, for a total of 141 stories. A supernaturally created character, he was Standard’s answer to Timely’s Captain America and the many other mainstream Golden Age patriotic heroes. Likewise created by Hughes, along with artist Jon Blummer, the Yank was in “real life” Bruce Carter III, who had an identical ancestor — also named Bruce Carter — in the War for Independence. In times of crisis, the earlier Bruce would manifest himself in spirit form, and help out. It was the Revolutionary War Bruce who showed the World War II Bruce where to find a magic cloak able to protect him from harm and impart super strength. In addition to this green cloak, Bruce III’s Fighting Yank outfit included several 18th century fashion motifs, such as a tri-corner hat and square buckles, and a modern-style American flag on his chest. The series ended in 1949.

Startling Comics #1Standard’s other primary super heroes were Captain Future and Pyroman. Even though he had the same name as an existing Standard pulp hero, Captain Future resembled Superman and Captain Marvel. The character’s adventures ran from STARTLING COMICS #1, dated June 1940, through #40, dated July 1946. He also appeared in AMERICA’S BEST COMICS #1-3, 5 and 22, for 45 stories. The Captain was created by Pines editor Mort Weisinger, whose contribution seems to have been suggesting a hero who would have adventures under that name. Although the author is not known, the original Captain Future story was drawn by Kin Platt, who later co-created Supermouse, the first ongoing funny-animal superhero in comics.

After scientist Andrew Bryant bathes himself in a mixture of gamma and infrared radiation, he can fly, emit bolts of energy from his hands, and perform prodigious feats of strength. Calling himself Captain Future, he wasn’t invulnerable and needed to be recharged from time to time. So he usually kept his radiation machine relatively handy. Although featured on the covers of the first nine issues of STARTLING COMICS, Captain Future was demoted to the back pages of the comic book following the introduction of The Fighting Yank in the tenth issue of the comic magazine.

Pyroman, a quasi-Human Torch with electrical powers, ran in STARTLING COMICS #18-26, 28-43 and in most issues of AMERICA’S BEST COMICS for a total of 43 stories. Created by an unknown writer and artist Jack Binder, Pyroman never had his own title, but did take the cover away from Fighting Yank in December, 1942, when his origin story appeared in STARTLING #18. Dick Martin had been a student of electrical engineering before being framed for arson. Sentenced to die in the electric chair, he got super-powered instead. Pyroman’s powers weren’t exactly flame-based, like The Human Torch’s. Instead, he was crackling with electricity, which he could hurl at his foes in the form of lightning bolts or form into a sort of force field. The character stuck around in STARTLING COMICS until 1947 when he was replaced by Lance Lewis, Space Detective.

Wonder Comics #1There were five other patriotic strips — Standard rivaled Timely for the most involvement in World War II by its super heroes. These were The American Eagle (34 stories, mostly in EXCITING), The American Crusader (22 stories, mostly in THRILLING), The Liberator (22 stories, mostly in EXCITING), The Four Comrades (a kid group who appeared only in World War II era issues of STARTLING) and The Grim Reaper (19 stories, all but two in WONDER COMICS #1-17).

Standard had two early non-powered costume heroes — The Mask (only in EXCITING #1-20) and The Woman in Red (primarily in THRILLING). The Mask was the comic book version of The Black Bat, a pulp hero created by writer Norman Daniels for Standard’s BLACK BOOK DETECTIVE. Due to the resemblance of the character to Batman, Standard decided not to do a Black Bat comic series; instead it introduce The Mask, a series based on The Black Bat, but with the names changed. Later, a version of The Phantom Detective from the pulps appeared in most issues of THRILLING #53-70. The other noteworthy non-powered costume hero was Miss Masque, who appeared in sixteen stories in four titles, beginning with EXCITING #51 (Sept. 1946). The Scarab and The Cavalier also made a handful of appearances, but were strictly back-of-the-book characters.

Wonderman, a science-fictional super-powered character, debuted in the short-lived MYSTERY COMICS #1-4 (all 1944) and continued in WONDER COMICS #9-20, along with two stories in the giant COMPLETE BOOK OF COMICS AND FUNNIES (a 1944 one-shot). William F. Wise sub-published several comics for Standard during the era of wartime paper restrictions, including MYSTERY COMICS and two giant square bound one-shot titles in 1944.

Not counting the William F. Wise issues, Standard published only seven titles with costumed heroes. All were at least reasonably successful, including the twenty issues of WONDER COMICS from 1944-1948. The cover art, almost entirely by Alex Schomburg, doubtless had much to do with selling the comics, as most of the interior art was unremarkable. All titles ran bi-monthly or quarterly during most of the 1940s, with a short run of monthly issues for THRILLING, STARTLING, and EXCITING until paper rationing took hold.

Supermouse #1The only super heroes Standard published in the 1950s were mighty mice — the original World War II creation Supermouse, who ran through 1958, and Paul Terry’s Mighty Mouse. Standard acquired the license from St. John in the mid-1950s.

As part of its celebration of the Thrilling Group, PulpFest 2015 is proud to welcome Altus Press publisher and 2012 Munsey Award winner Matt Moring; 1979 Lamont Award winner and author of “The Wild Adventures of Doc Savage and Tarzan” Will Murray; pop culture expert and 2014 Inkpot Award winner Michelle Nolan; and popular culture Professor Garyn G. Roberts, who was awarded the Munsey in 2013, for a presentation entitled “Thrilling Heroes of Standard’s Pulps and Comics.” Scheduled for Friday evening, August 14th, at 10:40 PM, it will examine the evolution of the Standard hero in both pulp magazines and comic books. Thrilling’s heroes of the detective and western genres will be dissected on Thursday, August 13th.

Our discussion of Standard’s heroes began on Friday, June 19th, to call attention to this “Thrilling Presentation!!!” You can read our previous posts about the Thrilling pulp heroes of the thirties and forties by visiting  www.pulpfest.com.

(Doc Strange, a super-powered Doc Savage, headlined the first issue of THRILLING COMICS, dated February 1940, and featuring cover artwork drawn by Alexander Kostuk.

The Black Terror was introduced in the ninth issue of EXCITING COMICS, dated May 1941. The front cover was drawn by Elmer Wexler. The character was created by writer Richard Hughes and artist Alexander Kostuke. The Black Terror was one of two Standard super heroes with his own title. The other was The Fighting Yank, likewise created by Hughes, along with artist Jon Blummer.

That’s the comic book Captain Future on the cover of STARTLING COMICS #1, dated June 1940. The cover artist was Kin Platt, who also drew the first Captain Future comic book story. A character who resembled Superman and Captain Marvel, the comic book version of Captain Future was nothing like the character found in the pulps, created by Edmond Hamilton.

Created by writer Richard Hughes and artist Al Camy, The Grim Reaper was one of a seeming army of non-superpowered masked mystery men who fought crime and the Axis during the forties using only their wits, fists, and, in the case of The Grim Reaper, two .45 automatic pistols, knives, swords, and occasionally machine-guns. Alex Schomburg was the cover artist featured on the first issue of WONDER COMICS, illustrating The Grim Reaper story that headed the issue. Debuting in FIGHTING YANK #7, dated February 1944, The Grim Reaper had to wait until the second issue of WONDER COMICS to have his origin story told.

Ned Pines was one of many pulp magazine publishers who got into comic books the minute he saw what success DC Comics was having with Superman. Like most, he entered the field with a bunch of anthology titles anchored by super heroes. He started diversifying the minute it began to look like the public might be getting tired of that genre. In 1942 and 1943, he introduced a couple of humor titles for kids, HAPPY COMICS and COO COO COMICS. It was in the first issue of the latter, dated October, 1942, that Supermouse made his debut. Supermouse went on to become one of the most successful funny animal superheroes to come out of comic books. Although COO COO fell by the wayside in 1952, Supermouse had gotten his own comic in 1948 and kept at it until Fall 1958, about a year before Pines completely dropped his line of comic books. Among the writers and artists to work on the character were Dan Gordon (creator of The Flintstones), Richard Hughes (creator of Herbie), Gene Fawcette (who worked for Quality Comics, Dell and many other publishers), and Milton Stein (who worked as an assistant animator for Fleischer in the 1940s). The cover art for SUPERMOUSE #1, dated December 1948, was drawn by Carl Wessler.

Many thanks to Michelle Nolan, Don Markstein’s TOONOPEDIA, Comic Book +, and Comic Vine for their help with this article.)

 

Thrilling Pulp Heroes of the Forties

Jun 20, 2015 by

Shadow33-08-01In the spring of 1931, THE SHADOW MAGAZINE was introduced to readers by Street & Smith Publications and proved an instant hit. Within a few short years, all of the leading pulp magazine publishers hoped to emulate its success by introducing their own hero pulps. The first to the starting gate would be Ned Pines’ Standard Magazines, the pulp chain that will be feted at this year’s PulpFest in Columbus, Ohio.

The first of the so-called hero pulps inspired by Walter Gibson’s “Dark Avenger” was THE PHANTOM DETECTIVE, launched in early 1933. Later that same year, Standard followed with the first air war hero magazine, THE LONE EAGLE. Next came G-MEN, the first pulp magazine to capitalize on growing popularity of J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI agents. Thrilling closed the thirties by introducing the heroic adventures of the Black Bat to readers of BLACK BOOK DETECTIVE MAGAZINE, a pulp that had been around nearly as long as the company’s first hero pulp, D. L. Champion’s THE PHANTOM DETECTIVE.

In 1939, while attending the first World Science Fiction Convention in New York City, Standard Magazines’ editor-in-chief, Leo Margulies, “was so overcome by the sincerity of the fans,” that he and editor Mort Weisinger immediately began to work up an idea for a new kind of fantasy magazine. The result of those discussions was CAPTAIN FUTURE, a hero pulp that premiered at the beginning of 1940.

40-01 Captain FutureOr so the story goes. In actuality, the Thrilling Group’s editorial staff had been batting around ideas for a science-fictional single-character magazine for about a year, even asking long-time Standard author Edmond Hamilton to work something up involving a “Mr. Future, Wizard of Science.” Eventually, this character evolved into Captain Future, a super-scientist with laboratories and a residence on the Moon. In each issue of the pulp, Hamilton’s Captain and his faithful assistants pretty much would save the solar system from desolation at the hands of this villain or that. The novels were fairly juvenile space-opera. CAPTAIN FUTURE ran until the spring of 1944, surviving for seventeen issues with Edmond Hamilton at the helm for all but one. In 1945-46, three additional Captain Future novels ran in STARTLING STORIES, with Hamilton writing two of them and Manly Wade Wellman one. Seven shorter works followed in 1950, all written by Hamilton. Popular Library reprinted thirteen of the Captain’s adventures in paperback in the late sixties. Today, specialty publisher Haffner Press is collecting the entire series into quality hardbound volumes.

40-01 Ghost Super-DetectivePremiering around the same time as the good captain, THE GHOST, SUPER-DETECTIVE was a short-lived hero pulp that ran for just seven issues, even though, during its abbreviated life, it went through two title changes. It became THE GHOST DETECTIVE in the summer of 1940 and THE GREEN GHOST DETECTIVE in the winter of 1941. Whatever the name, this pulp hero was actually George Chance, a professional magician who decided to use his skills of prestidigitation to fight crime. As The Ghost, Green Ghost, or whatever, Chance took on the guise of a ghoul. As the late Robert Sampson wrote: “His face is bloodless white, the eyes sunk deep in blotched hollows. The nostrils gape wide. Yellow teeth fill a distended mouth. In short, he looks like a dead man, a staring corpse. These features appear by night, glowing with dim luminescence, to the confusion of the underworld.” After the pulp was cancelled in 1941, the character returned in a series of a six short stories that ran in THRILLING MYSTERY from 1942 through 1944. The entire series, both novels and short stories, was written by G. T. Fleming-Roberts. It has been reprinted by The Battered Silicon Dispatch Box as part of its LOST TREASURES FROM THE PULPS library. A prolific author, Fleming-Roberts wrote other single-character adventures including Secret Agent “X,” The Black Hood, Dan Fowler, and Captain Zero. He also penned two other magician-detective series—the Diamondstone tales for POPULAR DETECTIVE and the Jeffery Wren yarns for DIME DETECTIVE.

Air War 1940-FallThe adventures of Captain Danger were told in AIR WAR, a companion to SKY FIGHTERS, THE LONE EAGLE, and other Thrilling aviation pulps. The magazine debuted during the fall of 1940 and ran for a total of nineteen issues. Credited to Lieutenant Scott Morgan, a house name, the tales of Allen Danger, a soldier of fortune who dedicated his life to helping the downtrodden, appeared in the first fifteen issues of the Standard pulp magazine. Described as a demon of the skies, his missions took him across the globe, delivering aerial justice against the Axis powers. According to pulp historian Don Hutchison, the series was created by Robert Sidney Bowen. However, at least seven of the stories–including the last yarn in the Spring 1944 issue–are known to be the work of Norman Daniels.

40-10 Masked DetectiveThe last of Standard Magazines’ line of non-western single-character pulps, THE MASKED DETECTIVE, also reached newsstands in the fall of 1940. The title character was the alter ego of crime reporter Rex Parker, a laid-back newshawk who worked for a New York newspaper. When not tracking down news for his paper, he battled crime as The Masked Detective. A student of kick-boxing, the detective “wore a neat black suit, gray shirt, dark bow tie, black hat, and a black mask covering his eyes, forehead, and nose. He wore specially built shoes with square, hard toes. He was also a master of ju-jitsu, a good shot, a trained boxer, a makeup artist, and a ventriloquist.” Author credit went to C. K. M. Scanlon, a house name. Norman Daniels is known to have written at least five of the stories. THE MASKED DETECTIVE ran for twelve issues, lasting into the spring of 1943.

Scattered throughout Standard’s anthology titles are other so-called pulp heroes including The Crimson Mask. Attributed to Frank Johnson, the series was largely written by the prolific Daniels. The Mask was the alter ego of pharmacist Robert Clarke, a man seeking revenge against the criminals who had murdered his father. Aided by a small group of friends, the Crimson Mask battled gangsters, kidnappers, and Nazi spy rings through sixteen stories. The series ran in Thrilling’s DETECTIVE NOVELS MAGAZINE, debuting in the August 1940 issue and running through the April 1944 number. The Mask’s stories usually alternated with Daniels’ own Candid Camera Kid yarns, introduced in the June 1939 issue. The first five Crimson Mask stories have been reprinted by Altus Press.

Exciting Detective 41-FallEXCITING DETECTIVE premiered during the fall of 1940, promising “fast-moving, dynamite-packed, up-to-the-minute novels, novelettes, and stories that carry a high-powered punch!” It ran for a total of fifteen issues, ending with its Summer 1943 number, a victim of wartime paper rationing. Appearing in four of its issues–beginning with the Fall 1941 number–was Miles Murdock, a plastic surgeon also known as The Purple Scar. Attributed to John S. Endicott, the stories are thought to be the work of pulp writer George A. McDonald. A “grim nemesis of evil,” The Purple Scar was a master of disguise who spoke in a “hoarse whispering, rather chilling, tomb-like voice.” He wore a purple mask to imitate his murdered brother’s features, scarred by acid and submerged in water. “Purple becomes black at night, which makes my face invisible instead of betraying it as a pale glow in the darkness.” All four of The Scar’s stories have been reprinted by Altus Press.

Debuting in the May 1941 issue of THRILLING ADVENTURES, Henry Kuttner’s Thunder Jim Wade was a short-lived character who is usually written off as a Doc Savage clone. Published under the house name of Charles Stoddard, Wade was raised in a lost colony of Crete where he developed various mental and physical abilities. A roving troubleshooter operating off of a secret island in the South Pacific, Jim is alerted to problems through agents scattered across the globe. Helped by two assistants–Red Argyle and Dirk Marat–Thunder Jim starred in five adventures published in consecutive issues of the Standard pulp magazine. All have been reprinted in a single volume published by Altus Press, entitled THUNDER JIM WADE: THE COMPLETE SERIES.

Thrilling Mystery 41-11Although the bulk of the Dr. Zeng Tse-Lin stories were co-written by W. T. Ballard and Robert Leslie Bellem and published in POPULAR DETECTIVE, the first story of the series–“Fangs of Doom”–ran in the November 1941 issue of THRILLING MYSTERY. An allegedly Chinese crimefighter who is actually the son of white missionary parents, Zeng was assisted by Lai Hu Chow, a Chinese man who wears an artificial leg in which he can carry weapons and other useful items. The entire series has been reprinted by Altus Press. Dr. Zeng will also be explored during our PulpFest presentation, “Thrilling Detectives,” taking place on Thursday, August 13th, at 8:40 PM.

As part of its celebration of the Thrilling Group, PulpFest 2015 is proud to welcome Altus Press publisher and 2012 Munsey Award winner Matt Moring; 1979 Lamont Award winner and author of “The Wild Adventures of Doc Savage and Tarzan” Will Murray; pop culture expert and 2014 Inkpot Award winner Michelle Nolan; and popular culture Professor Garyn G. Roberts, who was awarded the Munsey in 2013, for a presentation entitled “Thrilling Heroes of Standard’s Pulps and Comics.” Scheduled for Friday evening, August 14th, at 10:40 PM, it will examine the evolution of the Standard hero in both pulp magazines and comic books. Thrilling’s heroes of the detective and western genres will be dissected on Thursday, August 13th.

Our discussion of Standard’s heroes began on Friday, June 19th, to call attention to this “Thrilling Presentation!!!” You can read our previous post about the Thrilling pulp heroes of the thirties by visiting  www.pulpfest.com. On Sunday, we’ll turn our attention to the comic book heroes of Standard, Better, Nedor, and Visual Editions.

(George Rozen’s painting for the August 1, 1933 issue of THE SHADOW MAGAZINE is perhaps one of the artist’s most iconic images of Walter Gibson’s “Dark Avenger.” Born 110 years ago in October 1895, Rozen and his twin brother, Jerome, were both pulp artists. George’s first published assignments were covers and interior pen-and-ink story illustrations for Fawcett magazines. In 1931, he replaced his brother as the cover artist for Street & Smith’s THE SHADOW MAGAZINE. George Rozen became the pulp’s most renowned cover artist, while his brother branched out into the more prestigious fields of advertising and slick magazines.

As time passed, George Rozen continued to work for the pulp industry, selling cover art to all of the major publishers including Popular and the Thrilling Group. For Ned Pines, Rozen painted adventure, detective (such as the first issue of THE MASKED DETECTIVE, dated Fall 1940), western, war, and even science-fiction covers, including the first issue of CAPTAIN FUTURE, dated January 1940. As the pulp market began to contract, his work was increasingly found on paperbacks from Popular Library and Ace.

While training for the priesthood in his native Puerto Rico, Rafael de Soto began taking private art lessons with a local artist. He emigrated to the United States in 1923 and soon found work at an advertising company. He began to draw interior story illustrations for Street & Smith’s western pulp magazines in 1930. Two years later, he started to sell freelance cover paintings to all the major pulp magazine publishers including Clayton, Dell, Fiction House, Popular, Street & Smith, and the Thrilling Group. It was de Soto who created the cover art for the first issue of THE GHOST SUPER-DETECTIVE, dated January 1940. He continued to produce pulp covers up until the demise of the industry during the 1950s. He also sold freelance illustrations to slick magazines, many paperback book covers, and covers and interior story illustrations for men’s adventure magazines. Rafael de Soto retired from freelance illustration in 1964 and began teaching art at the State University of New York, Farmingdale. He taught art for the rest of his life and embarked on a very successful career as a portrait artist.

Although some have attributed the front cover art for the first issue of AIR WAR, dated Fall 1940, to Harold William McCauley, who primarily worked as a staff artist for the Chicago-based Ziff-Davis publishing house, the painting does not resemble the artist’s usual work. It seems hard to imagine that Standard Publications would launch a new title with an untried free-lance cover artist living in Chicago, who they had never worked with before. Unless proven otherwise, the cover artist for this particular issue of AIR WAR is not known.

Ernest Chiriacka provided the cover illustrations for both the Fall 1940 issue of EXCITING DETECTIVE (featuring the premier of The Purple Scar series) and the November 1941 issue of THRILLING MYSTERY (which featured E. Hoffmann Price’s “Fangs of Doom,” the start of the Dr. Zeng series). Chiriacka’s first published story illustrations appeared in 1939 in Street & Smith’s LOVE STORY MAGAZINE. During the 1940s, he began selling freelance pulp covers to a variety of magazines including ADVENTURE, BLACK BOOK DETECTIVE, DETECTIVE FICTION WEEKLY, DIME WESTERN, G-MEN DETECTIVE, THE PHANTOM DETECTIVE, STAR WESTERN, SWEETHEART STORIES, TEXAS RANGERS, and WESTERN ACES. In 1950, he joined the American Artists Agency and began a successful career as a slick magazine illustrator. He also painted many paperback covers up until 1965. Afterward, he retired from commerical illustration to concentrate on painting visionary landscapes of the Old West.)

 

The Thrilling Adventures of Rudolph Belarski

Jun 14, 2015 by

Air War 1944-SummerRudolph Belarski grew up in the hardscrabble world of coal mines in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. He finished the sixth grade and then entered the work force with his classmates at the Pittston Mines, where he labored for ten years, while he subscribed to a correspondence art school to follow his dream to become a celebrated illustrator.

In 1922 he moved to New York City to study at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, where his classmates included Walter Baumhofer, Frederick Blakeslee, and John Fleming Gould. In 1928, he entered the pulp industry through Dell Publications, doing interiors and covers for adventure pulps about World War I, such as WAR ACES, WAR BIRDS, WAR NOVELS, and WAR STORIES. In later years, he worked for Fiction House and the Munsey chain of pulp magazines, painting covers for ACES, AIR STORIES, ALL-AMERICAN FICTION, ARGOSY, DETECTIVE FICTION WEEKLY, DOUBLE DETECTIVE, RED STAR ADVENTURES, SILVER BUCK WESTERN, WINGS, and other rough-paper titles.

By 1935 Rudolph  Belarski was one of Ned Pines’ top artists at Standard Publications, where he painted covers for AIR WAR, THE AMERICAN EAGLE, ARMY NAVY FLYING STORIES, BLACK BOOK DETECTIVE, CAPTAIN FUTURE, DETECTIVE NOVEL MAGAZINE, EXCITING FOOTBALL, EXCITING SPORTS, GIANT DETECTIVE, G-MEN DETECTIVE, THE LONE EAGLE, MYSTERY BOOK MAGAZINE, THE PHANTOM DETECTIVE, POPULAR DETECTIVE, POPULAR WESTERN, RAF ACES, SKY FIGHTERS, STARTLING STORIES, THRILLING ADVENTURES, THRILLING DETECTIVE, THRILLING MYSTERY, THRILLING WONDER STORIES, WEST, and other pulps from the Thrilling Group.

Following the Second World War, Rudolph Belarski became one of Ned Pines’ top paperback cover artists at Popular Library as well as a leading illustrator for the men’s adventure magazines. He finished his career as a teacher at the world’s foremost correspondence art school, the Famous Artists School of Westport, Connecticut. On Saturday, August 15th, at 8:45 PM, please join pulp art historian David Saunders for an exploration of the life and work of pulp artist Rudolph Belarski at PulpFest 2015.

Born in 1954, David Saunders is a New York artist. His work has been collected worldwide in museums, including the Museum of Modern Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Brooklyn Museum of Art, and the Hirschhorn Museum of Art in Washington, DC. He has taught art at such colleges as, Yale, Oberlin, and the Kansas City Art Institute, as well as art schools in France, Korea, Mexico and Japan.

David’s father was the legendary illustrator, Norman Saunders. His mother, Ellene Politis Saunders, worked at Fawcett Publications as Chief Executive Editor for WOMAN’S DAY. In 1972, David became his father’s business secretary, which started a long project to catalog his father’s 7,000 published illustrations. He spent the next seventeen years gathering published examples of his father’s work from used bookshops and submitting each new entry to his father’s inspection. What began as a sentimental hobby for a father and son grew into an impressive archive of 20th century American illustration. After his father’s death in 1989, he completed the archive on his own. He interviewed his father’s surviving associates to record their oral histories. These transcripts helped to broaden his viewpoint of the popular culture publishing industry and also documented vital information about the lives of other artists. Some of this material has been published as biographical profiles in ILLUSTRATION MAGAZINE and several coffee-table art books on pulp artists.

David is, quite probably, the foremost scholar of American pulp illustrators. His free public website, Field Guide to Wild American Pulp Artists, has over three-hundred biographical profiles of these creators of popular culture. David continues to research, document, and promote a greater appreciation of pulp artists. To find out more, please visit davidsaunders.biz, normansaunders.com, and theillustratedpress.com.

(Rudolph Belarski’s cover to the Summer 1944 issue of AIR WAR is one of many covers that the talented artist painted for Ned Pines’ “Thrilling Group” of pulp magazines. To learn more about the artist, be sure to visit David Saunders’ Field Guide to Wild American Pulp Artists where you will find more than 300 biographical profiles of American pulp artists. For a wider sampling of the artist’s work, pick up a copy of John Gunnison’s BELARSKI: PULP ART MASTER, available through Adventure House.)Belarski

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Thrilling Detectives

Jun 11, 2015 by

Thrilling Detective 1943-11

I have a little office which says “Terry Mack, Private Investigator,” on the door, which means whatever you wish to think it. I ain’t a crook, and I ain’t a dick; I play the game on the level, in my own way. I’m in the center of a triangle; between the crook and the police and the victim. The police have had an eye on me for some time, buy only an eye, never a hand; they don’t get my lay at all. The crooks; well, some is on, and some ain’t; most of them don’t know what to think, until I’ve put the hooks in them. Sometimes they gun for me, but that ain’t a one-sided affair. When it comes to shooting, I don’t have to waste time cleaning my gun.

Three Gun Terry Mack was the world’s first hard-boiled private eye. The creation of Carroll John Daly, Terry appeared in a pair of stories featured in THE BLACK MASK in 1923 and 1924. He was soon supplanted by Daly’s best known detective, Race Williams, who debuted in the June 1, 1923 issue of the magazine that would become synonymous with the hard-boiled detective story.

THE BLACK MASK was not the only rough-paper magazine where tough-guy detectives made their home. When Popular Publications launched their line of ten-cent pulps, they got the ball rolling with DIME DETECTIVE, another classic in the line of hard-boiled periodicals. Ned Pines’ Standard Magazines was right there with Steeger and Goldsmith, starting his chain of pulp magazines with THRILLING DETECTIVE in the very same month. The first issues of Popular’s and Pines’ new periodicals were dated November 1931.

“Action-packed, well-written and well-planned stories. Novels must be of the trip hammer type, with a murder in the first chapter and others later.” Those were the editorial requirements set forth by THRILLING DETECTIVE in a 1933 issue of THE WRITER. Although they were not always well-written or planned, no one could fault the magazine for a lack of action . . . nor corpses. Under the guidance of managing editor Leo Margulies and his hand-picked staff, THRILLING DETECTIVE ran “rough-and-tumble, corpse-ridden yarns” featuring “suitably hard-nosed and hard-boiled detectives.” As Margulies often opined, his line was “the fastest bunch of all pulps.”

On Thursday evening, August 13th, beginning at 8:40 PM, John Wooley and John Gunnison pay a visit to some of the continuing characters from the Thrilling line of detective pulps — Doctor Coffin, the allegedly dead Hollywood actor turned vigilante, created by pulp and film writer Perley Poore Sheehan; the workaday detectives such as department store detective Don Marko, the creation of Stewart Sterling (whose real name was Prentice Winchell); the extremely prolific Robert Leslie Bellem’s Hollywood gumshoe Nick Ransom who, like his better known counter-part Dan Turner, “torches a gasper” or “sets fire to a coffin nail” when he lights a cigarette; and the bindlestiff crimefighter, Baghdad, Hobo Detective, written by Milton Lowe and featured in a pair of stories that ran in POPULAR DETECTIVE.

Then we’ve got the wartime creation of “Walt Bruce” — an allegedly Chinese crimefighter known as Dr. Zeng who is actually the son of white missionary parents. Written by Bellem and W. T. Ballard, the Zeng stories came about through the encouragement of the Office of War Information, which thought that playing up our Chinese allies in stories was a wonderful idea. Dr. Zeng’s sidekick Lai Hu Chow, who is really Chinese, has an artificial leg in which he can carry weapons and other useful stuff.

Of course, there’s also Race Williams, one-time BLACK MASK big dog who famously boosted sales of the magazine every time he was featured on the cover. The end was coming into sight for Race and his creator. Carroll John Daly moved into comic books after the death of the pulps. Race appeared in a handful of stories published in THRILLING DETECTIVE before he found his way into SMASHING DETECTIVE STORIES during the early fifties.

John Wooley is the author, co-author, or editor of more than thirty books, including the recent HARD-BOILED CHRISTMAS STORIES. John also penned the script for the made-for-TV movie DAN TURNER, HOLLYWOOD DETECTIVE, the award-winning independent film CAFE PURGATORY, and the documentary BILL BOYCE – MONEY ACTOR. He has also written comic books, trading cards, and thousands of magazine and newspaper stories, most of them in conjunction with his work as the music and horror-movie writer for the TULSA WORLD, a position he held from 1983 through 2006. He is currently a contributing editor and columnist for OKLAHOMA MAGAZINE and full-time freelance writer specializing in pop-culture subjects. This year, he was inducted into the Oklahoma Historians’ Hall of Fame.

John Gunnison is one of the foremost pulp dealers in the world. He’s the owner of Adventure House, a firm that not only deals in pulp magazines and other paper collectibles, but also publishes pulp replica editions and other material, including the much-admired HIGH ADVENTURE. John is the author of BAUMHOFER: PULP ART MASTER and BELARSKI: PULP ART MASTER, and co-author of THE ADVENTURE HOUSE GUIDE TO THE PULPS, one of the foremost reference works concerning pulp magazines. For Collectors Press he helped design Frank M. Robinson’s PULP CULTURE, Max Allan Collins’ HISTORY OF MYSTERY, Ron Goulart’s COMIC BOOK CULTURE, and other works. John was formerly the editor and publisher of THE PULP COLLECTOR, a leading pulp fanzine in its day.

Join the two Johns for a look at some of the most intriguing continuing detective characters that the Thrilling group published, along with a few of their creators on Thursday, August 13th, at 8:40 PM. To learn more about this and all of our PulpFest 2015 programming, please click the “schedule” button on our home page at www.pulpfest.com.

(Another leading author to appear in THRILLING DETECTIVE and other Standard detective pulps was Benton Braden. He got his start in 1933 by placing a story in Street & Smith’s CLUES ALL STAR DETECTIVE STORIES. A few years later, he found his way to Standard with a short novel entitled “Face Fixers.” It ran in the July 1936 issue of POPULAR DETECTIVE. Soon thereafter, he began the “Mr. Finnis” series for THRILLING DETECTIVE. It concerned a wealthy young bachelor who, “when he became the deadly foe of crime . . . his features seemed to have set as though they were granite. His eyes were smoldering, bitter, resolute in determination to kill or be killed.” Benton also wrote the “Percentage Kid” stories for Standard as well as the adventures of Willie Brann, a gumshoe with an insatiable appetite for peanuts who packed a “pair of gats which brought terror to . . . the underworld.”  Braden continued writing for the company through 1952. One of the Brann stories appears in the issue pictured here, the November 1943 number of THRILLING DETECTIVE. The cover artwork is by George Rozen.

To learn more about the Thrilling Group and THRILLING DETECTIVE and read some of its stories, pick up a copy of THRILLING DETECTIVE HEROES, edited by John Locke and John Wooley and published by Adventure House in 2007.)

Saddle Up! Thrilling’s Western Heroes

Jun 8, 2015 by

Buffalo Bill Stories 1909-04-24The western story got its start with James Fenimore Cooper’s Leatherstocking Tales, a fictional adaptation of the adventures of frontiersman Daniel Boone. In the years following Cooper’s Natty Bumppo series, authors such as Bret Harte, Francis Parkman, and Mark Twain further expanded the field.

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

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

The first all-western pulp magazine was introduced by Street & Smith when they converted their tired old story paper, NEW BUFFALO BILL WEEKLY, to WESTERN STORY MAGAZINE in 1919. Within a year, the magazine reached a circulation of 300,000 copies per issue and began to be released weekly, a status it enjoyed for the next twenty-five years. Soon thereafter, the magazine began publishing the western fantasies of poet turned pulp writer Frederick Schiller Faust–better known as Max Brand–and really took off. By the late 1920s, WESTERN STORY was competing against countless imitators–ACE-HIGH, COWBOY STORIES, FRONTIER, GOLDEN WEST, LARIAT, NORTH-WEST STORIES, RANCH ROMANCES, WEST, and others.

With the collapse of the world economy in 1929 and spare change hard to come by, ten-cent western pulps began to flood the market. Introduced by Popular Publications in late 1931 when they debuted DIME WESTERN MAGAZINE, other companies followed suit with their own ten-cent western fiction magazines. One of these firms was Ned Pines’ Standard Magazines, with managing editor Leo Margulies riding herd over the new publisher’s Thrilling Group.

Although Margulies seemed to be forever complaining that western writers were “deceiving themselves in the belief that all a Western story needed was plenty of gun slinging; plenty of people killed; plenty of fights, but never mind a good reason,” his line of western pulps featured “. . . thrilling tales of the gallant West where danger lurks and cowboys are supermen.” According to pulp scholar John Dinan, Standard’s typical western superhero “could absorb more than his share of punishment” and was “characterized by immediate action in response to a dilemma or conflict which was always external.”

Texas Rangers 1946-11On Thursday, August 13th, Ed Hulse will explore the Standard line of western superhero pulps, from TEXAS RANGERS, launched in 1936 and featuring the “Lone Wolf” Ranger, Jim Hatfield; to MASKED RIDER WESTERN MAGAZINE, purchased from Ranger Publications in 1938 and starring Wayne Morgan, “the Robin Hood of the West;” to RANGE RIDERS and its “stories of western avengers in action;” to THE RIO KID WESTERN, a pulp that featured “the fictional exploits of the Kid . . . interwoven with actual historical characters;” to WEST and its lengthy series featuring Johnston McCulley’s Zorro; and HOPALONG CASSIDY’S WESTERN MAGAZINE, featuring Louis L’Amour’s blend of Clarence E. Mulford’s original character with the movie version popularized by actor William Boyd. Ed will also be touching on such characters as Alamo Paige, Navajo Raine, and W. C. Tuttle’s Tombstone and Speedy, all featured in EXCITING WESTERN, and A. Leslie Scott’s Texas Ranger Walt Slade, whose adventures ran in Standard’s flagship western title, THRILLING WESTERN.

For decades now, Ed Hulse has been scouring the back alleys and deserted farmhouses of his home state of New Jersey, searching for old pulps and 16mm prints of vintage motion pictures. Not content with what he was finding in Jersey, he can now be found rummaging through boxes of old pulp magazines in places as far away as Singapore and Kodiak, Alaska, trying to find a pulp that measures up to his lofty standards. When not sifting through eBay listings, Ed works as a free-lance journalist. One of the founders of PulpFest, Ed has been helping to organize pulp and film conventions for many years. He’s the guy who runs the movie projector at the Windy City Pulp and Paper Convention and also publishes BLOOD ‘N’ THUNDER, the leading pulp and popular culture fanzine of our day and age, and Murania Press books such as J. Allan Dunn’s THE ISLAND and his own HANDSOME HEROES AND VICIOUS VILLAINS. Additionally, Ed has written extensively about both the pulp and motion-picture fields. His THE BLOOD ‘N’ THUNDER GUIDE TO PULP FICTION should be on the bookshelves of every pulp collector. Ed’s publications are available through Amazon.com and other fine booksellers. In 2007, Ed was presented with the Lamont Award for his exceptional work within the pulp community.

“Saddle Up! Thrilling’s Western Heroes” will begin at 9:20 PM on Thursday, August 13th, on the second floor of the Hyatt-Regency hotel in beautiful downtown Columbus, Ohio. It’s all part of this year’s “Salute to Standard Magazines,” taking place at PulpFest 2015. Learn how you can register for “Summer’s Great Pulp Con” by clicking here.

(THE BUFFALO BILL STORIES was the first publication devoted to fiction about frontiersman William F. Cody. A weekly publication “devoted to border history,” it debuted with its May 18, 1901 number and was published by Street & Smith. Pictured here is the April 24, 1909 issue. To learn more about the evolution of the pulp western, read John Dinan’s THE PULP WESTERN, Ron Goulart’s CHEAP THRILLS, and Will Murray’s WORDSLINGERS. According to dime novel scholar J. Randolph Cox, most of the covers for Street & Smith periodicals published during the early 1900s were drawn by Charles L. Wrenn, Marmaduke Russell, Ed. Johnson, and J. A. Cahill.

TEXAS RANGERS was by far the most successful western pulp magazine devoted to a single character. Launched in 1936 to commemorate the centennial of the historical Texas Rangers, the magazine lasted for over twenty years, running for 206 issues (more than any other single-character pulp except for THE SHADOW). A. Leslie Scott or Tom Curry wrote many of the lead novels, using the house name of Jackson Cole. There’s an excellent chapter on Standard’s western superheroes in Don Hutchison’s history of the single-character magazines, THE GREAT PULP HEROES. Pictured here is the November 1946 issue of TEXAS RANGERS, featuring front cover art by Sam Cherry.)