April 25, 2013
PulpFest is proud of the variety of presentations the convention offers to attendees. So we are very excited to announce that our tentative programming schedule is now available on the Programming page of our website. Our themes will revolve around Doc Savage and the Pulp Heroes of 1933 and the centennial of Sax Rohmer’s Dr. Fu Manchu and the Yellow Peril Genre.
All scheduled programming will take place in the Fairfield Room located on the second floor of the Hyatt Regency Columbus. Click the link above or the “Programming” button along the left side of our home page for a preview of this year’s convention as well as instructions on how to stay informed about “Summer’s Great Pulp Con,” PulpFest 2013.
March 2, 2013
“Imagine a person, tall, lean, and feline, high-shouldered, with a brow like Shakespeare and a face like Satan, a close-shaven skull, and long, magnetic eyes of the true cat-green. Invest him with all the cruel cunning of an entire Eastern race, accumulated in one giant intellect, with all the resources of science past and present. Imagine that awful being, and you have a mental picture of Dr. Fu-Manchu, the yellow peril incarnate in one man.”
One-hundred years ago, the words above were published in the February 15, 1913 issue of Collier’s. “The Zayat Kiss” was the work of Arthur Henry Sarsfield Ward, better known as Sax Rohmer, and introduced American readers to Dr. Fu-Manchu, an evil genius bent on world domination. Although Rohmer did not create the “yellow peril” story, his tales of “the devil doctor” were certainly the most influential of that story type.
During his life, Sax Rohmer penned four accounts concerning his creation of Dr. Fu-Manchu. Supposedly inspired by a “Mr. King,” a wealthy man of mystery said to control all the Chinese gambling, drug traffic, and Tongs of London, Rohmer claimed that Fu-Manchu arose from a chance encounter that he had one night in the Limehouse district of the city:
I took cover in the entrance to a narrow alleyway. The car pulled up less than ten yards from where I stood. A smart chauffeur switched on the inside light, jumped out, and opened the door for his passengers.
I saw a tall and very dignified man alight, Chinese, but different from any Chinese I had ever met. He wore a long, black topcoat and a queer astrakhan cap. He strode into the house. He was followed by an Arab girl, or she may have been an Egyptian. . . .
The chauffeur closed the car door, jumped to his seat, and backed out the way he had come in. The headlights faded in the mist . . . and Dr. Fu Manchu was born! (Sax Rohmer. “How Fu Manchu Was Born.” This Week, 09/29/57).
That night, alone in my room, I searched through my memories of the East. . . Daylight was not far away when at last I had created Fu Manchu, a genius of princely rank holding degrees of three European universities. . . . closing my eyes, I could both see and hear Dr. Fu Manchu. . . . “You have sought for and you have found me. . . . You have followed me through the forests of Burma. You have tracked me to my palace in Kiang Su. Because you have made, you think that you know me. Do you dream that your Mr. Commissioner Nayland Smith can conquer me? That my mastery of the secret sects of the East can be met by the simple efficiency of the West? I shall prove a monster which neither you nor those you have created to assist you can hope to conquer. . . . It is your boast that you have made me. It is mine that I shall live when you are smoke.” (Sax Rohmer in Meet the Detective, Cecil Madden, editor. New York: Telegraph Press, 1935).
Join PulpFest in July as we celebrate the centennial of Sax Rohmer’s enduring literary icon, Dr. Fu Manchu.
W. T. Benda’s masterful cover for the May 7, 1932 issue of Collier’s, illustrating Sax Rohmer’s The Mask of Fu Manchu appears above, courtesy of The Page of Fu Manchu, the source for much of this article.
February 19, 2013
“There was death afoot in the darkness. It crept furtively along a steel girder. Hundreds of feet below yawned glass-and-brick walled cracks–New York streets. Down there, late workers scurried homeward. Most of them carried umbrellas, and did not glance upward.”
Eighty years ago, nearly to the day, those words were urging readers to buy Doc Savage Magazine, a brand new pulp that first appeared on America’s newsstands around the middle of February 1933. Sporting a front cover painted by that “King of the Pulps,” Walter M. Baumhofer, and published by Street & Smith, the new rough paper magazine promised “a thrilling saga of a scrappy outfit hunting a treasure and being hunted in turn.”
“The Man of Bronze,” credited to Kenneth Roberts, was the work of Lester Dent, a writer who had broken into the pulp market in 1929 with an aviation yarn published by Top-Notch Magazine. In the ensuing years, he had sold about three dozen stories to a variety of magazines including Air Stories, Detective-Dragnet Magazine, Scotland Yard, Sky Riders, War Birds, and Western Trails.
Impressed by Dent’s ability to combine an “extravagant plot, scenes and action with comparatively high credibility and reasonableness of motivation,” the author was invited to the offices of Street & Smith to join business manager Henry W. Ralston and Shadow Magazine editor John L. Nanovic in a brainstorming session to flesh out a new adventure series–Doc Savage.
Although Doc Savage Magazine was the third hero pulp to premier in 1933, it would certainly become the most popular of the single character magazines that debuted in that year, tailing only The Shadow in total issues published. The character would go on to not only inspire the original pulp readers, but also the fans of the Bantam reprints that appeared from 1964 through 1990 and the readers of today who regale to the original pulp tales collected by Sanctum Books and Will Murray’s new adventures of the man of bronze, published by Altus Press.
Join PulpFest 2013 over the last weekend of July to celebrate eighty years of Doc Savage and the pulp heroes of 1933. (more…)
February 18, 2013
Nick Carter, the creation of John Russell Coryell, debuted in 1886 in Street & Smith’s New York Weekly. Five years later, the character was handed over to Frederic Dey and other writers who would pen over a thousand stories featuring the “Little Giant.” The character was so popular that when Detective Story Magazine began in 1915, Street & Smith claimed “Nicholas Carter” was its editor.
By 1933, interest in the old Nick Carter stories was beginning to wane. It was the era of the hardboiled detective with characters such as Dashiell Hammett’s Continental Op and Sam Spade, Carroll John Daly’s Race Williams and Vee Brown, and Frederick Nebel’s “Tough Dick” Donahue and Jack Cardigan tearing up the pages of rough paper magazines like Black Mask and Dime Detective.
It was also the time of the pulp hero. With The Shadow Magazine flying off America’s newsstands on a twice-monthly basis, Street & Smith decided to expand the single character field with magazines featuring adventure and detective heroes. For the latter, it was decided to create a hardboiled version of the “Little Giant” of the dime novels and Nick Carter Magazine was born. Dated March 1933, the new pulp would sport a cover by Jerome Rozen and lead with the novel, “Marked for Death,” the work of author Richard Wormser (writing as “Nick Carter”). The second of the hero pulps of 1933, Nick Carter Magazine would run through June 1936.
February 11, 2013
For the eightieth anniversary of the Man of Bronze, Will Murray has teamed Doc with another legend who first appeared in 1933—King Kong—in Skull Island. Meet the author at PulpFest 2013, July 25th – 28th at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Columbus, Ohio. We’ll be celebrating the pulp heroes of 1933 and more.
Cover art by Joe DeVito for Kenneth Robeson’s Skull Island, forthcoming from Altus Press.
February 2, 2013
Following the astounding success of their first single-character pulp, The Shadow Magazine, Street & Smith publishing set out to duplicate its good fortune in the adventure magazine market. Working with the company’s business manager, Henry W. Ralston, Shadow editor John Nanovic spent a year developing a scientist adventurer who would travel the globe, righting wrongs and punishing evildoers. They were joined in late 1932 by Lester Dent, a former telegraph operator turned pulp writer. Soon thereafter, Doc Savage, the world’s first superhero, was born.
Doc Savage Magazine premiered early the next year with its first issue dated March 1933. The lead novel, “The Man of Bronze,” introduced Clark Savage, Jr. to a disheartened country thirsting for heroes amidst the dark days of The Great Depression. The magazine was an immediate success, soon rivaling the popularity of The Shadow Magazine on America’s newsstands.
Although the first tale of Doc Savage and his five trouble-busting assistants was credited to Kenneth Roberts, a name belonging to a former journalist and author of historical novels, later novels in the series would be said to be the work of Kenneth Robeson, a house name that hid the identity of Dent as well as Laurence Donovan, Ryerson Johnson, William Bogart, and other writers.
PulpFest is pleased to announce that the current “Kenneth Robeson,” Will Murray, will be one of its presenters at the 2013 convention for fans of pulp magazines and pulp fiction. The author of a dozen Doc Savage novels for Bantam Books and Altus Press, Will hopes to be Kenneth Robeson for a long time to come. Click on Will Murray under the Programming link of our home page for more details on our guest, one of the leading historians of the pulp era as well as one of the best adventure authors of our day.
The March 1933 issue of Doc Savage Magazine featured front cover art by pulp great Walter M. Baumhofer, illustrated Lester Dent’s novel, “The Man of Bronze.” (more…)
January 29, 2013
In 1933, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was inaugurated the 32nd president of the United States of America, proclaiming that “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” Adolph Hitler was named the Chancellor of Germany, amid promises of a parliamentary democracy. San Francisco broke ground for the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge. King Kong premiered in New York City and the game of Monopoly was invented. Prohibition came to an end. And the hero pulp revolution began.
The tremendous success of Street & Smith’s The Shadow Magazine prompted the return of the single-character periodical. The first of these hero pulps was The Phantom Detective. Launched by Ned Pines’ Thrilling Group, the Phantom was the alter ego of man-about-town Richard Curtis Van Loan. A veteran of the first world war, this moneyed playboy was bored with life until a family friend recommended he “try his hand at solving a mysterious crime which had stumped the police.” His initial success led Van Loan to dedicate his life and fortune to combat crime, making the Phantom “a name known and admired by the police of every nation.”
The first issue of The Phantom Detective was dated February 1933. It would be followed that year by other single-character pulps including Doc Savage, The Spider, and Pete Rice Magazine. The Summer 1953 issue would be the final number of The Phantom Detective. It was the longest-lived of the hero pulps, lasting for just over twenty years.
Join PulpFest in July for a celebration of “The Hero Pulps of 1933.”
The cover art for the February 1933 issue of The Phantom Detective is by Bertram Glover, illustrating “The Emperor of Death,” written by D. L. Champion, a.k.a. Jack D’Arcy. (more…)
January 23, 2013
Eighty years ago, following the great success of The Shadow, the pulp industry created a tremendous splash in the publishing world with the reintroduction of the single-character magazine. The Phantom Detective, Doc Savage, Nick Carter, The Lone Eagle, G-8 and His Battle Aces, The Spider, and Pete Rice all debuted in their own magazines in the glorious year of 1933. Join PulpFest on Thursday, July 25th as we begin our celebration of “Doc Savage and the Pulp Heroes of 1933.”
Join us in 2013 in Columbus, Ohio for Summer's Great Pulp Convention!