Hollywood Pulp — From Pulp Page to the Silver Screen

Jun 7, 2019 by

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PulpFest 2019 will begin on Thursday, August 15, and run through Sunday, August 18.  Join PulpFest at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Cranberry, just north of Pennsylvania’s “Steel City” of Pittsburgh. We’ll be celebrating “Children of the Pulps and Other Stories” at this year’s convention. Please click our Programming button below our homepage banner to get a preview of all the great presentations at this year’s event.

To join PulpFest 2019, click the Register button below our homepage banner. To book a room at the DoubleTree by Hilton — our host hotel — click the Book a Room button, also found on our homepage.

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

Premiering at PulpFest 2016

Jul 12, 2016 by

Wild Adventures of King KongAs they do every year, a number of publishers have chosen to roll out new titles at PulpFest 2016. Altus Press, Murania Press, and Stark House Press will be premiering reprints of classics from the past, while Adventures in Bronze, Airship 27, and Meteor House will offer new work inspired by the great fiction of the past. And since PulpFest will be hosting five New Fictioneer readings, expect to meet some of the creators of today’s pulp fiction at the convention. Click the 2016 schedule link on our home page to learn more about the readings.

Although Tarzan, the king of the jungle, won’t be quite ready to meet King Kong — the greatest ape of them all — in time for PulpFest 2016, author Will Murray will have copies of the second edition of WORDSLINGERS, his classic study of the pulp western. On Friday, July 22, please join Will as he discusses “WESTERN STORY MAGAZINE and the Evolution of the Pulp Western” during our evening programming. In addition to WORDSLINGERS, you’ll find copies of the recently released “Wild Adventure of Doc Savage” novel GLARE OF THE GORGON at Will Murray’s Adventures in Bronze tables.

Age of Aces SquadronAge of Aces Books is a publisher of lost pulp fiction treasures with a keen eye for design. At this year’s PulpFest, Chris and David Kalb will be releasing two thrilling collections of stories from the tattered pages of the air war pulps: Donald E. Keyhoe’s CAPTAIN PHILIP STRANGE: STRANGE SPECTRES — their fifth collection to feature the ace pilot and so-called “Brain-Devil” of G-2 Intelligence — and Frederick C. Painton’s SQUADRON OF THE DEAD — a series set during the First World War that is remindful of the classic war film THE DIRTY DOZEN.

MetropolisCVRNew pulp fans will see a number of new and recent books at PulpFest 2016, courtesy of Ron Fortier and Rob Davis of Airship 27 Productions. In addition to their recent anthology of stories — TOWERS OF METROPOLIS — based on the classic science fiction film directed by Fritz Lang — the “new pulp” aces of Airship 27 will have a special PulpFest edition of their forthcoming HOLMES AND HOUDINI, uniting two of their best-selling characters in the same book. There will be only fifteen copies of this special edition — featuring cover art by Rob Davis — produced for the convention. This collector’s edition — written by by award-winning author, I. A. Watson — will only be available at PulpFest 2016. Additionally, please remember to join Ron Fortier on Saturday afternoon, July 23, for our annual “new pulp” panel, “The AMAZING World of New Pulp.” Ron and four of the premier writers of new pulp fiction will be discussing “Writing Hero Pulp.”

Yen Sin 1As he does every year, Mike Chomko will be premiering the latest books from America’s leading pulp reprint house Altus Press. Thanks to an arrangement with Altus publisher Matt Moring, Mike will be offering both hardcover and softcover editions of THE MYSTERIOUS WU FANG #1, DR. YEN SIN #1, SUPER-DETECTIVE JIM ANTHONY, VOLUME 3, KI-GOR, VOLUME 3, THE MOON MAN, VOLUME 2, THE BLACK BAT OMNIBUS, VOLUME 5, and much more. For a complete list of the Altus Press books that Mike will be offering at PulpFest 2016, please visit http://www.altuspress.com/blog/altus-press-books-premiering-at-pulpfest-2016Mike Chomko, Books has been one of the leading purveyors of pulp reprint books and periodicals since the early nineties. Look for his tables just inside the entrance to the PulpFest 2016 dealers’ room and say “hello” to the convention’s marketing and programming director.

Lara DestinyDick and Norma Enos of Fantasy Publishing will have a new adventure of Rick Steele at PulpFest 2016. In DEATH MAKES A SCREEN TEST, the ace trouble buster of the fifties and his crew are called to do a bit of ghost busting on the set of a Hollywood film. “The world needs heroes!  The world needs Rick Steele!” Dick and Norma will also have a new Lara Destiny private eye novel on hand: VACATION HOODOO.

GravesendPlease welcome to PulpFest author Phil Farina. Born in New York City and raised in the Gravesend section of Brooklyn, Mr. Farina is a water treatment professional, working on developing technologies to improve our water supplies. He lives with his wife in Toledo, Ohio and writes books for the love of the story. He will be selling copies of his “coming-of-age” novel, GRAVESEND, at this year’s PulpFest. We are looking forward to hosting this Ohio author for years to come.

Midnight GuardianJim Beard and John Bruening of Flinch Books, publishers of “in-your-face pulp-style adventure fiction,” will be on hand with their noted prose anthologies BIG TOP TALES and SOMETHING STRANGE IS GOING ON: NEW WORLDS OF FLETCHER HANKS. They’ll also have copies of John’s brand new full-length novel, THE MIDNIGHT GUARDIAN: HOUR OF DARKNESS. Jim — who also also provides regular content for Marvel.com, the official Marvel Comics website — will also be offering a wide selection of his own fiction work, including publications from Airship 27, Meteor House, and Pro Se Productions.

The “Flinch Founders” will also be announcing the winner of their very first “Flinchin’ Contest,” live from PulpFest 2016 on Friday, July 22. To learn more about this exciting event, please visit the Flinch Books Facebook page at www.facebook.com/flinchbooks/.

Blood of Ancient OparMeteor House, a publisher of science fiction and fantasy that specializes in works set in the worlds created by Philip José Farmer as well as original science fiction and fantasy novels and novellas, hopes to offer four new books at PulpFest 2016:  Christopher Paul Carey’s BLOOD OF ANCIENT OPAR; Sean Lee Levin’s CROSSOVERS EXPANDED; Philip José Farmer’s and Danny Adams’ DAYWORLD: A HOLE IN WEDNESDAY; and Josh Reynolds’ PHILEAS FOGG AND THE HEART OF OSRA. Croteau and many of his authors will be on hand at the convention for their annual book-signing party. We’ll be announcing further details during the convention. And don’t forget about the FarmerCon XI presentation on Friday, July 22. Join us in the Hyatt Regency’s Union Rooms for “Collaborating with a Grand Master.”

BNT 46-47Ed Hulse and Murania Press will be offering a new issue of the award-winning “Journal of Adventure, Mystery and Melodrama in American Popular Culture” BLOOD ‘N’ THUNDER at this year’s PulpFest. Ed also hopes to have several new titles from the Murania Press book line at the convention: three volumes of crime and mystery yarns written by Johnston McCulley, the creator of Zorro — ALIAS THE THUNDERBOLT, THE RETURN OF BLACK STAR, and THE SPIDER SPINS HIS WEB.

Handful of HellNew Texture, publisher of the Men’s Adventure Library, will be testing the pulp waters with four volumes drawn from the pages of the men’s adventure magazines: CRYPTOZOOLOGY ANTHOLOGY, collecting wild, “true” accounts of savage, fist-to-claw duels between man and Sasquatch, man and fishman, and man and monster; A HANDFUL OF HELL, a collection of “Classic War and Adventure Stories” written by the late Robert F. Dorr; HE-MEN, BAG MEN, AND NYMPHOS, fifteen high-intensity Walter Kaylin classics from pulp fiction purgatory; and WEASELS RIPPED MY FLESH, an anthology of two-fisted action stories from the men’s adventure magazines of the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s. New Texture will be represented by Mike Chomko, Books at PulpFest 2016.

Lion BooksIn the business of reprinting some of the best mysteries and supernatural fiction of the past 100 years, Stark House Press hopes to have several new titles ready for PulpFest 2016. You’ll find ANCIENT EGYPTIAN SUPERNATURAL TALES, a superb new anthology of stories in which ancient Egyptian mysticism, mummies, and other supernatural occurrences play a significant role; Vin Packer’s THE GIRL ON THE BESTSELLER LISTHEROES LUST, THE MAN I KILLED, & HOUSE OF EVIL, three forgotten noir novels from the 1950s from the paperback publisher who first promoted the careers of Jim Thompson and David Goodis — Lion Books; James Hadley Chase’s gangster novels HE WON’T NEED IT NOW & THE DEAD STAY DUMB; Elisabeth Sanxay Holding’s KILL JOY & THE VIRGIN HUNTRESS; SCRATCH A THIEF & HOUSE OF EVIL, two classic crime stories from the early 1960s by John Trinian; and Charlie Stella’s first new novel since 2012, TOMMY RED. Mike Chomko, Books will be representing Stark House at PulpFest.

These are just a few of the great publications that you’ll find in the PulpFest 2016 dealers’ room. So what are you waiting for? Book a room for three nights and register now for “Summer’s AMAZING Pulp Con.” To book a room for this year’s convention, please click our hotel information link on our home page.

(Not only will the publishers exhibiting at PulpFest 2016 be offering great writing, they’ll have some great art to share. The talented Joe DeVito — the artist behind the latest Doc Savage book covers — will be contributing the art to the forthcoming volume in Will Murray’s “The Wild Adventures of King Kong.”

In 2009, Chris Kalb designed the first PulpFest website. Since then, he’s helped us time and again. This year, he’s been nominated for the 2016 Munsey Award. We wish him the best of luck. Along with his brother David, Chris is the publisher of Age of Aces books. He’s also the company’s art director, the person who comes up with all the great covers featured on each of their books, including one of their latest entries, Frederick C. Painton’s SQUADRON OF THE DEAD.

In 1927, German filmmaker Fritz Lang brought to the screen one of the most ground-breaking science fiction films of all time. METROPOLIS is regarded as a classic and one of the first full-length movies in the genre. THE TOWERS OF METROPOLIS — published by Airship 27 — is an anthology of  four dramatic tales which unfold in this amazing world prior to the events of thE film. It features front cover art by the award-winning Michael W. Kaluta.

Jerome George Rozen was born October 16, 1895 in Chicago. In 1931 he painted the four earliest original pulp magazine covers for THE SHADOW, but starting with the January 1932 issue he was suddenly replaced by his brother George, who went on to become The Shadow‘s more renowned cover artist. Jerome branched out into the more lucrative and prestigious fields of advertising and slick magazine illustration. Jerome also painted the cover to the May-June 1936 issue of DR. YEN SIN, the first issue of the short-lived pulp magazine.

Dick Enos’ Lara Destiny novels concern a former New York City police detective who becomes the metropolis’ first transgender private eye. Enos is also the author of the Rick Steele adventures. Steele is the ace trouble buster of the fifties.

Phil Farina’s GRAVESEND is the story of a young man growing up in Brooklyn who has “experiences.” As he grows older these things become more and more important to young Robbie, until one day he and his best friends come across an ancient Ouija board. They begin a journey that can only end in disaster and soon learn that actions have consequences.

The debut novel from Flinch Books publisher and editor John C. Bruening is a high-octane pulp adventure that will be debuting at PulpFest 2016. A longer work than readers are used to in the new pulp world, with world-building off the charts, John has created a city that you’ll really get to know from the ground up. The characters that inhabit it are as fascinating as the city itself — especially the bad guy! The cover art for THE MIDNIGHT GUARDIAN: HOUR OF DARKNESS is by Thomas Gianni.

Christopher Paul Carey’s novel BLOOD OF ANCIENT OPAR is graced with cover art by Bob Eggleton, who also painted a handful of covers for AMAZING STORIES during the TSR years. An extremely versatile artist, he has worked in science fiction, fantasy, horror, and as a landscape artist. Eggleton has won the Hugo Award for Best Artist eight times.

Ed Hulse’s BLOOD ‘N’ THUNDER is “The Journal of Adventure, Mystery and Melodrama in American Popular Culture of the Early 20th Century!” It’s designed to appeal to anybody who is enthusiastic for fanciful storytelling teeming with “lost races, death rays, trap doors, buried treasures, secret formulas, hidden passages, mad scientists, gangster chieftains, Oriental masterminds, hooded villains, distressed damsels and intrepid heroes.”

Wyatt Doyle is a co-founder of New Texture, helping to launch their publishing imprint in 2006. He’s also the designer and co-editor — with Robert Deis — of A HANDFUL OF HELL, a collection by the late Robert F. Dorr. The cover art is drawn from a variety of men’s adventure magazines.

Lion Books began in 1949 as Red Circle Books, part of the Martin Goodman publishing empire that also included such magazines as FOR MEN ONLY, STAG, and MOVIE WORLD, as well as various pulps and the early Marvel Comics. Lion Books only lasted for nine years, but during that time at least a third of their books were noir reprints and originals. Under the editorship of Arnold Hano, Lion published early novels by Jim Thompson, David Goodis, Robert Bloch, Richard Matheson, Day Keene, Shirley Jackson and many other authors who went on to popular or cult success. The three novels in the Stark House collection represent some of the hidden treasures of the Lion Books line, crime novels from the early 1950s — the golden age of the paperback. Unfortunately, Lion didn’t credit its artists, and quite often chopped off their signatures.)