90 Years of Frank Frazetta

Feb 5, 2018 by

Born in Brooklyn, New York on February 9, 1928, Frank Frazetta would turn ninety years old this week. Although he never worked in the pulp industry, Frazetta  — along with James Bama — drew many into the pulp community. Bama’s Doc Savage cover art and Frazetta’s paintings for Lancer’s Conan paperbacks and Ace Books’ Edgar Rice Burroughs line coaxed many hard-earned quarters from the pockets of youngsters growing up during the 1960s. Many of these then-young enthusiasts became pulp collectors, seeking the source material from whence the paperbacks were drawn.

As a child, Frazetta was enrolled in the Brooklyn Academy of Fine Arts. He studied under Michele Falanga. At the age of sixteen, the talented young artist began working in Bernard Baily’s comic book studio. Recognizing the youngster’s skill, Graham Ingels helped Frazetta find work with Standard Comics. Before long, Frazetta was working in a wide range of genres including fantasy, funny animal, mystery, romance, superhero, war, and western comics. His work was featured in the comic book lines of Avon, Dell, EC, National Comics, and other publishers.

During the 1950s, Frank Frazetta began working with Al Capp on his Li’l Abner comic strip. He also helped Dan Barry with the Flash Gordon daily strip and produced his own comic strip — Johnny Comet — during this period. Eventually, the artist would join Harvey Kurtzman on the Little Annie Fanny strip, produced for PLAYBOY.

In late 1963, Roy Krenkel asked Frazetta to help him paint covers and provide interior illustrations for Ace’s line of Edgar Rice Burroughs books. Between 1963 and 1965, Frazetta produced twenty-five covers and twenty-two interiors for Ace. Soon thereafter, the first of Frazetta’s Conan paintings appeared: CONAN THE ADVENTURER was released by Lancer Books in 1966. The book’s sales assured the artist’s success. He was soon working for Ballantine Books, Dell, Fawcett, Midwood, Paperback Library, Signet, Warner, and many other paperback publishers.

This period additionally featured Frazetta’s spectacular cover work for Warren Publishing’s CREEPY, EERIE, BLAZING COMBAT, and VAMPIRELLA. The artist also began painting movie posters, beginning with WHAT’S NEW PUSSYCAT?, released by United Artists in 1965. His paintings have also been used as covers for record albums, book jackets, calendars, and more.

On May 10, 2010, Frank Frazetta suffered a stroke and died. His bold and inventive work — the artist stated that he read none of the stories that he illustrated, creating his paintings as he saw fit — will long be lauded by the pulp community and those who appreciate illustrative and commercial art.

(The third edition of Ace Books’ THE LAND THAT TIME FORGOT was published in March 1973. Featuring cover art by Frank Frazetta, the painting was originally used as the cover art for the 1964 and 1969 editions of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ BEYOND THE FARTHEST STAR. 

Burroughs novel — the first of three works set on the lost continent of Caprona — takes place during World War I.  From July 26 through July 29, PulpFest 2018 will be honoring the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended The First World War. We’ll be at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Cranberry — just north of Pennsylvania’s “Steel City.” BURROUGHS BULLETIN editor Henry G. Franke, III will discuss THE LAND THAT TIME FORGOT and other works in “Edgar Rice Burroughs and The Great War.” Additional programming on war in popular culture is also planned for the convention.

You can join PulpFest 2018 and FarmerCon 100 by clicking the Register for 2018 button on the PulpFest home page. And don’t forget to book a room at the DoubleTree while you’re visiting the PulpFest site. They’re going fast!)

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/.)

Go Nuts at PulpFest’s New Gaming Track

Jun 5, 2015 by

Cthulhu DiceNew 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, pulp heroes, and more.

PulpFest 2015 will have demonstrations of role-playing games and various board, card, and dice games. We’ll have a room featuring eight tables for new or experienced players. A number of local gaming groups will be running RPGs dealing with weird tales, ancient ruins, and murder mysteries. As part of our celebration of the 125th anniversary of the birth of H. P. Lovecraft, there will be role-playing adventures based on the Cthulhu Mythos. Additionally, we’ll have a number of board and card games that can be played in less than a hour. So if you need a break from the dealers’ room, you won’t be kept away too long.

One of the quick games that will be played at PulpFest is called Cthulhu Dice. Players take turns rolling the big, custom-designed, twelve-sided die, embossed with tentacles, Elder Signs, and more. The objective of the game is to drive your opponents insane with the cast of your die. Want to destroy your friend’s sanity, or better yet, steal it? Stop at the PulpFest 2015 game room and play a round or two of Cthulhu Dice. But watch out for Cthulhu! When the Great Old One shows up, he drives everyone insane! The last sane cultist wins . . . unless everyone goes mad together. Then Cthulhu wins! Cthulhu Dice plays in 5 to 10 minutes, and is great fun for two to six players.

Another fun game is Munchkin Conan, a card game with 168 cards and a unique six-sided die. Based on the adventures of Robert E. Howard’s Conan, introduced to readers in the December 1932 issue of Weird Tales, players can battle wizards, slay monsters, defeat vast armies, and laugh in the face of death. Be a Cimmerian Warrior or a Stygian wizard! Wield the Sword of the Phoenix and poison your foes with the Black Lotus! Slay Thoth-Amon’s minions, abominable monsters, and Pict raiders. Hear the lamentations of their women! Fast-playing and silly, Munchkin Conan can reduce any role-playing group to hysteria. And, while they’re laughing, you can steal their stuff!

The PulpFest 2015 gaming track will begin at 10 AM on both 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.”