Children of the Pulps — Part One

Jul 17, 2019 by

Pulp magazines have had a profound effect on popular culture across the globe. Their stories and art have reverberated through a wide variety of media — comic books, movies, paperbacks, genre fiction, television, men’s adventure magazines, radio drama, video, anime, manga, and role-playing games.

Continuing characters have always been with us. Homer told of Odysseus, prevented by the gods from returning to his home for ten years. Then there’s Alexandre Dumas’ d’Artagnan, introduced in THE THREE MUSKETEERS and its sequels. One of the most famous continuing characters is Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. The private detective is the protagonist of sixty-two stories, originally published between 1887 and 1927. And don’t forget about such dime novel heroes as Buffalo Bill, Frank Merriwell, and Nick Carter. The latter debuted in 1886 and continued in varying formats for about a century. Many of his stories were published by Street & Smith, the company that would introduce the first single character pulp.

On March 6, 1931, THE SHADOW: A DETECTIVE MAGAZINE debuted on American newsstands. The first single character or hero pulp, it revived a fiction format that had disappeared with the demise of the dime novels and story papers. Author Walter B. Gibson refashioned The Shadow — the sinister narrator of CBS Radio’s THE DETECTIVE STORY HOUR — into the first pulp hero. Gibson’s character was a dark and mysterious crime-busting super-sleuth who embodied the iconic power of classic villains like Dracula. The Shadow served as the template for other hero pulps and, later, scores of comic book superheroes. Gibson and his occasional fill-in, Theodore Tinsley, also introduced the concept of super-crooks and super-crime.

Lasting 325 issues and spanning eighteen years, THE SHADOW pulp was cancelled in 1949. However, Gibson’s and Tinsley’s character had left his mark on popular culture. The Shadow would travel full circle to his beginnings and become a long-running radio program. The series premiered in late September 1937 over the Mutual Broadcasting System, featuring Orson Welles as the mystery man. Other actors would follow the famed actor and director in the role.

One month after The Shadow debuted on radio, the first of two movie serials appeared. THE SHADOW STRIKES starred Rod La Rocque and was based on a pulp novel by Walter Gibson. In 1946, Monogram Pictures released three Shadow movies starring Kane Richmond. 1958 would see Republic Pictures release INVISIBLE AVENGER, a theatrical film culled from two episodes of a pilot for a Shadow television series. Universal Pictures would release another Shadow film in 1994 starring Alec Baldwin as the title character.

Concurrent to the original pulp series, The Shadow also began appearing in books. Street & Smith got the ball rolling with three hardcovers in their “Ideal Library.” First came THE LIVING SHADOW in 1932, reprinting the initial entry of the pulp series. Whitman Publishing followed with three “Better Little Books” featuring the character.

In 1941, LA Bantam published THE SHADOW AND THE VOICE OF MURDER, the first Shadow paperback. It was a reprint of a Walter B. Gibson pulp novel. Belmont Books began publishing brand new Shadow novels in 1963. Their first book — THE RETURN OF THE SHADOW — was written by Gibson. Over the next twenty years, other book publishers — Grosset & Dunlap, Bantam Books, Dover Books, the Doubleday Crime Club, and The Mysterious Press — would reprint the Shadow’s pulp adventures in various formats. The most successful was Pyramid Books (later Jove Books). From 1974 to 1978, the company reprinted twenty-three Shadow pulp novels, largely featuring cover art by James Steranko. The artist — a pulp collector himself — returned to the original pulps for his inspiration.

During the summer of 2006, Sanctum Books — originally in association with Nostalgia Ventures — began to reprint The Shadow’s pulp adventures as trade paperbacks. Their first volume featured Lester Dent’s “The Golden Vulture,” the author’s sole contribution to The Shadow series. To date, Sanctum Books has published nearly 300 of The Shadow’s original novels. Sanctum will be exhibiting at PulpFest 2019.

In addition to books, radio, and film, the Shadow has also made an indelible mark in the graphic format. While the Columbia Pictures movie serial of 1940 was still playing in theaters, Street & Smith premiered SHADOW COMICS. Doc Savage — another Street & Smith pulp hero — was also featured in the comic book’s early issues. SHADOW COMICS lasted until August 1949, running for a total of 101 issues. From 1940 – 1942, the character also appeared in a newspaper strip written by Walter Gibson and illustrated by Vernon Greene.

In 1964, Archie Comics premiered a new comic book series featuring the Street & Smith pulp hero. Although The Shadow wears his familiar cloak and slouch hat on the cover to the first issue, later numbers feature him in superhero garb. Interestingly, Jerry Siegel, one of the creators of Superman, wrote the final five numbers of the eight-issue series.

In the fall of 1973, DC Comics introduced perhaps the most highly regarded of all comic books featuring The Shadow. Created by Dennis O’Neil, the comic introduced artist Mike Kaluta’s version of The Dark Knight. Unfortunately, the DC comic book lasted a mere twelve issues. The company would try again in 1986 with Howard Chaykin updating the character to modern times. DC would give the character another go-round with THE SHADOW STRIKES, created by writer Gerard Jones and artist Eduardo Barreto. The series returned the character to the 1930s and ran for thirty-one issues.

In 2012, Dynamite Entertainment began publishing a new Shadow comic book. Written by Garth Ennis, Chris Roberson, and others, the series was set in the 1930s. Alex Ross contributed many covers to the series, including this classic depiction of the character on the magazine’s first issue. The series ran until 2014, with a special issue published in 2015.

Dynamite also published a ten-issue miniseries in 2013-14. Written by Matt Wagner, it’s one of the best comic book versions of Walter Gibson’s creation. Wagner also wrote two other series featuring The Dark Knight, including THE DEATH OF MARGO LANE, published in 2016.

Although The Shadow has a lengthy history in the four-color medium, the character’s importance to the world of comic books is better reflected by its influence on the medium’s writers and artists. Many early creators of superhero comics were devoted readers of THE SHADOW MAGAZINE. These included Jerry Siegel, Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, Bill Finger, and Bob Kane.

In the first volume of THE STERANKO HISTORY OF COMICS, Batman co-creator Bill Finger admitted, “My first (Batman) script was a take-off on a Shadow story . . . . I patterned my style of writing Batman after the Shadow . . . . It was completely pulp style.” Pulp historians Will Murray and Anthony Tollin have surmised that Finger was talking about the Theodore Tinsley Shadow novel, “Partners in Peril.” It originally ran in the November 1, 1936 issue of THE SHADOW MAGAZINE.

While artist Bob Kane cited Chester Gould’s Dick Tracy as one of his inspirations — particularly for his villains — Bill Finger, Batman’s writer, suggested, “The villains were patterned after those in the pulps, kind of bizarre and wild.” Doctor Death, the first of Batman’s master criminals, was introduced in DETECTIVE COMICS 29, dated July 1939. An earlier Doctor Death — a mad scientist who desired to remake the world after his own desires — was featured in a short-lived pulp magazine published by Dell. There is likewise evidence that Batman villains The Joker and Two-Face, as well as Police Commissioner James Gordon, may very well have had their origins in the pages of Street & Smith’s hero pulps.

Although The Shadow certainly played the most influential role in the creation of the Batman saga, other pulp characters also inspired Bill Finger and Bob Kane.

Johnston McCulley’s Zorro  — who debuted in a five-part serial beginning in the August 9, 1919 issue of ALL-STORY WEEKLY — wore a mask and black cape, had a hidden lair that he entered through a grandfather clock, and marked his adversaries. Dawson Clade, another McCulley character, was accused of a murder he did not commit. He dons a hood to get revenge against those who had framed him. In his origin story, a bat flies through a window and Clade comes up with his alter ego. He will become “The Bat.” Sound familiar?

Created by D. L. Champion and published by Ned Pines’ Standard Magazines, THE PHANTOM DETECTIVE ran until 1953, totaling 170 issues. Like Bruce Wayne, Richard Curtis Van Loan was a wealthy playboy who trained himself to be “the world’s greatest detective.” When The Phantom was needed, a red beacon on top of the local newspaper building was lit. DC editors Jack Schiff and Mort Weisinger later turned this into the Bat-Signal.

Another Standard character, The Black Bat, debuted in 1939, around the same time as The Batman. Notice the batlike wings on the cover to the Spring 1945 issue of BLACK BOOK DETECTIVE. It bears a marked resemblance to the cape of the early Batman. Although not depicted here, the Black Bat also sported spiked fins on the gloves he wore. Batman co-creator Bill Finger liked the look and suggested that Bob Kane add them to The Batman’s costume.

Considered the world’s first superhero, Doc Savage debuted a month after The Phantom Detective. Published by Street & Smith, the first issue of DOC SAVAGE MAGAZINE was dated March 1933. An adventurer possessing untold wealth, Clark Savage, Jr. was, like Batman, a master detective. Doc was never without his utility vest, a specially designed garment filled with all kinds of gadgets that he had invented. It served as the model for The Batman’s “utility belt.”

As you’ve seen, The Shadow has been inspiring all sorts of creators for nearly ninety years. However, Walter B. Gibson’s character is just one of many pulp characters that have inspired pop culture creators over the decades. PulpFest 2019 will focus on the many ways pulp fiction and pulp art have inspired and continue to inspire creators. We’re calling this year’s theme “Children of the Pulps and Other Stories,” an examination of the pervasive influence of pulp magazines on contemporary pop culture. We hope you’ll join us from August 15 – 18 at the beautiful DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Cranberry in Mars, Pennsylvania.

(The first of our Shadow images is just shy of one-hundred years old. Painted by Modest Stein, the cover art for the April 1931 issue of THE SHADOW originally appeared on the October 1, 1919 issue of THE THRILL BOOK.

Unfortunately, the artist who painted THE INVISIBLE AVENGER movie poster is not known to us. However, George Rozen created the painting used as the cover for THE SHADOW #141, published by Sanctum Books in April 2019. The artwork was originally used on THE SHADOW DETECTIVE MONTHLY for June 1932, published by Street & Smith.

As mentioned above, Alex Ross painted the cover art for THE SHADOW #1, published by Dynamite Entertainment and dated April 2012.

Bob Kane’s Batman — as depicted on DETECTIVE COMICS #31, dated September 1939 — is remindful of the looming headshots found on Standard Magazine’s THE PHANTOM DETECTIVE. The Batarang and the Batgyro made their first appearances in this issue, featuring a villain known as The Monk.

The Black Bat was painted by Rafael de Soto for the Spring 1945 issue of BLACK BOOK DETECTIVE.

To learn more about the influence of The Shadow and other pulp heroes, please visit the PulpFest Instagram page.)

Ten Months to PulpFest

Oct 15, 2018 by

The PulpFest organizing committee has decided to return to Mars, Pennsylvania for our 2019 convention. We’ll be back at the wonderful DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Cranberry. Per our members, it’s a terrific venue for PulpFest.

Located where three major roadways intersect, the DoubleTree boasts a world-class restaurant. Many other restaurants are nearby, suitable for a variety of tastes. The adventurous can find more dining, shopping, and nightlife in downtown Pittsburgh.

We’re happy to return to Mars for summer’s gathering of fans and collectors of pop culture. We seek to honor pulp fiction and pulp art by celebrating the many ways they’ve inspired creators. We hope you’ll join us at PulpFest 2019 for “Children of the Pulps and Other Stories.” Expect another great dealers’ room and superb programming from PulpFest and FarmerCon.

PulpFest 2019 will begin on Thursday evening, August 15 and run through Sunday, August 18. Please join us for our celebration of mystery, adventure, science fiction, and more. If you enjoy  genre writers such as J. K. Rowling, Michael Connelly, and Stephen King, you’ll love PulpFest!

(Despite reading DOC SAVAGE MAGAZINE as a boy, Jerry Siegel couldn’t recall if the character had influenced him when he created Superman. It had been “so doggone long ago.”

There were similarities between the two characters. Doc was “The Man of Bronze,” while Superman was “The Man of Steel.” Both characters had a “Fortress of Solitude.” Both were named “Clark.” And in a 1934 advertisement, Street & Smith labeled Doc Savage a “superman.”

We hope you’ll join PulpFest in 2019 as we explore the many ways pulp fiction and pulp art have influenced writers, artists, film directors, software developers, game designers, and other creators over the decades.)

Announcing PulpFest 2019

Sep 6, 2018 by

The fall pulp con season is getting into full swing. Adventure House’s PULP AND COLLECTIBLES CONVENTION gets the ball rolling on Sunday, September 9. It will be followed by other fine conventions. But what about the main event?

PulpFest 2019 will take place from Thursday, August 15, through Sunday, August 18.  We’ll be returning to the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Cranberry, just north of Pennyslvania’s “Steel City.” PulpFest will be joined by FarmerCon. Hopefully, they’re not too hung over from this year’s Philip José Farmer centennial.

Start making your plans for the 48th convening of PulpFest and its celebration of mystery, adventure, science fiction, and more. Join us for “Children of the Pulps and Other Stories” at “Summer’s Great Pulp Con.” Please bring your friends!

Bookmark http://www.pulpfest.com/ to keep informed about PulpFest 2019. You’ll find us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/PulpFest. And for those who prefer their news short and sweet, follow our Twitter feed at https://twitter.com/pulpfest. Wherever you look for PulpFest on the web, we’ll be sure to keep you informed of our plans.

(Doc Savage has been called the first superhero. Created by Lester Dent, the character debuted in the March 1933 issue of DOC SAVAGE MAGAZINE, published by Street & Smith. Artist Walter M. Baumhofer contributed the first painted image of “The Man of Bronze.”

About five years later, Superman made his first appearance in the June 1938 issue of ACTION COMICS. Before long, the Man of Steel was joined by many other superheroes.

We hope to see you at PulpFest in 2019 as we explore the many ways pulp fiction and pulp art have influenced writers, artists, film directors, software developers, game designers, and other creators over the decades.)

 

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FarmerCon 100 — The Dark Heart of Loki: Philip José Farmer Visits 1918

Jun 1, 2018 by

Not only does 2018 mark the centennial of the armistice that ended The First World War, it is also the hundredth anniversary of the birth of Grand Master of Science Fiction Philip José Farmer. Beginning on Thursday evening, July 26, and running through Sunday, July 29, PulpFest 2018 and its partner, FarmerCon 100will honor both the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I AND the century mark of Philip José Farmer. We’ll be celebrating at the beautiful DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Cranberry, just outside Pennsylvania’s Steel City.

Few people think of Philip José Farmer as a pulp writer, but he was a child of the pulps and launched his career in the pulps. Born January 26, 1918 in North Terre Haute, Indiana, Farmer grew up in Peoria, Illinois. He spent much of his childhood reading everything he could find from the classics through the pulps.

Farmer’s interest in the rough-paper magazines of his youth would lead him to pen two biographies about pulp characters  TARZAN ALIVE: A DEFINITIVE BIOGRAPHY OF LORD GREYSTOKE and DOC SAVAGE: HIS APOCALYPTIC LIFE during his career. He would also author official Doc Savage and Tarzan novels: ESCAPE FROM LOKI, and THE DARK HEART OF TIME. Interestingly enough, both stories were set in the year of their author’s birth — 1918.

ESCAPE FROM LOKI concerns a sixteen-year-old Clark Savage as a prisoner-of-war during the First World War. Sent to the escape-proof German prison camp of Loki, the young Savage meets the five men who would later join him in his global fight against evil in the years following the war.

Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan is the protagonist of THE DARK HEART OF TIME. Set in the fall of 1918, the story has Tarzan searching for his beloved Jane. It is set between Burroughs’ TARZAN THE UNTAMED and TARZAN THE TERRIBLE. With trackers harassing him — sent by an American billionaire who believes the jungle lord holds the secret of immortality — the ape man’s trail leads to the City of God and the Crystal Tree of Time.

Join us on Saturday, July 28, at 9:10 PM as Paul Spiteri moderates a discussion with Christopher Paul Carey and Win Scott Eckert about “The Dark Heart of Loki: Philip José Farmer Visits 1918.” Carey will discuss the hidden secrets of ESCAPE FROM LOKI and THE DARK HEART OF TIME. He will also have on hand his forthcoming book, THE GRANDEST ADVENTURE: WRITINGS ON PHILIP JOSÉ FARMER, featuring several essays on ESCAPE FROM LOKI. Eckert’s focus will be his introduction to the new Meteor House edition of TARZAN AND THE DARK HEART OF TIME. The new volume will be released at PulpFest 2018/FarmerCon 100.

Enjoy this great panel and a ten-dollar discount off the daily admission to Confluence. It’s taking place the same weekend as summer’s AMAZING pulp con! All you have to do is show your PulpFest badge at the door to Pittsburgh’s long-running science fiction, fantasy and horror conference.

What better way to celebrate the 100th birthday of Philip José Farmer than by registering for Pulpfest 2018/FarmerCon 100? The Science Fiction Grand Master will be one of the main themes of the conventions, with plenty of programming about Farmer and his work. Also planned is a rare gallery showing of original art by acclaimed writer-illustrator Mark Wheatley, plus the conventions’ Guest of Honor — Joe Lansdale — the author of over forty novels, numerous short stories, and the introduction to THE BEST OF PHILIP JOSÉ FARMER. You can join both conventions 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!

(Stay tuned to www.pulpfest.com. On Friday, May 25, we’ll tell you about the very special plans of Mark Wheatley — cover artist for the Meteor House edition of TARZAN AND THE DARK HEART OF TIME. Authored by Hugo Award winner, Nebula Grand Master, and author of the incredible Riverworld saga, Philip José Farmer, Meteor House will be premiering the new edition of TARZAN AND THE DARK HEART OF TIME and THE PHILIP JOSÉ FARMER CENTENNIAL COLLECTION at this year’s convention. We hope to see you in Mars!)

Twenty Years of Doc Con!

Sep 18, 2017 by

Doc Con XX (2017)In fall 1998, five Doc Savage fans gathered together in a hotel in the Phoenix area to celebrate their shared love of a 1930s and ’40s pulp hero and his 181 adventures at the first Doc Con.

This year many more fans will again gather in Glendale, Ariz., for the 20th Doc Con on Oct. 20 – 22 to celebrate the exploits of Doc Savage, the Man of Bronze. (Fifty attended last year’s Doc Con XIX.)

“I am glad that what I started in 1998 has endured for so long,” said Rob Smalley, who organized the original con. “It’s a testimony to the dedication of the core group of people, which by the way gets larger every year. The Doc Con has changed in format and venues over the years, but each and every Doc Con over the last 19 years has been tons of fun no matter where it was held or how many fans attended.”

Jay Ryan, who with Rob has attended all Doc Cons, said, “Twenty years does seem like an accomplishment. The aspect that intrigues me the most is the fact that most of us were in our mid- to late 30s when we started Doc Con. Just a bunch of 30-something guys getting together to talk about a character that we appreciated. Hopefully, Doc Con is still just that except that now it is a bunch of 50-something guys.

“The most important part is still the getting together,” Jay continued, “and apparently we still enjoy that because Doc Con has grown from one day to three and in some cases four days. The die-hards still come in on Thursday and leave midway through Sunday. Of course, Doc Con has also expanded on events and the time is filled to the brim but all of it still revolves around hanging out together.”

The Doc Con XIX (2016) group photo

The Doc Con XIX (2016) group photo

Jay, Rob, and the other Arizona Fans of Bronze who organize and put on the convention have big plans for number 20. “Doc Con XX will be special in the obvious way… a milestone accomplishment reached,” Jay said. “Of course, as special guest, author David Avallone’s attendance will be appreciated by everyone. We had the current Doc Savage novel writer, Will Murray, in attendance last year, and this year it seemed fitting to have the current Doc Savage comic-book writer, Mr. Avallone, meet everyone and have him fill us in on that medium of Doc Savage. We also have some very special things planned for this year and the pre-registration gift is going to knock everyone’s socks off.”

Doc Con XX returns to the Comfort Inn University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, a suburb of Phoenix. You can register for the con at docfantasycovers.com/Doc-Con/.

“My whole intent for starting Doc Con was to get Doc Savage fans together. Too many of us enjoyed our Doc Savage experience in solitude,” Rob said. He, like other Doc fans, is looking forward to this year’s con. “Every year I enjoy the company of all my Doc friends, and I really enjoy seeing new people attending and joining in the excitement and fun.”

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Philip José Farmer’s Most Dangerous Dame: Patricia Wildman

Jun 22, 2017 by

PulpFest is very pleased to welcome its FarmerCon members back to our joint conference. Since 2011, FarmerCon has offered to help with our programming. They’re mixing things up for 2017, with a panel on “The Psychos of Philip José Farmer — The Nine” and a solo presentation on the friendship of “Philip José Farmer and Robert Bloch.”

Additionally, FarmerCon has asked Win Scott Eckert to perform a couple of short readings: THE MONSTER ON HOLD — a chapter from a planned book that Philip José Farmer offered at the 1983 World Fantasy Convention — and an excerpt from Win’s short novel, THE SCARLET JAGUAR.

During his life, Philip José Farmer maintained that his book DOC SAVAGE: HIS APOCALYPTIC LIFE was a biography of a real person named Doctor James Clarke Wildman. Pat Wildman is the daughter of Doc Wildman, “the world-renowned adventurer and crimefighter of the 1930s and 40s.”

Introduced in the Wold Newton novel, THE EVIL IN PEMBERLEY HOUSE — which Eckert coauthored with Philip José Farmer — Patricia’s adventures continue in THE SCARLET JAGUAR, written solely by Win Scott Eckert.

The winner of the 2014 New Pulp Award for best novella, Eckert’s story tells of a young girl whose father has been kidnapped by the Scarlet Jaguar. Pat, following in her father’s footsteps of righting wrongs and assisting those in need, agrees to help the girl. Now, it’s a race against time, deep in the wilds of the Central American jungle, as Pat Wildman and her crew search for the girl’s father, and confront the Scarlet Jaguar’s weird power to eliminate his enemies from afar.

“But who—or what—is the Scarlet Jaguar? A power-mad dictator determined to reclaim power? A revolutionary movement bent on taking over the country, and the rest of Central America? Or a front for something even more sinister . . . ?”

Win Scott Eckert is the editor of and contributor to MYTHS FOR THE MODERN AGE: PHILIP JOSÉ FARMER’S WOLD NEWTON UNIVERSE. He has coedited three Green Hornet anthologies for Moonstone Books. His short tales of Zorro, The Avenger, The Phantom, The Lone Ranger, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Hareton Ironcastle, Captain Midnight, The Green Ghost, Sexton Blake, The Domino Lady, Doc Ardan, and Sherlock Holmes can be found in several character-themed anthologies available from various publishers. Eckert’s critically acclaimed, encyclopedic CROSSOVERS: A SECRET CHRONOLOGY OF THE WORLD 1 & 2, was released by Black Coat Press in 2010.

A Honey West/T.H.E Cat crossover, A GIRL AND HER CAT, the first new Honey West novel in over forty years, came out in 2014. Forthcoming works include: the third Pat Wildman adventure; a new novel of one of the preeminent pulp heroes of the ’40s, The Avenger; and the unfinished fourth novel in Farmer’s “Secrets of the Nine” series. You can find Win Scott Eckert online at winscotteckert.com and @woldnewton on Twitter.

Join Win Scott Eckert of FarmerCon on Friday, July 28, at 10:20 PM for a short reading from THE SCARLET JAGUAR. 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! And please join us at PulpFest 2017/FarmerCon XII from Thursday evening, July 27, through Sunday afternoon, July 30, at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Cranberry — just north of Pennsylvania’s “Steel City.”

You can join PulpFest by clicking the Register for 2017 button on our home page. And don’t forget to book a room at the DoubleTree. They’re going fast!

(Win Scott Eckert’s THE SCARLET JAGUAR was released in 2016 by Meteor House, featuring cover art by Mark Sparacio. A resident of Boca Raton, Florida, Mark is a Professor of Fine Arts at Digital Media Arts College. He has also worked as a comic book illustrator for Marvel, DC, and other companies.)

The Wild Adventures of Pat Savage

Jun 21, 2017 by

Will Murray discovered Doc Savage in 1969 when he picked up the Bantam Books edition of DUST OF DEATH. Within a few short years, he began contributing to Doc Savage fanzines, starting with THE DOC SAVAGE READERSoon thereafter, he began placing articles in other fanzines, including ECHOES, THE PULP COLLECTOR, and PULP VAULT, writing about Doc and other pulp characters and the magazines in which they appeared. Today, nearly fifty years later, Will is one of the most respected authorities on the pulp magazine, having authored countless articles and books, including THE DUENDE HISTORY OF THE SHADOW MAGAZINE and WORDSLINGERS: AN EPITAPH FOR THE WESTERN.

In addition to his many non-fiction works on the pulps, Murray was the ghost-writer for about forty of the Destroyer action-adventures novels. He has also written twenty Doc Savage novels and two Tarzan novels. He also serves as the literary agent for the Lester Dent estate and as the co-editor of Sanctum Books’ highly regarded pulp reprints.

In 2016, Murray decided to give many fans what they wanted and penned a solo Pat Savage novel — SIX SCARLET SCORPIONS. Well, almost solo, as Monk Mayfair joins Pat on her adventure:

“When a man so anemic that he could be a vampire’s victim comes to Patricia Savage for rescue, the impetuous girl can’t say no. Excitement is her meat and danger her dessert.

“Accompanied by Doc Savage aide, Monk Mayfair, Pat finds herself in the worst danger of her life. Wanted for murder, hounded by the minions of a weird mystery figure calling himself Chief Standing Scorpion, narrowly evading the hordes of the Vinegarroon tribe, the bronze-skinned golden girl battles her way to a sinister secret cached in an ancient ruin.

“From the oilfields of Oklahoma to the forbidding Ozark Mountains, the trail of scorpionic doom winds. Will Pat Savage’s first great adventure also be her last?”

Of course, for longtime fans of the Man of Bronze, SIX SCARLET SCORPIONS is actually the second Pat Savage novel. In “I Died Yesterday,” her final pulp appearance — published in the January/February 1948 issue of DOC SAVAGE SCIENCE DETECTIVE — she is the first-person narrator of the story. As he does in Murray’s recent novel, Monk teams up with Pat to work on the case.

Members of the Narada Radio Company and their PULP-POURRI THEATRE will perform a reading from Will Murray’s SIX SCARLET SCORPIONS, the first book in THE ALL-NEW WILD ADVENTURES OF PAT SAVAGE series, published by Adventures in Bronze in association with Altus Press. Based in Corpus Christi, PULP-POURRI THEATRE is an audio drama anthology series that has its origins in vintage pulp fiction, but presents its stories in the modern way. Pete Lutz is the company’s producer-director. You can sample their work online or via iTunes.

“The Wild Adventures of Pat Savage by Will Murray,” a reading by PULP-POURRI THEATRE, will take place on Saturday, July 29, at 8:50 PM in the PulpFest 2017 programming area at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Cranberry — just north of Pennsylvania’s “Steel City.” You can join PulpFest by clicking the Register for 2017 button on our home page. And don’t forget to book a room at the DoubleTree. They’re going fast!

(Walter Swenson painted eleven DOC SAVAGE covers from January 1947 through September 1948. The January/February 1948 number is a good example of his cover art. His interior illustrations can be found in some issues of John W. Campbell’s ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION. They were also published by Street & Smith, right around the same time as his Doc Savage covers. Little more is known about the artist.)

The Dangerous Dames of Kenneth Robeson

Jun 20, 2017 by

Over the years, PulpFest has sought to honor pulp fiction and pulp art by drawing attention to the many ways they have inspired writers, artists, film directors, software developers, game designers, and other creators over the decades. Indeed, the hardboiled dicks, dangerous dames, and a few psychos of the pulps that we’ll be celebrating in 2017 have had a profound effect on popular culture.

Back in May, we set our sights on the mad scientists, crazed hunchbacks, and foul cultists who decimated American cities on a monthly basis in the rough-paper magazines. We also drew attention to the hundredth anniversary of the birth of Robert Bloch, who got his start in the pulps and wrote the suspense classic, PSYCHO.

June found us exploring DIME DETECTIVE MAGAZINE — one of the pulps where the hard-boiled detective story began to take shape. We also examined Robert Leslie Bellem’s tough-guy detective, Dan Turner; Gordon Young’s “Most Dangerous Man in America,” Don Everhard; and the many characters created by Erle Stanley Gardner.

Today, we’re turning our attention to the dangerous dames of the pulps, the hardboiled ladies who helped to pave the way for such modern day gumshoes as Sue Grafton‘s Kinsey Millhone, Marcia Muller‘s Sharon McCone, and Sara Paretsky‘s V. I. Warshawski. Collectively, these authors and their characters have helped the hardboiled detective to evolve in new directions.

Female pulp characters such as Cleve Adams’s Violet McDade and Nevada Alvarado, John Russell Fearn’s Golden Amazon, Walter Gibson’s Myra Reldon and Margo Lane, Robert E. Howard’s Bêlit, “Queen of the Black Coast,” C. L. Moore’s Jirel of Joiry, Norvell Page’s Nita Van Sloan, Les Savage’s Senorita Scorpion, Theodore Tinsley’s Carrie Cashin, Gene Francis Webb’s Grace Culver, Lars Anderson’s Domino Lady, and Sheena, Queen of the Jungle, all depicted women in roles often reserved for men. Generally, they performed equal to or better than their male counterparts. These dangerous dames helped to remove women from the drawing rooms of Carolyn Wells and Agatha Christie, the love and western romance pulps, and into the mean streets.

Perhaps the best known female character of the pulps is Lester Dent’s Pat Savage. As Kent Gutschke has written on THE MARTIAN DEATH RAY:

“She is only the Bronze Goddess of pulp’s Golden Age, and distant cousin to Doc Savage, the Bronze Man of Tomorrow. And she is more fun and psychologically complex than the man whose shadow she lives under. Patricia Savage is also an underdog not because she lacks intelligence and skill, but because the men that surrounded her — both heroes and villains — forever underestimate her.

“In fact the only man in Patricia Savage’s life who does not underestimate her is her creator, Lester Dent. As early as 1934’s ‘Death in Silver,’ Dent planned for Pat to run her own detective agency within the pages of DOC SAVAGE, but editors at Street & Smith rejected the idea. While Street & Smith billed Doc as the Man of Tomorrow, Doctor Clark Savage and his editors had quaint, patriarchal notions about a woman’s place in their brave new world. So Pat Savage and Lester Dent settled for a beauty salon. What trouble could she possibly get into running a beauty salon? With Dent writing, quite a bit and when trouble failed to come her way, Pat cultivated a talent for elbowing into Doc’s adventures.”

Introduced in “Brand of the Werewolf” — originally published in the January 1934 issue of DOC SAVAGE MAGAZINE — Pat Savage would appear in 37 adventures of the Man of Bronze. In “I Died Yesterday,” her final pulp appearance (published in the January 1948 number), she is the first-person narrator of the story. As Terence Towles Canote has written on A SHROUD OF THOUGHTS

“She was in many ways the perfect, female counterpart to her cousin. Pat was spectacularly beautiful, yet very much her own woman. She could fight as well as any man, deadly with her six shooter and skilled in boxing, fencing, and jujitsu. She could fly a plane, pick locks, pick pockets, speak Mayan and German (although she was not very good at the latter), knew Morse code, and was a very convincing actress. She also had an undying love of adventure, which she shared with her cousin (even if Doc would never admit it). Over the course of her adventures Pat emerges as a fully realised character, perhaps more fully realised than any female character from the pulps save Nita Van Sloan from THE SPIDER. This could very well be the reason she still has more than her fair share of fans to this day.”

Please join PulpFest 2017 on Friday, July 28, at 10:30 PM as the convention’s technical director, Chuck Welch, examines The Dangerous Dames of Kenneth Robeson. In addition to Pat Savage, Chuck will be discussing Paul Ernst’s Nellie Gray and Rosabel Newton, two strong female characters featured in Street & Smith’s THE AVENGER, a hero pulp introduced in 1939.

As one of the original Internet Fans of Bronze, Chuck Welch started attending the summer pulp convention in the late 1990s. After meeting his future wife at one of these conventions, Chuck took some time off to start a family. At the behest of Bill Mann, he returned to attend PulpFest. As was his wont, Chuck immediately started volunteering and making suggestions to the organizing committee. Having enough of his puppy-dog eyes, he was asked to join the team. Chuck is the convention’s technology director and webmaster. When the Internet began to take off, Chuck began Flearun, a Doc Savage group now at Facebook. He is also the creator of the Hidalgo Trading Company — perhaps the closest anyone has come to presenting an online Doc fanzine — and the current editor of the Doc Savage fan magazine THE BRONZE GAZETTE.

(Doc Savage and his assistants travel to British Columbia to visit his uncle, Alex Savage, and cousin, Patricia Savage, in “The Brand of the Werewolf,” originally published in DOC SAVAGE MAGAZINE for January 1934, with cover art by Walter M. Baumhofer. When they reach the cabin of Doc’s relatives, they discover that Alex Savage has been murdered. From the start, Pat is ready for adventure, hoping to find the killers of her father. She would be “ready for adventure” in nearly forty tales of Lester Dent’s Man of Bronze.)

Fans of Bronze to Gather for Doc Con XIX

Sep 26, 2016 by

Doc Con XIX (2016)Fans of Doc Savage, the Man of Bronze, will gather for the 19th annual Doc Con on Friday, November 4, through Sunday, November 6, in Glendale, Arizona, a suburb of Phoenix.

The con has grown from the five fans who first got together in Scottsdale, Arizona, in 1998, to almost 100 fans who attended last year to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the 1975 movie DOC SAVAGE: THE MAN OF BRONZE with its star and con Guest of Honor Ron Ely.

This year, fans will have a chance to meet guests Will Murray, pulp historian and author of the “All-New Wild Adventures of Doc Savage,” and Joe DeVito, the artist for Murray’s original Doc Savage books at Bantam and Altus Press. “Attendees will meet Will and Joe in a way that they never have before,” says Jay Ryan, one of Doc Con‘s organizers. “We hope our format will make them more personable and accessible and that we will get to know them as a human being rather than just for their roles as Doc’s author and artist.”

Jay also says that with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson having announced that he’s signed on to play Doc in a new movie, written and directed by Shane Black, this may be the last year for Doc Savage fans to gather before the flood gates of fandom open wide.

Doc Con XIX begins Friday evening with a group dinner, continues Saturday with a day full of programming, and wraps up Sunday morning. Evenings — “Doc Con After Dark” — include a variety of activities and a chance to mingle with fellow fans and their families.

The convention will again be held at the Comfort Suites Glendale, 9824 W Camelback Rd, Glendale, Ariz. A pre-registration web page remains open for a short while longer. For more information, visit the Doc Con Facebook page, or email Jay Ryan at jryands@aol.com.

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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.)