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.)  

Debuting at PulpFest 2018

Jul 20, 2018 by

Once again, a number of authors and publishers have decided to roll out their new titles for PulpFest 2018. You’ll get to meet some of those authors at our annual New Fictioneers readings. You can learn about who is reading by clicking the programming button at the top of our home page. Our readings will take place on Friday and Saturday afternoons, beginning at 12:30 PM. Look for the “New Fictioneers Readings” banner at the convention.

Age of Aces Books is a publisher of pulp fiction treasures with a keen eye for design. At this year’s PulpFest, Chris and David Kalb will be releasing two thrilling collections from the tattered pages of the air war pulps: Donald E. Keyhoe’s CAPTAIN PHILIP STRANGE: STRANGE SQUADRONS — their seventh collection to feature the so-called “Brain-Devil” of G-2 Intelligence — and THE DEVIL FLIES HIGH — the second volume in Keyhoe’s Jailbird Flight series from Popular Publications’ BATTLE BIRDS and DARE-DEVIL ACES.

PulpFest marketing and programming director Mike Chomko will be exhibiting the latest books from Altus Press. Thanks to an arrangement with publisher Matt Moring, Mike will be selling six new volumes in Altus’ THE DIME DETECTIVE LIBRARY, the second volume of Frederick Nebel’s COMPLETE AIR ADVENTURES OF GALES & MCGILL, the eighth number from Robert Sidney Bowen’s DUSTY AYRES series, and the final volume of SECRET AGENT X. There’s also a chance that he’ll have THE COMPLETE UP AND DOWN THE EARTH, collecting over 500 pages of Talbot Mundy’s stories from ADVENTURE. Mike Chomko, Books has been one of the leading purveyors of pulp reprint books and periodicals since the early 1990s. Look for his tables in the PulpFest 2018 dealers’ room.

Christopher Paul Carey — authorized author of the recently released SWORDS AGAINST THE MOON MEN — will have copies of his new collection, THE GRANDEST ADVENTURE: WRITINGS ON PHILIP JOSÉ FARMER, available at the convention. Written over a period of more than twenty years, these pieces, many of them originally published in obscure and hard-to-find publications, offer insights into some of Farmer’s most important and popular works. Be sure to catch Christopher on Friday, July 27, as part of our New Fictioneers program.

Bob Deis and Wyatt Doyle, the editors and publishers of THE MEN’S ADVENTURE LIBRARY book series will have copies of their latest volume: CUBA: SUGAR, SEX, AND SLAUGHTER. It’s a collection of stories and full-color artwork from the men’s adventure magazines about Cuba, Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, the Cuban Revolution and its aftermath. The book’s title is taken from one of the stories included in the collection. You can read more about the book by clicking hereThey’ll have both the trade paperback and expanded hardcover edition for sale.

Jim Beard and John Bruening of Flinch Bookspublishers of “in-your-face pulp-style adventure fiction,” will be on hand with their latest prose anthology, QUEST FOR THE SPACE GODS: THE CHRONICLES OF CONRAD VON HONIG. They’ll also have copies of previous Flinch Books anthologies and some of their own work. Be sure to attend the special spotlight Flinch Books panel on Saturday afternoon, July 28, to hear John and Jim talk about their adventures in self-publishing, their creation of all things Flinch, and their great love for Pulp in general.

Be sure to welcome Allyson & Brett Brooks of Goodman Games to their first PulpFest. Best known for DUNGEON CRAWL CLASSICS, AGE OF CTHULHU, and other role-playing games, Goodman Games is based in the San Francisco Bay area. Brett and Allyson will be debuting the second issue of TALES FROM THE MAGICIAN’S SKULL, Goodman’s fantasy magazine dedicated to presenting all-new sword-and-sorcery fiction by the finest modern crafters in the genre. They’ll also be selling other Goodman products at PulpFest 2018 including several DUNGEON CRAWL CLASSICS adventure modules that have a definite old-school feel to them: THE EMERALD ENCHANTER, HOLE IN THE SKY, INTRIGUE AT THE COURT OF CHAOS, JEWELS OF THE CARNIFEX, and THE 13TH SKULL.

A highly respected old-time radio and pop culture historian, Martin Grams will have his latest book at PulpFest 2018BASS REEVES AND THE LONE RANGER: DEBUNKING THE MYTH looks into the origins of the fictional character known as The Lone Ranger. Martin will also have copies of his other award-winning books for sale.

Of course, PulpFest 2018 is very pleased to welcome author Joe R. Lansdale as our Guest of Honor. The author of over forty novels and numerous short stories, Joe has also written for comics, television, film, newspapers, and Internet sites. His work has been collected in more than two dozen short-story collections, and he has edited or co-edited over a dozen anthologies. Mr. Lansdale will have many of his works for sale, including his recent Hap and Leonard novel, JACKRABBIT SMILE. He’s also hoping to having copies of TERROR IS OUR BUSINESS: DANA ROBERTS’ CASEBOOK OF HORROR, the newly released short story collection that Joe co-authored with his daughter, Kasey Lansdale. Additionally, PulpFest‘s Mike Chomko will have copies of Joe’s outstanding collection, MIRACLES AIN’T WHAT THEY USED TO BE. Published by PM Press, it features short fiction alongside some of Lansdale’s hard-to-find TEXAS OBSERVER columns. Mike will also be selling GIRL GANGS, BIKER BOYS, AND REAL COOL CATS: PULP FICTION AND YOUTH CULTURE, 1950 TO 1980, also published by PM Press.

Meteor House — a publisher of science fiction and fantasy that specializes in works set in the worlds created by Philip José Farmer — will have two new books at PulpFest 2018. Pick up your copies of the first hardcover publication of Farmer’s authorized Tarzan novel, TARZAN AND THE DARK HEART OF TIME, and THE PHILIP JOSÉ FARMER CENTENNIAL COLLECTION, a mammoth collection of classic science fiction, poems, articles, tributes, speeches, and more, all from Farmer’s magic pen. Both feature magnificent covers by the great Mark Wheatley. Inducted into The Overstreet Hall of Fame in July 2017, Wheatley will be offering a rare gallery showing of his original art at PulpFest 2018. The event will showcase his illustrations for the new Christopher Paul Carey novel, SWORDS AGAINST THE MOON MENAnd don’t forget about the annual Meteor House book-signing party.

Ed Hulse of Murania Press will be releasing a revised and expanded second edition of THE BLOOD ’N’ THUNDER GUIDE TO PULP FICTION at this year’s PulpFest. The new volume features more copy, more cover reproductions, updated appendices, and an index, which the 2013 edition lacked. He’ll also have copies of the recently released THE WILD WEST OF FICTION AND FILM — a 286-page, 146,000-word tome that concentrates on the nexus of American popular fiction (especially pulp) and Western movies — as well as PULPOURRI.

Unfortunately, it looks as if Will Murray’s THE DOOM LEGION — the first “Wild Adventure of The Spider will not make it to PulpFest 2018. The author will only have a display copy on hand and will be taking orders. The new novel  has The Spider teaming up with Operator #5 and America’s Flying Spy, G-8. The heroic trio battles a pair of powerful adversaries intent on harnessing and unleashing the malevolent power of a fallen meteorite. A bonus Secret 6 story will be featured in the hardbound edition. Will Murray will be sharing a table with Laurie Powers. She will be selling books written by her grandfather, pulp author Paul S. Powers.

It has been four years since John Locke’s last book. The winner of the 2004 Lamont Award, John will have THE THING’S INCREDIBLE! THE SECRET ORIGINS OF WEIRD TALES at PulpFest 2018. A revisionist history of “The Unique Magazine,” Locke’s book is “the grand story of the challenges in establishing a radical, new magazine in the early 1920s — and not just any magazine, but the immortal WEIRD TALES.” Published in June 2018 by Off-Trail Publications, John Locke’s long-awaited book will be available at PulpFest from Mike Chomko, Books in both hardcover and softcover.

Please welcome author Christopher Ryan to his first PulpFest. He’s a “new pulp” writer who pens the novella-length adventures of Alex Simmons’ Blackjack. The character — first introduced in 1996 through a comic book miniseries — is an African-American soldier of fortune globetrotting during the turbulent 1930s. Simmons won an Inkpot Award at last year’s San Diego Comic Con. In addition to his Blackjack novellas, Christopher will be selling his award-winning Mallory and Gunner series, as well as other books.

For more than a decade, Anthony Tollin has been publishing THE SHADOW and other great pulp heroes under the Sanctum Books banner. Our 2011 Munsey Award winner, Anthony will be selling the 132nd issue of his historic SHADOW reprint series. It will feature classic pulp thrillers by Walter. B. Gibson and Bruce Elliott writing as “Maxwell Grant.”

In the business of reprinting some of the best mysteries and supernatural fiction of the past 100 years, Stark House Press should have several new titles ready for PulpFest 2018. You’ll find hardboiled crime fiction by Bill Ballinger, Carter Brown, Orrie Hitt, Henry Kane, and Lionel White, as well as soaring fantasy from the pen of Algernon Blackwood. As usual, Mike Chomko, Books will be representing Stark House at this year’s PulpFest.

Lastly, Joab Stieglitz will be returning to this year’s PulpFest. He is an avid tabletop role-playing game player and game master of the horror, espionage, fantasy, and science fiction genres. Joab is the author of Cthulhu-oriented pulp adventures and writes a blog at RANTINGS OF A WANDERING MIND ~ The Writing Blog of Joab Stieglitz. He will be selling copies of his UTGARDA series— a pulp adventure set in the 1920s and 30s — at PulpFest 2018. Joab’s books were a big hit at last year’s convention.

In addition to all of these great premieres, come the evening of July 26, our dealers’ room will also be home to thousands of collectible pulp magazines and digests, vintage paperbacks, first edition hardcovers and series books, original art, B-movies and serials, collectible comic books, and more. Check out our posts from last week to see who will be selling at PulpFest 2018. We profiled all of our dealers, telling you a little bit about each of them to help you get to know them.

So what are you waiting for? Book a room for three nights and register now for “Summer’s AMAZING Pulp Con.” If you would like to book a room at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Cranberry — just north of Pennsylvania’s “Steel City,” please call 1-800-222-8733. Be sure to mention PulpFest in order to receive any convention special deals that may still be available.

(Not only will the publishers exhibiting at PulpFest 2018 be offering great writing, they’ll have some great art to share. 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 2018 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, Donald E. Keyhoe’s STRANGE SQUADRONS.

The king of the pulps — Walter Baumhofer — who not only worked for the pulps, but also for the slick magazines and as a fine artist — painted the cover art for THE COMPLETE CASES OF KEN CARTER. Written by Norvell Page, the series primarily ran in A. A. Wyn’s TEN DETECTIVE ACES. Baumhofer’s art was originally used by Popular Publications as the front cover to the September 1935 issue of DIME DETECTIVE MAGAZINE.

The wild painting used as the cover for New Texture’s CUBA: SUGAR, SEX, AND SLAUGHTER was painted by Norm Eastman. It was originally created as the cover for MEN IN CONFLICT, February 1962, then reused as the cover for BATTLE CRY, May 1965. Eastman’s wild, politically-incorrect Nazi bondage and torture cover paintings are among the most famous (and infamous) ever done for the men’s adventure magazines of the 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s.

Diesel LaForce — who created the cover for the second issue of Goodman Games’ TALES FROM THE MAGICIAN’S SKULL — is best known for his fantasy illustrations and cartography skills for DUNGEONS & DRAGONS and other role playing games. Never formally trained, Diesel has had hands-on experience with some of the top names in fantasy art. He continues to work on gaming products and helps to organize the Gen Con Art Show in Indianapolis every year.

Mark Wheatley painted the cover for THE PHILIP JOSÉ FARMER CENTENNIAL COLLECTION. Meteor House is working hard to debut the volume at this year’s PulpFest and FarmerCon 100. It’s a mammoth collection of classic science fiction, poems, articles, tributes, speeches, and more, all from Farmer’s magic pen. In addition to works set in the worlds created by Philip José Farmer, Meteor House also publishes original science fiction and fantasy novels and novellas by various authors.

With THE SHADOW #132 — featuring front cover art by George Rozen (originally created for the March 1, 1933 issue of THE SHADOW MAGAZINE) — to be released in time for PulpFest 2018, Sanctum Books comes that much closer to reprinting the entire run of the original pulp magazine. Its completion will be an amazing achievement, following its earlier reprinting of the entire runs of DOC SAVAGE and THE AVENGER.

THE HUNTER IN THE SHADOWS by Joab Stieglitz — with cover art by Eugene Chugunov — is the fourth book in the author’s UTGARDA series. Available in paperback and ebook, Joab’s series is a pulp adventure with Lovecraftian influences, set in the 1920s and 1930s. He recently started to write the fifth book in the series.)

Leo Margulies at 115!

Jun 22, 2015 by

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saddle Up! Thrilling’s Western Heroes

Jun 8, 2015 by

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Little Giant of the Pulps

May 22, 2015 by

Phantom Detective 33-02Soon after Ned Pines was asked by The American News Company to start a chain of pulp magazines that it would distribute for him, the young publisher approached former literary agent and Frank A. Munsey employee, Leo Margulies, to be the managing editor of the new enterprise. With the country gripped by the Great Depression, the two men came up with a daring idea for the rough paper market–a ten-cent pulp magazine. It soon became apparent that the American public was more than ready for such an idea.

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

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

On Friday, August 14th, PulpFest will welcome Leo Margulies nephew, Philip M. Sherman, to the convention to discuss his uncle Leo on both a personal and professional level. “Not only was Leo an outstanding editor and publisher . . . he was also an outstanding uncle,” Mr. Sherman writes. Philip–who is working on a biography of his uncle–will discuss Margulies’ relationship with his own family as well as the “Little Giant’s” relationship with writers, as expressed in his personal correspondence. Mr. Sherman will also be sharing family photos of his Uncle Leo as well as excerpts from letters written by the managing editor of Standard Magazines.”

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

“Leo Margulies: The Little Giant of the Pulps” will begin at 7:05 PM on Friday evening, August 14th. Register for “Summer’s Great Pulp Con” to be sure not to miss this historic presentation by clicking here.

(Following the success of Street and Smith’s single-character pulp, THE SHADOW MAGAZINE, Ned Pines entered the hero pulp market with THE PHANTOM DETECTIVE. Its first issue was dated February 1933 and featured front cover art by Bertram James Glover, an illustrator and landscape artist who began painting pulp magazine covers in 1927. You can learn more about THE PHANTOM DETECTIVE and the hero pulp boom of 1933 by purchasing a copy of THE PULPSTER #22. Write to Mike Chomko at mike@pulpfest.com for additional details.)

80 Years of Terror!

Jul 28, 2014 by

Terror Tales 34-09Back in the days of bread lines and hobo jungles, millions of readers found escapist thrills in the pages of cheaply produced magazines printed on rough pulpwood paper. Pulp magazines catered to every imaginable reading taste from detective yarns to pirate stories, from jungle adventures to science fiction, from sports stories to romance tales. But the wildest of them all were the notorious horror tomes known collectively as the shudder pulps.

The so-called “shudder” or “weird-menace” titles were a blood-red splash of color in the grey days of the Great Depression. They announced their monthly wares with circus-poster-style covers featuring voluptuous under-dressed beauties being pursued by hordes of leering lunatics as bent as boomerangs. Their promise: cheap thrills, and plenty of them. In their nightmare universe it was always a dark and stormy night. Tethered damsels suffered in the clutches of fiends such as hell-mad surgeons, warped scientists, and masked and cowled cultists, eagerly abetted by legions of demented dwarfs and horny hunchbacks. They stripped, whipped, and boiled their curvaceous victims with the enthusiasm of medieval inquisitors. Even the requisite rock-jawed heroes of these stories suffered a purgatory of horrors in order to rescue their brutally treated fair maidens.

The weird-menace magazines lasted for but a few brief years, roughly from 1933 to 1941, when the actions of blue-nosed watchdogs helped propel them from the market. In contrast to previous horror magazines with their literate but fusty eldritch mysteries, the new breed of terror pulps dared go where no newsstand magazines had gone before. Dime Mystery 33-10Join PulpFest 2014 on Friday, August 8th, at 9:30 PM as we celebrate the eightieth anniversary of Terror Tales, the best of the weird-menace magazines.

Popular culture professor Garyn G. Roberts, winner of the 2013 Munsey Award and editor of some of the best collections from the pulps; Ed Hulse, publisher of Murania Press books and a consultant for the Dime Detective series from Altus Press; and Walker Martin, who writes about pulp collecting for Steve Lewis’ Mystery*File blog, will weigh in on this Popular Publications title, as well as other shudder pulps–Ace Mystery, Dime MysteryEerie Mysteries, Eerie Stories, Horror StoriesMystery Novels and Short Stories, Mystery Tales, Spicy Mystery Stories, Thrilling Mystery, Uncanny Tales, and others.

To learn more about the images used in this post, click on the illustrations.