Children of the Pulps — Part Two

Jul 18, 2019 by

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

WEIRD TALES was the first periodical to specialize in the fantasy and horror genres. 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.” In reality, the early issues of the pulp were filled with ghost stories, the decision of the magazine’s editor, Edwin Baird. Far more interested in his company’s REAL DETECTIVE AND MYSTERY STORIES, Baird had little interest in fantastic fiction.

Although never a big moneymaker, WEIRD TALES came into its own in late 1924 when Farnsworth Wright was named the magazine’s editor. In the years ahead, the pulp would become admired for its fantasy and supernatural fiction, publishing the work of Robert E. Howard, H. P. Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, and later, Ray Bradbury. The magazine would also feature substantial efforts by Robert Bloch, August Derleth, Carl Jacobi, Henry Kuttner, Frank Belknap Long, C. L. Moore, Seabury Quinn, Manly Wade Wellman, Henry S. Whitehead, and others. It would likewise become noted for its artists. Hannes Bok, Margaret Brundage, Lee Brown Coye, and Virgil Finlay all contributed a great deal 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 in the magazine included work by Austin Hall, Otis Adelbert Kline, C. L. Moore, Donald Wandrei, and Jack Williamson. H. P. Lovecraft also weaved his own style of science fiction into his tales of cosmic horror.

During the late summer of 1926, H. P. Lovecraft wrote “The Call of Cthulhu.” Initially rejected by WEIRD TALES editor Farnsworth Wright, it was first published in “The Unique Magazine” in its February 1928 issue. Although three minor, related stories predated it in what has come to be known as “The Cthulhu Mythos,” “The Call of Cthulhu” is one of the author’s seminal works. As writer and Lovecraft correspondent Fritz Leiber observed, “Here for the first time, Lovecraft moves horror from the realm of Earth to the stars.”

In the years remaining to Lovecraft following the publication of “The Call of Cthulhu,” he expanded on its themes in such tales as “The Whisperer in Darkness,” “At the Mountains of Madness,” and “The Shadow Out of Time,” depicting a universe of mind-numbing horror that was a reflection of his own materialistic atheism. Lovecraft also invited other writers to pen their own tales using the “synthetic folklore” he had created. “I think it is rather good fun to have this artificial mythology given an air of verisimilitude by wide citation.”  Robert Bloch, August Derleth, Robert E. Howard, Henry Kuttner, Frank Belknap Long, and Clark Ashton Smith were some of the WEIRD TALES writers who authored their own “Mythos” fiction.

In later years — particularly following the death of “the old gentleman” — August Derleth worked to expand Lovecraft’s so-called “mythos,” albeit shaping it in a way that some scholars claim corrupted the original vision. Although he may have twisted H. P. Lovecraft’s ideas, Derleth also helped to popularize the author’s work. His Arkham House Publishers significantly expanded Lovecraft’s reputation, bringing the “Mythos” under the microscope of both academic and amateur scholars. Lovecraft’s stories became more widely read and popular, leading to adaptations in a variety of media including motion pictures, television, comic books, role-playing and video games, and even action figures and other toys. His stories are known the world over and though he lived much of his life in poverty, Lovecraft’s words and ideas have been transformed into a multi-million-dollar industry.

Although an important contributor to Lovecraft’s “Mythos,” Robert E. Howard’s greatest contribution to fantastic fiction was through his tales of Solomon Kane, Kull, and most importantly, Conan.

Howard became a regular contributor to “The Unique Magazine” in 1928, the same year that his first Solomon Kane story — “Red Shadows” — appeared. Kull of Atlantis would follow in 1929. Three years later, the first tale of Conan — “The Phoenix on the Sword” — would appear in the December 1932 WEIRD TALES.

“Conan seemed suddenly to grow up in my mind without much labor on my part and immediately a stream of stories flowed off my pen — or rather, off my typewriter — almost without effort on my part. I did not seem to be creating, but rather relating events that had occurred. Episode crowded on episode so fast that I could scarcely keep up with them. For weeks I did nothing but write of the adventures of Conan. The character took complete possession of my mind and crowded out everything else in the way of story-writing.”

In the stories about Solomon Kane, Kull, and Conan, Robert E. Howard created a genre. As Fritz Leiber wrote in the July 1961 issue of AMRA:

“I feel more certain than ever that this field should be called the sword-and-sorcery story. This accurately describes the points of culture-level and supernatural element and also immediately distinguishes it from the cloak-and-sword (historical adventure) story — and (quite incidentally) from the cloak-and-dagger (international espionage) story too!”

More than ninety years after the first publication of “Red Shadows,” Robert E. Howard’s sword-and-sorcery stories continue to resonate through popular culture. They have inspired motion pictures, comic books, television and animated series, action figures, role-playing and video games, and even heavy metal music and a live-action show at Universal Studios Hollywood. Most importantly, his fiction has inspired other writers to spin their own sword-and-sorcery stories. Lin Carter, Glen Cook, John Jakes, Henry Kuttner, Fritz Leiber, Michael Moorcock, C. L. Moore, Charles Saunders, Karl Edward Wagner, and others have all contributed to the genre that Howard popularized.

Not long after Robert E. Howard’s death in 1936, his friend and correspondent H. P. Lovecraft wrote: “It is hard to describe precisely what made Mr. Howard’s stories stand out so sharply; but the real secret is that he himself is in every one of them.”

Along with Lovecraft’s “The Call of Cthulhu” and Howard’s “Red Shadows,” Clark Ashton Smith’s first story for “The Unique Magazine” also appeared in 1928. Smith was the third member of the WEIRD TALES triumvirate. However, he has not achieved the acclaim of Howard and Lovecraft.

Largely self-taught, Clark Ashton Smith spent the majority of his life in Auburn, California, dwelling in a small cabin erected by his parents. He began to write in his youth and gained some notoriety as a poet. His blank verse poem, “The Hashish Eater,” brought Smith to the attention of H. P. Lovecraft. The pair began exchanging letters. Later, Smith also began corresponding with Robert E. Howard.

The advent of The Great Depression and the declining health of both his parents led Smith to fiction writing. Beginning in 1930 and running through 1936, he published nearly ninety stories, mainly in WEIRD TALES, WONDER STORIES, and STRANGE TALES OF MYSTERY AND TERROR.

Although his work has rarely appeared outside the printed page — a few stories were adapted for television, movies, the graphic format, and role-playing games — the fiction of Clark Ashton Smith inspired other writers.

In a letter to Donald Sidney-Fryer, Harlan Ellison wrote:

“It is often impossible to say where a man’s inspirations come from, but in the lineal descent of my own writings, I have no hesitation in saying had it not been for Clark Ashton Smith and the wonders he revealed to me, at that precise moment of my youth in which I was most malleable, most desperate for direction, I might well have gone in any one of the thousand other directions taken by my contemporaries, and wound up infinitely poorer in spirit, intellect, prestige and satisfaction than I am today. As I owe a great debt to science fiction as a whole, to fandom as a particular, and to the other writers who encouraged me in my work . . . I owe the greatest of debts to Clark Ashton Smith, for he truly opened up the universe for me.”

Other writers who owe a debt to Smith include Fritz Leiber, George R. R. Martin, Michael Moorcock, Jack Vance, Gene Wolfe, and most notably, Ray Bradbury:

“Looking back on the years when I was eleven and twelve, I remember two stories. The first was “The City of the Singing Flame,” the second was “Master of the Asteroid.” Both were by Clark Ashton Smith. These stories more than any others I can remember had everything to do with my decision, while in the seventh grade, to become a writer. In the hardbound book field there were a few writers, of course, who set me going, but in the short-story form CAS stood alone on my horizon. He filled my mind with incredible worlds, impossibly beautiful cities, and still more fantastic creatures on those worlds and in those cities. . . . Take one step across the threshold of his stories, and you plunge into color, sound, taste, smell, and texture — into language.”

“The Unique Magazine” has been inspiring all sorts of creators for ninety-six years. However, WEIRD TALES is just one of the many rough-paper magazines 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 issue of WEIRD TALES — dated March 1923 — featured cover art by R. R. Epperly. It is best remembered for publishing Anthony M. Rud’s “Ooze,” a story concerning a giant amoeba. Also featured in the issue were tales by pulpsters 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.

Writer Alan Moore’s and artist Jacen Burrows’s PROVIDENCE  is a twelve-issue comic book series published by Avatar Press. According to the League of Comic Geeks, PROVIDENCE “deconstructs all of Lovecraft’s concepts, reinventing the entirety of his work inside a painstakingly researched framework of American history.” The series ran from 2015 through 2017.

Although Robert E. Howard’s work — particularly his Conan stories — had been collected in small press editions over the years, the Lancer and Ace paperback editions of 1966 – 1977 delivered the character to the masses. Lancer’s CONAN THE ADVENTURER — released in 1966 — was the first of the volumes. Undoubtedly, it was Frank Frazetta’s stunning cover artwork that initially sold the character to readers. However, it was Howard’s expressive writing that kept them clamoring for more.

C. C. Senf‘s cover for the January 1932 issue of WEIRD TALES is one of three illustrating a Clark Ashton Smith story. The others include the April 1938 issue, illustrating “The Garden of Adompha,” and the September 1947 number, illustrating “Quest of the Gazolba,” an abridged version of “The Voyage of King Euvoran.” The latter stories are beyond Smith’s period of active fiction-writing. By 1936, he had turned away from writing prose, concentrating instead on poetry, art, and sculpture.

To learn more about the influence of WEIRD TALES, please visit the PulpFest Instagram page.)

Two Sought Adventure

May 31, 2019 by

Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser faced each other across the two thieves sprawled senseless. They were poised for attack, yet for the moment neither moved.

Each discerned something inexplicably familiar in the other.

Fafhrd said, “Our motives for being here seem identical.”

“Seem? Surely must be!” the Mouser answered curtly, fiercely eyeing this potential new foe, who was taller by a head than the tall thief.

“You said?”

“I said, ‘Seem? Surely must be!”

“How civilized of you!” Fafhrd commented in pleased tones.

“Civilized?” the Mouser demanded suspiciously, gripping his dirk tighter.

“To care, in the eye of action, exactly what’s said,” Fafhrd explained. Without letting the Mouser out of his vision, he glanced down. His gaze traveled from the belt and pouch of one fallen thief to those of the other. Then he looked up at the Mouser with a broad, ingenous smile.

“Sixty, sixty?” he suggested.

The Mouser hesitated, sheathed his dirk, and rapped out, “A deal!”

 

Eighty Years of Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser

 

Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser first met in the story, “Ill Met in Lankhmar,” published in the April 1970 issue of THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION. Fritz Leiber’s story won both the 1970 Nebula and 1971 Hugo awards in the novella category. However, the characters had been created decades earlier, in a 1934 letter that the beginning author received from his friend, Harry Otto Fischer:

“For all do fear the one known as the Gray Mouser. He walks with a swagger ‘mongst the bravos, though he’s but the stature of a child. His costume is all of gray, from gauntlets to boots and spurs of steel.”

 

Of Fafhrd he wrote that he laughed merrily and was “full seven feet in height. His eyes wide-set, were proud and of fearless mien. His wrist between gauntlet and mail was white as milk and thick as a hero’s ankle.”

 

They met “in the walled city of the Tuatha De Danann called Lankhmar, built on the edge of the Great Salt Marsh . . . and so the saga of the Gray Mouser and Fafhrd was begun.”

After further correspondence with his friend, Fritz Leiber began working on a novella, finishing it in early 1936. It was rejected by Farnsworth Wright of WEIRD TALES as being too full of “stylistic novelties.” Following several revisions, the author showed his manuscript to H. P. Lovecraft, who wrote:

“There will shortly be circulated among the gang . . . a remarkable unpublished novelette by young Leiber — “Adept’s Gambit,” rejected by Wright and now under revision according to my suggestions. It is a brilliant piece of fantastic imagination — with suggestions of Cabell, Beckford, Dunsany, and even Two-Gun Bob — and ought to see publication some day.”

Although the initial tale of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser would not be published until 1947 in NIGHT’S BLACK AGENTS, pulp readers would be introduced to the characters in the August 1939 UNKNOWN. Beginning with “Two Sought Adventure,” the Street & Smith pulp would publish five of Leiber’s tales of the two adventurers. In later years, the stories would be featured in COSMOS SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY MAGAZINE, DRAGON, THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION, OTHER WORLDS, SUSPENSE MAGAZINE, WHISPERS, and, most importantly, FANTASTIC and Donald Wollheim’s Ace Books.

“Two comrades to the death and black comedians for all eternity, lusty, brawling, wine-bibbing, imaginative, romantic, earthy, thievish, sardonic, humorous, forever seeking adventure across the wide world, fated forever to encounter the most deadly of enemies, the most fell of foes, the most delectable of girls, and the most dire of sorcerers and supernatural beasts and other personages.”

Join PulpFest 2019 on Thursday, August 15, as we welcome fantasy and horror writer Jason Scott Aiken and sword and sorcery expert Morgan Holmes, for “Two Sought Adventure — Eighty Years of Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd & the Gray Mouser.” Dr. Holmes is the former official editor of the Robert E. Howard United Press Association and was nominated for a Hugo award in 2016 as Best Fan Writer.

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 gathering. 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.

 

(Although the Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser series began in the pulp UNKNOWN, it was Cele Goldsmith of FANTASTIC who took a gamble and commissioned Fritz Leiber to author a new series of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser stories. The first of these was “Lean Times in Lankhmar,” published in the November 1959 issue. FANTASTIC would run eleven tales featuring Leiber’s two comrades, concluding with “Under the Thumbs of the Gods,” published in the April 1975 number, featuring front cover art by Stephen E. Fabian.

Around 1967, Donald A. Wollheim asked Leiber to put the Fafhrd and Gray Mouser tales “into chronological order and write new ones to fill in the gaps.” The result was a series of six paperbacks, beginning with SWORDS AND DEVILTRY — with cover art by Jeffrey Catherine Jones — first published by Ace Books in 1970.

A seventh book of stories — THE KNIGHT AND KNAVE OF SWORDS — was published in 1988 by William Morrow and Company.)

Pulp-Pourri Theatre Presents “Return to the Sabbath”

Jun 10, 2017 by

For the last week or so, PulpFest‘s web posts have been discussing this year’s celebration of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Robert Bloch. The author of more than 200 stories, nearly thirty novels, and a large number of non-fiction articles, screenplays, and teleplays, Bloch got his start as a writing professional in the pulp magazines that are celebrated each summer at PulpFest.

Bloch discovered the pulp magazines in 1927, courtesy of his Aunt Lil. As he wrote in his autobiography, ONCE AROUND THE BLOCH: “And it was thus that I was introduced to a magazine which changed my life, my very first copy of WEIRD TALES. . . .”

It was through that magazine that Robert Bloch began a correspondence with the author H. P. Lovecraft. At the urging of “The Old Gentleman” — as Lovecraft called himself — Bloch began to write fiction. Before long, the young man was a published author: “But in July, 1934, less than a month after graduating from high school, I received a letter of acceptance for my story. . . . I had suddenly and almost miraculously become a professional writer, a contributor for the very magazine which published the work of my favorite author and present pen pal. . . .”

Robert Bloch’s early fiction was strongly influenced by Lovecraft and his “Cthulhu Mythos.” Bloch even made Lovecraft a central character in “The Shambler from the Stars,” published in the September 1935 WEIRD TALES. He also created two of the often cited texts of the Mythos, Ludwig Prinn’s DE VERMIS MYSTERIIS and Comte d’Erlette’s CULTES DES GOULES.

Following Lovecraft’s death in 1937, Bloch continued writing for WEIRD TALES. He became one of the magazine’s most popular authors, appearing in its pages nearly seventy times. Perhaps his best known tale for “The Unique Magazine” is “Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper,” published in the July 1943 number.

Whereas Lovecraft’s later fiction took on science fictional overtones, Bloch’s WEIRD TALES fiction was, by and large, ground in horror and the supernatural. For instance, from 1936 through 1938, a number of the author’s stories — “Fane of the Black Pharaoh,” “The Eyes of the Mummy,” “Beetles,” and others — were probably inspired by the 1932 Boris Karloff film, THE MUMMY. Others explored such horror motifs as voodoo, wax museums, and black magic. Robert Bloch’s “Return to the Sabbath,” originally published in WEIRD TALES for July 1938, is an example of the latter.

Originally published under Bloch’s Tarleton Fiske pseudonym, “Return to the Sabbath” was published when the author was twenty-one. Narrated in the first person by a Hollywood public relations man, it’s the story of a European actor brought to the United States to star in a satanic horror film. But the actor — who had dabbled in devil worship himself — disappears after he learns that a former colleague has been murdered in Paris by cultists. Bloch’s story was later adapted and filmed for television as “The Sign of Satan.” It aired on THE ALFRED HITCHCOCK HOUR in 1964.

On Friday, July 28, at 11 PM, PulpFest 2017 welcomes the Narada Radio Company and their PULP-POURRI THEATRE to this summer’s convention. The group will be dramatizing Robert Bloch’s “Return to the Sabbath” in the old radio-play format. 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.

According to Narada’s Pete Lutz:

My life’s dream has been to create “radio” plays and be an actor in them. I was looking at copies of pulp magazine covers and followed a link to scans of pulp stories. I started reading them and immediately began to mentally dramatize them for audio. My wife came up with the name PULP-POURRI THEATRE. I feel this hints at the wide variety of pulp genres available. The possibilities are endless. There are thousands of pulp-fiction stories available. Action becomes dialogue. Narration becomes action. Once the last voice is “in the can”, I start production. Voices get cobbled together first, and then I add music and sound effects. Then I listen to it a half-dozen times to make sure I haven’t overlooked anything.

PULP-POURRI THEATRE embraces the thrilling world of pulp fiction from the last century. We present audio dramas with a few modern touches, such as full sound design. We bring you the most exciting stories from the finest pulp writers. We also throw in an occasional new story from a guest playwright.

The PulpFest 2017 cast of Narada Radio Company’s PULP-POURRI THEATRE will be Austin and Barbi Beach, Ross Bernhardt, Randy Coull, Derek, Keane, and Pete Lutz, and Greg and Rhiannon McAfee. Please join them at PulpFest 2017 from Thursday evening, July 27, through Sunday afternoon, July 30, at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Cranberry, just nineteen miles north of the exciting city of Pittsburgh. You can book your room directly through the PulpFest website. Just click the “Book a Room for 2017” link on our home page or call 1-800-222-8733. Be sure to mention PulpFest in order to receive the convention rate.

Start making your plans now to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of PSYCHO author Robert Bloch at the “pop culture center of the universe” called PulpFest 2017.

(Robert Bloch’s “Return to the Sabbath” originally ran in the July 1938 issue of WEIRD TALES, featuring front cover art by the great pulp and fantasy artist, Virgil Finlay. The artist got his start during the Great Depression when he sent unsolicited illustrations to his favorite pulp magazine, WEIRD TALES. In addition to “The Unique Magazine,” he also contributed interior illustrations and covers to AMAZING STORIES, ASTOUNDING STORIES, CAPTAIN FUTURE, FAMOUS FANTASTIC MYSTERIES FANTASTIC ADVENTURES, FANTASTIC NOVELS, GALAXY, STRANGE STORIES, SUPER SCIENCE STORIES, THRILLING WONDER STORIES, WORLDS OF TOMORROW, and other pulps and digests. Even today, Finlay remains one of the most highly regarded and collected artists in the fields of science fiction and fantasy.

Pete Lutz, the producer-director for the Narada Radio Company, used the August 1942 cover of SPICY ADVENTURE STORIES as the basis for his PULP-POURRI THEATRE advertisement. The artist is H. J. Ward, who painted many covers for the Spicy line of pulp magazines. For a great overview of this artist’s career, we suggest you track down a copy of David Saunders’ book H. J. WARD, published by The Illustrated Press in 2010.)

One Hundred Years of Robert Bloch

Apr 3, 2017 by

Born one-hundred years ago on April 5, 1917, Robert Bloch is best remembered for his novel PSYCHO,  which became the basis for Alfred Hitchcock’s classic film of the same name. The author of more than 200 stories, nearly thirty novels, and a large number of non-fiction articles, screenplays, and teleplays, Bloch got his start as a writing professional in the pulp magazines that are celebrated each summer at PulpFest.

Born in Chicago, Bloch was a precocious child who developed an early interest in vaudeville and theater, as well as storytelling and reading. According to his autobiography, ONCE AROUND THE BLOCH:

Sometime late in the summer of 1927 the family, accompanied by my father’s sister, entered Chicago’s Northwestern Railroad Station to entrain for a suburban destination. Where we were going eludes memory, and it’s not important. What matters is that we passed the huge magazine stand in the terminal.

Here literally hundreds of periodicals — including the then-popular weekly and monthly “pulp” magazines — were ranked in gaudy array. Row after row of garish covers caught the eye; comparatively respectable offerings like ARGOSY, BLUE BOOK, ALL-STORY, and ADVENTURE competed for attention with scores of titles featuring romance, mystery, detective stories, westerns, and every variety of sports. There were even pulps devoted exclusively to railroad yarns, pirates, and WWI air combat. I stared at them, fascinated by this abundance of riches.

It was then that Aunt Lil, with her usual generosity, offered to buy me a magazine to read during the train journey. Scanning titles and covers, I stood poised in delicious indecision. Here was a mustached member of the French Foreign Legion battling a bearded Arab armed with a wicked-looking scimitar . . . beside it, an Indian chief preparing to discharge a flaming arrow at an ambushed wagon train . . . directly overhead, a helpless maiden struggling in the clutches of a gigantic gorilla whose glaring red eyes indicated his zooreastic intentions. Salivating, I surveyed this feast of literature. For a dime I could devour the exploits of a master detective; fifteen cents whould satisfy my appetite for mutiny on the high seas; twenty cents might gorge me with a huge helping of Secret Service operatives foiling the hellish Huns who presumably had substituted a bomb for the torch held by the Statue of Liberty.

But in the face of these attractions, what more might be offered for an entire quarter?

That price was imprinted on the cover of a magazine featuring a cloaked, bearded, evil-looking man confronting a recumbent, half-naked girl clad in Oriental garb against a background of Egyptian hieroglyphs. The featured story was “The Bride of Osiris,” by one Otis Adelbert Kline.

Snatching the magazine from the rack, I paged through it quickly, noting such promising titles as “Satan’s Fiddle,” “Creeping Shadows,” “The Phantom Photoplay” and “The Man with a Thousand Legs.”

That did it. “This is the one I want,” I said.

And it was thus that I was introduced to a magazine which changed my life, my very first copy of WEIRD TALES. . . .

What my parents thought of my taste remains unclear to me. Although they seemed uninterested in reading my favorite magazine they offered no objections to cover illustrations of damsels in various stages of distress and undress, and continued to supply me with quarters for monthly issues. . . . to me personally WEIRD TALES became a sort of non-theological BOOK OF REVELATION. What it revealed was that fantastic fiction was not necessarily the work of long-deceased authors like Poe, Hawthorne or de Maupassant; its prose and poetry were not entombed in pages from the past. Death was alive and well and living in Chicago.

By far the most horrifying concept, and to me the most convincing, was an account of ghouls feasting in their burrows below the cemeteries and subways of modern Boston. The story, “Pickman’s Model,” was credited to one H. P. Lovecraft, and I made a mental note to remember both the title and the name of the author. . . . By cutting down on my consumption of carbohydrates, borrowing streetcar passes and confining motion picture attendance to nights when tickets were ten or fifteen cents, I managed to keep the necessary quarter in reserve for the next issue of WEIRD TALES. . . . my addiction to the work of H. P. Lovecraft increased. . . . A Lovecraft junkie, I was hungry for more highs. What could I do?

As it has so frequently during a long lifetime, sheer stupidity came to my rescue. I sat down and . . . scrawled out a letter to Mr. Lovecraft care of the magazine. Identifying myself as an ardent fan (and a brash, presumptuous teenage idiot), I inquired if he might inform me as to where I could locate some of his stories presently out of print.

Thus began a friendship between the young Bloch and “The Old Gentleman.”

I had become a regular correspondent . . . a member of what was later styled the Lovecraft Circle — a group of friends and fans, many of whom were themselves writers or aspired to be. . . . Quite early in our correspondence HPL suggested I might be interested in trying my own hand at writing with an eye to publication. . . . And since Lovecraft’s suggestion generously included his willingness to inspect my efforts, what more did I need. . . . I trained my sights on the most obvious and visible target, WEIRD TALES. Instead of bombarding them with contributions, I took careful aim before shooting off a story in their direction. . . . Why a battle-scarred veteran of longtime literary warfare would notice the feeble dud I delivered remains a mystery to this very day. But in July, 1934, less than a month after graduating from high school, I received a letter of acceptance for my story. . . . I had suddenly and almost miraculously become a professional writer, a contributor for the very magazine which published the work of my favorite author and present pen pal. . . .

By the end of 1935, Robert Bloch began to sell on a frequent and regular basis to WEIRD TALES. Between that first 1934 sale and the demise of the publication in 1954, he sold nearly seventy stories to “The Unique Magazine.” Having started his career as a mimic of his Lovecraft, his writing gradually took on more psychological overtones and often a sense of humor. He began to branch out in 1939, selling fiction to AMAZING STORIES, STRANGE STORIES, and UNKNOWN. The forties found him contributing to DETECTIVE TALES, DIME MYSTERY MAGAZINE, FANTASTIC ADVENTURES, MAMMOTH DETECTIVE, NEW DETECTIVE, SUPER SCIENCE STORIES, THRILLING MYSTERY, and others. His best-known story of this period, “Yours Truly – Jack the Ripper” — published in the July 1943 WEIRD TALES — led to an assignment writing scripts for a radio program called STAY TUNED FOR TERROR.

It was also during the 1940s that Robert Bloch became a regular attendee of science fiction conventions. In 1948, he was invited to be the professional guest of honor for the World Science Fiction Convention, held in Toronto, the first truly international event of its kind. In 1954, at the San Francisco Worldcon, he met Samuel Peeples, a longtime pulp fan and Hollywood writer. It was this friendship that led to Bloch venturing to Hollywood, where Peeples helped him land an assignment with the television show LOCK-UP. Bloch was soon writing for other series, including ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS, THRILLER, TRUE, and WHISPERING SMITH. In later years, he would contribute to THE GIRL FROM U.N.C.L.E., I SPY, NIGHT GALLERY, STAR TREK, TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE, and others. Bloch would also write the screenplays for THE CABINET OF CALIGARI, THE NIGHT WALKER, THE SKULL, THE HOUSE THAT DRIPPED BLOOD, and other films. He died on September 23, 1994 in Los Angeles, California.

PulpFest 2017 will celebrate the 100th anniversary of Robert Bloch’s birth with several special presentations. On Thursday, July 27, author Chet Williamson will read from his novel, Robert Bloch’s PSYCHO: SANITARIUM. Mr. Williamson was the guest of honor at PulpFest 2015. Garyn Roberts — who engaged in an extensive correspondence with Robert Bloch — will discuss the author and his works on Friday, July 28. Professor Roberts — who is working on a Robert Bloch biography — will be sharing rare and landmark material from throughout the author’s life. Garyn was honored with our Munsey Award in 2013.

There will be two other Bloch presentations on Friday evening. First, Michael Croteau, creator of Philip José Farmer’s Official Home Page and one of the founders of both FarmerCon and Meteor House, will do a short presentation on Robert Bloch’s relationship with Grand Master of Science Fiction Philip José Farmer. To close the evening, the Narada Radio Company and PULP-POURRI THEATRE will present a mock radio drama of Bloch’s “Return to the Sabbath,” originally published in the July 1938 WEIRD TALES. PULP-POURRI THEATRE is an all-new 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 convention will take place from Thursday evening, July 27, through Sunday afternoon, July 30, at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Cranberry, just nineteen miles north of the exciting city of Pittsburgh. You can book your room directly through the PulpFest website. Just click the “Book a Room for 2017” link on our home page or call 1-800-222-8733. Be sure to mention PulpFest in order to receive the convention rate.

Start making your plans now to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of PSYCHO author Robert Bloch at the “pop culture center of the universe” called PulpFest 2017.

(Released in 1960, Alfred Hitchcock’s PSYCHO is considered to be a masterpiece of suspense. This classic film was based on Robert Bloch’s novel of the same name, originally published in 1959 by Simon and Schuster. Hitchcock’s film was nominated for four academy awards and helped its author to achieve fame and fortune, largely through his work in television and motion pictures.

Robert Bloch — who got his start as a writing professional working for the pulps — first discovered the rough-paper magazines through the August 1927 issue of WEIRD TALES, featuring front cover art by Hugh Rankin. A newspaper illustrator, Rankin began working for WEIRD TALES in 1927, doing the vast majority of the magazine’s interior illustrations during the late twenties and all of its covers, beginning with the July 1927 number. He continued as the pulp’s sole cover artist through the February 1931 issue. Afterward, he began sharing the cover with such artists as C. C. Senf, J. Allen St. John, and Margaret Brundage. Rankin continued to paint covers for WEIRD TALES into 1936.

Bloch’s fourth published story — “The Shambler from the Stars” — was not only dedicated to his writing mentor, H. P. Lovecraft, but also featured “The Old Gentleman” as an important character. Published in the September 1935 issue of WEIRD TALES and featuring cover art by Margaret Brundage, the story concerns a would-be writer who obtains a copy of an occult volume known as DE VERMIS MYSTERIIS. He takes the forbidden volume to a Providence-based mystic who, in his excitement, calls down an invisible, vampiric monster. Bloch’s tale would lead Lovecraft to write “The Haunter of the Dark,” published in the December 1936 WEIRD TALES. It was dedicated to Robert Bloch and featured a character named “Robert Blake.”

Following a write-up in the Milwaukee papers in 1935, the new author was invited to join The Milwaukee Fictioneers. A professional writers’ group, its membership also included pulp writers Fredric Brown, Ralph Milne Farley, Lawrence Keating, Ray Palmer, and Stanley G. Weinbaum. Soon after assuming the editorship of AMAZING STORIES in 1938, Palmer would publish Robert Bloch’s first science fiction story,“Secret of the Observatory.” Bloch would author a substantial number of stories for Palmer’s AMAZING STORIES, FANTASTIC ADVENTURES, and OTHER WORLDS SCIENCE STORIES, including “It’s a Small World,” the cover story for the March 1944 AMAZING, featuring artwork by J. Allen St. John.

Although PSYCHO is certainly Robert Bloch’s most famous novel, his first book-length work, THE SCARF — originally published in 1947 by Dial Press — is considered by many critics to be his best work. According to Cullen Gallagher, “It tells the story of a writer . . . who uses real women as models for his characters. But as soon as he is done writing the story, he is compelled to murder them, and always the same way: with the maroon scarf he has had since childhood.” One of the finest editions of THE SCARF is Avon’s 1952 paperback reprint of the work, featuring a beautiful cover by Charles Binger.)

2016 Auction Highlights

Jul 8, 2016 by

The OutsiderThe Saturday Night Auction returns to PulpFest on July 23. It will begin at 10 PM with the always entertaining John P. Gunnison of Adventure House serving as auctioneer.

Although PulpFest annually invests a great deal of time and energy to develop a top-notch programming schedule, it also prides itself for the effort it puts into its annual auction. Each year, the convention’s auction director, J. Barry Traylor, endeavors to put together a range of material to make for lively bidding. Our 2015 auction included the original typescript for the Philip José Farmer novel DAYWORLD, with notes and corrections in the author’s hand; a number of lots from the estate of Earl Kussman who, along with Ed Kessell and Nils Hardin, organized the first Pulpcon; lots of ARGOSY, ADVENTURE, STARTLING STORIES, and other pulps; the first issue of SINISTER STORIES; original artwork by Gahan Wilson and Jon Arfstrom; signed books, photos, and ephemera; fanzines; and much more.

One of the highlights that will be part of our PulpFest 2016 auction will be a number of early Arkham House books, including a very exceptional copy of H. P. Lovecraft’s THE OUTSIDER AND OTHERS. After examining the volume, one of the leading collectors and dealers of WEIRD TALES and Arkham House books stated that it was among the top ten percent of the book’s remaining copies. THE OUTSIDER AND OTHERS was the first book published by Arkham. Printed in an edition of 1268 copies, it has never been reprinted.

Other titles in the Arkham collection that will be offered during this year’s auction will be Lovecraft’s BEYOND THE WALL OF SLEEP, Robert E. Howard’s SKULL-FACE AND OTHERS, William Hope Hodgson’s THE HOUSE ON THE BORDERLAND, and Clark Ashton Smith’s LOST WORLDS. There’s also a copy of the Wandering Star edition of Howard’s THE SAVAGE TALES OF SOLOMON KANE, originally published in 1988. This copy also has original artwork by Gary Gianni, the book’s illustrator. Most of these books are in very desirable condition.

If you can’t make it to PulpFest 2016 and would like to bid on any of these highly collectible volumes, please contact PulpFest marketing and programming director Mike Chomko by email at mike@pulpfest.com.

Doc Savage Baumhofer RevisedIn addition to the Arkhams, we’ll have over two hundred pulps from the collection of Woody Hagadish. A longtime collector and reader of books and pulps, Woody a Pulpcon attendee in the past. Primarily interested in western pulps — particularly WILD WEST WEEKLY — Woody was a reading enthusiast and enjoyed his collection. We’ll be offering a variety of magazines from such diverse genres as sports pulps, general fiction magazines, romance pulps, hero pulps, air war stories, science fiction, westerns, and detective magazines. Also included are three portraits that served as premiums for readers of DOC SAVAGE and THE SHADOW MAGAZINE. The estate is hoping to find good homes for all of these collectibles, getting them to the people who would best appreciate them, as Woody Hagadish had done during his lifetime.

If all goes well with this year’s auction, PulpFest is hoping to offer more pulp magazines from the collection of Woody Hagadish during our 2017 confab. You’ll find some examples of the pulps and other collectibles from Woody’s collection (as well as the Arkham edition of SKULL-FACE AND OTHERS) at the bottom of this post.

There will also be lots submitted to the auction by registered members of the convention. Pulp magazines and related materials, vintage paperbacks, digests, men’s adventure and true crime magazines, original art, first edition hardcovers, series books, reference books, dime novels and story papers, Big Little Books, B-Movies, serials and related paper collectibles, old-time radio shows, and Golden and Silver Age comic books as well as newspaper adventure strips will all be allowed in the auction. Modern graphic novels and comic books will be allowed only if they are related to the pulps. Sexually explicit magazines such as PLAYBOY, PENTHOUSE, and OUI and soft-core porn will not be allowed. Any member of PulpFest 2016 can submit items to the auction. Your PulpFest badge number will be used as your auction bidder and/or seller number.

Start making your plans now to attend PulpFest 2016 to see some of the great material that Barry Traylor is assembling for this year’s auction. We hope to see you from Thursday evening, July 21, through Sunday afternoon, July 24, in the Columbus, Ohio Arena district at the Hyatt Regency hotel and the city’s spacious convention center for PulpFest 2016 — “Summer’s AMAZING Pulp Con!”

If you are not from the Columbus area and have yet to book your room for this year’s PulpFest, you can try calling 1-888-421-1442 to reach the Hyatt Regency. Perhaps there are rooms still available. Alternately, you can search for a room at tripadvisor  or a similar website to find a hotel near the convention. Other sites include www.columbusconventions.com/thearea.phpcourtesy of the Greater Columbus Convention Center, and the Experience Columbus lodging page at http://www.experiencecolumbus.com/stay Thanks so much to everyone who has reserved a room at our host hotel. By staying at the Hyatt Regency, you’ve helped to ensure the convention’s success.

(Released in 1939 by Arkham House, H. P. Lovecraft’s THE OUTSIDER AND OTHERS has never been reprinted. It features dust jacket art by the great pulp and fantasy artist, Virgil Finlay. He got his start as an artist during the Great Depression when he sent unsolicited illustrations to his favorite pulp magazine, WEIRD TALES. Even today, Finlay remains one of the most highly regarded artists in the fields of science fiction and fantasy.

Walter Baumhofer’s classic portrait of Doc Savage — originally used as the cover art to the July 1935 issue of DOC SAVAGE MAGAZINE, featuring the novel “Quest of Qui”– served as a premium provided to readers of the pulp magazine. A print of Robert G. Harris’ painting for “The Sea Angel,” published in the November 1937 issue, was also used as a premium.

Over at THE SHADOW MAGAZINE, Street & Smith art director Bill Lawler — who was noted for his hawkish visage — posed for a black and white portrait dressed as Walter B. Gibson’s “Dark Avenger.” Readers would clip a number of coupons from issues of THE SHADOW or DOC SAVAGE MAGAZINE and mail them in to receive these free giveaways.

Below is a small sampling of some of the pulps and other collectibles from the Woody Hagadish collection that will be up for bid at this year’s PulpFest auction. From the top: ACTION STORIES for June and December 1940; ARGOSY for June 1, 1935; BLUE BOOK for July 1938; the first issue of EXCITING BASEBALL, dated Spring 1949; DOC SAVAGE MAGAZINE pulp premium with art by Robert G. Harris; and THE SHADOW MAGAZINE pulp premium featuring Bill Lawler as The Shadow. At the bottom is SKULL-FACE AND OTHERS by Robert E. Howard, with dust jacket art by Hannes Bok. It was published by Arkham House in 1946 in an edition of 3,004 copies.)

Action Stories 40-06  Action Stories 40-12  Argosy 35-06-01 Blue Book July 1938 Exciting Baseball Spring 1949

Shadow Premium Revised

Doc Savage Harris Revised

Skull-Face

 

 

 

PulpFest 2015 Gaming Event Schedule

Aug 10, 2015 by

Arkham Horror

New 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 and, of course, the pulp heroes. So if you enjoy gaming, PulpFest is a fantastic opportunity to learn more about the roots of some of the great stories that permeate the hobby.

PulpFest will have a room set up with eight tables where a variety of board games, card games, and role-playing games, or RPGs, will be presented. Thanks to longtime pulp and gaming fan Rick Thomas and several Columbus-based gaming groups, PulpFest 2015 is shaping up to be one of the most fun and exciting conventions in years.

For a look at the many games that will be played at this year’s PulpFest, please click here. You’ll find when each game will be played, descriptions of each game, who will be running the games, and much more.

The Columbus chapter of the Ohio Pathfinder Society will run RPGs dealing with weird tales, ancient ruins, and murder mysteries set in a fantasy world based on the Pathfinder RPG. Another Ohio group, Rogue Cthulhu, will be running role-playing adventures based on H. P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos and other weird tales set in the 1920s. Besides RPGs, there will be a number of board and card games that will be demonstrated and played at the convention. These games can last from twenty minutes to several hours. They will be set up for people looking to find some new and interesting entertainment at PulpFest 2015.  We’ll be offering Cthulhu Dice, Elder Sign, Arkham Horror, and more.

The PulpFest 2015 gaming track will begin at 10 AM on 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.” Although advance registrations end at 10 PM on Monday, August 10th, you’ll still be able to register at the door.

One Week to Go!

Aug 6, 2015 by

2015 Full Page AdPulpFest 2015 will start on Thursday, August 13th. The dealers’ room will be open to registered sellers to set up their displays from 4 to 11 PM. Early registration for all convention attendees will take place outside the dealers’ room from 4 to 8 PM. There will be early-bird shopping available to PulpFest members who will be staying at the Hyatt Regency Columbus or those who elect to purchase an early-bird membership from 6 to 10 PM. Our full slate of programming for Thursday evening will get underway at 8 PM. The new PulpFest gaming track will begin on Friday morning, August 15th, at 10 AM.

If you have yet to book your room for this year’s convention, please do so without delay. There may still be some rooms available at nearby hotels. Please click here and you’ll find a link to a list of hotels to choose from. If you are not from the Columbus area and want to attend PulpFest 2015, we urge you to book your room now and not wait until you arrive. Please book a room for three nights and register now for “Summer’s Great Pulp Con.”

Below, you’ll find our complete schedule for the entire convention. To learn more about a particular programming event, click on its title link. Due to last minute contingencies that may arise, this schedule is subject to change.

Thursday, August 13

Dealers’ Room

4:00 PM – 11:00 PM — Dealers’ Room Set-Up

4:00 PM – 8:00 PM — Early Registration

6:00 PM – 10:00 PM — Dealers’ Room Opens for Early-Bird Shopping

Programming

8:00 PM — Pulpcraft: A Counterintelligence and Espionage Guide to the Pulp Adventures of The Shadow (Tim King)

8:40 PM — Thrilling Detectives (John Wooley and John Gunnison)

9:20 PM — 75 Years of Street & Smith Comics (Anthony Tollin, Tony Isabella, Will Murray, and Michelle Nolan)

10:10 PM — Saddle Up! A Look at the Western Heroes of the Thrilling Group (Ed Hulse)

10:50 PM — Play Ball: A Look at the Sports Pulps (Michelle Nolan)

11:30 PM — OUT OF MIND and PICKMAN’S MODEL (Lovecraft at the Movies)

Friday, August 14

Dealers’ Room

9:00 AM – 10:00 AM — Early Registration and Dealers’ Room Set-Up

10:00 AM – 4:30 PM — Dealers’ Room Open to All

10:00 AM – 10:00 PM — Gaming Track in the Clark Room, Second Floor

Programming

1:00 PM — New Fictioneers Reading: Swords Against Cthulhu (Jason Scott Aiken)

2:00 PM — New Fictioneers Reading: Hardboiled Horrors (John Hegenberger)

3:00 PM — The Pulp Magazines Project (Nathan Madison and Patrick Belk)

7:00 PM — Welcome to PulpFest 2015 (Convention Chairman Jack Cullers)

7:05 PM — Leo Margulies: The Little Giant of the Pulps (Ed Hulse, Will Murray and Philip M. Sherman)

7:55 PM — Our Guest of Honor (Chet Williamson)

8:45 PM — Our Special Guest (WEIRD TALES Artist Jon Arfstrom)

9:10 PM — FarmerCon X: The Weird Tales of  Philip José Farmer (Jason Aiken, Chuck Loridans, and Frank Schildiner)

9:50 PM — The Call of Cthulhu: The Development of Lovecraft’s Mythos (John Haefele, Don Herron, Tom Krabacher, Rick Lai, and Nathan Madison)

10:40 PM — Thrilling Heroes of Standards Pulps and Comics (Matt Moring, Will Murray, Michelle Nolan, and Garyn Roberts)

11:30 pm — THE CALL OF CTHULHU and COOL AIR (Lovecraft at the Movies)

Saturday, August 15

Dealers’ Room

10:00 AM – 4:30 PM — Dealers’ Room Open to All

10:00 AM – 10:00 PM — Gaming Track in the Clark Room, Second Floor

Programming

12:30 PM — New Fictioneer Reading: Flying Saucers and Fisticuffs (Duane Spurlock)

1:30 PM — The Heirs of WEIRD TALES (Jim Beard, Jeff Fournier, John Hegenberger, Rick Lai, Michael Panush, and Frank Schildiner with Ron Fortier, moderator)

2:30 PM — Pulp Macabre: The Art of Lee Brown Coye (Mike Hunchback)

3:30 PM — New Fictioneers Reading: Weird Poetry and Prose (Scott Urban)

5:00 PM — PulpFest 2015 Group Meal at Buca di Beppo (Volunteer coordinator Sally Cullers)

7:10 PM — PulpFest 2015 Business Meeting (meet the convention organizers)

7:40 PM — 2015 Munsey Award Presentation (presented by Randy Cox)

7:55 PM — Weird Editing at “The Unique Magazine” (Don Herron, Morgan Holmes, Tom Krabacher, Will Murray, and Garyn Roberts)

8:45 pm — The Thrilling Adventures of Rudolph Belarski  (David Saunders)

9:30 pm — Saturday Night at the Auction (John Gunnison and Joseph Saine)

11:30 pm — THE WHISPERER IN DARKNESS and PROFESSOR PEABODY’S LAST LECTURE (Lovecraft at the Movies)

Sunday, August 16

Dealer’s Room

10:00 AM – 2:00 PM — Dealers’ Room Open to All (many dealers will be packing up; buying opportunities may be limited)

10:00 AM – 2:00 PM — Gaming Track in the Clark Room, Second Floor

Please note that this schedule is subject to change.

For questions about our programming, please write to our programming director Mike Chomko at mike@pulpfest.com.

For questions about our dealers’ room, please write to our convention chairperson Jack Cullers at jack@pulpfest.com.

Hardboiled Horrors: New Fiction from John Hegenberger

Jul 31, 2015 by

HegenbergerAlthough he has been a published author since the late seventies, John Hegenberger still qualifies as a “new fictioneer.” He has been attending pulp conventions for years. In fact, back in 1988, John penned a review of Pulpcon 17 for MYSTERY SCENE MAGAZINE, the oldest, largest, and most authoritative guide to the crime fiction genre.

John got his start with a short story entitled “Last Contact.” It was published in the October 1977 issue of GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION. More than a decade later, he followed with a pair of novellas in AMAZING STORIES, a short story in TALES OF THE UNANTICIPATED, and a third novella in an anthology published by Ace Books. John has also published two non-fiction books about collecting movie memorabilia and comic books, both published by Wallace-Homestead, as well as CROSS EXAMINATIONS, a collection of stories featuring Eliot Cross, a private eye based in Columbus, Ohio, that is “. . . fast-moving, atmospheric, and consistently surprising . . .” It’s available for Kindle through Amazon.

Born and raised in the heart of the heartland — Columbus, Ohio — John Hegenberger is the author of the upcoming Stan Wade L.A.P.I. series from Black Opal Books, father of three, tennis enthusiast, collector of silent films and old-time radio, hiker, Francophile, B.A. Comparative Literature, pop culture author, crime-fighter, comedian, ex-lead in the senior class play, ex-Navy, ex-comic book dealer, ex-marketing exec at Exxon, AT&T, and IBM, and happily married for 45 years. He tells us that he “expects to have contracted and completed a couple of additional novels by the time of the show, for a dozen books sold since mid-March.” It sounds like he’s hitting on all cylinders. He’s currently working on a western and the fifth Stan Wade, L.A.P.I. novel.

Join PulpFest 2015 on Friday afternoon at 2 PM for “Hardboiled Horrors,” a New Fictioneers reading featuring John Hegenberger. He’ll be reading “Howard’s Toe,” a short story of Lovecraftian horror, as well as a Stan Wade story, involving Robert Bloch and Alfred Hitchcock during the filming of PSYCHO.

John’s reading will be one of four New Fictioneers readings — stories by today’s fictioneers, the authors writing the new pulp fiction — at PulpFest 2015. If you have yet to book your room for this year’s convention, please do so without delay. Remember that PulpFest will be sharing downtown Columbus with Matsuricon in August. There are still some rooms available at nearby hotels. Please click here and you’ll find a link to a list of hotels to choose from. If you are not from the Columbus area and want to attend PulpFest 2015, we urge you 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. So what are you waiting for? Book a room for three nights and register now for “Summer’s Great Pulp Con.”

(The October 1977 issue of GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION (combined with WORLDS OF IF) featured front cover art by Stephen E. Fabian. Still active today, Fabian became interested in science fiction and science-fiction art in the early fifties while serving in the U. S. Air Force. Admiring the work of artists such as Virgil Finlay, Lawrence Stevens, Edd Cartier, and Hubert Rogers, Fabian began thinking about learning how to draw and paint like his favorite science-fiction illustrators in 1965. Two years later, his drawings and paintings began appearing in print, both in fan publications and professional magazines. In 2006, he won a World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement.)

Weird Prose and Poetry from Scott H. Urban

Jul 27, 2015 by

UrbanSince 2009, PulpFest has annually featured readings by some of the best writers of today’s pulp fiction. Jim Beard, Christopher Paul Carey, Win Scott Eckert, Dick Eno, Ron Fortier, William Patrick Maynard, Will Murray, and many others have read excerpts from their work, showcasing a wide range of exciting new fiction. This year, given that PulpFest is celebrating H. P. Lovecraft and WEIRD TALES, we searched for creators who have written fiction inspired by the work of Lovecraft, the Cthulhu Mythos, WEIRD TALES and such writers as Robert E. Howard, Clark Ashton Smith, and Seabury Quinn. We think we’ve found some great ones for the PulpFest 2015 New Fictioneers reading series.

PulpFest 2015 is pleased to welcome author and poet Scott H. Urban to its New Fictioneers reading series. Scott will be appearing on Saturday afternoon, August 15th, at 3:30 PM in our second-floor programming area at the Hyatt Regency. Scott’s fiction, poetry, and reviews have appeared in print and across the web. In 1984, he helped to found the Unnameable Press specialty book publisher. During the late 1990s, he edited the small press, horror poetry zine FRISSON: DISCONCERTING VERSE. In 1998, he co-edited THE CONSPIRACY FILES with Martin H. Greenberg. It was published by DAW Books. Some of Scott’s anthology appearances include FEAR ITSELF, SHOCK ROCK II, HOT BLOOD: SEEDS OF FEAR, THE BEAST WITHIN, and TERMINAL FRIGHTS. His early fiction is collected as BLOODY SHOW, available for Kindle through Amazon. His most recent poetry collection is GOD’S WILL. Published by Mad Rush Books, it is available through Lulu.

Scott Urban was in his early teens when he first came across Lovecraft in a paperback book. He immediately fell under the spell of “The Old Gent,” knowing that he had found something special. It was a universe both unfailingly grim and eerily fantastic. He wrote some juvenalia while under the spell of Lovecraft, including poems and stories. While his writing has moved away from direct pastiches, Lovecraft remains in the back of his mind. As Scott writes, “. . . probably will be until I die.”

With a love of old pulp and a tongue firmly affixed in cheek, Scott is proud to be reading as a New Fictioneer at this year’s PulpFest. He will read from BLOODY SHOW, a collection of “Dark Tales of Decay and Dissolution,” as well as other pieces, both old and new. He promises to leave the bubbling chaos at home; however, he cannot guarantee that there will not be writhing tentacles and the ensuing loss of sanity.

Mr. Urban has spent most of his professional career as a public school teacher and administrator on North Carolina’s Cape Fear Coast. In 2011, his family relocated to the mist-shrouded forests of southeastern Ohio, where he teaches at a local college and works with troubled youth. He is currently at work on a novel of erotic horror, slated for publication in 2016. He lives in a renovated Amish farmhouse that isn’t haunted . . . yet.

For information on how to register for PulpFest 2015, please click the red “register” button on our home page. To book a room for this year’s convention, please visit www.pulpfest.com/2015/06/16872/.

Free to Our Members: THE PULPSTER #24

Jul 16, 2015 by

The-Pulpster-24-coverEditor and designer Bill Lampkin and his assistant-editor Peter Chomko are hard at work on the next issue of THE PULPSTER, the award-winning PulpFest program book. He’ll be featuring articles on Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson, the author who founded DC Comics; the Thrilling Group of pulps and comics; DETECTIVE FICTION WEEKLY; Erle Stanley Gardner, and other topics. The highlight of the issue will be a round-robin article on H. P. Lovecraft and WEIRD TALES. It will feature contributions from filmmaker Sean Branney; Marvin Kaye, the current editor of WEIRD TALES W. Paul Ganley, founder of WEIRDBOOKand Derrick Hussey, the publisher at Hippocampus Press; authors Jason Brock, Ramsey Campbell, Cody Goodfellow, Nick Mamatas, Tim Powers, Wilum Pugmire, Jessica Amanda Salmonson, Darrell Schweitzer, and Chet Williamson; poet Fred Phillips; pulp scholars and collectors John Haefele, Don Herron, Morgan Holmes, S. T. Joshi, Tom Krabacher, Rick Lai, Will Murray, and J. Barry Traylor. So expect a slam-bang issue from the esteemed editor of our highly popular program book.

A longstanding tradition cherished by attendees of summer pulp cons, THE PULPSTER #24 will be released at PulpFest 2015. Every member – including supporting members – of PulpFest will receive a complimentary copy of THE PULPSTER. Following the convention, a limited number of copies of the program book will be available for purchase through Mike Chomko, Books. Please write to Mike – who also serves as the marketing and programming director for PulpFest – at mike@pulpfest.com or 2217 W. Fairview Street, Allentown, PA 18104-6542 to reserve your copy. Given its roster of authors, the issue will probably disappear before you know it.

You can also order back issues of THE PULPSTER through Mike Chomko, Books. Copies of THE PULPSTER #5, 6, 17, 20, 22, and 23 are available for $13 each, postage paid. Copies of THE PULPSTER #9 are available for $18, postage paid. Copies of THE PULPSTER #4, 15, and 21 are available for $23 each, postage paid. Copies of THE PULPSTER Mini-Edition, published in 2005 and featuring a history of the Lamont Award, are available for $8, postage paid. All other issues of THE PULPSTER are out of print. Reduced postage is available on orders of multiple books. Please note that quantities of most issues are limited as reflected by the various prices. These prices are good only in the United States. Buyers outside the United States, please inquire about rates as postage costs are quite substantial. Mike will accept payments made via check or money order or through Paypal. Please write to him at mike@pulpfest.com or 2217 W. Fairview Street, Allentown, PA 18104-6542 for further instructions.

For questions about submissions to THE PULPSTER, please write to Bill Lampkin at bill@pulpfest.com. For any questions about advertising in THE PULPSTER, back issues, or ordering issue #24 of THE PULPSTER, please write to Mike Chomko at mike@pulpfest.com.

For information on how to register for PulpFest 2015, please click the red “register” button on our home page. To book a room for this year’s convention, please visit www.pulpfest.com/2015/06/16872/.