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/.

Cthulhu is Calling You to PulpFest’s Gaming Track

Jul 14, 2015 by

Call of Cthulhu Banner

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 a few related stories predated it — “The Nameless City,” “The Hound,” and “The Festival” — in what has come to be known as “The Cthulhu Mythos,” “The Call of Cthulhu” is a seminal work of its author. 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 Lovecraft’s remaining years 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 and reflecting his own materialistic atheism. During his last years, Lovecraft 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.” Some of the authors who responded with their own “Cthulhu” fiction were Clark Ashton Smith, Robert E. Howard, Robert Bloch, Frank Belknap Long, and Henry Kuttner.

In later years, particularly following the death of “the old gentleman,” August Derleth worked to expand Lovecraft’s so-called “mythos,” shaping it in a way that some scholars claim to be a corruption of the original author’s intent. Derleth’s “Cthulhu Mythos,” as the story-type came to be known, shifted away from Lovecraft’s nihilistic universe toward a more “good versus evil” theme. Other writers, notably Lin Carter and Brian Lumley, continued this process.

Although Derleth may have corrupted Lovecraft’s “synthetic folklore,” he also helped to popularize the author’s fiction through his Arkham House Publishers and significantly expanded Lovecraft’s reputation. His visions increasingly came under the microscope of academia and scholars. His fiction became increasingly known and popular, leading to adaptations in a variety of media. All of this came to a head in 1981 when a wargame and role-playing-game publisher known as Chaosium released the first edition of CALL OF CTHULHU, a game developed by Sandy Peterson. It is is now in its seventh edition and is one of the role-playing games that will be featured during PulpFest‘s new gaming track.

Based on H. P. Lovecraft’s observation that “The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown,” the setting of Chaosium’s CALL OF CTHULHU is a darker and stranger version of our world, where the players try to hold back the darkness. The original game is set in the 1920s, the setting of many of Lovecraft’s stories. There have been numerous interesting adventures written for the game system over the years, including the CTHULHU BY GASLIGHT supplement, a blend of occult and Holmesian mystery set in Victorian England; CTHULHU DARK AGES that takes place about 1000 AD; CTHULHU RISING and its 23rd century setting; and CTHULHU INVICTUS, which takes place in the first century at the time of the Roman Empire.

Whatever the setting, the players take on the roles of detectives, criminals, scholars, artists, war veterans, and others who are drawn into the realm of the mysterious. Often, events begin innocently enough, until more and more of the true nature of reality is revealed. As the players experience more of the true horrors of the world and the irrelevance of humanity, their sanity inevitably withers away. The fun of these games comes from assuming roles that are different from everyday life and sometimes, making choices that one would not make in reality.

CALL OF CTHULHU has a reputation as a game in which it is quite common for a player character to die in gruesome circumstances or end up in a mental institution. Eventual triumph of the players is not a guarantee. However, dying heroically or going insane is part of the fun of this game. But who knows? You may gain the tools you need to defeat the creatures of the night – mystical knowledge and magic – and outsmart your opponents. As H. P. Lovecraft wrote in 1926, “The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents.”

The PulpFest 2015 gaming track will begin at 10 AM on both Friday and Saturday and last until 10 PM or thereabouts. On Sunday, games will begin at 10 AM and continue until the end of the convention. All games will be set up in the Clark Room, located on the second floor of the Hyatt Regency. The only requirements to play games at PulpFest 2015 are a PulpFest membership, your imagination, and a desire to have a good time. So if you enjoy pulps and you enjoy games, PulpFest will be the place to be. You can join us at the beautiful Hyatt Regency in Columbus, Ohio, beginning on Thursday evening, August 13th and running through Sunday afternoon, August 16th. To book a room for this year’s convention, please visit www.pulpfest.com/2015/06/16872/. Then, click the red “register” button on our home page to learn how to register for “Summer’s Great Pulp Con,” and now, “Summer’s Great Pulp Gaming Con.”

(Many thanks to Chaosium, the publisher of CALL OF CTHULHU, one of the most recognized role playing games in the world. Chaosium has donated a selection of books and role-playing-game supplements to be used as prizes for PulpFest‘s new gaming track.)

Go Nuts at PulpFest’s New Gaming Track

Jun 5, 2015 by

Cthulhu DiceNew at this year’s PulpFest will be a gaming track. Many of the themes found in the world of modern games resonate from the pulps and the stories published in those magazines. There are games based on Conan, the Cthulhu Mythos, space operas, westerns, mysteries, pulp heroes, and more.

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

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

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

The PulpFest 2015 gaming track will begin at 10 AM on both Friday and Saturday and last until 10 PM or thereabouts. On Sunday, games will begin at 10 AM and continue until the end of the convention. All games will be set up in the Clark Room, located on the second floor of the Hyatt Regency. The only requirements to play games at PulpFest 2015 are a PulpFest membership, your imagination, and a desire to have a good time. So if you enjoy pulps and you enjoy games, PulpFest will be the place to be. You can join us at the beautiful Hyatt Regency in Columbus, Ohio, beginning on Thursday evening, August 13th and running through Sunday afternoon, August 16th. Click here to learn how to register for “Summer’s Great Pulp Con,” and now, “Summer’s Great Pulp Gaming Con.”