Thursday at PulpFest

Jul 27, 2017 by

PulpFest 2017 will begin this afternoon at 4 PM, as our dealers begin to erect their displays for “Summer’s AMAZING Pulp Con!” All members — dealers included — will be able to register for the convention from 4 to 8 PM, at the entrance to our dealers’ room at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Cranberry. Everyone can pick up their registration packets at this time. To help things move smoothly, please bring along a completed registration form. You can download a copy by clicking here or the link found on our registration page.

There will be free early-bird shopping in the dealers’ room from 6 to 9 PM for loyal attendees who help to defray the convention’s costs by staying at our host hotel. The cost is $30 for those who stay elsewhere. Our full evening programming slate will begin shortly after 9 PM with a reading by author Chet Williamson.

PulpFest will also be celebrating the dangerous dames of the pulps with presentations on The Dangerous Dames of Kenneth Robeson — featuring PulpFest Technical Director and Webmaster Chuck Welch — and Compliments of the Domino Lady — a discussion of the long-lived pulp hero by Inkpot Award winner Michelle Nolan. Sandwiched between these two presentations will be a reading from his Domino Lady story — “The Claws of the Cat” — by author Ron Fortier.

Closing out the evening will be an audio drama, staged by the Narada Radio Company and their PULP-POURRI THEATREThe Adventures of Mr. Fye” introduces a new hero inspired by classic pulp fiction and the single character hero pulps. The play will begin at 11 PM.

You can find additional details about these and all of our presentations by clicking the Programming for 2017 button found at the top of our home page. Each event on the schedule is linked to a post that provides further information on that event. Just click on the event’s title. Watch for the “panels” banner to find our programming area.

When our programming is over, PulpFest members are welcome to socialize together in our hospitality suite at the DoubleTree. You’ll be able to enjoy drinks and snacks with your comrades in pulpdom and talk about the things that you love and collect. “What’s your favorite Doc Savage adventure? Did Joan Randall have a thing for Gragg the Robot? Remember when Conan bit off that vulture’s head in ‘A Witch Shall Be Born?’ How the hell do you say Tsathoggua? Who’d win a knock-down-drag-out between Wu Fang and Shiwan Khan? Would either stand a chance against Doctor Fu Manchu? Why does the Phantom Detective wear that top hat? Who the hell is Pinky Jenkins?” These are just a few of the mysteries you might clear up with your pals — old and new — at PulpFest 2017. You sure can’t do that on your iPhone!

If you are not from the Pittsburgh area and have yet to book your room for this year’s PulpFest, you can try calling 1-800-222-8733 to reach our host hotel. Perhaps there is an opening. Please be sure to mention PulpFest in order to receive any special convention deals that may still be available. 

For those of you who have not yet registered for PulpFest 2017, Thursday evening will be an ideal time to do so. Our full weekend memberships will be available at the door, with early-bird shopping costing an additional $30 for those members not staying at the DoubleTree. Single day memberships — costing $20 for Friday or Saturday — will also be available. A Sunday single day membership will cost $10, the price of THE PULPSTERPlease click our Register for 2017 button for further details.

From 4 PM to 11 PM on Thursday, the dealers’ room will be open for exhibitors to set up their displays. At this point, we urge all of our dealers to take full advantage of our generous load-in and set-up period. Access to the dealers’ room for unloading will be through the ballroom back entrance and the nearby banquet dock. Click here for a map showing the loading area of the hotel and here for a map of the DoubleTree’s Grand Ballroom.

Remember that we’ll also be offering early-bird shopping in the dealers’ room from 6 to 9 PM on Thursday evening, an extra three hours of selling opportunities to people who are ready to buy!

Although the focus of PulpFest is pulp magazines and related materials, digests, vintage paperbacks, men’s adventure and true crime magazines, first-edition hardcovers, series books, dime novels, original art, Big Little Books, B-movies, serials and related paper collectibles, old-time-radio shows, and Golden and Silver Age as well as pulp-related comic books and games are also allowed.

(Although the first costumed pulp heroine appeared in just six stories in rare and obscure mid-1930s pulps, The Domino Lady commanded three covers for those magazines. All three were painted by Norman Saunders, one of the leading artists and illustrators of the pulp era.

The Domino Lady and other “dangerous dames” of the pulps will be profiled during PulpFest’s opening night programming, scheduled to begin at 9:10 PM this evening. We hope to see you in at the DoubleTree for “Summer’s AMAZING Pulp Con! You’ll find today’s schedule immediately below.)

Thursday, July 27

Dealers’ Room

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

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

6:00 PM – 9:00 PM — Dealers’ Room Open for Early-Bird Shopping (free with your stay at the Double-Tree)

Programming

9:10 – 9:40 PM — Robert Bloch’s PSYCHO: SANITARIUM — A Reading by Chet Williamson

9:40 – 10:05 PM — The Dangerous Dames of Kenneth Robeson: Pat Savage, Nellie Gray and Rosabel Newton (Chuck Welch)

10:05 – 10:15 PM— Scarlet Adventuress — The Domino Lady — A Reading by Ron Fortier

10:15 – 10:50 PM — Compliments of the Domino Lady (Michelle Nolan)

10:50 – 11:00 PM — Intermission

11:00 – 11:30 PM — Pulp-Pourri Theatre Presents “The Return of Mr. Fye”

Compliments of The Domino Lady

Jun 16, 2017 by

In the violence-riddled cities of the pulp era, the police were either unable or unwilling to deal with the criminal element. It was left to strong-willed and often well-to-do citizens to take matters into their own hands. Over time, these characters became known as the pulp heroes. The Shadow, Doc Savage, The Spider, The Green Lama, The Avenger, The Black Bat, and others. Helping these heroic vigilantes were their hand-picked agents, including a number of female assistants.

The Shadow had his Myra Reldon and Margo LaneNita Van Sloan worked next to The Spider; although disgruntled, Doc Savage accepted the assistance of his cousin Pat, while The Avenger was capably helped by Nellie Grey and Rosabel Newton. And then there’s The Domino Lady . . . .

The only female pulp hero to be featured in her own series, The Domino Lady appeared in six stories credited to Lars Anderson. Published in 1936, five of her tales ran in SAUCY ROMANTIC ADVENTURES. The character’s final tale appeared in MYSTERY ADVENTURE MAGAZINE.

The Domino Lady is really debutante Ellen Patrick. Following the murder of her father — an honest and tireless district attorney — Ellen decides to fight evil in society. Wearing a small, dark mask and a tight and revealing evening gown, she becomes The Domino Lady. Armed with an automatic pistol and a knockout drug, she robs her victims, donating the bulk of the loot to charity and leaving her calling card.

In his introduction to Vanguard Publications’ DOMINO LADY: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION, Bernard Drew writes:

“You’re in for a treat as you read these half-dozen Domino Lady escapades, for that’s the best way to describe them. Escapades. They involve no investigation, no probing, no crime solving. Ellen has already zeroed in on the bad guy by story’s start. The main plot element, in fact, is the shapely heroine wrangling her way into a social situation, making light conversation, swiping something or other of value from someone who deserves to lose it and dropping a calling card which reads ‘The Domino Lady’s Compliments.'”

Over the last few decades, new adventures of The Domino Lady have been published by various small and independent presses. Moonstone Books has released a number of books and comics featuring the character. Airship 27 has issued a pair of anthologies collecting new Domino Lady stories. Perhaps the strangest versions are the erotic comic book tales written and drawn by the late Ron Wilber.

At 11:35 PM on Thursday, July 27, please join Michelle Nolan in the PulpFest 2017 programming room for “Compliments of The Domino Lady,” a brief discussion of what The Domino Lady means in pulp history and how the character paved the way for dozens of costumed heroines in the comics of the Golden Age and beyond. It’s all part of the convention’s celebration of the dangerous dames of the pulps, the hardboiled ladies who helped to pave the way for such modern day gumshoes as Sue Grafton‘s Kinsey Millhone, Marcia Muller‘s Sharon McCone, and Sara Paretsky‘s V. I. Warshawski. Collectively, these authors and their characters have helped detective fiction to evolve in new directions.

A mainstream journalist for more than fifty years, Michelle Nolan has also covered the history of genre fiction in pulps, comics, books and films in more than 1,000 magazine, newspaper and book articles. She is the author of the definitive “LOVE ON THE RACKS: A HISTORY OF AMERICAN ROMANCE COMICS and BALL TALES: A STUDY IN AMERICAN SPORTS FICTION. In 2014, Michelle received an Inkpot Award from Comic-Con International: San Diego.

(Although the first costumed pulp heroine appeared in just six stories in rare and obscure mid-1930s pulps, The Domino Lady commanded three covers for those magazines. All three were painted by Norman Saunders, one of the leading artists and illustrators of the pulp era. During a career that spanned five decades, Saunders completed over 2500 commercial art assignments, including more than one thousand covers featured on 85 different pulp titles.

In addition to his work for the pulp industry, Norman Saunders illustrated for national advertisers, slick magazines, paperbacks, men’s adventure magazines, calendars, comic books, trading cards, and more. He died in 1989 at the age of 82.)

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/.

Thrilling Comic Book Heroes

Jun 21, 2015 by

Thrilling Comics 1939-1Since late May, we’ve primarily been exploring the pulp magazines of the Thrilling Group on the PulpFest home page. We’ve discussed the Standard sports pulps, western hero pulps, thrilling detectives, and the pulp heroes of the thirties and the forties. We’ve even found time to explore the lives and careers of Standard’s managing editor Leo Margulies and his assistant Mort Weisinger, prolific author Norman Daniels, equally prolific cover artist Rudolph Belarski, and more. Today, we will turn our attention to the Standard Comics line.

Ned Pines was primarily a pulp publisher with nearly four-thousand issues produced from 1931-1958, along with RANCH ROMANCES through 1971. However, Standard was also a second-tier comics firm from 1940 through 1959, with the circulation of the company’s comic books being somewhat limited on the West Coast. When they started hunting for them, comic book collectors found the Standard Comics to be much scarcer than pulps from Standard, especially given the firm’s prolific publication of science fiction and western pulps.

The firm’s costumed heroes were published only from 1940 through 1949, then made no appearances anywhere–except in fanzines–until a few AC reprints began popping up in the 1980s. Not counting westerns, science-fiction, magicians and jungle characters, Standard/Better/Nedor/Four Star/Pines/Visual Editions published only seventeen strips with costumed characters, most of them beginning during the first half of the 1940s. The only two names commonly recognized today are The Black Terror and The Fighting Yank. Therefore, as colorful as they were, the Standard heroes were far less known among Golden Age comic book collectors than were the super heroes from the likes of top-tier publishers DC, Timely, Fawcett, and Quality.

The company’s flagship character was ostensibly Doc Strange, who appeared in 88 stories beginning with THRILLING COMICS #1, dated February 1940, and running through #64, dated February 1948, and in the anthology title AMERICA’S BEST COMICS #1-23 and #27. Created by writer Richard Hughes, later the editor of the American Comics Group, and artist Alexander Kostuke, Doc Strange gained his powers from a magic elixir and was basically a super-powered Doc Savage. He soon began to resemble a weight-lifter in t-shirt and khaki pants. Doc never had his own title, but he was popular enough to hang around longer than most superheroes of the early forties, lasting almost to the end of the decade.

Exciting Comics #9The real flagship, of course, became the colorful Black Terror, who debuted in EXCITING COMICS #9, dated May 1941, running through the last issue, #69, dated September 1949. Along with Tim, the teen partner he acquired, he was essentially a Batman knockoff and gained his powers through drugs — fitting because he was a pharmacist in civilian life. Unlike other publishers, Standard almost never used recurring villains, instead presenting the most generic of all generic super-hero stories. Also created by Hughes, as well as artist Don Gabrielson, The Black Terror was one of two Standard super heroes with his own title, running in #1-27 from 1942 through 1949. He also appeared in all 31 issues of AMERICA’S BEST COMICS, concurrent with his own title, for a total of 174 stories. All three of the comics that ran The Black Terror were canceled in 1949, and a few years later, the company largely departed the comic book market.

The other Standard character with his own title, The Fighting Yank, first appeared in STARTLING COMICS #10, dated September 1941. His adventures ran through STARTLING #49, dated Jan. 1948, along with FIGHTING YANK #1-29 and AMERICA’S BEST COMICS # 9, 11 and #13-25, for a total of 141 stories. A supernaturally created character, he was Standard’s answer to Timely’s Captain America and the many other mainstream Golden Age patriotic heroes. Likewise created by Hughes, along with artist Jon Blummer, the Yank was in “real life” Bruce Carter III, who had an identical ancestor — also named Bruce Carter — in the War for Independence. In times of crisis, the earlier Bruce would manifest himself in spirit form, and help out. It was the Revolutionary War Bruce who showed the World War II Bruce where to find a magic cloak able to protect him from harm and impart super strength. In addition to this green cloak, Bruce III’s Fighting Yank outfit included several 18th century fashion motifs, such as a tri-corner hat and square buckles, and a modern-style American flag on his chest. The series ended in 1949.

Startling Comics #1Standard’s other primary super heroes were Captain Future and Pyroman. Even though he had the same name as an existing Standard pulp hero, Captain Future resembled Superman and Captain Marvel. The character’s adventures ran from STARTLING COMICS #1, dated June 1940, through #40, dated July 1946. He also appeared in AMERICA’S BEST COMICS #1-3, 5 and 22, for 45 stories. The Captain was created by Pines editor Mort Weisinger, whose contribution seems to have been suggesting a hero who would have adventures under that name. Although the author is not known, the original Captain Future story was drawn by Kin Platt, who later co-created Supermouse, the first ongoing funny-animal superhero in comics.

After scientist Andrew Bryant bathes himself in a mixture of gamma and infrared radiation, he can fly, emit bolts of energy from his hands, and perform prodigious feats of strength. Calling himself Captain Future, he wasn’t invulnerable and needed to be recharged from time to time. So he usually kept his radiation machine relatively handy. Although featured on the covers of the first nine issues of STARTLING COMICS, Captain Future was demoted to the back pages of the comic book following the introduction of The Fighting Yank in the tenth issue of the comic magazine.

Pyroman, a quasi-Human Torch with electrical powers, ran in STARTLING COMICS #18-26, 28-43 and in most issues of AMERICA’S BEST COMICS for a total of 43 stories. Created by an unknown writer and artist Jack Binder, Pyroman never had his own title, but did take the cover away from Fighting Yank in December, 1942, when his origin story appeared in STARTLING #18. Dick Martin had been a student of electrical engineering before being framed for arson. Sentenced to die in the electric chair, he got super-powered instead. Pyroman’s powers weren’t exactly flame-based, like The Human Torch’s. Instead, he was crackling with electricity, which he could hurl at his foes in the form of lightning bolts or form into a sort of force field. The character stuck around in STARTLING COMICS until 1947 when he was replaced by Lance Lewis, Space Detective.

Wonder Comics #1There were five other patriotic strips — Standard rivaled Timely for the most involvement in World War II by its super heroes. These were The American Eagle (34 stories, mostly in EXCITING), The American Crusader (22 stories, mostly in THRILLING), The Liberator (22 stories, mostly in EXCITING), The Four Comrades (a kid group who appeared only in World War II era issues of STARTLING) and The Grim Reaper (19 stories, all but two in WONDER COMICS #1-17).

Standard had two early non-powered costume heroes — The Mask (only in EXCITING #1-20) and The Woman in Red (primarily in THRILLING). The Mask was the comic book version of The Black Bat, a pulp hero created by writer Norman Daniels for Standard’s BLACK BOOK DETECTIVE. Due to the resemblance of the character to Batman, Standard decided not to do a Black Bat comic series; instead it introduce The Mask, a series based on The Black Bat, but with the names changed. Later, a version of The Phantom Detective from the pulps appeared in most issues of THRILLING #53-70. The other noteworthy non-powered costume hero was Miss Masque, who appeared in sixteen stories in four titles, beginning with EXCITING #51 (Sept. 1946). The Scarab and The Cavalier also made a handful of appearances, but were strictly back-of-the-book characters.

Wonderman, a science-fictional super-powered character, debuted in the short-lived MYSTERY COMICS #1-4 (all 1944) and continued in WONDER COMICS #9-20, along with two stories in the giant COMPLETE BOOK OF COMICS AND FUNNIES (a 1944 one-shot). William F. Wise sub-published several comics for Standard during the era of wartime paper restrictions, including MYSTERY COMICS and two giant square bound one-shot titles in 1944.

Not counting the William F. Wise issues, Standard published only seven titles with costumed heroes. All were at least reasonably successful, including the twenty issues of WONDER COMICS from 1944-1948. The cover art, almost entirely by Alex Schomburg, doubtless had much to do with selling the comics, as most of the interior art was unremarkable. All titles ran bi-monthly or quarterly during most of the 1940s, with a short run of monthly issues for THRILLING, STARTLING, and EXCITING until paper rationing took hold.

Supermouse #1The only super heroes Standard published in the 1950s were mighty mice — the original World War II creation Supermouse, who ran through 1958, and Paul Terry’s Mighty Mouse. Standard acquired the license from St. John in the mid-1950s.

As part of its celebration of the Thrilling Group, PulpFest 2015 is proud to welcome Altus Press publisher and 2012 Munsey Award winner Matt Moring; 1979 Lamont Award winner and author of “The Wild Adventures of Doc Savage and Tarzan” Will Murray; pop culture expert and 2014 Inkpot Award winner Michelle Nolan; and popular culture Professor Garyn G. Roberts, who was awarded the Munsey in 2013, for a presentation entitled “Thrilling Heroes of Standard’s Pulps and Comics.” Scheduled for Friday evening, August 14th, at 10:40 PM, it will examine the evolution of the Standard hero in both pulp magazines and comic books. Thrilling’s heroes of the detective and western genres will be dissected on Thursday, August 13th.

Our discussion of Standard’s heroes began on Friday, June 19th, to call attention to this “Thrilling Presentation!!!” You can read our previous posts about the Thrilling pulp heroes of the thirties and forties by visiting  www.pulpfest.com.

(Doc Strange, a super-powered Doc Savage, headlined the first issue of THRILLING COMICS, dated February 1940, and featuring cover artwork drawn by Alexander Kostuk.

The Black Terror was introduced in the ninth issue of EXCITING COMICS, dated May 1941. The front cover was drawn by Elmer Wexler. The character was created by writer Richard Hughes and artist Alexander Kostuke. The Black Terror was one of two Standard super heroes with his own title. The other was The Fighting Yank, likewise created by Hughes, along with artist Jon Blummer.

That’s the comic book Captain Future on the cover of STARTLING COMICS #1, dated June 1940. The cover artist was Kin Platt, who also drew the first Captain Future comic book story. A character who resembled Superman and Captain Marvel, the comic book version of Captain Future was nothing like the character found in the pulps, created by Edmond Hamilton.

Created by writer Richard Hughes and artist Al Camy, The Grim Reaper was one of a seeming army of non-superpowered masked mystery men who fought crime and the Axis during the forties using only their wits, fists, and, in the case of The Grim Reaper, two .45 automatic pistols, knives, swords, and occasionally machine-guns. Alex Schomburg was the cover artist featured on the first issue of WONDER COMICS, illustrating The Grim Reaper story that headed the issue. Debuting in FIGHTING YANK #7, dated February 1944, The Grim Reaper had to wait until the second issue of WONDER COMICS to have his origin story told.

Ned Pines was one of many pulp magazine publishers who got into comic books the minute he saw what success DC Comics was having with Superman. Like most, he entered the field with a bunch of anthology titles anchored by super heroes. He started diversifying the minute it began to look like the public might be getting tired of that genre. In 1942 and 1943, he introduced a couple of humor titles for kids, HAPPY COMICS and COO COO COMICS. It was in the first issue of the latter, dated October, 1942, that Supermouse made his debut. Supermouse went on to become one of the most successful funny animal superheroes to come out of comic books. Although COO COO fell by the wayside in 1952, Supermouse had gotten his own comic in 1948 and kept at it until Fall 1958, about a year before Pines completely dropped his line of comic books. Among the writers and artists to work on the character were Dan Gordon (creator of The Flintstones), Richard Hughes (creator of Herbie), Gene Fawcette (who worked for Quality Comics, Dell and many other publishers), and Milton Stein (who worked as an assistant animator for Fleischer in the 1940s). The cover art for SUPERMOUSE #1, dated December 1948, was drawn by Carl Wessler.

Many thanks to Michelle Nolan, Don Markstein’s TOONOPEDIA, Comic Book +, and Comic Vine for their help with this article.)

 

Thrilling Pulp Heroes of the Forties

Jun 20, 2015 by

Shadow33-08-01In the spring of 1931, THE SHADOW MAGAZINE was introduced to readers by Street & Smith Publications and proved an instant hit. Within a few short years, all of the leading pulp magazine publishers hoped to emulate its success by introducing their own hero pulps. The first to the starting gate would be Ned Pines’ Standard Magazines, the pulp chain that will be feted at this year’s PulpFest in Columbus, Ohio.

The first of the so-called hero pulps inspired by Walter Gibson’s “Dark Avenger” was THE PHANTOM DETECTIVE, launched in early 1933. Later that same year, Standard followed with the first air war hero magazine, THE LONE EAGLE. Next came G-MEN, the first pulp magazine to capitalize on growing popularity of J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI agents. Thrilling closed the thirties by introducing the heroic adventures of the Black Bat to readers of BLACK BOOK DETECTIVE MAGAZINE, a pulp that had been around nearly as long as the company’s first hero pulp, D. L. Champion’s THE PHANTOM DETECTIVE.

In 1939, while attending the first World Science Fiction Convention in New York City, Standard Magazines’ editor-in-chief, Leo Margulies, “was so overcome by the sincerity of the fans,” that he and editor Mort Weisinger immediately began to work up an idea for a new kind of fantasy magazine. The result of those discussions was CAPTAIN FUTURE, a hero pulp that premiered at the beginning of 1940.

40-01 Captain FutureOr so the story goes. In actuality, the Thrilling Group’s editorial staff had been batting around ideas for a science-fictional single-character magazine for about a year, even asking long-time Standard author Edmond Hamilton to work something up involving a “Mr. Future, Wizard of Science.” Eventually, this character evolved into Captain Future, a super-scientist with laboratories and a residence on the Moon. In each issue of the pulp, Hamilton’s Captain and his faithful assistants pretty much would save the solar system from desolation at the hands of this villain or that. The novels were fairly juvenile space-opera. CAPTAIN FUTURE ran until the spring of 1944, surviving for seventeen issues with Edmond Hamilton at the helm for all but one. In 1945-46, three additional Captain Future novels ran in STARTLING STORIES, with Hamilton writing two of them and Manly Wade Wellman one. Seven shorter works followed in 1950, all written by Hamilton. Popular Library reprinted thirteen of the Captain’s adventures in paperback in the late sixties. Today, specialty publisher Haffner Press is collecting the entire series into quality hardbound volumes.

40-01 Ghost Super-DetectivePremiering around the same time as the good captain, THE GHOST, SUPER-DETECTIVE was a short-lived hero pulp that ran for just seven issues, even though, during its abbreviated life, it went through two title changes. It became THE GHOST DETECTIVE in the summer of 1940 and THE GREEN GHOST DETECTIVE in the winter of 1941. Whatever the name, this pulp hero was actually George Chance, a professional magician who decided to use his skills of prestidigitation to fight crime. As The Ghost, Green Ghost, or whatever, Chance took on the guise of a ghoul. As the late Robert Sampson wrote: “His face is bloodless white, the eyes sunk deep in blotched hollows. The nostrils gape wide. Yellow teeth fill a distended mouth. In short, he looks like a dead man, a staring corpse. These features appear by night, glowing with dim luminescence, to the confusion of the underworld.” After the pulp was cancelled in 1941, the character returned in a series of a six short stories that ran in THRILLING MYSTERY from 1942 through 1944. The entire series, both novels and short stories, was written by G. T. Fleming-Roberts. It has been reprinted by The Battered Silicon Dispatch Box as part of its LOST TREASURES FROM THE PULPS library. A prolific author, Fleming-Roberts wrote other single-character adventures including Secret Agent “X,” The Black Hood, Dan Fowler, and Captain Zero. He also penned two other magician-detective series—the Diamondstone tales for POPULAR DETECTIVE and the Jeffery Wren yarns for DIME DETECTIVE.

Air War 1940-FallThe adventures of Captain Danger were told in AIR WAR, a companion to SKY FIGHTERS, THE LONE EAGLE, and other Thrilling aviation pulps. The magazine debuted during the fall of 1940 and ran for a total of nineteen issues. Credited to Lieutenant Scott Morgan, a house name, the tales of Allen Danger, a soldier of fortune who dedicated his life to helping the downtrodden, appeared in the first fifteen issues of the Standard pulp magazine. Described as a demon of the skies, his missions took him across the globe, delivering aerial justice against the Axis powers. According to pulp historian Don Hutchison, the series was created by Robert Sidney Bowen. However, at least seven of the stories–including the last yarn in the Spring 1944 issue–are known to be the work of Norman Daniels.

40-10 Masked DetectiveThe last of Standard Magazines’ line of non-western single-character pulps, THE MASKED DETECTIVE, also reached newsstands in the fall of 1940. The title character was the alter ego of crime reporter Rex Parker, a laid-back newshawk who worked for a New York newspaper. When not tracking down news for his paper, he battled crime as The Masked Detective. A student of kick-boxing, the detective “wore a neat black suit, gray shirt, dark bow tie, black hat, and a black mask covering his eyes, forehead, and nose. He wore specially built shoes with square, hard toes. He was also a master of ju-jitsu, a good shot, a trained boxer, a makeup artist, and a ventriloquist.” Author credit went to C. K. M. Scanlon, a house name. Norman Daniels is known to have written at least five of the stories. THE MASKED DETECTIVE ran for twelve issues, lasting into the spring of 1943.

Scattered throughout Standard’s anthology titles are other so-called pulp heroes including The Crimson Mask. Attributed to Frank Johnson, the series was largely written by the prolific Daniels. The Mask was the alter ego of pharmacist Robert Clarke, a man seeking revenge against the criminals who had murdered his father. Aided by a small group of friends, the Crimson Mask battled gangsters, kidnappers, and Nazi spy rings through sixteen stories. The series ran in Thrilling’s DETECTIVE NOVELS MAGAZINE, debuting in the August 1940 issue and running through the April 1944 number. The Mask’s stories usually alternated with Daniels’ own Candid Camera Kid yarns, introduced in the June 1939 issue. The first five Crimson Mask stories have been reprinted by Altus Press.

Exciting Detective 41-FallEXCITING DETECTIVE premiered during the fall of 1940, promising “fast-moving, dynamite-packed, up-to-the-minute novels, novelettes, and stories that carry a high-powered punch!” It ran for a total of fifteen issues, ending with its Summer 1943 number, a victim of wartime paper rationing. Appearing in four of its issues–beginning with the Fall 1941 number–was Miles Murdock, a plastic surgeon also known as The Purple Scar. Attributed to John S. Endicott, the stories are thought to be the work of pulp writer George A. McDonald. A “grim nemesis of evil,” The Purple Scar was a master of disguise who spoke in a “hoarse whispering, rather chilling, tomb-like voice.” He wore a purple mask to imitate his murdered brother’s features, scarred by acid and submerged in water. “Purple becomes black at night, which makes my face invisible instead of betraying it as a pale glow in the darkness.” All four of The Scar’s stories have been reprinted by Altus Press.

Debuting in the May 1941 issue of THRILLING ADVENTURES, Henry Kuttner’s Thunder Jim Wade was a short-lived character who is usually written off as a Doc Savage clone. Published under the house name of Charles Stoddard, Wade was raised in a lost colony of Crete where he developed various mental and physical abilities. A roving troubleshooter operating off of a secret island in the South Pacific, Jim is alerted to problems through agents scattered across the globe. Helped by two assistants–Red Argyle and Dirk Marat–Thunder Jim starred in five adventures published in consecutive issues of the Standard pulp magazine. All have been reprinted in a single volume published by Altus Press, entitled THUNDER JIM WADE: THE COMPLETE SERIES.

Thrilling Mystery 41-11Although the bulk of the Dr. Zeng Tse-Lin stories were co-written by W. T. Ballard and Robert Leslie Bellem and published in POPULAR DETECTIVE, the first story of the series–“Fangs of Doom”–ran in the November 1941 issue of THRILLING MYSTERY. An allegedly Chinese crimefighter who is actually the son of white missionary parents, Zeng was assisted by Lai Hu Chow, a Chinese man who wears an artificial leg in which he can carry weapons and other useful items. The entire series has been reprinted by Altus Press. Dr. Zeng will also be explored during our PulpFest presentation, “Thrilling Detectives,” taking place on Thursday, August 13th, at 8:40 PM.

As part of its celebration of the Thrilling Group, PulpFest 2015 is proud to welcome Altus Press publisher and 2012 Munsey Award winner Matt Moring; 1979 Lamont Award winner and author of “The Wild Adventures of Doc Savage and Tarzan” Will Murray; pop culture expert and 2014 Inkpot Award winner Michelle Nolan; and popular culture Professor Garyn G. Roberts, who was awarded the Munsey in 2013, for a presentation entitled “Thrilling Heroes of Standard’s Pulps and Comics.” Scheduled for Friday evening, August 14th, at 10:40 PM, it will examine the evolution of the Standard hero in both pulp magazines and comic books. Thrilling’s heroes of the detective and western genres will be dissected on Thursday, August 13th.

Our discussion of Standard’s heroes began on Friday, June 19th, to call attention to this “Thrilling Presentation!!!” You can read our previous post about the Thrilling pulp heroes of the thirties by visiting  www.pulpfest.com. On Sunday, we’ll turn our attention to the comic book heroes of Standard, Better, Nedor, and Visual Editions.

(George Rozen’s painting for the August 1, 1933 issue of THE SHADOW MAGAZINE is perhaps one of the artist’s most iconic images of Walter Gibson’s “Dark Avenger.” Born 110 years ago in October 1895, Rozen and his twin brother, Jerome, were both pulp artists. George’s first published assignments were covers and interior pen-and-ink story illustrations for Fawcett magazines. In 1931, he replaced his brother as the cover artist for Street & Smith’s THE SHADOW MAGAZINE. George Rozen became the pulp’s most renowned cover artist, while his brother branched out into the more prestigious fields of advertising and slick magazines.

As time passed, George Rozen continued to work for the pulp industry, selling cover art to all of the major publishers including Popular and the Thrilling Group. For Ned Pines, Rozen painted adventure, detective (such as the first issue of THE MASKED DETECTIVE, dated Fall 1940), western, war, and even science-fiction covers, including the first issue of CAPTAIN FUTURE, dated January 1940. As the pulp market began to contract, his work was increasingly found on paperbacks from Popular Library and Ace.

While training for the priesthood in his native Puerto Rico, Rafael de Soto began taking private art lessons with a local artist. He emigrated to the United States in 1923 and soon found work at an advertising company. He began to draw interior story illustrations for Street & Smith’s western pulp magazines in 1930. Two years later, he started to sell freelance cover paintings to all the major pulp magazine publishers including Clayton, Dell, Fiction House, Popular, Street & Smith, and the Thrilling Group. It was de Soto who created the cover art for the first issue of THE GHOST SUPER-DETECTIVE, dated January 1940. He continued to produce pulp covers up until the demise of the industry during the 1950s. He also sold freelance illustrations to slick magazines, many paperback book covers, and covers and interior story illustrations for men’s adventure magazines. Rafael de Soto retired from freelance illustration in 1964 and began teaching art at the State University of New York, Farmingdale. He taught art for the rest of his life and embarked on a very successful career as a portrait artist.

Although some have attributed the front cover art for the first issue of AIR WAR, dated Fall 1940, to Harold William McCauley, who primarily worked as a staff artist for the Chicago-based Ziff-Davis publishing house, the painting does not resemble the artist’s usual work. It seems hard to imagine that Standard Publications would launch a new title with an untried free-lance cover artist living in Chicago, who they had never worked with before. Unless proven otherwise, the cover artist for this particular issue of AIR WAR is not known.

Ernest Chiriacka provided the cover illustrations for both the Fall 1940 issue of EXCITING DETECTIVE (featuring the premier of The Purple Scar series) and the November 1941 issue of THRILLING MYSTERY (which featured E. Hoffmann Price’s “Fangs of Doom,” the start of the Dr. Zeng series). Chiriacka’s first published story illustrations appeared in 1939 in Street & Smith’s LOVE STORY MAGAZINE. During the 1940s, he began selling freelance pulp covers to a variety of magazines including ADVENTURE, BLACK BOOK DETECTIVE, DETECTIVE FICTION WEEKLY, DIME WESTERN, G-MEN DETECTIVE, THE PHANTOM DETECTIVE, STAR WESTERN, SWEETHEART STORIES, TEXAS RANGERS, and WESTERN ACES. In 1950, he joined the American Artists Agency and began a successful career as a slick magazine illustrator. He also painted many paperback covers up until 1965. Afterward, he retired from commerical illustration to concentrate on painting visionary landscapes of the Old West.)

 

Thrilling Pulp Heroes of the Thirties

Jun 19, 2015 by

Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows!!!

Phantom Detective 33-02In the spring of 1931, THE SHADOW MAGAZINE was introduced to readers by Street & Smith Publications. Employing the talents of author Walter B. Gibson, the magazine proved an instant hit. Planned as a quarterly, this first “hero” pulp became a monthly following its first two issues. A year later, it became a semi-monthly, appearing twice monthly until early 1943. In 1937, Gibson teamed with scriptwriter Edward Hale Bierstadt to develop a radio program for the Mutual Broadcasting System. It was here that actor Frank Readick, Jr. uttered the famous words quoted above that have since become part of the American idiom.

By 1932, Street & Smith was planning other single-character magazines, hoping to emulate the high-flying SHADOW MAGAZINE. The leading pulp magazine publisher would introduce three titles in 1933, including DOC SAVAGE MAGAZINE. Other publishing houses were also noticing the strong sales. The first to the starting gate would be Ned Pines’ Standard Magazines, the pulp chain that will be feted at this year’s PulpFest in Columbus, Ohio.

The first of the so-called hero pulps inspired by Walter Gibson’s “Dark Avenger” was THE PHANTOM DETECTIVE. Created by D. L. Champion (whose wife was a native of Columbus) and launched by Ned Pines’ Thrilling Group, the Phantom was the alter ego of man-about-town Richard Curtis Van Loan. A veteran of the World War I, this moneyed playboy was bored with life until a family friend recommended he “try his hand at solving a mysterious crime which had stumped the police.” His initial success led Van Loan to dedicate his life and fortune to combating crime, making the Phantom “a name known and admired by the police of every nation.”

The first issue of THE PHANTOM DETECTIVE was dated February 1933; it would be followed that year by other single-character pulps including G-8 AND HIS BATTLE ACES, NICK CARTER, and THE SPIDER. The Summer 1953 issue would be the final number of the Thrilling pulp. It was the longest-lived of the hero pulps, lasting for just over twenty years and a total of 170 issues.

While the Great Depression savaged other fiction genres, the pulp heroes of 1933 surged forward, their magazines flying off America’s newsstands faster than they could be printed. Street & Smith’s DOC SAVAGE and NICK CARTER followed THE PHANTOM DETECTIVE to the racks, while Thrilling introduced an air hero, inspired by the success of its own SKY FIGHTERS, a pulp filled with the adventures of flying aces of the First World War and “especially sought after by boys raised on the courageous exploits of fathers and uncles who had served in the Great War, boys who kept themselves busy building model planes constructed of balsa wood.”

33-09 Lone EagleBorrowing one of the nicknames given to Charles Lindbergh following his nonstop flight from New York to Paris, Standard Magazines released THE LONE EAGLE. Telling the heroic adventures of Air Intelligence Agent John Masters, “the world’s greatest Sky Fighter,” the pulp debuted in the late summer of 1933. “Masters showed a natural affinity for a stuttering machine-gun and as his natural proficiency increased, he built up a dark and terrible reputation about his name. He became the ‘Lone Eagle’ of the skies . . . He showed an indomitable courage and a dynamic driving power, in pushing to a successful conclusion his secret missions. Many men feared him, many hated him—an occasional one loved him.”

Those words, written by F. E. Rechnitzer, appeared in “No Man’s Air,” the lead novel in the first issue of the new hero pulp. A former World War I Allied pilot and prisoner-of-war, Rechnitzer is believed to have written many of the adventures of The Lone Eagle, hidden behind the “Lt. Scott Morgan” house name; Robert Sidney Bowen probably contributed most of the later novels. In all, 75 tales of “the world’s greatest Sky Fighter” would appear through the spring of 1943, when the magazine would fly off into the sunset as THE AMERICAN EAGLE.

35-10 G-MenIn the early thirties, lawman J. Edgar Hoover was trying to build a “super police force” to deal with the crime then rampant in America. To help his cause, Hoover embarked on a spirited publication relations campaign, creating a radio program that dramatized actual cases of the Bureau. He also tried to put together a comic strip, WAR ON CRIME. Although these attempts did not get very far, Hoover had great success in the pulp market. By 1936, there were four magazines dedicated to the heroics of the FBI, including the one that started it all, Better Publications’ G-MEN. The “Ace of the FBI,” Special Agent Dan Fowler, was no “Man of a Thousand Faces.” Straight-laced and completely dedicated to the Bureau, this cross between Dick Tracy and DRAGNET’S Sergeant Joe Friday tormented kidnappers, drug pushers, bank robbers, saboteurs, arsonists, racketeers, and other miscreants for 112 adventures, beginning in the October 1935 G-MEN. Most of the early Fowlers were written by George Fielding Eliot using the house name of C. K. M. Scanlon. Later yarns were credited to the actual authors–Robert Sidney Bowen, Norman Daniels, Laurence Donovan, G. T. Fleming-Roberts, Jean Francis Webb, Manly Wade Wellman, and others. The magazine was discontinued following its Winter 1953 issue.

Black Book Detective 39-07BLACK BOOK DETECTIVE MAGAZINE had actually been around for quite a few years when the story, “Brand of the Black Bat” appeared in its July 1939 number. The pulp, which ran for twenty years, had debuted in the late spring of 1933. During its initial years, it was a detective pulp, Standard’s answer to such stalwarts as BLACK MASK and DIME DETECTIVE. A monthly magazine, it published between three and eight stories in each issue, featuring detective yarns by writers such as Hugh B. Cave, Charles Green, Philip Ketchum, Johnston McCulley, Barry Perowne, Richard Sale, Lawrence Treat, and many others. In the summer of 1939, its make-up changed when BLACK BOOK DETECTIVE became a hero pulp, featuring the adventures of The Black Bat. The creation of the prolific Norman Daniels, the Bat is actually Tony Quinn, a young district attorney, blinded by acid. Eventually, a surgeon secretly operates on Quinn, transplanting the eyes of a slain police sergeant into the scarred attorney. After his bandages are removed, Quinn can see perfectly in the dark. Soon thereafter, the Black Bat is born. According to the late pulp fan, Lester Belcher, “The Black Bat novels were fast-moving, exciting, and held your interest. Quinn was a true American, fighting for justice in the only way he knew how.” Through the final issue of BLACK BOOK DETECTIVE, dated Winter 1953, the Black Bat appeared 62 times. Two more novels were left unpublished following the magazine’s demise. Except for a half-dozen stories published during the early forties, as well as the final published Black Bat novel, all of Quinn’s exploits were written by Norman Daniels.

Scattered throughout Standard’s anthology titles are other so-called pulp heroes. D. L. Champion’s “Mr. Death,” most likely, helped the author land the assignment to pen the early adventures of The Phantom Detective. Published under the house pseudonym of G. Wayman Jones in THRILLING DETECTIVE from February 1932 through October 1932, Mr. Death is man-about-town James Quincy Gilmore. His father is slain by the vicious Murder Club, led by nine unknown individuals. Gilmore swears vengeance on them as Mr. Death and in each part of the story, tracks down and kills each murderer, leaving a calling card reading “Alias Mr. Death.” In the last story, after eliminating Number One, Mr. Death “kills” himself in a plane crash. The entire series has been reprinted by Altus Press.

Perley Poore Sheehan offered six tales of “Kwa of the Jungle” to readers of THRILLING ADVENTURE during the early thirties. Writing as Paul Regard, Sheehan relates the story of Nathaniel Rahan, orphaned after a plane crash kills his parents in a lost African valley. Adopted into a tribe of chimp-like pre-humans known as “The Men That Are Not Yet Men,”  he is called “Kwa, the Golden One” and taught the ways of the jungle by a wise old chimpanzee named Kek. Encountering spider men, minotaurs, and other dangers in six “thrilling” adventures originally published between August 1932 and May 1933, the entire series has been reprinted by Pulpville Press.

Detective Novels 1944-02Standard had been publishing DETECTIVE NOVELS for over a year when it introduced Norman Daniels’ “Candid Camera Kid” to readers of the Thrilling line of pulp magazines. Most likely inspired by the popularity of George Harmon Coxe’s Flashgun Casey, the ace photographer for a Boston newspaper whose adventures appeared in BLACK MASK and a pair of B movies, Daniels’ twenty-three tales of the Kid were published behind the John L. Benton house name. They debuted in the June 1939 issue of DETECTIVE NOVELS and ran through the June 1944 number. Two additional tales appeared in THRILLING DETECTIVE under the G. Wayman Jones byline. There’s a great article about the Kids’ stories written by Monte Herridge and published in the June 2001 issue of Mike Chomko’s long-lamented pulp fanzine PURPLE PROSE.

Another Daniels’ character, “The Eagle,” was described as “the master spy-fighter of them all.” An ace counter-espionage agent, he had a reputation known from Tokyo to Berlin. As the first issue of THRILLING SPY STORIES, dated Fall 1939, proclaimed: “The Eagle, wise in the ways of spies and trained to detect the hundred and one subterfuges to which spies resort, fights the enemy with its own undercover weapons, and handles those weapons with a skill brought to perfection by a tireless body, an agile brain, and a fighting heart imbued with the love of his country and her democratic institutions.” The series ran throughout the entire run of the magazine–four issues–with the last dated Summer 1940. A fifth story, “Gold of the Gestapo,” ran in the December 1940 issue of POPULAR DETECTIVE. The entire series has been reprinted by Altus Press.

As part of its celebration of the Thrilling Group, PulpFest 2015 is proud to welcome Altus Press publisher and 2012 Munsey Award winner Matt Moring; 1979 Lamont Award winner and author of “The Wild Adventures of Doc Savage and Tarzan” Will Murray; pop culture expert and 2014 Inkpot Award winner Michelle Nolan; and popular culture Professor Garyn G. Roberts, who was awarded the Munsey in 2013, for a presentation entitled “Thrilling Heroes of Standard’s Pulps and Comics.” Scheduled for Friday evening, August 14th, at 10:40 PM, it will examine the evolution of the Standard hero in both pulp magazines and comic books. Thrilling’s heroes of the detective and western genres will be dissected on Thursday, August 13th.

For the next few days, we’ll be discussing Standard’s heroes to call attention to this “Thrilling Presentation!!!” Join us by visiting www.pulpfest.com on Saturday, June 20th, for an examination of the Thrilling pulp heroes of the forties. On Sunday, we’ll turn our attention to the comic book heroes of Standard, Better, Nedor, and Visual Editions.

(Following the success of Street and Smith’s single-character pulp, THE SHADOW MAGAZINE, Ned Pines entered the hero pulp market with THE PHANTOM DETECTIVE. Its first issue was dated February 1933 and featured front cover art by Bertram James Glover, an illustrator and landscape artist who began painting pulp magazine covers in 1927.

Borrowing one of the nicknames given to Charles Lindbergh following his nonstop flight from New York to Paris, Standard’s THE LONE EAGLE debuted behind a cover painted by Eugene M. Franzden, an artist whose work regularly appeared as interior story illustrations and covers for many aviation pulp magazines including the September 1933 issue of the Thrilling air-hero pulp.

Emery Clarke created the front cover art for the initial appearances of both Dan Fowler in the October 1935 G-MEN and Norman Daniels’ Black Bat in the July 1939 issue of BLACK BOOK DETECTIVE MAGAZINE. Clarke was a freelance artist who painted covers for ACTION STORIES, DOC SAVAGE, FIGHT STORIES, SHORT STORIES, STAR WESTERN, TEN DETECTIVE ACES, TOP-NOTCH, and other pulps. He also created covers for LIBERTY, THE SATURDAY EVENING POST, and other slick magazines.

Rudolph Belarski’s cover to the February 1944 issue of DETECTIVE NOVELS is one of many covers that the talented artist painted for Ned Pines’ “Thrilling Group” of pulp magazines. Belarski got his start with the pulp industry in 1928 through Dell Publications, doing interiors and covers for adventure pulps about World War I. He later worked for Fiction House and the Munsey line of pulp magazines. By 1935, he was one of Ned Pines’ top artists at Standard Publications. To learn more about this talented artist, read “The Thrilling Adventures of Rudolph Belarski,” posted to our website on Sunday, June 14, 2015.)

 

Hey!! Kids Comics

May 31, 2015 by

Shadow Comics #1When Street & Smith got around to releasing its first comic book in January 1940, the four-color industry was six years old. Started by the Eastern Color Printing Company in 1934 and strengthened by Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson in the next year, the comic book market exploded following the introduction of Superman in 1938 and Batman in 1939. Although its iconic pulp heroes–Doc Savage and The Shadow–helped to inspire the creation of these superheroes, the pulp magazine powerhouse waited to join the fledgling industry. Although it would never become a leader of the industry–producing only 351 issues of comic books–the Street & Smith four-color line would create some of best-selling books of the Golden Age of comics, racking up nearly three million issues a month in 1943.

PulpFest 2015 will mark the 75th anniversary of Street & Smith comic books on Thursday, August 13th with a multimedia presentation showcasing work by Walter Gibson, Theodore Sturgeon, Jack and Otto Binder, Edd Cartier, Bob Powell, George Tuska and Joe Maneely from some of the rarest comic book issues of the Golden Age of Comics. Panelists Will Murray, Tony Isabella and Michelle Nolan will join moderator Anthony Tollin to celebrate the 1940 comic book debuts of The Shadow, Doc Savage, Nick Carter, Bill Barnes, The Avenger, Iron Munro, Carrie Cashin and The Whisperer.

The panel will also discuss the 1942 Bill Barnes comic story that predicted the U-235 atomic bombing of Japan, the most successful sports comic book of all time–TRUE SPORT PICTURE STORIES–and original Street & Smith comic book features including Blackstone: Super Magician, Supersnipe, Red Dragon, Ajax the Sun Man, Hooded Wasp and the adventures of Little Nemo in Slumberland by Otto Binder and Robert Windsor McCay.

Tony Isabella is an American comic-book writer, editor, artist and critic, best known as the creator and writer of DC Comics’ first major African-American superhero, Black Lightning; and the co-creator of Marvel’s Misty Knight and Tigra. He is the author of 1000 COMIC BOOKS YOU MUST READ, a history of the American comic book industry wrapped around commentaries of more than a thousand comic books from 1938 to present. The first in a series of memoirs of sorts will be published later this year. His latest views and reviews can be found at the nigh-daily Tony Isabella’s Bloggy Thing.”

Will Murray is a noted scholar of American popular culture, having written hundreds of essays on the pulps, comic books, motion pictures, and more. He is the author of “The All-New Wild Adventures of Doc Savage” and co-editor to Sanctum Books’ very successful pulp reprint series.

Michelle Nolan has been a newspaper and magazine feature writer for fifty years. She has written more than five hundred comics-related features for magazines such as COMIC BOOK MARKETPLACE, COMICS BUYER’S GUIDE, ALTER EGO, and COMIC BOOK ARTIST.

Anthony Tollin is an authority on comics, pulps, and old-time radio. A former colorist and assistant production manager for DC Comics, he is the editor-publisher of Sanctum Books, responsible for hundreds of authorized reprints of Street & Smith’s Avenger, Doc Savage, Nick Carter, The Shadow, and The Whisperer. Winner of the 2011 Munsey Award, Anthony will soon be publishing a deluxe hardcover edition reprinting the entire two-year run of The Shadow newspaper comic strip.

“75 Years of Street & Smith Comics” will take place on the second floor of the Hyatt-Regency hotel in beautiful downtown Columbus, Ohio, beginning at 9:20 PM on August 13th. Register for “Summer’s Great Pulp Con” to be sure to be first to the spinner rack by clicking here.

(Street & Smith entered the comic book market in January 1940 by publishing an anthology title called SHADOW COMICS. In addition to the title character, the book also featured such pulp favorites as Doc Savage, Bill Barnes, Iron Munro, and Carrie Cashin. Dime novel stalwarts Frank Merriwell, Nick Carter, and Diamond Dick also appeared in the issue. The front cover art, created by George Rozen, originally appeared on the November 15, 1932 issue of THE SHADOW MAGAZINE, illustrating Walter B. Gibson’s novel, “Dead Men Live.” SHADOW COMICS would run for a total of 101 issues. It was cancelled in 1949 when Street & Smith pulled the plug on all of its pulps and comic books.)

Play Ball! A Look at the Sports Pulps

May 25, 2015 by

Thrilling Sports 36-09Although sports have long been part of our history–native Americans are known to have played a primitive form of lacrosse–it was not until 1896 and the introduction of Gilbert Patten’s Frank Merriwell that sports became established in American popular fiction. From 1896 through 1916, Frank and his relatives appeared in more than 1,000 issues of Street & Smith’s story paper TIP TOP WEEKLY and its successors. After the nickel weekly’s demise, the Merriwells’ adventures continued elsewhere in the Street & Smith line of publications, including TOP-NOTCH MAGAZINE and SPORT STORY MAGAZINE, the first all-sports pulp magazine. All told, there were more than 500 million copies of Merriwell periodicals released by the publishing giant over the years.

The first issue of SPORT STORY MAGAZINE, dated September 8, 1923, sold for 15¢ and contained a variety of sports fiction, ranging from baseball, boxing and horse racing to polo, auto racing and tennis stories. Except for the occasional yarn in the general-fiction pulps such as ARGOSY and BLUE BOOK, SPORT STORY would have the market to itself for most of the next five years. It was not until the introduction of FIGHT STORIES during the spring of 1928, that another sports pulp would emerge. However unlike SPORT STORY, the Fiction House pulp focused solely on boxing stories.

With the collapse of the world economy in 1929, the sports pulp market would remain relatively stagnant during the early years of the Great Depression. It would not be until the summer of 1935 and the introduction of DIME SPORT MAGAZINE by Popular Publications that the genre would begin to take off. Over the next five years, twenty-five new sports pulp titles would be introduced to American readers. One of the leading publishers in the rapidly expanding market would be Ned Pines’ Standard Magazines, also known as the “Thrilling Group” of pulps. From 1936 through 1953, Pines’ company would publish about 230 sports pulps.

Standard’s foray into the sports pulp market began much like that of Street & Smith: THRILLING SPORTS, introduced during the fall of 1936, featured a wide range of sports fiction, from baseball and football yarns to track-and-field stories and hockey and horse racing tales. It likewise featured a variety of authors, including western writers Tom Curry, Giles Lutz, and in later years, Louis L’Amour; science-fiction stalwarts Nelson Bond, Ray Cummings, and Oscar Friend; detective dramatists William Campbell Gault, Richard Sale, and Robert Leslie Bellem; and aviation addicts Joe Archibald, George Bruce, and Robert Sidney Bowen. Standard would follow its “Thrilling” title with POPULAR SPORTS MAGAZINE in 1937 and EXCITING SPORTS in 1940. It would enter the specialty sports market–long the province of Fiction House–in the fall of 1939 with THRILLING FOOTBALL. POPULAR FOOTBALL and EXCITING FOOTBALL would follow in 1941.

Like all of the Thrilling titles of the time, the sports magazines were under the guidance of managing editor Leo Margulies–himself a topic at this year’s PulpFest–who wrote:

“The wide field of sports is covered by our magazines . . . Every branch amateur, professional, and collegiate athletics is covered; mature and vigorous stories, with real people and a hero facing a realistic problem. Human interest and woman interest are both desirable–for the stories should be slices of life. Solid story structure must bolster any sport angle. No sport story should ever be so nearly plotless as to read like a newspaper report of a game. Naturally, sport scenes must not be ignored to build up plot, but the plot should be forwarded by them, should grow out of the sport conflict, whether the story is told from the point of view of the hero, the trainer, the coach or an observing friend. . . . Be meticulously careful about the authenticity of the sport material. Keep the story adult! American readers are essentially sport-minded. They are eager for good sport stories, whether about baseball, football, swimming, horse racing, motorboat racing, water polo, golf, tennis, rowing, track, boxing, or any other sports that keep young and old Americans out in the open rooting for their favorite exponents of their favorite game.”

Please join PulpFest 2015 on Thursday evening, August 13th, as we welcome journalist Michelle Nolan to discuss the evolution of the sports pulps. Ms. Nolan has been a newspaper and magazine feature writer for fifty years, covering human-interest features, pop culture, and sports. She has written more than five hundred comics-related features for magazines such as COMIC BOOK MARKETPLACE, COMICS BUYER’S GUIDE, ALTER EGO, and COMIC BOOK ARTIST. She wrote 100 consecutive “Nolan’s Notebook” columns for COMIC BOOK MARKETPLACE from 1993 to 2005. She has contributed to dozens of books and wrote the ground-breaking book LOVE ON THE RACKS: A HISTORY OF AMERICAN ROMANCE COMICS, published by McFarland in 2008. She is also the author of BALL TALES: A STUDY OF BASEBALL, BASKETBALL, AND FOOTBALL FICTION OF THE 1930S THROUGH 1960S, published by McFarland in 2010. She received an Inkpot Award for her work at the 2014 San Diego Comic Convention.

“Play Ball: A Look at the Sports Pulps” will take place on the second floor of the Hyatt-Regency hotel in beautiful downtown Columbus, Ohio, beginning at 10:50 PM on August 13th. Register for “Summer’s Great Pulp Con” to be sure not to miss the first pitch by clicking here.

(The first issue of THRILLING SPORTS was dated September 1936 and featured “The Hurdling Hurricane,” credited to Arthur William Rickard, as its cover story. Also featured were baseball, boxing, auto racing, horse racing, and tennis stories. One of the authors whose work was included in the first issue was Ford Frick. In 1951, Frick became the Commissioner of Major League Baseball. The cover art for the issue was by Earle K. Bergey, who, along with Rudolph Belarski, created many cover paintings for Standard’s sports pulps.)