Hollywood Pulp — From Pulp Page to the Silver Screen

Jun 7, 2019 by

Join PulpFest 2019 on Thursday, August 15, as we welcome pulp and film expert Ed Hulse for “Hollywood Pulp — From Pulp Page to the Silver Screen.” Ed will be debuting a book of the same title at our convention. Having spent decades researching the pulp-film nexus, Ed has shared his findings in a comprehensive encyclopedia that covers many hundreds of movies adapted from rough-paper fiction.

The motion-picture industry was still in its infancy when producers began licensing stories from pulp magazines for adaptation to celluloid. As early as 1912 — when movies were still novelties, screened primarily in store-front nickelodeons — recurring characters from the pulps were featured in short-subject series. That year the Edison Company enjoyed great success with THE CHRONICLES OF CLEEK. These monthly one-reel installments starred Ben Wilson as Thomas A. Hanshew’s “Man of Forty Faces,” a character then appearing regularly in the pulp SHORT STORIES.

Edison’s Cleek series was typical film fare of the day. During the silent movie era, a one-reel short yielded 12 to 15 minutes of screen time — just enough to tell a perfunctory story that might consume 5,000 to 10,000 words in prose. Nickelodeons ran “programs” that grouped four or five such films together. They changed their programs three to five times per week.

With filmmakers under constant pressure to satisfy thrill-hungry viewers, there was a huge market for adaptable yarns. Producers obtained stories from pulps and slicks alike. The two magazines most frequently tapped for material during the pre-1920 period were THE SATURDAY EVENING POST and THE ALL-STORY or ALL-STORY WEEKLY. During this period, many top pulp writers saw their rough-paper fiction immortalized on celluloid. This august group included Max Brand, Edgar Rice Burroughs, George Allan England, Zane Grey, James B. Hendryx, Johnston McCulley, Frank L. Packard, Mary Roberts Rinehart, and Perley Poore Sheehan, among others.

By 1920, the motion-picture industry had mushroomed. Lavish downtown “picture palaces” replaced the seedy nickelodeons, and practically every small town in the country boasted its own movie theater. Production, initially based on the East Coast, gravitated to Hollywood. Wall Street began investing in the most profitable studios. Weekly attendance soared to 40 million people and would continue to grow throughout the Roaring Twenties. Melodramas were second only to comedies as the most popular and profitable screen subjects. This meant that westerns, thrillers, and detective stories were in constant demand. Writers specializing in these genres could usually find a producer to license their pulp yarns if they looked hard (or had aggressive literary agents).

The demand for pulp fiction lessened somewhat as “talking pictures” took over the movie business in the late twenties. As the Great Depression began to affect American consumers, Hollywood was hard hit. In order to compete for the dimes and quarters that bought tickets, the studios increasingly adapted famous stage plays and mainstream novels. Such stories were carried by dialogue, rather than the melodramatic action of the sort found in rough-paper magazines. The Thirties still saw a significant number of pulp-based films, but they were increasingly low-budget “B” pictures and serials emanating from the Poverty Row studios.

Prominent pulp characters brought to the silver screen were Tarzan, Zorro, Buck Rogers, Sam Spade, The Shadow, The Spider, Doc Savage, Conan the Barbarian, and John Carter of Mars, to name just a few. But there were many others not easily recognizable to today’s aficionados. Ed will identify many of these in his presentation, which will be accompanied by a selection of rare stills and posters from the films.

A journalist for nearly forty years, Ed Hulse has written or edited many books about vintage motion pictures and their stars, as well as numerous books about pulp fiction. He was the editor and publisher of BLOOD ‘N’ THUNDER, the award-winning journal devoted to the study of adventure, mystery, and melodrama of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

PulpFest 2019 will begin on Thursday, August 15, and run through Sunday, August 18.  Join PulpFest at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Cranberry, just north of Pennsylvania’s “Steel City” of Pittsburgh. We’ll be celebrating “Children of the Pulps and Other Stories” at this year’s convention. Please click our Programming button below our homepage banner to get a preview of all the great presentations at this year’s event.

To join PulpFest 2019, click the Register button below our homepage banner. To book a room at the DoubleTree by Hilton — our host hotel — click the Book a Room button, also found on our homepage.

(THE MARK OF ZORRO — a 1920 silent — is the first of three adaptations of Johnston McCulley’s novel, “The Curse of Capistrano.” It was serialized in five parts in ALL-STORY WEEKLY, beginning with the August 9, 1919 issue. Starring Douglas Fairbanks as the title character and his alter ego, THE MARK OF ZORRO was the first film to be released by United Artists, the company formed by Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, Charlie Chaplin, and D. W. Griffith. The film’s advertising prominently mentioned ALL-STORY WEEKLY, its pulp source. Our presentation, “Hollywood Pulp — From Pulp Page to the Silver Screen,” will include behind-the-scenes information on the making of this historic film.)  

PulpFest Primer

Aug 12, 2015 by

2015 FlyerPulpFest 2015 will begin on Thursday, August 13th, at 4 PM, as our dealers begin to erect their displays for “Summer’s Great Pulp Con!” All members will be able to register for the convention from 4 to 8 PM, right outside our dealers’ room. There will be early-bird shopping in the dealers’ room from 6 to 10 PM for loyal attendees who help to defray the convention’s costs by staying three nights at our host hotel. The cost is $30 for those who stay elsewhere. Our full programming slate for the evening will begin at 8 PM with a rapid-fire presentation on Walter Gibson’s use of real-world counterintelligence and espionage secrets in his Shadow novels. There will also be presentations on the detective and western heroes of the “Thrilling Group,” Street & Smith Comics, and sports pulps. Closing out the night will be a showing of OUT OF MIND: THE STORIES OF H. P. LOVECRAFT, one of the most admired films to be inspired by the master of the cosmic terror tale. We will also be featuring “Pickman’s Model,” a short film made for ROD SERLING’S NIGHT GALLERY and based on the Lovecraft work of the same title.

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 this week. However, there may still be a few rooms available at nearby hotels. Please visit www.pulpfest.com/2015/06/16872/ 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.

As mentioned above, early registration for the general membership will take place on Thursday, beginning at 4 PM, right outside of the dealers’ room located in the Regency Ballroom on the hotel’s third floor. All members, dealers included, 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. You only need to bring the last page of the form.

For those of you who have not yet registered for PulpFest 2015, Thursday evening will be an ideal time to do so. Four-day memberships will be available for $40. There will be no single-day memberships available for Thursday only. Children who are fifteen and younger and accompanied by a parent, will be admitted free of charge. Please visit our registration page for further details. Members will also be able to register for the convention on Friday morning, beginning at 9 PM, and at any time during regular dealers’ room hours. Single day memberships will be available for $20 for Friday or Saturday and $10 for Sunday.

Please note that advance registrations are no longer available. Our Paypal page was shut down around 10 PM on Monday night.

Startling Comics 48-01From 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. While unloading and transporting your goods should be very easy – there’s a back entrance to the hotel for loading and we have been granted exclusive use of a freight elevator – there is bound to be a certain amount of disorientation as folks negotiate their way around the Hyatt. Remember that we’ll also be offering early-bird shopping in the dealers’ room from 6 to 10 PM on Thursday evening, an extra four 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. Please remember that PulpFest is not a comic book convention. Sexually explicit material, including Playboy, Penthouse and Oui, is not allowed.

Call of Cthulhu One-SheetFrom 9 to 10 AM on Friday, August 14th, the dealers’ room will be open only to dealers for set-up. It will open to all at 10 AM and remain open until 4:30 PM. Our afternoon programming will start at 1 PM with the first of two New Fictioneers readings — by Jason Scott Aiken and John Hegenberger — followed by a presentation on the Pulp Magazines Project. Our evening programming will begin at 7 PM as PulpFest chairman Jack Cullers offers an official welcome to all attendees. Friday night’s programming will include a discussion of Standard Magazines’ managing editor, Leo Margulies, featuring Philip Sherman, the nephew of the “Little Giant of the Pulps.” Our guest-of-honor, author Chet Williamson, will discuss his career and explain how “the old gentleman” of Providence influenced him in his writing as well as the writing of his peers in the world of modern horror fiction. Our special guest from the world of art, Jon Arfstrom, the last of the artists who painted covers for the original run of WEIRD TALESwill also talk briefly with pulp art historian David Saunders. We’ll also have our friends from FarmerCon X on hand for a discussion of the weird tales of Philip José Farmer, while a panel of popular culture historians will discuss the development of the Cthulhu or Lovecraft Mythos. Our final panel, Thrilling Heroes of Standard’s Pulps and Comics will feature pulp and comic book scholars Matt Moring, Will Murray, Michelle Nolan, and Garyn Roberts. We’ll close the night with a showing of THE CALL OF CTHULHU and COOL AIR, part of our Lovecraft at the Movies film series.

On Saturday, August 15th, the PulpFest dealers’ room will be open from 9 AM to 4:30 PM. This should allow plenty of time for people to prepare for our Saturday Night Dinner at Buca di Beppo, a get-together arranged by registration and volunteer coordinator Sally Cullers. If you don’t plan to attend, there are plenty of other restaurants close to the hotel. You’ll find a guide to the many fine downtown restaurants by clicking here as well as a map to find them by clicking here.

Air War 1944-SummerOur Saturday afternoon programming will start at 12:30 PM when author Duane Spurlock will read from AIRSHIP HUNTERS and FIGHTING ALASKA. Afterward, Ron Fortier will moderate a New Pulp Fiction Panel on “The Heirs of WEIRD TALES.” It will be followed by a presentation on WEIRD TALES artist Lee Brown Coye and another New Fictioneer reading featuring the weird poetry and prose of Scott Urban. Saturday evening’s events will include the PulpFest 2015 Business Meeting beginning at 7:10 PM, where two lucky members who had booked a stay at the Hyatt Regency will receive full membership refunds. It will be followed by the 2015 Munsey Award Presentation. Our programming for the evening will include Weird Editing at “The Unique Magazine,” The Thrilling Adventures of Rudolph Belarski, and a showing of THE WHISPERER IN DARKNESS and PROFESSOR PEABODY’S LAST LECTURE, part of our Lovecraft at the Movies film series. Tucked in before our movies start will be our Saturday Night Auction, featuring material consigned by our membership.

Any member of PulpFest 2015 can submit items to the auction. Your PulpFest badge number will be used as your auction bidder and/or seller number. We will begin taking consignments for the auction when our dealers’ room opens on Friday, August 14th. The sooner you submit your consignment to Mike Chomko, the more likely that it will be included in our auction. Mike’s tables will be along the wall, just inside the entrance to the PulpFest dealers’ room. All auction lots must be submitted to Mike prior to 2 PM, Saturday, August 15th. All lots submitted must have a minimum value of $20. All lots that do not receive a bid of $20 or more will be passed. If you plan to offer an auction lot with a reserve price, your reserve must be $50 or more. No lots with a reserve price of less than $50 will be accepted. PulpFest reserves the right to reject any auction material that is unlikely to meet our minimum bid or reserve price standards as well as our content standards. The convention charges sellers 10% of the selling price for anything sold in the auction. For additional information, please click on the auction link on our programming schedule or contact Barry Traylor via email at barry@pulpfest.com.

For pulp fans who like games, gaming fans who like pulps, or just people who like to have fun, PulpFest 2015 will be introducing 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 such as Doc Smith’s Lensman series, westerns, mysteries and, of course, the pulp heroes. Role-playing games, or RPGs, are especially noted for quick action, cliff-hangers, and adventure.

Arkham Horror

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. If you have questions about our gaming track, please write to PulpFest programming director Mike Chomko at mike@pulpfest.com.

For additional details on all of our afternoon and evening programming events, please visit click the red schedule button on our home page for further details. Each entry is linked to a post that provides further information on that event. Just click on the event’s title.

On Sunday, August 16th, the dealers’ room will be open to all members from 10 AM to 2 PM as our dealers pack up. If you are coming just for the day, please be aware that buying and selling opportunities may be limited. Admission to the convention for Sunday only will be $10, the cost of our annual program book, THE PULPSTER.

Thrilling Sports 36-09We are hoping that this year’s con will be our biggest and best yet. For some time, we’ve been receiving registrations every day, many from people who have never attended PulpFest before. If you’ve been thinking about attending, but have yet to pull the trigger, please book a room without delay. Click here and you’ll find a link to a list of hotels to choose from. There may still be some rooms available at nearby hotels. Alternately, we suggest that you search for a room at tripadvisor and similar websites as soon as you possibly can.

The Hyatt Regency is located at 350 North High Street in downtown Columbus, Ohio. The hotel is south of I-670, just 15-20 minutes from Columbus International Airport. In the heart of the active Arena District, the Hyatt Regency is just a few minutes’ walk from the trendy Short North Arts District. There are shops and restaurants galore right outside the hotel’s entrance. Click here for map & directions.

For those who will be staying at the Hyatt Regency during the convention, parking is free at the Chestnut Street Garage, one block south of the hotel. The garage is connected to the hotel via an enclosed and covered walkway. For those visiting PulpFest for the day, you can also use the Chestnut Street Garage. Rates vary based on time, but $16 will get you a day’s parking with in and out privileges. Additional parking is available at the Convention Center underground garage or the Center’s east lot. Again, rates are time-based and $14 will get you parking for 12 hours with no in and out privileges. Click here for a more detailed look at parking near the Hyatt Regency. Alternately, if you don’t mind walking a few blocks, there are many inexpensive options. Click here for an interactive parking map of Columbus and search near 350 North High Street.

For those attendees who would like to ship their purchases to their homes, PulpFest 2015 has arranged for a local UPS provider to be available at the hotel on Sunday, August 16th. He will be arriving between 11 AM and noon and will stay as long as his services are needed. Further information is available on our FAQ page.

The entire PulpFest 2015 organizing committee – Mike Chomko, Jack and Sally Cullers, Barry Traylor, and Chuck Welch – is looking forward to seeing all of you. Have a safe trip to Columbus for “Summer’s Great Pulp Con.”

(Most of our promotional materials for PulpFest 2015 featured Matt Fox’s cover for the November 1944 issue of WEIRD TALES, one of about a dozen covers he painted for “the unique magazine.”

Alex Schomburg contributed substantially to Ned Pines’ Standard Magazines and Comics, including the January 1948 issue of STARTLING COMICS.

American painter, illustrator, graphic designer, web designer, poster artist and painter of book jackets, comic books, games and pin-ups Lee Moyer has created many Lovecraftian works of art, including the film poster for THE CALL OF CTHULHU, produced by the H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society in 2005.

Rudolph Belarski’s cover to the Summer 1944 issue of AIR WAR is one of many covers that the talented artist painted for Ned Pines’ “Thrilling Group” of pulp magazines.

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. One board game that will be featured during PulpFest‘s new gaming track will be Fantasy Flight’s ARKHAM HORROR.

The first issue of THRILLING SPORTS was dated September 1936 and featured “The Hurdling Hurricane,” credited to Arthur William Rickard, as its cover story. 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.)