Fighting Aces of War Skies

May 23, 2018 by

At this year’s convention, PulpFest 2018 will honor the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended the First World War. Our programming will focus on the so-called “war pulps” of the early twentieth century and the depiction of war in popular culture. From the war pulps would sprout an even more specialized category — the air war magazine.

Prior to the introduction of the air war pulp, stories about fighter pilots appeared irregularly in the general fiction magazines. The majority of aviation stories prior to 1930 were unrelated to the Great War. Most air fiction of the period involved daredevil aces and barnstormers, airmail pilots and governments agents, or bootleggers and rum runners. Leading aviation author Thomson Burtis primarily wrote about the Army Air Service guarding America’s borders or tangling with criminals.

Although Fiction House would introduce the first air-oriented pulp magazine — AIR STORIES — it was Dell Publishing that melded the air with the war. The first issue of Dell’s WAR BIRDS hit the stands with its March 1928 number. It was joined about a year later by Fiction House’s ACES. Later came another Dell magazine called WAR ACES, Popular’s BATTLE ACES, BATTLE BIRDS, and DARE-DEVIL ACES, Standard’s SKY FIGHTERS and THE LONE EAGLE, and a variety of George Bruce magazines from Fiction House. The latter would also rebrand WINGS, adding “Fighting Aces of War Skies” to its title bar during the summer of 1931.

The stories in the air war magazines ranged from realistic tales “about men suffering real emotions flying real planes in real situations” to the humorous “howlers” of Phineas Pinkham and Elmer & Pokey to the science fiction versions of the First World War found in Robert J. Hogan’s G-8 AND HIS BATTLE ACES and Donald Keyhoe’s Philip Strange stories for FLYING ACES.

“The air pulps meant different things to different people. They filled the heads of all sorts with Arthurian type heroes. We needed those during the dark days of the Great Depression.”

Join PulpFest on Friday, July 27, at 8:30 PM as award-winning writer and author Don Hutchison moderates a panel on the air war magazines of the pulps. He’ll be joined by graphic designer, illustrator, and pulp premium enthusiast Chris Kalb. Aviation fiction expert Bill Mann will also be along for the flight. With Chris and David Kalb, Bill founded Age of Aces BooksMunsey Award winner and PulpFest marketing and programming director Mike Chomko will round out the panel. With Steve Young, Mike authored a portrait of WINGS for WINDY CITY PULP STORIES #18.

PulpFest 2018 will also be celebrating the 100th birthday of Philip José Farmer with FarmerCon 100. We’ll be welcoming  Joe Lansdale — the author of over forty novels, numerous short stories, and more — as our Guest of Honor and hosting a rare gallery showing of original art by acclaimed writer-illustrator Mark Wheatley. Additionally, there will be author readings, a great programming line-up, two auctions featuring unique collectibles, and a dealers’ room filled with pulps, digests, and men’s adventure magazines, collectible paintings and illustrations, rare first editions, vintage paperbacks and comic books, unique films and more. PulpFest 2018 begins on Thursday, July 26, and runs through Sunday, July 29 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Cranberry.

You can join both PulpFest and FarmerCon by clicking the Register for 2018 button on the PulpFest home page. And don’t forget to book a room at the DoubleTree while you’re visiting the PulpFest site. They’re going fast!

(Fiction House was one of the leading publishers of both aviation pulps and air war magazines. The first of their titles to specialize in stories about the war in the air was ACES. Its first issue was dated January 1929. It ran for fifty-five issues, including the February 1929 number with cover art by F. R. Glass. The Spring 1940 issue was the final number of ACES.

One of the more successful air war magazines was WINGS, also published by Fiction House. Debuting with its January 1928 number, it was originally subtitled “The Magazine of Air-Adventure Stories.” It became an air war title during the summer of 1931. WINGS would run for 133 issues. Its pilots fought in both World Wars as well as the Korean War and in a variety of settings during the early days of the Cold War. The final number of WINGS was dated Summer 1953.)

PulpFest 2018 Art Show — Mark Wheatley

May 18, 2018 by

PulpFest 2018 is very pleased to announce that it will host a rare gallery showing of original art by Mark Wheatley. Held in conjunction with the convention — which begins Thursday, July 26, 2018 — the event will showcase Wheatley’s extensive array of illustrations for the new Christopher Paul Carey novel, SWORDS AGAINST THE MOON MEN.

Wheatley, the acclaimed writer-illustrator of the DC/Vertigo graphic novel BREATHTAKER, the cutting edge First Comics series MARS, pioneering WaRP Graphics mini-series BLOOD OF THE INNOCENT, ComicMix/IDW Publishing graphic novel series LONE JUSTICE, and other works, is also a longtime pulp collector. Active with The Burroughs Bibliophiles, he has contributed cover art and interior illustrations for THE BURROUGHS BULLETIN, THE NATIONAL CAPITAL PANTHANS JOURNAL, and EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS: THE SECOND CENTURY. With frequent collaborator Marc Hempel, Wheatley also created TARZAN THE WARRIOR and produced other Tarzan comic book series for Semic International, published by Malibu in the United States. Additionally, two new Wheatley illustrated Philip José Farmer books — TARZAN AND THE DARK HEART OF TIME and THE PHILIP JOSÉ FARMER CENTENNIAL COLLECTION — will be released by Meteor House at PulpFest 2018/FarmerCon 100.

Mark Wheatley has also painted covers for Norvell W. Page’s THE SPIDER: SATAN’S MURDER MACHINES and AMAZON NIGHTS by Arthur O. Friel. He adapted The Spider into a graphic novel and followed that up with his own pulp-inspired FRANKENSTEIN MOBSTER for Image Comics. He has also illustrated the award-winning Rick Ruby series for new pulp fiction publisher Airship 27. His most recent pulp-infused project is a collaboration with G. D. Falksen entitled DOCTOR CTHULITTLE. Copies of the signed, limited edition will be available at PulpFest. Art from DOCTOR CTHULITTLE and several other pulp projects will also be on view at the convention.

SWORDS AGAINST THE MOON MEN is part of the new “Wild Adventures of Edgar Rice Burroughs” series published by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. Conceived as a continuation of Burroughs’ Moon novels, Christopher Paul Carey expands on the original series while remaining solidly true to the established lore of Edgar Rice Burroughs. “This was a great project to be a part of, and I can’t wait for everyone at PulpFest to see the art from it,” Wheatley told us. “As a long-time Burroughs fan, I can tell you that Christopher is an excellent author, very much to my taste. If I had any problem illustrating this book, it was that I was limited to eighteen pages of illustrations, and Christopher easily had a hundred great scenes in his manuscript!”

Wheatley drew and painted the illustrations for the book, using a combination of traditional and digital media. “I’ve been painting in Photoshop for over a decade, but I still prefer to draw in ink. So I rough out my composition in Photoshop, print that and ink over it, scan that back into the computer and paint!”

The inked originals will be framed and presented along with high quality, full size Giclée prints of the digital paintings, offering a unique chance to see the entire set of illustrations for the book all in one place. The showing is made possible because a single collector purchased all the art for the book, and is allowing it to be displayed for the public.

“I have had my art displayed in museums across the country, but sharing my art with pulp fans is connecting with my own clan. And there is nothing better than that!” Wheatley concluded.

PulpFest 2018 will take place July 26 – 29 at the beautiful DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Cranberry, just outside Pennsylvania’s Steel City. PulpFest 2018 and its partner, FarmerCon 100will honor both the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I AND the century mark of author Philip José Farmer. Also on hand will be the conventions’ Guest of Honor — Joe Lansdale — the author of over forty novels, numerous short stories, and co-author of TARZAN: THE LOST ADVENTURE, a novel left unfinished when Edgar Rice Burroughs passed away in 1950. All this, plus you can get ten dollars off the daily admission to Confluence. It’s taking place the same weekend as summer’s AMAZING pulp con! All you have to do is show your PulpFest badge at the door to Pittsburgh’s long-running science fiction, fantasy and horror conference.

You can join PulpFest by clicking the Register for 2018 button on our home page. And don’t forget to book a room at the DoubleTree while you’re visiting the PulpFest site. They’re going fast!

(Inducted into The Overstreet Hall of Fame in July 2017, Mark Wheatley most recently has continued his string of popular DOCTOR WHO covers for Titan, completed a set of STARGATE ATLANTIS covers for American Mythology, and provided the cover and interior illustrations for the new novel MAN OF WAR, by Heidi Ruby Miller from Meteor House. Prior to that, his work for CBS Television was featured on THE MILLERS, 2 BROKE GIRLS, and SUPER CLYDE, and the SQUARE ROOTS pilot for ABC.

In print Mark was featured in the acclaimed JUNGLE TALES OF TARZAN from Dark Horse Comics, on the cover of the Meteor House release of EXILES OF KHO by Christopher Paul Carey, and his own well-received art book, STARS, which presents elaborate line art portraits of actors, musicians, and authors. With a track record that includes FRANKENSTEIN MOBSTER, RADICAL DREAMER, RETURN OF THE HUMAN, HAMMER OF THE GODS, EZ STREET, SKULTAR, and LONE JUSTICE, Wheatley is an Inkpot, Mucker, Gem, Speakeasy, and Eisner award-winning creator. He has lectured at the Library of Congress, exhibited at the Norman Rockwell Museum, created set pieces for The Black Eyed Peas, designed for Lady Gaga, and contributed designs to ABC’s BEAUTY AND THE BEAST.)

FarmerCon 100: Moi, Tarzan!

May 16, 2018 by

Not only does 2018 mark the centennial of the armistice that ended The First World War, it is also the hundredth anniversary of the birth of Grand Master of Science Fiction Philip José Farmer. Beginning on Thursday evening, July 26, and running through Sunday, July 29, PulpFest 2018 and its partner, FarmerCon 100will honor both the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I AND the century mark of Philip José Farmer. We’ll be celebrating at the beautiful DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Cranberry, just outside Pennsylvania’s Steel City.

As a child, Philip José Farmer discovered the work of Edgar Rice Burroughs. Farmer’s interest in the popular pulp writer would lead him to pen a biography of Burroughs’ best-known creation. Entitled TARZAN ALIVE: A DEFINITIVE BIOGRAPHY OF LORD GREYSTOKE, the book revealed that the “character” known as Tarzan was, in fact, based on a real, living person. It also served to introduce the Wold Newton Family mythos, a concept that may be one of Farmer’s most enduring creations.

Since 2011, PulpFest has been hosting its convention with the help of FarmerCon. We’re very pleased to welcome our FarmerCon members back to our joint conference, particularly during the centennial year of Philip José Farmer’s birth. We’ll be celebrating the occasion with an expanded FarmerCon programming schedule.

On Thursday, July 26, at 11:25 PM our FarmerCon programming continues with a showing of the excellent and informative French documentary MOI, TARZAN. Set in an English castle, this French documentary features George McWhorter, editor emeritus of THE BURROUGHS BULLETIN, Philip José Farmer, and popular culture expert Francis Lacassin in a discussion about Edgar Rice Burroughs’ most famous creation, Tarzan. An exploration of the fabulous jungle lord, the film adopts the viewpoint that Tarzan was a real person. MOI, TARZAN is full of fun, fancy and mystery. Here’s a link to a trailer for the film: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3-nvueuWYIw.

What better way to celebrate the 100th birthday of Philip José Farmer than by registering for Pulpfest 2018/FarmerCon 100? The Science Fiction Grand Master will be one of the main themes of the conventions, with plenty of programming about Farmer and his work. Also on hand will be the conventions’ Guest of Honor — Joe Lansdale — the author of over forty novels, numerous short stories, and co-author of TARZAN: THE LOST ADVENTURE, a novel left unfinished when Edgar Rice Burroughs passed away in 1950. You can join both conventions by clicking the Register for 2018 button on the PulpFest home page. And don’t forget to book a room at the DoubleTree while you’re visiting the PulpFest site. They’re going fast!

(Philip José Farmer’s biography of the Lord of the Apes — TARZAN ALIVE: A DEFINITIVE BIOGRAPHY OF LORD GREYSTOKE — has been printed in six editions in the United States and Great Britain. The first paperback edition — released by Popular Library in 1973 — featured front cover art by artist and illustrator Richard Amsel.)

 

Life and Death on the Front Lines: The War Comics

May 11, 2018 by

At this year’s convention, PulpFest 2018 will honor the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended the First World War. Our programming will focus on the so-called “war pulps” of the early twentieth century and the depiction of war in popular culture.

Although the pulps played a very important role in the evolution of American popular culture, they had essentially disappeared by the early fifties. While some continued in the smaller digest format, the rough paper magazines were killed by competition from paperback books, radio, television, movies, and comic books.

Just as the pulps had hesitated to revisit the battlefields of World War I, the comics medium at first shied away from the theme. Once again, it was Dell Publishing that tried its hand at the war genre. It launched WAR COMICS in 1940. The book ran for just eight issues.

The fight against the Axis powers and the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor led more publishers to the war genre. With comic book superheroes such as Captain America and Daredevil slugging it out with the Führer and Hirohito, publishers launched four-color comics with military themes. AIR FIGHTERS COMICS, BOY COMMANDOS, DEVIL DOG COMICS, MILITARY COMICS, RANGERS COMICS, WAR HEROES, WINGS COMICS, and others were soon battling for newsstand space. The Korean War created a similar uptick as Atlas, Avon, Charlton, DC, Dell, Fawcett, Quality, St. John, and others entered the fray during the 1950s. The best of all was EC Comics. Although it published only a trio of titles, ACES HIGH, FRONTLINE COMBAT, and TWO-FISTED TALES towered above the competition.

Join PulpFest 2018 on Thursday, July 26, at 10 PM as Michelle Nolan explores the depiction of war in the four-color format at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Cranberry. Using images selected by her friend Bob Carter, Michelle will discuss the many costumed and military heroes who battled fascism during World War II. She’ll examine the “true” type of comics, the humor books such as DEVIL DOG DUGAN and SGT. BILKO, and how war comics exploded during the Korean War. She’ll compare and contrast DC and Marvel — the leading publishers of war comics during the 1950s, talk about the explosion of Charlton war comics in the 1960s, and dissect the artistic success of Harvey Kurtzman’s war titles for EC.

You’ll get all of this, plus a ten-dollar discount off the daily admission at Confluence, Pittsburgh’s long-running science fiction, fantasy and horror conference if you choose to attend both conventions. You can join PulpFest by clicking the Register for 2018 button on our home page. And while you’re at our site, you can book a room at the DoubleTree. They’re going fast!

(Although tales of war have been with us since ancient times, the comic book industry only began to explore the war genre during the early years of World War II. Hence, four-color stories of the Great War were few and far between. Some of the best appeared in EC Comics’ ACES HIGH. Launched in 1955 and lasting five issues, the book featured the work of Jack Davis, Bernard Krigstein, Wally Wood, and air war pulp enthusiast George Evans. The latter drew all of the covers — including the September/October 1955 issue — and the lead stories of each issue of the comic.

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 OF BASEBALL, BASKETBALL AND FOOTBALL FICTION OF THE 1930s THROUGH 1960s. In 2014, Michelle received an Inkpot Award from Comic-Con International: San Diego for her contributions to the worlds of comics, science fiction and fantasy, film, television, and animation.)

Edgar Rice Burroughs and the Great War

May 9, 2018 by

At this year’s convention, PulpFest 2018 will honor the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended the First World War. Our programming will focus on the so-called “war pulps” of the early twentieth century and the depiction of war in popular culture.

One of the most popular and widely known authors to emerge from the pulps was Edgar Rice Burroughs. When World War I broke out in 1914, Burroughs was 39 years old. “Under the Moons of Mars” and “Tarzan of the Apes” had been published by Munsey in 1912. His writing career was reaching full stride. The war years would see the introduction of the worlds of Pellucidar in “At the Earth’s Core” and Caspak in “The Land that Time Forgot.” Such Burroughs classics as “The Mucker,” “Beyond Thirty,” and “Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar” would also appear during The Great War.

Like most Americans of his day, Edgar Rice Burroughs’ feelings about the war evolved over time. In “Barney Custer of Beatrice” — published in 1915 — Burroughs’ protagonist witnesses Austria-Hungary’s invasion of Serbia. February 1916 saw the initial publication of “Beyond Thirty” in ALL AROUND MAGAZINE. Later entitled “The Lost Continent,” Burroughs’ novel imagines a future world where the western hemisphere isolates itself from the war. While the Americas prosper, Europe reverts to wilderness and savagery.

In August of 1918, the first novella in the three-part Caspak trilogy — “The Land That Time Forgot” — would appear in THE BLUE BOOK MAGAZINE. Inspired by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s THE LOST WORLD and Jules Verne’s THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND and A JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH, the story concerns an American headed to Europe to serve in the American Volunteer Motor Ambulance Corps. The vessel on which he is traveling is sunk by a German U-boat. Following a series of adventures, the survivors take control of the submarine and discover the lost world of Caspak.

Burroughs’ TARZAN THE UNTAMED — originally published as two separate stories in 1919 and 1920 — is the novel tied most directly to The Great War. As reported on ERBzine:

“While John Clayton, Lord Greystoke (Tarzan), is away from his plantation home in British East Africa, it is destroyed by invading German troops from Tanganyika. On his return he discovers among many burned bodies one that appears to be the corpse of his wife, Jane Porter Clayton. Another fatality is the Waziri warrior Wasimbu, left crucified by the Germans. . . . Maddened, the ape-man seeks revenge not only on the perpetrators of the tragedy but all Germans, and sets out for the battle front of the war in east Africa.”

Join PulpFest 2018 on Thursday, July 26, at 9:20 PM as Henry G. Franke, III discusses Edgar Rice Burroughs’ personal and professional life during The First World War. Henry will explore the impact that the war had on Burroughs’ fiction, including his tales of Tarzan. It’s all at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Cranberry. You can join PulpFest by clicking the Register for 2018 button on our home page. And don’t forget to book a room at the DoubleTree. They’re going fast!

(One of the most popular writers to emerge from the pulps, Edgar Rice Burroughs often landed the front cover for the start of one of his serials. “Tarzan and the Valley of Luna” is one of two stories that formed the basis for TARZAN THE UNTAMED, first published in book format by A. C. McClurg in 1920. The story originally ran in the March 20 through April 17 issues of Munsey’s ALL-STORY WEEKLY. The initial segment of the story featured front cover art by P. J. Monahan.

Henry G. Franke III is the Editor of The Burroughs Bibliophiles, the non-profit literary society devoted to the life and works of Edgar Rice Burroughs. The Bibliophiles publish THE BURROUGHS BULLETIN journal and THE GRIDLEY WAVE newsletter.  Henry is only the third editor of THE BURROUGHS BULLETIN since its debut in 1947. He was the Contributing Editor and penned the introductions for IDW Publishing’s Library of American Comics archival series reprinting Russ Manning’s Tarzan daily and Sunday newspaper comic strips. The first volume won the 2014 Eisner Award for Best Archival Collection – Strips. He has written articles and other book introductions on Tarzan comic books and strips for TwoMorrows Publishing, Titan Books, and IDW’s Library of American Comics. Henry was the Official Editor of the Edgar Rice Burroughs Amateur Press Association (ERBapa) in 1994-1996 and 2004. He served in the U. S. Army from 1977 to 2009 and is now a government civilian employee of the Army.

For a look at our entire programming schedule, please click the Programming button below the PulpFest banner on our home page.)

 

Leonard H. Nason — Soldier and Writer

May 7, 2018 by

At this year’s convention, PulpFest 2018 will honor the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended the First World War. Our programming will focus on the so-called “war pulps” of the early twentieth century and the depiction of war in popular culture. The first of these pulps — WAR STORIES — debuted with its November 1926 number. Featuring authors such as Larry Barretto, Robert Sidney Bowen, Harold F. Cruickshank, George Fielding Eliot, Steuart Emery, Arthur Guy Empey, Robert H. Leitfred, Ralph Oppenheim, Alexis Rossoff, and Raoul Whitfield, WAR STORIES demonstrated that tales about soldiers in battle could sell magazines.

The war pulps would become a substantial category in the rough-paper industry — particularly with stories about the air war. However, until Dell Publishing launched WAR STORIES, the so-called Great War was rarely explored in the pulps. As Tom Roberts writes in THE ART OF THE PULPS: “Following World War I, the reading public had grown weary from the news of battlefield atrocities. They wished to escape, to forget the realities of the recent conflict; fiction of the European front became taboo, as did war stories in general.”

One author who bucked this trend was Leonard H. Nason. After enlisting in the United States Army in 1917, he was sent to France, serving under General Pershing. He fought in the Meuse-Argonne offensive and was wounded in action. Following the war, Nason found work as an insurance claims adjuster. After marrying in 1920, he turned to writing to earn extra income:

“The only thing I knew well enough to write about was the war. True, millions had been to the war, but many more millions hadn’t, and those who had been in the big fight liked to talk about it, and to hear others talk about it. I had noticed that wherever two or three overseas men got together they invariably began yarning about the war. I had heard some good stories from some of these men, and I had told a few myself that seemed to go over pretty well.”

Nason sent his first tale, “The Patrol,” to ADVENTURE in early 1922. In THE LURE OF ADVENTURE, Robert Kenneth Jones writes, “All the editors in the office . . . enthusiastically embraced it — all, that is, but Arthur Sullivant Hoffmann (the magazine’s editor-in-chief) who questioned its point of view and method of telling.”

Thankfully, Hoffmann relented and accepted the story, sending its author a check for fifty dollars. Included with the payment was a note suggesting that ADVENTURE was not in the market for additional stories about The Great War. After unsuccessfully trying his hand at stories about “pirates and buried treasure and cowboys and Chicago gunmen,” Nason returned to the trenches of Europe.

ADVENTURE had said they wanted no more war stories. That was all right, but I had to write war stories, so I sat down and wrote an account of my first battle. . . . I decided to set it down just as it had happened, and then it sounded all right. In other words, it was sincere. The incidents fell naturally into place and the story rang true. . . . I had to write about the war as I knew it, or not at all. I couldn’t doctor my stories, color them, fix ’em up to read the way I might have wished they had happened. I had to write them just as they were, maybe adding a little here and taking out a little there, but leaving the essential truth and incidents just as they had come to me.”

It wasn’t long before Nason’s stories were being noticed by readers. One letter-writer to ADVENTURE remarked, “You have certainly made a find in young Nason, as his stories are so natural as to be classed almost as facts.” Even today, the author’s work rings true. According to pulp fan and historian, Walker Martin, “His work is just not about World War I, but about men and how they deal with the horrors of war.”

Join PulpFest 2018 on Thursday, July 26, at 8:40 PM as Sai Shankar looks at this substantial but largely forgotten author at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Cranberry. You can join PulpFest by clicking the Register for 2018 button on our home page. And don’t forget to book a room at the DoubleTree. They’re going fast!

(Sai Shankar is a resident of Washington state, where he works in the computer industry. He explores pulp magazines, authors and their stories on Pulp Flakes. You’ll also find photographs from the pulp conventions that he attends on the same site.

Between 1922 and 1928, Leonard H. Nason published over seventy articles and stories in ADVENTURE. Beginning in 1926, he found another steady market for his work in THE SATURDAY EVENING POST. His stories also appeared in THE AMERICAN LEGION MONTHLY, BLUE BOOK MAGAZINE, COLLIER’S, THE COUNTRY GENTLEMAN, FAWCETT’S BATTLE STORIES, LIBERTY, and other magazines. His novella, “Three Lights from a Match,” appeared in the February 20, 1924 issue of ADVENTURE. The issue featured front cover art by H. C. Murphy. It was one of very few ADVENTURE covers depicting The First World War.

For a look at our entire programming schedule, please click the Programming button below the PulpFest banner on our home page.)

125 Years of Eugene Frandzen

Apr 13, 2018 by

Beginning on Thursday evening, July 26, and running through Sunday, July 29, PulpFest 2018 will honor the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War. On November 11, 1918, an armistice was signed that brought more than four years of hostilities to a close. The convention’s focus will be the so-called “war pulps” of the early twentieth century. It will also explore the depiction of war in popular fiction and art.

One of the leading artists who brought The Great War alive for pulp readers was Eugene M. Frandzen. Born on April 13, 1893, today marks the 125th anniversary of his birth.

Orphaned in his early teens, Frandzen used his inheritance money to study at the Art Institute of Chicago. According to pulp art historian David Saunders, the artist moved to New York City in 1921 and opened an “illustration studio.” Not long after, “his pen and ink story illustrations began to appear regularly in THE NEW YORK TIMES.” While he continued his studies under Dean Cornwell and others, Frandzen found more work as a magazine illustrator. “From 1929 to 1939 his work regularly appeared as interior story illustrations and covers for many aviation pulp magazines, such as AIRPLANE STORIES, FLYING ACES, THE LONE EAGLE, SKY BIRDS, SKY FIGHTERS, WAR ACES, and WAR BIRDS.

During the 1930s, Eugene Frandzen became a mainstay for Ned Pines’ Standard Magazines. The artist painted all of the covers for the Thrilling Group’s SKY FIGHTERS beginning with its first issue — dated July 1932 — until he left the pulp field in 1939. Likewise, starting with the first issue of THE LONE EAGLE — dated September 1933 — Frandzen’s cover art appeared on all but two issues of the magazine through its April 1939 number.

The artist returned to his native California in 1937 and turned to landscape art. He also taught a printmaking class at his home and regularly exhibited in both local and national art shows. Eugene M. Frandzen passed away on July 5, 1972.

Make your plans to celebrate “The Armistice that Ended The Great War” and “125 Years of Eugene Frandzen.” We’ll also be celebrating the 100th anniversary of the birth of science fiction Grand Master Philip Jose Farmer and welcoming award-winning author Joe Lansdale as our guest of honor.

Please join us July 26 – 29 for PulpFest 2018 at the beautiful DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Cranberry, just outside Pennsylvania’s Steel City. We hope to see you there.

(THE LONE EAGLE debuted with its September 1933 issue. It ran for 66 issues through its June 1941 number. The title was then changed to THE AMERICAN EAGLE for eight more issues. It finished its run as AMERICAN EAGLES with its Spring 1943 number. 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.

Published by Standard Publications, many of the adventures of The Lone Eagle are believed to have been written by F. E. Rechnitzer. The “Lt. Scott Morgan” house name masked the author’s true name. Robert Sidney Bowen probably contributed most of the later novels. In all, 75 tales of “the world’s greatest Sky Fighter” would appear in the variously titled pulp, published for ten years by the Thrilling Group of magazines.)

Starting Next Week — 3 PulpFest Posts Each Week

Apr 2, 2018 by

Since the beginning of September 2017, we’ve had an announcement about PulpFest once a week. Starting next Monday, we’ll be releasing a post every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. We’ll be maintaining that pace until early July. Then we’ll have one post every weekday. Even the PulpFest promotion department needs a day off now and then.

During the next month, we’ll discuss such topics as our hospitality suite, the birthday of pulp artist Eugene Frandzen, related conventions, and our programming plans. PulpFest 2018 will be honoring the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended the First World War. The convention will be focusing on the so-called “war pulps” of the early twentieth century and the depiction of war in popular culture. We’ll also be saluting the centennial of the birth of Grand Master of Science Fiction Philip José FarmerJoin PulpFest 2018 and FarmerCon 100 for panels and presentations on the celebrated author of TARZAN ALIVE: A DEFINITIVE BIOGRAPHY OF LORD GREYSTOKEDOC SAVAGE: HIS APOCALYPTIC LIFE, the Riverworld and World of Tiers series, and many other works.

Our Guest of Honor will be award-winning author Joe Lansdale. The author of over forty novels and many short stories, Lansdale has also written for comics, television, film, Internet sites, and more. His novella “Bubba Ho-Tep” was adapted to film by Don Coscarelli, starring Bruce Campbell and Ossie Davis. The film adaptation of his novel COLD IN JULY was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, and the Sundance Channel has adapted his Hap & Leonard novels for television. Joe will be talking with Tony Davis on Saturday evening, July 28. The author will also be available at select times during the convention.

So what are you waiting for? Register now for PulpFest 2018! There’s no other way for you to be part of “Summer’s Great Pulp Con.” While you’re at it, you can reserve a room at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Cranberry by clicking one of the links on the PulpFest home page that reads “Book a Room.” You can also call 1-800-222-8733 to book a room by telephone. However, be sure to mention PulpFest to get the special convention rate. By staying at the DoubleTree, you’ll help to ensure the convention’s success. Given its popularity, we urge every member to book a hotel room for PulpFest 2018 as soon as possible.

(Designed by PulpFest’s advertising director, William Lampkin, our PulpFest 2018 post card features the work of freelance artist Mel Hunter. His painting was originally used as the cover to the May 1960 number of THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION. Philip José Farmer’s “Open to Me, My Sister” was featured on the issue’s cover. PulpFest 2018 has used Hunter’s cover art to promote our convention at book stores, comic shops, and other conventions and fairs.)

100 Years of Philip José Farmer

Jan 22, 2018 by

Over the last few months, we’ve been discussing that 2018 marks the centennial of the armistice that ended The First World War. However, our current year is also the hundredth anniversary of the birth of Grand Master of Science Fiction Philip José Farmer. Beginning on Thursday evening, July 26, and running through Sunday, July 29, PulpFest 2018 will honor both the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I AND the century mark of Philip José Farmer. We’ll be celebrating at the beautiful DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Cranberry, just outside Pennsylvania’s Steel City.

Few people think of Philip José Farmer as a pulp writer, but he was a child of the pulps and launched his career in the pulps. Born January 26, 1918 in North Terre Haute, Indiana, Farmer grew up in Peoria, Illinois. He spent much of his childhood reading everything he could find in the local library and drug store. From the classics by Baum, Carroll, Cervantes, Chesterton, Cooper, Defoe, Dickens, Dumas, Homer, London, Shaw, Stevenson, Swift, Thackeray, Twain, Verne, Wells, and others, to popular fiction by Burroughs, Doyle, Haggard, and on through the pulps: AIR WONDER STORIES, ARGOSY, BLUE BOOK, DOC SAVAGE, SCIENCE WONDER STORIES, THE SHADOW, WEIRD TALES  . . . the list goes on and on. He also read the Bible and many books on mythology.

His wide reading prepared Farmer well for a career as a writer. Before trying his hand at science fiction, he wrote mainstream stories. He sold his first story, “O’Brien and Obrenov,” to ADVENTURE magazine. It was published in the March 1946 issue. His first science fiction story, “The Lovers” — published in the August 1952 STARTLING STORIES — is famous for breaking the taboo on sex in science fiction. It launched his science fiction career and won Farmer the 1952 Hugo Award as the “Most Promising New Talent.”

After selling several more stories to STARTLING STORIES, THRILLING WONDER STORIES, and SCIENCE FICTION PLUS, Farmer entered and won the Shasta Prize Novel Contest in 1953. The award included a grand prize of four thousand dollars (about $36,000 in today’s dollars). Though married with two children, Farmer now felt confident enough to quit his job and become a full-time writer. Unfortunately, his career immediately hit a stumbling block when Shasta didn’t pay him the prize money. Instead they strung him along asking for rewrites, while investing the money in the publication of another book. It bombed. Farmer was never paid and by the time the truth came out, he had lost his house and had to find full-time work.

After falling back on manual labor jobs for a few years, Farmer and his family left Peoria in 1956 and moved around the country. He worked as a technical writer for the space-defense industry, eventually ending up in Beverly Hills in 1965. All the while, he continued to write and sell science fiction short stories to such pulps and digests as AMAZING STORIES, ARGOSY, BEYOND FANTASY FICTION, FANTASTIC UNIVERSE, GALAXY, THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY & SCIENCE FICTION, THE SAINT MYSTERY MAGAZINEWORLDS OF IF, and WORLDS OF TOMORROW. He also wrote novels and published stories in anthologies. In 1967, he won a second Hugo Award for the story “Riders of the Purple Wage,” published in DANGEROUS VISIONS. Then — just before the moon landing in 1969 — he was laid off from his technical writing job. Once again, Farmer turned to full-time fiction writing.

In 1970, the Farmers moved back to Peoria and his writing career again began to take off. His World of Tiers series was very popular and he received his third Hugo Award for the first novel in the Riverworld series, TO YOUR SCATTERED BODIES GO. A reworking of the novel that had won the Shasta contest, Farmer’s novel won the 1972 Hugo. Soon thereafter, his career hit another obstacle: writer’s block.

Although fans and publishers alike were clamoring for the next World of Tiers or Riverworld title, Farmer seemed to be out of ideas. Unable to work in those worlds, he spent the next few years looking to his favorite literature and the pulps for inspiration: THE WIND WHALES OF ISHMAEL (a science fiction sequel to MOBY DICK); THE OTHER LOG OF PHILEAS FOGG (the true story behind Jules Verne’s AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY DAYS); THE ADVENTURE OF THE PEERLESS PEER (a pastiche of Tarzan and Sherlock Holmes); HADON OF ANCIENT OPAR and FLIGHT TO OPAR (inspired by Edgar Rice Burroughs and H. Rider Haggard); and VENUS ON THE HALF-SHELL, written “by” Kilgore Trout (wherein Farmer pretended he was Kurt Vonnegut Jr.’s sad-sack science fiction author).

Farmer also penned two biographies during this period — TARZAN ALIVE: A DEFINITIVE BIOGRAPHY OF LORD GREYSTOKE and DOC SAVAGE: HIS APOCALYPTIC LIFE — revealing to the world that the “characters” known as Tarzan and Doc Savage were, in fact, based on real, living people. These books also served to introduce the Wold Newton Family mythos, a concept that may be one of his most enduring creations.

With his writer’s block vanquished by the end of the 1970s, Farmer continued the Riverworld and World of Tiers series. The next two decades also saw the fulfillment of his life-long ambitions to write an Oz book and to author official Doc Savage and Tarzan novels: A BARNSTORMER IN OZ, ESCAPE FROM LOKI, and THE DARK HEART OF TIME.

Farmer enjoyed a long career and attended hundreds of conventions, many of them as a guest of honor  (including PulpCon in 1989). Although he retired from writing in 1999, he worked with an ardent fan base over the next decade that continued to make his work available. Projects ranged from a mammoth collection of rarities (PEARLS FROM PEORIA, published in 2006) to unsold mainstream stories written at the start of his career and collected alongside an unpublished novel (UP FROM THE BOTTOMLESS PIT AND OTHER STORIES, published in 2007). Also published were new editions of novels, new collections, and unfinished works, completed in collaboration with others: “Getting Ready to Write” (with Paul Spiteri), THE CITY BEYOND PLAY and DAYWORLD: A HOLE IN WEDNESDAY (both with Danny Adams), THE EVIL IN PEMBERLEY HOUSE (with Win Scott Eckert), and THE SONG OF KWASIN (with Christopher Paul Carey).

Philip José Farmer passed away on February 25, 2009, shortly after his 91st birthday. His legacy endures and continues to entertain his many fans and readers. Perhaps the best testament to this is the annual FarmerCon gathering, held at PulpFest since 2011.

What better way to celebrate the 100th birthday of Philip José Farmer than by registering for Pulpfest 2018/FarmerCon 100? The Science Fiction Grand Master will be one of the main themes of the conventions, with plenty of programing about Farmer and his work. Also on hand will be the conventions’ Guest of Honor — Joe Lansdale — the author of over forty novels, numerous short stories, and the introduction to THE BEST OF PHILIP JOSÉ FARMERYou can join both conventions by clicking the Register for 2018 button on the PulpFest home page. And don’t forget to book a room at the DoubleTree while you’re visiting the PulpFest site. They’re going fast!

(While working in the aerospace and defense industry as a technical writer, Philip José Farmer continued to write and sell science fiction to the pulp and digest markets. THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION — which published “Open to Me, My Sister” in its May 1960 issue, featuring front cover art by Mel Hunter — was one of many magazines to which he sold.

By the 1970s, Farmer was writing fiction full time, winning the Hugo Award for “Best Novel” in 1972. Additionally, he penned many works inspired by the classics of literature and the pulps of his youth. One of these was the fictional “biography,” DOC SAVAGE: HIS APOCALYPTIC LIFE. A revised edition of this work — with bonus material — was published in 2013 by Meteor House and Altus Press. It featured front cover art by Joe DeVito.

Mike Croteau is one of the founders of FarmerCon and Meteor House. He’s also the founder and one of the developers of Philip José Farmer’s Official Web Page.)

Season’s Greetings from PulpFest

Dec 25, 2017 by

From July 26 – 29, 2018, PulpFest will celebrate the centennial of “The Armistice that Ended The Great War.” The convention will also mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of Grand Master of Science Fiction Philip José Farmer.

We’ll be exploring the so-called “war pulps” of the early twentieth century and the depiction of war in popular culture. PulpFest 2018 will feature presentations on art in the war pulps and men’s adventure magazines, plus a look at war comics. We’ll also have expert presentations on air war pulps, Edgar Rice Burroughs and The Great War, and the life and fiction of Leonard Nason, an author who served in the First World War and wrote about his experiences. Robert Gould, the son of pulp illustrator John Fleming Gould — who contributed interior illustrations to G-8 AND HIS BATTLE ACES and many other pulps — will also be on hand to discuss his father’s life and artistic career.

Of course, we’ll also be celebrating the life and legacy of science fiction author and pulp fan Philip José Farmer. The members of FARMERCON 100 will be offering panels and presentations on “World Building and Writing in the Nine Continuity,” the author’s novels set in 1918, and much more (including a showing of the French documentary, MOI TARZAN).

And don’t forget about our convention’s Guest of Honor — Joe Lansdale — the author of over forty novels and numerous short stories. He’s also won the Edgar Award, ten Bram Stoker Awards, the Horror Writers Association Lifetime Achievement Award, the British Fantasy Award, the Inkpot Award for Contributions to Science Fiction and Fantasy, and many other honors.

Why not treat yourself to a gift and register for PulpFest 2018? Better yet, bring your entire family. Pittsburgh is a great city to visit, particularly when the Pirates are in town!

Wishing everyone a healthy and happy holiday season from your PulpFest organizing committee — Jack and Sally Cullers, Mike Chomko, Bill Lampkin, Barry Traylor, and Chuck Welch

(Rudolph Belarski painted the cover for the December 20, 1928 issue of Dell Publishing’s WAR STORIES. It’s a particularly moving portrait of a soldier making his way carefully across no-man’s-land. The glare of a flare, rather than that legendary star, lights his way.)