120 Years of Frederick Blakeslee

Dec 4, 2017 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 Frederick Blakeslee. Born on December 4, 1898, next year will mark the 120th anniversary of his birth.

Trained in mechanical drafting, Blakeslee began to study art at the Pratt Institute while working for the Curtiss Aeroplane Factory. Among his classmates were Walter Baumhofer, John Fleming Gould, and Rudolph Belarski. The latter helped Frederick Blakeslee to get his first cover assignments for the pulp magazines.

According to pulp art historian David Saunders, “Blakeslee became a leader in the field of aviation pulps, as well as a top cover artist for railroad pulps. He was also a top pen & ink man, who drew over one thousand interior black and white story illustrations for Popular Publications, his primary publisher. Blakeslee painted 423 pulp covers — 306 of those appeared on every issue of BATTLE BIRDS, CAPTAIN COMBAT, DARE-DEVIL ACES, DUSTY AYRES AND HIS BATTLE BIRDS, and G-8 AND HIS BATTLE ACES . . . an amazing feat that no other pulp artist can claim.”

After serving in the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve during the Second World War, freelance work became harder to find. Frederick Blakeslee returned to industrial drafting, where he finished his professional career. On March 5, 1973, the artist passed at age 74.

Make your plans to celebrate “The Armistice that Ended The Great War” and “120 Years of Frederick Blakeslee.” 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.

(G-8 AND HIS BATTLE ACES debuted with its October 1933 issue. It ran for 110 issues through its June 1944 number. Published by Popular Publications, the magazine featured a lead novel — written by Robert J. Hogan — and cover art by Frederick Blakeslee. John Fleming Gould — a pen-and-ink artist who will also be celebrated at PulpFest 2018 — contributed the interior art.

Blakeslee’s cover for the January 1935 number of G-8 illustrated Hogan’s lead novel, “The X-Ray Eye.” The author’s and artist’s version of World War I took a rather fantastic bent, an idea that will likewise be explored at PulpFest 2018.)

 

Happy Birthday Gloria Stoll Karn

Nov 13, 2017 by

PulpFest was extremely proud to welcome pulp artist Gloria Stoll Karn as our 2017 Guest of Honor. A resident of Pittsburgh, the artist is one of the very few individuals alive today who worked in the pulp magazine industry. Today is her 94th birthday.

In a field dominated by men, it was highly unusual for a woman to be painting covers for pulp magazines. But at age seventeen, Gloria Stoll began contributing black and white interior illustrations to pulp magazines. In a few years, the young artist was painting covers.

It was Rafael DeSoto who inspired Gloria to become a commercial artist and introduced her to Popular Publications. A graduate of New York’s High School of Music and Art, Gloria Stoll began her career doing black and white interior illustrations for Popular. This evolved into painting covers for the publisher’s line of women’s pulps. She contributed covers to Popular’s ALL-STORY LOVELOVE BOOKLOVE NOVELS, LOVE SHORT STORIES, NEW LOVE, RANGELAND ROMANCES, ROMANCE, and ROMANCE WESTERN, as well as Standard Publications’ THRILLING LOVE.

Beginning in late 1943, Stoll also began painting covers for Popular’s mystery and detective pulps. Her work was featured on BLACK MASK, DETECTIVE TALES, DIME MYSTERY MAGAZINE, and NEW DETECTIVE. In addition, she did interior illustrations for ARGOSY magazine. The artist continued working in the pulp field until 1949.

In Ms. Stoll Karn’s own words: “Pulp artists were required to come up with ideas for the magazine covers which reflected the general flavor of the stories within. Moving on to painting covers for mystery and detective magazines involved a radical conceptual switch. It was a surprise when I came up with gruesome ideas and concluded that, within the human psyche, there is a shadow side of which we are often unaware. I am grateful that my work struck a balance which uncovered the dark side within, along with the light side depicting the joys of romance.”

Gloria’s pulp artist career ended abruptly when she married Fred Karn in 1948. The couple moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where they raised three children. In the 1950s, Stoll Karn began teaching art classes. Her work has been exhibited at the Carnegie Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum’s National Print Annual, and the Pittsburgh Watercolor Society’s International Exhibition. Her work is in the permanent collections of Yale University, the Carnegie Museum of Art, Westinghouse Corporation, the Speed Art Museum, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, and the Pittsburgh Department of Education. She is listed in WHO’S WHO IN AMERICAN ART. Her current work is in abstraction and draws upon her life experience.

PulpFest would like to wish Gloria a very happy birthday.

(One of Gloria Stoll’s pulp covers graced the December 1943 issue of Popular Publications’ LOVE SHORT STORIES. Painted during the Second World War, it was one of several covers depicting members of the United States military.

Gloria Stoll Karn was PulpFest’s 2017 Guest of Honor. Award-winning author Joe Lansdale will be PulpFest‘s Guest of Honor in 2018. The convention will begin on Thursday evening, July 26, and run through Sunday, July 29. We hope to see you at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Cranberry.)

 

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Shopping for Collectibles at PulpFest 2017

Jun 7, 2017 by

Year after year, PulpFest is a paradise for the fan of pulp magazines, digests, vintage paperbacks, original artwork, and other collectibles. The collector will also find first edition hardcovers, men’s adventure and true crime magazines, series books, dime novels, Big Little Books, B-movies, serials and related paper collectibles, old-time-radio shows, and Golden and Silver Age comic books in our spacious dealers’ room, located at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Cranberry, just nineteen miles north of the exciting city of Pittsburgh.

For those who simply like to read pulp and genre fiction, you’ll find science-fiction hardcovers and paperbacks, mysteries, adventure fiction, and countless pulp reprints from publishers such as Adventure HouseAge of AcesAltus Press, Meteor House, Sanctum Books, and Stark House Press. Fans of new pulp will have readings by their favorite authors on both Friday and Saturday as well as a panel moderated by Ron Fortier, plus books for sale from Will Murray’s Adventures in BronzeAirship 27, and other purveyors of today’s pulp fiction.

Accommodating over 100 tables, our dealers’ room will be open to all comers from 10 AM to about 4:45 PM on July 28 and 29, and from 9 AM until 2 PM on Sunday, July 30 (although buying and selling opportunities may be limited on our final day as many of our dealers will be packing up for their return trip home). And don’t forget about our early-bird hours on Thursday evening, July 27, from 6 PM to 9 PM. For an additional $30 over your regular membership fee, you’ll be able to purchase early-bird privileges for an extra three hours of shopping. Better still, to reward loyal attendees who help to defray the convention’s substantial costs by staying at our host hotel, PulpFest is pleased to offer free early-bird privileges. That’s a very significant savings!

You can book your room at the DoubleTree by clicking one of the Book a Room buttons on our home page. To learn about registering for the convention, click the Register for 2017 button below our home page banner. Remember, if you read or collect pulps, pulp reprints, books, vintage paperbacks, original artwork, golden-age or silver-age comic books, PulpFest is the place to be.

(Perhaps you’ll find one of the early issues of Popular Publications’ DIME DETECTIVE MAGAZINE — such as the July 1932 issue, featuring cover artwork by William Reusswig — at this year’s PulpFest. Debuting with its November 1931 number, DIME DETECTIVE was one of the leaders in its fiction category and helped to turn Popular into a powerhouse of the pulp magazine industry.

We’ll be celebrating the “hardboiled dicks, dangerous dames, and a few psychos” of the pulps at this year’s convention. Start planning now to attend PulpFest 2017 and its celebration of pulp fiction and pulp art. Join us July 27 – 30, just outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania at the “pop culture center of the universe” in the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Cranberry for PulpFest 2017.)

Artist Gloria Stoll Karn to be PulpFest GOH

Feb 27, 2017 by

With 2017 being the year that PulpFest celebrates the hardboiled dicks, dangerous dames, and psychos of the pulps, we’re very pleased to welcome as our Guest of Honor, pulp artist Gloria Stoll Karn. In a field dominated by men, it was highly unusual for a woman to be painting covers for pulp magazines. But at age seventeen, Gloria Stoll began contributing black and white interior illustrations to pulp magazines. In a few years, the young artist was painting covers. How’s that for a dangerous dame?

It was Rafael DeSoto who inspired Gloria to become a commercial artist and introduced her to Popular Publications. A graduate of New York’s High School of Music and Art, Gloria Stoll began her career doing black and white interior illustrations for Popular. This evolved into painting covers for the publisher’s line of women’s pulps, particularly RANGELAND ROMANCES. She also did covers for Popular’s ALL-STORY LOVE, LOVE BOOKLOVE NOVELS, LOVE SHORT STORIES, NEW LOVE, ROMANCE, ROMANCE WESTERN, and Standard Publications’ THRILLING LOVE.

Beginning in late 1943, Stoll also began painting covers for Popular’s mystery and detective pulps. Her work was featured on BLACK MASK, DETECTIVE TALES, DIME MYSTERY MAGAZINE, and NEW DETECTIVE. In addition, she did interior illustrations for ARGOSY magazine. The artist continued working in the pulp field until 1949.

In Ms. Stoll Karn’s own words: “Pulp artists were required to come up with ideas for the magazine covers which reflected the general flavor of the stories within. Moving on to painting covers for mystery and detective magazines involved a radical conceptual switch. It was a surprise when I came up with gruesome ideas and concluded that, within the human psyche, there is a shadow side of which we are often unaware. I am grateful that my work struck a balance which uncovered the dark side within, along with the light side depicting the joys of romance.”

Gloria’s pulp artist career ended abruptly when she married Fred Karn in 1948. The couple moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where they raised three children. In the 1950s, Stoll Karn began teaching art classes. Her work has been exhibited at the Carnegie Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum’s National Print Annual, and the Pittsburgh Watercolor Society’s International Exhibition. Her work is in the permanent collections of Yale University, the Carnegie Museum of Art, Westinghouse Corporation, the Speed Art Museum, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, and the Pittsburgh Department of Education. She is listed in WHO’S WHO IN AMERICAN ART. Her current work is in abstraction and draws upon her life experience.

PulpFest is very pleased to welcome as its 2017 Guest of Honor, one of the few surviving contributors to the pulp magazine industry, Gloria Stoll Karn. Pulp art historian David Saunders — winner of our 2016 Lamont Award — will be joining Ms. Stoll Karn to discuss her freelance career in the pulps and much more on Saturday evening, July 29, from 7:30 to 8:10 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Cranberry — just north of Pennsylvania’s “Steel City.”

We look forward to seeing you at the “pop culture center of the universe” from July 27 through July 30 at the beautiful DoubleTree by Hilton in Mars, Pennsylvania. Please join Gloria Stoll Karn — that “dangerous dame of pulp art” — and PulpFest for our celebration of the hardboiled dicks, dangerous dames, and psychos of the pulps. You can register for the convention by clicking one of the registration buttons on our home page. To make place a reservation with the DoubleTree, please click one of our “book a room” buttons.

Thanks so much to everyone who has reserved a room at our host hotel. By staying at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Cranberry, you’ve helped to ensure the convention’s success.

(DETECTIVE TALES was the number three title in Popular Publications’ detective pulp group. The publisher’s number one title was DIME DETECTIVE MAGAZINE, which saved Popular from going under during the challenging years of The Great Depression. After that came BLACK MASK, the pulp where the hardboiled detective genre originally took form. Popular had purchased the magazine from Pro-Distributers Publishing in 1940. DETECTIVE TALES ran for eighteen years, mainly on a monthly basis, producing a total of 202 issues. Most of the issues offered twelve stories for ten cents. In 1953, Popular merged it with NEW DETECTIVE to form FIFTEEN DETECTIVE STORIES. Between 1943 and 1945, Gloria Stoll Karn contributed six covers to DETECTIVE TALES, including the July 1945 number.

Although it is best remembered for its action-oriented pulps — magazines such as DIME WESTERN, ARGOSY, G-8 AND HIS BATTLE ACES, and THE SPIDER — Popular also boasted a strong women’s line-up. Although it never approached the popularity of Street & Smith’s LOVE STORY MAGAZINE or Warner Publications’ RANCH ROMANCES, the Popular line featured a number of successful titles. RANGELAND ROMANCES — which debuted with its June 1935 number — was one of its leading pulps for the women’s market. It lasted into 1955 — when it was absorbed by DIME WESTERN MAGAZINE — and ran for over 200 issues. Between 1943 and 1949, Gloria Stoll Karn contributed forty-two covers to RANGELAND ROMANCES, including the July 1944 number.)

 

Friday at PulpFest

Jul 22, 2016 by

Amazing Stories 47-09PulpFest 2016 enters it second day, following a successful night of dealer set-up, early registration, early-bird shopping, and a full slate of exciting programming. If you missed our first day, there’s still plenty of action to come.

From 9 to 10 AM today, the dealers’ room will be open only to dealers for set-up. All visitors will also be able to register for the convention this morning — beginning at 9 PM — and at any time during regular dealers’ room hours. Three-day memberships will be available at the door for $40. Single day memberships will be available for $20 for Friday or Saturday and $10 for Sunday. Children who are fifteen and younger and accompanied by a parent, will be admitted free of charge. To help things move smoothly, please bring along a completed registration form. You can download a copy by clicking here. Paper forms will also be available at the door. Those who have prepaid for their memberships, will also be able to pick up their registration packets at our door. Please visit our registration page for further details.

For those visiting PulpFest for the day, you can also use the Chestnut Street Garage for parking. Rates vary based on time, but at this writing, $14 will get you a day’s parking. Additional parking is available at the Convention Center underground garage. Again, rates are time-based and, at this writing, $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.

The dealers’ room will open to all at 10 AM and will remain open until 4:45 PM. Located in Battelle South exhibition hall on the third floor of the Greater Columbus Convention Center, our dealers’ room will feature exhibitors selling and trading 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. That’s why PulpFest is known as the “pop culture center of the universe!”

Western Story 1932-09-03Our afternoon programming will start at 1 PM with our New Fictioneers readings. Our evening programming will begin shortly before 7 PM as PulpFest chairman Jack Cullers offers an official welcome to all attendees. Friday night’s programming will include our FarmerCon XI presentation which will feature a panel of writers who will discuss their collaborations with Grand Master of Science Fiction Philip José FarmerPulpFest favorite David Saunders starts off our celebration of the 120th anniversary of the first pulp magazine with “The Artists Who Make ARGOSY — 120 Years of Sensational Pulp Art;” our salute to the 90th anniversary of the first science fiction magazine continues when Joseph Coluccio, president of the Pittsburgh Area Fantasy and Science Fiction Club, explores the history of AMAZING STORIES during the pulp era; closing out the evening will be pulp historian Laurie Powers with a look at “LOVE STORY MAGAZINE and the Romance Pulp Phenomenon” and author and pop culture scholar Will Murray examining “WESTERN STORY MAGAZINE and the Evolution of the Pulp Western,” both part of PulpFest‘s remembrance of “A Century of the Specialty Pulp.”

You can find additional details about these and all of our presentations by clicking the 2016 Schedule 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. All of our programming events will take place in the Union Rooms on the second floor of the Hyatt Regency. Watch for the “panels” banner and you’re there.

If you are not from the Columbus area and have yet to book your room for this year’s PulpFest, you can try calling 1-888-421-1442 to reach the Hyatt Regency. Perhaps there has been a cancellation. Alternately, you can search for a room at tripadvisor  or a similar website to find a hotel near the convention. Other sites include www.columbusconventions.com/thearea.phpcourtesy of the Greater Columbus Convention Center, and the Experience Columbus lodging page at http://www.experiencecolumbus.com/stay

PulpFest 2016 will continue on Saturday and Sunday. It concludes at 2 PM on Sunday, July 24. Please join us in the Columbus, Ohio Arena district at the Hyatt Regency hotel and the city’s spacious convention center for “Summer’s AMAZING Pulp Con!” You’ll have a FANTASTIC time!

(Artist Malcolm Smith‘s cover painting for the September 1947 issue of  AMAZING STORIES illustrated Edmond Hamilton’s “The Star Kings,” one of the author’s finest space operas. Smith’s first cover for AMAZING was the January 1942 number. He also contributed covers and illustrations to FANTASTIC ADVENTURES and Ziff-Davis’s MAMMOTH line of pulp magazines.

Walter M. Baumhofer — best remembered for his classic covers that appeared on DOC SAVAGE MAGAZINE — was one of many great artists whose work — including the September 3, 1932 issue — graced the front covers to Street & Smith’s WESTERN STORY MAGAZINE.)

The Artists Who Make ARGOSY — 120 Years of Sensational Pulp Art

Jun 8, 2016 by

Argosy 19-10-11On Friday, July 23, at 7:50 PM, one of PulpFest‘s most popular presenters, artist and art historian David Saunders, returns to our programming stage in the Union Rooms on the second floor of the Hyatt Regency Columbus for a look at “The Artists Who Make ARGOSY.

The first all-fiction pulp magazine, THE ARGOSY was founded as a children’s weekly by publisher Frank A. Munsey in 1882. Originally titled THE GOLDEN ARGOSY, it was converted to a general fiction pulp magazine with its December 1896 number. Within ten years, it was selling a half million copies of each issue. Through numerous title and format variations, as well as editorial and publisher changes, the magazine soldiered on for nearly a century, its final number dated November 1979. As a pulp, it lasted for over 1500 issues and nearly fifty years. Following its August 1943 number, it was converted to the slick format, reduced its fiction content, and eventually became a men’s adventure magazine.

Today, ARGOSY is sought after for its authors and its series characters. H. Bedford-Jones, Max Brand (Frederick Faust), Edgar Rice Burroughs, Ellis Parker Butler, Borden Chase, Walt Coburn, Ray Cummings, Norbert Davis, Lester Dent, Ralph Milne Farley, C. S. Forester, Erle Stanley Gardner, Zane Grey, L. Patrick Greene, O. Henry, Robert E. Howard, L. Ron Hubbard, Otis Adelbert Kline, Harold Lamb, Murray Leinster, Gordon MacCreagh, Johnston McCulley, Fred MacIsaac, A. Merritt, Clarence E. Mulford, Hugh Pendexter, Mary Roberts Rinehart, Theodore Roscoe, Charles Alden Seltzer, Perley Poore Sheehan, Upton Sinclair, Francis Stevens, W. C. Tuttle, W. Wirt, Cornell Woolrich, George F. Worts, and countless other talented writers found a home in its rough-paper pages. Popular series characters featured in the magazine included Captain Horatio Hornblower, Carson Napier, Dr. Kildare, Gillian Hazeltine, Hopalong Cassiday, Jan of the Jungle, Jimmie Cordie, John Carter, John Solomon, Madame Storey, Montana Kid, Peter the Brazen, Semi Dual, Sheriff Henry, Singapore Sammy, Tarzan, Thibaut Corday, Zorro, and many others.

argosy 33-09-23But what about the days when ARGOSY was being read by hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children? Although a favorite writer or character was enough to convince a regular ARGOSY reader to part with his or her hard-earned money at the newsstand, it was often a pulp magazine’s artwork that reeled in the new or the casual reader. Like every great pulp magazine, ARGOSY employed some of the best artists in the business: Rudolph Belarski, Ernest Chiriacka, Rafael M. DeSoto, Charles Dye, Marshall Frantz, Robert A. Graef, P. J. Monahan, Roger B. Morrison, Stockton Mulford, John R. Neill, Clinton Pettee, Norman Rockwell, Norman Saunders, Fred W. Small, Paul Stahr, Peter Stevens, Emmett Watson, and others.

Join David Saunders at PulpFest 2016 for a survey of ARGOSY covers and story illustrations, plus rarely seen original cover paintings and drawings, as well as rare photographs of many of the “Artists Who Make ARGOSY,” part of this year’s celebration of the 120th anniversary of the first pulp magazine — THE ARGOSY.

Born in 1954, David Saunders is a New York artist. His work has been collected worldwide and can be found in the Museum of Modern Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Brooklyn Museum of Art, and the Hirschhorn Museum of Art in Washington, DC. He has taught art at Yale, Oberlin, and the Kansas City Art Institute, as well as art schools in France, Korea, Mexico and Japan.

David’s father was the legendary illustrator, Norman Saunders. His mother, Ellene Politis Saunders, worked at Fawcett Publications as Chief Executive Editor for WOMAN’S DAY. In 1972, David became his father’s business secretary, which started a long project to catalog his father’s 7,000 published illustrations. He spent the next seventeen years gathering published examples of his father’s work from used bookshops and submitting each new entry to his father’s inspection. What began as a sentimental hobby for a father and son grew into an impressive archive of 20th century American illustration. After his father’s death in 1989, he completed the archive on his own. He interviewed his father’s surviving associates to record their oral histories. These transcripts helped to broaden his viewpoint of the popular culture publishing industry and also documented vital information about the lives of other artists. Some of this material has been published as biographical profiles in ILLUSTRATION MAGAZINE and several coffee-table art books on pulp artists.

Argosy 47-03David is, quite probably, the foremost scholar of American pulp illustrators. His free public website, Field Guide to Wild American Pulp Artists, has over three-hundred biographical profiles of these creators of popular culture. David continues to research, document, and promote a greater appreciation of pulp artists. To find out more, please visit davidsaunders.biz, normansaunders.com, and theillustratedpress.com.

After checking out David’s credentials, be sure to get ready to attend “Summer’s AMAZING Pulp Con” as we salute the 120th anniversary of the birth of the pulp magazine from July 21 through July 24 in the Columbus, Ohio Arena district at the Hyatt Regency hotel and the city’s spacious convention center. “You’ll be in for a great adventure” at PulpFest, the pop culture center of the universe.

(Over its years as a pulp and later a men’s adventure magazine, ARGOSY was the full package: good authors, good stories, and good art.

Born in San Francisco, Fred W. Small moved to New York City in 1910. Within two years, he was working exclusively for the Munsey magazines, contributing covers and interior art to THE ALL-STORY, ARGOSY — including the October 11, 1919 issue — CAVALIER, and MUNSEY’S MAGAZINE. His last pulp magazine illustrations appeared in 1921.

Robert A. Graef studied art at the Pratt Institute of Brooklyn. Soon after graduation, he began illustrating for a variety of magazines and newspapers. During the First World War, he contributed patriotic recruitment posters to the war effort. He added pulp magazines to his markets during the mid-twenties, most notably ARGOSY — including the September 23, 1933 number. Over the years, he contributed a great deal of art to the Munsey magazine and other pulps.

During its early years as a slick, ARGOSY employed painted covers, including the March 1947 number with cover art by Charles Dye. The artist contributed many interior story illustrations and covers to Popular Publications’ western pulp magazines as well as ADVENTURE and ARGOSY. He later contributed the same to the men’s adventure market.

Good authors, good stories, and good art made ARGOSY a great magazine. Witness the nearly forty years of covers illustrated above.)

ARGOSY at PulpFest — An Abundance of Riches

Jan 25, 2016 by

Blackwood's Magazine 1818-10 to 1819-03Although magazines have been around since the seventeenth century — the first regular periodical was ERBAULICHE MONATHS UNTERREDUNGEN, a literary and philosophy magazine, launched in Germany in 1663 — it was only with the arrival of increased literacy and lower costs in the early nineteenth century that magazines of mass appeal began to be produced.

As Europe and North America became increasingly industrialized, magazines began to reach a much wider, sometimes national, audience. BLACKWOOD’S MAGAZINE, NOUVEAU MAGAZINE DES ENFANTSHARPER’S NEW MONTHLY MAGAZINE, ATLANTIC MONTHLY, SCRIBNER’S MONTHLYand others emerged, publishing the fiction of Charles Dickens, Fitz-James O’Brien, Walter Scott, Mark Twain, Jules Verne, and others. The dime novels, penny-dreadfuls, and story papers were also introduced during these years, offering tales of derring-do to a growing juvenile audience. It was in such periodicals that the “American Jules Verne,” Luis Senarens, developed the Frank Reade, Jr. series of adventure yarns.

The last quarter of the nineteenth century has become known as “The Age of the Storytellers.” Beginning around 1880, when Robert Louis Stevenson started to publish his first works of fiction, the world would witness the birth of the popular fiction magazine as well as the pulp magazine. Stevenson’s “Treasure Island,” first serialized in 1881 – 82, helped provide the spark for other authors to try their hand at similar fiction. Works such as H. Rider Haggard’s King Solomon’s Mines (1885), “She” (1886), and “Allan Quatermain” (1887), as well as Arthur Conan Doyle’s “A Study in Scarlet” (1887), demonstrated the need for an inexpensive, popular fiction magazine to be published on a regular basis. Shortly after Christmas in 1890, the first of these — THE STRAND MAGAZINE — was launched in Great Britain by George Newnes. Filled with illustrations, the periodical really took off during the summer of 1891 with the start of Conan Doyle’s “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes,” featuring one of the most successful continuing character series of all time.

With the success of THE STRAND MAGAZINE came a host of imitators, among them PEARSON’S MAGAZINE, another popular British fiction magazine. It debuted in late 1895 and soon became one of the leading publishers of magazine science fiction, featuring the future war stories of George Griffith and the scientific romances of Herbert George Wells. “The War of the Worlds” and “The Invisible Man,” both originally published in PEARSON’S in 1897, are still enjoyed today, over a century after their initial appearances. Educated in the sciences as well as a literary genius, Wells’ mastery of both science and fiction was readily apparent. His later science fiction, including “The First Men in the Moon” (1900-1901) and “The Country of the Blind “1904), would run in THE STRAND.

War of the Worlds

The British popular fiction magazines were modeled after the illustrated periodicals of America. However, unlike their British counterparts, the leading American magazines of the late nineteenth century – HARPER’S, CENTURY MAGAZINE, and  SCRIBNER’S – were beyond the financial and intellectual reach of the average U. S. citizen. It was left to Frank A. Munsey – a man about whom it has been suggested, “contributed to the journalism of his day the talent of a meat packer, the morals of a money changer and the manner of an undertaker” – to deliver the first American periodical specifically intended for the common man. In his own words, Munsey decided to create “a magazine of the people and for the people, with pictures and art and good cheer and human interest throughout.”

Frank Munsey was born in Maine where he became interested in publishing. With minimal funds, he traveled to New York City and founded THE GOLDEN ARGOSY, a children’s weekly, in late 1882. Working largely on credit, he struggled for years, building his circulation through advertising and sheer determination. Deciding that the future lay in the adult market, he founded MUNSEY’S WEEKLY in 1889, soon converting it to MUNSEY’S MAGAZINE. In 1893, convinced that a magazine could only be successful if the price was right, he slashed the price of MUNSEY’S to a dime and marketed it directly to newsdealers, essentially cutting out the middle man.

Argosy 1896-12As the circulation of MUNSEY’S climbed to hundreds of thousands of copies, the publisher converted THE ARGOSY to an adult magazine, similarly priced and modeled after it’s brethren. Envisioning a new kind of magazine, Frank Munsey wrote, “We want stories . . . . not dialect sketches, not washed out studies of effete human nature, not weak tales of sickly sentimentality, no ‘pretty’ writing . . . . We do want fiction in which there is a story, a force, a tale that means something – in short a story. Good writing is as common as clam shells, while good stories are as rare as statesmanship.”

In October 1896, THE ARGOSY became the first all-fiction magazine. Two months later in a cost-cutting move, it began to be printed on the wood-pulp paper Munsey used for his daily newspaper and the rough-paper fiction magazine, or pulp, was born. Within a short while, its circulation had doubled to about 80,000 copies per issue. By 1907, the year the periodical celebrated its 25th anniversary, its circulation had reached a half million copies, earning its publisher about $300,000 per year.

As its readership grew, THE ARGOSY was bound to attract some imitators. Street & Smith, the longtime publisher of dime novels and story papers, was first to meet the call, debuting THE POPULAR MAGAZINE with its November 1903 issue. As the circulation of the new magazine grew, it became apparent to Frank Munsey that there was room on the newsstand for more than one pulp. At the end of 1904, the publisher debuted THE ALL-STORY MAGAZINE.

More than any other periodical prior to the introduction of the specialized science-fiction and fantasy pulps, THE ALL-STORY became the major repository for the “different” tale or the pseudo-scientific yarn. It was soon joined by other Munsey magazines – THE SCRAP BOOK and THE RAILROAD MAN’S MAGAZINE (both 1906), THE OCEAN/LIVE WIRE (1907), and THE CAVALIER (1908). All of these, THE CAVALIER in particular, published fantastic fiction. However, it was all but a prelude to the serial novel that would begin in the February 1912 issue of THE ALL-STORY — “Under the Moons of Mars” – credited to Norman Bean.

All-Story 12-10Bean’s novel — the first published fiction of Edgar Rice Burroughs — would introduce John Carter of Mars to readers. It would soon be followed by the author’s “Tarzan of the Apes,” published in its entirety in the October 1912 issue of THE ALL-STORY. These two novels, along with the pseudo-scientific works of H. G. Wells and his American disciple, George Allan England, would serve as templates for much of the science fiction written over the next twenty-five years, generating a type of fiction best known as “the scientific romance.” The Munsey chain in particular worked to develop this school of fiction, creating a stable of writers – Ray Cummings, J. U. Geisy, Victor Rousseau, Francis Stevens, Charles B. Stilson, and the best of all, Abraham Merritt – able to contribute such stories.

Although the fiction of Burroughs and Wells and those “inspired” by their work would remain popular for some time to come, its share of the pulp market would diminish as new magazines began to arrive on the scene. Beginning with ADVENTURE MAGAZINE, introduced by the Ridgway Company in 1910, these specialized pulps lessened the attraction of the general fiction magazines for those who enjoyed a certain type of story – mystery, romance, western, or straight adventure. In not too many years, the fantasy and science-fiction fan would likewise be served.

The word “argosy” is defined as a large merchant ship, especially one with a rich cargo. With the terrific programming we’re lining up for PulpFest 2016, you’re promised “an abundance of riches” We’ll be saluting a wide range of anniversaries at this summer’s pulp con: the tenth anniversary of Sanctum Books; the eightieth anniversary of THE WHISPERER and THE SKIPPER; the ninetieth anniversary of AMAZING STORIES, the first science-fiction pulp; the hundredth anniversary of the specialty pulp; the 120th anniversary of THE ARGOSY, the original pulp magazine; and the 150th anniversary of the birth of H. G. Wells!

Check out our post of January 4, 2016 — “Coming Soon to Columbus — PulpFest 2016” — for a look at our planned. We’ll be featuring a pair of presentations on THE ARGOSY. “120 Years of THE ARGOSY — The World’s First Pulp Magazine,” will be offered by Doug Ellis, one of the world’s leading collectors and authorities on the magazine and a founder of the fabulous Windy City Pulp and Paper ConventionArt and pulp historian David Saunders will be discussing “The Artists of THE ARGOSY —  120 Years of Sensational Pulp Artists.” Both presentations are planned for Saturday evening, July 23rd, immediately preceding our exciting auction.

“Summer’s AMAZING Pulp Con” will take place from July 21st through July 24th in the Columbus, Ohio Arena district at the Hyatt Regency hotel and the city’s spacious convention center. Start making your plans to join us at the “pop culture center of the universe” for PulpFest 2016.

(BLACKWOOD’S EDINBURGH MAGAZINE — which first appeared in April 1817 — was one of the first magazines to reach a national audience. It’s introduction helped pave the way for the popular fiction periodicals of the late nineteenth century. Pictured here is volume 4 of the magazine, dated October 1818 – March 1819. The image on the cover is an engraving of the 16th century Scottish historian George Buchanan. BLACKWOOD’S continued publication until 1980.

PEARSON’S MAGAZINE was one of the popular British fiction magazines that emerged during the late 1800s. Its first issue was dated January 1896. The magazine’s publisher, C. Arthur Pearson, was “fascinated with stories of the future and what science might bring. Hence, it comes as no surprise that H. G. Wells’ “War of the Worlds” was originally serialized in eight parts in PEARSON’S, running from April the December in 1897. It was illustrated by Warwick Goble. PEARSON’S ran for over 500 issues. Its last issue was date November 1939.

The December 1896 issue of THE ARGOSY, published by Frank A. Munsey, was the world’s first pulp fiction magazine. It would continue for nearly eighty years, ending as a “men’s adventure magazine.” It’s final issue was dated November 1978.

One of the most popular authors to appear in the Munsey magazines was undoubtedly Edgar Rice Burroughs. His adventure romance, “Tarzan of the Apes,” was published in its entirety in the October 1912 issue of THE ALL-STORY. The issue featured front cover art by Clinton Pettee who drew interior story illustrations for MUNSEY’S MAGAZINE and painted covers for such pulp magazines as THE ARGOSY,THE ALL-STORYTHE CAVALIER, and SHORT STORIES.)

 

Margaret Brundage at 115

Dec 7, 2015 by

Weird Tales (June 1933)Few artists are as strongly linked to a single pulp as Margaret Brundage is to WEIRD TALES. Dec. 9, 2015, marks the 115th anniversary of her birth in Chicago.

Margaret Brundage got her start in the pulp magazines with WEIRD TALES‘ sister publication, ORIENTAL STORIES (later MAGIC CARPET), with six covers from Spring 1932 through January 1934. Her first cover for “The Unique Magazine” appeared in September 1932. Her pastels graced the cover again the next month, then again in March 1933. Beginning in June 1933 — and for the next 39 covers — WEIRD TALES featured her luscious artwork exclusively. Her last cover for WEIRD TALES appeared on the January 1945 number, capping a run of 66 covers for the magazine, with Brundage receiving no more than $90 for a cover.

The artist’s cover illustration for Robert E. Howard’s “Black Colossus” (WEIRD TALES, June 1933) generated the most mail for any of the magazine’s covers, she told Robert Weinberg, as detailed in THE ALLURING ART OF MARGARET BRUNDAGE, published by Vanguard Productions in 2013.

Brundage always enjoyed illustrating Howard’s stories. It was WEIRD TALES‘ editor Farnsworth Wright who passed along news of Howard’s suicide to the artist in 1936: “When I learned of Robert Howard’s death, I was very upset . . . . (Wright and I) both just sat around and cried for most of the day. He was always my personal favorite.”

In an interview with R. Alain Everts in 1973, Brundage recalled her most controversial WEIRD TALES cover:

We had one issue (the September 1933 number) that sold out! It was the story of a very vicious female, getting ahold of the heroine and tying her up and beating her. Well, the public apparently thought it was flagellation, and the entire issue sold out. They could have used a couple of thousand extra (copies).

In 1938, WEIRD TALES was bought by Short Stories, Inc., and its editorial headquarters moved from Brundage’ hometown of Chicago to New York City. Wright went east with the magazine, but he was suffering from Parkinson’s Disease, and by 1940 he was dead. Brundage stayed in Chicago, but the difficulty of shipping her fragile chalk illustrations by train to New York and a reduction in WEIRD TALES‘ cover rates to $50 ended her pulp career just five years later.

Margaret Brundage died April 9, 1976, at age 75.

PulpFest seeks to draw attention to the profound effect that the pulps had on American popular culture, reverberating through a wide variety of mediums — comic books, movies, paperbacks and genre fiction, television, men’s adventure magazines, radio drama, and even video and role-playing games. Planned as the summertime destination for fans and collectors of vintage popular fiction and related materials, PulpFest honors pulp fiction and pulp art by drawing attention to the many ways the magazines and their creators — people like Margaret Brundage — have inspired writers, artists, film directors, software developers, game designers, and other creators over the decades.

Join PulpFest 2016 to be part of this great celebration of American popular culture. Start making your plans right now to join the 45th convening of “Summer’s Great Pulp Con” in 2016. It will take place July 21–24 at the Hyatt Regency Columbus and the Greater Columbus Convention Center.

(Margaret Brundage’s pastel cover for the June 1933 issue of WEIRD TALES illustrates Robert E. Howard’s tale, “Black Colossus.”)

George and Jerome Rozen at 120

Oct 15, 2015 by

Shadow33-08-01Born nearly 120 years ago on October 16, 1895, George 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 THE SHADOW MAGAZINE. George Rozen became the Street & Smith pulp’s most renowned cover artist, while his brother branched 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, 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. In later years, he worked as an art instructor at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio.

Jerome Rozen preceded his twin brother, George, into the world of illustration. After working as an art instructor in Chicago, he moved to New York and began selling interior pen and ink story illustrations to Fawcett. His first covers appeared on BATTLE STORIES, COMPLETE STORIES, THE POPULAR MAGAZINE, WAR BIRDS, WESTERN STORY MAGAZINE, and other pulps. In 1931, he painted the covers for the first four issues of Street & Smith’s THE SHADOW MAGAZINE. Although he continued to work for the pulp industry throughout the thirties, contributing a number of classic covers for Popular’s THE MYSTERIOUS WU FANG as well as other pulps, the bulk of Jerome’s work was now done for the advertising and slick magazine markets.

Following a traffic accident in 1938, Jerome renewed his art career through the pulp market, selling covers to TEN DETECTIVE ACES, THRILLING ADVENTURES, WESTERN ACES, and other magazines. Soon thereafter, he was back in the advertising field and selling to slick magazines such as BOY’S LIFE and LOOK MAGAZINE. In 1978 he was rediscovered by fans of pulp magazines and was commissioned to recreate several of his classic pulp paintings.

PulpFest seeks to draw attention to the profound effect that the pulps had on American popular culture, reverberating through a wide variety of mediums — comic books, movies, paperbacks and genre fiction, television, men’s adventure magazines, radio drama, and even video and role-playing games. Planned as the summertime destination for fans and collectors of vintage popular fiction and related materials, PulpFest honors pulp fiction and pulp art by drawing attention to the many ways the magazines and their creators — people like George and Jerome Rozen — have inspired writers, artists, film directors, software developers, game designers, and other creators over the decades.

Join PulpFest 2016 to be part of this great celebration of American popular culture. Start making your plans right now to join the 45th convening of “Summer’s Great Pulp Con” in 2016. It will take place July 21 – 24 at the Hyatt Regency Columbus.

(George Rozen’s painting for the August 1, 1933 issue of THE SHADOW MAGAZINE is perhaps one of the most iconic images of Walter Gibson’s “Dark Avenger.”)

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Saturday at PulpFest 2015

Aug 15, 2015 by

Weird Tales 45-07There’s still time to get in on the action. The dealers’ room at the Hyatt Regency Columbus will be open today from 10 AM until 4:30 PM. 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 will also be for sale.

Single-day memberships to PulpFest will be available for $20 for Saturday and $10 for Sunday. Children who are fifteen and younger and accompanied by a parent, will be admitted free of charge. Members will be able to register for the convention at any time during regular dealers’ room hours. 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. Please visit our registration page for further details.

The PulpFest dealers’ room will closing at 4:30 PM today. 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.

Whisperer in DarknessOur 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 begin 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.

Highlights of this year’s auction include the original typescript for the Phillip José Farmer novel, DAYWORLD, with notes and corrections in the authors’ hand, along with an original 1930’s Shadow mask.  It was either a premium or sold as part of a Halloween costume. The auction will also feature a number of lots from the estate of Earl Kussman who, along with Ed Kessell and Nils Hardin, organized the first Pulpcon, held in Clayton, Missouri over a June weekend in 1972.

Cthulhu DiceFor 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.

The PulpFest 2015 gaming track will begin at 10 AM on 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.

If you will be needing a hotel room for tonight, please remember that PulpFest is sharing downtown Columbus with Matsuricon. 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. Alternately, we suggest that you search for a room at tripadvisor or a similar website as soon as you possibly can. 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.

(Not long after the appearance of the August Derleth anthology SLEEP NO MORE, the book’s illustrator, Lee Brown Coye, began a long relationship with WEIRD TALES. The first of his ten covers for the magazine appeared on its July 1945 number, featured above. He also produced many interior illustrations for the magazine. His work continued to appear in WEIRD TALES until 1952.

As part of its celebration of the 125th anniversary of H. P. Lovecraft’s birth and his relationship with WEIRD TALES, the leading supernatural fiction magazine of its time, PulpFest 2015 is very pleased to offer a fully authorized showing of THE WHISPERER IN DARKNESS. The one-sheet, pictured above, is copyright 2015 by the H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society.

One of the quick games that will be played at PulpFest is called CTHULHU DICE, from Steve Jackson Games. Players take turns rolling the big, custom-designed, twelve-sided die, embossed with tentacles, Elder Signs, and more. The objective of the game is to drive your opponents insane with the cast of your die. CTHULHU DICE plays in 5 to 10 minutes, and is great fun for two to six players.)