What’s This PulpFest All About?

Mar 27, 2017 by

So what’s this PulpFest that has so many people talking? With almost 3,000 likes on Facebook and more than 700 followers on Twitter, it certainly has been generating a lot of excitement. But what’s it all about?

All-Story 12-10PulpFest is named for pulp magazines — fiction periodicals named after the cheap paper on which they were printed. Frank A. Munsey pioneered the format in 1896 with THE ARGOSY. A decade later, pulps began to pick up steam with titles like BLUE BOOK and ADVENTURE, then exploded in 1912 when THE ALL-STORY printed a little yarn by Edgar Rice Burroughs called “Tarzan of the Apes.” Soon thereafter, genre titles began to flourish, among them DETECTIVE STORY, WESTERN STORY, and LOVE STORY. In the twenties, publishing legends such as BLACK MASK, WEIRD TALES and AMAZING STORIES debuted. The following decade saw the advent of the so-called “hero pulps” with magazines such as THE SHADOW, DOC SAVAGE, and THE SPIDER attracting new readers to the rough-paper format. Weird-menace magazines premiered around the same time with DIME MYSTERY MAGAZINE, SPICY MYSTERY STORIES, and TERROR TALES scaring the wits out of readers. The late thirties saw an explosion of science fiction pulps — led by John W. Campbell’s ASTOUNDING STORIES — with other titles such as FANTASTIC ADVENTURES and PLANET STORIES thrilling readers of all ages.

By the early fifties, the pulps were gone, killed by competition from paperback books, comic books, radio, television, and movies. But the fiction and artwork that appeared in the rough-paper consumables of the early twentieth century kept them alive in the hearts and minds of countless individuals. Haunting back-issue magazine shops, flea markets, science fiction conventions, and other venues, these hearty souls gradually assembled astounding collections of genre fiction, all published in the rough and ragged magazines known as pulps. Eventually, these collectors organized a convention dedicated to the premise that the pulps had a profound effect on American popular culture that reverberated 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. Today, we call this convention, PulpFest.

The summertime destination for fans and collectors of vintage popular fiction and related materials, PulpFest seeks to honor the pulps by drawing attention to the many ways these throwaway articles have inspired writers, artists, film directors, software developers, and other creators over the decades.

Why not come see what it’s all about? PulpFest 2017 will be paying tribute to the hardboiled dicks, dangerous dames, and a few psychos of the pulps. We’ll be exploring DIME DETECTIVE MAGAZINE — where the hard-boiled detective story developed into an important fiction genre — and Robert Leslie Bellem’s tough-guy detective, Dan Turner; Pat Savage, The Domino Lady, and other dangerous dames of the pulps, the hardboiled ladies who helped pave the way for such modern day gumshoes as Sue Grafton‘s Kinsey Millhone, Marcia Muller‘s Sharon McCone, and Sara Paretsky‘s V. I. Warshawski; and some of the mad scientists, crazed hunchbacks, and foul cultists who decimated American cities on a monthly basis in rough-paper magazines like THE SHADOW. We’ll also be saluting the hundredth anniversary of the birth of Robert Bloch, the author of PSYCHO — later adapted to film by Alfred Hitchcock. Bloch got his start as a writing professional in the pulps.

The convention’s guest of honor will be Pittsburgh 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? One of the few surviving contributors to the pulp magazine industry, Ms. Stoll Karn will be joined by pulp art historian David Saunders — winner of our 2016 Lamont Award — to discuss her freelance career in the pulps and much more on Saturday evening, July 29.

We’ll have all this plus a dealers’ room featuring tens of thousands of pulp magazines, vintage paperbacks, digests, men’s adventure and true crime magazines, original art, first edition hardcovers, series books, reference books, dime novels and story papers, Big Little Books, B-Movies, serials and related paper collectibles, old-time radio shows, and Golden and Silver Age comic books, as well as newspaper adventure strips. For a look at our planned schedule, please visit our home page and click the Programming for 2017 button just below our banner.

The convention will take place from Thursday evening, July 27, through Sunday afternoon, July 30, at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Cranberry, just nineteen miles north of the exciting city of Pittsburgh. You can book your room directly through the PulpFest website. Just click the “Book a Room for 2017” link on our home page or call 1-800-222-8733. Be sure to mention PulpFest in order to receive the convention rate.

Start making your plans now to join in our exploration of “Hardboiled Dicks, Dangerous Dames, and a Few Psychos” at the “pop culture center of the universe” called PulpFest 2017.

(Published by the Frank A. Munsey Company, the October 1912 issue of THE ALL-STORY featured Edgar Rice Burroughs’ novel “Tarzan of the Apes,” published in its entirety. Clinton Pettee — who illustrated many of the Munsey magazines as well as the pulp, SHORT STORIES — painted the front cover art for the magazine. Burroughs’ Tarzan is perhaps the most famous character to emerge from the pulps.

Over thirty years after the publication of “Tarzan of the Apes,” a young Gloria Stoll Karn contributed the cover art for the November 1943 issue of Popular Publications’ DIME MYSTERY MAGAZINE. The artist would paint more than 100 covers for the pulps of the 1940s.)

100 Years of Pulp Fictioneer John D. MacDonald

Jul 24, 2016 by

Dime Detective 47-02As PulpFest wraps things up for another year — the dealers’ room will be open from 10 AM until 2 PM today — the convention is looking to the future. The organizing committee is already starting to plan for PulpFest 2017. We’ll be celebrating “Hardboiled Dicks, Dangerous Dames, and a Few Psychos.” As always, expect a fantastic dealers’ room and superb programming. It will be the 46th convening of “Summer’s Great Pulp Con!” So start making your plans to attend. You’ll have an AMAZING time!

At the same time as it’s looking ahead, PulpFest is also looking into the past. One hundred years ago on this very date, detective and thriller writer John D. MacDonald was born just east of the Ohio border in Sharon, Pennsylvania. Best known for his adventure series character Travis McGee, MacDonald was one of the last of the giants of the detective genre to emerge from the pulps. Although his first story, “G-Robot,” ran in the July 1936 DOUBLE-ACTION GANG MAGAZINE, MacDonald would have to wait another decade for his next story to appear in a pulp magazine.

“Cash on a Coffin!” from the May 1946 DETECTIVE TALES — published by Popular Publications — marks the beginning of MacDonald’s rather substantial pulp fiction career. Over the next ten years, the author placed hundreds of stories in a wide range of pulp magazines: ADVENTURE, ARGOSY, ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION, BLACK MASK, BLUE BOOK, DETECTIVE TALES, DIME DETECTIVE, DIME WESTERN, DOC SAVAGE, FBI DETECTIVE, FIFTEEN SPORTS STORIES, FIGHT STORIES, GALAXY, NEW DETECTIVE, THE SHADOW, SHOCK, SPORT FICTION, SPORTS NOVELS, STARTLING STORIES, SUPER SCIENCE STORIES, THRILLING WONDER STORIES, WEIRD TALES, and others. He also placed stories with COLLIER’S, COSMOPOLITAN, ESQUIRE, LIBERTY, McCALL’S, THIS WEEK, and similar magazines.

In 1950 — as it became increasingly apparent that the pulps were on their way out — John D. MacDonald placed a novel with Fawcett Gold Medal — THE BRASS CUPCAKE. From 1950 until he released his first Travis McGee novel in 1964, the author sold over forty paperback originals, becoming one of the giants of that market. “His crime novels of this period are masters of the form — spare, tight, often dark and even nasty tales of desperate men in way over their heads.”

MacDonald created McGee at the urging of his publishers. Unsure of his achievement, the author resisted publication of that first novel — THE LONG BLUE GOOD-BY — until he could complete two more titles. All three books were eventually published in three successive months in 1964 to positive commercial and even limited critical response. “Having achieved notoriety and success in the pulp magazines, and with more than forty novels already in print, MacDonald introduced a character that would eventually dwarf his previous publishing efforts. He would become the bedrock of MacDonald’s career, establishing a vast, devoted audience, and an almost sublime literary legacy. As the epitome of this legacy, the McGee series transcends genre fiction, and is rich with piercing psychological insight, social commentary, and clean, compelling prose that lapses into poetry.”

Deep Blue Good-ByJohn D. MacDonald would produce twenty-one novels in the McGee series, each with a color in its title. Often selling more than a million copies of each book, the author’s Travis McGee would become “one of the best, and most beloved private eyes of all time (even if he wasn’t licensed, and at times acted more like Robin Hood than Philip Marlowe).” Not bad for a pulp writer.

Although centered around pulp fiction and pulp magazines, PulpFest was founded on the premise that the pulps had a profound effect 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. The summertime destination for fans and collectors of vintage popular fiction and related materials, PulpFest seeks to honor pulp fiction by drawing attention to the many ways it had inspired writers, artists, film directors, software developers, and other creators over the decades.

We hope to see you next year at PulpFest 2017. Please bring your friends. You can expect a “Deep Blue Hello!”

(John D. MacDonald was paid from half-a-cent to three cents for each word that he produced for the pulps. From about 1946 through 1951, he placed dozens of stories each year with various pulp magazines. His output included adventure, detective, fantasy, science fiction, sports fiction, and western stories. When his story “Dead to the World” garnered the cover spot for the February 1947 issue of Popular’s DIME DETECTIVE — featuring cover art by Robert Stanley — MacDonald had become a reliable producer for the pulp market.

“I don’t know how long we’re going to keep him in the pulp magazines,” Harry Widmer, the editor at DETECTIVE FICTION WEEKLY said, “but we’re going to try to keep him as long as we can.”

After THE BRASS CUPCAKE — the first of his original paperbacks — was released in 1950, MacDonald increasingly turned to that market for sales. His first Travis McGee novel — THE DEEP BLUE GOOD-BY — was published by Fawcett in 1964, with front cover art by Ron Lesser.)

Please Pass the Orange Juice

Apr 4, 2016 by

So what’s this PulpFest that has so many people talking? With almost 3,000 likes on Facebook and more than 500 followers on Twitter, it certainly has been generating a lot of excitement. But what’s it all about?

All-Story 12-10PulpFest is named for pulp magazines, fiction periodicals named after the cheap paper on which they were printed. Frank A. Munsey pioneered the format in 1896 with THE ARGOSY. A decade later, pulps began to pick up steam with titles like BLUE BOOK and ADVENTURE, then exploded in 1912 when THE ALL-STORY printed a little yarn by Edgar Rice Burroughs called “Tarzan of the Apes.” Soon thereafter, genre titles began to flourish, among them DETECTIVE STORY, WESTERN STORY, and LOVE STORY. In the twenties, publishing legends such as BLACK MASK, WEIRD TALES and AMAZING STORIES debuted. The following decade saw the advent of the so-called “hero pulps” with magazines such as THE SHADOW, DOC SAVAGE, and THE SPIDER attracting new readers to the rough-paper format. Weird-menace magazines premiered around the same time with DIME MYSTERY MAGAZINE, SPICY MYSTERY STORIES, and TERROR TALES scaring the wits out of readers. The late thirties saw an explosion of science fiction pulps — led by John W. Campbell’s ASTOUNDING STORIES — with other titles such as FANTASTIC ADVENTURES and PLANET STORIES thrilling readers of all ages.

By the early fifties, the pulps were gone, killed by competition from paperback books, comic books, radio, television, and movies. But the fiction and artwork that appeared in the rough-paper consumables of the early twentieth century kept them alive in the hearts and minds of countless individuals. Haunting back-issue magazine shops, flea markets, science fiction conventions, and other venues, these hearty souls gradually assembled astounding collections of genre fiction, all published in the rough and ragged magazines known as pulps. Eventually, these collectors organized a convention dedicated to the premise that the pulps had a profound effect on American popular culture that reverberated 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. Today, we call this convention, PulpFest.

The summertime destination for fans and collectors of vintage popular fiction and related materials, PulpFest seeks to honor the pulps by drawing attention to the many ways these throwaway articles have inspired writers, artists, film directors, software developers, and other creators over the decades.

The Skipper 1936-12Why not come see what it’s all about? PulpFest 2016 will be paying tribute to the history of the pulps by saluting the 150th anniversary of the birth of H. G. Wells; the 120th anniversary of the debut of the first pulp magazine, THE ARGOSY; the 100th anniversary of the genre pulps such as DETECTIVE STORY and LOVE STORY; the ninetieth anniversary of the creation of the first science fiction magazine, AMAZING STORIES; the 80th anniversaries of the premieres of two exciting hero pulpsTHE SKIPPER and THE WHISPERER; and the tenth anniversary of Sanctum Books, well known for their reprints of THE SHADOW, DOC SAVAGETHE SPIDER, and other hero pulps. Our Guest of Honor will be author, editor, and pulp fan Ted White, the man who ushered in the Golden Age of AMAZING STORIES and FANTASTIC during the 1970s and wrote the Captain America novel THE GREAT GOLD STEAL and many other books. We’ll have all this plus a dealers’ room featuring tens of thousands of pulp magazines, vintage paperbacks, digests, men’s adventure and true crime magazines, original art, first edition hardcovers, series books, reference books, dime novels and story papers, Big Little Books, B-Movies, serials and related paper collectibles, old-time radio shows, and Golden and Silver Age comic books, as well as newspaper adventure strips. For a look at our planned schedule, please visit http://www.pulpfest.com/2016/01/coming-soon-to-columbus-pulpfest-2016/.

The convention will take place from Thursday evening, July 21st, through Sunday afternoon, 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.

(Published by the Frank A. Munsey Company, the October 1912 issue of THE ALL-STORY featured Edgar Rice Burroughs’ novel “Tarzan of the Apes,” published in its entirety. Clinton Pettee — who illustrated many of the Munsey magazines as well as the pulp, SHORT STORIES — painted the front cover art for the magazine. THE SKIPPER, including the first issue dated December 1936, featured cover art by Lawrence Donner Toney, a graduate of the Art Institute of Chicago.)

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.)

 

Another Clue to Our Guest of Honor

Jan 8, 2016 by

Argosy 1896-12Last night, we drew your attention to the fact that we are planning to announce our convention’s 2016 guest of honor on Monday, January 11th. The news will be released here and on our social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. We also mentioned that we’re planning to offer a wide array of programming at PulpFest 2016, including a salute to the 120th anniversary of the first pulp magazine, THE ARGOSY.

Pulp magazines were named for the cheap paper on which they were printed. Frank A. Munsey pioneered the format in late 1896 with THE ARGOSYcreating the first American periodical specifically designed for the common man. A decade later, pulps began to pick up steam with titles like BLUE BOOK (1906) and ADVENTURE (1910), then exploded in 1912 when THE ALL-STORY printed a yarn written by Edgar Rice Burroughs and called “Tarzan of the Apes.” Soon after, genre titles began to flourish, among them DETECTIVE STORY, WESTERN STORY and LOVE STORY.

In the 1920s, pulps continued to flourish with publishing legends such as BLACK MASK (1920), WEIRD TALES (1923) and AMAZING STORIES (1926) taking hold. The thirties was the era of the “hero” or single-character pulp magazine, inspired by the phenomenal success of Street & Smith’s THE SHADOW MAGAZINE. The late thirties saw the blossoming of the science-fiction pulps as the genre’s “Golden Age” arrived in the pages of ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION.

Following World War II, the demand for pulp magazines waned as a more convenient form of cheap entertainment took hold – paperbacks. These were often just as “pulpy,” since they were generally written by many of the same authors and featured covers by pulp artists. In the fifties, television became the favored form of escapism and the surviving pulps ceased publication. Fiction magazines continued to be published, but in new formats. The science-fiction and mystery digests and “men’s adventure magazines” are considered descendants of the pulps. It was as one of the latter that the final issue of ARGOSY from its original run appeared.

Although ARGOSY was the first pulp magazine, it “shifted to a slick magazine with mixed content” in the fall of 1943. Still later, it was converted to the men’s adventure magazine format. Here’s our second clue to the identity of our PulpFest 2016 guest of honor: during our 2016 guest of honor’s career, he or she worked for both the rough-paper and slick magazines. Drop by our site over the next few days for more hints. You can leave your guess to our special guest’s identity on our Facebook page. If you haven’t done so already, be sure to “like” us. We’ll provide a free membership to PulpFest 2016 to the first person who guesses the identity of this year’s honored guest. And remember to visit www.pulpfest.com on Monday, January 11th when we’ll reveal the identity of the PulpFest 2016 Guest of Honor.

(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.)

100 Years of the Specialty Pulp

Oct 8, 2015 by

Detective Story 1915-10-05Although it’s not as widely collected as its successors — magazines such as BLACK MASK and DIME DETECTIVE — Street & Smith’s DETECTIVE STORY MAGAZINE was a trailblazer. Its debut issue, dated October 5, 1915, was the first pulp magazine successfully dedicated to one fiction genre. Its first editor, Frank E. Blackwell, explained in an early issue, “I feel that stories dealing with the detection of crime are of more interest to the reading public than any others.” Many more specialty pulps would follow in the ensuing years, culminating in single-character magazines such as THE SHADOW or DOC SAVAGE MAGAZINE.

DETECTIVE STORY MAGAZINE was a continuation of the nickel weekly, NICK CARTER STORIES, in which the first part of the lead story of the new pulp — “The Yellow Label” — had appeared. According to dime novel and story paper expert, J. Randolph Cox, “The intent was to transfer the reading public of Nick Carter’s adventures over to a more adult and sophisticated fiction magazine.” Judging from its long life — DETECTIVE STORY would run for thirty-four years, from October 5, 1915 through the Summer of 1949, a total of 1,057 issues — Street & Smith’s intent was very ably achieved.

Unlike its highly prized successors — particularly BLACK MASK, the magazine where the hard-boiled detective story first took shape — DETECTIVE STORY emphasized the more traditional or “clued” detective story. Carolyn Wells, Ernest M. Poate, Arthur B. Reeve, Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, Ellery Queen, and others all wrote stories along the traditional line, while Edgar Wallace, J. S. Fletcher, Johnston McCulley, Christopher Booth, Herman Landon, and more offered tales of rogue or “bent” heroes. Sax Rohmer was also a contributor to the magazine, introducing the “yellow peril” theme to the magazine’s mix. In later years, the fiction took on a more realistic tone, resembling the stories found in ELLERY QUEEN’S MYSTERY MAGAZINE, the mystery digest that had debuted during the second half of 1941.

Although DETECTIVE STORY MAGAZINE did little to further the development of the detective or crime story, its success would lead to a proliferation of pulp magazines devoted to a single theme or genre. According to the late pulp and science-fiction scholar Sam Moskowitz, “While not the first of the specialized fiction magazines, being preceded by THE OCEAN and THE RAILROAD MAN’S MAGAZINE, it accomplished what they had not by creating a trend that would result in the proliferation of the pulps into western, love, air, science fiction, and supernatural, as well as detective.” Likewise in 1931, the CBS radio series inspired by the magazine’s fiction, DETECTIVE STORY HOUR, would introduce the public to The Shadow, the announcer for each episode. Soon thereafter, Street & Smith would launch THE SHADOW DETECTIVE MAGAZINE, and the single-character pulp would be born.

In 2016, PulpFest intends to salute one-hundred years of the specialty pulp, first popularized during the fall of 1915, when DETECTIVE STORY MAGAZINE premiered. Join us at the Hyatt Regency Columbus from  July 21 – 24, 2016. It should be a very special convention!

(The first issue of DETECTIVE STORY MAGAZINE featured front cover art by John A. Coughlin, a Chicago-born artist who got his start in his home town’s advertising business. Coughlin moved to New York City in 1912 and painted his first pulp cover a year later — for Street & Smith’s THE POPULAR MAGAZINE. Other pulp clients included ARGOSY, DETECTIVE FICTION WEEKLY, SHORT STORIES, TOP-NOTCH, and WILD WEST WEEKLY. He also contributed cover art for HARPER’S WEEKLY, FARM AND FIRESIDE MAGAZINE, and THE SATURDAY EVENING POST. According to pulp art scholar David Saunders, Coughlin’s cover for the March 7, 1931 issue of DETECTIVE STORY MAGAZINE marks the first painted appearance of The Shadow on a pulp magazine.)

Lester del Rey–Still Astounding after 100 Years!

Jun 2, 2015 by

Astounding Science-Fiction 38-04Although he claimed that his full name was Ramón Felipe Alvarez-del Rey, or sometimes Ramón Felipe San Juan Mario Silvio Enrico Smith Heathcourt-Brace Sierra y Alvarez-del Rey y de los Verdes, Lester del Rey was actually born Leonard Knapp. Today marks the 100th anniversary of his birth.

Lester del Rey began writing professionally in the late 1930s. His first published work was “The Faithful,” published by Street & Smith in the April 1938 issue of ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION, one of the earliest numbers of the pulp to be edited by John W. Campbell. It was followed by del Rey’s classic robot story, “Helen O’Loy,” published in the December issue. In 1970, it was among the stories selected by the Science Fiction Writers of America as one of the best science fiction short stories published before the creation of the Nebula Awards.  As such, it was published in THE SCIENCE FICTION HALL OF FAME, VOLUME ONE, 1929-1964.

Throughout the late thirties and 1940s, del Rey wrote almost exclusively for Street & Smith, largely for ASTOUNDING. A smattering of his fiction also appeared in UNKNOWN, also edited by Campbell. Perhaps his best known work from this period is “Nerves,” a short novel about an accident in a nuclear power plant. During the 1950s, del Rey expanded his markets, turning out stories for AMAZING, FANTASTIC ADVENTURES, FUTURE, GALAXY, IF, MARVEL SCIENCE STORIES, and even detective magazines such as FAMOUS DETECTIVE STORIES and HOLLYWOOD DETECTIVE. He also worked as the editor of FANTASY MAGAZINE, ROCKET STORIES, SPACE SCIENCE FICTION, and SCIENCE FICTION ADVENTURES.

In 1977, Lester joined the staff of Ballantine Books when it began issuing science fiction and fantasy under the imprint Del Rey Books, named for his wife, Judy-Lynn del Rey. He continued with Ballantine until his retirement at the end of 1991. He died in 1993. The publisher still operates under the Del Rey name.

(Lester del Rey’s first published work appeared in the April 1938 issue of ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION, behind a cover painted by Howard V. Brown. A long-time science-fiction artist who painted almost all of the magazine’s covers from late 1933 through early 1938, Brown also created covers for Hugo Gernsback’s SCIENCE AND INVENTION and Standard’s STARTLING STORIES and THRILLING WONDER STORIES. PulpFest 2015 will be saluting Standard Publications during its festivities from August 13th through the 16th. Click here to learn how to register for the convention.)

Alex Schomburg–Still Thrilling at 110!

May 10, 2015 by

Startling 39-09Born in Puerto Rico on May 10, 1905, Alex Schomburg moved to New York City in the early twenties to find work as a commercial artist. In 1925, Schomburg met publisher Hugo Gernsback, about a year before he launched the first specialized science-fiction magazine, AMAZING STORIES.

After seeing some of Schomburg’s art, Gernsback asked the artist to contribute some interior illustrations to his electronic and science magazines. In late 1925, Schomburg illustrated his first magazine cover, the December 1925 issue of THE EXPERIMENTER. Decades later, during the Second World War, Alex Schomburg would produce about fifty covers for Gernsback’s RADIO CRAFT magazine.

During the 1930s, Schomburg began to freelance for pulp magazines, creating black-and-white interior art for POPULAR DETECTIVE, THRILLING ADVENTURES, POPULAR WESTERN, THRILLING WONDER STORIES, and other pulps. He would paint his first science-fiction cover for the September 1939 issue of Ned Pine’s STARTLING STORIES. However, it wasn’t until the 1950s that he became a regular cover artist for the science-fiction market. He was still contributing cover art to the science-fiction magazines of the early nineties.

Shortly after the appearance of his first science-fiction cover, Schomburg began to produce cover art for the comic book industry. His first covers were published by Timely Comics, the forerunner of Marvel Comics. Shortly thereafter, he began working for Ned Pines’ Standard Comics, the parent company of Better Publications and Nedor Publishing. He would produce about three hundred covers for Standard and two hundred for Timely/Marvel. His best remembered works are his covers for the Timely superheroes Captain America, the Human Torch, and Sub-Mariner.

In addition to his work for the pulp and comic book industry, Alex Schomburg also painted paperback covers for Ace and Popular Library, the hardbound Winston science-fiction juveniles, and most of the covers as well as interior art for Standard’s crossword puzzle and astrology magazines.

Startling Comics 48-01Alex Schomburg, whose career as an illustrator lasted for over seventy years, passed away on April 7, 1998, about a month shy of his 93rd birthday. He was a longtime and important contributor to Standard, the pulp and comic book publisher we’ll be saluting at PulpFest. He would have been 110 years old today and represents yet another reason to make 2015 a “Thrilling” year by attending PulpFest in downtown Columbus, Ohio. Our programming scheduled for August 13th through the 15th will feature presentations on Standard’s pulp detectives and western heroes, its pulp and comic book heroes, and Leo Margulies, the managing editor of the Standard pulp line, known as “The Little Giant of the Pulps.” We hope to see you in August. Click here to learn how to register for the convention.

(According to Marvel Comics’ Stan Lee, “Alex Schomburg . . . was the only artist I knew able to combine strong, dramatic layouts, and exciting superhero action with a simplistic, almost cartoony style of execution. One could never be sure if Alex was an illustrator who approached his work like a cartoonist, or a cartoonist who chose to render his artwork like an illustrator. Despite the quantity of work we gave him, despite the care and effort that went into every Schomburg cover, I cannot remember Alex ever being late with any illustration. He was as reliable as he was talented.” In addition to his work for Timely/Marvel, Schomburg contributed substantially to Ned Pines’ Standard Magazines and Comics, including the September 1939 issue of STARTLING STORIES and the January 1948 issue of STARTLING COMICS. To learn more about Alex Schomburg and other pulp artists, please visit David Saunder’s Field Guide to Wild American Pulp Artists by clicking here.)

Donuts & Space Opera! Happy Birthday, Doc Smith!

May 2, 2015 by

Amazing08-28Food scientist and author Edward Elmer “Doc” Smith, often called “the father of space opera,” was born 125 years ago, on May 2, 1890. His first published work, “The Skylark of Space,” was written with the help of a neighbor, Mrs. Lee Hawkins Garby.

Smith began writing the first Skylark yarn in 1915, taking five-plus years to complete the work. At the time, there was no model for Smith’s tale. A grand story spanning across galaxies, it was serialized by Hugo Gernsback, beginning in the August 1928 issue of AMAZING STORIES. Also appearing in that same issue was Philip Nowlan’s “Armageddon – 2419 A.D.,” the story that introduced Buck Rogers to the reading public.

Smith would go on to write two more Skylark stories for the pulps and a third, “Skylark DuQuesne,” that was originally serialized in the digest magazine IF: WORLDS OF SCIENCE FICTION, beginning in June 1965.

Although the Skylark stories served to introduce readers to space opera, it was Doc’s Lensman stories that truly defined the sub-genre. Consisting of seven novels published over a fourteen-year span, the series also began in AMAZING STORIES. “Triplanetary” started in the January 1934 issue and ran through the April number. Although the Lensman stories appeared in a number of books and pulp magazines, it is the final four novels of the series that truly define Smith’s great saga. Originally published in Street & Smith’s ASTOUNDING between September 1937 and February 1948, these novels owe a great deal to John W. Campbell, the magazine’s editor beginning in 1938.

Smith would publish other works of science fiction, including “Spacehounds of IPC,” “Lord Tedric,” and “Subspace Survivors,” but none would approach the scope of the Skylark tales and, even more so, the Lensman yarns.

E. E. “Doc” Smith, the food scientist who specialized in doughnut mixes and science-fiction, died on the last day of August in 1965. One-hundred twenty-five years old today, Smith’s work inspired a host of authors to fill the pages of AMAZING STORIES, PLANET STORIES, and other magazines and media with tales of action and adventure, some of them even set “a long ago in a galaxy far, far away . . . ”

(Frank R. Paul’s cover for the August 1928 issue of AMAZING STORIES, in which the first Skylark story appeared, is one of the most iconic images from the science-fiction pulps.)

 

Up, Up, and Away! Mort Weisinger at 100!

Apr 25, 2015 by

Thrilling Wonder 36-08Some time in 1936, Hugo Gernsback sold the last magazine of his so-called “Wonder Group” to Ned Pines’ Standard Magazines. Following its disappearance from newsstands for a few months, the rechristened THRILLING WONDER STORIES returned to the racks in the summer of 1936 with its first issue dated August.

Whereas Gernsback’s WONDER STORIES had strived to publish scientifically plausible stories, the new Standard pulp was aimed at the youth market, emphasizing action and adventure. It featured stories about mad scientists, alien invasions, and space operas. The first eight issues of the new magazine even included a comic strip chronicling the adventures of Zarnak, drawn by Jack Binder.

The editor of the new THRILLING WONDER STORIES was Mort Weisinger, a former literary agent and young science-fiction fan who had co-edited SCIENCE FICTION DIGEST/FANTASY MAGAZINE, one of the leading fanzines of its day. Employing authors such as Arthur K. Barnes, John W. Campbell, Ray Cummings, Paul Ernst, Edmond Hamilton, Otis Adelbert Kline, Henry Kuttner, Jack Williamson, and Arthur Leo Zagat to create blood-and-thunder stories similar to those found in WEIRD TALES and the Clayton ASTOUNDING STORIES, Weisinger was able to increase Standard’s market share of the science-fiction pulp market. Within a few years, he had added CAPTAIN FUTURE, STARTLING STORIES, and STRANGE STORIES to the “Thrilling” line of pulp magazines.

Mortimer Weisinger, who would have been one-hundred years old today, left Standard in 1941 to become editor of the SUPERMAN comic book and, eventually, other titles for National Periodical Publications. He soon recruited pulp authors Alfred Bester, Otto Binder , H. L. Gold, Edmond Hamilton, and Manly Wade Wellman to write for his magazines.

Although far from universally admired, Mort Weisinger was an important part of the history of Standard Magazines. This summer, PulpFest 2015 will salute Ned Pines’ “Thrilling Group” of pulp magazines and comic books. Also known as Beacon Magazines, Best Books, Better Publications, Nedor Publishing, and others, we hope that you’ll be part of our celebration from August 13 – August 16 at the Hyatt Regency in beautiful, downtown Columbus, Ohio. Click here to learn how to register for “Summer’s Great Pulp Con” and join your friends at the “pop culture center of the universe” for a salute to Ned Pines and the “Thrilling Group!”

(The August 1936, the first issue of THRILLING WONDER STORIES to be edited by Mort Weisinger, featured stories by Eando Binder, Ray Cummings, Paul Ernst, Otis Adelbert Kline, A. Merritt, Stanley G. Weinbaum, Weisinger, and Arthur Leo Zagat. There was also a comic strip by Jack Binder, credited to “Max Plaisted.” The magazine’s emphasis on action and adventure, often represented on the cover by creatures with a bizarre appearance, gave rise to the term “bug-eyed-monster,” generally abbreviated as “BEM.” The artist who painted this particular BEM is not known.)