Friday at PulpFest

Jul 28, 2017 by

PulpFest 2017 enters it second day, following a successful dealer set-up, early registration, early-bird shopping, and a full slate of programming. If you missed our first day, there’s still more 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. A full-weekend advance membership to PulpFest will cost you $35 — if staying at our host hotel — and $40 if staying elsewhere. 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. The general public is welcome to attend. There is ample free parking surrounding our host hotel, the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Cranberry.

All members, dealers included, can pick up their registration packets at the entrance to our dealers’ room. To help things move smoothly, please bring along a completed registration form. If you have not yet registered, you can download a copy by clicking herePaper forms will also be available at the door.

The dealers’ room will open to all at 10 AM and will remain open until 4:45 PM. Located in the Grand Ballroom of the DoubleTree, 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!”

If you’re a fan of Philip Josė Farmer, you won’t want to miss the Meteor House book launch party at the DoubleTree. Meet the team behind the MAN OF WAR novella, including author Heidi Ruby Miller, artist Mark Wheatley, and the editors at Meteor House. An assortment of light refreshments and non-alcoholic beverages will be served Friday, July 28, starting at 5 PM. Further details will be available at the PulpFest 2017 registration desk, outside of the convention’s dealers’ room.

Our 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 officially welcomes all our attendees. Friday night’s programming will include our FarmerCon XII presentation on the “Psychos” of Grand Master of Science Fiction Philip José FarmerFarmerCon favorite Win Scott Eckert continues our salute to “the psychos of the pulps” with the first of two readings that he will be performing tonight. Mike Croteau of Meteor House rounds out our FarmerCon programming with Philip José Farmer and Robert Bloch.

PulpFest 2017 further examines pulp fiction’s psychos with 100 Years with the Author of Psycho: Robert Bloch — an illustrated survey of the life and times of Robert Bloch presented by Garyn G. Roberts, Ph.D.

This year’s celebration of hardboiled dicks gets underway at 8:40 PM with a reading from the work of SPICY DETECTIVE STORIES author Robert Leslie Bellem, the creator of Hollywood detective Dan Turner. Next, Anthony Award winner Jeffrey Marks looks at The Many Characters of Erle Stanley GardnerAltus Press publisher Matt Moring will also examine DIME DETECTIVE MAGAZINE, the pulp that truly popularized the hard-as-nails private eye. Closing out the night’s presentations will be pulp historian and fan-favorite author Will Murray. He will be discussing The Dangerous Dames of Maxwell Grant.

Perhaps the most exciting event of the evening will be a WEIRD Audio Play by Robert Bloch, staged by the Narada Radio Company and their PULP-POURRI THEATREReturn to the Sabbath” was originally published in WEIRD TALES under Bloch’s Tarleton Fiske pseudonym. Narrated in the first person by a Hollywood public relations man, it’s the story of a European actor brought to the United States to star in a satanic horror film. Bloch’s story was later adapted and filmed for television as “The Sign of Satan.” It aired on THE ALFRED HITCHCOCK HOUR in 1964. The play will start at 11 PM.

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

PulpFest members are also welcome to socialize together in our hospitality suite at the DoubleTree. You’ll be able to enjoy drinks and snacks with your comrades in pulpdom and talk about the things that you love and collect. If you’re new to the hobby, please join us in our con suite and learn more about pulps and pulp fiction and art.

Friday’s sponsor of the PulpFest hospitality suite is AbeBooks.com, the online marketplace for books. AbeBooks has a strong focus on rare and collectible books as well as ephemera such as maps, posters, prints and photographs. AbeBooks is a company with a passion for books, art and collectibles. PulpFest is extremely pleased to have AbeBooks as a convention sponsor and  Friday’s hospitality suite sponsor.

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

PulpFest 2017 will continue on Saturday and Sunday. It concludes at 2 PM on Sunday, July 30. Please join us at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Cranberry — just north of Pennsylvania’s “Steel City” — for “Summer’s AMAZING Pulp Con!” You’ll have a FANTASTIC time!

(Between 1935 and 1952, Robert Bloch published nearly seventy stories in WEIRD TALES, “The Unique Magazine.” “The Cheaters” appeared in the November 1947 issue and featured cover art by Matt Fox. A cartoonist, illustrator, comic book and advertising artist, watercolorist, painter, and graphic artist, with lithographs, woodcuts, and etchings to his credit, Fox painted eleven covers for WEIRD TALES and also contributed interior illustrations to the magazine. He also worked for Marvel Comics during the 1950s.

Philip José Farmer’s THE MAD GOBLIN was originally released in 1970 by Ace Books as part of their double line of paperbacks. The other half the book featured LORD OF THE TREES. Both sides of the book featured covers created by Gray Morrow, a comic book and paperback artist who also illustrated many science-fiction magazines. He was nominated for the Hugo Award for best professional artist in 1966, 1967, and 1968.

The “psychos” of  Robert Bloch, Philip José Farmer, and THE SHADOW MAGAZINE will be profiled during PulpFest’s second night of programming, scheduled to begin at 7 PM this evening. We hope to see you in at the DoubleTree Grand Ballroom for “Summer’s AMAZING Pulp Con! You’ll find today’s schedule immediately below.)

Friday, July 28

Dealers’ Room

9:00 AM – 10:00 AM — Early Registration and Dealers’ Room Set-Up

10:00 AM – 4:45 PM — Dealers’ Room Open to All

Programming

12:45 – 4:30 PM — New Fictioneers Readings — (author readings by Jim Beard, John Bruening, Peter McGarvey, Heidi Ruby Miller, and Don Shakers)

6:55 – 7:00 PM — Welcome to PulpFest 2017 (Convention Chairman Jack Cullers)

7:00 – 7:20 PM — The Psychos of Philip José Farmer — The Nine (Win Scott Eckert, Frank Schildiner, and Art Sippo)

7:20 – 7:30 PM — The Psychos of Philip José Farmer — Win Scott Eckert Reads from THE MONSTER ON HOLD

7:30 – 7:50 PM — Philip José Farmer and Robert Bloch (Mike Croteau of Meteor House)

7:50 – 8:00 PM — Intermission

8:00 – 8:40 PM — 100 Years with the Author of Psycho: Robert Bloch (Garyn Roberts)

8:40 – 8:50 PM — Pulp-Pourri Theatre Presents Robert Leslie Bellem, a Dan Turner Reading

8:50 – 9:30 PM — Hardboiled and Dangerous: The Many Characters of Erle Stanley Gardner (Jeffrey Marks)

9:30 – 9:40 PM — Intermission

9:40 – 10:20 PM — Hardboiled Dicks: A Look at DIME DETECTIVE MAGAZINE (Matt Moring)

10:20 – 10:30 PM — Philip José Farmer’s Most Dangerous Dame — Win Scott Eckert Reads from THE SCARLET JAGUAR

10:30 – 10:55 PM — The Dangerous Dames of Maxwell Grant: Myra Reldon, Margo Lane, and Carrie Cashin (Will Murray)

11:00 – 11:30 PM — Pulp-Pourri Theatre Presents “Return to the Sabbath,” a WEIRD Audio Play by Robert Bloch

Pulp-Pourri Theatre Presents “Return to the Sabbath”

Jun 10, 2017 by

For the last week or so, PulpFest‘s web posts have been discussing this year’s celebration of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Robert Bloch. The author of more than 200 stories, nearly thirty novels, and a large number of non-fiction articles, screenplays, and teleplays, Bloch got his start as a writing professional in the pulp magazines that are celebrated each summer at PulpFest.

Bloch discovered the pulp magazines in 1927, courtesy of his Aunt Lil. As he wrote in his autobiography, ONCE AROUND THE BLOCH: “And it was thus that I was introduced to a magazine which changed my life, my very first copy of WEIRD TALES. . . .”

It was through that magazine that Robert Bloch began a correspondence with the author H. P. Lovecraft. At the urging of “The Old Gentleman” — as Lovecraft called himself — Bloch began to write fiction. Before long, the young man was a published author: “But in July, 1934, less than a month after graduating from high school, I received a letter of acceptance for my story. . . . I had suddenly and almost miraculously become a professional writer, a contributor for the very magazine which published the work of my favorite author and present pen pal. . . .”

Robert Bloch’s early fiction was strongly influenced by Lovecraft and his “Cthulhu Mythos.” Bloch even made Lovecraft a central character in “The Shambler from the Stars,” published in the September 1935 WEIRD TALES. He also created two of the often cited texts of the Mythos, Ludwig Prinn’s DE VERMIS MYSTERIIS and Comte d’Erlette’s CULTES DES GOULES.

Following Lovecraft’s death in 1937, Bloch continued writing for WEIRD TALES. He became one of the magazine’s most popular authors, appearing in its pages nearly seventy times. Perhaps his best known tale for “The Unique Magazine” is “Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper,” published in the July 1943 number.

Whereas Lovecraft’s later fiction took on science fictional overtones, Bloch’s WEIRD TALES fiction was, by and large, ground in horror and the supernatural. For instance, from 1936 through 1938, a number of the author’s stories — “Fane of the Black Pharaoh,” “The Eyes of the Mummy,” “Beetles,” and others — were probably inspired by the 1932 Boris Karloff film, THE MUMMY. Others explored such horror motifs as voodoo, wax museums, and black magic. Robert Bloch’s “Return to the Sabbath,” originally published in WEIRD TALES for July 1938, is an example of the latter.

Originally published under Bloch’s Tarleton Fiske pseudonym, “Return to the Sabbath” was published when the author was twenty-one. Narrated in the first person by a Hollywood public relations man, it’s the story of a European actor brought to the United States to star in a satanic horror film. But the actor — who had dabbled in devil worship himself — disappears after he learns that a former colleague has been murdered in Paris by cultists. Bloch’s story was later adapted and filmed for television as “The Sign of Satan.” It aired on THE ALFRED HITCHCOCK HOUR in 1964.

On Friday, July 28, at 11 PM, PulpFest 2017 welcomes the Narada Radio Company and their PULP-POURRI THEATRE to this summer’s convention. The group will be dramatizing Robert Bloch’s “Return to the Sabbath” in the old radio-play format. Based in Corpus Christi, PULP-POURRI THEATRE is an audio drama anthology series that has its origins in vintage pulp fiction, but presents its stories in the modern way. Pete Lutz is the company’s producer-director. You can sample their work online or via iTunes.

According to Narada’s Pete Lutz:

My life’s dream has been to create “radio” plays and be an actor in them. I was looking at copies of pulp magazine covers and followed a link to scans of pulp stories. I started reading them and immediately began to mentally dramatize them for audio. My wife came up with the name PULP-POURRI THEATRE. I feel this hints at the wide variety of pulp genres available. The possibilities are endless. There are thousands of pulp-fiction stories available. Action becomes dialogue. Narration becomes action. Once the last voice is “in the can”, I start production. Voices get cobbled together first, and then I add music and sound effects. Then I listen to it a half-dozen times to make sure I haven’t overlooked anything.

PULP-POURRI THEATRE embraces the thrilling world of pulp fiction from the last century. We present audio dramas with a few modern touches, such as full sound design. We bring you the most exciting stories from the finest pulp writers. We also throw in an occasional new story from a guest playwright.

The PulpFest 2017 cast of Narada Radio Company’s PULP-POURRI THEATRE will be Austin and Barbi Beach, Ross Bernhardt, Randy Coull, Derek, Keane, and Pete Lutz, and Greg and Rhiannon McAfee. Please join them at PulpFest 2017 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 celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of PSYCHO author Robert Bloch at the “pop culture center of the universe” called PulpFest 2017.

(Robert Bloch’s “Return to the Sabbath” originally ran in the July 1938 issue of WEIRD TALES, featuring front cover art by the great pulp and fantasy artist, Virgil Finlay. The artist got his start during the Great Depression when he sent unsolicited illustrations to his favorite pulp magazine, WEIRD TALES. In addition to “The Unique Magazine,” he also contributed interior illustrations and covers to AMAZING STORIES, ASTOUNDING STORIES, CAPTAIN FUTURE, FAMOUS FANTASTIC MYSTERIES FANTASTIC ADVENTURES, FANTASTIC NOVELS, GALAXY, STRANGE STORIES, SUPER SCIENCE STORIES, THRILLING WONDER STORIES, WORLDS OF TOMORROW, and other pulps and digests. Even today, Finlay remains one of the most highly regarded and collected artists in the fields of science fiction and fantasy.

Pete Lutz, the producer-director for the Narada Radio Company, used the August 1942 cover of SPICY ADVENTURE STORIES as the basis for his PULP-POURRI THEATRE advertisement. The artist is H. J. Ward, who painted many covers for the Spicy line of pulp magazines. For a great overview of this artist’s career, we suggest you track down a copy of David Saunders’ book H. J. WARD, published by The Illustrated Press in 2010.)

Robert Bloch — Renaissance Man of the Fantastic

May 22, 2017 by

This year marks the hundredth anniversary of the birth of Robert Bloch. The author of more than 200 stories, nearly thirty novels, and a large number of non-fiction articles, screenplays, and teleplays, Bloch got his start as a writing professional in the pulp magazines that are celebrated each summer at PulpFest.

During a long and productive career, Robert Bloch received a Hugo Award, the World Fantasy Life Achievement Award, the World Science Fiction Convention Special Lifetime Career Award, the Bram Stoker Award, and the World Horror Convention Grand Master Award. He also served as the president of the Mystery Writers of America in 1970 – 71. He was also the first Guest of Honor at a World Science Fiction Convention outside the United States, and the Guest of Honor at the first Bouchercon and the first World Fantasy Convention. Along with Hugh B. Cave, Robert Bloch was the Guest of Honor at Pulpcon 12.

When asked what he considered to be the highlights of his career, Robert Bloch replied: “My first sales — of a short story, of a novel . . . the sale of PSYCHO to films and its subsequent success. But the most satisfying and memorable moments have come with the conventions where I was invited to appear as guest of honor, the winning of various awards . . . the continuing interest of fans . . .”

Following Bloch’s death in 1994, the late Frank Robinson wrote: “He was a journeyman writer and entertainer, and had more experience in various writing forms — from political speeches to advertising to short stories, novels, articles, teleplays, and film scripts — than probably any other genre writer. But all of his stories, all of his movies, and all of his teleplays didn’t account for the feelings of affection that both fans and writers felt for him. . . . Robert Bloch was a man without malice. Almost everyone who met him sensed that, and almost everybody who met him loved him for it. It was impossible not to.”

Beginning at 8 PM on Friday, July 28, PulpFest 2017 will pay tribute to Robert Bloch. Join Professor Garyn G. Roberts for “100 Years with the Author of PSYCHO,” an illustrated survey of the life and times of Robert Bloch. This presentation will showcase many landmark events in the life of this writers’ writer, and will provide some little known details about this master of the pulpwoods and other popular media. Though he never met the author in person, Professor Roberts maintained a prolific, ongoing correspondence with Bloch until writer’s passing in 1994.

In Garyn’s words: “The story of our relationship via the mail means a great deal to me.  Though we never met in person, Mr. Bloch and I kept up a voracious correspondence to the point that I think I can call him a ‘friend.’ Particularly in the last months of his life, Mr. Bloch approached me and said that he wanted to send me some unique materials that I could incorporate into a book about him. I was tremendously honored that he chose me for this privilege, based on my previous publications of biographic history. He sent photos from Hollywood, unpublished writings, answers to interview questions and more, including an introduction for the book. He had also cleared all the rights for reprinting these for me. I am convinced that no twentieth century writer was more loved than Robert Bloch. Though under-appreciated in his time, many of us love him to this day. More than a very talented writer, Robert Bloch was a good man and a dear friend.”

Garyn G. Roberts, Ph.D., is a college and university professor. He holds multiple literary and teaching awards. Roberts was born in northern Wisconsin, 100 miles north of Plainfield, where serial killer Ed Gein’s atrocities occurred. When Gein’s activities were discovered in late 1957, Roberts’ father was hunting. To this day, Roberts’ mother recounts how frightened she was at home alone in the Wisconsin woods — a 23-year- old newlywed — when the news from Plainfield broke. Robert Bloch’s classic novel, PSYCHO, was inspired by the Ed Geins murders.

PulpFest 2017 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 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 celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of PSYCHO author Robert Bloch at the “pop culture center of the universe” called PulpFest 2017.

(Two of Robert Bloch’s major pulp markets were WEIRD TALES and the Ziff-Davis magazines, including AMAZING STORIES and FANTASTIC ADVENTURES.

Between 1935 and 1952, Bloch published nearly seventy stories in “The Unique Magazine,” including “The Cheaters” in the November 1947 issue. It featured cover art by Matt Fox. A cartoonist, illustrator, comic book and advertising artist, watercolorist, painter, and graphic artist, with lithographs, woodcuts, and etchings to his credit, Fox painted eleven covers for WEIRD TALES and also contributed interior illustrations to the magazine. He also worked for Marvel Comics during the 1950s.

After Robert Bloch published “The Man Who Collected Poe” in the October 1951 issue of FAMOUS FANTASTIC MYSTERIES, he was asked to complete Poe’s unfinished story, “The Lighthouse.” Published in the January 1953 issue of FANTASTIC — with cover art by Robert Frankenberg — Bloch was extremely proud that very few people could tell where Poe left off and he began.)

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Robert Bloch’s PSYCHO: SANITARIUM

May 19, 2017 by

To the fans of pulp and genre fiction, Robert Bloch is known as the author of the classic, “Your’s Truly, Jack the Ripper,” the Lefty Feep stories for FANTASTIC ADVENTURES, his Lovecraft-inspired tales such as “The Shambler from the Stars” and “The Shadow from the Steeple,” and “That Hell-Bound Train,” a short story for which he received a Hugo Award in 1959. Mr. Bloch also served as a Pulpcon guest of honor in 1983.

To the world at large, Robert Bloch is best known as the author of PSYCHO, the novel that became the basis for Alfred Hitchcock’s classic film of the same name. And so, to help celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Mr. Bloch, PulpFest has asked author Chet Williamson to read from his novel, PSYCHO: SANITARIUM.

“The original PSYCHO novel by Robert Bloch was published in 1959 and became an instant hit, leading to the smash movie only a year later. It brought Norman Bates’s terrifying story into the public consciousness, where it still remains (proved by the success of the TV series BATES MOTEL). It took Bloch twenty-three years to write another PSYCHO novel, revealing that Norman had been in a mental institution the entire time. In that sequel, Norman quickly escapes the sanitarium and goes on a killing spree in Hollywood.

But what happened in that asylum during those two decades? Until now no one has known.

Chet Williamson’s parents took him to see the film of Robert Bloch’s PSYCHO when he was twelve, and he has been a reader and disciple of Bloch ever since. His stories have appeared in THE NEW YORKER, PLAYBOY, and many other magazines and anthologies. A collection of his stories received the International Horror Guild Award. He has twice been a final nominee for the World Fantasy Award and the Mystery Writers of America’s Edgar Award, and six times for the Horror Writers of America’s Stoker Award. A professional writer and actor, he has narrated more than thirty audiobooks.”

On Thursday, July 27, at 9:10 PM, Chet Williamson will read from his novel, PSYCHO: SANITARIUM at PulpFest 2017. It’s part of our salute to the life and work of Robert Bloch.

Join us July 27 – 30 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Cranberry, just north of Pennsylvania’s “Steel City” of Pittsburgh. To register for PulpFest 2017, please click the Register for 2017 button just below the PulpFest home page banner. To book a room at the DoubleTree by Hilton — our host hotel — click one of the Book a Room buttons likewise located on the PulpFest home page.

Start planning now to attend PulpFest 2017 and join hundreds of pulp and genre fiction fans and art lovers at the pop-culture center of the universe. You’ll have a maddening time, especially if you’re planning to stay at the DoubleTree! We look forward to seeing you.

(The quotes used in this post come from the dust jacket to PSYCHO: SANITARIUM, published in 2016 by Thomas Dunne Books, an imprint of St. Martin’s Press. The jack was designed by Ervin Serrano.)

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Philip José Farmer and Robert Bloch

May 17, 2017 by

Back in early April, we noted the 100th anniversary of the birth of Robert Bloch, best remembered for his novel PSYCHO. The author of more than 200 stories, nearly thirty novels, and a large number of non-fiction articles, screenplays, and teleplays, Bloch got his start as a writing professional in the pulp magazines that are celebrated each summer at PulpFest. At this year’s convention, we’ll be celebrating “100 Years of Robert Bloch” with a number of presentations.

One of our Bloch presentations will feature FarmerCon founder Michael Croteau, creator of Philip José Farmer’s Official Home Page and the publisher at Meteor House. Mike will be discussing Robert Bloch’s relationship with Grand Master of Science Fiction Philip José Farmer. In addition to being accomplished writers, both men were frequent guests and attendees at various science fiction and fantasy conventions. It was at the 1952 World Science Fiction Convention in Chicago that they struck up their long-lasting friendship.

Bloch — who was well known for his tongue-in-cheek sense of humor — often served as the toastmaster at convention banquets. At the 31st World Science Fiction Convention, held in 1973 in Toronto, Ontario, Bloch quipped:

“Then of course we have Philip José Farmer, one of the greatest innovators in our field, who stripped away much of the prudery and phoney taboos. More than twenty years ago Philip José Farmer dared to do what no one had ever done before. He wrote ‘The Lovers,’ a story in which a man had sexual relations with an insect. You might call it science fiction’s first case of buggery.” Greeted by groans from his audience, Bloch continued, “You hear that, Phil? That’s how the public is. Last year they give you a Hugo; this year they boo your name.”

Using photographs and other materials from the Farmer estate, Michael will regale PulpFest evening programming attendees with tales of the friendship between these two writers of science fiction and fantasy. Please join us on Friday, July 28, at 7:30 PM for “Philip José Farmer and Robert Bloch,” featuring FarmerCon‘s Michael Croteau. It’s all part of PulpFest 2017 and FarmerCon XII at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Cranberry, just north of Pennsylvania’s “Steel City” of Pittsburgh. To register for both conventions, please click the Register for 2017 button just below the PulpFest home page banner. To book a room at the DoubleTree by Hilton — our host hotel — click one of the Book a Room buttons likewise located on the PulpFest home page.

Start planning now to attend PulpFest 2017 and FarmerCon XII and join hundreds of pulp fiction and Philip José Farmer fans at the pop-culture center of the universe. You’ll have a maddening time, especially if you’re planning to stay at the DoubleTree! We look forward to seeing you from July 27 – 30.

(Not only did Farmer and Bloch cross paths at science fiction conventions, they sometimes met up in the pages of books and magazines. Although he rarely submitted a truly “weird tale,” Farmer’s “The Freshman,” originally published in the May 1979 issue of THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY & SCIENCE FICTION, owes a substantial debt to H. P. Lovecraft, who mentored Robert Bloch as a writer. In that same issue is Bloch’s short story, “Freak Show.” It concerns a traveling side show that appears unexpectedly at the Goober City Fairgrounds. David Hardy contributed the issue’s cover. An artist and illustrator from the United Kingdom, his work has appeared in ANALOG, IF, GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION, SCIENCE FICTION MONTHLY, VISION OF TOMORROW, and many issues of THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY & SCIENCE FICTION.)

One Hundred Years of Robert Bloch

Apr 3, 2017 by

Born one-hundred years ago on April 5, 1917, Robert Bloch is best remembered for his novel PSYCHO,  which became the basis for Alfred Hitchcock’s classic film of the same name. The author of more than 200 stories, nearly thirty novels, and a large number of non-fiction articles, screenplays, and teleplays, Bloch got his start as a writing professional in the pulp magazines that are celebrated each summer at PulpFest.

Born in Chicago, Bloch was a precocious child who developed an early interest in vaudeville and theater, as well as storytelling and reading. According to his autobiography, ONCE AROUND THE BLOCH:

Sometime late in the summer of 1927 the family, accompanied by my father’s sister, entered Chicago’s Northwestern Railroad Station to entrain for a suburban destination. Where we were going eludes memory, and it’s not important. What matters is that we passed the huge magazine stand in the terminal.

Here literally hundreds of periodicals — including the then-popular weekly and monthly “pulp” magazines — were ranked in gaudy array. Row after row of garish covers caught the eye; comparatively respectable offerings like ARGOSY, BLUE BOOK, ALL-STORY, and ADVENTURE competed for attention with scores of titles featuring romance, mystery, detective stories, westerns, and every variety of sports. There were even pulps devoted exclusively to railroad yarns, pirates, and WWI air combat. I stared at them, fascinated by this abundance of riches.

It was then that Aunt Lil, with her usual generosity, offered to buy me a magazine to read during the train journey. Scanning titles and covers, I stood poised in delicious indecision. Here was a mustached member of the French Foreign Legion battling a bearded Arab armed with a wicked-looking scimitar . . . beside it, an Indian chief preparing to discharge a flaming arrow at an ambushed wagon train . . . directly overhead, a helpless maiden struggling in the clutches of a gigantic gorilla whose glaring red eyes indicated his zooreastic intentions. Salivating, I surveyed this feast of literature. For a dime I could devour the exploits of a master detective; fifteen cents whould satisfy my appetite for mutiny on the high seas; twenty cents might gorge me with a huge helping of Secret Service operatives foiling the hellish Huns who presumably had substituted a bomb for the torch held by the Statue of Liberty.

But in the face of these attractions, what more might be offered for an entire quarter?

That price was imprinted on the cover of a magazine featuring a cloaked, bearded, evil-looking man confronting a recumbent, half-naked girl clad in Oriental garb against a background of Egyptian hieroglyphs. The featured story was “The Bride of Osiris,” by one Otis Adelbert Kline.

Snatching the magazine from the rack, I paged through it quickly, noting such promising titles as “Satan’s Fiddle,” “Creeping Shadows,” “The Phantom Photoplay” and “The Man with a Thousand Legs.”

That did it. “This is the one I want,” I said.

And it was thus that I was introduced to a magazine which changed my life, my very first copy of WEIRD TALES. . . .

What my parents thought of my taste remains unclear to me. Although they seemed uninterested in reading my favorite magazine they offered no objections to cover illustrations of damsels in various stages of distress and undress, and continued to supply me with quarters for monthly issues. . . . to me personally WEIRD TALES became a sort of non-theological BOOK OF REVELATION. What it revealed was that fantastic fiction was not necessarily the work of long-deceased authors like Poe, Hawthorne or de Maupassant; its prose and poetry were not entombed in pages from the past. Death was alive and well and living in Chicago.

By far the most horrifying concept, and to me the most convincing, was an account of ghouls feasting in their burrows below the cemeteries and subways of modern Boston. The story, “Pickman’s Model,” was credited to one H. P. Lovecraft, and I made a mental note to remember both the title and the name of the author. . . . By cutting down on my consumption of carbohydrates, borrowing streetcar passes and confining motion picture attendance to nights when tickets were ten or fifteen cents, I managed to keep the necessary quarter in reserve for the next issue of WEIRD TALES. . . . my addiction to the work of H. P. Lovecraft increased. . . . A Lovecraft junkie, I was hungry for more highs. What could I do?

As it has so frequently during a long lifetime, sheer stupidity came to my rescue. I sat down and . . . scrawled out a letter to Mr. Lovecraft care of the magazine. Identifying myself as an ardent fan (and a brash, presumptuous teenage idiot), I inquired if he might inform me as to where I could locate some of his stories presently out of print.

Thus began a friendship between the young Bloch and “The Old Gentleman.”

I had become a regular correspondent . . . a member of what was later styled the Lovecraft Circle — a group of friends and fans, many of whom were themselves writers or aspired to be. . . . Quite early in our correspondence HPL suggested I might be interested in trying my own hand at writing with an eye to publication. . . . And since Lovecraft’s suggestion generously included his willingness to inspect my efforts, what more did I need. . . . I trained my sights on the most obvious and visible target, WEIRD TALES. Instead of bombarding them with contributions, I took careful aim before shooting off a story in their direction. . . . Why a battle-scarred veteran of longtime literary warfare would notice the feeble dud I delivered remains a mystery to this very day. But in July, 1934, less than a month after graduating from high school, I received a letter of acceptance for my story. . . . I had suddenly and almost miraculously become a professional writer, a contributor for the very magazine which published the work of my favorite author and present pen pal. . . .

By the end of 1935, Robert Bloch began to sell on a frequent and regular basis to WEIRD TALES. Between that first 1934 sale and the demise of the publication in 1954, he sold nearly seventy stories to “The Unique Magazine.” Having started his career as a mimic of his Lovecraft, his writing gradually took on more psychological overtones and often a sense of humor. He began to branch out in 1939, selling fiction to AMAZING STORIES, STRANGE STORIES, and UNKNOWN. The forties found him contributing to DETECTIVE TALES, DIME MYSTERY MAGAZINE, FANTASTIC ADVENTURES, MAMMOTH DETECTIVE, NEW DETECTIVE, SUPER SCIENCE STORIES, THRILLING MYSTERY, and others. His best-known story of this period, “Yours Truly – Jack the Ripper” — published in the July 1943 WEIRD TALES — led to an assignment writing scripts for a radio program called STAY TUNED FOR TERROR.

It was also during the 1940s that Robert Bloch became a regular attendee of science fiction conventions. In 1948, he was invited to be the professional guest of honor for the World Science Fiction Convention, held in Toronto, the first truly international event of its kind. In 1954, at the San Francisco Worldcon, he met Samuel Peeples, a longtime pulp fan and Hollywood writer. It was this friendship that led to Bloch venturing to Hollywood, where Peeples helped him land an assignment with the television show LOCK-UP. Bloch was soon writing for other series, including ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS, THRILLER, TRUE, and WHISPERING SMITH. In later years, he would contribute to THE GIRL FROM U.N.C.L.E., I SPY, NIGHT GALLERY, STAR TREK, TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE, and others. Bloch would also write the screenplays for THE CABINET OF CALIGARI, THE NIGHT WALKER, THE SKULL, THE HOUSE THAT DRIPPED BLOOD, and other films. He died on September 23, 1994 in Los Angeles, California.

PulpFest 2017 will celebrate the 100th anniversary of Robert Bloch’s birth with several special presentations. On Thursday, July 27, author Chet Williamson will read from his novel, Robert Bloch’s PSYCHO: SANITARIUM. Mr. Williamson was the guest of honor at PulpFest 2015. Garyn Roberts — who engaged in an extensive correspondence with Robert Bloch — will discuss the author and his works on Friday, July 28. Professor Roberts — who is working on a Robert Bloch biography — will be sharing rare and landmark material from throughout the author’s life. Garyn was honored with our Munsey Award in 2013.

There will be two other Bloch presentations on Friday evening. First, Michael Croteau, creator of Philip José Farmer’s Official Home Page and one of the founders of both FarmerCon and Meteor House, will do a short presentation on Robert Bloch’s relationship with Grand Master of Science Fiction Philip José Farmer. To close the evening, the Narada Radio Company and PULP-POURRI THEATRE will present a mock radio drama of Bloch’s “Return to the Sabbath,” originally published in the July 1938 WEIRD TALES. PULP-POURRI THEATRE is an all-new audio drama anthology series that has its origins in vintage pulp fiction, but presents its stories in the modern way. Pete Lutz is the company’s producer-director. You can sample their work online or via iTunes.

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 celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of PSYCHO author Robert Bloch at the “pop culture center of the universe” called PulpFest 2017.

(Released in 1960, Alfred Hitchcock’s PSYCHO is considered to be a masterpiece of suspense. This classic film was based on Robert Bloch’s novel of the same name, originally published in 1959 by Simon and Schuster. Hitchcock’s film was nominated for four academy awards and helped its author to achieve fame and fortune, largely through his work in television and motion pictures.

Robert Bloch — who got his start as a writing professional working for the pulps — first discovered the rough-paper magazines through the August 1927 issue of WEIRD TALES, featuring front cover art by Hugh Rankin. A newspaper illustrator, Rankin began working for WEIRD TALES in 1927, doing the vast majority of the magazine’s interior illustrations during the late twenties and all of its covers, beginning with the July 1927 number. He continued as the pulp’s sole cover artist through the February 1931 issue. Afterward, he began sharing the cover with such artists as C. C. Senf, J. Allen St. John, and Margaret Brundage. Rankin continued to paint covers for WEIRD TALES into 1936.

Bloch’s fourth published story — “The Shambler from the Stars” — was not only dedicated to his writing mentor, H. P. Lovecraft, but also featured “The Old Gentleman” as an important character. Published in the September 1935 issue of WEIRD TALES and featuring cover art by Margaret Brundage, the story concerns a would-be writer who obtains a copy of an occult volume known as DE VERMIS MYSTERIIS. He takes the forbidden volume to a Providence-based mystic who, in his excitement, calls down an invisible, vampiric monster. Bloch’s tale would lead Lovecraft to write “The Haunter of the Dark,” published in the December 1936 WEIRD TALES. It was dedicated to Robert Bloch and featured a character named “Robert Blake.”

Following a write-up in the Milwaukee papers in 1935, the new author was invited to join The Milwaukee Fictioneers. A professional writers’ group, its membership also included pulp writers Fredric Brown, Ralph Milne Farley, Lawrence Keating, Ray Palmer, and Stanley G. Weinbaum. Soon after assuming the editorship of AMAZING STORIES in 1938, Palmer would publish Robert Bloch’s first science fiction story,“Secret of the Observatory.” Bloch would author a substantial number of stories for Palmer’s AMAZING STORIES, FANTASTIC ADVENTURES, and OTHER WORLDS SCIENCE STORIES, including “It’s a Small World,” the cover story for the March 1944 AMAZING, featuring artwork by J. Allen St. John.

Although PSYCHO is certainly Robert Bloch’s most famous novel, his first book-length work, THE SCARF — originally published in 1947 by Dial Press — is considered by many critics to be his best work. According to Cullen Gallagher, “It tells the story of a writer . . . who uses real women as models for his characters. But as soon as he is done writing the story, he is compelled to murder them, and always the same way: with the maroon scarf he has had since childhood.” One of the finest editions of THE SCARF is Avon’s 1952 paperback reprint of the work, featuring a beautiful cover by Charles Binger.)

Hardboiled Dicks, Dangerous Dames, and a Few Psychos III

Dec 5, 2016 by

doctor-death-35-02Beginning with its first convention in 2009, PulpFest has drawn countless raves from pop culture enthusiasts. Planned as the summertime destination for fans and collectors of vintage popular fiction and related materials, PulpFest seeks to honor pulp fiction and pulp art by drawing attention to the many ways they have inspired writers, artists, film directors, software developers, game designers, and other creators over the decades. That’s why PulpFest is renowned for its fantastic dealers’ room and wide range of interesting and entertaining programming. So what will be happening at PulpFest 2017?

Back in October, we told you about the hardboiled dicks that transformed the traditional mystery story into the tough guy (and gal) crime fiction that remains popular to this very day. In November, we focused on the dangerous dames of the pulps, the hardboiled ladies who helped to pave the way for such modern day gumshoes as Sue Grafton‘s Kinsey Millhone, Marcia Muller‘s Sharon McCone, and Sara Paretsky‘s V. I. Warshawski. This month we turn our attention to the psychos of the pulps.

Perhaps the most famous fictional “psycho” of them all is Norman Bates, the insane killer portrayed by Anthony Perkins in PSYCHOThis classic film — directed by Alfred Hitchcock — was based on a 1959 novel written by Robert Bloch. The author, born on April 5, 1917, got his start as a writing professional in the pulps. His first sale was made to his favorite pulp magazine, WEIRD TALES. Over the years, Bloch’s and Hitchcock’s “psycho” has served to inspire similar characters in popular culture.

terror-tales-40-03Like Bloch’s PSYCHO, the pulps were a breeding ground for madness. On a monthly basis, mad scientists, crazed hunchbacks, and foul cultists would threaten beautiful women with bodily injury and “fates worse than death” in the pages of weird menace magazines such as TERROR TALES and HORROR STORIES. Over in the hero pulps, New York City’s population would be decimated by one madman after another in the pages of THE SPIDERAmerica’s Secret Service Ace, Jimmy Christopher, would save America from tyrant after tyrant in OPERATOR #5. The Shadow would battle Shiwan Khan and Benedict Stark, while Doc Savage had his hands full with John Sunlight.

Eventually, the pulp publishers tested their marketing skills as they introduced “villain” pulps: DOCTOR DEATH, DR. YEN SIN, THE OCTOPUS, THE SCORPION, and THE MYSTERIOUS WU FANG. Although these series were all short-lived, they helped to popularize the concept of the diabolic madman. PulpFest will be celebrating both the hundredth anniversary of Robert Bloch’s birth and some of the psychos of the pulps at our next convention.

Start planning to attend PulpFest 2017 and its celebration of pulp fiction and pulp art. Join us next July outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania as we explore “Hardboiled Dicks, Dangerous Dames, and a Few Psychos.” Meanwhile, stay tuned to PulpFest.com for news on our “New Fictioneers” readings, Saturday Night Auction, and much more.  We’ll have a new post each and every Monday in the weeks ahead. So visit often to learn all about PulpFest 2017, one of the largest and most popular pulp cons of the year!

(Doctor Death was first introduced in a series of stories credited to Edward P. Norris that appeared in Dell Publications’ ALL DETECTIVE. When that title was cancelled in 1935, it was replaced by a new pulp focusing on an arch villain. Entitled DOCTOR DEATH, the magazine lasted for a total of three issues. It’s first number — dated February 1935 — featured front cover art by Rudolph Zirm, a freelance artist who contributed a few dozen pulp covers to various publishers over a period of six years.

In the three Doctor Death pulp novels — all written by Harold Ward — Doctor Death is Rance Mandarin, “a master of the occult with an insane hatred of scientific progress and industrialization. He believes it is his mission to return the world to a blissful primitive state, which he attempts to do with the aid of zombies, elementals, dissolution rays and communist heavies.”

More wild pulp villainy could be found in such weird menace magazines as TERROR TALES, SPICY MYSTERY STORIES, and HORROR STORIES. Such titles often featured beautiful women threatened by terrors unimaginable — including the March 1940 TERROR TALES — also painted by Rudolph Zirm.)

Happy Halloween from PulpFest

Oct 31, 2016 by

dime-detective-32-05

From ghoulies and ghosties
And long-leggedy beasties
And things that go bump in the night,
Good Lord, deliver us . . . to PulpFest 2017!

As part of its celebration of “Hardboiled Dicks, Dangerous Dames, and a Few Psychos,” PulpFest will be honoring the 100th anniversary of the birth of Robert Bloch, author of PSYCHO. The convention is pleased to announce that the Narada Radio Company will be bringing their Pulp-Pourri Theatre to next summer’s PulpFest. The group will be dramatizing Bloch’s “Return to the Sabbath,” a short story that originally appeared in the July 1938 WEIRD TALES. Based in Corpus Christi, Pulp-Pourri Theatre is an all-new audio drama anthology series that has its origins in vintage pulp fiction, but presents its stories in the modern way. Pete Lutz is the company’s producer-director. You can sample their work online or via iTunes.

Additionally, PulpFest is planning to have presentations on DIME DETECTIVE, the villains of THE SHADOW MAGAZINE, “The Dangerous Dames of Kenneth Robeson,” Hollywood detective Dan Turner, Señorita Scorpion and the Domino LadyPhilip José Farmer, and much more.

We’ll keep you informed about all  of these exciting topics through our website and social media sites. So please be sure to bookmark PulpFest.com and visit at least once a week. We’ll be offering a new post every Monday morning around 9 AM, eastern time. Alternately, you can read our posts via our facebook site or catch our tweets by following us via our Twitter page.

(Debuting with its November 1931 number, DIME DETECTIVE MAGAZINE was one of the leaders in its fiction category. Part of the reason for its success was its great artwork. William Reusswig painted the covers for the first 37 issues of the Popular Publications pulp, including the May 1932 issue. Reusswig sold freelance pulp covers to general fiction magazines such as ARGOSY, SHORT STORIES and ADVENTURE and contributed cover art for the detective, war, and western genre magazines. Additionally, he illustrated stories for COSMOPOLITAN, LIBERTY, OUTDOOR LIFE, THE SATURDAY EVENING POST, SPORTS AFIELD, and other magazines.)

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Weird Editing at “The Unique Magazine”

Jun 24, 2015 by

Weird Tales 23-03Almost one-hundred and twenty-five years ago, on August 20, 1880, Howard Phillips Lovecraft was born in Providence, Rhode Island. According to the late Robert Bloch, author of PSYCHO, Lovecraft was, “A precocious child, he learned to read when he was four and soon experimented with writing. Poor health kept him from college and economic necessity eventually caused him to neglect amateur journalism in favor of ghostwriting or revising the work of others for professional publication. Gradually he began to produce poetry and fiction of his own.” His “career as a professional writer was largely compressed into a span of about sixteen years. He remained virtually unknown except to the limited readership of pulp magazines such as WEIRD TALES in which his work appeared. It earned only a pitiful pittance to supplement the income from a meager inheritance, and he continued his anonymous chores for other writers.”

Bloch continues: “Today Lovecraft is established as a major American fantasy writer, frequently ranked as the equal of Poe. His work is in print here and abroad and the mild-mannered, old-fashioned, conservative New England gentleman has become an acknowledged master of horror fiction.” What then should be made of this magazine that earned “The Copernicus of the horror story,” as author Fritz Leiber described Lovecraft, “a pitiful pittance to supplement the income from a meager inheritance?”

WEIRD TALES was the first periodical to be largely devoted to the fantasy genre. Premiering in early 1923, its publishers envisioned “The Unique Magazine” as a place for a writer to be given “free rein to express his innermost feelings in a manner befitting great literature.” It began to come into its own in late 1924 after Farnsworth Wright was named the magazine’s editor. In the years ahead, the pulp would become known for its fantasy and supernatural fiction, publishing the work of Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, and Clark Ashton Smith. Other substantial writers included Bloch, E. Hoffmann Price, Carl Jacobi, Henry Kuttner, Frank Belknap Long, C. L. Moore, Seabury Quinn, Manly Wade Wellman, Henry S. Whitehead, and others. WEIRD TALES would also become noted for its artists: Hannes Bok, Margaret Brundage, J. Allen St. John, and Virgil Finlay all contributed tremendously to the fantasy art field through their work for “The Unique Magazine.”

In addition to publishing some of the best fantasy and supernatural fiction of the twentieth century, WEIRD TALES, like the Munsey magazines, featured science fiction in its pages, offering tales of interplanetary expeditions, brain transference, death rays, lost races, parallel worlds, and more. Edmond Hamilton was its leading contributor of science fiction. With stories about alien invasions, space police, and evolution gone wild, the author became known as “world-wrecker” Hamilton. Other notable science fiction authors to appear in WEIRD TALES were Ray Cummings, Austin Hall, Otis Adelbert Kline, Moore, Donald Wandrei, and Jack Williamson. In his later years, H. P. Lovecraft spun his own style of science fiction in his tales of cosmic horror.

Weird Tales 42-03The original run of WEIRD TALES began with its March 1923 number, with Edwin Baird as the editor, and ran through its September 1954 issue, for a total of 279 issues. During this period, it was perhaps the most important and influential of all fantasy magazines, providing an outlet for stories that probably would not have been published elsewhere. This was especially true during the Wright years when it published many of Lovecraft’s most influential works; introduced the sword-and-sorcery genre through Robert E. Howard’s stories of Kull, Solomon Kane, Bran Mak Morn, and Conan; shared Clark Ashton Smith’s wonderfully evocative stories of Hyperboria, Averoigne, and Zothique; and featured the early work of artists Hannes Bok, Margaret Brundage, and Virgil Finlay. As pulp scholar Robert Weinberg has written, “It was in WEIRD TALES . . . that traditions were broken . . . . that unusual writing and poetry was featured. The outrageous and the ordinary mingled side by side in the magazine . . . It was a magazine where anything might find a home.”

Although Wright did indeed publish some rather substantial stories during his editorship — including Lovecraft’s “The Call of Cthulhu,” “The Whisperer in Darkness,” and “The Haunter of the Dark;” Howard’s “The Tower of the Elephant,” “A Witch Shall Be Born,” “Pigeons from Hell,” and “Red Nails;” C. L. Moore’s “Schambleau” and Jirel stories; Clark Ashton Smith’s “A Rendezvous in Averoigne,” “The Vaults of Yoh-Vombis,” and “Genius Loci;” Henry S. Whitehead’s “Jumbee,” and many others — he was, at the same time, rejecting a great deal of fine work. H. P. Lovecraft was told that “At the Mountains of Madness,” was “too long,” “not easily divisible into parts,” and “not convincing.” “The Shadow over Innsmouth” was rejected for similar reasons. Both have since become recognized as classics. In a letter addressed to Lee Alexander Stone in 1930, Lovecraft wrote: “Henry S. Whitehead . . . says that Wright uniformly rejects his best stories. Very like Wright — whose bland dumbness transcends my utmost limits of comprehension.” In a letter to Richard Searight, written in 1935, Lovecraft summarized his feelings about Wright by stating, “His capricious editorial policy does give me a large-sized cervical pain! He has consistently turned down my best work . . . on the ground of length, while at the same time taking far longer things (for the most part utter tripe) from others. It is clear to me that he does not like my work, no matter what he says to the contrary.”

Howard, Smith, and others experienced similar rejections. In a letter mailed to Wright about a year before his tragic suicide, Robert E. Howard stated, “WEIRD TALES owes me over eight hundred dollars for stories already published and supposed to be paid for on publication — enough to pay all my debts and get back on my feet again.” Some scholars have suggested that Wright’s sometimes difficult stance taken with his best writers may have contributed to the early deaths of Howard and Lovecraft and the premature end of Smith’s writing career.

As part of its celebration of the 125th anniversary of the birth of H. P. Lovecraft, PulpFest 2015 is proud to welcome Don Herron, editor of the scholarly landmark, THE DARK BARBARIAN, and winner of the 2006 Black Circle Award for lifetime achievement in Robert E. Howard studies; Morgan Holmes, longtime member of  the Robert E. Howard United Press Association and a book review editor for THE DARK MAN; Professor Tom Krabacher of California State University, Sacramento and a member of the Pulp Era Amateur Press Association; 1979 Lamont Award winner and author of “The Wild Adventures of Doc Savage and Tarzan” Will Murray; and popular culture Professor Garyn G. Roberts, who was awarded the Munsey in 2013, for a presentation entitled “Weird Editing at ‘The Unique Magazine’.” Scheduled for Saturday evening, August 15th, at 7:55 PM, our panelists will discuss the editorial policies of WEIRD TALES, concentrating particularly on the reign of Farnsworth Wright.

Join PulpFest 2015 at the beautiful Hyatt Regency in downtown Columbus, Ohio, beginning on Thursday, August 13th and running through Sunday, August 16th, for a salute to H. P. Lovecraft and WEIRD TALES, just a few short days before the author’s 125th birthday. Although our host hotel is completely booked, there are still some rooms available at nearby hotels. Please visit our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/PulpFest and click on the post pinned to the top of the page. You’ll be directed to a list of hotels to choose from. If you are not from the Columbus area and want to attend PulpFest 2015, we urge to book your room now and not later. Rooms that are relatively close to PulpFest are disappearing fast during the time frame of our convention.

(The first issue of WEIRD TALES, dated March 1923 with a cover illustration by R. R. Epperly, is best remembered for publishing Anthony M. Rud’s “Ooze,” a story concerning a giant amoeba. Also featured in the issue were tales by Otis Adelbert Kline, Joel Townsley Rogers, R. T. M. Scott, and Harold Ward. The issue was put together by Edwin Baird, the editor of the magazine until the November 1924 issue, when Wright took the helm.

Hannes Bok created seven covers for WEIRD TALES. The last appeared on the issue dated March 1942. It was edited by Dorothy McIlwraith, who succeeded Farnsworth Wright following the March 1940 number. McIlwraith would publish Ray Bradbury’s first professional solo story, “The Candle,” in the November 1942 issue. She also helped to launch the careers of author Fritz Leiber and fantasy artist Lee Brown Coye.

Weird Tales 73-FAlmost two decades after its original demise, WEIRD TALES was revived in 1973-1974 for four issues, edited by Sam Moskowitz. The second issue, from the fall of 1973, featured cover art by Gary van der Steur after Hannes Bok’s cover from March 1940. A paperback series lasting four more issues, edited by Lin Carter, appeared from 1981-1983. The magazine was revived in 1988 by George H. Scithers, Darrell Schweitzer and John Gregory Betancourt and has, more or less, been published on a continuous basis since that time. in 2014, the 362nd  issue was released. It is currently published by John Harlacher with Marvin Kaye serving as editor. For more details, visit the magazine’s website at http://weirdtalesmagazine.com/.)

H. P. Lovecraft at 125

Jan 14, 2015 by

“The twentieth century’s greatest practitioner of the classic horror tale” — Stephen King

“The Copernicus of the horror story” — Fritz Leiber

“To me, Howard Phillips Lovecraft was an entity. A most important one. And I rejoice to see that his work–and his memory among readers and writers–endures” — Robert Bloch

In his introduction to THE BEST OF H. P. LOVECRAFT: BLOODCURDLING TALES OF HORROR AND THE MACABRE (Del Rey Books, 1982), Robert Bloch remembers the man who, “. . . befriended a fifteen-year-old fan, who gave him a lifelong career, who set an example of fellowship and good-will . . .”

Howard Phillips Lovecraft was born in Providence, Rhode Island on August 20, 1880. He was the last lineal descendant of an old New England family that had seen better days. His father died of paresis in 1898; his mother survived until 1921, but her own mental instability increased as the family fortunes declined.

Lovecraft wrote: “As a child I was very peculiar and sensitive, always preferring the society of grown persons to that of other children.” Actually it was his neurotic mother who labelled him peculiar and “protected” him from contact with other youngsters. A precocious child, he learned to read when he was four and soon experimented with writing. Poor health kept him from college and economic necessity eventually caused him to neglect amateur journalism in favor of ghostwriting or revising the work of others for professional publication. Gradually he began to produce poetry and fiction of his own.

After his mother’s death he lived for a time in New York, married an older woman from whom he separated amicably two years later, then returned to Providence. Here he made his home with two elderly aunts. One of them died in 1932; he and his surviving relative resided together until his own death on March 15, 1937.

Lovecraft’s career as a professional writer was largely compressed into a span of about sixteen years. He remained virtually unknown except to the limited readership of pulp magazines such as WEIRD TALES in which his work appeared. It earned only a pitiful pittance to supplement the income from a meager inheritance, and he continued his anonymous chores for other writers. At the same time he brightened and broadened his uneventful existence with a widespread correspondence among fellow writers and readers of fantastic fiction. The most constant and devoted members of this group formed what would later be called “the Lovecraft Circle”; his lengthy letters of comment, criticism, and literary advice encouraged them to write or attempt writing in the genre. When a combination of cancer and Bright’s disease claimed his life at the age of forty-six the loss was mourned by far-off friends, many of whom had known him only as a correspondent.

Lovecraft’s literary style was distinctive and frequently imitated by protégés. With his approval, they and others borrowed the imaginary settings of his stories, together with the weird books and grotesque gods he created to heighten horror.

At the time of his death he had already become what would now be called a “cult figure.” But the cult was comparatively small and had absolutely no influence on contemporary critics or publishers. It took long years to bring the man and his work to the attention of a larger audience.

Today Lovecraft is established as a major American fantasy writer, frequently ranked as the equal of Poe. His work is in print here and abroad and the mild-mannered, old-fashioned, conservative New England gentleman has become an acknowledged master of horror fiction.

Join PulpFest 2015 in August at the beautiful Hyatt Regency in downtown Columbus, Ohio, beginning on Thursday, August 13th and running through Sunday, August 16th as we celebrate H. P. Lovecraft and WEIRD TALES, just a few short days before the author’s 125th birthday. We’ll be announcing more about the convention and our Lovecraft salute as we flesh out the details in the months ahead.

“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.”

H. P. Lovecraft, writing in “Supernatural Horror in Literature”

2015 Postcard Front

The artwork is from the November 1944 issue of WEIRD TALES. The artist is Matt Fox, an illustrator who painted about a dozen covers for “the unique magazine.” Fox also worked for other pulps, including CRACK DETECTIVE, FAMOUS FANTASTIC MYSTERIES, and PLANET STORIES. In the 1950s and 1960s he was an artist for Atlas Comics.

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