Happy Halloween from PulpFest

Oct 30, 2017 by

The skeleton was a popular motif used on a variety of pulps. Naturally, skulls and skeletons adorned the covers of such magazines as WEIRD TALES, TERROR TALES, and the like. One could also find them on detective pulps, hero pulps, and even on war pulps. In Rudolph Belarski’s cover for the Summer 1944 issue of AIR WAR, the Grim Reaper — wearing goggles and a fighter pilot jacket — urges a World War II fighter pilot to sow death upon his enemies.

Next year marks the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended the hostilities of the First World War. Beginning on Thursday evening, July 26, and running through Sunday, July 29, PulpFest 2018 will honor this anniversary by focusing on the depiction of war in popular culture.

And don’t forget that author Joe Lansdale — winner of ten Bram Stoker Awards, the Horror Writers Association Lifetime Achievement Award, and other awards — will be PulpFest‘s guest of honor.

We’ll keep you informed about our plans through our website and social media sites. So please be sure to bookmark PulpFest.com. 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 our Twitter page.

From ghoulies and ghosties
And long-leggedy beasties
And things that go bump in the night,
Good Lord, deliver us . . . to PulpFest 2018!

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Saturday at PulpFest 2015

Aug 15, 2015 by

Weird Tales 45-07There’s still time to get in on the action. The dealers’ room at the Hyatt Regency Columbus will be open today from 10 AM until 4:30 PM. Although the focus of PulpFest is pulp magazines and related materials, digests, vintage paperbacks, men’s adventure and true crime magazines, first-edition hardcovers, series books, dime novels, original art, Big Little Books, B-movies, serials and related paper collectibles, old-time-radio shows, and Golden and Silver Age as well as pulp-related comic books and games will also be for sale.

Single-day memberships to PulpFest will be available for $20 for Saturday and $10 for Sunday. Children who are fifteen and younger and accompanied by a parent, will be admitted free of charge. Members will be able to register for the convention at any time during regular dealers’ room hours. To help things move smoothly, please bring along a completed registration form. You can download a copy by clicking here. You only need to bring the last page of the form. Please visit our registration page for further details.

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

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

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

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

Cthulhu DiceFor pulp fans who like games, gaming fans who like pulps, or just people who like to have fun, PulpFest 2015 will be introducing a gaming track. Many of the themes found in the world of modern games resonate from the pulps and the stories published in those magazines. There are games based on Conan, the Cthulhu Mythos, space operas such as Doc Smith’s Lensman series, westerns, mysteries and, of course, the pulp heroes. Role-playing games, or RPGs, are especially noted for quick action, cliff-hangers, and adventure.

The PulpFest 2015 gaming track will begin at 10 AM on Saturday and last until 10 PM or thereabouts.  On Sunday, games will begin at 10 AM and continue until the end of the convention. All games will be set up in the Clark Room, located on the second floor of the Hyatt Regency. The only requirements to play games at PulpFest 2015 are a PulpFest membership, your imagination, and a desire to have a good time. So if you enjoy pulps and you enjoy games, PulpFest will be the place to be. If you have questions about our gaming track, please write to PulpFest programming director Mike Chomko at mike@pulpfest.com.

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

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

If you will be needing a hotel room for tonight, please remember that PulpFest is sharing downtown Columbus with Matsuricon. However, there may still be a few rooms available at nearby hotels. Please visit www.pulpfest.com/2015/06/16872/ and you’ll find a link to a list of hotels to choose from. Alternately, we suggest that you search for a room at tripadvisor or a similar website as soon as you possibly can. If you are not from the Columbus area and want to attend PulpFest 2015, we urge you to book your room now and not wait until you arrive.

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

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

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

 

Thrilling Pulp Heroes of the Thirties

Jun 19, 2015 by

Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows!!!

Phantom Detective 33-02In the spring of 1931, THE SHADOW MAGAZINE was introduced to readers by Street & Smith Publications. Employing the talents of author Walter B. Gibson, the magazine proved an instant hit. Planned as a quarterly, this first “hero” pulp became a monthly following its first two issues. A year later, it became a semi-monthly, appearing twice monthly until early 1943. In 1937, Gibson teamed with scriptwriter Edward Hale Bierstadt to develop a radio program for the Mutual Broadcasting System. It was here that actor Frank Readick, Jr. uttered the famous words quoted above that have since become part of the American idiom.

By 1932, Street & Smith was planning other single-character magazines, hoping to emulate the high-flying SHADOW MAGAZINE. The leading pulp magazine publisher would introduce three titles in 1933, including DOC SAVAGE MAGAZINE. Other publishing houses were also noticing the strong sales. The first to the starting gate would be Ned Pines’ Standard Magazines, the pulp chain that will be feted at this year’s PulpFest in Columbus, Ohio.

The first of the so-called hero pulps inspired by Walter Gibson’s “Dark Avenger” was THE PHANTOM DETECTIVE. Created by D. L. Champion (whose wife was a native of Columbus) and launched by Ned Pines’ Thrilling Group, the Phantom was the alter ego of man-about-town Richard Curtis Van Loan. A veteran of the World War I, this moneyed playboy was bored with life until a family friend recommended he “try his hand at solving a mysterious crime which had stumped the police.” His initial success led Van Loan to dedicate his life and fortune to combating crime, making the Phantom “a name known and admired by the police of every nation.”

The first issue of THE PHANTOM DETECTIVE was dated February 1933; it would be followed that year by other single-character pulps including G-8 AND HIS BATTLE ACES, NICK CARTER, and THE SPIDER. The Summer 1953 issue would be the final number of the Thrilling pulp. It was the longest-lived of the hero pulps, lasting for just over twenty years and a total of 170 issues.

While the Great Depression savaged other fiction genres, the pulp heroes of 1933 surged forward, their magazines flying off America’s newsstands faster than they could be printed. Street & Smith’s DOC SAVAGE and NICK CARTER followed THE PHANTOM DETECTIVE to the racks, while Thrilling introduced an air hero, inspired by the success of its own SKY FIGHTERS, a pulp filled with the adventures of flying aces of the First World War and “especially sought after by boys raised on the courageous exploits of fathers and uncles who had served in the Great War, boys who kept themselves busy building model planes constructed of balsa wood.”

33-09 Lone EagleBorrowing one of the nicknames given to Charles Lindbergh following his nonstop flight from New York to Paris, Standard Magazines released THE LONE EAGLE. Telling the heroic adventures of Air Intelligence Agent John Masters, “the world’s greatest Sky Fighter,” the pulp debuted in the late summer of 1933. “Masters showed a natural affinity for a stuttering machine-gun and as his natural proficiency increased, he built up a dark and terrible reputation about his name. He became the ‘Lone Eagle’ of the skies . . . He showed an indomitable courage and a dynamic driving power, in pushing to a successful conclusion his secret missions. Many men feared him, many hated him—an occasional one loved him.”

Those words, written by F. E. Rechnitzer, appeared in “No Man’s Air,” the lead novel in the first issue of the new hero pulp. A former World War I Allied pilot and prisoner-of-war, Rechnitzer is believed to have written many of the adventures of The Lone Eagle, hidden behind the “Lt. Scott Morgan” house name; Robert Sidney Bowen probably contributed most of the later novels. In all, 75 tales of “the world’s greatest Sky Fighter” would appear through the spring of 1943, when the magazine would fly off into the sunset as THE AMERICAN EAGLE.

35-10 G-MenIn the early thirties, lawman J. Edgar Hoover was trying to build a “super police force” to deal with the crime then rampant in America. To help his cause, Hoover embarked on a spirited publication relations campaign, creating a radio program that dramatized actual cases of the Bureau. He also tried to put together a comic strip, WAR ON CRIME. Although these attempts did not get very far, Hoover had great success in the pulp market. By 1936, there were four magazines dedicated to the heroics of the FBI, including the one that started it all, Better Publications’ G-MEN. The “Ace of the FBI,” Special Agent Dan Fowler, was no “Man of a Thousand Faces.” Straight-laced and completely dedicated to the Bureau, this cross between Dick Tracy and DRAGNET’S Sergeant Joe Friday tormented kidnappers, drug pushers, bank robbers, saboteurs, arsonists, racketeers, and other miscreants for 112 adventures, beginning in the October 1935 G-MEN. Most of the early Fowlers were written by George Fielding Eliot using the house name of C. K. M. Scanlon. Later yarns were credited to the actual authors–Robert Sidney Bowen, Norman Daniels, Laurence Donovan, G. T. Fleming-Roberts, Jean Francis Webb, Manly Wade Wellman, and others. The magazine was discontinued following its Winter 1953 issue.

Black Book Detective 39-07BLACK BOOK DETECTIVE MAGAZINE had actually been around for quite a few years when the story, “Brand of the Black Bat” appeared in its July 1939 number. The pulp, which ran for twenty years, had debuted in the late spring of 1933. During its initial years, it was a detective pulp, Standard’s answer to such stalwarts as BLACK MASK and DIME DETECTIVE. A monthly magazine, it published between three and eight stories in each issue, featuring detective yarns by writers such as Hugh B. Cave, Charles Green, Philip Ketchum, Johnston McCulley, Barry Perowne, Richard Sale, Lawrence Treat, and many others. In the summer of 1939, its make-up changed when BLACK BOOK DETECTIVE became a hero pulp, featuring the adventures of The Black Bat. The creation of the prolific Norman Daniels, the Bat is actually Tony Quinn, a young district attorney, blinded by acid. Eventually, a surgeon secretly operates on Quinn, transplanting the eyes of a slain police sergeant into the scarred attorney. After his bandages are removed, Quinn can see perfectly in the dark. Soon thereafter, the Black Bat is born. According to the late pulp fan, Lester Belcher, “The Black Bat novels were fast-moving, exciting, and held your interest. Quinn was a true American, fighting for justice in the only way he knew how.” Through the final issue of BLACK BOOK DETECTIVE, dated Winter 1953, the Black Bat appeared 62 times. Two more novels were left unpublished following the magazine’s demise. Except for a half-dozen stories published during the early forties, as well as the final published Black Bat novel, all of Quinn’s exploits were written by Norman Daniels.

Scattered throughout Standard’s anthology titles are other so-called pulp heroes. D. L. Champion’s “Mr. Death,” most likely, helped the author land the assignment to pen the early adventures of The Phantom Detective. Published under the house pseudonym of G. Wayman Jones in THRILLING DETECTIVE from February 1932 through October 1932, Mr. Death is man-about-town James Quincy Gilmore. His father is slain by the vicious Murder Club, led by nine unknown individuals. Gilmore swears vengeance on them as Mr. Death and in each part of the story, tracks down and kills each murderer, leaving a calling card reading “Alias Mr. Death.” In the last story, after eliminating Number One, Mr. Death “kills” himself in a plane crash. The entire series has been reprinted by Altus Press.

Perley Poore Sheehan offered six tales of “Kwa of the Jungle” to readers of THRILLING ADVENTURE during the early thirties. Writing as Paul Regard, Sheehan relates the story of Nathaniel Rahan, orphaned after a plane crash kills his parents in a lost African valley. Adopted into a tribe of chimp-like pre-humans known as “The Men That Are Not Yet Men,”  he is called “Kwa, the Golden One” and taught the ways of the jungle by a wise old chimpanzee named Kek. Encountering spider men, minotaurs, and other dangers in six “thrilling” adventures originally published between August 1932 and May 1933, the entire series has been reprinted by Pulpville Press.

Detective Novels 1944-02Standard had been publishing DETECTIVE NOVELS for over a year when it introduced Norman Daniels’ “Candid Camera Kid” to readers of the Thrilling line of pulp magazines. Most likely inspired by the popularity of George Harmon Coxe’s Flashgun Casey, the ace photographer for a Boston newspaper whose adventures appeared in BLACK MASK and a pair of B movies, Daniels’ twenty-three tales of the Kid were published behind the John L. Benton house name. They debuted in the June 1939 issue of DETECTIVE NOVELS and ran through the June 1944 number. Two additional tales appeared in THRILLING DETECTIVE under the G. Wayman Jones byline. There’s a great article about the Kids’ stories written by Monte Herridge and published in the June 2001 issue of Mike Chomko’s long-lamented pulp fanzine PURPLE PROSE.

Another Daniels’ character, “The Eagle,” was described as “the master spy-fighter of them all.” An ace counter-espionage agent, he had a reputation known from Tokyo to Berlin. As the first issue of THRILLING SPY STORIES, dated Fall 1939, proclaimed: “The Eagle, wise in the ways of spies and trained to detect the hundred and one subterfuges to which spies resort, fights the enemy with its own undercover weapons, and handles those weapons with a skill brought to perfection by a tireless body, an agile brain, and a fighting heart imbued with the love of his country and her democratic institutions.” The series ran throughout the entire run of the magazine–four issues–with the last dated Summer 1940. A fifth story, “Gold of the Gestapo,” ran in the December 1940 issue of POPULAR DETECTIVE. The entire series has been reprinted by Altus Press.

As part of its celebration of the Thrilling Group, PulpFest 2015 is proud to welcome Altus Press publisher and 2012 Munsey Award winner Matt Moring; 1979 Lamont Award winner and author of “The Wild Adventures of Doc Savage and Tarzan” Will Murray; pop culture expert and 2014 Inkpot Award winner Michelle Nolan; and popular culture Professor Garyn G. Roberts, who was awarded the Munsey in 2013, for a presentation entitled “Thrilling Heroes of Standard’s Pulps and Comics.” Scheduled for Friday evening, August 14th, at 10:40 PM, it will examine the evolution of the Standard hero in both pulp magazines and comic books. Thrilling’s heroes of the detective and western genres will be dissected on Thursday, August 13th.

For the next few days, we’ll be discussing Standard’s heroes to call attention to this “Thrilling Presentation!!!” Join us by visiting www.pulpfest.com on Saturday, June 20th, for an examination of the Thrilling pulp heroes of the forties. On Sunday, we’ll turn our attention to the comic book heroes of Standard, Better, Nedor, and Visual Editions.

(Following the success of Street and Smith’s single-character pulp, THE SHADOW MAGAZINE, Ned Pines entered the hero pulp market with THE PHANTOM DETECTIVE. Its first issue was dated February 1933 and featured front cover art by Bertram James Glover, an illustrator and landscape artist who began painting pulp magazine covers in 1927.

Borrowing one of the nicknames given to Charles Lindbergh following his nonstop flight from New York to Paris, Standard’s THE LONE EAGLE debuted behind a cover painted by Eugene M. Franzden, an artist whose work regularly appeared as interior story illustrations and covers for many aviation pulp magazines including the September 1933 issue of the Thrilling air-hero pulp.

Emery Clarke created the front cover art for the initial appearances of both Dan Fowler in the October 1935 G-MEN and Norman Daniels’ Black Bat in the July 1939 issue of BLACK BOOK DETECTIVE MAGAZINE. Clarke was a freelance artist who painted covers for ACTION STORIES, DOC SAVAGE, FIGHT STORIES, SHORT STORIES, STAR WESTERN, TEN DETECTIVE ACES, TOP-NOTCH, and other pulps. He also created covers for LIBERTY, THE SATURDAY EVENING POST, and other slick magazines.

Rudolph Belarski’s cover to the February 1944 issue of DETECTIVE NOVELS is one of many covers that the talented artist painted for Ned Pines’ “Thrilling Group” of pulp magazines. Belarski got his start with the pulp industry in 1928 through Dell Publications, doing interiors and covers for adventure pulps about World War I. He later worked for Fiction House and the Munsey line of pulp magazines. By 1935, he was one of Ned Pines’ top artists at Standard Publications. To learn more about this talented artist, read “The Thrilling Adventures of Rudolph Belarski,” posted to our website on Sunday, June 14, 2015.)

 

The Thrilling Adventures of Rudolph Belarski

Jun 14, 2015 by

Air War 1944-SummerRudolph Belarski grew up in the hardscrabble world of coal mines in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. He finished the sixth grade and then entered the work force with his classmates at the Pittston Mines, where he labored for ten years, while he subscribed to a correspondence art school to follow his dream to become a celebrated illustrator.

In 1922 he moved to New York City to study at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, where his classmates included Walter Baumhofer, Frederick Blakeslee, and John Fleming Gould. In 1928, he entered the pulp industry through Dell Publications, doing interiors and covers for adventure pulps about World War I, such as WAR ACES, WAR BIRDS, WAR NOVELS, and WAR STORIES. In later years, he worked for Fiction House and the Munsey chain of pulp magazines, painting covers for ACES, AIR STORIES, ALL-AMERICAN FICTION, ARGOSY, DETECTIVE FICTION WEEKLY, DOUBLE DETECTIVE, RED STAR ADVENTURES, SILVER BUCK WESTERN, WINGS, and other rough-paper titles.

By 1935 Rudolph  Belarski was one of Ned Pines’ top artists at Standard Publications, where he painted covers for AIR WAR, THE AMERICAN EAGLE, ARMY NAVY FLYING STORIES, BLACK BOOK DETECTIVE, CAPTAIN FUTURE, DETECTIVE NOVEL MAGAZINE, EXCITING FOOTBALL, EXCITING SPORTS, GIANT DETECTIVE, G-MEN DETECTIVE, THE LONE EAGLE, MYSTERY BOOK MAGAZINE, THE PHANTOM DETECTIVE, POPULAR DETECTIVE, POPULAR WESTERN, RAF ACES, SKY FIGHTERS, STARTLING STORIES, THRILLING ADVENTURES, THRILLING DETECTIVE, THRILLING MYSTERY, THRILLING WONDER STORIES, WEST, and other pulps from the Thrilling Group.

Following the Second World War, Rudolph Belarski became one of Ned Pines’ top paperback cover artists at Popular Library as well as a leading illustrator for the men’s adventure magazines. He finished his career as a teacher at the world’s foremost correspondence art school, the Famous Artists School of Westport, Connecticut. On Saturday, August 15th, at 8:45 PM, please join pulp art historian David Saunders for an exploration of the life and work of pulp artist Rudolph Belarski at PulpFest 2015.

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

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

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

(Rudolph Belarski’s cover to the Summer 1944 issue of AIR WAR is one of many covers that the talented artist painted for Ned Pines’ “Thrilling Group” of pulp magazines. To learn more about the artist, be sure to visit David Saunders’ Field Guide to Wild American Pulp Artists where you will find more than 300 biographical profiles of American pulp artists. For a wider sampling of the artist’s work, pick up a copy of John Gunnison’s BELARSKI: PULP ART MASTER, available through Adventure House.)Belarski