Saturday at PulpFest

Jul 23, 2016 by

Argosy 20-06-12There’s still time to get in on the action. The PulpFest dealers’ room will be open today from 10 AM until 4:45 PM. Located in Battelle South exhibition hall on the third floor of the Greater Columbus Convention Center, our dealers’ room will feature exhibitors selling and trading pulp magazines and related materials, digests, vintage paperbacks, men’s adventure and true crime magazines, first-edition hardcovers, series books, dime novels, original art, Big Little Books, B-movies, serials and related paper collectibles, old-time-radio shows, and Golden and Silver Age as well as pulp-related comic books and games. That’s why PulpFest is known as the “pop culture center of the universe!”

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. Paper forms will also be available at the door. Those who have prepaid for their memberships, will also be able to pick up their registration packets at our door. Please visit our registration page for further details.

For those visiting PulpFest for the day, you can also use the Chestnut Street Garage for parking. Rates vary based on time, but at this writing, $14 will get you a day’s parking. Additional parking is available at the Convention Center underground garage. Again, rates are time-based and, at this writing, $14 will get you parking for 12 hours with no in and out privileges. Click here for a more detailed look at parking near the Hyatt Regency. Alternately, if you don’t mind walking a few blocks, there are many inexpensive options. Click here for an interactive parking map of Columbus and search near 350 North High Street.

Our Saturday afternoon programming will start at 1 PM with our New Fictioneers readings. Afterward, Ron Fortier will moderate a New Pulp Fiction Panel on “Writing Hero Pulp.” It will be followed by a presentation on Anthony Tollin’s Sanctum Books featuring Mr. Tollin and Doc Savage author Will Murray.

Amazing Stories 70-05For pulp fans who like games, gaming fans who like pulps, or just people who like to have fun, PulpFest 2016 will be organizing 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 2016 gaming track will begin at 10 AM on Saturday and last until 10 PM or thereabouts. 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 2016 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.

Come out to PulpFest 2016 where you can explore our substantial dealers’ room and find exciting pulp fiction and books to read. Then stop by our game room where you can save Earth from aliens, explore new planets circling far-flung stars, or seek out ancient artifacts and knowledge.  You’ll learn how to play a variety of new games and “boldly go where no man has gone before.”

The PulpFest dealers’ room will closing be at 4:45 PM today. This should allow plenty of time for people to prepare for our Saturday Night Dinner at Dick’s Last Resort, a get-together arranged by registration and volunteer coordinator Sally Cullers. Dick’s is located at 343 North Front Street, just a few minutes’ walk from the Hyatt Regency Columbus in the Arena District. If you don’t plan to attend PulpFest‘s group meal, there are plenty of other restaurants close to the hotel. You’ll find a guide to the many fine downtown restaurants by clicking here.

Saturday evening’s events will include the PulpFest 2016 Business Meeting. Two lucky PulpFest members who prepay for their membership, book a room for three nights at our host hotel, and choose to attend our business meeting will receive free memberships to PulpFest 2017. You must provide proof of your stay at the Hyatt Regency Columbus and be present at the drawing to receive your prize. It will be followed by the 2016 Munsey Award Presentation.

Our programming for Saturday evening will include Our Guest of Honor presentation, featuring science fiction author and pulp fan Ted White. The editor emeritus of AMAZING STORIES, Mr. White will speak about his career, AMAZING STORIES, science fiction fandom, the pulps, and much, much more from 7:30 to 8:15 in the Union Rooms on the second floor of the Hyatt Regency. Pulp collector and scholar Doug Ellis — the co-founder of the Windy City Pulp and Paper Convention — will also be on hand with a presentation on 120 Years of THE ARGOSY — The World’s First Pulp Magazine. All PulpFest members are very much welcome to attend.

Our evening will conclude with the annual PulpFest Saturday Night Auction. Featuring material consigned by our membership, any member of PulpFest 2016 can submit items to the auction. Your PulpFest badge number will be used as your auction bidder and/or seller number. 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.We will begin taking consignments for the auction when our dealers’ room opens at 10 AM. Barry will be accepting material for our auction near the entrance to the PulpFest dealers’ room. The sooner you submit your consignment to our auction coordinator, Barry Traylor, the more likely that it will be included in our auction. All auction lots must be submitted to Barry prior to 2 PM on Saturday, July 23. For additional information, please click on the auction link on our programming schedule.

Spicy Adventure Stories (July 1935)Click on the “Our Auction” link under our homepage banner for highlights of this year’s auction. We’ll have a half-dozen early Arkham House books, including a very collectible copy of H. P. Lovecraft’s THE OUTSIDER AND OTHERS. We’ll also have over two hundred pulps from the collection of the late Woody Hagadish.

You can find additional details about these and all of our presentations by clicking the 2016 Schedule Button found at the top of our home page. Each event on the schedule is linked to a post that provides further information on that event. Just click on the event’s title.

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

PulpFest 2016 will continue tomorrow. Our dealers’ room will be open to all members from 10 AM to 2 PM as our exhibitors 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, July 24, will be $10, the cost of our annual program book, THE PULPSTER.

Please join us in the Columbus, Ohio Arena district at the Hyatt Regency hotel and the city’s spacious convention center for “Summer’s AMAZING Pulp Con!” You’ll have a FANTASTIC time!

(Although Harold Lamb’s “The Caravan of the Dead” was the cover feature to the June 12, 1920 ARGOSY — featuring front cover art by Fred W. Small — the real highlight of the issue was Murray Leinster’s novelette “The Mad Planet.” Often anthologized, Leinster’s story was called “One of the greatest Munsey scientific romances” by science fiction historian Sam Moskowitz. Pulp scholar Doug Ellis will be discussing such highlights in his presentation on ARGOSY on Saturday, July 23.

Our guest of honor, Ted White, served as the editor of AMAZING STORIES and FANTASTIC from October 1968 until October 1978, upgrading the quality of both magazine’s fiction while showcasing a variety of talented illustrators. One such artist was John Pederson, Jr., whose front cover for the May 1970 AMAZING STORIES was the first original cover painting for White’s magazine. Pederson would paint a half dozen covers for AMAZING and its companion. He also contributed covers to GALAXY, IF, THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY & SCIENCE FICTION, and WORLDS OF TOMORROW.

Granted, the PulpFest auctions are a bit more tame than the sale of a slave girl, painted by the incomparable H. J. Ward’s as the cover for the July 1935 issue of SPICY ADVENTURE STORIES. Nevertheless our auctions are quite exciting. Plan to attend PulpFest 2016 and find out for yourself why it’s called “Summer’s AMAZING Pulp Con!”)

Ten Years in The Shadow’s Sanctum — Anthony Tollin’s Sanctum Books

Jun 23, 2016 by

Shadow 1One of PulpFest‘s longtime supporters has been Anthony Tollin, the publisher of Sanctum Books. On Saturday, July 23, at 3 PM, PulpFest 2016 will salute the tenth anniversary of Sanctum Books. Our celebration of the occasion will take place in our programming area, located in the Union Rooms on the second floor of the Hyatt Regency Columbus.

Anthony Tollin launched his Sanctum double novel pulp reprints in July 2006. During the past decade, Sanctum Books has reprinted all 182 DOC SAVAGE pulp novels, all 24 of Paul Ernst’s AVENGER novels, the 14 WHISPERER novels from the original pulp series and more than 220 SHADOW novels — all in non-flaking editions with the classic color covers and original interior illustrations, plus comprehensive historical articles and features. Some of these features have included rare radio scripts as well as reprints of Street & Smith comic book stories such as the Iron Munro yarns of Theodore Sturgeon. Additionally, Sanctum Books has reprinted selected NICK CARTER, PHANTOM DETECTIVE, and THE SKIPPER adventures in the double novel format. The publisher has also added THE SPIDER and THE BLACK BAT to its publishing schedule. It goes without saying that Sanctum Books has been one of the leading pulp reprint houses for the last ten years.

Please join Anthony Tollin and his contributing editor Will Murray as they recall Sanctum’s first decade, preview its new anniversary special and annuals, and showcase some of its upcoming projects —  including a hardcover collection of the complete 1940 – 1942 SHADOW newspaper strips.

The only way that you can join this celebration of “Ten Years in The Shadow’s Sanctum” is to attend PulpFest 2016, “Summer’s AMAZING Pulp Con.” Find out “Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?” only at PulpFest. Taking place in the Columbus, Ohio Arena district at the Hyatt Regency hotel and the city’s spacious convention center, it begins on Thursday, July 21 and runs through Sunday, July 24. As of June 21, the Hyatt Regency Columbus has a small number of rooms available for July 21 through July 23. Please see our post “There Are Rooms at the Hyatt!

At, you’ll find a list of area hotels courtesy of the Greater Columbus Convention Center. Alternately, you can search for a room at tripadvisor or a similar website to find a hotel near the convention. Thanks so much to everyone who has reserved a room at our host hotel. By staying at the Hyatt Regency, you’ve helped to ensure the convention’s success.

As of June 1, 2016, the Hyatt Regency is sold out on Friday, July 22. Please read our post “Friday Night Sell-Out” for alternatives. Thank you.

(Back in 2006, the advertising copy for the first of Sanctum Books’ double novel reprints read: “The Shadow returns in two of his greatest pulp adventures: “Crime, Insured” (acclaimed as Walter Gibson’s greatest thriller) and “The Golden Vulture” (revised by Gibson from Lester Dent’s 1932 tryout novel that won him the Doc Savage contract), featuring writers Walter B. Gibson and Lester Dent (writing as “Maxwell Grant”), and artists George Rozen and Edd Cartier. The first volume of this new series reproduces both original covers by George Rozen, plus all of the original interior illustrations by Edd Cartier. This book also includes new historical background articles by popular culture historians Anthony Tollin and Will Murray (who collaborated posthumously with Dent on Seven new Doc Savage novels previously published by Bantam).”

Over the past ten years, Sanctum’s format has not changed: two or three novels per book, the original covers and interior illustrations, and some sort of historical articles or materials are featured in each volume of the series. The only thing that has changed is the price: the early volumes cost $12.95, while today’s Sanctum reprints can be had for $14.95. They’re a tremendous value at both prices!)

Street & Smith’s Second String Superheroes

Feb 1, 2016 by

The Skipper 1936-12THE SHADOW MAGAZINE kicked off the hero-pulp era with a bang when it debuted in 1931. Pulp publishers — including THE SHADOW‘s publisher, Street & Smith — scrambled to grab a share of that eager reading audience.

It took Street & Smith until 1933 to add more character pulps to its lineup: DOC SAVAGE, NICK CARTER MAGAZINE, and PETE RICE MAGAZINE. That same year, Thrilling Publications released THE PHANTOM DETECTIVE and THE LONE EAGLE, while Popular Publications introduced THE SPIDER and G-8 AND HIS BATTLE ACES.

Popular Publications’ THE SPIDER pushed the boundaries set by the other hero pulp magazines, which were rather mainstream. The Spider was judge, jury and executioner in his battle against crazed, blood-thirsty villains. Other Popular pulps — HORROR STORIES and TERROR TALES — pushed those boundaries even further. The chain’s pulps were “jammed with non-stop violence, like the fever dream of a homicidal maniac,” wrote the late pulp historian Robert Sampson in DEADLY EXCITEMENTS. And as their publisher’s name reflects, these pulps were quite popular. So popular, in fact, that Street & Smith decided it needed to put a harder edge in its hero pulps.

Rather than introduce those themes in its already popular THE SHADOW and DOC SAVAGE magazines, Street & Smith turned to two new hero pulps — THE WHISPERER and THE SKIPPER — to ratchet things up a notch or two.

THE WHISPERER hit the newsstands with an October 1936 number. The Whisperer was police Inspector James “Wildcat” Gordon, who before the end of his first adventure (“The Dead Who Talked”) would be named police commissioner.

The 30-year-old, stocky, granite-jawed policeman attempted to fight crime within the law during the day, but transformed into The Whisperer to take the law into his own hands when it didn’t go far enough. The brash Wildcat Gordon favored equally brash — no, make that garish — suits, often green-checked with bright red ties, a matching carnation, a battered Army campaign hat, and large, yellow shoes. The Whisperer was just the opposite.

Gordon’s crime-fighting alter ego was described as drab, homely, and unassuming. To transform into The Whisperer, Gordon changed into a gray business suit, gray spats and an old-fashioned round-brimmed hat, dusted his brownish/reddish hair with a white powder, and inserted two dental plates that transformed his square jaw into a long, narrow and oddly pointed one. The dental plates also caused him to speak in a low but penetrating whisper — hence his name. To aid him in meting out justice, The Whisperer packed two automatics fixed with super-silencers, which hissed and flashed licks of blue flame when fired. At other times, he took pleasure in snapping criminals’ necks with his exceptionally strong hands.

(Oh, does Police Commissioner James Gordon sound familiar? You’re probably thinking of Police Commissioner James Gordon from BATMAN. That’s just one of several links between the comic-book Caped Crusader and The Whisperer. Will Murray and Anthony Tollin address how THE WHISPERER and other pulps influenced BATMAN in Sanctum Books‘ reprints of the pulp series.)

When necessary, The Whisperer went undercover as D. Smith, or Dunk Smith, a two-bit crook, who looked just like The Whisperer, but without the hat. He had to moderate his speech, keeping it hoarse and husky, in order not to give himself away. Smith’s dog, a Scottish terrier named Brian Boru, only answered to Gordon when he’s either The Whisperer or Dunk.

Gordon was joined in the magazine by Richard “Quick Trigger” Traeger and his granddaughter (later daughter) Tiny Traeger; his police chauffeur, Horace “Slug” Minor; Detective Sgt. Thorsen; and Judge Patrick Kyley. Thorns in Gordon’s side were Deputy Commissioner Henry Bolton, Gordon’s obnoxious assistant who desperately wanted Gordon’s job, and Van Royston, the foppish mayor who dressed in black tie, tails and a silk top hat, and would have welcomed Bolton’s promotion.

Despite the hopped-up violence (at least for Street & Smith standards), The Whisperer rarely faced the sorts of villains confronted by The Spider. The Whisperer tackled organized crime, racketeers, political corruption, and the like.

The Whisperer 1936-10THE WHISPERER‘s first magazine lasted 14 issues, ending with December 1937. All of those novels were written by Laurence Donovan under the house name Clifford Goodrich. Donovan was an ideal fictioneer for putting an edge on The Whisperer (and The Skipper). He was also writing for the more provocative Spicy line of pulps. After his namesake pulp folded, The Whisperer moved to short stories in the back pages of THE SHADOW MAGAZINE, with one appearance in CRIME BUSTERS, for the next three years. Donovan fell out of favor with Street & Smith in 1938, and was replaced by Alan Hathway as the new Clifford Goodrich.

As the United States became embroiled in World War II, pulp popularity rebounded from a slump in the late 1930s. Street & Smith moved The Whisperer back to his own magazine, and restarted the numbering with Vol. 1, No. 1, dated October 1940. The character’s appearance was changed; gone was the drab gray, replaced with black. Murray has speculated that the change may have been to distance The Whisperer from Street’s latest pulp hero, The Avenger, who was also stocky and dressed in gray. The new series lasted ten every-other-month issues, ending the character’s pulp appearances for good with the April 1942 issue.

Two months after the first appearance of the original THE WHISPERER magazine, THE SKIPPER went on sale with a December 1936 cover date. As The Whisperer is often said to have been inspired by The Shadow, there’s little doubt that Captain John Fury — the Skipper — was a variant of Doc Savage.

THE SKIPPER was also written by Laurence Donovan, under the house name Wallace Brooker. Donovan was quite familiar with Doc Savage, having written nine of the Man of Bronze’s adventures from 1935 to 1937.

Cap Fury wasn’t the giant that Doc was; instead he, like Wildcat Gordon, was stocky, but with “flaming red hair” and “sharp arctic blue” eyes. He had Doc-like skills, which included lip reading, using pressure points to subdue the bad guys, and cat-like agility. He also relied on oversized sea boots to conceal hypodermics, oxygen masks, and other gadgets. His flaming red hair and last name echoed his dealings with the criminal sort. Unlike Doc, who refrained from killing, Cap Fury made good use of automatic pistols and a whip to mete out justice.

Fury sailed a rusted-looking old tanker, the “Whirlwind,” which was actually a state-of-the-art battleship, with deck guns, a fully outfitted laboratory, a hanger with foldable aircraft and a submarine, and elaborate living quarters.

Joining Fury in his adventures were Peter Doom, a former policeman and Fury’s closest associate; James Jonathan “Marlin Spike” Briggs, a Monk Mayfair-like first mate; Hurricane Dan Belmont, the giant second mate; Cock-eye, the third mate; and James “Bumps” McCarthy, “a roly-poly, red-haired” fellow “known as ‘Bumps’ because of his constantly getting himself into jams’ who was a newsreel camera man that followed Fury around for great film. Princess Mara — Mara von Jean, the Black Leopard Princess — takes the Pat Savage role in the series beginning in January 1937. She turns up occasionally when she’s not at a Boston girls’ school. There’s also G.R.M. “Grump” Rollins, chairman of the board that owned the Whirlwind.

Again, echoing Doc Savage, Fury was drawn into his battle against evil after his brother, Captain John Fury, was murdered by ocean-faring evildoers in his first adventure. Cap Fury vowed to rid the seas of pirates and criminals.

Unlike the routine bad guys that The Whisperer fought, The Skipper battled a number of fantastic foes who controlled death rays, a meteorite that removed oxygen from the air, voodoo practitioners, plague-bearing rats, and other nefarious foes.

When THE SKIPPER was canceled after 12 issues with the December 1937 number, Cap Fury moved into the back pages of DOC SAVAGE MAGAZINE. The shorter stories were written by Donovan, Harold Davis, and Norman Daniels.

(In addition to their pulp appearances, both The Whisperer and The Skipper branched out to backup stories in Street & Smith comic books in the 1940s.)

Learn much more about The Whisperer and Cap Fury at PulpFest 2016. “Summer’s AMAZING Pulp Con” will salute the 80th anniversaries of the two pulp heroes. Pulp historian Will Murray will tell the story of “Street & Smith’s Second Stringers: The Whisperer and The Skipper” at the con. Murray is the 1979 Lamont Award winner, and author of “The Wild Adventures of Doc Savage and Tarzan” for Altus Press. PulpFest 2016 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.

(THE SKIPPER, including the first issue dated December 1936, featured cover art by Lawrence Donner Toney, a graduate of the Art Institute of Chicago. During the 1930s and 1940s, Toney painted covers for pulp magazines, such as CLUES, COMPLETE STORIES, WESTERN STORY MAGAZINE, and WILD WEST WEEKLY, all published by Street & Smith. Most of his work for pulp magazines was signed only with his initials.

THE WHISPERER was introduced to readers with its October 1936 number, featuring front cover art by the talented John Newton Howitt, a devoted landscape painter whose work was sold at fine art galleries in New York City. With the advent of the Great Depression, the artist turned to the pulps for income. An excellent painter, Howitt found a ready market in the rough-paper periodicals, selling freelance pulp covers to ADVENTURE, DIME DETECTIVE, HORROR STORIES, THE SPIDER, TERROR TALES, THE WHISPERER, WESTERN STORY MAGAZINE, and other pulp magazine titles.

To learn more about these talented artists, 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.)

Have a Bronze October at Doc Con XVIII

Sep 28, 2015 by


This year marks the 40th anniversary of DOC SAVAGE: THE MAN OF BRONZE, producer George Pal’s film adaptation of the Street & Smith pulp hero’s first adventure.

To celebrate, Doc Con XVIII has lined up a very special guest: actor Ron Ely, who starred as the Man of Bronze in the 1975 film. (He also played another pulp character, Tarzan, for two seasons on TV in the 1960s.) Ely will talk about the movie and be available for photos and autographs.

Other guests will include Bob Larkin, who painted more than 50 covers for Bantam’s Doc Savage paperback series; Anthony Tollin, publisher of Sanctum Books, who expects to finish reprinting all of the Doc Savage novels by the end of the year; and sociologist October Surprise, who has studied the readership of DOC SAVAGE MAGAZINE through its letter columns.

Doc Con XVIII will be Friday through Sunday, Oct. 9-11, 2015, at the Comfort Suites, 9824 W. Camelback Rd., Glendale, Ariz. You can find out more about Doc Con on its Facebook page, or by emailing Jay Ryan at