H. J. Ward, Superman Artist

Mar 4, 2019 by

Normally, when we think of Superman’s artists, people such as Wayne Boring, John Byrne, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, Dan Jurgens, Alex Ross, Joe Schuster, and Curt Swan come to mind. Why doesn’t pulp artist, H. J. Ward pop into our heads?

Born on March 8, 1909, Ward studied at the Philadelphia School of Industrial Art. His first sale was made to Teck Publishing’s WILD WEST STORIES AND COMPLETE NOVEL MAGAZINE in 1931. According to artist and art historian David Saunders, “Sensational pulp covers by H. J. Ward were soon appearing on ACE-HIGH WESTERN, ARGOSY, DOUBLE DETECTIVE” and other rough-paper magazines. Although Ward sold freelance covers to many publishers, most of his work was done for Harry Donenfeld’s Trojan line of Spicy pulps. Ward painted covers for THE LONE RANGER MAGAZINE, PRIVATE DETECTIVE STORIES, SPICY ADVENTURE STORIES, SPICY DETECTIVE STORIES, SPICY MYSTERY STORIES, and other Trojan pulps.

By 1940, Donenfeld had assumed control of National Allied Publications, the publisher of ACTION COMICS, Superman’s home. Around that time, H. J. Ward was paid $100 to create a nearly life-size portrait of The Man of Steel. Ward’s painting was used to promote THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERMANa radio show that debuted in New York City on February 12, 1940. The painting hung for many years in Harry Donenfeld’s office at DC Comics, and later, in his townhouse. According to Saunders, it was eventually donated to Lehman College, part of the City University of New York.

As we approach the 110th anniversary of the birth of Superman artist H. J. Ward, we recall that “The Man of Steel” is just one of many “Children of the Pulps.” We hope you’ll join PulpFest 2019 from August 15 – 18 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Cranberry, just north of Pennsylvania’s “Steel City” in Mars, PA. We’ll be celebrating mystery, adventure, science fiction, and more as we focus on the pervasive influence of pulp magazines on pop culture across the globe. Click the “Register” button below our home page banner to learn more about joining “America’s Super Pulp Con!”

(Pulp historian David Saunders learned how the painting “of the guy in a red cape and blue tights came to be hanging in the Lehman College library” while researching his book, H. J. WARD, published in 2012 by The Illustrated Press.

David will be discussing “The Secret Life of Women Pulp Artists” at this year’s PulpFest. We hope you’ll be able to join us on Friday, August 16, for David Saunder’s presentation.)

Ten Months to PulpFest

Oct 15, 2018 by

The PulpFest organizing committee has decided to return to Mars, Pennsylvania for our 2019 convention. We’ll be back at the wonderful DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Cranberry. Per our members, it’s a terrific venue for PulpFest.

Located where three major roadways intersect, the DoubleTree boasts a world-class restaurant. Many other restaurants are nearby, suitable for a variety of tastes. The adventurous can find more dining, shopping, and nightlife in downtown Pittsburgh.

We’re happy to return to Mars for summer’s gathering of fans and collectors of pop culture. We seek to honor pulp fiction and pulp art by celebrating the many ways they’ve inspired creators. We hope you’ll join us at PulpFest 2019 for “Children of the Pulps and Other Stories.” Expect another great dealers’ room and superb programming from PulpFest and FarmerCon.

PulpFest 2019 will begin on Thursday evening, August 15 and run through Sunday, August 18. Please join us for our celebration of mystery, adventure, science fiction, and more. If you enjoy  genre writers such as J. K. Rowling, Michael Connelly, and Stephen King, you’ll love PulpFest!

(Despite reading DOC SAVAGE MAGAZINE as a boy, Jerry Siegel couldn’t recall if the character had influenced him when he created Superman. It had been “so doggone long ago.”

There were similarities between the two characters. Doc was “The Man of Bronze,” while Superman was “The Man of Steel.” Both characters had a “Fortress of Solitude.” Both were named “Clark.” And in a 1934 advertisement, Street & Smith labeled Doc Savage a “superman.”

We hope you’ll join PulpFest in 2019 as we explore the many ways pulp fiction and pulp art have influenced writers, artists, film directors, software developers, game designers, and other creators over the decades.)

Announcing PulpFest 2019

Sep 6, 2018 by

The fall pulp con season is getting into full swing. Adventure House’s PULP AND COLLECTIBLES CONVENTION gets the ball rolling on Sunday, September 9. It will be followed by other fine conventions. But what about the main event?

PulpFest 2019 will take place from Thursday, August 15, through Sunday, August 18.  We’ll be returning to the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Cranberry, just north of Pennyslvania’s “Steel City.” PulpFest will be joined by FarmerCon. Hopefully, they’re not too hung over from this year’s Philip José Farmer centennial.

Start making your plans for the 48th convening of PulpFest and its celebration of mystery, adventure, science fiction, and more. Join us for “Children of the Pulps and Other Stories” at “Summer’s Great Pulp Con.” Please bring your friends!

Bookmark http://www.pulpfest.com/ to keep informed about PulpFest 2019. You’ll find us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/PulpFest. And for those who prefer their news short and sweet, follow our Twitter feed at https://twitter.com/pulpfest. Wherever you look for PulpFest on the web, we’ll be sure to keep you informed of our plans.

(Doc Savage has been called the first superhero. Created by Lester Dent, the character debuted in the March 1933 issue of DOC SAVAGE MAGAZINE, published by Street & Smith. Artist Walter M. Baumhofer contributed the first painted image of “The Man of Bronze.”

About five years later, Superman made his first appearance in the June 1938 issue of ACTION COMICS. Before long, the Man of Steel was joined by many other superheroes.

We hope to see you at PulpFest in 2019 as we explore the many ways pulp fiction and pulp art have influenced writers, artists, film directors, software developers, game designers, and other creators over the decades.)

 

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

Apr 25, 2015 by

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

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

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

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

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

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