120 Years of Frederick Blakeslee

Dec 4, 2017 by

Beginning on Thursday evening, July 26, and running through Sunday, July 29, PulpFest 2018 will honor the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War. On November 11, 1918, an armistice was signed that brought more than four years of hostilities to a close. The convention’s focus will be the so-called “war pulps” of the early twentieth century. It will also explore the depiction of war in popular fiction and art.

One of the leading artists who brought The Great War alive for pulp readers was Frederick Blakeslee. Born on December 4, 1898, next year will mark the 120th anniversary of his birth.

Trained in mechanical drafting, Blakeslee began to study art at the Pratt Institute while working for the Curtiss Aeroplane Factory. Among his classmates were Walter Baumhofer, John Fleming Gould, and Rudolph Belarski. The latter helped Frederick Blakeslee to get his first cover assignments for the pulp magazines.

According to pulp art historian David Saunders, “Blakeslee became a leader in the field of aviation pulps, as well as a top cover artist for railroad pulps. He was also a top pen & ink man, who drew over one thousand interior black and white story illustrations for Popular Publications, his primary publisher. Blakeslee painted 423 pulp covers — 306 of those appeared on every issue of BATTLE BIRDS, CAPTAIN COMBAT, DARE-DEVIL ACES, DUSTY AYRES AND HIS BATTLE BIRDS, and G-8 AND HIS BATTLE ACES . . . an amazing feat that no other pulp artist can claim.”

After serving in the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve during the Second World War, freelance work became harder to find. Frederick Blakeslee returned to industrial drafting, where he finished his professional career. On March 5, 1973, the artist passed at age 74.

Make your plans to celebrate “The Armistice that Ended The Great War” and “120 Years of Frederick Blakeslee.” We’ll also be celebrating the 100th anniversary of the birth of science fiction Grand Master Philip Jose Farmer and welcoming award-winning author Joe Lansdale as our guest of honor.

Please join us July 26 – 29 for PulpFest 2018 at the beautiful DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Cranberry, just outside Pennsylvania’s Steel City. We hope to see you there.

(G-8 AND HIS BATTLE ACES debuted with its October 1933 issue. It ran for 110 issues through its June 1944 number. Published by Popular Publications, the magazine featured a lead novel — written by Robert J. Hogan — and cover art by Frederick Blakeslee. John Fleming Gould — a pen-and-ink artist who will also be celebrated at PulpFest 2018 — contributed the interior art.

Blakeslee’s cover for the January 1935 number of G-8 illustrated Hogan’s lead novel, “The X-Ray Eye.” The author’s and artist’s version of World War I took a rather fantastic bent, an idea that will likewise be explored at PulpFest 2018.)

 

Happy Thanksgiving from PulpFest

Nov 20, 2017 by

Today, the PulpFest organizing committee would like to wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving. We hope your holiday will turn out far better than the day of this particular soldier.

Over the coming months, we’ll be looking at some of the artists, writers, and publishers who worked in the war genre for the pulp magazine industry. It’s all part of our celebration of the 100th anniversary of the armistice that brought the First World War to an end.

Beginning on Thursday evening, July 26, and running through Sunday, July 29, PulpFest 2018 will focus on the so-called “war pulps” of the early twentieth century as well as the depiction of war in popular culture. Please join us at the beautiful DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Cranberry. We’ll also be celebrating the century mark of Grand Master of Science Fiction Philip José Farmer. PulpFest and its associated convention — FarmerCon — will be saluting the acclaimed author of such works as ESCAPE FROM LOKITHE DARK HEART OF TIME, the classic Riverworld series, and more. And don’t forget that award-winning author Joe Lansdale will be PulpFest‘s guest of honor. We look forward to seeing you in July 2018.

(C. R. Schaare began working at the age of twelve. Trained as an engraver’s assistant, he eventually found employment as a sketch artist for the advertising industry. In 1925 he began to sell freelance pulp magazine covers to ACE-HIGH, AIR STORIES, ALL-AMERICAN SPORTS, GUN MOLLS, LARIAT STORY, MASKED RIDER, NAVY STORIES, WAR STORIES — including the July 5, 1929 cover — and other pulps. He continued to work for the pulps as a cover artist until 1940. He also contributed many covers to the boxing periodical, THE RING.)

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Armistice Day

Nov 6, 2017 by

The day when we honor all U. S. military veterans — November 11 — originated as “Armistice Day” on November 11, 1919, the first anniversary of the end of World War I. The day became a national holiday in 1938 and was changed to Veterans Day in 1954.

One hundred years ago today, the struggle for the battered village of Passchendaele — officially called the Third Battle of Ypres — was drawing to a close. The town’s remnants would be reclaimed by British and Canadian forces on November 6, but the fighting would last four more days.

Edwin Vaughan– an officer of the 1st/8th Warwickshire Regiment of the British Expeditionary Force — wrote about the carnage in his journal:

“Up the road we staggered, shells bursting around us. A man stopped dead in front of me, and exasperated I cursed him and butted him with my knee. Very gently he said, “I’m blind, Sir” and turned to show me his eyes and nose torn away by a piece of shell. “Oh God! I’m sorry, sonny,” I said. “Keep going on the hard part,” and left him staggering back in his darkness . . . A tank had churned its way slowly behind Springfield and opened fire; a moment later I looked and nothing remained of it but a crumpled heap of iron; it had been hit by a large shell. . . .

From other shell holes from the darkness on all sides came the groans and wails of wounded men; faint, long, sobbing moans of agony, and despairing shrieks. It was too horribly obvious that dozens of men with serious wounds must have crawled for safety into new shell holes, and now the water was rising about them and, powerless to move, they were slowly drowning. Horrible visions came to me with those cries, (of men) lying maimed out there trusting that their pals would find them, and now dying terribly, alone amongst the dead in the inky darkness. And we could do nothing to help them; Dunham was crying quietly beside me, and all the men were affected by the piteous cries.”

On August 25, when he awoke to take muster, Vaughan’s worst fears were realized: “Out of our happy little band of 90 men, only 15 remained.”

Such were the horrors of Passchendaele and the “War to End All Wars.” In 1914 as war was declared, there were street celebrations across Europe. No one envisaged the stalemate of the trenchs nor the appalling casualties of four years of fighting. About 8.5 million soldiers on both sides of the conflict died of wounds and disease. According to the ENCYCLOPEDIA BRITANNICA“It has been estimated that the number of civilian deaths attributable to the war was higher than the military casualties, or around 13,000,000. These civilian deaths were largely caused by starvation, exposure, disease, military encounters, and massacres.”

Except for a single writer — Leonard Nason — stories about the First World War were very limited in the general fiction pulps. But as the rough paper magazines began to specialize in the teens and twenties, the first pulp devoted to tales of war would appear. Introduced by Dell Publishing in 1926, WAR STORIES would be followed by many others: BATTLE STORIES, WINGS, OVER THE TOP, DARE-DEVIL ACES, SKY FIGHTERS, and dozens more. Most disappeared by 1940 as another “Great War” was unfolding.

Beginning on Thursday evening, July 26, and running through Sunday, July 29, PulpFest 2018 will honor the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War. The convention’s focus will be the so-called “war pulps” of the early twentieth century as well as the depiction of war in popular culture. Please join us at the beautiful DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Cranberry, just outside Pennsylvania’s Steel City. We’ll also be celebrating the century mark of Grand Master of Science Fiction Philip José Farmer. PulpFest and its associated convention — FarmerCon — will be saluting the acclaimed author of such works as ESCAPE FROM LOKITHE DARK HEART OF TIME, the classic Riverworld series, and more. Award-winning author Joe Lansdale will be PulpFest‘s guest of honor.

A soldier running along a corduroy track through Chateau Wood (photograph from the collection of the Imperial War Museum).

(H. C. Murphy painted the front cover art for the February 20, 1924 issue of ADVENTURE. Leonard H. Nason was featured on the cover for his short story, “Three Lights from a Match,” appearing in the issue.)

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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Sunday at PulpFest

Jul 30, 2017 by

PulpFest 2017 is drawing to a close, but there is still time to get in on the action. The dealers’ room will be open from 9 AM until 2 PM today. With most of our dealers getting ready to head for home, our admission for the day is only $10, which includes a copy of our highly collectible program book, THE PULPSTER. Children who are fifteen and younger and accompanied by a parent, will be admitted free of charge. There are no programming events scheduled for Sunday.

Located in the Grand Ballroom of the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Cranberry, 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. Although our dealers’ room will be open, buying opportunities may be limited as most of our dealers will be packing up their displays, preparing for their trip home.

If you have not been able to attend PulpFest in 2017, start making your plans right now to join the 47th convening of “Summer’s Great Pulp Con” in 2018. Your PulpFest organizing committee is already starting to plan for next year’s convention. We’ll be celebrating the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War at PulpFest 2018. We’re also hoping to be joined by our FarmerCon friends for a celebration of 100 years of Grand Master of Science Fiction Philip José Farmer. As always, expect a great dealers’ room and superb programming.

To keep informed about PulpFest 2018, bookmark http://www.pulpfest.com/ and visit often. News about the convention can also be found on the PulpFest Facebook site 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. You’ll also find us on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/pulpfest/ and Tumbler at http://pulpfest.tumblr.com/. Wherever you look for PulpFest on the web, we’ll be sure to keep you informed of our plans.

Many thanks to all of you who attended this year’s convention. We hope that you enjoyed yourself and will return for PulpFest 2018. Please bring your friends!

Your PulpFest Organizing Committee — Mike Chomko, Jack Cullers, Sally Cullers, Bill Lampkin, Barry Traylor, & Chuck Welch

(At the start of the twentieth century, reading was a primary form of entertainment in the United States. Cheaply made magazines printed on wood pulp paper and costing a quarter or less were affordable to most. These “pulps” featured a variety of stories: westerns, romances, mysteries, science fiction, and more. Tales of war were largely relegated to the historical past and colonial Britain or France. Except for a single writer — Leonard Nason — stories about the First World War were very limited during the teens and early twenties.

As the century progressed, pulps began to specialize. There were magazines devoted to fantasy, detectives, love, sports, and other genres. In 1926, Dell Publishing introduced WAR STORIES, the first magazine devoted to tales of war. It was followed by many others: BATTLE STORIES — the January 1932 number with cover art by Gertrude C. Orde is pictured here — WINGS, OVER THE TOP, DARE-DEVIL ACES, SKY FIGHTERS, and dozens more. Most had disappeared by 1940.

After World War II, the demand for pulp magazines waned as paperback books took hold. In the fifties, television became the favored form of escapism and the surviving pulps ceased publication. Fiction magazines continued to be published, but in new formats. The science-fiction and mystery digests and men’s “adventure” magazines are considered descendants of the pulps.

Start making your plans right now to join PulpFest 2018. We look forward to seeing you.)