Major George Fielding Eliot at 125

Jun 21, 2019 by

Last year marked the centennial of the armistice that ended the First World War. PulpFest 2018 honored the hundredth anniversary of the war’s end by focusing on the so-called “war pulps” of the early twentieth century and the depiction of war in popular culture.

Major George Fielding Eliot was one of several prolific war fiction writers for the pulps. Born in Brooklyn on June 22, 1894, he emigrated with his parents to Australia when he was eight years old. While attending the University of Melbourne, he joined the school’s cadet corps. A regimental commander upon graduating, Eliot enlisted as a second lieutenant in the Australian army in 1914. Wounded twice and gassed, Eliot saw action in the ill-fated Gallipoli Campaign and on the western front. He was an acting major at war’s end.

Following the First World War and a two-year stint with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Eliot returned to the United States and worked as an accountant and auditor. He also enlisted in the Army Reserve, serving in military intelligence. He rose to the rank of major.

Eliot began writing fiction for the pulps in 1926. He continued to do so until the early years of the Second World War. After the war, he occasionally published a story in the men’s adventure magazines and detective digests.

Best known in pulp circles as the creator of FBI Special Agent Dan Fowler, Eliot wrote primarily for the war and air war magazines. His fiction appeared in BATTLE ACES, BATTLE BIRDS, BATTLE STORIES, DARE-DEVIL ACES, FLYING ACES, THE LONE EAGLE, NAVY STORIES, OVER THE TOP, SKY BIRDS, SKY FIGHTERS, SKY RIDERS, SUBMARINE STORIES, WAR BIRDS, and Dell Publishing’s WAR NOVELS and WAR STORIES. The Major also wrote for ADVENTURE, ARGOSY, BLUE BOOK, THE DANGER TRAIL, DETECTIVE-DRAGNET, FIVE-NOVELS MONTHLY, NICK CARTER MAGAZINE, POPULAR DETECTIVE, THE SAINT, SPY NOVELS, SPY STORIES, THRILLING ADVENTURE, THRILLING RANCH STORIES, WEST, WESTERN ROMANCES, WESTERN TRAILS, and others. For Standard Magazines’ G-MEN, Eliot wrote fourteen of the first 23 Dan Fowler adventures, including the first four stories of the series. They were published under the C. K. M. Scanlon house name.

Several of Eliot’s crime novels were also published in hardcover. His FEDERAL BULLETS was adapted and released by Monogram in 1937. It starred Milburn Stone as Federal Agent Tommy Thompson.

After moving to New York City in 1928, Eliot began to contribute non-fiction articles to such periodicals as INFANTRY JOURNAL and the NAVAL INSTITUTE PROCEEDINGS. In 1937, he co-authored the book IF WAR COMES, with Major R. Ernest Dupuy. His follow-up — THE RAMPARTS WE WATCH: A STUDY OF THE PROBLEMS OF AMERICAN NATIONAL DEFENSE — appeared a year later. He also wrote about war and military strategy for THE AMERICAN MERCURY, CURRENT HISTORY, FOREIGN AFFAIRS, LIFE, HARPER’S MAGAZINE, and SEE.

According to his obituary in THE NEW YORK TIMES, “Major Eliot was a military correspondent and analyst during World War II for THE NEW YORK HERALD TRIBUNE and the Columbia Broadcasting System. He wrote a syndicated military affairs column for seventeen years until 1967 and also was military editor of COLLIER’S ENCYCLOPEDIA. . . . From the outbreak of the war in 1939 until 1947, his column on military affairs appeared daily in THE HERALD TRIBUNE and 34 other papers, and was said to have had five million readers. In addition, Mr. Eliot was the author of a shelf of books on military topics and an indefatigable speaker, in constant demand on lecture platforms around the country. . . . Overall, Americans were heartened by Major Eliot’s writings, speeches and radio commentaries.”

On December 7, 1941, Major Eliot participated in WCBW’s historic broadcast concerning the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. He was also a broadcast correspondent from London with Edward R. Murrow in 1939, and part of the live CBS coverage of the D-Day invasion on December 6, 1944. He also contributed a regular military affairs column to ARGOSY from early 1944 through mid-1945. THE NEW YORK TIMES called him “the dean of military analysts during World War II.”

Major George Fielding Eliot died on April 21, 1971, following a long illness.

(“The Copper Bowl” — one of just four tales written by Major George Fielding Eliot  for “The Unique Magazine” — is probably his best known and most widely read story. Often reprinted — most recently by Otto Penzler in his 2017 anthology, THE BIG BOOK OF ROGUES AND VILLAINS — the story was originally published in the December 1928 issue of WEIRD TALES. Editor Farnsworth Wright decided to run it a second time in the December 1939 WEIRD TALES, featuring front cover art by Hannes Bok. The artist’s painting illustrates David H. Keller’s novella, “Lords of the Ice,” the story of “a war-mad world.”

Al Hirschfeld’s drawing of Major George Fielding Eliot was part of a series of post cards published by CBS in 1944. Hirschfeld’s illustrations were used by CBS to advertise their radio programming in newspapers and magazines.)

125 Years of Chris Schaare

Jul 5, 2018 by

Born on July 5, 1893, Christian Schaare was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. After moving with his family to West Hoboken, New Jersey, Schaare trained as an engraver’s assistant and a graphic designer. According to pulp scholar and art historian David Saunders, Schaare began selling freelance cover art to a variety of pulp magazines in 1925. His work was used by ACE-HIGH, AIR STORIES, AIRPLANE STORIES, ALL-AMERICAN SPORTS, COMPLETE SKY NOVEL, GUN MOLLS, LARIAT STORY, MASKED RIDER, NAVY STORIES, SKY RIDERS, WAR BIRDS, WAR STORIES, and others. He continued to work for the pulps until 1940.

Beginning in 1932, Schaare began a long series of covers for THE RING, a boxing magazine. He continued to work for the title into the 1950s. During this period, the artist also started working as a penciler and inker for comic books. His work appeared in Fawcett’s WOW COMICS, Holyoke’s BLUE BEETLE, Continental’s CAT-MAN COMICS, and other titles. From 1945 until 1960, Schaare worked as packaging design artist for The American Can Company. He produced several iconic advertising images, including the logos for Maxwell House Coffee and Sunoco.

(PulpFest 2018 will honor the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended the First World War. The convention will focus on the so-called “war pulps” of the early twentieth century and the depiction of war in popular culture. As part of our WWI programming, David Saunders will discuss the artists of the war pulps, including Chris Schaare.

From early 1928 through late 1930, C. R. Schaare painted at least fifteen covers for Dell Publishing’s WAR STORIES and its companions, WAR BIRDS and NAVY STORIES. He also contributed at least seven covers for Dell’s aviation title, SKY RIDERS. Although his covers sometimes had a humorous bent — such as the “Sausages” cover for the July 5, 1928 WAR STORIES — they often depicted soldiers in hand-to-hand combat. Chris Schaare died in 1980, at the age of eighty-six.)

Happy 125th George Delacorte!

Jun 20, 2018 by

PulpFest 2018 will honor the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended the First World War. The convention will focus on the so-called “war pulps” of the early twentieth century and the depiction of war in popular culture. The first of these pulps — WAR STORIES — was published by today’s birthday boy, George Thomas Delacorte. Born on June 20, 1893 in Brooklyn, New York, Delacorte was the founder of the Dell Publishing Company.

Following his dismissal from William Clayton’s SNAPPY STORIES MAGAZINE in 1920, Delacorte began his publishing company. His first periodical was I, CONFESS, a confession pulp modeled after Bernarr Macfadden’s TRUE STORY MAGAZINE. Debuting in early 1922, it has been called “the most prominent of the confession pulps.” It lasted for over 200 issues.

Seeking to duplicate the success of I CONFESS, Dell continued to issue love-themed confessional titles over the next three years: CUPID’S DIARY in 1923, MARRIAGE STORIES in 1924and SWEETHEART STORIES in 1925. WESTERN ROMANCES came a few years later, debuting in late 1929. Over half of Dell’s total pulp output was in the love and confessional field.

In 1926, Dell swung to the other side of the spectrum with WAR STORIES, the first of the “war pulps.” Featuring authors such as Larry Barretto, Robert Sidney Bowen, Harold F. Cruickshank, George Fielding Eliot, Steuart Emery, Arthur Guy Empey, Robert H. Leitfred, Ralph Oppenheim, Alexis Rossoff, and Raoul Whitfield, WAR STORIES demonstrated that tales about soldiers in battle could sell magazines.

Fawcett Publications was next to the trough when it launched BATTLE STORIES in the fall of 1927. Although Fiction House’s WINGS came next, it was a general aviation fiction magazine along the lines of AIR STORIES, the pulp that had introduced the air genre. In the spring of 1931, WINGS would gain a new subtitle: “Fighting Aces of War Skies.” Only then would it follow ACES — another Fiction House title, introduced in late 1928 — into the skies over the Western Front.

Dell copied itself in early 1928 with two new titles: WAR NOVELS and WAR BIRDS, the first magazine in the “air war pulps” field. It was soon joined by A. A. Wyn’s FLYING ACES — published by Ace — and the previously mentioned ACES. Street & Smith would join the fray with OVER THE TOP, while Harold Hersey came on board with UNDER FIRE MAGAZINE. The field became a bit more specialized in the early months of 1929 when Dell introduced NAVY STORIES, while Ramer issued ZEPPELIN STORIES. Later that same year, Dell began offering SUBMARINE STORIES. In the spring 0f 1930, Delacorte would debut the last of his war pulps, WAR ACES.

The new kids on the block — Popular Publications and Standard Magazines — would enter the battlefield in the early thirties. Popular’s BATTLE ACES — the forerunner of the hero pulp, G-8 AND HIS BATTLE ACES — was launched during the fall of 1930. It was followed by DARE-DEVIL ACES in early 1932 and BATTLE BIRDS at the end of the same year. The Thrilling Group took off in mid-1932 with SKY FIGHTERS. About a year later, it beat Popular to the first air war hero pulp when it debuted THE LONE EAGLE with its September 1933 issue.

Most of Dell’s war titles shut down during the early years of the Great Depression. Only WAR BIRDS lasted beyond 1932. Although one can blame the rise of fascism in Europe and the early glimpses of the coming war, their demise was largely due to the increasing success of Delacorte’s non-pulp titles — BALLYHOO, INSIDE DETECTIVE, MODERN ROMANCES, MODERN SCREEN, and SCREEN STORIES — and his puzzle and activity books such as DELL CROSSWORD PUZZLES. Delacorte was also experimenting with the new comics medium, publishing a tabloid called THE FUNNIES in 1929. In 1938, Dell formed a very successful partnership with Western Publishing to finance and distribute their comic books. “Best known for its licensed material, most notably the animated characters from Walt Disney Productions, Warner Bros., Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, and Walter Lantz Studio,” the Dell/Western partnership controlled about one-third of the total comic book market at its peak during the 1950s.

In early 1942, Dell and Western also launched a paperback line. Once again, Dell provided the financing and distribution and Western offered the paper and printing. Largely consisting of genre fiction — particularly mysteries — about 25 million Dell paperbacks were sold annually by the end of the forties. Its reprinting of PEYTON PLACE in September 1957, “put Dell on the map.” In 1963, Delacorte Press was created to assure a steady stream of material for Dell paperbacks. Robert B. Parker, Irwin Shaw, Danielle Steel, and Kurt Vonnegut were some of the authors who signed with the company.

In 1971, George Delacorte sold Dell Publishing to Doubleday and retired from publishing. He died in 1991 at the age of ninety-seven.

(George Delacorte, founder of the Dell Publishing Company, was the first to demonstrate that tales of soldiers and battle could sell magazines. His WAR STORIES — introduced in 1926 — was the first of the war pulps. The magazine used some of the pulp field’s leading writers for its fiction and some of its best artists — including Julius “Jules” Erbit, who painted the cover for the March 1, 1928 issue — for its cover art. PulpFest will explore the war pulps and the depiction of war in popular culture at this year’s convention.

Although never a major player in the pulp industry, Dell would become a leading force in publishing. Its humor, crime, and movie magazines, puzzle and activity books, and comic books and paperbacks — such as Philip Ketchum’s DEATH IN THE LIBRARY (Dell Book #1) with cover art by William Strohmer — would turn Dell into a powerhouse in publishing. In later years, it became the publisher of bestselling authors Robert B. Parker, Irwin Shaw, Danielle Steel, and Kurt Vonnegut, among others.)