120 Years of Arthur J. Burks

Sep 10, 2018 by

Arthur J. Burks was born September 13, 1898. While his name may not be familiar to the more casual pulp fan, he was a prolific and successful pulp writer who authored more than 800 stories (and possibly as many as 1400 when his many pseudonyms are taken into account). Burks was one of a number of pulp writers who distinguished themselves by averaging more than one million words per year. Regardless of the precise amount of his output, he was a prodigious and highly inventive storyteller.

Born to a farming family in Washington state, Burks was a veteran of both World Wars and retired from the service at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. While stationed in the Caribbean, he witnessed voodoo rituals which inspired his second career as a pulp writer beginning in 1920. Burks wrote countless weird menace, adventure, detective, aviation, and boxing stories for WEIRD TALES, ASTOUNDING STORIES, THRILLING WONDER STORIES, STRANGE TALES, SCIENCE FICTION QUARTERLY, MARVEL SCIENCE STORIES, and many others.

Burks’ series characters included Chinatown detective Dorus Noel and boxer Kid Friel. Burks died at age 75 in May 1974. He remained a writer to the very end. He concentrated on the paranormal and metaphysics beginning in the 1960s and became a popular fixture on the lecture circuit sharing his knowledge with the curious and skeptical alike and offering readings. Much of Burks’ fantasy fiction centers on the metaphysical. One of his best known works (and one of the few to be published in book form), THE GREAT MIRROR (1942) concerns Martian technology utilized by Tibetan monks to foster ESP and matter transmission.

Burks married at age nineteen. He and his wife raised four children. While not one of the legendary names in the pulp world, his work in so many genres and under so many pseudonyms made him a fixture during the golden age of pulp and beyond.

Keep watching our website for more on the pulp greats. Then plan to attend next year’s PulpFest. We’ll be highlighting the many ways that pulp fiction and pulp art have inspired writers, artists, film directors, software developers, game designers, and other creators over the decades. PulpFest 2019 will take place August 15 – 18 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Cranberry.

(Arthur J. Burks penned some of WEIRD TALE’s best macabre stories during its early years, including “The Ghosts of Steamboat Coulee” and “Bells of Oceana.” His science fiction story,”The Invading Horde,” was published in the November 1927 number. The cover art for the issue was created by C. C. Senf, the artist who painted most of covers for”The Unique Magazine” from early 1927 through mid-1932.)

Hardboiled Dicks, Dangerous Dames, and a Few Psychos III

Dec 5, 2016 by

doctor-death-35-02Beginning with its first convention in 2009, PulpFest has drawn countless raves from pop culture enthusiasts. Planned as the summertime destination for fans and collectors of vintage popular fiction and related materials, PulpFest seeks to honor pulp fiction and pulp art by drawing attention to the many ways they have inspired writers, artists, film directors, software developers, game designers, and other creators over the decades. That’s why PulpFest is renowned for its fantastic dealers’ room and wide range of interesting and entertaining programming. So what will be happening at PulpFest 2017?

Back in October, we told you about the hardboiled dicks that transformed the traditional mystery story into the tough guy (and gal) crime fiction that remains popular to this very day. In November, we focused on the dangerous dames of the pulps, the hardboiled ladies who helped to pave the way for such modern day gumshoes as Sue Grafton‘s Kinsey Millhone, Marcia Muller‘s Sharon McCone, and Sara Paretsky‘s V. I. Warshawski. This month we turn our attention to the psychos of the pulps.

Perhaps the most famous fictional “psycho” of them all is Norman Bates, the insane killer portrayed by Anthony Perkins in PSYCHOThis classic film — directed by Alfred Hitchcock — was based on a 1959 novel written by Robert Bloch. The author, born on April 5, 1917, got his start as a writing professional in the pulps. His first sale was made to his favorite pulp magazine, WEIRD TALES. Over the years, Bloch’s and Hitchcock’s “psycho” has served to inspire similar characters in popular culture.

terror-tales-40-03Like Bloch’s PSYCHO, the pulps were a breeding ground for madness. On a monthly basis, mad scientists, crazed hunchbacks, and foul cultists would threaten beautiful women with bodily injury and “fates worse than death” in the pages of weird menace magazines such as TERROR TALES and HORROR STORIES. Over in the hero pulps, New York City’s population would be decimated by one madman after another in the pages of THE SPIDERAmerica’s Secret Service Ace, Jimmy Christopher, would save America from tyrant after tyrant in OPERATOR #5. The Shadow would battle Shiwan Khan and Benedict Stark, while Doc Savage had his hands full with John Sunlight.

Eventually, the pulp publishers tested their marketing skills as they introduced “villain” pulps: DOCTOR DEATH, DR. YEN SIN, THE OCTOPUS, THE SCORPION, and THE MYSTERIOUS WU FANG. Although these series were all short-lived, they helped to popularize the concept of the diabolic madman. PulpFest will be celebrating both the hundredth anniversary of Robert Bloch’s birth and some of the psychos of the pulps at our next convention.

Start planning to attend PulpFest 2017 and its celebration of pulp fiction and pulp art. Join us next July outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania as we explore “Hardboiled Dicks, Dangerous Dames, and a Few Psychos.” Meanwhile, stay tuned to PulpFest.com for news on our “New Fictioneers” readings, Saturday Night Auction, and much more.  We’ll have a new post each and every Monday in the weeks ahead. So visit often to learn all about PulpFest 2017, one of the largest and most popular pulp cons of the year!

(Doctor Death was first introduced in a series of stories credited to Edward P. Norris that appeared in Dell Publications’ ALL DETECTIVE. When that title was cancelled in 1935, it was replaced by a new pulp focusing on an arch villain. Entitled DOCTOR DEATH, the magazine lasted for a total of three issues. It’s first number — dated February 1935 — featured front cover art by Rudolph Zirm, a freelance artist who contributed a few dozen pulp covers to various publishers over a period of six years.

In the three Doctor Death pulp novels — all written by Harold Ward — Doctor Death is Rance Mandarin, “a master of the occult with an insane hatred of scientific progress and industrialization. He believes it is his mission to return the world to a blissful primitive state, which he attempts to do with the aid of zombies, elementals, dissolution rays and communist heavies.”

More wild pulp villainy could be found in such weird menace magazines as TERROR TALES, SPICY MYSTERY STORIES, and HORROR STORIES. Such titles often featured beautiful women threatened by terrors unimaginable — including the March 1940 TERROR TALES — also painted by Rudolph Zirm.)

A Great Deal on THE PULPSTER

Sep 25, 2015 by

The-Pulpster-24-coverInterested in buying a copy of THE PULPSTER #24, our Lovecraft issue? Highlighted by a round-robin article on H. P. Lovecraft and WEIRD TALES with contributions from filmmaker Sean Branney; Marvin Kaye, the current editor of WEIRD TALES; W. Paul Ganley, founder of WEIRDBOOK; Derrick Hussey, the publisher at Hippocampus Press; authors Jason Brock, Ramsey Campbell, Cody Goodfellow, Nick Mamatas, Tim Powers, Wilum Pugmire, Jessica Amanda Salmonson, Darrell Schweitzer, and Chet Williamson; poet Fred Phillips; and pulp scholars and collectors John Haefele, Don Herron, Morgan Holmes, S. T. Joshi, Tom Krabacher, Rick Lai, Will Murray, and J. Barry Traylor, it’s truly a slam-bang issue from the esteemed editor of our highly popular program book, William Lampkin. With less than forty copies remaining, it’s quickly disappearing.

For a limited time, you can get free shipping on THE PULPSTER #24 if you pair it with an order for a copy of THE PULPSTER #23, released at PulpFest 2014That number focuses on the 75th anniversary of the blossoming of science fiction’s Golden Age, when fantastic fiction “grew up.” Additionally, the magazine also examines the so-called “shudder pulps,” magazines such as Terror Tales and Spicy Mystery Stories.

The Pulpster 23 Final CoverLeading off the issue is “Science Fiction and the Pulps,” the unabridged version of Mike Chomko‘s “History of Magazine Science Fiction,” serialized on the PulpFest home page in 2014. Munsey Award winner Garyn G. Roberts is on board with an article on Futuria Fantasia, the fanzine that Ray Bradbury debuted at the first World Science Fiction ConventionDon Herron, the creator of San Francisco’s Dashiell Hammett Tour, the longest-running literary tour in the USA, takes a look at Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, Fritz Leiber’s classic characters that made their first appearance in the August 1939 UnknownDwayne Olson contributes several letters written by Donald Wandrei concerning the death of his friend, Hannes Bok, born one-hundred years ago on July 2, 1914. Additionally, Argentine pulp writer Alfredo Julio Grassi is profiled by Christian Lawson.

Weird-menace fiction came into its own in 1934 and The Pulpster looks back to those days with “Pulp Horrors of the Dirty Thirties,” written by Don Hutchison, author of The Great Pulp Heroes and many other works. Archaeologist  Jeffrey Shanks is also on hand with a look at “Zombies from the Pulps,” an overview of the undead writings of H. P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, Manly Wade Wellman, Henry Kuttner, and other great pulpsters.

Filling out the issue is editor Bill Lampkin’s editorial, Tony Davis’ “Final Chapters,” and a tribute to the late Frank M. Robinson, written by John Gunnison of Adventure House.

As long as copies of both issues remain, you can get THE PULPSTER #23 24 for $20 from Mike Chomko, BooksThis offer is good only in the United States. Mike will accept payments made via check or money order or through Paypal. Please write to him at mike@pulpfest.com or 2217 W. Fairview Street, Allentown, PA 18104-6542 for further instructions. Quantities of both issues are very limited.

(Ed Cartier painted the cover used on THE PULPSTER #23. It originally appeared on the December 1939 issue of Street & Smith’s UNKNOWN and illustrated L. Sprague de Camp’s classic fantasy novel, “Lest Darkness Fall.” Four of the sixteen illustrated covers for UNKNOWN were painted by Cartier. He also created the cover for the 1948 reprint issue, FROM UNKNOWN WORLDS.)

The Mystery and Mastery of John Newton Howitt

Jul 30, 2014 by

Terror Tales 34-11John Newton Howitt studied at the Art Students League with George Bridgman and Walter Clark. A devoted landscape painter, his work was sold at fine art galleries in New York City. In 1905 he began to freelance for The New York Herald Tribune, This Week, and other publications. His later markets included Red Book, Woman’s Home Companion, Maclean’s, and Scribner’s. Following the First World War, Howitt’s work could be found in Country Gentleman, Farm Life, Liberty, and The Saturday Evening Post.

The Great Depression vastly diminished the markets to which Howitt had been selling. Needing an income, he turned to the pulps. An excellent painter, Howitt found a ready market in the rough-paper periodicals, selling freelance pulp covers to Adventure, Dime Detective, Dime Mystery, Horror Stories, Love StorySecret Service Operator #5, The Spider, Terror Tales, Top-Notch, The Whisperer, and Western Story. Although he signed his covers for the western, adventure, and romance pulps with his professional signature, his work for the hero and weird-menace pulps was signed with only his initial, “H.”

Although John Newton Howitt’s iconic cover images for Terror Tales, Horror Stories, The Spider, and Operator #5 are among the most disturbing in the history of pulp art, his painting technique is among the most dignified of all the pulp artists. On Saturday, August 9th, at 8:30 PM, please join art historian David Saunders for an exploration of “The Mystery and Mastery of John Newton Howitt” at PulpFest 2014.

Born in 1954, David Saunders is a New York artist. His work has been exhibited worldwide in museums and corporate and private collections, 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 colleges nationwide, including Yale, Oberlin, R.I.S.D., S.C.A.D., Middlebury, Washington University, 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 of Woman’s Day Magazine. In 1972, David became his father’s business and correspondence 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 continued to complete 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 recorded vital information about the lives of other historic illustrators. Some of this material has been published as biographical profiles of classic illustrators in Illustration Magazine and a number of book-length biographies and appreciations of pulp artists.

David Saunders is 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 pulpartists.comdavidsaunders.biznormansaunders.com, and the illustratedpress.com.

To learn more about the image used in this post, click on the illustration.

80 Years of Terror!

Jul 28, 2014 by

Terror Tales 34-09Back in the days of bread lines and hobo jungles, millions of readers found escapist thrills in the pages of cheaply produced magazines printed on rough pulpwood paper. Pulp magazines catered to every imaginable reading taste from detective yarns to pirate stories, from jungle adventures to science fiction, from sports stories to romance tales. But the wildest of them all were the notorious horror tomes known collectively as the shudder pulps.

The so-called “shudder” or “weird-menace” titles were a blood-red splash of color in the grey days of the Great Depression. They announced their monthly wares with circus-poster-style covers featuring voluptuous under-dressed beauties being pursued by hordes of leering lunatics as bent as boomerangs. Their promise: cheap thrills, and plenty of them. In their nightmare universe it was always a dark and stormy night. Tethered damsels suffered in the clutches of fiends such as hell-mad surgeons, warped scientists, and masked and cowled cultists, eagerly abetted by legions of demented dwarfs and horny hunchbacks. They stripped, whipped, and boiled their curvaceous victims with the enthusiasm of medieval inquisitors. Even the requisite rock-jawed heroes of these stories suffered a purgatory of horrors in order to rescue their brutally treated fair maidens.

The weird-menace magazines lasted for but a few brief years, roughly from 1933 to 1941, when the actions of blue-nosed watchdogs helped propel them from the market. In contrast to previous horror magazines with their literate but fusty eldritch mysteries, the new breed of terror pulps dared go where no newsstand magazines had gone before. Dime Mystery 33-10Join PulpFest 2014 on Friday, August 8th, at 9:30 PM as we celebrate the eightieth anniversary of Terror Tales, the best of the weird-menace magazines.

Popular culture professor Garyn G. Roberts, winner of the 2013 Munsey Award and editor of some of the best collections from the pulps; Ed Hulse, publisher of Murania Press books and a consultant for the Dime Detective series from Altus Press; and Walker Martin, who writes about pulp collecting for Steve Lewis’ Mystery*File blog, will weigh in on this Popular Publications title, as well as other shudder pulps–Ace Mystery, Dime MysteryEerie Mysteries, Eerie Stories, Horror StoriesMystery Novels and Short Stories, Mystery Tales, Spicy Mystery Stories, Thrilling Mystery, Uncanny Tales, and others.

To learn more about the images used in this post, click on the illustrations.

Weird Menaces: The Shudder Pulps

Jul 6, 2014 by

Terror Tales 39-11Not only will we be celebrating science fiction’s “Golden Year of 1939” and “75 Years of Fantastic Fiction,” PulpFest 2014 intends to pay homage to “The Weird-Menace Magazines of 1934.” Called shudder pulps, these magazines experienced a brief period of popularity that began in late 1933 and ran until 1941, when a concerted reform movement brought an end to the genre.

Noted pulp authority Don Hutchison, author of The Great Pulp Heroes, has contributed a look at the weird-menace genre, “Pulp Horrors of the Dirty Thirties,” to this year’s issue of The Pulpster, our award-winning program book. Offered here are just a few of Don’s gory details concerning “The Shudder Pulps.”

Pulp Horrors of the Dirty Thirties: An Excerpt

Back in the days of bread lines and hobo jungles, millions of readers found escapist thrills in the pages of cheaply produced magazines printed on rough pulpwood paper. Pulp magazines catered to every imaginable reading taste from detective yarns to pirate stories, from jungle adventures to science fiction and even romance. But the wildest of them all were the notorious horror tomes known collectively as the shudder pulps.

The so-called “shudder” or “weird-menace” titles were a blood-red splash of color in the grey days of the Great Depression. They announced their monthly wares with circus-poster-style covers featuring voluptuous under-dressed beauties being pursued by hordes of leering lunatics as bent as boomerangs. Their promise: cheap thrills, and plenty of them.

Dime Mystery 33-10In their nightmare universe it was always a dark and stormy night. Tethered damsels suffered in the clutches of fiends such as hell-mad surgeons, warped scientists, and masked and cowled cultists, eagerly abetted by legions of demented dwarfs and horny hunchbacks. They stripped, whipped, and boiled their curvaceous victims with the enthusiasm of medieval inquisitors. Even the requisite rock-jawed heroes of these stories suffered a purgatory of horrors in order to rescue their brutally treated fair maidens.

The weird-menace magazines lasted for but a few brief years, roughly from 1933 to 1941, when the actions of blue-nosed watchdogs helped propel them from the market. In contrast to previous horror magazines with their literate but fusty eldritch mysteries, the new breed of terror pulps dared go where no newsstand magazines had gone before. These few magazines were largely responsible for the low opinion people held (and still hold) of the entire pulp fiction field. Many dealers sold them under the counter, and New York’s mayor Fiorello La Guardia singled them out when he warned the pulp publishers to clean up their act or get out of town.

With stories written to a strict formula by seasoned pros, shudder pulps featured some of the most unashamedly lurid fiction and art ever produced for the newsstands of middle America. Each month they announced their presence with covers illustrating in chromatic detail the titillating promise of stories like: “Flesh For the Goat Man,” “The Corpse Wants Your Widow,” “Food for the Fungus Lady,” “Mate For the Thing in the Box,” and “Summer Camp for Corpses.”

Horror Stories 35-01The first of the new breed of fiction mags, Dime Mystery, lurched onto the newsstands in October of 1933. It was the brainchild of Popular Publication’s resourceful young publisher Henry Steeger and took off like skyrockets. Popular Publications lost little time in producing not one, but two companion monthlies: Terror Tales, followed by Horror Stories.

Readers responded in large numbers to the lure of these purple prose set-ups and the inevitable pay-off in hell-spawned horrors. Soon, other publishers rushed into print with similar books of their own. Chief among them was publisher Ned Pines, whose Thrilling Mystery was a clone of Popular’s Dime Mystery. Believing that the public can never get too much of a bad thing, more newcomers tested the limits of sensationalism. There was Ace Mystery, Eerie Mysteries, Eerie Stories, Mystery Novels and Short Stories, Mystery Tales, Spicy Mystery Stories, Uncanny Tales, and others.

In the early 1940s there developed a public rejection of the permissiveness and thrill-seeking of the thirties. When New York Mayor Fiorello La Guardia threatened to rid his city of sex-and-sadism magazines, publishers retrenched in fear of losing newsstand sales as well as their U. S. postal mailing privileges. As shudder pulp stalwart Bruno Fischer described it “Clean-up organizations started throwing their weight around and gave editors jitters, and artists and writers were instructed to put panties and brassieres on the girls.”

Speed Mystery 43-01Dime Mystery was retooled as a straight mystery magazine. Spicy Mystery soldiered on for awhile, but was then re-titled Speed Mystery. Terror Tales and Horror Stories were shut down in 1941. Pulp fiction’s bloody reign of terror had ended, not with a bang but with a whimper. Unfortunately, in discarding key ingredients of their appeal, the magazines failed to develop new innovations, much less new readers. And, with the coming of World War II, the extent of human madness and misery could no longer be viewed–much less enjoyed–as mere fiction. In a more innocent time, it was thought that the brand of horror perpetrated by the fiends of the shudder pulps was purely imaginary. Now people knew that such things–and worse–were possible.

If you’d like to read the unabridged version of Don Hutchison’s article, it will be appearing in the PulpFest 2014 program book, The Pulpster. You’ll find ordering instructions at the bottom of our post entitled “To Infinity and Beyond.” It was featured on our home page on June 15th.

To learn more about the images used in this post, click on the illustrations. 

Coming to PulpFest! THE PULPSTER!

Jun 26, 2014 by

The_Pulpster_2014Editor Bill Lampkin is hard at work on the 23rd issue of The Pulpster. A freelance writer-editor and publication designer, Bill discovered the pulps through paperback reprints of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Robert E. Howard, The Shadow, Doc Savage, and The Spider. He’s capably assisted by Peter Chomko, a grant writer and research analyst for an educational fund.

A longstanding tradition cherished by attendees of summer pulp cons, this highly collectible and informative program book will be released at PulpFest 2014, beginning on Thursday, August 7th. Like the convention, the new number will focus on the 75th anniversary of the blossoming of science fiction’s Golden Age, when fantastic fiction “grew up.” We’ll also be looking at the shudder pulps of 1934. Every member of PulpFest will receive a complimentary copy of The Pulpster.

Leading off the issue will be “Science Fiction and the Pulps,” the unabridged version of Mike Chomko‘s “History of Magazine Science Fiction,” recently serialized on our home page. Last year’s Munsey Award winner, Garyn G. Roberts, is on board with an article on Futuria Fantasia, the fanzine that Ray Bradbury debuted at the first World Science Fiction Convention. Don Herron, the creator of San Francisco’s Dashiell Hammett Tour, the longest-running literary tour in the USA, takes a look at Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, Fritz Leiber’s classic characters that made their first appearance in the August 1939 Unknown. Dwayne Olson contributes several letters written by Donald Wandrei concerning the death of his friend, Hannes Bok, born one-hundred years ago on July 2, 1914. Additionally, Argentine pulp writer Alfredo Julio Grassi is profiled by Christian Lawson.

Weird-menace fiction came into its own in 1934 and The Pulpster will look back to those days with “Pulp Horrors of the Dirty Thirties,” written by Don Hutchison, author of The Great Pulp Heroes and many other works. Archaeologist  Jeffrey Shanks will also be on hand with a look at “Zombies from the Pulps,” an overview of the undead writings of H. P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, Manly Wade Wellman, Henry Kuttner, and other great pulpsters.

For those who are unable to attend PulpFest 2014, you can still get a copy of The Pulpster by becoming a supporting member of the convention. Visit our registration page for further details. Alternately, copies of The Pulpster #23 are available for $14, postage paid, from Mike Chomko, Books, where you can also get back issues of the magazine. Write to mike@pulpfest.com to place your order. Quantities are limited; PulpFest members take priority over orders from non-members.

Click on the illustration to learn more about the image.

Related Posts

Share This

PulpFest Programming

Feb 13, 2014 by

Terror Tales 39-11PulpFest is known for its great programming and the line-up that we’re planning for our 2014 convention is shaping up to be one of our best. As mentioned previously, we’ll be celebrating science fiction’s golden year of 1939 and seventy-five years of fantastic fiction, as well as eighty years of the shudder pulps, zeroing in on the weird-menace magazines of 1934.

As always, we’ll have a wide variety of panels and presentations, including a discussion of Famous Fantastic Mysteries featuring Blood ‘n’ Thunder editor Ed Hulse and author Nathan MadisonMeteor House publisher Mike Croteau’s review of Philip José Farmer’s early science fiction stories for the pulps and digests; art historian David Saunders‘  presentation on John Newton Howitt, one of the leading cover artists for the weird-menace pulps; and preeminent pulp authority and author of The Wild Adventures of Doc Savage, Will Murray’s celebration of the diamond jubilee of The Avenger, the last of Street & Smith’s major pulp heroes to get his own magazine.

You’ll find information on these and much, much more by visiting our programming page for a look at the preliminary schedule for PulpFest 2014.

The great John Newton Howitt, whose life and artistic career will be profiled by David Saunders on Saturday, August 9th at PulpFest 2014, contributed the front cover art to the November 1934 issue of Popular Publications’ Terror Tales. Although the first weird-menace tales appeared in Dime Mystery in the fall of 1933, it was not until the debut of Terror Tales and later, Horror Stories and Spicy Mystery, that the genre began to flourish.

Announcing PulpFest 2014

Oct 6, 2013 by

Astounding39-07With the autumn pulp con season in full swing, it’s the perfect time to announce that PulpFest 2014 will be returning to the Hyatt Regency hotel in downtown Columbus, Ohio. Summer’s must-attend event for fans, scholars, and collectors of pulp fiction will take place from Thursday, August 7th, through Sunday, August 10th with its acclaimed dealers’ room and packed programming schedule.

2014 marks the seventy-fifth anniversary of what many scholars have labeled the dawn of science fiction’s Golden Age.  As Alva Rogers wrote in his classic 1964 study of Astounding Stories, the leading science-fiction pulp of that long-gone era:

We now come to the beginning of what is generally known as the Golden Age of science fiction as a genre  . . . These next few years are the high-water mark of Astounding and of magazine science fiction. It is true that today we have men and women of considerable talent writing for the field . . . However, the magic, that hard to define Sense of Wonder, the excitement that surrounded Astounding in the years of the Golden Age (and, in fact, the entire field) seems to be sadly lacking these days . . . No longer is there that unbearable and interminable wait between issues; the thrill of a beautiful Rogers cover standing out like a diamond surrounded by paste as you approach the newsstand; the rush home and the hungry devouring of the entire contents at one sitting; the promise to yourself not to start the latest Heinlein or van Vogt or Smith serial until all the parts are at hand . . . the immediate breaking of that promise, and once again the interminable wait.

As Rogers states, 1939 was not only a golden year for Astounding–publishing the first science-fiction stories of Robert A. Heinlein, Theodore Sturgeon, and A. E. Van Vogt, as well as Isaac Asimov’s first story for the magazine and Hubert Rogers’ first cover–it also witnessed a blossoming of  magazine science fiction and fantasy. Following the introduction of Startling Stories at the end of 1938, no less than eight pulps featuring fantastic fiction debuted in 1939–Dynamic Science Stories, Strange Stories, Science Fiction, Unknown, Fantastic Adventures, Future Fiction, Famous Fantastic Mysteries, and Planet Stories. Three other science-fiction pulps were also in preparation during the year–Astonishing Stories, Captain Future, and Super Science Stories. The first World Science Fiction Convention was also held in New York City that year, home to the World’s Fair and its “World of Tomorrow” theme.

1939 World's Fair

PulpFest 2014 will also be celebrating the eightieth anniversary of Popular Publications’ shudder pulp trio of Dime Mystery Magazine, Terror Tales, and Horror Stories. The ashcan edition of Spicy Mystery Stories was also released during the summer of 1934. Although the first weird-menace tales appeared in Dime Mystery in the fall of 1933, it was not until the debut of Terror Tales and later, Horror Stories and Spicy Mystery, that the genre began to flourish. In just a few years, additional magazines–Star Detective, Thrilling Mystery, Eerie Mysteries, and others–would find space on America’s newsstands, hoping to scare the dickens out of their readers.

So start planning now to join PulpFest‘s celebration of science fiction’s Golden Age and the weird-menace pulps of 1934! And to keep up with all the latest news, please subscribe to our email updates via the gray box labeled “E-mail List” at the top of our home page. While you’re at it, “like” us on Facebook and “follow” us on Twitter.

 

Graves Gladney, best remembered today for his covers for The Shadow Magazine, contributed the cover art to the July 1939 Astounding Science Fiction, considered by many longtime science-fiction fans to be the true beginning of the genre’s Golden Age. Isaac Asimov’s first story for the magazine, “Trends,” and A. E. Van Vogt’s first story, “Black Destroyer” (thought by some to be an inspiration for the Ridley Scott film Alien), appeared in the issue. One month later, Robert Heinlein’s first story, “Life-Line,” ran in the magazine.

The photograph depicting the New York World’s Fair of 1939 is from Jon Snyder’s article “1939′s ‘World of Tomorrow’ Shaped Our Today,” appearing in the April 29, 2010 online edition of Wired.

Alva Rogers’ A Requiem for Astounding was published in 1964 by Advent Publishers of Chicago, Illinois.