Robert Bloch — Renaissance Man of the Fantastic

May 22, 2017 by

This year marks the hundredth anniversary of the birth of Robert Bloch. The author of more than 200 stories, nearly thirty novels, and a large number of non-fiction articles, screenplays, and teleplays, Bloch got his start as a writing professional in the pulp magazines that are celebrated each summer at PulpFest.

During a long and productive career, Robert Bloch received a Hugo Award, the World Fantasy Life Achievement Award, the World Science Fiction Convention Special Lifetime Career Award, the Bram Stoker Award, and the World Horror Convention Grand Master Award. He also served as the president of the Mystery Writers of America in 1970 – 71. He was also the first Guest of Honor at a World Science Fiction Convention outside the United States, and the Guest of Honor at the first Bouchercon and the first World Fantasy Convention. Along with Hugh B. Cave, Robert Bloch was the Guest of Honor at Pulpcon 12.

When asked what he considered to be the highlights of his career, Robert Bloch replied: “My first sales — of a short story, of a novel . . . the sale of PSYCHO to films and its subsequent success. But the most satisfying and memorable moments have come with the conventions where I was invited to appear as guest of honor, the winning of various awards . . . the continuing interest of fans . . .”

Following Bloch’s death in 1994, the late Frank Robinson wrote: “He was a journeyman writer and entertainer, and had more experience in various writing forms — from political speeches to advertising to short stories, novels, articles, teleplays, and film scripts — than probably any other genre writer. But all of his stories, all of his movies, and all of his teleplays didn’t account for the feelings of affection that both fans and writers felt for him. . . . Robert Bloch was a man without malice. Almost everyone who met him sensed that, and almost everybody who met him loved him for it. It was impossible not to.”

Beginning at 8 PM on Friday, July 28, PulpFest 2017 will pay tribute to Robert Bloch. Join Professor Garyn G. Roberts for “100 Years with the Author of PSYCHO,” an illustrated survey of the life and times of Robert Bloch. This presentation will showcase many landmark events in the life of this writers’ writer, and will provide some little known details about this master of the pulpwoods and other popular media. Though he never met the author in person, Professor Roberts maintained a prolific, ongoing correspondence with Bloch until writer’s passing in 1994.

In Garyn’s words: “The story of our relationship via the mail means a great deal to me.  Though we never met in person, Mr. Bloch and I kept up a voracious correspondence to the point that I think I can call him a ‘friend.’ Particularly in the last months of his life, Mr. Bloch approached me and said that he wanted to send me some unique materials that I could incorporate into a book about him. I was tremendously honored that he chose me for this privilege, based on my previous publications of biographic history. He sent photos from Hollywood, unpublished writings, answers to interview questions and more, including an introduction for the book. He had also cleared all the rights for reprinting these for me. I am convinced that no twentieth century writer was more loved than Robert Bloch. Though under-appreciated in his time, many of us love him to this day. More than a very talented writer, Robert Bloch was a good man and a dear friend.”

Garyn G. Roberts, Ph.D., is a college and university professor. He holds multiple literary and teaching awards. Roberts was born in northern Wisconsin, 100 miles north of Plainfield, where serial killer Ed Gein’s atrocities occurred. When Gein’s activities were discovered in late 1957, Roberts’ father was hunting. To this day, Roberts’ mother recounts how frightened she was at home alone in the Wisconsin woods — a 23-year- old newlywed — when the news from Plainfield broke. Robert Bloch’s classic novel, PSYCHO, was inspired by the Ed Geins murders.

PulpFest 2017 will take place from Thursday evening, July 27, through Sunday afternoon, July 30, at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Cranberry, just nineteen miles north of the city of Pittsburgh. You can book your room directly through the PulpFest website. Just click the “Book a Room for 2017” link on our home page or call 1-800-222-8733. Be sure to mention PulpFest in order to receive the convention rate.

Start making your plans now to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of PSYCHO author Robert Bloch at the “pop culture center of the universe” called PulpFest 2017.

(Two of Robert Bloch’s major pulp markets were WEIRD TALES and the Ziff-Davis magazines, including AMAZING STORIES and FANTASTIC ADVENTURES.

Between 1935 and 1952, Bloch published nearly seventy stories in “The Unique Magazine,” including “The Cheaters” in the November 1947 issue. It featured cover art by Matt Fox. A cartoonist, illustrator, comic book and advertising artist, watercolorist, painter, and graphic artist, with lithographs, woodcuts, and etchings to his credit, Fox painted eleven covers for WEIRD TALES and also contributed interior illustrations to the magazine. He also worked for Marvel Comics during the 1950s.

After Robert Bloch published “The Man Who Collected Poe” in the October 1951 issue of FAMOUS FANTASTIC MYSTERIES, he was asked to complete Poe’s unfinished story, “The Lighthouse.” Published in the January 1953 issue of FANTASTIC — with cover art by Robert Frankenberg — Bloch was extremely proud that very few people could tell where Poe left off and he began.)