Tom Johnson

Nov 9, 2019 by

Not long after midnight on the morning of November 5, 2019, the pulp community lost one of its cornerstones. Tom Johnson passed away after a long battle with cancer.

Tom and his wife of many years, Ginger Johnson, were the longtime editors and publishers of ECHOES, a fanzine about the pulp magazines. For nearly twenty years, Tom and Ginger could be counted on for a new issue of ECHOES every other month. Started in 1982, the Johnsons’ fanzine lasted for 100 issues, its final number dated August 1998. Afterward, ECHOES continued as an eight-page newsletter for another 76 issues. Its final number was dated December 2004.

ECHOES was a treasure-trove of popular culture. It featured articles about the pulps, old-time-radio, movie serials and old movies, juvenile books, and more. During its life as the leading journal about the pulp magazine era, ECHOES published countless articles by leading popular culture scholars Nick Carr, Shawn Danowski, Don Hutchison, Will Murray, Robert Sampson, Albert Tonik, and many others. William Thom also began his “Coming Attractions” in the pages of ECHOES.

The Johnsons were also the publishers of BEHIND THE MASK and THRILLING NOVELS, two reprint magazines that featured stories drawn from the pulps. They also published a number of genre fiction magazines — CLASSIC PULP FICTION STORIES, DOUBLE DANGER TALES, WEIRD STORIES, and others — that ran stories inspired by pulp fiction.

Tom Johnson was also a writer himself, creating new “pulp fiction” such as the adventures of The Masked Avenger and The Black Ghost, as well as tales set in the Lost Land of Jur. Tom also wrote several non-fiction books about the heroes of the pulp magazines. These included THE BLACK BAT COMPANION, DAN FOWLER: G-MAN COMPANION, OPERATOR #5: THE HISTORY OF THE PURPLE WARS, THE PHANTOM DETECTIVE COMPANION, and THE SECRET AGENT COMPANION (co-authored with Will Murray). They are all available from Steeger Books.

A twenty-year veteran of the United States Army, Tom Johnson is survived by his wife, Ginger, as well as several children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

(The cover art for THE BLACK BAT COMPANION — painted by Rudolph Belarski — is a reworked version of the artist’s cover for the Fall 1945 issue of Standard Magazines’ BLACK BOOK DETECTIVE. The issue featured Norman Daniels’ Black Bat story, “Murder Among the Dying.”)