2020 Munsey Award Nominees

Jun 1, 2020 by

The PulpFest Organizing Committee is pleased to announce that fourteen individuals have been nominated by their peers for the 2020 Munsey Award. The honor is named after Frank A. Munsey — the man who published the first pulp magazine. This annual award recognizes an individual or organization that has bettered the pulp community, be it through disseminating knowledge about the pulps or through publishing or other efforts to preserve and foster interest in the pulp magazines we all love and enjoy. Congratulations to all of the nominees for this prestigious award, presented annually at PulpFest.

Although the 2020 PulpFest has been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, the convention’s organizing committee felt it was important to continue the tradition of honoring the service of such individuals as the winner of our 2019 Munsey Award, George Vanderburgh.

Therefore, the convention will honor one of the nominees listed below as the recipient of this year’s Munsey. Each received multiple nominations. The winner of the recipient of the 2020 Munsey Award  will be announced on Monday, August 3, at the start of the week that PulpFest 2020  was scheduled to take place.

Author, bibliographer, critic, editor, and historian MIKE ASHLEY has a special expertise in the history of magazine science fiction, fantasy, and weird fiction. In 2002, he received a Pilgrim Award from the Science Fiction Research Association in recognition of his distinguished contributions to the study of science fiction. He is the author or co-author of numerous works related to the pulps, science fiction, and fantasy. These include THE AGE OF THE STORYTELLERS: BRITISH POPULAR FICTION MAGAZINES, 1880-1950, ALGERNON BLACKWOOD: A BIO-BIBLIOGRAPHY, “BLUE BOOK — The Slick in Pulp Clothing,” THE GERNSBACK DAYS: A STUDY IN THE EVOLUTION OF MODERN SCIENCE FICTION FROM 1911 TO 1936, MONTHLY TERRORS: AN INDEX TO THE WEIRD FANTASY MAGAZINES PUBLISHED IN THE UNITED STATES AND GREAT BRITAIN, SCIENCE FICTION, FANTASY AND WEIRD FICTION MAGAZINES,  THE SUPERNATURAL INDEX: A LISTING OF FANTASY, SUPERNATURAL, OCCULT, WEIRD AND HORROR ANTHOLOGIES, and others. In 2000, Ashley began to publish his multi-part THE HISTORY OF THE SCIENCE-FICTION MAGAZINES, beginning with THE TIME MACHINES: THE STORY OF THE SCIENCE-FICTION PULP MAGAZINES FROM THE BEGINNING TO 1950. Mr. Ashley has also edited many anthologies and single-author collections, often drawing work from the pulps. He is currently working to compile an index to the most important British popular fiction magazines between 1880 and 1950.

The Collections Librarian at the University of Connecticut, RICHARD BLEILER is a bibliographer and researcher in the areas of science fiction, fantasy, horror, crime, and adventure fiction. In 2002, he was nominated for the Bram Stoker Award for Best Non-Fiction for the second edition of SUPERNATURAL FICTION WRITERS: FANTASY AND HORROR. With his father, Everett Bleiler, Richard compiled SCIENCE-FICTION: THE EARLY YEARSand SCIENCE-FICTION: THE GERNSBACK YEARS, both published by Kent State University Press. His other work includes THE INDEX TO ADVENTURE MAGAZINE, THE ANNOTATED INDEX TO THE THRILL BOOK, the second edition of SCIENCE FICTION WRITERS: CRITICAL STUDIES OF THE MAJOR AUTHORS FROM THE EARLY NINETEENTH CENTURY TO THE PRESENT DAY, and REFERENCE AND RESEARCH GUIDE TO MYSTERY AND DETECTIVE FICTION. Richard’s essay, “Forgotten Giant: A Brief History of ADVENTURE MAGAZINE,” originally published in EXTRAPOLATION: A JOURNAL OF SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY, is considered the finest overview of the classic pulp magazine. He has also written essays on early science fiction, fantasy, and mystery authors for THE DICTIONARY OF LITERARY BIOGRAPHY and other reference works, as well as articles on the writings of Frank Belknap Long and Clark Ashton Smith for Gary Hoppenstand’s PULP FICTION OF THE ’20S AND ’30S.

For several years, JASON RAY CARNEY has been researching, publishing, and teaching about the pulps, helping to maintain knowledge and interest in this important part of American popular culture. Here at Christopher Newport University, Dr. Carney makes pulps — such as WEIRD TALES — and pulp authors, including Robert E. Howard, Clark Ashton Smith, and H.P. Lovecraft, an integral part of many of his classes, from freshmen and sophomore composition, to popular genres, special topics, and Honors classes. Hundreds of students have now read, analyzed, discussed, and written about these pulp magazines and writers. Additionally, he has worked with undergraduate research assistants on his pulp-related writing projects, allowing select students to study elements of pulp fiction more closely. As a scholar, Dr. Carney’s monograph WEIRD TALES OF MODERNITY: THE EPHEMERALITY OF THE ORDINARY IN THE STORIES OF ROBERT E. HOWARD, CLARK ASHTON SMIT, AND H.P. LOVECRAFT, was released in July 2019 by MacFarland. This academic study of pulp fiction argues that Howard, Smith, and Lovecraft were working within the same cultural contexts as traditionally-canonical high Modernists, such as James Joyce, T.S. Eliot, and Virginia Woolf. Therefore, rather than being viewed as “low-art,” these authors’ works should be understood as grappling with similar theoretical, philosophical, and artistic issues alongside these more celebrated authors. Dr. Carney’s monograph is a well-written, thoroughly researched argument for why pulp fiction should be taken more seriously. Dr. Carney also engages in many different kinds of service to the field of pulp fiction. He is the Academic Outreach Coordinator for The Robert E. Howard Foundation and serves as co-editor for the academic journal dedicated to Howard and pulp fiction, THE DARK MAN: THE JOURNAL OF ROBERT E. HOWARD AND PULP STUDIES. He has been a speaker at numerous pulp-related conferences and events, including the annual Howard Days and Necronomicon. Finally, he is the area chair for the Pulp Studies section of the Popular Culture Association’s National Conference.

CAMILLE CAZEDESSUS has been publishing a fanzine devoted to pulp fiction for more than fifty years, first as ERB-DOM and later as THE FANTASTIC COLLECTOR. All told, he has edited and published almost 250 issues, as well as several books. In its earliest incarnation, Caz’s magazine focused on the work of Edgar Rice Burroughs, presenting background information and bibliographic details about the author’s work as it appeared in magazines, books, comics, and movies. ERB-DOM won a Hugo Award in 1966. In the late nineties, Caz rechristened his fanzine as PULPDOM, a publication devoted to “studying the authors that wrote for the pulps and reprinting the ‘fantastic adventure’ type stories from pulp magazines.” With the help of various writers and indexers including Gary Lovisi, Al Lybeck, Jerry Page, and, most recently, Mike Taylor, PULPDOM has explored nearly every pre-1932 general fiction pulp ever published, including ARGOSY, ALL-STORY, BLUE BOOK, CAVALIER, and THE POPULAR. Caz continues to publish PULPDOM today as an online pulp fanzine.

A researcher of fantasy, science fiction, mystery, and adventure fiction for over thirty years, GENE CHRISTIE has extensively studied and indexed the magazines of the pulp era, especially those published by the Frank A. Munsey Company. Never too busy or tired to help, Gene has volunteered his time, knowledge, and editorial abilities, contributing to projects published by Adventure House, Off-Trail Publications, Battered Silicon Dispatch Box, and others. He annually volunteers at the Windy City Pulp and Paper Convention, in addition to proofing their program book, and has been a long-time attendee at other pulp-related conventions. In conjunction with Black Dog Books, he has compiled and edited several rare and previously unreprinted works, including Cornell Woolrich’s THE GOOD DIE YOUNG, George Allan England’s THE EMPIRE IN THE AIR, Seabury Quinn’s DEMONS OF THE NIGHT, Murray Leinster’s THE SILVER MENACE, and the excellent Munsey anthologies THE SPACE ANNIHILATOR and THE PEOPLE OF THE PIT. He also serves as the editor for Black Dog Books’ Talbot Mundy Library. At PulpFest 2019, Gene offered convention attendees a wonderful presentation on Robert Hobart Davis, considered to be the greatest editor of the pulp era.

Probably best known for the SCIENCE FICTION, FANTASY, AND WEIRD FICTION MAGAZINE INDEX that he originally compiled with Steve Miller, WILLIAM CONTENTO has assembled other works that have become essential tools of reference. These include his INDEX TO SCIENCE FICTION ANTHOLOGIES AND COLLECTIONS, INDEX TO CRIME AND MYSTERY ANTHOLOGIES (with Martin H. Greenberg), THE SUPERNATURAL INDEX (with Mike Ashley), and others. In the last seventeen years, he and Phil Stephensen-Payne have built up the online FictionMags Index into a research juggernaut. It currently lists the contents of over 75,000 issues of thousands of different magazine titles. Pulps are heavily represented, of course, but pulp writers turn up in other magazines, too, and the FictionMags Index allows them to be discovered. A huge endeavor, the FictionMags Index has been a tremendous boon to pulp-magazine research.

STEPHEN HAFFNER — The “Big Poobah” of Haffner Press — has been returning the work of many well-regarded pulp fiction writers into print for nearly twenty years. Specializing in science fiction, fantasy, and mystery fiction, Stephen has brought back the early work of Leigh Brackett, Fredric Brown, Howard Brown, Edmond Hamilton, Henry Kuttner, C. L. Moore, Manly Wade Wellman, and Jack Williamson in a series of beautifully designed hardcovers. He is also working on volumes featuring the fiction of Robert Bloch, Donald Wandrei, and others. Ed Gorman wrote the following about Haffner Press books: “They’re among the best made and most handsomely illustrated of all the collectibles I’ve ever seen. These are masterpieces in every way.” Stephen has also been involved in furthering interest in the pulps among both academia and the general public. He has been associated with the annual Jack Williamson Lectureship at Eastern New Mexico University for many years and in 2009 was a co-sponsor with the Kinsman Historical Society of the first Edmond Hamilton Day in the late author’s hometown. Finally, Stephen has been a presenter at pulp conventions.

Although pulp reprints abound in our day and age, such was not only the case. Along with John Gunnison of Adventure House, RICH HARVEY was one of the first small publishers to get the pulp reprint movement off the ground. He started in the pages of his fanzine, PULP ADVENTURES — begun in 1992 — where he published stories from COMPLETE NORTHWEST NOVEL, DIME DETECTIVE, .44 WESTERN MAGAZINE, NEW DETECTIVE MAGAZINE, and other pulps. Two of the highlights were two short stories by Norvell Page, offering the first two adventures of the popular pulp hero The Spider. Rich — along with his onetime partner, Cat Jaster, would go on to reprint two dozen of The Spider’s adventures. As Bold Venture Press, he has published a six-volume series reprinting the complete run of Johnston McCulley’s Zorro tales, reprinted unique tales from one of the longest-lived pulp magazines, RAILROAD STORIES, “new pulp” adventures in AWESOME TALES, and pulp old and new in the continuing PULP ADVENTURES. Along with his current partner, Audrey Parente, Rich manages the twice-a-year Pulp AdventureCon in two locations, New Jersey and Florida. These one-day events help to bring the world of pulp to a wider geographic range of fans. Rich is also great at personally communicating with fans one-on-one, whether on email or Facebook.

CHRIS KALB is known in pulp circles for his hero pulp websites, like The 86th Floor and The Spider Returns, ventures that have helped to attract people who are new to the pulps. There isn’t anyone out there making better use of all the new technology while still preserving the “oldness” of pulps and popular culture. He has become the person to go to for publishers who want a retro-design for their books or website, including Ed Hulse’s Murania Press. He is also the lead designer for Age of Aces Books, a pulp reprint house that specializes in air war fiction. In 2010, Age of Aces received two National Indie Excellence Awards for Chris’s work on the bestselling THE SPIDER VS. THE EMPIRE STATE. Chris was the designer of PulpFest‘s original website and for many years, put together the convention’s print advertisements.

Like many of us, RICK LAI has dedicated much of his adult life and disposable income to his passion for collecting pulp fiction (in all its permutations). Rick distinguished himself with the erudite and insightful scholarship that has made him respected among Wold Newtonians and purists alike. Rick’s speculative theories on character and continuity may have been inspired by Philip José Farmer, but were never bound by Farmer or anyone else’s parameters. Rick’s brilliant and provocative flights of fantasy informed, inspired, and even infuriated readers, but kept them coming back for the next article or book. Later in life, Rick made the natural progression from scholar to storyteller as he began creating works that supplement and expand upon his literary speculations. Among his many books are CHRONOLOGY OF SHADOWS: A TIMELINE OF THE SHADOW’S EXPLOITS, THE RETURN OF JUDEX, THE REVISED COMPLETE CHRONOLOGY OF BRONZE, RICK LAI’S SECRET HISTORIES: DARING ADVENTURERS, and SHADOWS OF THE OPERA: RETRIBUTION IN BLOOD.

DAVID PHIPPS is the creator and driving force behind the PULP ALLEY miniatures game. David’s enthusiasm for pulp fiction is evident in the mystery, excitement, and adventure that gameplayers encounter whenever they play another round of PULP ALLEY. As one of the six people who nominated David told PulpFest, “David’s posts on his forum piqued my interest in pulp fiction. I went looking for Robert E. Howard and discovered Conan the Cimmerian. I found H.P. Lovecraft and his wonderful horror stories. . . . In a local used book store I discovered Doc Savage, The Shadow, The Spider, and, my favorite, Fu Manchu. I have yet to delve into the old pulp magazines, but that will come in time. It was David Phipps who sparked my interest in this entertaining and thought-provoking type of fiction.” Another PULP ALLEY player suggested that, “. . . through the medium of tabletop gaming, Dave is attracting both people with a casual awareness of pulp fiction as well as those who are new to the field. . . . His enthusiasm for pulp fiction is genuine and infectious. He has led me to discover the likes of Solomon Kane, John Carter, and others. I honestly do not know if this qualifies him for the Munsey Award . . . However, in his own way, David Phipps, through PULP ALLEY, is introducing pulp fiction to a new audience. . . . Bringing new blood to tabletop gaming and piquing interest in a style of storytelling (in many mediums) . . . can only be good for the greater community.”

While some nominees are like Doc Savage — out front and known to most — others are like The Shadow — hidden from view for most the time, yet still there and appearing when needed. A pulp collector since a teenager, SHEILA VANDERBEEK began attending pulp conventions in 1975. She has attended 62 of the 63 major pulp conventions since her first. She helped with all the radio recreations that were performed at Pulpcon. A member of the Battered Silicon Press pulp advisory committee, Sheila has helped on many books for the publisher. In addition to recommending authors and series, she has supplied all or most of the stories included in Battered Silicon’s Great Merlini, John Solomon, Needle Mike, Park Ave Hunt Club, Satan Hall,  and Suicide Squad collections, as well as others. She has also provided copies of stories to Altus Press and other pulp-related publishers. Owning one of the largest and wide-ranging pulp collections in existence, Sheila also provided content information to Leonard Robbins for his groundbreaking pulp magazine indices. She has also helped with countless other research projects in the pulp field. Sheila has been a member of the Pulp Era Amateur Press Society since 1997.

For twenty-five years, HOWARD WRIGHT was the publisher of the Doc Savage fan magazine THE BRONZE GAZETTE. He created his magazine when there was no real Internet and very little information readily available about Lester Dent’s “Man of Bronze.” His main reason for starting the publication was to gather information about Doc Savage, disseminate this news to the “Fans of Bronze,” and keep Doc fans going during the “lean” years when Doc was, for the most part, a mere memory. Through Howard’s sustained efforts, interest in Doc was maintained and his return to the limelight assured. His final issue of the GAZETTE was published at the beginning of 2016. The magazine is being continued by Terry Allen, Kez Wilson, and Chuck Welch, creator of the Hidalgo Trading Company and a member of the PulpFest organizing committee. It takes three people to duplicate Howard’s superb work on the GAZETTE.

DAN ZIMMER has been working to promote greater awareness of pulp artists by producing and distributing ILLUSTRATION MAGAZINE since 2001. He has published over sixty issues of his magazine. Dan has tirelessly contributed his time, expertise and personal wealth to promote a more respectful awareness of the artistic accomplishments of pulp artists through the deluxe publication of the many biographical articles on such artists that have appeared in his magazine. He has done this despite the overwhelming fact that his creative vision is far beyond receiving any reasonable economic return for his efforts. His devotion to classic American illustrators is manifest in the elegant presentation of his magazine and has helped to turn the tide in our culture’s growing appreciation of pulp art. Dan has also published illustrated biographies of pulp artists Walter Baumhofer, H. J. Ward, and Norman Saunders through his book-publishing arm, The Illustrated Press. Additionally, he has supported the pulp community by drawing his readers’ attention to various pulp conventions, including the Windy City Pulp and Paper ConventionPulpcon, and PulpFest. Dan has also served as the sponsor of Windy City’s annual pulp art exhibit and created the limited edition print of David Saunder’s Munsey Award painting without cost to the PulpFest organizing committee.

A ballot listing these fourteen individuals and their nominating petitions is being forwarded to all of the living LamontMunsey, and Rusty Award winners. These individuals will elect the winner of the 2020 Munsey Award.

A limited-edition of thirty-six numbered and signed prints, designed by artist and pulp enthusiast David Saunders, serves as the Munsey Award.

(A New York artist whose work can be found in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, The New Museum and at other museums and in public buildings throughout the United States and other countries, David Saunders has taught art at Yale, Oberlin and many other colleges worldwide, including schools in Paris, London, and Tokyo. An expert on pulp art, he has been a guest speaker on the subject, including The Pulp Art Show held at the Brooklyn Museum in 2003, and has served as the guest of honor at various pulp conventions. David has written biographical articles on pulp artists Allen Anderson, Rudolph Belarski, Frederick Blakeslee, Ernest Chiriacka, Rafael DeSoto, John Newton Howitt, J. W. Scott, and others. He is also the author of WALTER BAUMHOFER, NORMAN SAUNDERS, and H. J. WARD, book-length biographies and appreciations of these great pulp artists. David’s website — Field Guide to Wild American Pulp Artists — is a leading source of information for those interested in the artwork found in the pulp magazines. In 2016, David was honored with a special “retro” Lamont Award, to acknowledge his generous and substantial work for the pulp community.

Pictured above is 2018 Munsey Award winner, William Lampkin, presenting the 2019 Munsey Award to winner George Vanderburgh.)