About PulpFest

So what’s PulpFest? Is it one of those things where people walk around wearing costumes? Is it a comic book convention? What’s pulp?

Do these questions sound familiar?

Because of their painted covers, people often mistake pulps for comic books. But the two are quite different.

PulpFest is named for pulp magazines — fiction periodicals named after the cheap pulp paper on which they were printed. Frank A. Munsey pioneered the format in 1896 with THE ARGOSY. Stories like Edgar Rice Burroughs’ “Tarzan and the Apes” and Max Brand’s “Destry Rides Again” really got things moving.

The pulps began to flourish after the introduction of genre magazines like DETECTIVE STORY and LOVE STORY. Magazine legends BLACK MASKWEIRD TALES and AMAZING STORIES debuted during the 1920s. The thirties introduced the hero pulps and weird horror magazines. Science fiction exploded as the world went to war in 1939.

By the early fifties, the pulps had essentially disappeared. Although a few continued as digest magazines, most vanished due to competition from paperback books, comics, radio, television, movies, and more. But the fiction and artwork that had appeared in the rough-paper periodicals remained vibrant for collectors.

These hearty pulp enthusiasts gradually assembled astounding collections of these rough and ragged magazines. Eventually,  they formed a convention dedicated to the premise that the pulps had a profound effect on popular culture across the globe. The fiction and art of the pulps reverberated through a wide variety of media — comic books, movies, paperbacks and genre fiction, television, men’s adventure magazines, radio drama, and even video, anime, and role-playing games. Today, we call this convention, PulpFest.

The summertime destination for fans and collectors of popular culture both old and new, PulpFest seeks to honor the pulps by drawing attention to the many ways these throwaway magazines have inspired writers, artists, film directors, software developers, and other creators over the decades.

Why not come see what it’s all about? PulpFest 2020 will take place from Thursday evening, August 6, through Sunday afternoon, August 9, at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Cranberry. Start planning now to join PulpFest 2020 at the “pop culture center of the universe” in Mars, Pennsylvania.

(Every year, PulpFest celebrates mystery, adventure, science fiction, and other forms of genre fiction. The rough paper magazines played a major role in the development of fiction categories. Pulp publisher Street & Smith pioneered the specialized fiction magazine in late 1915. About ten years later, Hugo Gernsback debuted AMAZING STORIES — the first science fiction magazine. Its regular cover artist for much of the 1930s was Leo Morey. A prime example of his work is the May 1931 issue of AMAZING STORIES.

Over the years, pulp characters such as Tarzan, Zorro, Conan, Buck Rogers, Sam Spade, The Shadow, Doc Savage, and Cthulhu have inspired creators across the globe. Another is Popular Publications’ The Spider. Painted in close-up by Rafael DeSoto for the October 1941 number of THE SPIDER, the “Master of Men” was sited by the late Stan Lee as one of the sources for Marvel Comics’ Spider-Man.

Characters such as The Spider continue to influence the world’s pop culture. Come to PulpFest 2020 to learn more about the pulps and the creators they have served to inspire.)