Welcome Lisa Scott to PulpFest 2014

Aug 2, 2014 by

WWW 34-01-27PulpFest is very pleased to announce that Lisa Scott, the granddaughter of pulp artist Harold Winfield Scott, will be attending our 2014 convention. We’ve asked pulp art historian David Saunders to create a short presentation on Lisa’s grandfather to welcome Ms. Scott to “Summer’s Great Pulp Con!”

Join PulpFest on Thursday evening, August 7th at 9:15, for a brief profile on the life and work of H. W. Scott. Afterward, Lisa will join David Saunders onstage for a short question-and-answer session.

Harold Winfield Scott studied art with Dean Cornwell at the Pratt Institute. By 1930, he was regularly selling freelance cover paintings to such pulps as Danger Trail, Top-Notch, Complete Stories, Wild West Weekly, Star Sports, The Avenger, Doc Savage, Two-Gun Western, Quick-Trigger Western, and others. He later sold freelance work to slick magazines, such as Liberty, Colliers and Red Book. In the 1950s, his work appeared on paperback books from Dell as well as comic books.

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PulpFest 2014 Schedule of Events

Jul 31, 2014 by

FlyerPulpFest 2014 will start on Thursday, August 7th. The dealers’ room will be open to registered sellers to set up their displays from 4 to 11 PM. Ohio State’s Thompson Library will also offer a free lecture at 4:30 PM. Early registration for all convention attendees will take place outside the dealers’ room from 5 to 9 PM. There will be early-bird shopping available to PulpFest members who will be staying at the Hyatt Regency Columbus from 6 to 10 PM. Our full slate of programming will get underway at 8 PM.

Thursday, August 7th

4:00 PM – 11:00 PM – Dealer Set-Up – the dealers’ room will be open to dealers to assemble their displays.

4:30 PM – Ohio State Lecture Series – author and pulp fan Laurie Powers will be speaking about her grandfather, the noted pulp writer Paul Powers, at Ohio State’sThompson LibraryPulpFest members are invited to attend this annual lecture sponsored by Ohio State University.

5:00 PM – 9:00 PM – Early Registration – general members and dealers will be able to register for PulpFest.

6:00 PM – 10:00 PM – Early-Bird Shopping – the dealers’ room will be open to loyal attendees who help to defray the convention’s costs by staying three nights at our host hotel. The cost is $30 for those who stay elsewhere.

Evening Programming

8:00 PM – Remembering Frank Robinson – winner of the 2000 Lamont Award,Frank Robinson was the author of The Power, Pulp Culture, Science Fiction of the 20th Century, and other worksYears before setting pen to paper, Frank was collecting pulp magazines. PulpFest pays tribute to the author, collector, and friend who passed away on June 30th of this year.

8:30 PM – Frank Munsey’s Famous Fantastic Mysteries – Blood ‘n’ Thunder editorEd Hulse and author Nathan Madison discuss this reprint magazine, one of the major science-fiction titles started in 1939. It introduced new readers to the classic “scientific romances” that originally appeared in the premier Munsey magazinesThe Argosy and All-Story Weekly.

9:15 PM – The Avenger’s Diamond Jubilee – in 1939, Richard Henry Benson, the chalk-faced crime fighter who founded “Justice, Incorporated,” was the last of Street & Smith’s major pulp heroes to get his own magazine. Pop-culture scholar Rick Lai offers a behind-the-scenes history of the character’s creation and development.

10:00 PM – The Farmerian Vision – moderator Paul Spiteri and panelists Jason Aiken and Christopher Paul Carey will discuss the unique way in which the Hugo awardwinning author blended pulp elements and themes with his science-fictional works..

11:00 PM – Buck Rogers – Chapters 1 – 4 of this science fiction classic from 1939, this Universal serial starred Larry “Buster” Crabbe as the time-traveling hero introduced in Philip Nowlan’s 1928 pulp novella “Armageddon 2419 A.D.”

Friday, August 8th

9:00 AM – 10 AM – Early Registration – all members will be able to register for PulpFest. The dealers’ room will be open only to dealers for set-up.

10:00 AM – 5 PM – Wheeling and Dealing – the dealers’ room will be open to all.

1:30 PM – The New Fictioneers – Dick Enos, author of the popular Rick Steele adventure books, will read from four of his novels as well as his not-yet-released Rick Steele adventure, The Monster of Chinatown.

2:30 PM – The New Fictioneers – Christopher Paul Carey, the coauthor with Philip José Farmer of Gods of Opar: Tales of Lost Khokarsa, and the author of Exiles of Kho, will read from the Farmer-inspired “The Goddess Equation.”

3:30 PM – The New Fictioneers – Ralph L. Angelo, Jr., winner of the 2014 New Pulp Award for Best New Author, will read from his Crystalon series and The Cagliostro Chronicles.

Evening Programming

7:30 PM – Welcome to PulpFest – Chairman Jack Cullers offers an official welcome to all attendees

7:40 PM – 1939: Science Fiction’s Boom Year – a brief overview of the “big bang” that launched six science-fiction pulps and ushered in the genre’s Golden Age.

8:00 PM – Startling Stories: An Overview – designed as a companion to Thrilling Wonder Stories, this pulp outlasted most of its competitors and became one of the most respected science-fiction pulps in the field. PulpFest‘s Ed Hulse presents a slideshow of Startling’s 99 covers and touches on the many famous yarns published in its pages.

8:30 PM – A Feast of Farmer: PJF’s Early Science Fiction – Meteor Housepublisher Mike Croteau and Book Cave co-host Art Sippo review Philip José Farmer’s pulp and digest stories, including “The Lovers,” a classic tale from Startling Stories that pioneered the intelligent use of sex in science fiction.

9:00 PM – Pulp Promos, Part Two – in a sequel to his extremely well-received presentation of last year, Chris Kalb takes another look at the now-rare premiums that pulp fans of yore could obtain for a dime and a coupon.

9:30 PM – Eighty Years of Terror – weird-menace fiction was less than a year old when its most successful and long-lasting exponent, Terror Tales, first appeared on the nation’s newsstands in the summer of 1934. A blue-ribbon panel of fans and collectors weighs in on this Popular Publications title, as well as other shudder pulps.

10:30 PM – Science Fiction’s “Golden Age” – under the editorship of John W. Campbell, Street & Smith’s Astounding Science Fiction was the genre’s trend setter, introducing many of the field’s top authors and publishing some of its most memorable stories. This presentation reviews Astounding’s 1939 issues, which featured the early fiction of Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, Theodore Sturgeon, and A. E. van Vogt.

11:00 PM – Buck Rogers – Chapters 5 – 8 follows Buck and his pal Buddy Wade in their battle against the ruthless dictator, Killer Kane, and his army of super-racketeers.

Saturday, August 9th

9:00 AM – 4:45 PM – Wheeling and Dealing – the dealers’ room will be open to all.

1:00 PM – New Pulp Fiction Panel – moderator Ron Fortier is joined by writers Ralph Angelo, Jim Beard, Wayne Reinagel, Frank Schildiner, and Art Sippo as they discuss “The Fun of Writing Pulp Fiction.”

2:00 PM – The New Fictioneers – Jim Beard, author of the Captain Action novels and creator of Sgt. Janus, Spirit Breakerwill read from Sgt. Janus Returns,Monster Earth, and Pride of the Mohicans.

3:00 PM – The New Fictioneers – Frank Schildiner, who has written for Black Coat PressPulp Obscura, and others, will read from his forthcoming Thunder Jim Wade novella and a story from the Tales of the Shadowmen series.

5:00 PM – 7 PM – Saturday Night Dinner – join your fellow fans of pulp fiction for a delightful meal at Buca di Beppo in this get-together arranged by registration and volunteer coordinator Sally Cullers. (Note: Sorry, but this has sold out!)

Evening Programming

7:30 PM – PulpFest 2014 Business Meeting – all members are invited to ask questions and offer suggestions at this session.

7:50 PM – 2014 Munsey Award Presentation – Pop Culture Professor and unabashed pulp fan Garyn G. Roberts will present this year’s Munsey Award to a select individual.

8:00 PM – Unknown: The Best in Fantasy Fiction  – celebrate the 75th birthday of Street & Smith’s Unknown, the home to many of the pulp era’s most memorable—and oft-anthologized—fantasy and horror stories. We revisit the magazine’s highlights, including Edd Cartier’s magnificent artwork, in our tribute.

8:30 PM – The Mystery and Mastery of John Newton Howitt –art historian David Saunders chronicles the life and career of this prolific pulp artist, paying special attention to his memorable covers for the Popular Publications weird-menace magazines Terror Tales and Horror Stories.

9:30 PM – Saturday Night at the Auction – auctioneers John Gunnison and Joseph Saine are back to sell rare collectibles consigned by PulpFest dealers and attendees.

11:30 PM – Buck Rogers – Chapters 9 – 12 bring the 1939 Universal serial directed by Ford Beebe and Saul A. Goodkind to an exciting and satisfying close.

Sunday, August 10th

Daytime Schedule

9:00 AM – 2 PM – Wheeling and Dealing – the dealers’ room will be open to all as our dealers pack up. Buying and selling opportunities may be limited.

For questions and/or suggestions about our programming, please write to programming director Ed Hulse at ed@pulpfest.com.

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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.

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Unknown: The Best in Fantasy Fiction

Jul 29, 2014 by

Unknown 39-03On Saturday, August 9th, at 8 PM, celebrate the 75th anniversary of the publication considered the best fantasy magazine of all time, Street & Smith’s Unknown. Join acclaimed lecturer on the history of pulp magazinesProfessor Tom Krabacher of California State University, Sacramento; commentator Walker Martin, who writes about pulp collecting on Pulpmags and Mystery*File; and Professor Garyn G. Roberts, editor of The Prentice Hall Anthology of Science Fiction and Fantasy, as they revisit the magazine’s highlights.

Debuting in February 1939 and publishing a complete novel in each issue, Unknown featured many works now considered classics of the fantasy genre—Anthony Boucher’s “The Compleat Werewolf,” L. Sprague DeCamp’s “Lest Darkness Fall,” L. Ron Hubbard’s “Fear” and “Typewriter in the Sky,” Fritz Leiber’s “Conjure Wife” and the early Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser stories, Norvell W. Page’s Prester John stories “Flame Wind” and “Sons of the Bear-God,” Theodore Sturgeon’s “It,” Jack Williamson’s “Darker Than You Think,” and many others.

Over its 39-issue run, the magazine went through a variety of permutations including the elimination of cover art beginning with the July 1940 number. The magazine would get a new name in  late 1941. Despite the changes, Unknown Worlds would be cancelled following the issue dated October 1943.

Krabacher’s, Martin’s, and Robert’s presentation, “Unknown: The Best in Fantasy Fiction,” accompanied by selected cover art, is yet another reason to make PulpFest your “must-see” convention of 2014!

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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.

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The Golden Age of Astounding Science Fiction

Jul 27, 2014 by

Astounding Science-Fiction 39-02When John W. Campbell became editor of Astounding Stories, he began working to create a science-fiction magazine for mature readers. Writers, both new and old, began to respond: Lester Del Rey with “The Faithful” and “Helen O’Loy;” Jack Williamson with “The Legion of Time;” and L. Ron Hubbard with “The Tramp.” Campbell himself joined in with “Who Goes There,” as did Clifford D. Simak, who had left science fiction, and new writers L. Sprague de Camp and Eric Frank Russell. Seasoned professionals such as Arthur J. Burks, Raymond Z. Gallun, and Manly Wade Wellman also joined in.

But Campbell had been merely tilling the soil in the first year of his editorship, preparing it for the blossoming of science fiction’s Golden Age in 1939. The stage was set when the February Astounding Science-Fiction featured the magazine’s first cover by Hubert Rogers. A free-lance illustrator long associated with Adventure, Rogers would paint nearly sixty covers for Campbell’s Astounding.

Astounding Science Fiction 39-07Although the outpouring of exceptional fiction continued in the early months of 1939, it is the July issue that is most often cited as the start of Astounding‘s golden age. Behind an effective cover by artist Graves Gladney, the reader would find the first prose fiction by A. E. van Vogt as well as Isaac Asimov’s first story for the magazine. August’s and September’s issues continued the trend with the first stories of Robert A. Heinlein and Theodore Sturgeon. October’s number began the serialization of E. E. Smith’s “Gray Lensman,” along with another tale by Heinlein.

Under the editorship of John W. Campbell, Street & Smith’s Astounding Science Fiction was the genre’s trend setter, introducing many of the field’s top authors and publishing some of its most memorable stories. On Friday, August 8th, beginning at 10:30 PM, please join 2013 Munsey Award winner, Professor Garyn G. Roberts, editor of The Prentice Hall Anthology of Science Fiction and Fantasy; Professor Tom Krabacher of California State University, Sacramento, a member of the Pulp Era Amateur Press Society who has written and lectured on the history of pulp magazines and has long owned a lengthy run of Astounding, back to the late thirties; and PulpFest organizer, movie and pulp historian, author, and the editor of Blood ‘n Thunder, Ed Hulse who will dissect Astounding’s 1939 issues and the blossoming of science fiction’s Golden AgeA slide show featuring the 1939 issues of Street & Smith’s Astounding Science Fiction will accompany the trio’s presentation.

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Pulp Promos, Part Two

Jul 27, 2014 by

Science Fiction League LogoOne of the most popular presentations at PulpFest 2013 was Chris Kalb’s discussion of hero pulp premiums. As reported by Sam Maronie, “Graphic designer Chris Kalb presented a dynamite presentation Saturday night on pulp premiums—those little geegaws that readers received for mailing away coupons and a dime to the pulp publishers.”

How did pulp magazine publishers keep readers coming back month after month? Of course the best way was to publish excellent stories. Regardless of genre, the leading pulps–Adventure, Astounding Stories, Black Mask, Blue Book, Dime Western, Doc Savage, G-8 and His Battle Aces, Love Story, The Shadow, The Spider, Sports Stories, Startling Stories, Weird Tales, Wings–attempted to do just that, issue after issue.

Another method that publishers employed to lure dimes on a regular basis from buyers with thin wallets was to create a club and offer premiums. For a few cents or by clipping coupons from a favorite pulp magazine, a devoted fan could become a member in good standing of the Doc Savage Club, one of the Friends of the Phantom, or Adventure magazine’s Camp-Fire Club. Also available were rings, pins, and items such as the Spider Pencil, a celluloid mechanical pencil with rubber eraser of The Spider seal, produced in very limited quantity during 1941-42.

Once again, Chris Kalb will take us back to a time when a few cents not only bought a pulp magazine filled with thrills, but also a Shadow board game or a Spider pennant. Please join him on Friday, August 8th, at 9 PM for a look at how pulps and the radio and movie presentations inspired by them were promoted. You’ll also learn which pulps hosted “The Trail’s End Club,” “The Hollow Tree Club,” or “The Globe Trotter’s Club” and all about the “Shadow Christmas” of 1940. And how about those beautiful promotional items that publishers sent to newsstands? Chris will cover these and more in part two of his presentation on pulp premiums and other collectibles.

To learn more about pulp premiums, please visit Pulpster editor Bill Lampkin’s The Pulp.Net website and do a search for “premiums.” Bill has photographs of rings, membership cards, pins, and other items on his highly informative website.

Science Fiction League Card

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A Feast of Farmer

Jul 26, 2014 by

Startling1952-08Although noted for his “pioneering use of sexual and religious themes,” Philip José Farmer was, in short, a pulp writer. While most people don’t think of the pulps when they hear Farmer’s name, he began his career selling stories to pulps such as Adventure, Startling Stories, and Thrilling Wonder Stories. In fact he sold over fifteen stories to pulp magazines and digests before his first novel was published in 1957. In all, Farmer had nearly forty stories published in a wide variety of magazines in the 1950s and 60s.

“A prolific and popular science fiction writer who shocked readers in the 1950s by depicting sex with aliens and challenged conventional pieties of the genre with caustic fables set on bizarre worlds of his own devising,” Farmer was best known for his novels. Called “sprawling, episodic works that gave him room to explore the nuances of a provocative premise while indulging his taste for lurid, violent action,” his best were set in the Riverworld and World of the Tiers series. Named a Grand Master of Science Fiction in 2001, Farmer is also remembered for his work concerning the Wold Newton Family.

Beginning at 8:30 PM on Friday, August 8th, Farmerphiles Michael Croteau and Art Sippo will explore Philip José Farmer’s work  as a magazine writer in the waning years of the pulps. Like many of his contemporaries, Farmer sold stories to over a dozen magazines—five different magazines in 1954 alone—constantly looking for new markets for his work. Accompanying the presentation will be a slide show of magazine covers in which Farmer’s early work appeared.

Michael Croteau, one of the founders of FarmerCon, is the publisher of Meteor House books and editor of The Worlds of Philip José Farmer and Farmerphile. Art Sippo  is a physician board certified in Aerospace medicine and Occupational medicine who is currently working in various emergency rooms in southwestern Illinois. He is the co-host of The Book Cave, a podcast that reviews adventure fiction, comics, movies and all thinks pulp-related.  He has also written the book, Sun Koh: Heir of Atlantis, a re-imagining of a German pulp hero of the 1930s, as well as numerous essays and short stories for magazines and anthologies.

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Startling Stories from First to Last

Jul 25, 2014 by

Startling Stories for 09-48Ned Pines’ Thrilling Group entered the science-fiction pulp market after purchasing Wonder Stories from Hugo Gernsback. Early in 1938, editor Mort Weisinger asked his readers for suggestions concerning a companion to the rechristened Thrilling Wonder Stories. The result of Weisinger’s poll was Startling Stories, a new pulp that debuted at the end of 1938.

Startling Stories featured a lead novel, complete in each issue, plus a number of short stories, one a reprint culled from Gernsback’s Wonder magazines. In later years, Thrilling Wonder Stories also became a reprint source for its companion magazine. Many of the novels to appear in Startling Stories were action-packed space operas, while others bordered on the science fantasies of Abraham Merritt.

When Sam Merwin became the editor of Startling in 1945, he began to mix more mature novels into the magazine. Some of the highlights of this period include Fredric Brown’s “What Mad Universe,” Arthur C. Clarke’s “Against the Fall of Night,” and Edmond Hamilton’s “The City at World’s End.” There were also short stories by Ray Bradbury, C. M. Kornbluth, Fritz Leiber, Clifford Simak, and others. In the early fifties, Startling published Philip José Farmer’s “The Lovers,” a short novel that pioneered the intelligent use of sex in science fiction.

On Friday, August 8th, beginning at 8 PM, Ed Hulse, author and publisher of the Murania Press line of books and magazines, will present a slideshow featuring all 99 of the covers from Startling‘s nearly twenty-year run. He’ll touch on the many great yarns published in the magazine over the years. It’s all part of PulpFest‘s salute to science fiction’s Golden Year of 1939 and 75 years of fantastic fiction!

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Buck Rogers in the 25th Century

Jul 24, 2014 by

Amazing Stories 28-08Inspired by the success of its two cliffhanger serials featuring Olympic swimming champion Larry “Buster” Crabbe as comic-strip hero Flash Gordon, Universal Pictures in 1938 licensed the character of futuristic firebrand Buck Rogers. Originally named Anthony Rogers by creator Philip Francis Nowlan, he first appeared in “Armageddon 2419 A.D.”, a 1928 short novel written for Hugo Gernsback’s pioneering science-fiction pulp Amazing Stories. Rogers was portrayed as a 20th-century Rip Van Winkle who falls into a state of suspended animation and awakes 500 years later to find America overrun by Mongol hordes.

Following publication of a sequel, “The Airlords of Han,” in 1929, Nowlan rechristened his character with a snappier first name, “Buck,” and in partnership with artist Dick Calkins developed a comic strip for syndication in Chicago-based John F. Dille’s newspapers. Buck Rogers in the 25th Century was an almost instantaneous hit with readers. The character reached the nation’s airwaves in 1932 as a Monday through Friday radio serial. Both comic strip and radio program soft-pedaled the racial component of Nowlan’s original story and made the hero’s chief adversary one Killer Kane, a space pirate who aligned himself with the galaxy’s worst troublemakers. The capable Wilma Deering partnered with Buck and cheerily eccentric Dr. Huer employed his scientific abilities as needed.

Universal’s screenwriters kept most of the characters from strip and radio show, although Kane’s paramour, Ardala Valmar, was dropped and Wilma’s younger brother Buddy became a scientist’s son forced into suspended animation along with Buck. The Nowlan novelette’s concept of an America under siege was retained, with the resistance movement’s headquarters located within a hidden city constructed inside a huge mountain. The plot was animated by the rebels’ attempts to forge an alliance with Saturn against Kane and his minions, presumably scattered throughout the solar system.

Buster Crabbe was cast as Buck when production of a third Flash Gordon serial was delayed. Universal contract player Constance Moore, then just eighteen years old, made a surprisingly mature Wilma. Child actor Jackie Moran played Buddy, with C. Montague Shaw bringing gravitas and sobriety to the role of Dr. Huer. The villainous faction was headed by Anthony Warde as Kane and Henry Brandon as his right-hand man Lasca.

Released in April 1939, Buck Rogers played in the nation’s theaters throughout the year, as science-fiction pulp magazines were enjoying renewed popularity and rapidly increasing in number. Universal’s chapter play failed to yield profits commensurate with those accumulated by the Flash Gordon serials, but it attained considerable popularity when released to television in 1951. Since then, Buck Rogers has been in perpetual syndication and become available in such home-video formats as VHS and DVD. Several generations, not yet born when it first flashed across theater screens, have been entranced by the simplistic charm that makes it representative of an earlier era in which a sense of wonder predominated and real-life innovations had not yet caught up to the fanciful devices conjured up by writers of science fiction.

In 1934, John Dille’s firm underwrote production of a ten-minute promotional film exhibited at that year’s Chicago World’s Fair. Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, produced by prominent magician and entrepreneur Harlan Tarbell, was laughably inept but effectively represented the elaborate costumes, ray guns, and rocket ships designed by artist Calkins for the comic strip. The art directors of Universal’s Buck Rogers serial pointedly eschewed these well-known designs (which had served as the basis for innumerable licensed products) in manufacturing sets, props, costumes, and miniatures for the chapter play.

As part of its celebration of “Science Fiction’s Golden Year of 1939,” PulpFest 2014 will run four chapters of Buck Rogers each night of the convention, beginning on August 7th and running through August 9th. Our Thursday and Friday showings will begin around 11 PM, while our Saturday presentation will follow the conclusion of our auction. We will preface the Thursday-night screening of the serial’s first four chapters with the seldom-seen 1934 promotional short produced by John Dille.

Buck Rogers Film Poster

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The Farmerian Vision: Pulp Meets Science Fiction

Jul 23, 2014 by

Adventure 46-03In his introduction to The Worlds of Philip José Farmer: Voyages to Strange Days, editor Michael Croteau writes, “A child of the Golden Age of Science Fiction, Farmer wrote many of the same types of stories as his contemporaries during the last half of the twentieth century: tales of space exploration, alien planets, fantastic journeys, alien invasions, time travel, artificial worlds, the afterlife, space opera, alternate history, mad scientists, robots, dystopias, list worlds, feral humans, displaced men, artificial intelligence, the future, the distant future, and the realy, really far distant future. Name a science fiction trope and Farmer almost certainly tried his hand at it, sometimes playing it straight, sometimes turning it on its head.”

Although noted for his “pioneering use of sexual and religious themes,” Philip José Farmer was, in short, a pulp writer. This year FarmerCon IX, our “convention within a convention,” turns its attention to the pulp elements found in Peoria’s Grand Master of Science Fiction‘s canonOur annual FarmerCon panel presentation will begin at 10:15 PM on Thursday, August 7th.

In The Farmerian Vision: Pulp Meets Science Fiction, moderator Paul Spiteri–editor of the Farmer collection Pearls from Peoriaand panelists Jason Aiken and Christopher Paul Carey will discuss the unique way in which the Hugo awardwinning author blended pulp elements and themes with his science-fictional works.

Jason Aiken became interested in the pulps and works of Philip José Farmer in 2009. He is the host of the Pulp Crazy podcast and video blog where he reviews classic and new pulp fiction. Christopher Paul Carey, one of our 2014 New Fictioneers, coauthored Gods of Opar: Tales of Lost Khokarsa with Mr. Farmer, and authored Exiles of Kho, a prelude to the Khokarsa series.

Since 2011, PulpFest has hosted FarmerCon, a convention that began in Peoria, Illinois, the hometown of Philip José Farmer. Originally a gathering of Farmer fans figuratively, and literally, right outside Phil’s back door, FarmerCon offered presentations, dinners, and even picnics at the author’s house.  After the passing of Phil and Bette Farmer in 2009, it was decided to take FarmerCon on the road to broaden its horizons. By holding the convention alongside events like PulpFest, Farmer fans get a variety of programming and a room full of pulp and book dealers to enjoy. As always, PulpFest is  pleased to welcome FarmerCon IX members to the Hyatt Regency Columbus.

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The Avenger Turns 75

Jul 22, 2014 by

Avenger 39-09Seventy-five years ago, Astounding Science Fiction published the first science-fiction stories of Robert E. Heinlein, Theodore Sturgeon, and A. E. Van Vogt, as well as Isaac Asimov’s first story for the magazine. The year also witnessed a blossoming of magazine science fiction and fantasy with eight new pulps entering the field. 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. It was indeed a golden year for fantastic fiction.

1939 was also the year that Street & Smith attempted to duplicate the success of their leading character pulps, The Shadow and Doc Savage. Trying to get all their ducks in order, the company’s business manager Henry Ralston and hero-pulp editor John Nanovic hired journeyman author Paul Ernst to write the lead novels for a new single-character magazine entitled The Avenger.

With the help of Shadow scribe Walter B. Gibson and Lester Dent, the man behind the Doc Savage tales, Ernst was given the task to create what was hoped to be a very profitable magazine. Writing behind the Kenneth Robeson house name, the pseudonym used for the Doc Savage yarns, Ernst put together some excellent stories, particularly in the early going. In the initial entry in the series, “Justice, Inc.,” Ernst’s character, former adventurer Richard Henry Benson, suffers a nervous breakdown following the disappearance of his wife and daughter during an airline flight. Afterward, Benson’s hair is white and his face frozen, but very pliable. This allows him to mold his features into whatever disguise he chooses. He becomes The Avenger and gathers a group of fellow justice-seekers around him.

On Thursday, August 7th, at 9:30 PM, join PulpFest for a salute to “The Avenger’s Diamond Jubilee.” Author and popular culture scholar Rick Lai will offer an illustrated history of the character, exploring The Avenger’s creation and development over time.

Best known for his articles based on the Wold Newton concepts of Philip José Farmer, recently collected by Altus Press as Rick Lai’s Secret Histories: Daring Adventurers, Rick Lai’s Secret Histories: Criminal Masterminds, Chronology of Shadows: A Timeline of The Shadow’s Exploits and The Revised Complete Chronology of Bronze, Rick Lai lives in New York. His short fiction has been collected in Shadows of the Opera (Wild Cat Books, 2011) and two Black Coat Press collections published in 2013–Shadows of the Opera: Retribution in Blood and Sisters of the Shadows: The Cagliostro Curse. He has also appeared regularly in Black Coat’s Tales of the Shadowmen anthologies.

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The Aristocrat of the Pulps

Jul 21, 2014 by

Famous Fantastic Mysteries 40-03In a letter published in “The Readers’ Viewpoint” column in its June 1948 issue, Robert Boyer labeled Famous Fantastic Mysteries as “. . . the Aristocrat of the Pulps, the acme of stf perfection,” a title that can likewise be conferred upon the magazine’s later companions, Fantastic Novels and A. Merritt’s Fantasy Magazine.

Started by the Frank A. Munsey Company in the fall of 1939 and edited by Mary Gnaedinger, Famous Fantastic Mysteries was created to reprint the scientific romances originally published in The All-Story, Argosy, and The Cavalier. Welcomed by readers anxious to experience the classics found in the Munsey files, Famous Fantastic Mysteries was joined by a companion title, Fantastic Novels, in the early summer of 1940. For most of the next year, the two magazines were published in alternating months.

In late 1942, Munsey sold many of its pulps—including their two classic reprint magazines—to Popular Publications. Reluctant to take on a pair of fantasy titles, the new publisher opted to continue Famous Fantastic Mysteries, but not Fantastic Novels. Popular would wait until 1948 to return Fantastic Novels to the stands, once again relying on the Munsey archives for its content. A third title, A. Merritt’s Fantasy Magazine, was added in late 1949.

On Thursday, August 7th, beginning at 8:30 PM, Ed Hulse, author and editor of Blood ‘n’ Thunder and Nathan Madison, popular culture historian and author of the Eisnernominated Anti-Foreign Imagery in American Pulps and Comic Books, 1920-1960, discuss Famous Fantastic Mysteries, one of the major science-fiction titles started in 1939, as well as its two brethren, Fantastic Novels and A. Merritt’s Fantasy Magazine. Highly regarded during the pulp era, all three remain highly collectible pulp magazines, given their exceptional fiction and beautiful illustrations.

Fantastic Novels 48-03

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Remembering Frank M. Robinson

Jul 20, 2014 by

Pulp Culture PirateOn June 30, 2014, the pulp community not only lost a great collector, but even more so, a great friend. Frank M. Robinson was 87 years old at the time of his passing. A science-fiction and thriller writer, editor, speech writer for gay activist Harvey Milk, and a movie actor, Frank was known in the pulp community as the leading collector of top-grade pulp magazines.

Although he majored in physics in college, Frank Robinson always wanted to write. He sold his first story to Astounding Science Fiction in 1950. Following the Korean War, Robinson studied journalism and soon began a career as an editor, first with Science Digest and later with Rogue and Playboy. In 1974, The Glass Inferno was published, a novel written by Robinson and Thomas Scortia. Later filmed as The Towering Inferno, Frank invested much of the proceeds he received from the book in his pulp collection. Years later, the sale of the Frank Robinson Pulp Collection attained almost legendary status among the pulp community.

Winner of the 2000 Lamont Award, Frank Robinson was the author of The Power, Pulp Culture, Science Fiction of the 20th Century, and other works. On Thursday, August 7th, beginning at 8 PM, PulpFest will pay tribute to this fine writer and editor, great collector, and good friend who recently passed. Be sure to be at the Hyatt Regency Columbus for “Remembering Frank Robinson.”

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Laurie’s Wild West at Ohio State

Jul 19, 2014 by

Riding the Pulp TrailOhio State University’s Thompson Library will again be hosting a lecture by a prominent pulp authority in conjunction with the start of this year’s PulpFest. Laurie Powers, the granddaughter of author Paul S. Powers, will be discussing her grandfather’s life and work. The editor and co-author of Pulp Writer: Twenty Years in the American Grub Street, an autobiography and appreciation of her grandfather, Laurie is the publisher of Laurie’s Wild West, an Internet blog site that has become a favorite destination for those interested in the pulps. She is currently working on a biography of pulp editor Daisy Bacon, editor of Love Story Magazine.

Paul S. Powers was a prolific pulp fiction writer whose career spanned over twenty-five years. From 1925 to 1950, Powers wrote over 450 stories for a variety of fiction magazines. An expert in the American West, he wrote over 400 stories for the famous pulp magazine Wild West Weekly alone. His western characters Sonny Tabor, Kid Wolf, Freckles Malone, and Johnny Forty-five enraptured an entire generation of readers during the Great Depression. Other stories appeared in magazines such as Weird Tales, Thrilling Detective, Mystery Tales, Exciting Western, Thrilling Western, Texas Rangers, Thrilling Wonder Stories, and more.

In December 2013, Laurie and her aunt and uncle, Pat and Ted Binkley,  generously donated a collection featuring the personal papers of Paul S. Powers as well over 400 pulp magazines featuring his work to the Rare Books and Manuscripts Library at Ohio State University. They will be part of the university’s significant popular fiction holdings in the William Charvat Collection of American Literature, one of the world’s foremost collection of materials in this field, and their growing pulp fiction magazine collection. There they will be available for viewing and study by scholars, students, and pulp fiction enthusiasts and historians.

All PulpFest 2014 attendees are cordially invited to attend Laurie Powers’ lecture at Ohio State’s Thompson Library on Thursday, August 7th, beginning at 4:30 PM. It will be held in Room 150 A/B. The library is located at 1858 Neil Avenue, about two and one-half miles from the Hyatt Regency Columbus. Click on the Thompson Library link above for directions.

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The Last Fictioneer: Frank Schildiner

Jul 18, 2014 by

ShadowmenClosing out our 2014 New Fictioneer programming will be Frank Schildiner. A pulp fan since reading Philip José Farmer’s Tarzan Alive, Frank is a martial arts instructor from New Jersey. He will be reading from from his forthcoming Thunder Jim Wade novella and one of his pieces for Black Coat’s Tales of the Shadowmen on Saturday, August 9th, at 3 PM.

Frank has written Black Bat, Ravenwood, and Secret Agent X stories for Airship 27; Avenger yarns for Moonstone Books; tales of Thunder Jim Wade and Richard Knight for Pro Se Productions; and contributed regularly to Black Coat Press’s Tales of the Shadowmen series. He has also published several articles on horror in comic books, television, and film including essays on Hellboy, the Frankenstein films, Dark Shadows, and television’s Lovecraftian links.

For those attending our Saturday afternoon programming, we’ll be offering a chance to win a fabulous door prize donated to PulpFest by Radio Archives–an audio-book edition of Will Murray’s Doc Savage and King Kong adventure, Skull Island, read by Michael McConnohie.

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The Beard Returns to PulpFest

Jul 17, 2014 by

Monster Earth 2 cover -embeddedJim Beard was introduced to comic books by his father, who passed on to him a love for the medium and the pulp characters that preceded it. After decades of reading, collecting, and dissecting comics, Jim became a published writer when he sold a story to DC Comics in 2002. Since then, he’s written stories for Dark Horse Comic’s Star Wars as well as IDW Publishing’s Ghostbusters comic books.

A native of Toledo where he is a regular columnist for the Toledo Free Press, Jim broke into the world of “New Pulp” in 2012 when Airship 27 published Sgt. Janus, Spirit-Breaker, a collection of ghost stories featuring an occult detective, and Captain Action: Riddle of the Glowing Men, the first prose novel based on the 1960s action figure. Other fiction by the author includes Captain Action: Hearts of the Rising Sunthe sequel to his best-selling Airship 27 novel; Monster Earth, a shared-world anthology of giant monster tales; and Sgt. Janus Returns, a second, all-new collection of suspenseful adventures featuring his popular creation. Jim also provides regular content for Marvel.com, the official Marvel Comics website and has contributed articles and essays to several volumes of comic book history. His work has also been featured in Gotham City 14 Miles: 14 Essays on Why the 1960s Batman TV Series Matters, a critical evaluation of the ABC television show.

Join “The Beard” on Saturday, August 9th, at 2 PM when Jim will be reading from Sgt. Janus ReturnsBetrayal on Monster Earth, and Pride of the Mohicans, a new anthology based upon The Last of the Mohicans. To learn more about this exciting new fictioneer, please visit The Beard: The Jim Beard Fan Page.

For those attending our Saturday afternoon programming, we’ll be offering a chance to win a fabulous door prize donated to PulpFest by Radio Archives–an audio-book edition of Will Murray’s Doc Savage and King Kong adventure, Skull Island, read by Michael McConnohie.

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The Fun of Writing Pulp Fiction

Jul 16, 2014 by

Captain HazzardWriting can be a lonely business, but it can also be fun. On Saturday, August 9th, at 1 PM, writer, editor-in-chief of Airship 27, and two-time Pulp Factory Award winner Ron Fortier and five contemporary authors will chat about the pleasure and enjoyment they’ve experienced as writers of the new and exciting genre known as “New Pulp.”

Winner of the 2014 New Pulp Award for Best New AuthorRalph L. Angelo, Jr. has written in the epic-fantasy, sword-and-sorcery, science-fiction and new-pulp genres as well as numerous non-fiction works about motorcycling. Creator of The Cagliostro ChroniclesThe Crystalon Saga, and the Torahg the Warrior series, Ralph has also written for Airship 27, Pro Se Press, and other publishers.

A native of Toledo, Jim Beard is the creator Sgt. Janus, Spirit-Breaker, co-creator of the Monster Earth anthology series, and author of the Captain Action novels for Airship 27. His recent work includes stories for White Rocket’s Pride of the Mohicans, The New Adventures of Major Lacy & Amusement, Inc. for Pro Se Press, and an upcoming project from Meteor House.

A veteran comic writer best known for his work on The Green Hornet and Terminator, Ron Fortier is a pioneer of the New Pulp movement. The managing editor of Airship 27 Productions, Ron writes the adventures of Captain Hazzard and Brother Bones, the Undead Avenger.

Nobody writes non-stop adventure books like Wayne Reinagel. Author, illustrator, and publisher of the epic Pulp Heroes and Modern Marvels series of pulp adventure novels and short stories for Knightraven Studios, Wayne’s stories are packed with incredible action and breath-taking adventure. Coming soon are Sanctuary Falls, the concluding segment of the Pulp Heroes trilogy and two more novels in the Gothic horror Modern Marvels trilogy.

A pulp fan since reading Philip José Farmer’s Tarzan Alive, Frank Schildiner is a martial arts instructor from New Jersey. He has written Black Bat, Ravenwood, and Secret Agent X stories for Airship 27; Avenger yarns for Moonstone Books; tales of Thunder Jim Wade and Richard Knight for Pro Se Productions; and contributed to Black Coat Press’s Tales of the Shadowmen series. Frank has also published several articles on horror in comic books, television, and film.

An emergency room physician in southwestern Illinois, Art Sippo is the co-host of The Book Cave, a podcast that reviews adventure fiction, novels, comic books, movies, and all things pulp. His first novel, Sun Koh: Heir of Atlantis, was a 2010 Pulp Factory Award nominee for Best Pulp Novel. Art has also written numerous essays and short stories for magazines and anthologies, and has served as a panelist and moderator at many recent FarmerCons.

For those attending our Saturday afternoon programming, we’ll be offering a chance to win a fabulous door prize donated to PulpFest by Radio Archives–an audio-book edition of Will Murray’s Doc Savage and King Kong adventure, Skull Island, read by Michael McConnohie.

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New Fictioneer, Ralph Angelo

Jul 15, 2014 by

Cagliostro ChroniclesThey were called scribes, word slingers, hacks, and penny-a-worders. But perhaps the most favored term, especially among the men and women who labored for the bloody pulps, was fictioneer or, more specifically, a fiction writer, particularly a prolific creator of commercial or pulp fiction. Join PulpFest as we celebrate today’s fictioneers—the authors writing the new pulp fiction—the New Fictioneers!

On Friday, August 8th, at 3:30 PM, meet Ralph L. Angelo, Jr. as he continues our 2014 New Fictioneers programming with readings from My Enemy, Myself: The Crystalon Saga, Book Two, The Cagliostro Chronicles 2: Conflagration, and a forthcoming superhero novel entitled Hyperforce.

The 2014 New Pulp Award for Best New Author, Ralph has written in the epic-fantasy, sword-and-sorcery, science-fiction and new-pulp genres as well as numerous non-fiction works about motorcycling. His other books include Redemption of the Sorcerer: The Crystalon Saga, Book One, The Cagliostro Chronicles, and Torahg the Warrior: Sword of Vengeance. Ralph has also written short stories for several Pro Se Productions and Airship 27 anthologies and Tales of Torahg the Warrior, Vol. 1, soon to be released  by Pro Se. Additionally, he contributes regularly to Backroads Motorcycle Touring Magazine, Motorcycle Consumer News, and Motorcycle Online. Ralph lives with his family in suburban Long Island and is an avid motorcyclist, skier, guitar player, and martial artist. You can learn more about Ralph L. Angelo, Jr. and his books by visiting http://RLAngeloJr.com.

For those attending our New Fictioneers readings on Friday afternoon, we’ll be offering a chance to win a fabulous door prize donated to PulpFest by Radio Archives–an audio-book edition of Will Murray’s Doc Savage adventure, The Frightened Fish, read by Michael McConnohie.

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Voyage to Strange Days with Christopher Paul Carey

Jul 14, 2014 by

Worlds of PJFJoin Christopher Paul Carey on Friday, August 8th, at 2:30 PM as he reads from “The Goddess Equation,” part of our New Fictioneers programming. Set in the 23rd century of Philip José Farmer’s early tales “Some Fabulous Yonder,” “Strange Compulsion,” and Night of Light, Carey’s story appears in the new Meteor House anthology, The Worlds of Philip José Farmer 4: Voyages to Strange Days.

Christopher Paul Carey is the coauthor with Philip José Farmer of Gods of Opar: Tales of Lost Khokarsa, and the author of Exiles of Kho, a prelude to the Khokarsa series. His short fiction can be found in anthologies such as Tales of the Shadowmen, The Worlds of Philip José Farmer, Tales of the Wold Newton Universe, and The Avenger: The Justice, Inc. Files. He is an editor with Paizo Publishing on the award-winning Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, and has edited numerous collections, anthologies, and novels. Chris holds an M.A. in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University and lives with his wife Laura in Seattle, Washington. Visit his website at www.cpcarey.com, and follow him on Twitter @cpcarey.

For those attending our New Fictioneers readings on Friday afternoon, we’ll be offering a chance to win a fabulous door prize donated to PulpFest by Radio Archives–an audio-book edition of Will Murray’s Doc Savage adventure, The Frightened Fish, read by Michael McConnohie.

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