Your Last Chance to Guess Our Guest’s Identity

Jan 10, 2016 by

Amazing Stories 26-04On Thursday evening, we drew your attention to the fact that we are planning to announce our convention’s 2016 guest of honor on Monday, January 11th. The news will be released here and on our social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. We also mentioned that we’re planning to offer a wide array of programming at PulpFest 2016, including salutes to the 150th anniversary of the birth of H. G. Wells — author of “The Time Machine,” “War of the Worlds,” and other classic science-fiction novels — and the 90th anniversary of the first science-fiction pulp, AMAZING STORIES.

As we mentioned in our post concerning THE ARGOSY  the first American periodical specifically designed for the common man — pulp magazines were named for the cheap paper on which they were printed. Nearly two decades after Frank A. Munsey pioneered the format in late 1896, the rough-paper periodicals began to specialize with the introduction of DETECTIVE STORY MAGAZINE by Street & Smith. During the 1920s more magazines geared toward specific genres were introduced: LOVE STORY, SEA STORIES, SPORT STORY MAGAZINE, GHOST STORIES, WAR STORIES, and others. The movement would culminate in single-character magazines such as THE SHADOW or DOC SAVAGE MAGAZINE.

It was hard to miss the inaugural issue of AMAZING STORIES — the first magazine to be geared toward the science-fiction reader. Larger than the typical pulp magazine with three-dimensional block letters trailing across its masthead, with a bright yellow backdrop that framed an alien landscape, a ringed planet and small moon, the magazine certainly stood out on the sales rack.

The names on the front cover of the early issues of AMAZING STORIES were also major selling points for the magazine: Edgar Rice Burroughs, A. Merritt, Edgar Allan Poe, Garrett P. Serviss, Jules Verne, H. G. Wells, and others. Using stories drawn from the Munsey magazines, BLUE BOOK, THE STRAND, and other sources, Gernsback offered reprints of science-fiction classics, eventually coupling these with new stories generated through contests. It was just as Gernsback wrote in his editorial for the pulp’s first issue: “By ‘scientifiction’ I mean the Jules Verne, H. G. Wells, and Edgar Allan Poe type story — a charming romance intermingled with scientific fact and prophetic vision.”

Amazing Stories 27-08It would be difficult to deny the importance of Herbert George Wells to the development of both science fiction and AMAZING STORIES. During his three years as editor and publisher of the first science-fiction magazine, Gernsback turned to Wells’ fictional output for nearly thirty stories, reprinting such tales as “The Country of the Blind,” “The Crystal Egg,” “The Empire of the Ants,” “The First Men in the Moon,” “The Invisible Man,” “The Island of Dr. Moreau,” “The Man Who Could Work Miracles,” “A Story of the Days to Come,” “The Time Machine,” “The Valley of the Spiders,” “The War of the Worlds,” and “When the Sleeper Wakes” in his magazine and its companion titles.

PulpFest 2016 will be celebrating both H. G. Wells and AMAZING STORIES at its convention in July. Please join us at “the pop culture center of the universe” for “Summer’s AMAZING Pulp Con,” from July 21st through July 24th in the Columbus, Ohio Arena district at the Hyatt Regency hotel and the city’s spacious convention center.

Here’s our final clue to the identity of our PulpFest 2016 guest of honor: in 1926, Hugo Gernsback introduced the reading public to the first science-fiction magazine, AMAZING STORIES. Since then, Gernsback’s magazine has inspired countless imitators. During our 2016 guest of honor’s career, he or she has also been associated with the science-fiction genre. Here’s your last chance to leave your guess to our special guest’s identity on our Facebook page. If you haven’t done so already, be sure to “like” us. We’ll provide a free membership to PulpFest 2016 to the first person who guesses the identity of this year’s honored guest. And remember to visit www.pulpfest.com on Monday, January 11th when we will reveal the identity of the PulpFest 2016 Guest of Honor.

(Frank R. Paul, the “grandfather of science-fiction art,” painted the covers to both the inaugural issue of AMAZING STORIES — dated April 1926 — and the August 1927 number of the magazine. The latter issue of the rough-paper periodical featured the first half of the classic H. G. Wells novel, “The War of the Worlds,” serialized by the magazine in two parts. Wells’ story of an alien invasion of planet Earth — originally published in PEARSON’S MAGAZINE in 1897 — is still enjoyed to this very day.)

A Third Clue to Our Guest of Honor

Jan 9, 2016 by

The Whisperer 1936-10On Thursday evening, we drew your attention to the fact that we are planning to announce our convention’s 2016 guest of honor on Monday, January 11th. The news will be released here and on our social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. We also mentioned that we’re planning to offer a wide array of programming at PulpFest 2016, including a salute to the 80th anniversaries of THE WHISPERER and THE SKIPPER.

In 1931, Street & Smith was promoting their DETECTIVE STORY pulp by dramatizing stories from the magazine over the radio. The program’s narrator called himself “The Shadow.” When this memorable name began to eclipse the title of the magazine being promoted, the publisher decided to launch a new form of pulp magazine, the single-character or “hero” pulp. Within two years, the phenomenal success of  THE SHADOW MAGAZINE had started a rash of hero pulps including THE PHANTOM DETECTIVE, DOC SAVAGE, THE SPIDER, and G-8 AND HIS BATTLE ACES.

Although most of the hero-pulp titles that were introduced during 1933 experienced long runs, two of the magazines — Street & Smith’s own NICK CARTER DETECTIVE MAGAZINE and PETE RICE WESTERN ADVENTURES — were cancelled during the summer of 1936. Their spots in the publisher’s line-up were not long left vacant. THE WHISPERER was introduced to readers with its October 1936 issue, while THE SKIPPER debuted two months later.

THE WHISPERER related the adventures of Police Commissioner Wildcat Gordon, “a new character,” as the magazine’s first number proclaimed, who was “vigorous” and “fascinating.” The new pulp hero was meant to be a more adult version of Walter Gibson’s Shadow character, battling organized crime, racketeers, political corruption, and the like. Disguised in gray and wearing special dental plates that caused him to speak in a spooky whisper, Wildcat carried a pair of silenced automatics and was prone to kill those who ignored the law. The novels of the magazine’s first run were all written by Laurence Donovan, using the house name of Clifford Goodrich.

Hoping to duplicate the success of their globe-trotting super-hero, Doc Savage, Street & Smith released THE SKIPPER. Likewise intended to be a grown-up version of the popular Lester Dent adventure hero, the publisher again turned to Laurence Donovan to create the character and his adventures. The Skipper was Captain John Fury, master of the freighter Whirlwind. Following the death of his brother — killed by ocean-faring evildoers — Cap Fury promises to rid the seas of pirates and criminals. Commanding a tramp steamer that has been outfitted for war, The Skipper battles a number of fantastic foes who control death rays, a meteorite that removes oxygen from the air, voodoo practitioners, plague-bearing rats, and other nefarious evil-doers.

The Skipper 1936-12Here’s another clue to the identity of our PulpFest 2016 guest of honor: as mentioned in our post of  January 8th, the 1930s was the era of the hero pulp, inspired by the phenomenal success of Street & Smith’s THE SHADOW MAGAZINE. During our 2016 guest of honor’s career, he or she has also been associated with super heroes. Drop by our site tomorrow for our final hint. You can leave your guess to our special guest’s identity on our Facebook page. If you haven’t done so already, be sure to “like” us. We’ll provide a free membership to PulpFest 2016 to the first person who guesses the identity of this year’s honored guest. And remember to visit www.pulpfest.com on Monday, January 11th, when we will reveal the identity of the PulpFest 2016 Guest of Honor.

(THE WHISPERER was introduced to readers with its October 1936 number, featuring front cover art by the talented John Newton Howitt, a devoted landscape painter whose work was sold at fine art galleries in New York City. With the advent of the Great Depression, the artist turned to the pulps for income. An excellent painter, Howitt found a ready market in the rough-paper periodicals, selling freelance pulp covers to ADVENTURE, DIME DETECTIVE, HORROR STORIES, THE SPIDER, TERROR TALES, THE WHISPERER, WESTERN STORY MAGAZINE, and other pulp magazine titles.

THE SKIPPER debuted two months after the introduction of THE WHISPERER, its first issue dated December 1936. Lawrence Donner Toney, a graduate of the Art Institute of Chicago, was the cover artist. During the 1930s and 1940s, Toney painted covers for pulp magazines, such as CLUES, COMPLETE STORIES,WESTERN STORY MAGAZINE, and WILD WEST WEEKLY, all published by Street & Smith. Most of his work for pulp magazines was signed only with his initials.

To learn more about these talented artists, be sure to visit David Saunders’ Field Guide to Wild American Pulp Artists where you will find more than 300 biographical profiles of American pulp artists.)

Another Clue to Our Guest of Honor

Jan 8, 2016 by

Argosy 1896-12Last night, we drew your attention to the fact that we are planning to announce our convention’s 2016 guest of honor on Monday, January 11th. The news will be released here and on our social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. We also mentioned that we’re planning to offer a wide array of programming at PulpFest 2016, including a salute to the 120th anniversary of the first pulp magazine, THE ARGOSY.

Pulp magazines were named for the cheap paper on which they were printed. Frank A. Munsey pioneered the format in late 1896 with THE ARGOSYcreating the first American periodical specifically designed for the common man. A decade later, pulps began to pick up steam with titles like BLUE BOOK (1906) and ADVENTURE (1910), then exploded in 1912 when THE ALL-STORY printed a yarn written by Edgar Rice Burroughs and called “Tarzan of the Apes.” Soon after, genre titles began to flourish, among them DETECTIVE STORY, WESTERN STORY and LOVE STORY.

In the 1920s, pulps continued to flourish with publishing legends such as BLACK MASK (1920), WEIRD TALES (1923) and AMAZING STORIES (1926) taking hold. The thirties was the era of the “hero” or single-character pulp magazine, inspired by the phenomenal success of Street & Smith’s THE SHADOW MAGAZINE. The late thirties saw the blossoming of the science-fiction pulps as the genre’s “Golden Age” arrived in the pages of ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION.

Following World War II, the demand for pulp magazines waned as a more convenient form of cheap entertainment took hold – paperbacks. These were often just as “pulpy,” since they were generally written by many of the same authors and featured covers by pulp artists. In the fifties, television became the favored form of escapism and the surviving pulps ceased publication. Fiction magazines continued to be published, but in new formats. The science-fiction and mystery digests and “men’s adventure magazines” are considered descendants of the pulps. It was as one of the latter that the final issue of ARGOSY from its original run appeared.

Although ARGOSY was the first pulp magazine, it “shifted to a slick magazine with mixed content” in the fall of 1943. Still later, it was converted to the men’s adventure magazine format. Here’s our second clue to the identity of our PulpFest 2016 guest of honor: during our 2016 guest of honor’s career, he or she worked for both the rough-paper and slick magazines. Drop by our site over the next few days for more hints. You can leave your guess to our special guest’s identity on our Facebook page. If you haven’t done so already, be sure to “like” us. We’ll provide a free membership to PulpFest 2016 to the first person who guesses the identity of this year’s honored guest. And remember to visit www.pulpfest.com on Monday, January 11th when we’ll reveal the identity of the PulpFest 2016 Guest of Honor.

(The December 1896 issue of THE ARGOSY, published by Frank A. Munsey, was the world’s first pulp fiction magazine. It would continue for nearly eighty years, ending as a “men’s adventure magazine.” It’s final issue was dated November 1978.)

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Who Will Be Our Guest of Honor?

Jan 7, 2016 by

Western Story 1932-09-03If you’ve been following our recent posts, you’ll know we released our draft schedule for PulpFest 2016 on January 4th, just a few days into the new year. If you happened to study that schedule, you’ve learned that we are planning to announce our convention’s 2016 guest of honor on Monday, January 11th. The news will be released here and on our social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. If you’ve been tracking our progress, you’ll also know that we’re planning to offer a wide array of programming at PulpFest 2016, including a salute to the 100th anniversary of the genre pulp magazine.

Although the Munsey group published the first specialized pulp magazines — beginning with THE RAILROAD MAN’S MAGAZINE in 1906, followed by THE OCEAN in 1907 — both pulps were a mixture of fact and fiction. It would be up to Street & Smith to originate the specialized pulp-fiction magazine in the fall of 1915, when it introduced DETECTIVE STORY MAGAZINE to the reading public.

Originally published twice a month, DETECTIVE STORY became a weekly before the end of its second year of publication. Despite its great success, the new pulp did not immediately inspire many imitators. It would be up to Street & Smith itself to develop the trend: WESTERN STORY MAGAZINE arrived in 1919, followed by LOVE STORY in 1921, SEA STORIES in 1922, and SPORT STORY MAGAZINE in 1923. It was not until 1924 that the single-genre fiction pulp would start to take off as other publishers began to release their own specialty pulps.

Here’s a clue to the identity of our PulpFest 2016 guest of honor: at one time in our 2016 guest of honor’s career, he or she worked for the specialty or genre-fiction magazines. Drop by our site over the next few days for more hints. You can leave your guess to our special guest’s identity on our Facebook page. If you haven’t done so already, be sure to “like” us. We’ll provide a free membership to PulpFest 2016 to the first person who guesses the identity of this year’s honored guest. And remember to visit www.pulpfest.com on Monday, January 11th when we will reveal the identity of the PulpFest 2016 Guest of Honor.

(Walter M. Baumhofer — often referred to as the “king of the pulp artists” — contributed the front cover art for the September 3, 1932 issue of WESTERN STORY MAGAZINE, one of the string of specialized pulp-fiction magazines first introduced by the Street & Smith publishing group in the fall of 1915. PulpFest 2016 will be celebrating the 100th anniversary of the genre magazine at its convention at the Hyatt Regency Columbus and the Greater Columbus Convention Center in beautiful downtown of Columbus, Ohio from July 21 – 24, 2016. Bring your friends! They’ll have a very SPECIAL time!)

Meet Chuck Welch

Sep 2, 2013 by

RailroadStories37-04On this day when we salute the American worker, PulpFest is pleased to welcome its newest “laborer,” Chuck Welch, to its organizing committee. A resident of Wisconsin, Chuck began attending pulp cons in the late nineties. After starting a family, he rejoined PulpFest several years back and has been a devoted attendee ever since. Here’s what Chuck has to say about himself:

Although some may believe he is old enough to have purchased pulps off the newsstand, Chuck Welch is a mere whippersnapper. As one of the original Internet Fans of Bronze, Chuck started attending the summer pulp convention in the late 1990s. After meeting his future wife at one of those conventions, Chuck took some time off to start a family. At the behest of Bill Mann, he returned to attend PulpFest. As is his wont, Chuck immediately started volunteering and making suggestions to Jack, Barry, Ed, and Mike. Having enough of his puppy-dog eyes, the fearsome foursome asked Chuck if he’d like to join the team. Recently moved and having foisted off his old businesses, Chuck accepted. His goal for PulpFest 2014 is to not have any other members call for his head.

Chuck resides in La Crosse, Wisconsin with his wife and daughter. Though the youngest Welch has access to three complete collections of Doc Savage novels, she hasn’t yet found her parent’s love for the character. A generalist by heart, Chuck won’t claim an expert’s knowledge in any area of pulps or pulp collecting. However, he brings technical expertise in the fields of social media, new and dinosaur journalism, and organization.

Please welcome Chuck as one of the planners of PulpFest, “The Summer’s Great Pulp Con!” You can reach Chuck with your comments and suggestions via email at chuck@pulpfest.com.

The image above is the front cover to the April 1937 issue of Railroad Stories, one of the Munsey line of pulp magazines. The artist is not known.

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