PulpFest Historical — Leo Margulies and His Thrilling, Exciting, and Popular Journey

Jun 22, 2020 by

When Ned Pines was asked by The American News Company to start a chain of pulp magazines that it would distribute for him, he knew he needed an editor. The young publisher requested Frank A. Munsey employee, Leo Margulies, to be the managing editor of his new enterprise. With the country gripped by the Great Depression, the two men came up with a daring idea for the rough paper market: a ten-cent pulp magazine.

Standard Magazines, better known as “The Thrilling Group,” launched THRILLING DETECTIVE, THRILLING ADVENTURES, and THRILLING LOVE in late 1931. Each sold for a dime. Within two years, the line expanded, adding THE PHANTOM DETECTIVE, THE LONE EAGLE, SKY FIGHTERS, THRILLING RANCH STORIES, and THRILLING WESTERN. As Standard grew, Leo Margulies became the company’s face.

Margulies was born on June 22, 1905, and raised in Brooklyn, New York. After briefly attending Columbia University, he began working for the Munsey magazine chain, selling subsidiary rights to its stories. His mentor was the legendary editor, Bob Davis, the man who published the early works of Max Brand, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Ray Cummings, George Allan England, A. Merritt, and other popular writers.

After Davis left the pulp industry, Margulies worked as head of East Coast research for Fox Films; helped to establish Tower Magazines, sold by Woolworth’s; and founded a literary agency. After joining Ned Pines’s new publishing venture, he developed a reputation “. . . not only for quick decisions on buying stories but also for swift payment — which made him a writers’ favorite.”

Respected by authors and editors alike, Margulies became known as “The Little Giant of the Pulps.” As author and screenwriter Steve Fisher wrote in a writer’s magazine:

“. . . there was a sudden silence. Fifty people stopped eating and looked up. Leo Margulies made his usual dramatic entrance. . . . I thought for a moment (American Fiction Guild) president Art Burks was going to leap to his feet and salute.”

During World War II, Leo Margulies enlisted in the military as a war correspondent. He was onboard the USS Missouri when the Japanese surrendered. Returning to the USA, he helped launch the Popular Library line of paperback books. Following a lengthy trip to Europe n the early fifties, Margulies left Pines’s employ and started a new publishing venture, King-Size Publications. He returned to the fiction market with two digest magazines — THE SAINT DETECTIVE MAGAZINE and FANTASTIC UNIVERSE.

In later years, Margulies established MIKE SHAYNE MYSTERY MAGAZINETHE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. MAGAZINEZANE GREY’S WESTERN MAGAZINE, and other fiction digests. He also revived WEIRD TALES in 1973-1974, with Sam Moskowitz as editor. Leo Margulies died on December 26, 1975 at the age of seventy-five.

As part of its tribute to Ned Pines’s Standard Magazines in 2015, PulpFest welcomed Margulies’ nephew, Philip M. Sherman, to the convention. Mr. Sherman discussed his uncle on both a professional and personal level: “Not only was Leo an outstanding editor and publisher . . . he was also an outstanding uncle.”

Although Philip Sherman passed away in 2019 at the age of 88, he was able to write a biography of his uncle. LEO MARGULIES, GIANT OF THE PULPS: HIS THRILLING, EXCITING, AND POPULAR JOURNEY was published in 2017 by Altus Press. It is available through Steeger Books and other fine booksellers.

(In addition to Arthur C. Clarke’s classic novella, “Against the Fall of Night,” the November 1949 STARTLING STORIES — with cover art by Earle Bergey — also featured Ray Bradbury’s “The Visitor.” One of twenty-two Bradbury Mars stories to be published before the release of THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES, it was not included in the book. Subsequently appearing in THE ILLUSTRATED MAN, “The Visitor” is a riff on “Impossible” (SUPER SCIENCE STORIES, November 1949). Retitled “The Martian” for its appearance in THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES, “Impossible” was far superior to “The Visitor.”

According to John Locke’s introduction to THRILLING DETECTIVE HEROES, Leo Margulies “answered the higher calling of wartime. He and several other writers and editors joined the Navy for a stint in the Pacific Theater as war correspondents.” Pictured above is Margulies in uniform during World War II. Many thanks to Matt Moring of Steeger Books for this photograph. It originally appeared in Will Murray’s study of the pulp western, WORDSLINGERS.)

PulpFest Historical — Rudolph Belarski

May 27, 2020 by

Rudolph Belarski was born 120 years ago today on May 27, 1900. The son of unskilled immigrants from Europe, he grew up in the mining town of Dupont, Pennsylvania. Forced to quit school after sixth grade, he labored for ten years at the Pittston Mines. Young Rudolph’s nights were spent following his dream to become a professional illustrator as he completed mail-order art courses from the International Correspondence School, Inc. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.

Moving to New York City in 1922, Belarski studied at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. He began teaching there in 1928, the same year he entered the pulp industry through Dell Publications, providing interiors and covers for WAR ACES, WARBIRDS, WAR NOVELS, and WAR STORIES. He would leave the Pratt Institute behind in 1933 to work for Fiction House, Thrilling Publications, and Munsey. Rudolph Belarski painted covers for ACES, ALL-AMERICAN FICTION, ARGOSY, CAPTAIN FUTURE, DETECTIVE FICTION WEEKLY, MYSTERY BOOK, POPULAR DETECTIVE, RED STAR ADVENTURES, THRILLING DETECTIVE, WINGS, and other rough-paper titles.

Too old to serve in the Second World War, Belarski drew portrait sketches for hospitalized servicemen on both sides of the Atlantic. After the war, he became one of Ned Pines’ top paperback cover artists at Popular Library as well as a leading illustrator for the men’s adventure magazines. He finished his career as a teacher at the world’s foremost correspondence art school, the Famous Artists School of Westport, Connecticut. He retired in 1972. Rudolph Belarski passed away at age 83 on Christmas Eve, 1983.

(We had hoped to find a Ray Bradbury cover painted by Rudolph Belarski to go along with this article. However, by the time Bradbury was writing, Earle Bergey was painting most of the science fiction and fantasy covers for the Standard Magazines pulp line. So instead, we decided to go with a Belarski painting of Tarzan, one of Ray Bradbury’s longtime heroes.

Rudolph Belarski’s painting was created for the cover of the March 19, 1938 ARGOSY WEEKLY, illustrating the Edgar Rice Burroughs serial, “The Red Star of Tarzan.” The story — which was originally published in six weekly installments — would be titled TARZAN AND THE FORBIDDEN CITY when it appeared later the same year in book form.

We’ll have plenty of programming related to the work of Edgar Rice Burroughs. So please stayed tuned to pulpfest.com in the weeks ahead.

William Patrick Maynard was born and raised in Northeast Ohio. An avid reader of vintage thriller fiction and a keen student of film and comic art, he has been writing fiction since childhood. Since 2009, he has been authorized by the Sax Rohmer literary estate to continue the Fu Manchu series. Apart from his novels, he also writes mystery and sci-fi short fiction and screenplays. He has authored nearly 300 pop culture articles and has contributed DVD commentaries to classic films of the last century. In late 2018, Bill joined the PulpFest marketing department as a writer. Since then, he has contributed significantly to our website. Bill is the convention’s assistant director of marketing and director of afternoon programming. To reach him by email, write to wpm@pulpfest.com.)

PulpFest Profile — Eighty Years of CAPTAIN FUTURE

Jan 6, 2020 by

The Wizard of Science

Captain Future is a science fiction pulp hero with a very long reach. He’s appeared in more than two dozen stories, comics, cartoon and live-action television shows, and may yet appear in a big-budget movie. His origin owes much to Doc Savage, and some of his gimmicks were re-tooled for SUPERMAN and BATMAN. He’s even been written about by one of New York’s premier humorists, S. J. Perelman.

Brilliant, red-headed Curt Newton is one of Edmond Hamilton’s most famous characters and yet Hamilton neither created him, nor wrote all the stories. Captain Future has fans all over the world and new adventures are appearing today in books and magazines.

The Birthplace of Creation

The character of Captain Future was created by Leo Margulies and Mort Weisinger allegedly in response to early science fiction fandom at the First World Science Fiction Convention in the summer of 1939. The original idea was for a character called, “Mr. Future: Wizard of Science,” a space-age Doc Savage with three alien side kicks. Mr. Future was a genetic superman who battled evil in the 21st Century. (Ironic, as Weisinger would later edit SUPERMAN.)

Margulies and Weisinger hired Edmond Hamilton to write the series. Hamilton helped refine the characters and storyline and dubbed Future’s sidekicks, “The Futuremen.” These became Grag, a hulking mechanical man of great strength and good-natured loyalty; Otho, a white-skinned, emerald-eyed android of great wit and intelligence; and Simon Wright, an elderly scientist who, at death, had his brain encased in a transparent, life-sustaining box fitted with artificial eyes and mouth. During this early design process “Mr. Future” became “Captain Future.”

Calling Captain Future

After the initial drafts, Curtis Newton was no longer a genetic superman, but remained a brilliant young scientist, superb athlete, and brave, heroic crusader. He’s the son of gifted biologist, Roger Newton, and his wife, Elaine. Both of Curtis’ parents are murdered by Victor Corvo, who tracked them to their hidden sanctuary on the Moon to steal Roger’s secrets for the creation of artificial life.

Thereafter, infant Curtis is raised by Roger’s co-worker, Simon Wright, the brain, Grag, the robot, and Otho, the android. Curtis has a remarkable upbringing. His three unhuman guardians train the boy to unparalleled scientific knowledge, incredible strength and stamina based on a system of super-exercises, and unbelievable swiftness of physical and mental reactions. Curt and Simon Wright develop a super-ship, “The Comet,” and use it to travel around the solar system and visit the various worlds. When he’s grown, Curtis is told the details of his parents’ murders. He then chooses to become Captain Future,  “. . . implacable Nemesis of all oppressors and exploiters of the System’s human and planetary races.”

Besides the Futuremen, Curt’s team includes two members of the Planet Police force — Secret Agent Joan Randall and Marshal Ezra Gurney.

The Triumph of Captain Future

The first novel,Captain Future and the Space Emperor,” debuted in the premiere issue (Winter 1940) of CAPTAIN FUTURE: WIZARD OF SCIENCE. The story was good escapist fun and prompted humorist, S. J. Perelman, to write a NEW YORKER review entitled, “Captain Future, Block That Kick!” which, although tongue-in-cheek, is still a delightful read.

CAPTAIN FUTURE continued for seventeen issues and included novels, short stories and features such as: “The Worlds of Tomorrow,” “The Futuremen,” and “The Future of Captain Future.” It got a name change for the Winter 1941 number and became CAPTAIN FUTURE: MAN OF TOMORROW. The magazine was just hitting its stride when America entered World War II. Edmond Hamilton expected to be drafted and resigned from the series. Margulies hired two pulp writers to replace him —  Manly Wade Wellman and Joseph Samachson (pen name of William Morrison). A house name of “Brett Sterling” was attached to the series even before Hamilton stopped writing it. As it turned out, Hamilton wasn’t drafted and continued writing the series under the name of Brett Sterling.

Wartime brought some unusual problems to the magazine. In one case, U. S. Customs seized one of Hamilton’s manuscripts during a border crossing from Mexico. The agents were suspicious of the maps showing an imaginary planet called “Vulcan,” inside the orbit of Mercury. This caused a production delay until Hamilton got his materials back from Washington.

An editorial snafu with an unnamed editor caused Hamilton and Samachson to produce two novels with too-similar plots. This led to Hamilton re-writing “Outlaw World” and its eventual publication several years later in STARTLING STORIES.

Wartime paper shortages were disastrous for the pulps. Magazines implored readers to reserve copies as print runs were reduced. But even subscriptions weren’t enough to keep the presses running for CAPTAIN FUTURE. The Spring 1944 issue was the last and all remaining CAPTAIN FUTURE stories were added to their sister magazine, STARTLING STORIES. The character remained in STARTLING until Captain Future retired in 1946.

But not for long. Captain Future and his team returned to STARTLING STORIES in 1950 for a series of character-driven novelettes which are considered some of the best in the run. “The Return of Captain Future” led the way in January 1950. This was followed by six other stories which highlighted different members of the team — Simon Wright in “The Harpers of Titan” (September 1950), Grag in “Pardon My Iron Nerves” (November 1950), Ezra Gurney in “Moon of the Unforgotten” (January 1951), and “Birthplace of Creation” (May 1951) in which Captain Future, himself, is tested. In that story Curt discovers that even he is not immune to the corruption of power.

The Return of Captain Future

When Captain Future wrapped in May of 1951, readers thought they’d seen the last of Curt Newton and his friends. But it wasn’t the end. Twenty-seven years later, in 1978, Toei Animation of Japan produced a fifty-three episode cartoon (anime) series based on thirteen of the original “Captain Future” stories. The series was very well-received and had a global distribution. It remains popular to this day, but not in the United States where poor English translations and editing discouraged fans.

In 2017, German director Christian Alvart, inspired by the Toei animation series, began work on a big budget, live-action Captain Future film. His plan is to have it produced out of Europe with an international cast. The trailer looks promising and comments from fans are very positive.

Captain Future had succeeded in various media, but there were no new stories until the mid-1990’s when sci-fi writer, Allen Steele, got permission from Hamilton’s estate to pen a few new Captain Future stories. He began with “The Death of Captain Future” (ASIMOV’S SCIENCE FICTION, October 1995), then followed it up with “The Exile of the Evening Star” (ASIMOV’S SCIENCE FICTION, January 1999). Both of these are “satirical homages” to the original material.

“The Death of Captain Future” received both the Hugo and Seiun Awards in 1996 and was also short-listed for a Nebula Award.

in 2018, Steele had a new Captain Future novel ready to go with Tor Books. This time it was a modern reboot called AVENGERS OF THE MOON. The book brings the characters and technology up-to-date and pushes the stories forward in time to the late 23rd/early 24th centuries (as opposed to the early 21st century of the original.)

Allen Steele’s “Captain Future Novel” was part of a planned trilogy. Unfortunately, after a house editorial change Tor cancelled the second and third books. As luck would have it, Steele’s friend Steve Davidson was about to revive AMAZING STORIES as a print magazine and asked Steele for a story. “Captain Future In Love” (AMAZING STORIES Fall & Winter 2018) is the result, serialized in the first two issues.

Star Trail to Glory

When I started researching this article, I thought I was pretty well-versed on the subject. I’m a big fan of Captain Future, have read all the books, and watched quite a few of the anime. I’ve also written about him before. But this time I dug deeper and discovered a lot more to the story. From the hero’s creation to the twists and turns that followed, I was surprised by all that I found.

And then there are Allen Steele’s new stories. I admit that I’m a purist and wasn’t prepared to accept a rebooted CAPTAIN FUTURE universe. But then it occurred to me that Steele is doing the world a favor by adding new stories to the original catalog. His love of the characters might already have inspired a new generation of readers. And those readers, hungry for more, might look back at the original stories and enjoy them, also.

I have no idea what Hamilton, Wellman, and Samachson would think of AVENGERS OF THE MOON or “Captain Future In Love,” and it’s not my place to guess. What I can be sure of is that every writer wants their creations to last. This month, Captain Future turns eighty years old and what writer wouldn’t be happy with that kind of longevity?

Happy Birthday, Curt Newton! Long may “The Comet” fly.

(Dated Winter 1940, the first issue of Standard Magazines CAPTAIN FUTURE featured front cover art by George Rozen. The artist is best remembered for the many covers that he painted for the popular Street & Smith hero pulp, THE SHADOW. Rozen would paint one more CAPTAIN FUTURE cover — dated Fall 1941 — and two covers for Fiction House’s PLANET STORIES. In later years, he created paperback cover paintings for Popular Library and the “Ace Doubles” series.

Sara Light-Waller is a writer, illustrator, and avid pulp fan. Science fiction pulps are her favorites, especially space opera and thought variant stories. She has published two illustrated New Pulp books with more to come. Catch up with her at Lucina Press.

If you’d like to read more about Captain Future and his Futuremen, click here for a list of references that Sara used to prepare for this post.)

125 Years of Eugene Frandzen

Apr 13, 2018 by

Beginning on Thursday evening, July 26, and running through Sunday, July 29, PulpFest 2018 will honor the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War. On November 11, 1918, an armistice was signed that brought more than four years of hostilities to a close. The convention’s focus will be the so-called “war pulps” of the early twentieth century. It will also explore the depiction of war in popular fiction and art.

One of the leading artists who brought The Great War alive for pulp readers was Eugene M. Frandzen. Born on April 13, 1893, today marks the 125th anniversary of his birth.

Orphaned in his early teens, Frandzen used his inheritance money to study at the Art Institute of Chicago. According to pulp art historian David Saunders, the artist moved to New York City in 1921 and opened an “illustration studio.” Not long after, “his pen and ink story illustrations began to appear regularly in THE NEW YORK TIMES.” While he continued his studies under Dean Cornwell and others, Frandzen found more work as a magazine illustrator. “From 1929 to 1939 his work regularly appeared as interior story illustrations and covers for many aviation pulp magazines, such as AIRPLANE STORIES, FLYING ACES, THE LONE EAGLE, SKY BIRDS, SKY FIGHTERS, WAR ACES, and WAR BIRDS.

During the 1930s, Eugene Frandzen became a mainstay for Ned Pines’ Standard Magazines. The artist painted all of the covers for the Thrilling Group’s SKY FIGHTERS beginning with its first issue — dated July 1932 — until he left the pulp field in 1939. Likewise, starting with the first issue of THE LONE EAGLE — dated September 1933 — Frandzen’s cover art appeared on all but two issues of the magazine through its April 1939 number.

The artist returned to his native California in 1937 and turned to landscape art. He also taught a printmaking class at his home and regularly exhibited in both local and national art shows. Eugene M. Frandzen passed away on July 5, 1972.

Make your plans to celebrate “The Armistice that Ended The Great War” and “125 Years of Eugene Frandzen.” We’ll also be celebrating the 100th anniversary of the birth of science fiction Grand Master Philip Jose Farmer and welcoming award-winning author Joe Lansdale as our guest of honor.

Please join us July 26 – 29 for PulpFest 2018 at the beautiful DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Cranberry, just outside Pennsylvania’s Steel City. We hope to see you there.

(THE LONE EAGLE debuted with its September 1933 issue. It ran for 66 issues through its June 1941 number. The title was then changed to THE AMERICAN EAGLE for eight more issues. It finished its run as AMERICAN EAGLES with its Spring 1943 number. Telling the heroic adventures of Air Intelligence Agent John Masters, “the world’s greatest Sky Fighter,” the pulp debuted in the late summer of 1933.

Published by Standard Publications, many of the adventures of The Lone Eagle are believed to have been written by F. E. Rechnitzer. The “Lt. Scott Morgan” house name masked the author’s true name. Robert Sidney Bowen probably contributed most of the later novels. In all, 75 tales of “the world’s greatest Sky Fighter” would appear in the variously titled pulp, published for ten years by the Thrilling Group of magazines.)

Saturday at PulpFest 2015

Aug 15, 2015 by

Weird Tales 45-07There’s still time to get in on the action. The dealers’ room at the Hyatt Regency Columbus will be open today from 10 AM until 4:30 PM. Although the focus of PulpFest is pulp magazines and related materials, digests, vintage paperbacks, men’s adventure and true crime magazines, first-edition hardcovers, series books, dime novels, original art, Big Little Books, B-movies, serials and related paper collectibles, old-time-radio shows, and Golden and Silver Age as well as pulp-related comic books and games will also be for sale.

Single-day memberships to PulpFest will be available for $20 for Saturday and $10 for Sunday. Children who are fifteen and younger and accompanied by a parent, will be admitted free of charge. Members will be able to register for the convention at any time during regular dealers’ room hours. To help things move smoothly, please bring along a completed registration form. You can download a copy by clicking here. You only need to bring the last page of the form. Please visit our registration page for further details.

The PulpFest dealers’ room will closing at 4:30 PM today. This should allow plenty of time for people to prepare for our Saturday Night Dinner at Buca di Beppo, a get-together arranged by registration and volunteer coordinator Sally Cullers. If you don’t plan to attend, there are plenty of other restaurants close to the hotel. You’ll find a guide to the many fine downtown restaurants by clicking here as well as a map to find them by clicking here.

Whisperer in DarknessOur Saturday afternoon programming will start at 12:30 PM when author Duane Spurlock will read from AIRSHIP HUNTERS and FIGHTING ALASKA. Afterward, Ron Fortier will moderate a New Pulp Fiction Panel on “The Heirs of WEIRD TALES.” It will be followed by a presentation on WEIRD TALES artist Lee Brown Coye and another New Fictioneer reading featuring the weird poetry and prose of Scott Urban. Saturday evening’s events will include the PulpFest 2015 Business Meeting beginning at 7:10 PM, where two lucky members who had booked a stay at the Hyatt Regency will receive full membership refunds. It will be followed by the 2015 Munsey Award Presentation. Our programming for the evening will include Weird Editing at “The Unique Magazine,” The Thrilling Adventures of Rudolph Belarski, and a showing of THE WHISPERER IN DARKNESS and PROFESSOR PEABODY’S LAST LECTURE, part of our Lovecraft at the Movies film series. Tucked in before our movies begin will be our Saturday Night Auction, featuring material consigned by our membership.

Any member of PulpFest 2015 can submit items to the auction. Your PulpFest badge number will be used as your auction bidder and/or seller number. We will begin taking consignments for the auction when our dealers’ room opens on Friday, August 14th. The sooner you submit your consignment to Mike Chomko, the more likely that it will be included in our auction. Mike’s tables will be along the wall, just inside the entrance to the PulpFest dealers’ room. All auction lots must be submitted to Mike prior to 2 PM, Saturday, August 15th. All lots submitted must have a minimum value of $20. All lots that do not receive a bid of $20 or more will be passed. If you plan to offer an auction lot with a reserve price, your reserve must be $50 or more. No lots with a reserve price of less than $50 will be accepted. PulpFest reserves the right to reject any auction material that is unlikely to meet our minimum bid or reserve price standards as well as our content standards. The convention charges sellers 10% of the selling price for anything sold in the auction. For additional information, please click on the auction link on our programming schedule or contact Barry Traylor via email at barry@pulpfest.com.

Highlights of this year’s auction include the original typescript for the Phillip José Farmer novel, DAYWORLD, with notes and corrections in the authors’ hand, along with an original 1930’s Shadow mask.  It was either a premium or sold as part of a Halloween costume. The auction will also feature a number of lots from the estate of Earl Kussman who, along with Ed Kessell and Nils Hardin, organized the first Pulpcon, held in Clayton, Missouri over a June weekend in 1972.

Cthulhu DiceFor pulp fans who like games, gaming fans who like pulps, or just people who like to have fun, PulpFest 2015 will be introducing a gaming track. Many of the themes found in the world of modern games resonate from the pulps and the stories published in those magazines. There are games based on Conan, the Cthulhu Mythos, space operas such as Doc Smith’s Lensman series, westerns, mysteries and, of course, the pulp heroes. Role-playing games, or RPGs, are especially noted for quick action, cliff-hangers, and adventure.

The PulpFest 2015 gaming track will begin at 10 AM on Saturday and last until 10 PM or thereabouts.  On Sunday, games will begin at 10 AM and continue until the end of the convention. All games will be set up in the Clark Room, located on the second floor of the Hyatt Regency. The only requirements to play games at PulpFest 2015 are a PulpFest membership, your imagination, and a desire to have a good time. So if you enjoy pulps and you enjoy games, PulpFest will be the place to be. If you have questions about our gaming track, please write to PulpFest programming director Mike Chomko at mike@pulpfest.com.

For additional details on all of our afternoon and evening programming events, please visit click the red schedule button on our home page for further details. Each entry is linked to a post that provides further information on that event. Just click on the event’s title.

On Sunday, August 16th, the dealers’ room will be open to all members from 10 AM to 2 PM as our dealers pack up. If you are coming just for the day, please be aware that buying and selling opportunities may be limited. Admission to the convention for Sunday only will be $10, the cost of our annual program book, THE PULPSTER.

If you will be needing a hotel room for tonight, please remember that PulpFest is sharing downtown Columbus with Matsuricon. However, there may still be a few rooms available at nearby hotels. Please visit www.pulpfest.com/2015/06/16872/ and you’ll find a link to a list of hotels to choose from. Alternately, we suggest that you search for a room at tripadvisor or a similar website as soon as you possibly can. If you are not from the Columbus area and want to attend PulpFest 2015, we urge you to book your room now and not wait until you arrive.

(Not long after the appearance of the August Derleth anthology SLEEP NO MORE, the book’s illustrator, Lee Brown Coye, began a long relationship with WEIRD TALES. The first of his ten covers for the magazine appeared on its July 1945 number, featured above. He also produced many interior illustrations for the magazine. His work continued to appear in WEIRD TALES until 1952.

As part of its celebration of the 125th anniversary of H. P. Lovecraft’s birth and his relationship with WEIRD TALES, the leading supernatural fiction magazine of its time, PulpFest 2015 is very pleased to offer a fully authorized showing of THE WHISPERER IN DARKNESS. The one-sheet, pictured above, is copyright 2015 by the H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society.

One of the quick games that will be played at PulpFest is called CTHULHU DICE, from Steve Jackson Games. Players take turns rolling the big, custom-designed, twelve-sided die, embossed with tentacles, Elder Signs, and more. The objective of the game is to drive your opponents insane with the cast of your die. CTHULHU DICE plays in 5 to 10 minutes, and is great fun for two to six players.)

 

Friday at PulpFest 2015

Aug 14, 2015 by

Weird Tales 52-01PulpFest 2015 enters it second day, following a successful night of dealer set-up, early registration, early-bird shopping, and a full slate of exciting programming. If you missed our first day, there’s still plenty of action to come.

From 9 to 10 AM today, the dealers’ room will be open only to dealers for set-up. All members will also be able to register for the convention this morning, beginning at 9 PM, and at any time during regular dealers’ room hours. Those who have prepaid for their memberships, will be able to pick up their registration packets at our door. Three-day memberships will be available for $40. Single day memberships will be available for $20 for Friday or Saturday and $10 for Sunday. Children who are fifteen and younger and accompanied by a parent, will be admitted free of charge. To help things move smoothly, please bring along a completed registration form. You can download a copy by clicking here. You only need to bring the last page of the form. Please visit our registration page for further details.

Weird Tales 35-08The dealers’ room will open to all at 10 AM and remain open until 4:30 PM. Our afternoon programming will start at 1 PM with the first of two New Fictioneers readings — by Jason Scott Aiken and John Hegenberger — followed by a presentation on the Pulp Magazines Project. Our evening programming will begin at 7 PM as PulpFest chairman Jack Cullers offers an official welcome to all attendees. Friday night’s programming will include a discussion of Standard Magazines’ managing editor, Leo Margulies, featuring Philip Sherman, the nephew of the “Little Giant of the Pulps.” Our guest-of-honor, author Chet Williamson, will discuss his career and explain how “the old gentleman” of Providence influenced him in his writing as well as the writing of his peers in the world of modern horror fiction. Our special guest, Jon Arfstrom, the last of the artists who painted covers for the original run of WEIRD TALESwill also talk briefly with pulp art historian David Saunders. We’ll also have our friends from FarmerCon X on hand for a discussion of the weird tales of Philip José Farmer, while a panel of popular culture historians will discuss the development of the Cthulhu or Lovecraft Mythos. Our final panel, Thrilling Heroes of Standard’s Pulps and Comics will feature pulp and comic book scholars Matt Moring, Will Murray, Michelle Nolan, and Garyn Roberts. We’ll close the night with a showing of THE CALL OF CTHULHU and COOL AIR, part of our Lovecraft at the Movies film series.

For pulp fans who like games, gaming fans who like pulps, or just people who like to have fun, PulpFest 2015 will be introducing a gaming track. Many of the themes found in the world of modern games resonate from the pulps and the stories published in those magazines. There are games based on Conan, the Cthulhu Mythos, space operas such as Doc Smith’s Lensman series, westerns, mysteries and, of course, the pulp heroes. Role-playing games, or RPGs, are especially noted for quick action, cliff-hangers, and adventure.

Call of Cthulhu Banner

The PulpFest 2015 gaming track will begin at 10 AM on Friday and Saturday and last until 10 PM or thereabouts.  On Sunday, games will begin at 10 AM and continue until the end of the convention. All games will be set up in the Clark Room, located on the second floor of the Hyatt Regency. The only requirements to play games at PulpFest 2015 are a PulpFest membership, your imagination, and a desire to have a good time. So if you enjoy pulps and you enjoy games, PulpFest will be the place to be. If you have questions about our gaming track, please write to PulpFest
programming director Mike Chomko at mike@pulpfest.com.

For additional details on all of our afternoon and evening programming events, please visit click the red schedule button on our home page for further details. Each entry is linked to a post that provides further information on that event. Just click on the event’s title.

If you have yet to book your room for this year’s convention, please do so without delay. Remember that PulpFest will be sharing downtown Columbus with Matsuricon this week. However, there may still be a few rooms available at nearby hotels. Please visit www.pulpfest.com/2015/06/16872/  and you’ll find a link to a list of hotels to choose from. Alternately, we suggest that you search for a room at tripadvisor or a similar website as soon as you possibly can. If you are not from the Columbus area and want to attend PulpFest 2015, we urge you to book your room now and not wait until you arrive.

PulpFest 2015 will continue through Saturday and Sunday. It concludes at 2 PM on Sunday, August 16th.

(Jon Arfstrom began to submit his work to the digest market around 1950. Soon, he was selling to a number of magazines, including Dorothy McIlwraith’s WEIRD TALES. He painted three covers for “The Unique Magazine,” beginning with the January 1952 issue, featured here, and continued contributing to it until its demise in 1954.

Our guest of honor for PulpFest 2015, Chet Williamson, has been collecting pulps ever since he was in college. The first pulp he ever bought was the August 1935 WEIRD TALES – pictured here with front cover art by the incomparable Margaret Brundage.

In 1981, a wargame and role-playing-game publisher known as Chaosium released the first edition of CALL OF CTHULHU, a game developed by Sandy Peterson. It is is now in its seventh edition and is one of the role-playing games that will be featured during PulpFest‘s new gaming track.)

 

One Week to Go!

Aug 6, 2015 by

2015 Full Page AdPulpFest 2015 will start on Thursday, August 13th. The dealers’ room will be open to registered sellers to set up their displays from 4 to 11 PM. Early registration for all convention attendees will take place outside the dealers’ room from 4 to 8 PM. There will be early-bird shopping available to PulpFest members who will be staying at the Hyatt Regency Columbus or those who elect to purchase an early-bird membership from 6 to 10 PM. Our full slate of programming for Thursday evening will get underway at 8 PM. The new PulpFest gaming track will begin on Friday morning, August 15th, at 10 AM.

If you have yet to book your room for this year’s convention, please do so without delay. There may still be some rooms available at nearby hotels. Please click here and you’ll find a link to a list of hotels to choose from. If you are not from the Columbus area and want to attend PulpFest 2015, we urge you to book your room now and not wait until you arrive. Please book a room for three nights and register now for “Summer’s Great Pulp Con.”

Below, you’ll find our complete schedule for the entire convention. To learn more about a particular programming event, click on its title link. Due to last minute contingencies that may arise, this schedule is subject to change.

Thursday, August 13

Dealers’ Room

4:00 PM – 11:00 PM — Dealers’ Room Set-Up

4:00 PM – 8:00 PM — Early Registration

6:00 PM – 10:00 PM — Dealers’ Room Opens for Early-Bird Shopping

Programming

8:00 PM — Pulpcraft: A Counterintelligence and Espionage Guide to the Pulp Adventures of The Shadow (Tim King)

8:40 PM — Thrilling Detectives (John Wooley and John Gunnison)

9:20 PM — 75 Years of Street & Smith Comics (Anthony Tollin, Tony Isabella, Will Murray, and Michelle Nolan)

10:10 PM — Saddle Up! A Look at the Western Heroes of the Thrilling Group (Ed Hulse)

10:50 PM — Play Ball: A Look at the Sports Pulps (Michelle Nolan)

11:30 PM — OUT OF MIND and PICKMAN’S MODEL (Lovecraft at the Movies)

Friday, August 14

Dealers’ Room

9:00 AM – 10:00 AM — Early Registration and Dealers’ Room Set-Up

10:00 AM – 4:30 PM — Dealers’ Room Open to All

10:00 AM – 10:00 PM — Gaming Track in the Clark Room, Second Floor

Programming

1:00 PM — New Fictioneers Reading: Swords Against Cthulhu (Jason Scott Aiken)

2:00 PM — New Fictioneers Reading: Hardboiled Horrors (John Hegenberger)

3:00 PM — The Pulp Magazines Project (Nathan Madison and Patrick Belk)

7:00 PM — Welcome to PulpFest 2015 (Convention Chairman Jack Cullers)

7:05 PM — Leo Margulies: The Little Giant of the Pulps (Ed Hulse, Will Murray and Philip M. Sherman)

7:55 PM — Our Guest of Honor (Chet Williamson)

8:45 PM — Our Special Guest (WEIRD TALES Artist Jon Arfstrom)

9:10 PM — FarmerCon X: The Weird Tales of  Philip José Farmer (Jason Aiken, Chuck Loridans, and Frank Schildiner)

9:50 PM — The Call of Cthulhu: The Development of Lovecraft’s Mythos (John Haefele, Don Herron, Tom Krabacher, Rick Lai, and Nathan Madison)

10:40 PM — Thrilling Heroes of Standards Pulps and Comics (Matt Moring, Will Murray, Michelle Nolan, and Garyn Roberts)

11:30 pm — THE CALL OF CTHULHU and COOL AIR (Lovecraft at the Movies)

Saturday, August 15

Dealers’ Room

10:00 AM – 4:30 PM — Dealers’ Room Open to All

10:00 AM – 10:00 PM — Gaming Track in the Clark Room, Second Floor

Programming

12:30 PM — New Fictioneer Reading: Flying Saucers and Fisticuffs (Duane Spurlock)

1:30 PM — The Heirs of WEIRD TALES (Jim Beard, Jeff Fournier, John Hegenberger, Rick Lai, Michael Panush, and Frank Schildiner with Ron Fortier, moderator)

2:30 PM — Pulp Macabre: The Art of Lee Brown Coye (Mike Hunchback)

3:30 PM — New Fictioneers Reading: Weird Poetry and Prose (Scott Urban)

5:00 PM — PulpFest 2015 Group Meal at Buca di Beppo (Volunteer coordinator Sally Cullers)

7:10 PM — PulpFest 2015 Business Meeting (meet the convention organizers)

7:40 PM — 2015 Munsey Award Presentation (presented by Randy Cox)

7:55 PM — Weird Editing at “The Unique Magazine” (Don Herron, Morgan Holmes, Tom Krabacher, Will Murray, and Garyn Roberts)

8:45 pm — The Thrilling Adventures of Rudolph Belarski  (David Saunders)

9:30 pm — Saturday Night at the Auction (John Gunnison and Joseph Saine)

11:30 pm — THE WHISPERER IN DARKNESS and PROFESSOR PEABODY’S LAST LECTURE (Lovecraft at the Movies)

Sunday, August 16

Dealer’s Room

10:00 AM – 2:00 PM — Dealers’ Room Open to All (many dealers will be packing up; buying opportunities may be limited)

10:00 AM – 2:00 PM — Gaming Track in the Clark Room, Second Floor

Please note that this schedule is subject to change.

For questions about our programming, please write to our programming director Mike Chomko at mike@pulpfest.com.

For questions about our dealers’ room, please write to our convention chairperson Jack Cullers at jack@pulpfest.com.

A Thrilling PulpFest!

Jul 23, 2015 by

40-01 Ghost Super-DetectiveJoin PulpFest in a few weeks for a salute to Ned Pines Standard Magazines — the Thrilling Group! Although many pulp collectors find much of the fiction published by Standard to be “less than thrilling,” they often find the cover art to be quite striking.  So why are we celebrating Standard Magazines? Although the pulp line turns 84 this year — hardly a sexy anniversary — many leading figures in the history of Pines Publishing have notable anniversaries in 2015: Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson, THRILLING ADVENTURES writer and creator of the first comic book is 125; Tom Curry, western writer and creator of The Rio Kid, and Leo Margulies, managing editor of the “Thrilling Group,” are 115; Norman Daniels, who created the Black Bat and wrote many hero pulp stories for the group, and Thrilling publisher Ned Pines are 110; and Mort Weisinger, editor of CAPTAIN FUTURE and other Thrilling magazines, as well as DC’s Superman comic books, and Leigh Brackett and Henry Kuttner, both writers for Standard’s science-fiction pulps, are 100 years old. That’s eight reasons to make 2015 the year for Standard Magazines.

So what will we be doing to THRILL you at PulpFest 2015? There’s plenty! We’ve scattered presentations on Standard Magazines and Comics throughout our programming line-up. Click on the titles below to see what we’ll be offering from Thursday evening, August 13th through Saturday evening, August 15th. We hope that you find it . . . THRILLING!

Thursday, August 13

8:40 PM — Thrilling Detectives (John Wooley and John Gunnison)

10:10 PM — Saddle Up! A Look at the Western Heroes of the Thrilling Group (Ed Hulse)

10:50 PM — Play Ball: A Look at the Sports Pulps (Michelle Nolan)

Friday, August 14

7:05 PM — Leo Margulies: The Little Giant of the Pulps (Ed Hulse, Will Murray and Philip M. Sherman)

10:40 PM — Thrilling Heroes of Standard’s Pulps and Comics (Matt Moring, Will Murray, Michelle Nolan, and Garyn Roberts)

Saturday, August 15

8:45 pm — The Thrilling Adventures of Rudolph Belarski  (David Saunders)

Thrilling Comics 1939-1So here’s your chance to wish all these giants a “happy birthday” as PulpFest 2015 pays tribute to this leading pulp magazine publisher. The action begins on Thursday evening, August 13th and runs through Sunday, August 16th at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Columbus, Ohio. Click here to learn how to register for “Summer’s Great Pulp Con!” Afterward, book a room for three nights by visiting www.pulpfest.com/2015/06/16872/ and join your friends at the “pop culture center of the universe” for a salute to Ned Pines and the “Thrilling Group!”

(That’s the first issue of THE GHOST, SUPER-DETECTIVE, dated January 1940, and featuring cover artwork by Rafael de Soto, as well as the first issue of THRILLING COMICS, dated February 1940, and featuring cover artwork by Alexander Kostuk. PulpFest 2015 will be paying tribute to the Thrilling Heroes of Standard’s Pulps and Comics on Friday evening, August 14th, at 10:40 PM.)

 

Free to Our Members: THE PULPSTER #24

Jul 16, 2015 by

The-Pulpster-24-coverEditor and designer Bill Lampkin and his assistant-editor Peter Chomko are hard at work on the next issue of THE PULPSTER, the award-winning PulpFest program book. He’ll be featuring articles on Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson, the author who founded DC Comics; the Thrilling Group of pulps and comics; DETECTIVE FICTION WEEKLY; Erle Stanley Gardner, and other topics. The highlight of the issue will be a round-robin article on H. P. Lovecraft and WEIRD TALES. It will feature contributions from filmmaker Sean Branney; Marvin Kaye, the current editor of WEIRD TALES W. Paul Ganley, founder of WEIRDBOOKand Derrick Hussey, the publisher at Hippocampus Press; authors Jason Brock, Ramsey Campbell, Cody Goodfellow, Nick Mamatas, Tim Powers, Wilum Pugmire, Jessica Amanda Salmonson, Darrell Schweitzer, and Chet Williamson; poet Fred Phillips; pulp scholars and collectors John Haefele, Don Herron, Morgan Holmes, S. T. Joshi, Tom Krabacher, Rick Lai, Will Murray, and J. Barry Traylor. So expect a slam-bang issue from the esteemed editor of our highly popular program book.

A longstanding tradition cherished by attendees of summer pulp cons, THE PULPSTER #24 will be released at PulpFest 2015. Every member – including supporting members – of PulpFest will receive a complimentary copy of THE PULPSTER. Following the convention, a limited number of copies of the program book will be available for purchase through Mike Chomko, Books. Please write to Mike – who also serves as the marketing and programming director for PulpFest – at mike@pulpfest.com or 2217 W. Fairview Street, Allentown, PA 18104-6542 to reserve your copy. Given its roster of authors, the issue will probably disappear before you know it.

You can also order back issues of THE PULPSTER through Mike Chomko, Books. Copies of THE PULPSTER #5, 6, 17, 20, 22, and 23 are available for $13 each, postage paid. Copies of THE PULPSTER #9 are available for $18, postage paid. Copies of THE PULPSTER #4, 15, and 21 are available for $23 each, postage paid. Copies of THE PULPSTER Mini-Edition, published in 2005 and featuring a history of the Lamont Award, are available for $8, postage paid. All other issues of THE PULPSTER are out of print. Reduced postage is available on orders of multiple books. Please note that quantities of most issues are limited as reflected by the various prices. These prices are good only in the United States. Buyers outside the United States, please inquire about rates as postage costs are quite substantial. Mike will accept payments made via check or money order or through Paypal. Please write to him at mike@pulpfest.com or 2217 W. Fairview Street, Allentown, PA 18104-6542 for further instructions.

For questions about submissions to THE PULPSTER, please write to Bill Lampkin at bill@pulpfest.com. For any questions about advertising in THE PULPSTER, back issues, or ordering issue #24 of THE PULPSTER, please write to Mike Chomko at mike@pulpfest.com.

For information on how to register for PulpFest 2015, please click the red “register” button on our home page. To book a room for this year’s convention, please visit www.pulpfest.com/2015/06/16872/.

Leo Margulies at 115!

Jun 22, 2015 by

Soon after Ned Pines was asked by The American News Company to start a chain of pulp magazines that it would distribute for him, the young publisher approached former literary agent and Frank A. Munsey employee, Leo Margulies, to be the managing editor of the new enterprise. With the country gripped by the Great Depression, the two men came up with a daring idea for the rough paper market–a ten-cent pulp magazine.

Standard Magazines, better known as “The Thrilling Group,” launched THRILLING DETECTIVE, THRILLING ADVENTURES, and THRILLING LOVE in late 1931, each selling for a dime. Within two years, the line was expanding, first with THE PHANTOM DETECTIVE, followed by THE LONE EAGLE, SKY FIGHTERS, THRILLING RANCH STORIES, and THRILLING WESTERN. As Standard grew, Leo Margulies became the company’s face.

Margulies was born on June 22, 1905 and raised in Brooklyn, New York. After briefly attending Columbia University, he began working for the Munsey magazine chain, selling subsidiary rights to its stories. His mentor was the legendary editor, Bob Davis, the man who published many of the early works of Max Brand, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Ray Cummings, George Allan England, A. Merritt, and other popular writers.

After Davis left the pulp industry, Margulies started a literary agency with a colleague. He later worked as head of East Coast research for Fox Films; helped to establish Tower Magazines, sold exclusively through Woolworth’s; and founded his own literary agency. After joining Ned Pines’ new publishing venture, he developed a reputation “. . . not only for quick decisions on buying stories but also for swift payment, which made him a writers’ favorite.”

Respected by authors and editors alike, Margulies became known as “The Little Giant of the Pulps.” As author and screenwriter Steve Fisher described in an article written for a writer’s magazine, “. . . there was a sudden silence. Fifty people stopped eating and looked up. Leo Margulies made his usual dramatic entrance. . . . I thought for a moment (American Fiction Guild) president Art Burks was going to leap to his feet and salute.”

Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine 81-09During World War II, Margulies enlisted in the military as a war correspondent. He was on board the USS Missouri when the Japanese surrendered. Returning to the USA, he helped launch the Popular Library line of paperback books. In the early fifties, following a lengthy trip to Europe, Leo Margulies left Ned Pines’ employ and started a new publishing venture, King-Size Publications. He returned to the fiction market with two digest magazines — THE SAINT DETECTIVE MAGAZINE and FANTASTIC UNIVERSE. In later years, he established MIKE SHAYNE MYSTERY MAGAZINE, THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. MAGAZINE, ZANE GREY’S WESTERN MAGAZINE, and other fiction digests. He also revived WEIRD TALES in 1973-1974, for four issues, edited by Sam Moskowitz. Leo Margulies died on December 26, 1975 at the age of seventy-five.

As part of its tribute to Ned Pines’ Standard MagazinesPulpFest 2015 will welcome Leo Margulies’ nephew, Philip M. Sherman, to the convention to discuss his uncle Leo on both a personal and professional level. “Not only was Leo an outstanding editor and publisher . . . he was also an outstanding uncle,” Mr. Sherman writes. Philip — who is working on a biography of his uncle — will discuss Margulies’ relationship with his own family as well as the “Little Giant’s” relationship with writers, as expressed in his personal correspondence. Mr. Sherman, the son of Margulies’ sister Ann, will also be sharing family photos of his Uncle Leo as well as excerpts from letters written by the managing editor of Standard Magazines.”

Joining Mr. Sherman on stage will be popular culture scholars Ed Hulse, editor of BLOOD ‘N’ THUNDER, and Will Murray, author of “The Wild Adventures of Doc Savage and Tarzan” from Altus Press. Following Mr. Sherman’s intimate presentation on his uncle, the three will discuss the unique methods used by Margulies to manage the Thrilling chain of pulp magazines. The convention would like to thank former organizing committee member Ed Hulse for helping to arrange Philip M. Sherman’s appearance at PulpFest 2015.

“Leo Margulies: The Little Giant of the Pulps” will begin at 7:10 PM on Friday evening, August 14th. Learn how you can register for “Summer’s Great Pulp Con” to be sure not to miss this historic presentation by clicking the red register button found on our home page at www.pulpfest.com.

(According to John Locke’s introduction to THRILLING DETECTIVE HEROES, during the Second World War, Leo Margulies “answered the higher calling of wartime. He and several other writers and editors joined the Navy for a stint in the Pacific Theater as war correspondents.” Pictured here is Margulies in uniform. Many thanks to Matt Moring of Altus Press for this photograph. It originally appeared in Will Murray’s study of the pulp western, WORDSLINGERS.

About six years after Margulies’ death, MIKE SHAYNE MYSTERY MAGAZINE, one of the magazines the longtime editor founded after his departure from the Thrilling Group, ceased publication, just seven shy of its 300th issue. During its last year, it ran a seven-part series on pulp heroes that was written by mystery author, Michael Avallone, the creator of private eye Ed Noon. Featured in the September 1981 issue — with a cover by Keller — was Avallone’s tribute to THE PHANTOM DETECTIVE, the first hero pulp to be published by Leo Margulies for Standard Magazines.)