Why PulpFest?

Aug 3, 2014 by

LONCON 3 logo

Tonight, we thought that we would share a short essay written by Walker Martin based on something he had recently posted on Yahoo’s Pulpmags newsgroup. Walker, who writes about pulp collecting for Steve Lewis’ Mystery*File blog, has been a reader and collector for over sixty years. In 1997, he received the Lamont Award at Pulpcon 26 in Bowling Green, Ohio. We’re proud to have him as one of our own and can think of no one better to answer the question, “Why PulpFest?” Take it away Walker . . .

Were you at the 2014 Comic-Con in San Diego? Still tired out from that recently concluded media extravaganza?

Will you be attending Loncon 3, the 72nd World Science Fiction Convention with Andy Porter, Curt Phillips, and other science-fiction fans?

I guess I better give my 10 cents, though it has been over half-a-century since you could buy a fiction magazine for a dime. I hope Andy and Curt have fun in England, but I’ll be heading for PulpFest on August 7th. This is a joyful trip that I’ve been making every year (with a couple of exceptions) since 1972.

During the seventies, eighties, and nineties, it was called Pulpcon and every year I would see fellow pulp collectors, most of them gone now, damn it. Magazine collectors many of you may still remember. Great guys like Rusty Hevelin, Jack Deveny, Richard Minter, Bob Sampson, Bob Weinberg (he’s still with us), Sheldon Jaffery, Harry Noble, Darrell Richardson, Frank Robinson, Mike Avallone, and such amazing guests like pulp artists Norman Saunders, Walter Baumhofer, Rafael Desoto, and so many more.

I used to attend many of the SF conventions before they started stressing costumes and bookless dealer’s rooms with only a few pulps. I’m talking about the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. I remember when Philcon and Lunacon were worth attending if you were a collector of books and magazines. I also went to several of the Worldcons, such as the events held in New York City, Toronto, Washington DC, and Boston.

But then the dealer’s rooms changed and I couldn’t find old magazines except for a couple here and there. Fortunately Pulpcon, PulpFest, and Windy City came along and enabled me to add thousands of pulps to my collection.

If you are big SF fan or writer, then I guess the Worldcon is the place to be I . But if you are a fiction magazine or a book collector, then there is no doubt about it, you have to attend PulpFest from August 7 – 10 in Columbus Ohio. You’ll find all the details at www.pulpfest.com.

I’ve never met a magazine or book collector who regretted attending PulpFest. I hope to see some of you there!

—Walker Martin

To learn more about the image used in this post, click on the illustration.

Captain Future, Man of Tomorrow

Jun 9, 2014 by

Captain Future 40-WIn addition to the explosive growth of the science-fiction pulp market, 1939 was also the year of the first World Science Fiction Convention. According to a story related by science-fiction scholar Sam Moskowitz, Standard Magazines’ editor-in-chief, Leo Margulies and Mort Weisinger came up with “a new idea in fantasy magazines” at the convention. It was Captain Future, a science-fiction hero pulp that premiered at year’s end.

In actuality, Standard’s editorial staff had been batting around ideas for a science-fictional single-character magazine for months, even asking long-time pulpster Edmond Hamilton to work up something involving a “Mr. Future, Wizard of Science.”  Eventually, the character evolved into Captain Future, a super-scientist headquartered on the Moon. In each issue of the pulp, Hamilton’s hero and his faithful assistants—known as the Futuremen—would save the solar system and, in later issues, the universe. Although action-packed and entertaining, the novels were juvenile space operas.

Startling Stories 50-01Captain Future ran until the spring of 1944, surviving for seventeen issues with Edmond Hamilton writing fifteen of the lead novels. In 1945-46, three more Captain Future adventures appeared in Startling Stories. Hamilton wrote two of them and Manly Wade Wellman one. Seven shorter works followed in 1950, all of them written by Hamilton for Startling Stories. In the late sixties, Popular Library reprinted thirteen of the Captain’s adventures in paperback. Specialty publisher Haffner Press is currently collecting the entire series in hardcover.

To learn more about the images used in this post, click on the illustrations. Click here for references consulted for this article.

Captain Future has proved very popular throughout the world with an animated television series being produced in Japan and exported to other nations. Additionally, there have been hundreds of comic books featuring the characters published in both French and German. Captain Future figurines, models, board games, drinking glasses, and other merchandise have also appeared.

Announcing PulpFest 2014

Oct 6, 2013 by

Astounding39-07With the autumn pulp con season in full swing, it’s the perfect time to announce that PulpFest 2014 will be returning to the Hyatt Regency hotel in downtown Columbus, Ohio. Summer’s must-attend event for fans, scholars, and collectors of pulp fiction will take place from Thursday, August 7th, through Sunday, August 10th with its acclaimed dealers’ room and packed programming schedule.

2014 marks the seventy-fifth anniversary of what many scholars have labeled the dawn of science fiction’s Golden Age.  As Alva Rogers wrote in his classic 1964 study of Astounding Stories, the leading science-fiction pulp of that long-gone era:

We now come to the beginning of what is generally known as the Golden Age of science fiction as a genre  . . . These next few years are the high-water mark of Astounding and of magazine science fiction. It is true that today we have men and women of considerable talent writing for the field . . . However, the magic, that hard to define Sense of Wonder, the excitement that surrounded Astounding in the years of the Golden Age (and, in fact, the entire field) seems to be sadly lacking these days . . . No longer is there that unbearable and interminable wait between issues; the thrill of a beautiful Rogers cover standing out like a diamond surrounded by paste as you approach the newsstand; the rush home and the hungry devouring of the entire contents at one sitting; the promise to yourself not to start the latest Heinlein or van Vogt or Smith serial until all the parts are at hand . . . the immediate breaking of that promise, and once again the interminable wait.

As Rogers states, 1939 was not only a golden year for Astounding–publishing the first science-fiction stories of Robert A. Heinlein, Theodore Sturgeon, and A. E. Van Vogt, as well as Isaac Asimov’s first story for the magazine and Hubert Rogers’ first cover–it also witnessed a blossoming of  magazine science fiction and fantasy. Following the introduction of Startling Stories at the end of 1938, no less than eight pulps featuring fantastic fiction debuted in 1939–Dynamic Science Stories, Strange Stories, Science Fiction, Unknown, Fantastic Adventures, Future Fiction, Famous Fantastic Mysteries, and Planet Stories. Three other science-fiction pulps were also in preparation during the year–Astonishing Stories, Captain Future, and Super Science Stories. 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.

1939 World's Fair

PulpFest 2014 will also be celebrating the eightieth anniversary of Popular Publications’ shudder pulp trio of Dime Mystery Magazine, Terror Tales, and Horror Stories. The ashcan edition of Spicy Mystery Stories was also released during the summer of 1934. Although the first weird-menace tales appeared in Dime Mystery in the fall of 1933, it was not until the debut of Terror Tales and later, Horror Stories and Spicy Mystery, that the genre began to flourish. In just a few years, additional magazines–Star Detective, Thrilling Mystery, Eerie Mysteries, and others–would find space on America’s newsstands, hoping to scare the dickens out of their readers.

So start planning now to join PulpFest‘s celebration of science fiction’s Golden Age and the weird-menace pulps of 1934! And to keep up with all the latest news, please subscribe to our email updates via the gray box labeled “E-mail List” at the top of our home page. While you’re at it, “like” us on Facebook and “follow” us on Twitter.


Graves Gladney, best remembered today for his covers for The Shadow Magazine, contributed the cover art to the July 1939 Astounding Science Fiction, considered by many longtime science-fiction fans to be the true beginning of the genre’s Golden Age. Isaac Asimov’s first story for the magazine, “Trends,” and A. E. Van Vogt’s first story, “Black Destroyer” (thought by some to be an inspiration for the Ridley Scott film Alien), appeared in the issue. One month later, Robert Heinlein’s first story, “Life-Line,” ran in the magazine.

The photograph depicting the New York World’s Fair of 1939 is from Jon Snyder’s article “1939′s ‘World of Tomorrow’ Shaped Our Today,” appearing in the April 29, 2010 online edition of Wired.

Alva Rogers’ A Requiem for Astounding was published in 1964 by Advent Publishers of Chicago, Illinois.