Pulp Fiction


WINDY CITY PULP CONVENTION 2016 REPORT
by Walker Martin


   Here it is about a week later after the convention, and I’m still limping around with back and leg pains. How did I survive another voyage? I’ve been asked by friends and relatives why do I sign up each year for another 14 hour drive to Chicago? I guess you have to be a collector to understand. Flying would be more convenient but then I would be limited in what I could buy and carry back. The rental van is quite large and roomy enough for all of us, dealers and collectors alike.

   My life has revolved around my book and pulp collection now for 60 years. I cannot imagine not attending Windy City and Pulpfest. One of these days I physically will not be able to make the trip, but hopefully that time is still off in the future somewhere. Attending these conventions is important not only because of the books and artwork available, but also because of the friendships that I value. These friendship lead to more books and art!

   This trip I did find some books I needed but not a single pulp magazine. I’ve been to so many conventions that there is not much I need, just a few scattered issues. But I did talk to two friends about possible deals involving large numbers of pulps. If these plans work out I’ll be able to continue one of my favorite occupations, the comparing of two issues of the same pulp, same date.

   However I did find eight pieces of original art from the pulps, paperbacks and digest SF magazines. The biggest find was a beautiful 1929 cover painting used for Western Story. The art is by George Wert and titled “Come Out With Your Hands Up.” It shows three hardboiled bank robbers caught in the act. These guys look tough as hell.

   Arriving home I immediately took down a Rafael Desoto painting and hung the Western Story in the family room. Unfortunately my wife did not appreciate it as much as I did, and when I went upstairs to read a book, she actually had the nerve to move The Three Tough Guys to a less conspicuous spot. Since she replaced it with a Walter Baumhofer painting, I managed to control myself. At least she did not replace it with a Walmart decoration, which has been known to happen.

   Actually when I first entered the dealer’s room I found an Earle Bergey painting within one minute. True it’s not from Startling or Thrilling Wonder, but it’s an early cover from a 1929 Popular Biography. Later on a found a weird drawing by one of my favorites, Lee Brown Coye. Then two drawings from Galaxy by Emsh.

   Another big art find was my discovery of not one, but three cover paintings for Raymond Chandler paperbacks. You can’t go wrong with anything connected with Chandler, and they were not expensive. The artist is Richard Waldrep.

   Speaking of art, Windy City is known for it emphasis on original art. There must of been a dozen dealers with art for sale, and as usual there was the large room devoted to an art exhibit. Mostly SF cover paintings, but also on display was the art of Jon Arfstrom. I met and talked to this fine artist at last year’s Pulpfest, but since then he unfortunately passed away. He was the last of the Weird Tales artists.

   The dealers’ room was amazing. Over 100 tables with at least 465 attendees in a large room. On sale were books, pulps, digests, vintage paperbacks, slicks, reprints, new pulp fiction, DVDs, and many pieces of original art. The hospitality room had plenty of beer and snacks.

   Ed Hulse put on his usual excellent film program, this time the theme was SF from the pulps. There also were three panels: paperback art collector Robert Wiener discussed The Art of Jeff Jones; artist David Saunders discussed The Art of Frank R. Paul; and I participated in a panel about Argosy‘s 120th Pulp Anniversary. Also on this panel were Ed Hulse, publisher of Blood n Thunder magazine, and Tom Roberts and Gene Christie from Black Dog Books. Somehow, in 45 minutes we managed to talk about a magazine that lasted over 2,000 issues and almost a hundred years. Several people told me they enjoyed the discussion, which is great because there is nothing I enjoy more than talking about the old back issues of the pulps!

   Tom Roberts must be congratulated for once again editing Windy City Pulp Stories. In 182 pages there are several excellent articles including Bob Weinberg talking about his 1979 tribute to Astounding project. I remember Bob telling me about this back then, and part of it actually did see the light of day. Mike Ashley’s index to Astounding was published but the book of essays never came out. Now finally after all these years we get to see two interviews with A.E. Van Vogt and Poul Anderson plus some other material.

   I also found two other articles to be of interest: The Story of the Argosy and The Making and Marketing of Munsey’s Magazine by Frank Munsey. This book is available from Black Dog Books.

   The auction is always a highlight of the convention and was held on Friday and Saturday nights. For many years I have listened to John Gunnison as the auctioneer, and I have to say he is excellent and keeps things moving with a sense of humor. This year will be the last year of the items from the Jerry Weist Estate Auction, and there was a nice booklet listing the auction items. There were hundreds of lots ranging from SF digests to Weird Tales. There plenty of SF pulps, Argosy‘s, and men’s adventure magazines. I’ve never seen so many Nazis menacing damsels in distress… After WW II the returning vets loved these covers. I still can’t read the “articles,” however, but I’m trying!

   Several books made their debut at the show including Ed Hulse’s second volume on the silent serials, Handsome Heroes and Vicious Vilains. If you love the old movies this book and Distressed Damsels and Masked Marauders are must buys. This new volume is 400 pages large size crammed with rare movie stills. and photos. You can get copies from amazon or Ed’s website, Murania Press.

   Also new at this show were the latest books from the big pulp reprint firms: Altus Press and Black Dog Books. Matt Moring and Tom Roberts are doing excellent work and I wouldn’t say this if it wasn’t true.

   Finally, I would like to thank Doug Ellis and Debbie and John Gunnison and Maureen for another great convention, the 16th! What’s next? We have to rent another van! Here comes Pulpfest in Columbus, Ohio July 21 through 24. Collectors and Readers, I’ll see you there!

Editorial Thanks:   Both Walker and I would like to thank Sai Shanker for allowing the use of all of the photos above taken at the convention. A fine job, indeed!

FIRST YOU READ, THEN YOU WRITE
by Francis M. Nevins


   If this column doesn’t appeal to you, don’t blame me. Steve Lewis thought some readers might be interested in my latest book, even though it has nothing to do with our genre. So I’ll start off this month recycling the book’s introduction, which I believe conveys what it’s about, and reveals an aspect of your columnist that may surprise many who think of me as just a mystery wonk.

***

   If you leave out the accident of my birth, the origin of They Called the Shots dates back to 1952. The Korean war was raging overseas, HUAC and Senator Joe McCarthy were raging on the home front, the blacklist was on full tilt, and I was nine years young, living in Roselle Park, New Jersey.

   One night my parents, taking me along, went out to an appliance store to buy their first television set. It was, if memory serves, an Admiral with a 12 -inch screen. The price was around $225 or $250. For the next several years that set drew me to it like a magnet.

   In the early Fifties the major movie studios considered TV the enemy, offering for nothing the same product that theaters charged admission for. They wouldn’t allow their old films to be shown on the small screen, and in their current pictures they often wouldn’t allow a set amid the furniture of a living-room scene.

   Growing up in the New York City area, I had access to seven channels: the CBS, NBC and ABC flagship stations (Channels 2,4 and 7 respectively), the short-lived DuMont network, plus three local independents. With the majors boycotting the medium and the number of made-for-TV series rather small, TV programmers starved for material on film had to fall back on the smaller fry among movie-making companies, mainly Republic, Monogram and PRC.

   During the Thirties and Forties those companies had put out an endless stream of B pictures, primarily but not exclusively Westerns, and Republic had also offered dozens of cliffhanger serials. This was the product, interspersed with Hopalong Cassidy movies (out of which William Boyd, the only actor to play Hoppy, made megamillions by buying the rights to those flicks and licensing them to stations across the country) and early made-for-TV series like The Lone Ranger and The Cisco Kid, that kept me glued in front of the set for hours every evening. I became a certified telefreak.

   On that tiny screen I watched movies featuring the exploits of various Western stars of previous decades over and over. Some were trio pictures with groups like The Three Mesquiteers and The Range Busters and The Rough Riders. Most starred a single hero: Gene Autry, Eddie Dean, Buck Jones, Ken Maynard, Kermit Maynard (Ken s less successful but perhaps more talented brother), Tim McCoy, Jack Randall, Tex Ritter, Roy Rogers and of course the young John Wayne.

   I got to the point where I could identify at sight dozens of the actors in B Westerns who usually fell to the heroes bullets or fists — Roy Barcroft, Tristram Coffin, Kenne Duncan, I. Stanford Jolley, Charles King, John Merton, Marshall Reed, Hal Taliaferro, Harry Woods, just to name a few at random. Eventually I caught on that the person usually named in a picture s final credit must be important, but what a director did and how he did it I hadn’t the foggiest.

   As I grew older I lost interest in shoot-em-ups and cliffhangers, considering them beneath the notice of a young intellectual such as I fancied myself to be.

   Years slid by. I completed college and law school, passed the bar, and eventually uprooted myself from the east coast to St. Louis where I was invited to become a law professor. And then, slowly but surely, a strange thing happened. I became interested in those old movies again. I had the pleasure of meeting in their golden years some of the actors whose younger incarnations I had watched for hours on end, magnetized by that 12 -inch screen.

   Most important of all, I began to meet and become friends with some of the men whose names were familiar to me from the final credits of those pictures. The ones who called the shots. The directors. I got to watch their films again, sometimes sitting beside them. I got to listen to their stories. Eventually I began to write about them.

   This book is the culmination of that process. It s taken me thousands of hours of viewing time and hundreds of hours of writing time but in my twilight years I still consider the time well spent. I hope I ve communicated what I’ve gotten from all those films, and from the people who made them, in the following pages.

   But perhaps I can spell out here what I’ve looked for, and often found, in pictures of this sort. Reduced to two words, what the first-rate films contain and what the first-rate directors infuse into their films is visual imagination or, in two more words, visual excitement. This quality is the alpha and omega of the kind of movies discussed here.

   Each chapter is self-contained and can be read separately. But many also throw light on other chapters, and to help readers navigate among them, the first time in any chapter the name of a director is mentioned who is the subject of an earlier or later chapter, that name is highlighted.

   For example, in the chapter on William Witney you can see highlighted names like John English or Alan James or Ray Taylor from Bill s point of view, and later you can turn to the chapters on those men and see Bill from their perspective.

   The directors I knew best tend to get the longest and most quote-filled chapters but, because they contributed so much to this book, I want to single them out for mention: in the order of their births, Spencer Gordon Bennet (1893-1987), Joseph H. Lewis (1907-2000), Thomas Carr (1907-1997), and my closest Hollywood friend, Bill Witney (1915-2002). A few others covered here, like Oliver Drake (1903-1991) and R.G. Springsteen (1904-1989), I knew but not all that well. Others, who died too soon, I never had the pleasure of meeting.

   Every director covered here is dead, and most of them died before the beginning of this century. In a sense this book is an assortment of flowers on their graves. In another sense it brings them back, I hope, to life.

***

   While we’re on the subject of shoot-em-ups, a reader of my last month’s column asked if any of John Creasey’s contributions to that branch of literature got published in the USofA. The answer is Yes. War on the Lazy-K, as by William K. Reilly — one of three bylines under which Creasey turned out (if I’ve counted right) 29 smokeroos for low-on-the-totem-pole English houses like Wright & Brown and Stanley Paul — first appeared in London in 1941, amid the carnage of World War II, and came out over here five years later under the imprint of Phoenix Press.

   Yes, the same Phoenix Press that at the same time was presenting to an indifferent world the novels of that incomparable wackadoodle Harry Stephen Keeler. I am the proud owner of a copy of the Reilly opus, picked up for 50 cents at a YMCA book fair in St. Louis twenty or more years ago. Another copy wound up in the hands of Bill Pronzini, who devotes a couple of pages to it in his tribute to badly written Westerns, Six-Gun in Cheek (1997).

   When I was in Wales back in pre-euro days I pungled up 50 pence apiece for each of several Creasey cactus epics published only in England, but that’s another story. Let’s stick to the one that made it across the pond.

   This one actually has a plot of sorts, but what I find most amazing is that a writer who had never yet visited the U.S. and knew next to nothing about the old West could hammer out so many books of this type in a few days apiece. The narrative passages of Lazy-K are readable enough, although pockmarked with exclamation points and lacking the urgency of the Inspector West and Dr. Palfrey novels Creasey wrote during the same war years.

   But Gad, the dialogue! Just about every one of the horde of characters in this book speaks in dialect—the same wacky dialect for the whole passel of ‘em! “Why’n hell can’t yuh old-timers stop arguin’ among yourselves?” “C’n yuh use a drink?” “Yuh ain’t got a touch of whiskey with yuh, by any chance?” “Yuh’ve heerd me.” The only characters who are spared this form of discourse are the Mexicans. “Thees ees a surprise, Kennedy. I was told that you wair dead.”

   “He wanted to be kept hidden until after Deegby was gone. But undair cover he negotiated with the other outfits.” There’s also one character who’s a Kiowa — or, as Creasey spells it, Kiawa — but him no speakum much. Can you imagine having to remember to misspell so often while pumping out ten or fifteen thousand words a day? What a delight to encounter the occasional rare moment when Creasey blinks and actually spells you y-o-u!

***

   At least one other among Creasey’s posse of pistol-smokers was published over here, but not in book form. Hidden Range (1946), published in England as by Tex Riley, takes up virtually the entire February 1950 issue of Real Western Stories, one of the Columbia chain of ultra-low-budget pulps edited by Robert A. W. Lowndes. I tripped over a copy of this one in a secondhand bookstore somewhere in Ohio and snagged it for another 50 cents.

   A quick look at the invaluable FictionMags Index website revealed a curious fact I hadn’t been aware of before. A year after Lowndes used Hidden Range in Real Western Stories, he used the exact same novel, this time retitled Forgotten Range, in the February 1951 issue of Western Action, another Columbia pulp. He must have been desperate for material that month!

   But could the Index be wrong here? According to other Creasey bibliographies in print and online, Forgotten Range is a different book, published in England as by Tex Riley in 1947. It strikes me as more credible that this is the title Lowndes ran early in 1951. In any event, he had earlier run another Creasey shoot-em-up, this time under the William K. Reilly byline, Brand Him for Boothill! (Western Action, July 1949), but what title and pen name this one sported in England remains a mystery.

   A word which brings us back to what this column is supposed to be about.

***

   Hundreds of Creasey’s crime novels were published in the U.S. from the early 1950s until well after his death in 1973, but only nine appeared here before he became a top name in the genre. Eight of these, chronicling the earliest exploits of Raffles-like John Mannering, a.k.a. The Baron, appeared under Creasey’s Anthony Morton byline between 1937 and 1940, although for some obscure reason the character’s nom de thief on this side of the pond was Blue Mask.

   The ninth, and the only book to bear Creasey’s own name on its spine until he became established over here years later, was Legion of the Lost (1944), one of the early espionage adventures of Dr. Palfrey and his colleagues, offered by a publishing house called Stephen Daye, Inc., which seems to have vanished into the mists a few seconds after it was born.

   At a time when I had little or no idea who Creasey was, I found a nice copy of this rarity in an old used bookstore in Elizabeth, N.J. that was a favorite hangout of mine in my formative years. What did the book set me back? One quarter. A wise investment, yes?

Reviewed by DAVID VINEYARD:         


WILLIAM PATRICK MAYNARD – The Destiny of Fu Manchu. Black Coat Press, hardcover, March 2012; paperback, April 2012.

   A confession before going farther with this review, Black Coat Press is my publisher, and I am friends on Facebook with William Patrick Maynard, but otherwise this review is as honest as I can make it.

   Pastiche is a difficult art at best. The writer usually will suffer in comparison to the original, and if he surpasses the original is too often denied the recognition he deserves. A perfect example is Barry Perowne’s pastiche of E. W. Hornung’s Raffles stories, where little that Hornung wrote is anywhere near as entertaining as Perowne’s stories, but Perowne is only a footnote today.

   Both Philip Jose Farmer and Fritz Leiber were better writers than Edgar Rice Burroughs when they tried their hands at Tarzan pastiche, and I don’t think anyone would argue Ian Fleming was anywhere near as good a writer overall as Kingsley Amis, Sebastian Faulks, or William Boyd who all tackled James Bond with varying grades of success. Having written several Arsene Lupin pastiche, I can tell you no matter how good the story is, you always come in second to the original.

   The saga of Sax Rohmer’s Dr. Fu Manchu has already suffered this humiliation earlier with Rohmer biographer Cay Van Ash writing two novels featuring Rohmer’s characters that both far exceeded the best work Rohmer himself did in terms of story, thrills, and sheer writing skill.

   I say this not to fault Rohmer, whose work I enjoy, but merely to state the obvious, that Rohmer himself never did justice to his own creation, in my opinion. His best books in the series do not come anywhere near Van Ash’s Ten Years Beyond Baker Street and The Fires of Fu Manchu.

   Now William Patrick Maynard has taken up the saga of the Devil Doctor, and like Cay Van Ash before him, has far exceeded the best Sax Rohmer had to offer.

   The Destiny of Fu Manchu does take a note from Rohmer in that it plunges right into the story with Dr. John Petrie, the Watson to the evil doctor’s nemesis Sir Denis Nayland Smith, pushed into the affair on his own doorstep.

   Next we are swept off to Corfu, and a new narrator, Michael Knox, an archaeologist who is a bit of a rotter with women, and hardly the most heroic of figures, stumbling on the kidnapping of Kara, Mrs. Petrie, and finding himself in the midst of the world of the Si Fan. He is thrown headlong into one incident after another, eventually finding himself about to be killed on the Orient Express by a homicidal dwarf traveling as a five year old girl.

   And we are off, Ethiopia, London, Egypt, Munich … as Knox finds himself a pawn in an increasingly dangerous and confusing game caught between a civil war for control of the Si Fan, Sir Nayland Smith, the weakness of Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, and Hitler’s pre-War power grabs.

   At times who is on whose side is as confusing as an Eric Ambler novel, with Knox a pawn of Fu Manchu’s rival, the horribly disfigured Esteban Milagro, aka Thomas Valley, aka Khunum-Khufu, aka …; Helga Grauman, aka Fah lo Suee, Fu Manchu’s daughter, whose memory of that fact was removed by her father; Sir Denis Nayland Smith who just saved Hitler and Mussolini from assassination by the Si Fan; and of course Fu Manchu himself who may or may not be calling the shots and manipulating everyone to his own evil goal having been deposed from leadership of the Si Fan after his failure to kill Hitler and Mussolini.

   This is all splendid pulp, rapidly paced, and surprisingly as atmospheric as the original. Maynard’s imagination never fails him, and he manages to keep the complex plot in the air with remarkable ease. Characters from past Rohmer novels and from Cay Van Ash’s books make cameos or have full roles, and there is even a nod to Guy Boothby’s Italian Menace of an earlier age, Dr. Nikola.

   Everything turns on Fu Manchu’s plot to avert the coming war by so devastating the West with a terrible plague that he can seize power.

   To the extent he can, Maynard avoids the obvious pitfalls of anachronism. The term Oriental is tossed around freely as it would be in that day and age, and the characters are far from prescient. Nayland Smith is blind to everything but defeating Fu Manchu, though not unaware of other evils, the narrator redeems himself, but not without suffering, and in the end the world is saved from one terrible fate at the cost of another.

   Maynard’s willingness to allow this bit of historical irony to weigh on the otherwise satisfactory conclusion without any heavy-handed message is one of the book’s pleasures. He is well aware of our foreknowledge, but never allows that to color his characters or their actions. They are merely reacting in the moment as most people do in times of stress and danger.

   If you loved Rohmer, I think this will entertain you, and if, like me, you always thought Rohmer’s own Fu Manchu tales lacked a bit, then this should please you. Maynard has the voice down pat, and frankly he is a better storyteller overall than Rohmer, whose best work was not in the Fu Manchu series.

   This is full-blooded old-fashioned pulp writing, fully aware of all the flaws and evils of the Yellow Peril fiction it represents, but managing to both entertain and remind us of our own prejudices and those of the time it is set in at the same time.

   It is the best Fu Manchu novel Sax Rohmer never wrote.

Bibliographic Note: William Patrick Maynard is also the author of The Terror of Fu Manchu (2009).

REVIEWED BY WALTER ALBERT:         


RAOUL WHITFIELD – Jo Gar’s Casebook. Crippen & Landru, hardcover/softcover, 2002.

   Originally published in the pages of Black Mask by Whitfield writing under the pen name of Ramon Decolta, the eighteen stories featuring the “little island detective” Joe Gar are selected from the 24 stories that were published in the pulp magazine and include the final two stories published (as by Raoul Whitfield) in Cosmopolitan.

   Jo Gar is a private investigator in the Philippines, intelligent (he speaks at least six languages), and always outperforming the police. He was, at one time, a member of the Manila police force, and he has retained his friendship with Lieutenant Juan Arragon, although that friendship is now tempered with a certain wariness on Arragon’s part.

   When Arragon is killed, his replacement, Sadi Ratan, is no friend of Gar’s, treating him with s measure of hatred and contempt even though Gar always proves him to be wrong. (Or, possibly, because Gar always shows him up.) When Ratan, perhaps half-joking, proposes that he should join Gar in his private agency, Gar’s polite, but telling reply, is that he fears that “the loss to the Force would be too great, Lieutenant.”

   Gar is a man of few words, an observant and reticent investigator, who moves quietly through these colorful tales, eventually resolving his cases in ways that show a deep understanding of human character and the class relationships that figure so prominently in the island’s multi-ethnic composition.

   Another fine contribution to the publisher’s growing, and impressive, list of short-story collections. This volume also includes abridged reprints of essays by E. R. Hagemann on Whitfield and his work that appeared originally in The Armchair Detective, with “A Remembrance of E. R. Hagemann,” an afterword by R. H. Miller.

   There are, in addition, bibliographic data on the publication history of the stories used in the collection as well as Hagemann’s “Annotated Bibliography of the Works of Raoul F. Whitfield Appearing in Black Mask,” updated with additional notes by Tom Roberts and Peter Ruber.

— Reprinted from Walter’s Place #159, March 2004.

WEIRD TALES, September 1935. The cover of this issue includes one of artist Margaret Brundage’s beautiful nudes for which she was well-known, and still is, for that matter. It illustrates the first story, “The Blue Woman,” by John Scott Douglas, which puzzled me right then and there, since the woman on the cover is not blue, but a beautiful and entirely natural shade of pink.

   I’m sure it helped sell a lot of copies of this issue, though. The story itself is not very good, though, and one wonders why Farnsworth Wright, the editor of Weird Tales at the time, chose it to be the lead story. There is a pseudo-scientific reason why the woman is blue, and the observant reader will put two and two together within the first page or so of the story, as soon as it learned that the wife of wood-carver Ludwig Meusel was released from her job at a watch factory with a large payment of cash and a diagnosis of a fatal illness.

   A lanky red-headed private eye named Ken Keith is brought into the case of murder that develops, which he solves with not too much effort. I do not know whether Keith appeared in the two earlier stories by Douglas that appeared in Weird Tales, but if not, perhaps he showed up in one of other roughly 350 stories Douglas also wrote for the aviation, adventure, detective and sports pulp magazines over the course of his writing career. Well, probably not the sports pulps.

   The second story in this issue, “The Carnival of Death,” by Arlton Eadie, doesn’t so indicate it, until the end, when surprise! I discovered that it’s the first of four parts. I really hate it when that happens. It’s about mummies, ancient Egypt and a present day curse, and I’d love to able to finish it, but alas, my collection of Weird Tales isn’t extensive enough to do so.

   The novel was published in its entirety by a British publisher but is impossibly difficult to find. Ramble House has published a restored edition of The Trail of the Cloven Hoof, another of Eadie’s novels serialized in Weird Tales the year before (1934), but so far, although promised, they don’t don’t seem to have found a copy of this one to use.

    “The Man Who Chained the Lightning,” by Paul Ernst, is the second of eight adventures of Doctor Satan to appear in Weird Tales, and the story is more one of horror and the grotesque than weird, per se. Doctor Satan was one of the earliest and perhaps the longest-running of the pulp super-villains. His genius could have been put good use for the world, but instead he dressed in a red rubber suit and a cap with horns and used his fabulous inventions for the commonest of crimes.

   In this story he uses electricity both to kill and to re-animate corpses to steal funds from the bank accounts of the city’s wealthiest men. Opposing him in this case is equally brilliant Ascott Keane and his more-than-secretary Beatrice Dale. Dr. Satan is foiled this time, but the image of his naked captives cooped up in cages too small for them will stay with me for a long time.

   Before moving on, it should be noted that all eight of Dr. Satan stories have been collected any published in a single volume by Altus Press (2013).

   I have always associated the name of Clark Ashton Smith with fantasy fiction, infused with the essence of poetry and the ebullience and brilliance of descriptive writing. The story “Vulthoom” is science fiction, however, but with no diminishment in the use of words to produce an almost overpowering sense of wonder.

   Two men who find themselves in impoverished circumstances on Mars are invited to work for an immortal being, Vulthoom, having arrived from another planet millions of years ago and now living miles beneath the surface of the red planet, to help pave the way for him to conquer Earth. They resist, but trying to escape and after making their way through miles of underground tunnels and caves, they….

   If the opportunity ever comes your way, read this one. As well as later in other collections, it first appeared in Genius Loci and Other Tales (Arkham House, 1948).

   Next is the conclusion of “Satan in Exile,” by Arthur William Bernal, a novel serialized in four parts. I did not read it, but the synopsis suggests that it is a science fiction story about Prince Satan, a pirate or bandit of the interplanetary spaceways, with a nod toward Robin Hood. It has never been reprinted in complete form, nor can I suggest whether or not someone should.

    “The Shambler from the Stars,” which follows, is a short story by Robert Bloch, and a rather famous one which is dedicated to a certain H. P. Lovecraft. Translating a ancient book from the Latin, while visiting an eccentric expert in the occult living in Providence, Rhode Island, the narrator manages to summon a strange vampire-like being from space. Here’s an excerpt:

    “It was red and dripping; an immensity of pulsing, moving jelly; a scarlet blob with myriad tentacular trunks that waved and waved. There were suckers on the tips of the appendages, and these were opening and closing with a ghoulish lust…. The thing was bloated and obscene; a headless, faceless, eyeless bulk with the ravenous maw and titanic talons of a star-born monster. The human blood on which it had fed revealed the hitherto invisible outlines of the feaster.”

   Two short short stories follow next. The first, “One Chance,” by Ethel Helene Coen, takes place in a plague-invested 18th century New Orleans and has a very effective O.Henry type twist. The second, “The Toad Goad,” by Kirk Mashburn, is a rather ordinary tale about an Aztec artifact collector in Mexico who removes a sacred object he shouldn’t.

    “The Monster God of Mamurth,” by Edmond Hamilton, is a reprint from the August 1926 issue of Weird Tales (shown to the right). In this an archaeologist seeking ruins of ancient Carthage comes across city in ruins inside an invisible wall and guarded (for so he discovers once inside) by a giant invisible spider-like creature. Variations on a theme, but an effectively creepy one when in the right hands, as it is here. (Remarkably, as I have later discovered, it is the first of Hamilton’s many works of science fiction or fantasy to be published.)

    “Return of Orrin Mannering,” by Kenneth Wood, and the last story in this issue, is a ghost story less than two pages long about how a desperate killer fugitive is brought back to justice. A filler, but smooth enough going down.

   By this time, after all of capsule summaries and associated commentary, you will have realized that for the relatively steep price of 25 cents in 1935, readers really got a lot for their money. Not all the stories were gems, but how much ordinary, mundane non-genre short fiction from the the same year is still as readable today?

CON REPORT:
Pulp AdventureCon, November 7, 2015
by Walker Martin

   This one day pulp and paperback convention has been an annual event for over a dozen years and has been held at the Ramada on Route 206 near the NJ Turnpike exit in Bordentown, NJ. Frankly, I don’t think Rich Harvey has received enough credit for his dedication in putting on this convention each year. He has even started to do a one day show in Florida during the winter.

       

   In addition to pulps and paperbacks, the 47 tables also held pulp reprints, slick magazines, dime novels, DVDs of old movies, and original artwork. There were over a hundred attendees and the room always looked crowded and busy during the day. In addition to Rich Harvey, author Audrey Parente also was helping out and things were run very smoothly with many dealers coming from as far away as Boston, Connecticut, Maryland, NY, and even Florida. Restaurants and hotels were within easy reach.

   Though this is a one day convention, for the past several years it has been a four day event for me and some fellow collector friends. For instance Matt Moring, who runs Altus Press and owns much of the old Munsey and Popular Publications, comes down for a visit starting the Wednesday before the convention and spends several days meeting with us doing research.

   Digges La Touche, otherwise known as The Reading Machine and The Major, is a great pulp resource and along with me, we discuss with Matt all sorts of ideas involving the pulps and even the slicks. This time we drove Matt to distraction talking about H. Bedford Jones best series which most collectors do not even known about, the Pinky Jenkins novellas that were published in Ace High in the 1920’s.

   We also talked about some of the great slick magazine series like the Glencannon stories by Guy Gilpatric and the Scipio series by Clarence Buddington Kelland. These literary discussions took place not only at my house and up at Digges’ brother’s place but also at the various local restaurants.

   I’ve also gotten into the habit of hosting a pulp luncheon for collectors who arrive early on Friday and stay overnight at the Ramada for the Saturday show. These luncheons are attended only by serious, and I mean really serious, readers and collectors. This year in addition to myself, the discussions held the rapt attention of Matt Moring, The Reading Machine, Ed Hulse, and dealers Nick Certo, Scott Hartshorn, and Paul Herman.

   Legendary collector and dealer Jack Irwin also attended and the day before had provided several of us some much needed reading matter when we visited his storage facility which non-collectors call a house. I’ve known Jack since the 1960’s and he has been collecting pulps for over 70 years.

   Digges picked me up at 7:30 am on the day of the convention and by 8:15 we were in the dealers room of the Ramada looking through piles of pulps, digests, paperbacks, and slicks. Though the official opening time is 10:00 am, many tables set up quite early and fellow dealers visit each other. We would have been there earlier but the city of Trenton was shut down by what looked like the entire police force as they blockaded many of the streets. Some type of marathon. You know, the usual non-collector waste of time. I never will understand non-readers and non-collectors.

   I had a table and proceeded to dump several boxes of books and pulps. I must have brought a couple hundred hardcover detective and mystery novels that I had read and no longer wanted. Also over 50 banged up pulps. Since I wanted to sell everything, I priced everything at one dollar each. That’s right, everything was a buck! Evidently no one believed me because I sold only 18 hardcovers and made $18.00.

   At the end of the show, since I was threatening to throw the contents of the entire table into the dumpster, I gave away all the hardcovers to fellow readers. Every collector has a non-collector who is in charge of harassing them about their collection of books, and I had told my non-collecting spouse that these books were making a one way trip and would not be returning to our house.

   But don’t feel sorry about my lack of money-making skills. First of all, I found a pulp cover painting for a reasonable price. The photo shows me holding it and it is the cover from a 1934 Western Story. The artist is Frank Spradling, and it is quite unusual, as it shows a nighttime scene that must have happened a million times out west. A cowboy hears a noise at his campfire and reaches for his gun.

   Several books made their debut at this convention. The latest of Ed Hulse’s Murania Press volumes was available. It’s a reprint of a Dime Mystery novel from 1933 by William Corcoran called The Purple Eye. Altus Press had several new collections from their Dime Detective Library, including one of the best and most unusual series, the Jeffery Wren series by G.T. Fleming-Roberts. It stars the best of the magician detectives and includes an introduction by Fleming-Roberts’ son.

   But the most noteworthy debut was the stunning blockbuster collection from Altus Press titled Them That Lives by Their Guns. It’s volume one of the collected hard-boiled stories of Race Williams by Carroll John Daly, creator of the hard-boiled detective story. This large book has 654 pages and is only $29.95. All of the stories, except one, are from Black Mask, 1923-1927. There is a long introduction discussing the pros and cons of Daly’s work. This is a must buy volume of historical significance and though Race Williams is a murdering SOB, every pulp reader and collector should have this collection. I’m sure we will be seeing some interesting reviews from both lovers and haters of Daly’s work.

            

   I’ve saved the best for last. You may wonder about the photos showing horror and fantasy writer Chet Williamson and me holding up four old issues of All Story. Chet bought these 1913-1914 issues 37 years ago and decided to sell them to me, thus completing my 444 issue set of All Story. It’s been a quest that I’ve been involved in for many decades and I now have probably the only complete set in existence.

   Many collectors complain about the trials and tribulations of collecting the weekly pulps. I’m talking about not only All Story, 1905-1920, but also Western Story, 1919-1949, Detective Story,, 1915-1949, Detective Fiction Weekly, Argosy, etc. I collect and read all these magazines and have managed to compile extensive runs.

   Instead of finding it a terrible and expensive job, I have enjoyed myself tremendously and I don’t regret the money that I’ve spent on these magazines. It’s been a load of fun and I’ve tried to get that enjoyment across in my series of articles called “Collecting Pulps: A Memoir”.

   I stress *read* because there actually is quality fiction in these old magazines. Don’t believe ignorant literary critics that lump all the pulps together as sub-literary. There actually is such a thing as a good pulp magazine, and that’s why I’ve been collecting them for most of my life. There are bad titles also, but that’s another story.

   So ended several days of meeting with old friends, talking about books, pulps, and old movies. There is no better way to spend our time. Collecting books is a lifelong activity and you may retire from a job or a profession but you never retire from collecting. I urge all readers and collectors to support the Windy City Pulp Convention and Pulpfest. They are great fun!

Editorial Note:   Thanks to Sai Shankar for the use of the photos.

         

CONVENTION REPORT: PulpFest 2015
by Richard Moore

   I thoroughly enjoyed this year’s PulpFest. Part of the pleasure is seeing old friends such as the Albert brothers, Walter and Jim. Their table in the dealer’s room is always my home base. Walter and I were both members of a mystery oriented Amateur Press Association (DAPA-Em) for many years. A highlight this year was meeting Steve Lewis of Mystery*File fame in person after sharing the apa with him for three decades and communicating often through the years. Also around was another DAPA-Em veteran Dan Stumpf, retired cop and now novelist. I’m reading his novel for Hard Case Crime Easy Death (by Daniel Boyd) right now.

   Of the programs I attended, I think my favorite was Leo Margulies, Little Giant of the Pulps. Leo was the editorial director of the more than 45 pulp magazines of the Thrilling Group, aka Standard Magazines. After that he was publisher of several digest magazines including Fantastic Universe, Saint Detective, Mike Shayne, Satellite SF, Man From Uncle and even one of the revivals of Weird Tales.

   The center piece of the panel was Leo’s nephew Philip Sherman, who is working on a biography of his uncle. Sherman is the son of Margulies sister Ann and grew up in Brooklyn. As Leo’s mother lived with them, Leo and his wife would come out to visit every two or three Sundays. Leo enjoyed playing with his nephew Phil and his sister and was especially good at hide and seek. Given Leo’s reputation of a quick temper with his editors, this was another side of the man.

   Phil also recalled as a young man Leo employing him as a proofreader paying two cents a word. As Leo only paid most of his writers one cent a word, this caused a bit of a humorous crowd response. It was likely that this represented Leo finding a way to channel money to his nephew than his regular pay for proofreaders.

   Joining Sherman on the panel was Ed Hulse and Will Murray, and they both said Leo had a great reputation with writers because he made quick decisions on submission with quick payment on acceptance. Leo was also generous with writers needing an advance because of bills or a family illness. Phil said he had a large file of thank you letters from writers. Sometimes Leo would hear a writer was in the hospital and he would, unasked, send a check to his hospital room. Such things built loyalty among writers.

   I did not know that Leo took a leave from the company during WWII to serve as a war correspondent with the US Navy in the Pacific. I also did not know that a few years after the war, Leo and his wife Cylvia Kleinman moved to the south of France with the intention of editing from there and publishing from Europe a Saint Detective magazine in partnership with Leslie Charteris. The logistics proved to be too difficult and Leo and his wife returned to the U.S. and eventually Leo left Standard Magazines to form King-Size Publications which published the Saint Detective Magazine and Fantastic Universe.

   Cylvia Kleinman was a name seen regularly on the mastheads of Leo’s magazines and she was an active editor. On one of my early rejected stories to Mike Shayne I was excited to get my first note of encouragement from an editor signed CK. I later sold Shayne but it was to Sam Merwin, Jr.

   Phil Sherman told the crowd that he happened to be in London when Leo and Cylvia were there attending a writer’s meeting. Leo suffered a stroke and after a few days in the hospital, Cylvia asked Phil to fly with them back to New York. Leo died a few months later.

   Another highlight of the convention for me was the Guest of Honor presentation of Chet Williamson. GOHs were common back in the Pulpcon days when ex-pulp writers were hale and hearty and available for a trip to Ohio. Now the few remaining are in their 80s. Williamson, of course, never appeared in a pulp but he is a lifelong pulp collector as well as a fine writer horror, suspense, and various other stories and novels.

   Turns out Chet is also a sometimes actor and performer and his presentation had great wit, dash and entertainment. Based on this success, we’ll see more Guests of Honor at future PulpFests.

   For the second year in a row, there was a group dinner at a nearby Italian restaurant for anyone signing up to attend. It is a chance to mingle and talk and meet other pulp fans. My table included the aforementioned Chet Williamson and George Vanderburgh of Battered Silicon Dispatch Box fame. I had met and enjoyed several conversations with George back at the 2012 PulpFest but he had missed the last two cons. It was good to catch up with him and hear more of his great stories.

   Finally, I also enjoyed the presentation of Mike Hunchback on his (and Caleb Braaten’s) Pulp Macabre: The Art of Lee Brown Coye’s Final and Darkest Era, which has just been published. Mike is an enthusiastic fellow and loves his horror. Adopting the name of Hunchback is rather clear evidence of that.

   The book features many fine illustrations from Coye’s work with Carcosa Press, the magazine Whispers and others from final years. It is a gorgeous book, and Jim and Walter Albert joined me on Sunday morning in buying copies from Mike. Highly recommended!

   So that’s my PulpFest report. I tell you folks, if you love pulps, this is the place you need to be each summer. I resisted the many invitations to Pulpcon I had from friends, and now I regret waiting so long to join the fun.

Next Page »