Mon 9 Nov 2015
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.