Collecting


REVIEWED BY WALTER ALBERT:


LARRY KARP – Scamming the Birdman. Write Way, hardcover, 2000. Worldwide Mystery, paperback, 2001.

   A close friend gave me this mystery that features Dr. Thomas Purdue, a medical doctor and collector of music boxes, and in this and the earlier The Music Box Murders, an amateur sleuth. He warned (advised?) me that it’s lighter than a Peter Lovesey novel but about the same “weight” as a Lovejoy, probably in recognition of the fact that I sometimes seem to prefer crime fiction with more gravitas than humor.

   In spite of that, I decided that something light was just what I needed after The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril (reviewed here ) and wasted little time in digging in. The therapy worked, I am completely recovered from my previous blue funk. Karp’s novel is a fiendishly clever scam in which Purdue and some definitely shady associates repay a larcenous and probably murderous collector who has made off with the collection of a good friend of Purdue’s. Karp even reserves a little surprise after the scam has been carried off successfully, and I ended smiling and hoping that I can locate The Music Box Murders to recapture the pleasure I experienced with this novel.

   Karp is a collector and a restorer of antique music boxes, a former physician. The novel, in addition to being the entertaining record of an intricate and absorbing scam, is filled with details of antique music boxes that will appeal to any variety of collector, vividly communicating the wondrous marvels of what can clearly be an expensive passion.

Bibliographic Note:   A third and final Dr. Purdue mystery is The Midnight Special (2001).

CONVENTION REPORT: PulpFest 2016
by Walker Martin

   This convention is getting better and better, and frankly if you read or collect the old fiction magazines, then you must attend it.

   This year it was held between July 21 through July 24, 2016, but this time it ran into a major conflict. I’m talking about the gigantic media event called the San Diego Comicon. Thousands of people attend the Comicon but for me and 425 other book and pulp collectors, we would rather travel to Columbus, Ohio for Pulpfest. After all, my interest in comics ended at age 10, and I would rather watch an old film noir movie rather than the Hollywood comic character movies that are being cranked out. I mean we are book collectors, which is a lot more fun, and we love reading old pulps, books, digest fiction magazines, and vintage paperbacks.

   So, having made our decision to skip Comicon, four of us rented our usual van and traveled out on a 10 hour drive. We found plenty to talk about because all four of us are interested in different aspects of the addiction known as bibliomania. But to protect the reputations of my long time friends I will refer to them only as The Reading Machine, The Publisher, The Dealer, and The Collector.

   Among the 425 attendees at the convention, are some pretty hard boiled characters that do not let anything stand in the way of their desire to collect books and pulps. For instance Ed Hulse, of BLOOD n THUNDER, felt ill on Thursday, went to the emergency room of a nearby hospital, was admitted, and assigned a bed while tests were being conducted.

   However, the next day, he said to hell with this and returned to the dealer’s room Friday afternoon. Normal behavior for a book collector. I mean who wants to miss the chance of obtaining their wants? They call us bibliophiles for a reason…

   Each convention something new and exciting happens. This year two of my favorite collector friends received major pulp awards. Laurie Powers received the Munsey Award for her pulp research into the lives of Paul Powers and Daisy Bacon, the editor of LOVE STORY. She also has a blog titled Laurie’s Wild West. David Saunders won the Lamont Award for his research into the lives and careers of many pulp and slick artists. He has an excellent website which deals with pulp artists. They couldn’t give him a Munsey Award because he created it, so they came up with the great idea of awarding The Lamont, which was the major award given by the earlier Pulpcon conventions.

   I always score big at these conventions. Sometimes I find some great pulp cover art and often I buy some rare books or pulps. This year I took delivery of the best years of ADVENTURE magazine, 1921-1928. I already have them but I love to compare issues and drive myself crazy trying to figure out which is the better copy. About two or three years ago I saw a brief sentence in one of Mike Chomko’s book catalogs about selling his ADVENTURE set, over 200 issues. This caused me to nag and harass Mike for a long time about selling them to me. I want to extend my apologies to Mike now that I have the magazines safely in my possession. He admitted that he almost changed his mind and kept the set because there is so much good fiction in them. But being the insane collector I am, I had to have them to satisfy my pulp addiction. To hell with women, drugs, booze, or gambling. I’ll take books and pulps every time!

   Needless to say, my fellow voyagers were less than pleased to see me dragging five long comic boxes of pulps to the van. Especially since The Reading Machine and The Dealer also had many, many boxes. But somehow we managed to shoehorn them in. The Publisher keeps muttering that The Reading Machine and The Collector think the vans are made out of rubber which is expandable. But one day we will arrive and find out that the boxes don’t fit. Then the chips will fly! Pulp chips that is.

   What else did I get? How about a great letter from Mary Gnaedinger, the editor of FAMOUS FANTASTIC MYSTERIES, on Popular Publications letterhead, addressed to Calvin Beck, the future editor of CASTLE OF FRANKENSTEIN.

   Also I was weeping bitter tears because I did not win the door prize of Mike Ashley’s SCIENCE FICTION REBELS, the fourth volume of his superb history of the science fiction magazines. If there was any justice in the world he should win a major award for this series. The book costs over $100 but I offered the door prize winner a lower price for the book and he accepted. I have no shame. To get my wants, I’ll whine, beg, borrow and harass collectors until they give in.

   But my biggest find was the November 10, 1923 WESTERN STORY for only $20. Now you may ask why on earth am I so happy about this? After all, it’s only one pulp. But I have almost 1300 issues of WESTERN STORY, 1919-1949 and only needed eleven issues. Now I only need ten! Did I say anything about bibliomania and bibliophiles? I guess you have to be an addicted collector to understand my joy.

   One of the big things about Pulpfest, is the great programming. There are plenty of gamers, new pulp writers, Philip Jose Farmer fans, all busy with readings, panels, etc. But my favorites occurred during the evening after the closing of the dealer’s room (I could never leave the dealer’s room, god forbid!). I won’t go into them all but I really enjoyed David Saunders on “The Artists of The Argosy” and Doug Ellis on “120 Years of The Argosy.” Another of my favorites was Laurie Powers talking about LOVE STORY and Daisy Bacon.

   Despite being ill a few hours earlier, Ed Hulse joined me in discussing WESTERN STORY MAGAZINE and the Evolution of the Pulp Western. We covered the best western titles such as WESTERN STORY, WEST during the Doubleday years, and the two big titles from Popular Publications: DIME WESTERN and STAR WESTERN. We even mentioned the terrible western titles.

   But the best part of the programming was the Guest of Honor speech by Ted White, former editor of AMAZING and FANTASTIC. He was editor during 1968-1978 and somehow, despite a small budget, managed to publish two quality SF magazines. A great achievement. I have complete runs of these digests, over 100 issues and they are full of enjoyable fiction. Ted White’s editorials are also very enjoyable.

   The auction was over 100 lots and very varied. Pulps, books, artwork, premiums, slicks, and fanzines. The biggest price paid was $650 for a copy of BEYOND THE WALL OF SLEEP, by H. P. Lovecraft, but some lots reached $250 like the Doc Savage subscription premium and 5 issues of LARIAT.

   THE PULPSTER was issue number 25, and this magazine appears to be getting better and better with each annual issue. William Lampkin is the editor, and he had articles on 90 Years of Amazing Stories by former editors and Second String Heroes. Also David W. Smith talked about “What Becomes of Your Pulps After You’re Gone” (I’m taking mine with me); Art Sippo on Philip Jose Farmer; J. Randolph Cox on Street & Smith’s DETECTIVE STORY; David M. Earle on HARLEM STORIES; and I related my adventures collecting WESTERN STORY MAGAZINE. A task that could have ruined my work career and maybe got me fired.

   I noticed more pulp t-shirts than usual. I’m always wearing them and this year I had DIME MYSTERY, ADVENTURE, FAMOUS FANTASTIC MYSTERIES, and Fred Davis. But I also saw other collectors wearing ADVENTURE, ARGOSY, SHORT STORIES, and BLACK MASK.

   Speaking of BLACK MASK, everyone was buzzing about the recent acquisition by Matt Moring of the BLACK MASK title. Soon we will see collections reprinting some of the great fiction series! Matt says there is no truth in the rumor that he is trying to get the rights of also owning the actual back issues of all the pulps. I’m worried that sheriff deputies might confiscate my collection and turn it over to Matt.

   This year dealers received a gift when they registered. We were given a baseball cap that had “Pulpfest” on it. I’m hoping to get another t-shirt next year. And finally I’d like to thank the Pulpfest committee for all their hard work: Jack and Sally Cullers and their family and friends, Mike Chomko (thanks also for the ADVENTURES, Mike!), Barry Traylor, Chuck Welch, and Bill Lampkin. Believe me, we pulp collectors appreciate your efforts.

   OK, the next pulp show on my schedule is Pulp Adventurecon which is always held in Bordentown, NJ in early November. See you there!


THANKS to Sai Shankar and William Lampkin for the use of the photos they took during during the course of the convention. That’s me talking to David Saunders in one just above. I’m the one on the right.

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!

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.

CONVENTION REPORT: PulpFest 2015
by Walker Martin

   As usual I was among four collectors who rented a SUV to transport us to Columbus, Ohio, the site of the 2015 summer pulp magazine convention. The Great God Cthulhu was supposed to make an appearance but he evidently was busy at some other horrifying business. Lucky for us book collectors because so many stories show that nothing ever good happens when he visits.

   The other three collectors with me were Ed Hulse, our driver and editor of Blood n Thunder; Nick Certo, long time book dealer and art collector; and Digges La Touche, otherwise known as The Reading Machine. A normal car was not big enough for us because of the books, pulps and artwork that we expected to buy and bring back to New Jersey.

   Theme of this year’s PulpFest was the 125th birthday of horror writer H.P. Lovecraft, Weird Tales, and the Thrilling magazine group of pulp titles. The ID badge showed the cover of Weird Tales, November 1944 by Matt Fox, a very weird and bizarre portrait of Cthulhu. We arrived at 5:00 pm and quickly joined the other dealers who were setting up during the early bird hours on Thursday, August 13, 2015.

   There were 120 dealer tables and attendance was announced as 420, making this one of the better attended PulpFest. and Pulpcons. I always have a dealer’s table at these conventions, not only to sell my duplicates but also to have a sort of headquarters for me and my friends to meet and store our purchases. I was constantly tripping over stacks of books and pulps behind my table, mainly items bought by my pals Digges and Sai S, who runs the excellent pulp blog, Pulp Flakes. At one point, while looking at this mound of loot and evidence of bibliomania, I had no idea what was my stuff and what belonged to Digges and Sai.

   But somehow we sorted it all out by the end of the show and I bought quite a few items including original art by such Weird Tales artists as Hannes Bok, Lee Brown Coye, and Matt Fox, I also picked up some art by Emsh and Gahan Wilson. But the biggest purchases were a great Galaxy cover for the March 1952 issue. Titled “Year of the Jackpot”, it illustrates the lead novelet by Robert Heinlein. I also bought another Galaxy cover by Dember for the October 1966 issue. This was only $500 and a real bargain.

   I had to buy some weird art to honor Cthulhu, so I obtained the cover art from Nyctalops 15, January 1980 by Potter. It shows Lovecraft and Cthulhu. I was really impressed by the art I obtained that was done by Lee Brown Coye and Matt Fox. Many collectors don’t like Coye and Fox but I think they are two of the finest of the Weird Tales artists. Their work appeared in the 1940’s and really portrayed the bizarre and unusual elements in Weird Tales. As I mentioned above, an example of Matt Fox’s art was used on the ID badge.

   I also sold quite a few interesting items, including 12 bound volumes of Adventure from the 1920’s; several bizarre crime digests from the 1950’s like Off-Beat and Two-Fisted; and a couple of Smart Set‘s containing early stories by Dashiell Hammett, including his first appearance.

   I probably could have sold a lot more but I was often away from my table because I was buying so many books and artwork. I had a great time talking to old friends that I have known for decades including Don Hutchison and Steve Lewis, who runs this Mystery*File blog. Steve had missed the convention for a few years and it was good to see him again. Don I have known since the early days of Pulpcon.

   I didn’t see Gordon Huber this year and if he missed the convention, it will break the unbroken string of his appearances at every Pulpcon and PulpFest since 1972. Someone pointed out that if Gordon did indeed miss the show, then it makes me the next in line for having attended the most pulp conventions. As I recently pointed out in my article “Why Attend Pulpfest?”, I really think it is important to support and attend these conventions.

   It sometimes seems that my entire life has revolved around the Pulpcons and PulpFests, not to mention the Windy City Pulp Conventions! I really believe the collecting of books and pulps can be a life work and of great importance. What’s more important than a life spent reading and collecting such great artifacts? I wish we could continue doing this forever!

   I mentioned the great fiction magazine Adventure above and three of us decided to honor the memory of this excellent title by wearing T-shirts with the circled “71”, which stands for the Campfire letter column and the old Adventure stations that used to exist.

   These stations were manned by the magazine’s readers and provided a sort of way station for other readers to relax and talk about the magazine. On Friday, Ed Hulse, Tom Krabacher, and me wore the shirts and revived the Campfire station in Columbus, at least temporarily. It’s been decades since an Adventure station has been active.

   What was the most expensive item sold at PulpFest? I believe it was a copy of New Story magazine with an Edgar Rice Burroughs story. The magazine is a very rare and hard to get title. I heard it sold for around $4,000. Speaking of selling, the Saturday night auction saw over 80 lots sold, including a Philip Jose Farmer manuscript for $450, a Tales of Magic and Mystery for $275 and many stacks of pulps.

   This year PulpFest shared the hotel with a big convention of around 4,000 Japanese anime fanatics. Mainly teenage girls, these ladies were dressed in all sorts of bizarre and interesting costumes. A couple nights I woke up in my room to the sounds of screams and laughter as they raced up and down the corridors and through the hotel meeting rooms. For the first time I saw several Columbus police officers patrolling the hotel since many of the girls were minors and drugs may have been in use.

   I would like to give a special thanks to Bill Mann who turned his room over to several beer drinking pulp collectors. One night security visited the room and even told the collectors to keep the noise down. It’s possible we acted even more bizarre than the anime people! I’m sure non-collectors would think so…

   I had a strange room and at first I was not sure I liked it. The hotel has 19 or 20 floors and at one point the building ends in a sharp edge. My room was at the sharp edge and when I opened the door I at first though the twisting corridor leading to the bed was from the silent film, The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari. Then I noticed the walls were all windows, not just one or two and the bathroom as a big window overlooking the city of Columbus. This made me think of the film, Things to Come. Maybe I’ll ask for this room again!

   Chet Williamson was the Guest Of Honor and I had a table near his in the dealer’s room. In addition to being the author of around 20 books, he has written over 100 stories, many of them horror classics. He’s a book and pulp collector and I remember him from the old Pulpcons and the Tonikons that were held in Al Tonik’s home in the 1990’s.

   Steve Miller, a long time pulp collector, won the Munsey Award, mainly for his two great reference books: Mystery, Detective and Espionage Fiction with Michael Cook and Science Fiction, Fantasy and Weird Fiction Index with Bill Contento. He’s deserved this award for a long time.

   PulpFest is known for its panels, and there was a full slate of daytime and evening programming. During the evening there were several panels dealing with the Thrilling magazine group, Leo Margulies, Weird Tales, and the Cthulhu Mythos. I have never attended the daytime panels and discussions because of my collecting and dealing activities in the dealer’s room. When the room closes at 5:00 pm, then I eat and attend the evening programs. However this year there was a subject being discussed during the day that I had to attend.

   For the first time in over 40 years, I closed my table and walked out of the dealer’s room to attend the daytime discussion being given by Mike Hunchback, the author of Pulp Macabre: The Art of Lee Brown Coye. Recently three books have been published about this excellent and unusual artist and Pulp Macabre covers his last years when he was illustrating not only books but Whispers magazine and Fantastic. I highly recommend this book.

   One of the problems in recent years has centered around the lack of living men and women who wrote or drew for the pulps. This year they found a surviving member of the pulps in Jon Arfstrom. He is just about the only surviving artist of the great Weird Tales. David Saunders interviewed him and Mr. Arfstrom had a table where you could buy some of his original art. Unfortunately Weird Tales had a policy of not returning the art to the artist, and he had no examples to show or sell. David Saunders also gave an excellent talk on the pulp artist, Rudolph Belarski.

   Usually, if you want to see movies, you have to attend Windy City but this year PulpFest had such Lovecraft influenced films as Out of Mind, Pickman’s Model, The Call of Cthulhu, Cool Air, and The Whisperer in the Darkness.

   The big new issue of Blood n Thunder made its debut. You can order issue number 45, Summer 2015 from amazon.com or the Murania Press site. It has a very valuable and interesting long article on one of the greatest of the pulp magazines, twenty pages on Famous Fantastic Mysteries, and since it is part one, there will be a second part to read and enjoy.

   The Pulpster also was given to each attendee and it’s a big magazine edited by William Lampkin. Articles discuss Erle Stanley Gardner, Street & Smith, H.P. Lovecraft, the Thrilling group of magazines, Malcolm Wheeler Nicholson, and other subjects.

   Next year’s convention will be held again in Columbus, Ohio. Dates are July 21-24, 2016 at the Hyatt Regency hotel. Keep an eye on the pulpfest.com site for details. This is a must attend event if you read or collect the pulps. I’ve tried to give an idea of just how much fun this convention is and frankly I don’t see how you can miss it. I ought to know; I’ve been attending them almost every year since 1972 and I have a house full of pulps, books, and art to prove it!

   You too can be a slave to bibliomania by attending Pulpfest and Windy City. I’ll end my report on this great convention by thanking the members of the Pulpfest committee: Mike Chomko, Jack Cullers, Sally Cullers, Barry Traylor, and Chuck Welch. Thank you and the other volunteers for all your hard work and dedication. Believe me, it’s worth it…

   Dealers Room, Thursday 2 pm. Paul Herman and I arrived early the day before, so we were well rested and ready for the show to begin:



   Dealers Room, Friday 11 am. It was much busier the following morning:



   Walker Martin will tell us about the convention itself from his perspective tomorrow or Wednesday. When I’ll provide here are some photos of some friends of mine, many of who I had not seen in three or four years.

   Walter Albert:



   Dan Stumpf:



   Paul Herman at his dealer’s table:



   Walker Martin and I:



   Walter again:



   Richard Moore, whom I have known for a long time, but this was the first time we had met in person:



   Ed Hulse, publisher of BLOOD ’N’ THUNDER Magazine:



   We shared the hotel with an anime convention. They were 4000 all told, while we at PulpFest were a mere 400. I found their passion for whatever they were doing wonderful:



   Cake was served after Steve Miller was given this year’s Munsey Award:



   Waiting outside for Dan’s friend Claudia before dinner at a restaurant somewhere in the Columbus OH area. From left to right: Dan, Jim Albert, Walter and Paul. My thumb was also in this photo, but I trimmed it off.

COLLECTING PULPS: A Memoir, Part 17:
Why Attend PulpFest?
by Walker Martin


   The last couple days I’ve been thinking about PulpFest which will be held August 13 through 16, 2015, in Columbus Ohio. That’s this Thursday coming up! I’ve been deluged by logical and sane looking collectors and non-collectors all asking me the same question. Why bother attending PulpFest? They have shown up at my house; they have called me on the telephone; they have sent me emails.

   Enough is enough! Here’s a list of excuses for not attending that I hear all the time, and why none of them are good ones:

1–I have no money! Sorry but I’ve attended many a Pulpcon in the 1970’s, 1980’s, and 1990’s and I went with very little money. Are there no credit cards? Are there no credit unions? Are there no non-collecting spouses to borrow money from?

   Even when I had the money, I often blew it before the convention by visiting local bookstores like Bonnett’s and Dragon’s Lair in Dayton, Ohio. If not in the bookstores, then in the hotel rooms of friends who let me see what they were bringing to sell. I learned to go without much cash but I brought a few boxes of pulps to trade and sell at my table.

2–I’m in poor health and too sick to attend. Sorry again! I had a friend who had a terminal illness and came to Pulpcon anyway. Another friend actually collapsed at the convention and died soon after. I myself once threw my back out three days before the show and my doctor and chiropractor both told me to forget making the long drive to the convention.

   I felt like I was crippled for life but I managed to squeeze into the car and drive out even though I had to stop numerous times near hotels because I thought I was not going to make it. I could then rent a room and lay there for a couple weeks until I could stand. It took me 16 hours instead of the usual 9 hours but I made it. I spent the entire convention standing because sitting down caused back spasms.

3–I have no space or I live in a small apartment. Collectors always make space for the things they love! When I first met Bob Lesser in the 1970’s he had an apartment full of Disney toys. This was NYC and the apt was tiny. A path from the front door to the bed and another path to the bathroom. Otherwise, every inch was toys, robots, paintings.

   I once ran out of space and I hunted for over a year until I found a bigger house. I went to dozens of open houses and looked at hundreds of houses. I finally found a big house. Unfortunately I soon filled it up with books and now I need a bigger place! The old story…

4–My wife is a non-collector and forbids me to go. Tell me about it! I’ve been married over 40 years and I’ve heard it all. I still go and I still collect. Once Les Mayer told me in 1990 at Wayne, NJ that his wife thought he was a business meeting. If she knew he was at a Pulpcon she might burn his pulps.

   Collectors have to become masters of deception and great liars to defeat the non-collector. Many a time I’ve lied and many a time I’ve smuggled books into the house in the dead of night while “she who must be obeyed” slept the innocent sleep of the non-collector. Non-collectors exist to be ignored…

5–I can’t get off from work. Sorry but not a valid reason. My employers always knew I was a rabid book collector who always without exception took off a week during Pulpcon in the summer. I made sure that my vacation request was in as early as I knew the convention dates.

   Once they sorrowfully told me I couldn’t go because of some work bullshit. I went anyway and left it to them to ignore my absence without leave or put up with one pissed off book collector. I realize the employment situation is different nowadays but which is more important, your job or your collection, your marriage or your collection? Right, your collection.

6–Who cares about the convention. I can buy my pulps off ebay, etc. Once in the 1920’s and 1930’s the dime novel collectors existed. But they didn’t have a convention and died off. Now I know of only a few in existence and dime novels are just about worthless. If I had a table full of dime novels priced at a buck apiece, most collectors would scurry by in disgust.

   We have to support the two big pulp conventions: Windy City in Chicago and PulpFest in Columbus. If we don’t, then one day we will wake up and the pulps might be dead. These shows garner a lot of attention and people keep talking about the pulps because of the efforts of Mike Chomko, Jack Cullers, Barry Traylor, Doug Ellis, John Gunnison, and others.

7–And finally the best reason for attending! They are a hell of a lot of fun. Not only do you get to roam around a gigantic dealer’s room full of books and pulps but you get to meet and talk to some of the greatest collectors and dealers.

   These will lead to future deals and contacts. Plus you can eat and drink with these guys! Though I seem to be one of last of the drinkers. And the panels! All day and all night we will be discussing pulps and books. What’s cooler than that?

8–Walker, it’s too late! Like hell. There are hotels with rooms available nearby. What’s the most important thing in a serious collector’s life? His collection without a doubt.

   We work, we slave, we march on to the bitter end where we will eat dirt in the boneyard. We live lives of quiet desperation and worry about the afterlife. Go to PulpFest and collect some books and pulps! You only live once…

COLLECTING PULPS: A Memoir, Part 16:
A Field Trip
by Walker Martin


   Recently, Steve Lewis reviewed the issue of Argosy for June 9, 1934. My copy of this issue is now over 80 years old and still in great shape with the pages very supple and no browning or brittleness. Nice cover and full spine. It has a nice smell and no pulp shreds to clean up. I like the cover by Paul Stahr with the macabre scene of two skeletons showing that two poker players were struck dead while playing cards.

   Which reminds me of a field trip I once made to buy a couple original pulp cover paintings by Paul Stahr. It was in the mid-1970’s, and I was consumed by the desire to track down as many pulp paintings as I could find. This was 40 years ago (hard to believe that so much time has passed!), and I was busy doing the usual things that men in their thirties were always doing, like marriage, raising a family, job career, buying a house, and thinking about my next car.

   But my real interests, now that I think back on my life, was reading, collecting books, vintage paperbacks, pulps, and trying to find the cover paintings used on the paperbacks and pulps. The video revolution was still several years off, so I had not yet started to buy hundreds of video tapes of old movies and serials. Not to speak of the thousands of dvds that I now have cluttering up my house.

   Sure, all that other stuff is important in a life, but does anything really match the enjoyment and thrill of collecting books and art? This is the main subject of my two series: Collecting Pulps and Adventures in Collecting. Collectors are always paying lip service to their jobs and families, but I have often found them to be addicted to that greatest vice of all: book collecting. Otherwise known as bibliomania.

   And of course collecting pulps, paperbacks, and original art are all offshoots of book collecting. I remember many of my friends in college, the army, at work, were often involved in wasting time boozing, taking drugs, gambling, or that most dangerous sport of all, chasing women. I like to pretend that I was not addicted to these mundane vices. No sir, I was back then a Collector with a capital C and I still think there is no higher calling for a life’s work.

   I still wake up each day thinking about what I’m going to read or what books or pulps I can add to my collection. Not to mention what old movies I want to watch. And of course the collecting of original art, which is one of the most unique things to collect. A book or pulp for instance may have many copies in existence, but a piece of art is unique, a one of a kind thing connected to the collecting of books.

   I’ve always wondered why more book and pulp collectors are not interested in at least having a few examples of cover art to hang on their walls, in their libraries, between the bookcases or if the art is small enough, on the book shelves with the books. I can understand not being able to spend thousands of dollars on artwork, but I have many times picked up amazing art bargains for very little money. Even today, some artwork can be bought for a few hundred or less. I’ve had more than one friend that liked to buy new cars every couple years for many thousands of dollars but would turn pale in horror at the thought of spending a few hundred on a pulp cover painting.

   Which brings me around to the details of my field trip. In the 1970’s and even in the 1980’s, it was possible to buy non SF cover paintings for very little money. Very few collectors were interested in such genres as detective, western and adventure paintings. As a result of this lack of interest I routinely bought pulp and paperbacks paintings for prices as low as $50 and for many years I was paying only an average price of $200 to $400 each for artwork. Now prices are higher but you still can find bargains, especially at the two pulp conventions: Windy City and Pulpfest.

   In fact, it was at one of the early Pulpcons that a friend told me about an art store in Brooklyn NY that had pulp art for sale. I had no idea about how to navigate to and through Brooklyn but he agreed to meet me a the Penn Station train station and take me out to the store. It was the typical small store but it was crammed with paintings.

   I still remember the very large painting by Walter Baumhofer that the dealer showed me. It was enormous and showed a shootout in a bar between gangsters. It was used as an interior in a slick magazine, perhaps The Saturday Evening Post or Colliers. But he wanted a few hundred for it and I couldn’t buy everything, so I reluctantly passed on it. One of my collecting mistakes from 40 years ago that still haunts me. I still dream about these mistakes and often wake up in the middle of the night cursing myself. My wife wonders what the hell, but most collectors probably know what I’m talking about.

   The dealer showed me several other pieces, and I was shocked to see how he had the paintings stored. Most were unframed, and he was just pulling them out and scraping the paint off as he yanked them out. Finally he got to the paintings that I could afford at the $200 level. There were several Paul Stahr paintings, and I recognized them as Argosy covers. Stahr was very prolific and did many covers for the magazine in the 1920’s and 1930’s.

I decided I could spend $400, after quickly calculating how much I owed my wife, mortgage, car payment, and a couple pulp collectors who sold me sets of pulps on the installment plan. The paintings I bought were used for the covers on Argosy for December 3, 1932 and December 24, 1932. So we packed them up for the long trip back home and casting a final look of regret at the big Baumhofer masterpiece, I left the store. I never returned, and I’m sure it is long out of business.

   I had the paintings nicely framed, and both were hanging together for around 20 years. I still have the December 3, 1932 painting but the December 24 artwork suffered a tragic end. Steve Kennedy, a NYC art dealer who just died a few weeks ago specialized in pulp art. He thought he could get me a good deal in a trade but I would have to give up the December 24, 1932 piece. So he took the painting and mailed it off on approval to another collector. Later on, he told me the sad news that the Fed Ex or UPS truck had caught on fire and the painting was destroyed.

   All collectors have the time travel dream. You know the one where you go back in time and buy a stack of Hammett or Chandler first editions. Or maybe you buy several issues of the first Tarzan All-Story or the first Superman comic. One trip I would make would be back to the Brooklyn store of 40 years ago. Only this time I’d say to hell with the bills and mortgage payment and by god, I’d buy that beautiful Baumhofer gangster painting!

COLLECTING PULPS: A Memoir, Part 15:
Death of a Collector: STEVE KENNEDY
by Walker Martin


   A friend informed me of Steve Kennedy’s death around 4:00 pm earlier yesterday, and I’ve had problems accepting the news. I last heard from Steve a few weeks ago and at that time he was under a lot of stress due to his attempts to sell his NYC apartment and finish building his dream house in Woodstock, NY. He had been talking to me about both projects for many years and he hoped the money from the apartment sale would finance the completion of the Woodstock house. He had suffered some type of health problem a couple years ago which showed that his blood pressure was very high, and my impression was that he did not seem well.

   I still remember my first sight of Steve as though it was only the other day. It was 1987 and he was in the Pulpcon dealer’s room carrying around a cover painting by Rafael Desoto from Dime Detective. He wanted to sell it but was getting no interest at all from the pulp collectors. This was a common reaction in the 1970’s and 1980’s when most pulp collectors were only interested in SF or hero pulp art. If the paintings were from western, detective, or adventure magazines, then there was usually no interest at all even if the price was low.

   I know it’s hard to believe now when these paintings often sell for thousands of dollars but back then you could not even get offers when the price was only a few hundred dollars each. The only exceptions were SF and hero magazine covers. I know this for a fact because I built my pulp cover painting collection by paying only $200 to around $400 each for most non-SF genre paintings. In the 1990’s I had to start paying more and eventually due to the prices that Bob Lesser was willing to pay, the cost of pulp paintings really increased.

   Since no one was willing to buy the Desoto painting, I bought it for only $325 in 1987. That began our 28 year friendship during which Steve sold me many paintings including some by Norman Saunders, Rafael Desoto, Walter Baumhofer, etc. Even a couple years ago when I told him I wanted a double page spread by Nick Eggenhofer, he sold me a beautiful drawing from the collection of art dealer, Walt Reed.

   As I walk through my house, almost every room has paintings that I bought from Steve over the years. He visited my house several times each year for a total of over a hundred visits. Several times we drove out to Pulpcon together in my car. He would arrive the day before and sleep over due to my habit of getting an early start to drive to Pulpcon.

   Steve was the only collector that my wife would put up with staying over because he at least dealt with art and paintings and was not covered with pulp chips from the magazines that so exasperate her. Steve and I both felt that there was nothing wrong with a house full of old magazines and books, not to mention pulp and paperback cover paintings!

   We often told each other funny stories about non-collectors and in addition to the many visits, we had hundreds of telephone conversations, many late at night at around midnight. Since Steve did not work regular hours being self employed, he often called me late which I had no problem with because I’m always up late during the night reading books and pulps.

   The wedding of Steve Kennedy and Jane came as a surprise to all his friends because he was always puzzled by NYC women and was in his 50’s when he got married in 2001. I guess Jane was really not from NYC. The wedding was held at Jane’s parents place in Woodstock, NY and was without a doubt the best wedding I ever attended. Not just the food and atmosphere but they had two bands: a Brazilian jazz group and two classical guitar players.

   One funny thing about Steve getting married was that since he had been a bachelor for so long, he was scared of finally getting married. So much so that he called me in a nervous attack one night and asked me to give my opinion. Should he get married? I of course said sure go ahead because Steve was an art dealer and Jane was an art appraiser. Not the typical collector and non-collector disaster!

   So, I’m still trying to process the information. Steve Kennedy is gone? No more visits, no more late night phone calls? No more trips to Pulpfest or Windy City? Another of my old friends gone for good? This is hard to believe that someone so much a part of my life can simply disappear.

   Goodbye Steve. R.I.P.

Next Page »