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.


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.

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 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 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…

Windy City Pulp Convention Report, 2015
by Walker Martin

   MOBY DICK is one on my favorite novels and it’s fitting that I start off my report concerning my bizarre and insane adventures by quoting the beginning of this adventurous novel. Takes a lot of nerve but nobody ever said that collectors lack nerve, that’s for sure! As I’ve mentioned in the past reports, a gang of the usual collectors always rent a large van for the convention. Five of us went this time and the cargo space was filled going out and coming back. One of these days there will not be room for someone on the return trip.

   I’ve known these fellow collectors for many years and between us, we have over 250 years of collecting experience. We call the big white van, “The Great White Whale”, but I also think we are searching for the white whale or that Holy Grail of pulp collecting. I’ve been attending these pulp shows for over 40 years and I hope to make it to the 50 year mark. I really believe the pulp conventions are the reason I have accumulated thousands of books and pulps.

   I get excited each year and despite being a collector for 60 years, I’m always looking for new things to add to my book, pulp, and art collection. This year I had 6 goals:

1–Upgrade my 99 issue set of STARTLING STORIES. I’ve had a complete set since the 1950’s, but I decided to try for fine condition.

2–Get an issue of HUTCHINSON’S ADVENTURE STORY MAGAZINE. This British pulp is so rare that I’ve never had an issue.

3–Finally obtain a nice piece of art by Richard Powers. I’ve been looking for decades but I’ve never found the right piece.

4–Get an Emsh cover. Again, I’ve been looking for long time. (I did. Look to the right: ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION, December 1958)

5–Lee Brown Coye has been a long time favorite but I’ve never found one of his better pieces of art.

6-And finally, trade off a DANGER TRAILS illustration by John Fleming Gould for some other pulp art. His son says it’s the first of the 15,000 illustrations that Gould did.

   I consider the above to be an ambitious set of goals but I managed to complete all six at Windy City. This is proof, once again, of just how important it is to attend the pulp conventions. If I hadn’t gone to Chicago, I’d still be sitting here thinking about completing these six projects. There was a massive amount of material available at the convention. 150 dealer’s tables and around 500 attendees, all in a large room. Many of the tables had boxes and smaller tables set up filled full of additional books and pulps. For a book and fiction magazine collector, an amazing sight to see.

   In fact, many collectors eat a large breakfast because they know they will not be able to leave the dealer’s room for lunch. I mean, who can think of eating in a big room full of books and magazines? Forget sex, drinking, dope, gambling, and all the other vices! We are collectors with a capital C and this is Windy City! All that other stuff can wait until the convention is finished.

   In addition to books and pulps, there also is an emphasis on artwork from the pulps, slicks, digests, men’s adventure magazines, and paperbacks. I counted several dealers with art and I managed to buy quite a few pieces for my collection. In addition to the Emsh, Powers, and Coye pieces mentioned above, I also obtained three by Edd Cartier, a DIME MYSTERY double page spread, a WESTERN STORY illustration, and other items.

   The theme of the show was H.P. Lovecraft’s 125th birthday and the art exhibit had several stunning pieces showing Lovecraft themed art. In addition the film festival showed nine films chosen by Ed Hulse that were based on Lovecraft’s fiction. I’ve seen most of them and besides, I couldn’t drag myself away from the dealer’s room. But I did see CALL OF CTHULHU the night before leaving for the convention and it was excellent. The Old Gentleman would have been proud to see such tributes. And The Great God Cthulhu must of been proud also, since he didn’t show up and destroy his worshipers.

   I’ve been lucky on the art described above, but I did make two stupid mistakes, which enabled other collectors to swoop in and steal art from me. Of course both times I was spending too much time gawking at the great art, so I have no one to blame but myself. One showed a cover from SEA STORIES depicting a scene from a slave ship and the other was a nice painting by Beresford Egan. Since I managed to buy four other pieces by Egan, I doubt anyone will have any sympathy for my tale of woe. But as all collectors know, we always cry and whine about the one that got away.

   What else did I buy? I’ve been a long time admirer of MANHUNT, the best of the hardboiled crime fiction digests and I saw one table with over a hundred of the MANHUNT copy cats that sprung up like weeds in the 1950’s. Titles like TWO-FISTED, OFF BEAT, TWISTED, KILLERS, SURE FIRE, and WEB TERROR. The stories can’t compare to MANHUNT but the covers are unbelievable. They are so risqué and objectionable, that many collectors refuse to collect them. I, of course, love them.

   I was there for all four days and had a great time. Here are some glimpses of what I did:

   I met Sai, who runs one of the very best pulp blogs at He took many photos, some of which are shown in this report. Talked to Rich Oberg and his wife about men’s adventure magazine art. Met Pete Poplaski, artist and expert on Zorro; saw a complete set of DOC SAVAGE; looked at the complete set of WEIRD TALES on view at John Gunnison’s table; talked with Bob Weinberg who I’ve known since the late 1960’s; obtained the new BLOOD ‘n’ THUNDER, another record breaking triple issue; and talked to Michelle Nolan about her forthcoming book on the sport pulps.

   The two auctions were well attended, and most of the pulps were from the Jerry Weist estate. There were many lots of dime novels, western, romance, and sport pulps. But also many lots offering such rare titles as early issues of ALL STORY and ARGOSY. By early, I mean over 100 years old! There also was a complete set of STARTLING STORIES in several lots. I had bought a set in the dealer’s room but that didn’t stop me from bidding on another set. Lucky I didn’t win because then I would have three sets. Two sets should keep me busy comparing issues in order to pick the better condition. But you can never have too many pulps…

   The Windy City program book was another enormous collection edited by Tom Roberts. Over 200 pages celebrating Lovecraft! Next year will celebrate science fiction, so I have to start saving so I can buy more duplicate sets of STARTLING, etc.

   Fellow collectors, start preparing for the next pulp convention. Pulpfest will be held August 13-16. 2015 in Columbus, Ohio. The website is and believe me it’s a convention that is a must. I ought to know. I’ve been attending them since 1972!

   Nick Certo and me. I’m the one on the left. (Thanks to Phyllis Weinberg, who took the photo.)

Convention Report: PULPADVENTURE CON 2014.

   PulpAdventurecon has been held in Bordentown NJ every November for quite a few years now. Hosted by Rich Harvey, it’s an annual gathering point for collectors and dealers of pulp magazines, vintage paperbacks, DVDs of old movies and TV series, artwork and in general anything old made of paper. It’s been a few years since I’ve been able to get away for one, but it’s where I’ve been this past weekend.

   It’s a one-day show, but I drove down the Friday before with my friend Paul Herman, where along the way we met Gary Lovisi and his wife Lucille in Morristown NJ, plus LA paperback collector extraordinaire Tom Lesser, who’d flown in just for the occasion.

   After the five of us had scoured The Old Book Shop clean of anything of value, Paul and I went to Walker Martin’s home in Trenton, where we also met Ed Hulse, Nick Certo, Digges LaTouche, Scott Hartshorn, and Matt Moring. After several hours of chatting and catching up, we watched a western movie together, sans Digges, who had to leave early.

   The movie was a George O’Brien epic called Mystery Ranch, of which IMDb has to say: “An undercover ranger investigates a deranged rancher who acts as a law unto himself, finding a girl held as a prisoner until she agrees to marry the madman.” You may find me reviewing it here on this blog sometime soon.

   Paul and I left after dinner for the Ramada Inn where the convention was to be held the next day, and luckily Paul was able to unload his car and set up his wares for sale early. I say “luckily”as it rained poured most of the next day.

   I didn’t take any photos that came out well on Friday, but here are some I took on Saturday. I’ll welcome any errors in identification and name spelling, and make the necessary corrections later.

   This first photo will show you the general layout of the room. There may have been 30 dealers, maybe less, and perhaps 100 walk-in buyers, or slightly more. When this photo was taken, around noon, two hours after the dealers’ room was open, it was filled with people. There was no program, nor were there any invited guests.

   In this photo, from left to right, are Walker Martin, Nick Certo, a dealer from somewhere north of New York City, and Paul Herman. Paul may be telling the others about the cache that got away.

   About 30% of the wares offered were pulps, another 30% paperbacks, 30% also for DVDs, with the remaining 10% split between hardcovers and original artwork or prints. John Gunnison brought the most pulps for sale, as you can see by the wall behind his tables. I believe that is Cowboy Tony, a dealer from New Hampshire, looking in the boxes, but I am not sure.

   In this photo Gary Lovisi is talking to Paul Herman. Gary took this year off after putting on the New York City paperback show for 30 25 years, but there is a possibility he will give it a go again next year.

   I don’t know who that is that Scott Hartshorn is talking to on the left. Originally a native of the area, Scott drove up for this show from Florida. He is also a lot younger than I am.

   This is Walker Martin, close up and personal. He is about to show me his latest purchase. You can tell from his smile that he’s happy to be its new owner.

   And this is it, an interior black and white piece of art by John Fleming Gould, I believe, whose son had a table at the show with several other of his father’s works of art for sale. I will let Walker tell you more about his purchase in the comments.

   This is not a good shot of him, but the gentleman squatting down sorting through boxes of books on the floor is Tom Lesser, who has put on a paperback show in the Los Angeles area for the past umpteen years. It is rare to find Tom in positions other than this, but there is a better one of him coming. I went through this same boxes later, but I found nothing left of value. I also found it very difficult to stand again.

   This is Cowboy Tony behind his tables. I think he’s wondering if he remembered everything that he meant to bring to sell.

   This is Paul negotiating a deal with someone, but I don’t recognize whose table it is. The second person in the background to the left of Paul is Ed Hulse, who otherwise seems to have managed not being in any of my other photos.

   The tall young fellow in the photo below is Matt Moring, who is the head honcho at Altus Press and responsible for bring out tons of books reprinting stories from the pulps. The big news is that he has just obtained the rights to publish stories from most of the Munsey and Popular Publications magazines, which is really, really bad news for my checking account.

   Behind Matt at his table in the blue sweater is Martin Grams, who besides being responsible for the Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention every year, also sells movies and old TV series on DVD at smaller shows such as this one. He also is very hard on my checking account, so I try to stay away from his table. I didn’t succeed, though.

   This is Gary Lovisi and Tom Lesser, soon before they headed back north to New York City in the rain. That looks like Paul Herman in the background on the telephone, probably telling his wife he wouldn’t be back home until around 11:30. Which he was. I had my car parked there waiting for me, so it took me only another 30 minutes to reach home again myself.

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