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.

Reviewed by DAVID VINEYARD:          


“The Sting of Death.” An episode of The Elgin Hour. ABC-TV; 22 February 1955. (Season 1, Episode 11). Boris Karloff, Robert Flemyng, Hermione Gingold, Martin Green. Teleplay by Alvin Sapinsky, based on the novel A Taste for Honey by H. F. Heard. Directed by Daniel Petrie.

         “My dear sir, the game is afoot.”

   Superb live melodrama from television’s Golden Age features Boris Karloff as the mysterious beekeeper Mr. Mycroft, and Robert Flemyng as Mr. Sidney Silchester, a bachelor teacher on holiday in Sussex who finds himself in the midst of a murderous plot of sinister proportions all because he has an inordinate taste for honey.

   It seems Mr. Hargrove, a local beekeeper has found a way to suppress rival bee populations and cornered the honey market locally, but he has also spread out from that occupation and recently killed Mr. Mycroft’s dog, Musgrave. The mysterious Mycroft is convinced, as he tells Mr.Silchester, that Hargrove plans to expand his experiments, and it seems he may be right when Silchester’s housekeeper Alice (Hermione Gingold) announces poor Mrs. Hargrove was stung to death.

   But it isn’t until the nervous Mr. Silchester is targeted by the Master Criminal, as Mr. Mycroft, describes Hargrove, that a tense game of cat and mouse develops with life and death at stake.

   H. F. Heard’s novel, and its sequel, Reply Paid, feature Mr. Mycroft and Mr. Silchester in two sinister adventures mixing science fiction (Heard penned the classic SF novel Doppleganger), horror, and mystery in a tasty mix for those with a taste for Sherlockian lore equal to Mr. Silchester’s taste for honey, and this well written and directed drama by Alvin Sapinsky and director Daniel Petrie more than rewards on both levels.

   Karloff and Flemyng are obviously enjoying themselves, with the former relishing his chance to play Sherlock Holmes, however obliquely. There are numerous nice touches in the script from the book, and one nice bit as Karloff hangs a coat hastily over a fore and aft on a peg by the door. It’s clear Karloff relished this part.

   This one is well worth catching, with fine performances all around, and only a few minor problems with props like walking sticks that fall over, bandages that won’t stick, and spectacles that come off at inopportune times to remind you it was done live aside from the sets and painted backdrops, and even those contribute to the fun here.

   All and all this entertains as far more than a curiosity. The book was filmed again as The Deadly Bees by Freddie Francis with Frank Finlay and Guy Doleman, minus Mycroft and the Sherlockian bit as a straight suspense/horror outing with a subplot involving a rock star with a nervous breakdown that always seemed totally out of left field to me. It isn’t awful, but it has none of the charm of this well acted 52 minute production on a shoestring budget.

   And you have to admit the idea of Boris Karloff as Sherlock Holmes is worth watching in and of itself.

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.

Reviewed by JONATHAN LEWIS:         


TWO FLAGS WEST. 20th Century Fox, 1950. Joseph Cotten, Linda Darnell, Jeff Chandler, Cornel Wilde, Dale Robertson, Jay C. Flippen, Noah Beery Jr., Harry von Zell, John Sands, Arthur Hunnicutt. Director: Robert Wise.

   I watch a lot of movies. A lot. So it takes quite a bit for a film, or a sequence in a film, to really and truly stand out in my mind. You know what I’m talking about — those indelible moments when you realize that an actor has been perfectly cast and his character does something in a manner that takes you by surprise.

   There’s a moment like that at the tail end of Two Flags West, a thematically and visually captivating Western directed by Robert Wise. The movie, which takes place in New Mexico during the Civil War, tells the story of a formerly imprisoned Confederate Calvary unit which joins up with the U.S. Army. Leading the men, the so-called ‘Galvanized Yankees’ from Dixie is Col. Clay Tucker (Joseph Cotton) who, after rueful consideration, decided to take up an offer from Union Captain Mark Bradford (Cornel Wilde): in exchange for their liberation from a Yankee prison camp, Tucker and his men will serve out West with the U.S. Army and fight the Indians.

   As you might imagine, things don’t go so smoothly. Not only does Tucker butt heads with the acerbic and borderline sadistic Major Henry Kenniston (Jeff Chandler), he ends up developing romantic feelings toward Kenniston’s now widowed sister-in-law, Elena (Linda Darnell), a Spanish girl from California. Problem is: both Kenniston and Captain Bradford (Wilde) also have romantic inclinations toward her.

   Fortunately, this soap opera aspect to the film doesn’t overpower its other major theme, namely the reconciliation between North and South. Indeed, much of the film is best understood as a character study of two men — the farsighted Tucker (Cotton), a landowner from Georgia and the bitter, vengeful Kenniston (Chandler), a shortsighted man prone to rage.

   It’s not until the film’s very end, when Kenniston finally redeems himself, that one realizes that Two Flags West is no ordinary Western. Filmed in crisp black and white under the skillful direction of Wise, it’s definitely a minor gem that fans of the genre should seek out.

JOHNNY ROCCO. Allied Artists, 1958. Richard Eyer, Stephen McNally, Coleen Gray, Russ Conway, Leslie Bradley, James Flavin. Screenplay: James O’Hanlon, based on a story by Richard Carlson. Director: Paul Landres.

   The answer to the first question you are probably asking is, No, it’s not the same Johnny Rocco. Far from it. Just about as far opposite as you can get. Richard Eyer, who was 13 when this movie was made, plays the title role, and he looks even younger.

   He plays the son of a small-time hoodlum in this film, a young boy who adores his single-parent father, and the affection is mutual, although the kid does get tough love in return. The reason Tony Rocco takes Johnny on his latest job for the mob is so he and his partner in crime can get back across the Mexican border with fewer questions asked.

   What they didn’t count on a motorcycle cop trying to pull them over for speeding, and what Tony the father really didn’t count on is that his fellow mobster would pull a stunt that gets the cop killed. With Johnny in the car, as a terrified witness.

   If this is a noir film, you might classify it under “inspirational noir.” Johnny’s teacher (Coleen Gray) knows something is wrong — he is withdrawn in class and can speak only by stuttering — and she is ready to help him if he will let her. And while on the run to sort things out, Johnny finds a brief sanctuary in a Catholic church, where the priest finds a place for him in the boys’ choir.

   Richard Eyer’s career as a child lasted less than ten more years, but in playing a young wholesome lad in trouble in this movie, he is outstanding. The terror he has after what happened, the fear in his eyes, his worry about his Dad, all 100% believable. Even his stuttering sounds natural. An actor three or four times his age could not have done it better.

Reviewed by JONATHAN LEWIS:         


THE HAUNTED PALACE. American International Pictures, 1963. Long title: Edgar Allan Poe’s The Haunted Palace. Vincent Price, Debra Paget, Lon Chaney, Frank Maxwell, Leo Gordon, Elisha Cook Jr. Screenplay: Charles Beaumont, based on the poem by Edgar Allan Poe and the story “The Case of Charles Dexter Ward” by H.P. Lovecraft. Director: Roger Corman.

   Except for the poem that Vincent Price reads off screen at the film’s end, there’s nothing Edgar Allan Poe about Roger Corman’s The Haunted Palace. With a straightforward, although at times disappointingly flaccid, screenplay by Charles Beaumont, this alternatingly captivating, creepy, and quixotic film is actually a cinematic adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s novella, “The Case of Charles Dexter Ward.”

   Price is perfectly cast in a dual role as the fiendish warlock, Joseph Curwen and as Curwen’s descendent, the one and only Charles Dexter Ward. Nearly two hundred years prior, an angry mob of New England townsfolk burned Curwen to death as a means of stopping the strange diabolical man from practicing sorcery in a little town called Arkham.

   Young girls used to disappear in the middle of the night and end up in Curwen’s castle on the hill. The men of Arkham were going to have none of that. Not on their watch. There was even talk that Curwen was capturing them in order to breed their beautiful girls with a hideous monster, all in order to create a superhuman master race.

   Flash forward. Enter Charles Dexter Ward. A man from all appearances a kind and gentle, if somewhat naïve man. He’s got a lovely bride Anne (Debra Paget) and a claim on his ancestor’s forbidding estate. As you might imagine, it’s not too long before the evil forces of the past storm the present and the spirit of Curwen takes possession of Charles Dexter Ward’s body.

   What evil schemes does the resurrected spirit of Curwen have in mind? Does he even work for himself or for the old gods, those malevolent spirits of yesterday just waiting to reclaim their earthly inheritance?

   The Haunted Palace reminds us that horror need not be gruesome, that it can be done tongue in cheek, with a wink to the audience, all the while raising issues about the ethics of science and, in this case, eugenics. Unlike so many contemporary horror films, this one is steeped in history, atmosphere, and the New England Gothic literary tradition.

   Although at times it feels incomplete, with too many strands never fully sewn together, this outing by Price in a dual role as two men overtaken by forces they can’t fully comprehend is definitely worth a look.

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