Wed 8 May 2013
Collecting Pulps: A Memoir, Part Eight: The Night Pulpcon Almost Ended With a Drunken Brawl, by Walker Martin.Posted by Steve under Collecting , Columns , Pulp Fiction
THE NIGHT PULPCON ALMOST ENDED WITH A DRUNKEN BRAWL
by Walker Martin
I guess if you live long enough and hang out in the appropriate dives, you will eventually see fistfights and guys swinging beer bottles at each other. Normally you will not see book or pulp collectors try to strike and harm another collector. I’ve always said my favorite type of people are book collectors and since there are so few pulp collectors left, I don’t want to get into any arguments with the few that are still around.
Today, a friend sent me an email about a British first edition by H. Bedford Jones. He mentioned that he might consult the resident H. Bedford Jones expert, Digges La Touche (see above). Upon reading this, I almost fell out of my chair laughing and yelling “So you’re the expert on H. Bedford Jones!” I was thinking back more than thirty years ago when the Pulpcon convention almost ended in a drunken brawl.
Rusty Hevelin, the head honcho and boss of the convention, never scheduled the evening panels ahead of time. He just about always would give you an hour or even a few minutes notice that he would like you to talk about a pulp author or be part of a panel discussing some aspect of pulpish literature.
I remember once he approached me about ten minutes before the start of the evening programming and wanted me to interview Robert Bloch. Sometimes I turned him down due to not being prepared on short notice but other times I accepted.
Evidently, at the last minute, Rusty decided to have a panel discuss H. Bedford Jones. He found three collectors who agreed and up to the stage stepped veteran pulp collectors Darrell Richardson, Harry Noble, and Digges La Touche. All were fans of the author and the discussion kept everyone’s attention.
Everyone behaved themselves and there was no problem. Until the banquet that night. Harry Noble and I were sitting at one of the dinner tables waiting for our food and drinking beer. Another long time pulp collector, Andy Biegel, also sat down. Without any preface or explanation, Andy blurted out, “So you’re the expert on H. Bedford Jones.” At first Harry and I thought that he was kidding and we just laughed. Andy didn’t laugh however and he repeated in a louder voice, “So you’re the expert on H. Bedford Jones.”
We now realized that Andy Biegel was drunker that we were and was in fact insanely jealous because he had not been chosen to be on the Bedford Jones panel. Harry tried to explain that he was not an expert but just a fan of the writer and loved to talk about his books. Andy was having none of it and repeated for the third time, at the top of his voice, “SO YOU’RE THE EXPERT ON H. BEDFORD JONES!”
At this point it was obvious that in another minute Biegel was going to fling himself across the table and try to strangle Harry Noble. Though Harry was older than Biegel, such an action would not be a good idea since Harry was a fitness buff and body builder. Since I considered Harry my best pal, I certainly would have joined in the fight and probably we all three would have been rolling over on the floor punching and flailing.
To make things worse, Andy had a disability involving one leg being shorter than the other. I’m sure Harry and I would have been banned from Pulpcon for life for the drunken beating of a person with a physical handicap. So fortunately we stood up and without saying a word to Andy, we left the room. The next day Andy Biegel evidently didn’t remember anything about the incident and talked to us just as though nothing had happened.
Harry Noble and Andy Biegel are no longer with us but I still remember the Pulpcon brawl that almost happened over 30 years ago. Everytime I hear that someone is an expert on H. Bedford Jones, I start to scream, “So you’re the expert on H. Bedford Jones!”