If you’ve been visiting the PulpFest home page often, you know we try to regularly update our website. So where have all the old posts about our 2013 convention gone? You’ll find them at our new PulpFest 2013 Blogroll page. Click on the link for a play-by-play look at the creation of what many have termed “the best PulpFest of them all,” told through the posts that originally appeared on the convention’s home page during 2012 and 2013.
The image above, based on Walter M. Baumhofer’s front cover painting for the first issue of Doc Savage Magazine, is the original mock-up of PulpFest art designer Chris Kalb’s advertising promo for the 2013 convention.
For the last month at our Facebook site, we’ve been spotlighting the single-character magazines that followed the “hero-pulp explosion of 1933,” one of the themes of this year’s PulpFest. All told, we have discussed 54 magazines, most published to highlight the adventures of a single character within their pulpwood pages. The series has garnered many “likes” since it began on June 26, 2013.
This is not to say that the curious reader cannot find continuing characters elsewhere in the rough paper magazines: Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan and John Carter of Mars ran in The All-Story, Argosy All-Story Weekly, Blue Book, and other pulps; Johnston McCulley’s Zorro can be found in All-Story Weekly, Argosy, West, and other magazines while his Thubway Tham and Crimson Clown found their home in Detective Story Magazine; Dashiell Hammett’s Continental Op appeared in Black Mask while Frederick Nebel’s Cardigan investigated crime in Dime Detective Magazine and Robert Leslie Bellem’s Dan Turner looked under the covers in Spicy Detective; Robert E. Howard’s Conan, Kull, and Solomon Kane were all published in Weird Tales, while various Fiction House titles laid claim to his Breckenridge Elkins yarns; and E. E. “Doc” Smith’s Skylark and Lensmen series were featured in Amazing Stories and Astounding Science Fiction. You’ll find continuing characters throughout the Great Pulps.
As we have seen here and on the Facebook site, the first pulp dedicated to a single character was The Shadow (subtitled A Detective Magazine), its initial issue dated April 1931. Following its astounding success, the leading pulp magazine publishers launched seven new titles in 1933—The Phantom Detective, Nick Carter, Doc Savage, The Lone Eagle, G-8 and His Battle Aces, The Spider, and Pete Rice Magazine—what we now call the “hero pulp explosion of 1933.” These eight titles would, by and large, serve as the foundation for over fifty more titles released over nearly two decades. Although most of the single-character magazines that followed that initial burst of 1933 had relatively short lives, they helped to keep afloat an industry that was dying.
Stories of Sheena, Queen of the Jungle, published by Fiction House in the spring of 1951, would be the last single-character magazine to be introduced to the reading public. Within a few years of Sheena’s sole appearance in her own rough-paper title, the entire pulp magazine industry would be gone, the victim of changing public tastes. But for many of us who love the pulps, it was the hero magazines that introduced us to pulp collecting, helping to keep alive the memory of the great pulp era.
From July 25th through July 28th, please join PulpFest 2013 at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Columbus, Ohio as we celebrate “80 Years of Doc Savage and the Hero Pulp Explosion of 1933.” You’ll find additional details by scrolling through our pages.
Modest Stein was the cover artist for the April 1931 issue of The Shadow, A Detective Magazine. The artwork had been previously used by Street & Smith as the cover to the October 1, 1919 issue of The Thrill Book. The reproduction above is from The Shadow #47, published in March 2011 by Sanctum Books to celebrate the Street & Smith pulp’s eightieth anniversary.
There was an eighth single-character pulp that debuted in 1933. Black Bat Detective Mysteries began with its October 1933 number and ran for a total of six issues, ending in the spring of 1934. The magazine’s lead novels featured a character called the Black Bat (not to be confused with the Black Bat that appeared in Standard’s Black Book Detective Magazine beginning in 1939).
Created by Murray Leinster, the Black Bat, whose real name was never revealed, was an omniscient amateur detective who worked closely with the police. The character was more along the lines of a defective detective rather than a pulp hero. Although technically Black Bat Detective Mysteries was a single-character magazine, it more resembled a detective pulp. Published by a small outfit out of New York City, Berryman Press, and given its limited run, the magazine had little impact on the pulp market.
The cover to the first issue of Black Bat Detective Mysteries, reproduced above by moviepostershop.com, was created by John A. Coughlin.
Just typing that post title makes me feel a little like Karnak the Magnificent, except that I don't have a punchline for it. Sim-sallah-bim! Oh, by the way, nostalgia ahead, so consider yourself warned.
I mentioned the other day that I went down to Brownwood last week for a family get-together. Here's one of the pictures from that gathering. That's my brother Harold to my left, my sister Norma to my right, my cousin Robert on Harold's other side, and my cousins Pam, Lafreda, and Frances. Sitting in front is my uncle, Fred Reasoner. Fred is the only one of my uncles still living. My aunts have all passed away. While we were eating, Fred told several stories about his service in World War II. He was in the army and drove in truck convoys over the Burma Road from Burma to China, which is some of the most rugged terrain in the world. It's kind of amazing to me that a young man can be sitting at home in Zephyr, Texas, and a few months later be on the other side of the world driving a truck over a road with a cliff on one side and a drop of hundreds of feet on the other, so close that you can't even see the ground when you look out the window. There's a reason they're called the Greatest Generation.
By the way, if you ever find yourself in Brownwood, stop at the Section Hand Steakhouse to eat lunch. Great chicken-fried steak.
Going to and from Brownwood, I drove through the town of Comanche, which means I passed within a block of the place where John Wesley Hardin shot and killed Brown County deputy sheriff Charley Webb. Although accounts vary, I suspect that Webb was there to ambush Hardin, and while you couldn't exactly call the killing self-defense, in this case at least I don't think Hardin was quite as bad as he's sometimes painted. Right there on the corner of the square the old hanging tree still stands, where a mob lynched Hardin's brother Joe and his cousins Bud and Tom Dixson.
The square in Comanche is also where a Rexall drugstore was located in the 1960s, and it was in that drugstore that I bought the issue of THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. digest magazine containing the novella "The Pillars of Salt Affair", which was written by Bill Pronzini under the Robert Hart Davis house-name. Although Pronzini has written much better and much more important novels and stories since then, this U.N.C.L.E. yarn remains my favorite of his work, because I still remember sitting in an old brown armchair in my aunt's house in Blanket and racing through it as fast as I could turn the pages, totally enthralled by the adventure. I've never reread it. I'm not sure I want to. Why take a chance on spoiling such a wonderful memory? One of my great hopes as a writer is that someday something will spark a memory in one of my readers and make them think, "Oh, yeah, I remember reading that book by Reasoner. What a good time that was!"
Such were some of my thoughts driving those Central Texas highways last week.
Gargoyle of the Day. The Chrysler Building. For more gargoyles and things that growl in the night, check out BREED by Chase Novak (in bookstores today!)