September 8, 2013

Local pulp collector joins national conference

Earlier this summer, I spent a vacation surrounded by thousands of old pulp magazines and about 400 collectors, readers, writers and artists.

Every year, I take a week off in July and head for Columbus, Ohio, where the annual Pulpfest convention is held at the Hyatt Regency downtown.

Pulpfest is a four-day event dedicated to the fiction magazines published from 1896 to 1958, when Texas Rangers, the last pulp, ceased publishing.

I love reading this stuff, and I have everything from copies of 1920s Argosy issues to 1930s hero pulps like Doc Savage and The Shadow.

The pulps covered every genre imaginable, from adventure to detective, horror, science-fiction, western and romance.

Issues were printed on rough wood-pulp paper, which gave them their name, and contained novels and short stories by a variety of writers who were paid 1 or 2 cents a word. Artists painted bright covers that usually depicted an action scene from one of the stories.

Many pulps serialized novels in five, six or seven installments to get readers coming back every week or every month.


It’s hard to believe that writers such as H. Bedford-Jones and Talbot Mundy were once among the most popular in the nation, yet today few have heard of them.

Science-fiction writer Ray Bradbury, who died this year, got his start writing for pulp magazines. So did Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, Robert A. Heinlein, H.P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard and Edgar Rice Burroughs.

Hopefully, readers of this newspaper have heard of at least some of those guys.

Howard created Conan of Cimmeria for Weird Tales Magazine, and a new Conan movie came out a couple years ago. Burroughs wrote about Tarzan of the Apes in All-Story Magazine, and a new Tarzan movie is in the works now.

Burroughs’ other creation, John Carter on Mars, had his own movie in 2011, but the studio, Disney, didn’t promote it very well, and it died at the box office. Good film, though.

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