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PulpFest 2013 Report: Part Two

Posted in Conventions,PulpFest on August 2, 2013 @ 4:17 pm

Saturday in the dealers room seemed a bit subdued to me, especially after Friday’s whirlwind activity. But we got a flurry of newbies, including some attendees of my OSU speech and some curious folks attracted by a double-page spread on PulpFest in that week’s issue of Columbus Alive. According to convention chairman Jack Cullers, by the time the dealers room closed on Saturday our total attendance had just topped 400 — that number including staff, dealers, and day-pass purchasers as well as pre-registrants booked for the entire weekend.

I picked up some additional want-list items (primarily issues of Argosy and Blue Book) and a smattering of high-grade Western pulps. Most vendors agreed with me that trade on Saturday wasn’t as brisk as it had been on Friday, but nobody seemed disappointed. In fact, three or four told me that their sales were better at this year’s PulpFest than at the Windy City pulp show a few months earlier. This was surprising, inasmuch as the Chicago confab run by Doug Ellis and John Gunnison is generally considered to be the superior marketplace.

Saturday evening’s festivities got off to a relatively quiet start with the 2013 business meeting, which elicited no substantive complaints from attendees. Those of us on the committee voiced some concern over what we felt was less-than-stellar cooperation from the hotel staff, but it quickly became apparent that our dissatisfaction was not shared by the membership at large, and that flaws obvious to us were not apparent to others.

The PulpFest huckster's room.

After the business meeting Matt Moring of Altus Press presented this year’s Munsey Award to the aforementioned Garyn Roberts. The Munsey, named after the father of the pulp magazine, is given annually to a person who has done something special — or many somethings — to keep pulp fiction alive. Garyn certainly qualifies for the honor and I was delighted to see him named this year’s recipient.

Next up was “Fu Manchu and the ‘Yellow Peril’ in Pulps,” which boasted as erudite a group of panelists as it’s been my privilege to moderate: Gene Christie, Win Scott Eckert, Nathan Madison, Bill Maynard, and Will Murray. I thought this was one of the most interesting and substantive discussions we’ve ever had at a PulpFest. Afterward, Chris Kalb wowed the crowd with his slideshow and commentary on premiums offered by the various hero pulps. Chris had spent most of the convention refining his presentation, and the effort really paid off. In fact, he had material left over, so we’re scheduling a follow-up presentation for next year’s con.

John Gunnison and Joe Saine ramrodded the annual Saturday-night auction, which saw the sale of additional reference books and pulp-related items owned by veteran collector Al Tonik, whose holdings constituted the bulk of last year’s auction items. There weren’t any big surprises or major bidding wars, and to my surprise (and relief) the sale finished more or less on schedule, shortly after midnight, enabling me to begin the last five episodes of The Spider’s Web promptly. The late hour took a toll on attendance, and by the time the Spider finally met up with his adversary, the Octopus, only seven hardy souls remained in the auditorium. On balance, people enjoyed the serial a great deal, even if they found themselves unable to see the whole thing.

As usual, Sunday was slow. I doubt more than a handful of new people arrived, although one early-afternoon arrival was dismayed to see dealers already beginning to pack up. I took advantage of the convention’s waning hours to make some last-minute deals.  One of my favorite vendors was offering pulps at one-third off sticker price and discounted an extra few points when I compiled a nice little stack.

As per tradition, a dozen of us assembled at a nearby Italian restaurant that evening for a leisurely dinner and post-mortem analysis. The consensus was that 2013’s PulpFest had been a success, although the absence of numerous regulars — dealers and collectors alike — was considered worrisome. We all expressed the hope that this was an anomaly and did not presage a trend.

I may have more to say about PulpFest in the coming days or weeks, but these two posts should give you a pretty good idea of what you missed.

16 thoughts on “PulpFest 2013 Report: Part Two

  1. Pingback: Yellowed Perils | PulpFest 2013 reports

  2. Thanks, Ed, for another comprehensive report. Between you and Walker Martin, you’ve covered it all.
    Congratulations on your expanded guide to the pulps. I’m telling everyone it’s a must-have. Thanks to that book, I had no trouble filling my ensuing meals after PulpFest with great reading!
    Oh, and thanks a huge bunch for “The Spider’s Web.” Even though I own a copy, I had not seen it on a “big screen” since 1970 at Multi-Con in Oklahoma City. I was one of the seven who stayed to the not-so-bitter end!
    As for you, Mike, Jack and Barry, keep up the great work!

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