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PulpFest Begins This Week — At Last!

Posted in Conventions on August 9, 2015 @ 11:28 pm

The long wait is over; the big event is about to begin. This Thursday I head to Columbus, Ohio, with three good friends in tow, to attend the 7th annual PulpFest, where the country’s devotees and collectors of pulp fiction will congregate to buy, sell, talk, and trade vintage rough-paper magazines — along with books, digests, paperbacks, and related items. I had planned to post something on the convention today but I’m turning this space over to guest blogger Walker Martin, who actually penned the piece below for Steve Lewis’ most excellent blog Mystery*File. Some readers of this blog follow Steve’s as well, but I know there are many who will be unfamiliar with it. So Walker’s enthusiastic endorsement of the convention will be new to them.

In the interest of full disclosure I will point out that the aforementioned Mr. Martin is one of the friends who accompanies me every year on the drives to Chicago (for the Windy Ciy con) and Columbus. And now, without further adieu, here’s Walker. . . .

The last couple days I’ve been thinking about PulpFest which will be held August 13 through 16, 2015, in Columbus, Ohio. That’s this Thursday coming up! I’ve been deluged by logical and sane looking collectors and non-collectors all asking me the same question: Why bother attending PulpFest? They have shown up at my house; they have called me on the telephone; they have sent me e-mails.

Enough is enough! Here’s a list of excuses for not attending that I hear all the time, followed with my rebuttal for each one.

1 — I have no money! Sorry but I’ve attended many a Pulpcon in the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s and I went with very little money. Are there no credit cards? Are there no credit unions?   Are there no non-collecting spouses to borrow money from? Even when I had the money, I often blew it before the convention by visiting local bookstores like Bonnett’s and Dragon’s Lair in Dayton, Ohio. If not in the bookstores, then in the hotel rooms of friends who let me see what they were bringing to sell. I learned to go without much cash but I brought a few boxes of pulps to trade and sell at my table.

2 — I’m in poor health and too sick to attend. Sorry again! I had a friend who had a terminal illness and came to Pulpcon anyway. Another friend actually collapsed at the convention and died soon after. I myself once threw my back out three days before the show and my doctor and chiropractor both told me to forget making the long drive to the convention. I felt like I was crippled for life but managed to squeeze into the car and drive out even though I had to stop numerous times near hotels because I thought I was not going to make it. I could then rent a room and lay there for a couple weeks until I could stand. It took me 16 hours instead of the usual nine hours but I made it. I spent the entire convention standing because sitting down caused back spasms.

3 — I have no space [or] I live in a small apartment. Collectors always make space for the things they love! When I first met uber-collector Bob Lesser in the 1970s he had an apartment full of Disney toys. This was NYC and the apartment was tiny, with a path from the front door to the bed and another path to the bathroom. Otherwise, every inch was toys, robots, paintings. He’s still there, and the place is just as cramped. I once ran out of space and hunted for over a year until I found a bigger house. I went to dozens of open houses and looked at hundreds of houses. I finally found a big house. Unfortunately I soon filled it up with books and now I need a bigger place! The old story . . . .

4 — My wife is a non-collector and forbids me to go. Tell me about it! I’ve been married over 40 years and I’ve heard it all. I still go and I still collect. Lester Mayer told me at the 1990 Pulpcon at Wayne, New Jersey that his wife thought he was a business meeting, and that if she knew he was at the convention she might burn his pulps. Collectors have to become masters of deception and great liars to defeat the non-collector. Many a time I’ve lied and many a time I’ve smuggled books into the house in the dead of night while “she who must be obeyed” slept the innocent sleep of the non-collector. Non-collectors exist to be ignored. . . .

5 — I can’t get off from work. Sorry, but not a valid reason. My employers always knew I was a rabid book collector who always without exception took off a week during Pulpcon in the summer. I made sure that my vacation request was in as early as I knew the convention dates. Once they sorrowfully told me I couldn’t go because of some work bullshit. I went anyway and left it to them to ignore my absence without leave or put up with one pissed-off book collector. I realize the employment situation is different nowadays but which is more important, your job or your collection, your marriage or your collection? Right, your collection.

6 — Who cares about the convention? I can buy my pulps off eBay, etc. In the 1920s and 1930s the dime-novel collectors existed. But they didn’t have a convention and the hobby died off. As did the hobbyists. Now I know of only a few in existence and dime novels are just about worthless. If I had a tableful of dime novels priced at a buck apiece, most collectors would scurry by in disgust. We have to support the two big pulp conventions:   Windy City in Chicago and Pulpfest in Columbus. If we don’t, then one day we will wake up and the pulps might be dead. These shows garner a lot of attention and people keep talking about the pulps because of the efforts of Mike Chomko, Jack Cullers, Barry Traylor, Doug Ellis, John Gunnison, and others.

7 — And finally, the best reason for attending! Pulp conventions are a hell of a lot of fun. Not only do you get to roam around a gigantic dealer’s room full of books and pulps but you get to meet and talk to some of the greatest collectors and dealers. These will lead to future deals and contacts. Plus you can eat and drink with these guys! (Though I seem to be one of last of the drinkers.) And the panels! All day and all night we’ll be discussing pulps and books. What’s cooler than that?

8 — Walker, it’s too late! Like hell. There are hotels with rooms available nearby. What’s the most important thing in a serious collector’s life? His collection, without a doubt. We work, we slave, we march on to the bitter end where we will eat dirt in the boneyard. We live lives of quiet desperation and worry about the afterlife. Go to Pulpfest and collect some books and pulps! You only live once. . . .

2015-Postcard-Front

 

One thought on “PulpFest Begins This Week — At Last!

  1. It’s funny but the piece above was written in a burst of energy after several of my friends and fellow collectors gave me some excuses about why they could not attend Pulpfest. Many of these collectors give the same excuse each and every year. I really believe that pulp readers and collectors have to make the commitment to support the convention.

    It’s such a great show and that’s why I’ve been to almost all of them ever since 1972.

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