In 1974, shortly after my 21st birthday, I drove to New Haven, Connecticut with some film-buff friends to attend something called Cinecon 10. It was advertised as a convention for devotees of silent and early sound movies. The core membership was comprised of private collectors who shared 8mm and 16mm prints from their holdings. Musical accompaniment for the silents was provided by other members whose themes tinkled from old, indifferently tuned pianos. In a small hucksters room other hobbyists sold and traded a variety of wares: films, posters, lobby cards, publicity stills, vintage trade journals, and related effluvia.
It was the most fun I ever had on a Labor Day weekend.
Now, 40 years later, I’m headed to Cinecon again. The group hasn’t missed a year, and the 2014 confab is its fiftieth. After several decades hopping from city to city, Cinecon settled in Hollywood permanently in 1990. The privately owned 8mm and 16mm prints have been replaced by theatrical-gauge 35mm prints sourced from private archives and the movie studios themselves. Instead of seeing the films in hotel meeting rooms, Cinecon attendees now view everything in the famous Egyptian Theatre, a silent-era movie palace restored some years ago.
Among the items on this year’s program are several silent-serial chapters that I’ll be introducing. This, of course, will enable me to plug (and hopefully sell many copies of) my book on the early chapter plays, Distressed Damsels and Masked Marauders.
Unfortunately, preparing for Cinecon — and other activities I’ll be undertaking while in Los Angeles — has prevented me from finishing some Murania Press chores I’d hoped to wrap up before leaving. So if I owe you something, please be patient and accept my apologies. I’ll be back home on Thursday, September 4, and will pick up where I’m leaving off tonight as I quit to pack for an early-morning flight tomorrow.
Meanwhile, take advantage of this weekend’s special sale on DD&MM and The Perils of Pauline: Centennial Edition. It’s the next best thing to being at Cinecon and seeing those old serials on the Egyptian’s big screen.
I’m just back from Ohio and PulpFest 2014, which was an unqualified success. Still working on a convention report, but in the meantime I want to report that subscriber copies of Blood ‘n’ Thunder #41 (Summer 2014) are beginning to ship from the printer. Although the last issue was egregiously tardy in reaching some subscribers, I believe that Kevin and I have finally caught all the glitches in our refurbished database, and that shipping of this issue will proceed quickly and efficiently. In fact, more than two-thirds of the orders for subscriber copies have already been processed.
Watch this space tomorrow for my PulpFest report.
By this time next Friday I’ll once again be surrounded by tens of thousands of old pulp magazines, and an equal or greater number of vintage hardcovers, paperbacks, digests, fanzines, and related collectibles. Where might this be, you ask? Why, Columbus, Ohio’s Hyatt Regency hotel, of course. That’s the venue for PulpFest, an annual gathering of pulp-fiction devotees. The successor to Pulpcon, which began in 1972, PulpFest maintains the tradition of a summer confab for hobbyists who come from all over the country—and even some who come from other countries—to fritter away the weekend in a 10,000-square-foot ballroom packed with rare goodies for sale.
As a member of the PulpFest committee I’m happy to report that this year’s event is on track to top our previous conventions. According to chairman Jack Cullers, we’ve booked a record number of pre-registrants, dealers tables, and hotel room-nights. One never knows how many last-minute reservations will be made, or how many local folks will come through our doors out of curiosity, but the tea leaves read promisingly.
By clicking the PulpFest link above you’ll be able to find everything you need to know about the convention. You can download registration forms and click on the Hyatt Regency’s website to facilitate the reserving of rooms. PulpFest’s indomitable Mike Chomko also has posted dozens of promo pieces describing our dealers, themes, and programming, in addition to covering related topics.
And what will Murania Press have to entice attendees? Well, we’ll be debuting the Summer 2014 issue of Blood ‘n’ Thunder, the cover of which is pictured below. We’ll also have copies of our two recently published books on cliffhanger serials of the silent-movie era: The Perils of Pauline, Charles W. Goddard’s 1914 novelization of the classic chapter play starring Pearl White, and Distressed Damsels and Masked Marauders, first of my two-volume history of the silent serial. Of course, we’ll also have back issues of BnT and last year’s Blood ‘n’ Thunder Guide to Pulp Fiction, the sales of which have already outstripped those of its smaller and shorter 2007 predecessor, The Blood ‘n’ Thunder Guide to Collecting Pulps.
If you’re a fan of this stuff and have never attended a pulp-fan confab, you owe it to yourself to attend PulpFest at least once. In addition to having access to thousands of desirable collectibles and attending panels and presentations covering the history of these rough-paper magazines, you’ll meet a lot of swell people with similar interests. Unlike the massive comic-book conventions held in major cities like New York and San Diego, PulpFest is small enough to negotiate easily and casually. The pace is slower and the folks friendlier. Why not give us a try this year? As always, I look forward to seeing old friends and making new ones there. So stop by and say howdy!
Here’s the cover for the upcoming Handsome Heroes and Vicious Villains, second in my two-volume history of silent-era movie serials. As you can see, it’s been designed to resemble its predecessor, Distressed Damsels and Masked Marauders, so that anybody familiar with the earlier book will recognize the new one as a companion volume. The spine design is also the same, so the two tomes will look fine when shelved side by side.
The 100,000 words of Distressed Damsels included an overview of the silent serial and a lengthy narrative history of Pathé Exchange, the company responsible for most of the period’s classic chapter plays. Handsome Heroes offers a similar treatment of Carl Laemmle’s Universal Pictures, Pathé’s leading competitor, along with an extensive survey of serials made and distributed by the field’s other major players: Vitagraph, Arrow, Rayart, Mascot, and more.
Anyone who’s read Distressed Damsels knows that it was exhaustively researched, and the same goes for Handsome Heroes — the text of which, after all, was intended for inclusion in the first book. There was no way I could feasibly publish a single volume with so much wordage and so many illustrations. Like Distressed Damsels, the upcoming tome tops 100,000 words and reproduces more than 250 rare photos, posters, ad mats, lobby cards, and frame blow-ups.
Layout is well underway and I expect the book to be finished before summer’s end. But I’m going to refrain from announcing a publication date until an approved proof copy is in hand. Handsome Heroes will carry a suggested retail price of $29.95, which includes shipping if you buy here.
Blood ‘n’ Thunder returns to quarterly frequency with the Summer 2014 issue, which will debut at the upcoming PulpFest and be mailed to subscribers and wholesale customers in August after we return from the convention. Those of you only just receiving your copy of the 2013-2014 triple-sized Special Edition (due to a mistake incurred during the recent retooling of BnT‘s subscriber database) probably won’t even get a chance to finish reading it before the new one comes along, but that’s not a bad thing, right?
BnT #41 will lead off with an excellent report on this year’s Windy City Pulp and Paperback Convention, which broke attendance records for a pulp-themed confab and was widely praised by dealers and collectors alike. Our “Tricks of the Trade” department will feature a lively article by Arthur J. Burks, the fabled “Speed Merchant of the Pulps,” on the occupational hazards facing a fictioneer. “From Pulp Page to Silver Screen” examines the extremely rare 1931 Western film A Holy Terror, which starred George O’Brien and adapted Max Brand’s novel Trailin’, serialized in All-Story Weekly before seeing publication between hard covers. Another pulp writer who achieved Hollywood success, Perley Poore Sheehan, helped script one of the most bizarre serials in chapter-play history, 1935′s The Lost City, which is the subject of this issue’s “Cliffhanger Classics.”
Our lead feature is a survey of the short-lived, barely remembered All-American Fiction, a meritorious Munsey/Red Star title that boasted some of the best writers in the business but failed to click with readers for reasons unknown to this day. Larry Latham, who penned last issue’s “Birth of the Pulps” article, is back with a look at nickel-weekly characters (including Nick Carter, Frank Merriwell, and the Liberty Boys) who transitioned to moving pictures in the early days of the film industry. And you’ll be treated to a detailed look at an aspect of the pulp business almost never written about: the litigiousness of publishers who zealously guarded what they thought were proprietary rights. You’ll read extracts from a 1936 lawsuit filed by Ned Pines’ Standard Magazines against Harry Steeger’s Popular Publications, claiming that the latter’s Ace G-Men infringed on Standard’s G-Men. It’s fascinating stuff, believe me.
Finally, the “Blood ‘n’ Thunder Reprint” this issue comes from a 1922 issue of Adventure. “The Tenth Man,” an eerie tale of African intrigue written by Robert Simpson, was scheduled for inclusion in the last issue but got squeezed out when our book-length novel reprint ate up more pages than originally expected.
All in all, we think the Summer 2014 BnT will be another fine issue. If your subscription expired with the triple issue — and most did — you can renew it right here on the Murania Press site.
I’ve just updated the Collectibles for Sale section with new listings of recently acquired pulps, digests, and books. And there are more to come in the weeks ahead, as I find the time to process them. In addition to printer matter you’ll also be seeing groups of Old Time Radio recordings and vintage movies on DVD — all with a “blood ‘n’ thunder” connection.
You’ll find a nice variety of scarce items on those pages of the site, and I believe I’ve priced them more than fairly. Postage to domestic U.S. buyers is included in the purchase price. Check ‘em out!
It’s been brought to my attention that some Blood ‘n’ Thunder subscribers have not yet received their copies of the recent triple issue. It took a while to figure out what the problem was, but now I know.
Over the last several months my new volunteer Kevin has not only been helping me catch up on back orders but revamping the subscriber database as well. Somewhere along the line one of us accidentally transferred the entries for 30 current subscribers — a full page of names and addresses — to the list of those whose subscriptions had lapsed with the previous issue. Kevin has now returned those entries in the database of active subscribers and will be ordering up additional copies of the triple issue next week. So if you haven’t received the latest BnT yet, don’t despair; it’s coming!
Attending to the back-order situation and revamping the subscriber database has taken longer than anticipated, and it didn’t help that my bookkeeping during this last tumultuous year left a great deal to be desired. Moreover, I honestly didn’t expect the flood of orders that came in during this year’s Memorial Day Weekend sale. We’re still fulfilling those, although as of today there are only a handful yet to ship. Your continued patience is very much appreciated, believe me.
Moving forward, I expect things to go much more smoothly. Kevin helps out three afternoons each week, and you can address subscriber and back-order inquiries to him at email@example.com.
This year’s PulpFest is coming up fast, and I’ll soon have news about Murania’s upcoming books planned for debut at the Columbus confab.
It’s been a long time since I added anything to the site’s Collectibles For Sale section, which had dwindled to a scant three items. But I’m in the process of restocking it now, with a couple dozen pieces going on line Friday night and more to come as I continue Spring Cleaning. In addition to vintage pulps and pulp-related items, I’m also adding collectibles that will appeal to collectors of vintage comics, movies, and Old Time Radio shows. The first As always, the sales price includes shipping and handling to domestic buyers; international buyers will be assessed an additional fee for postage based on package weight and destination.
Check back frequently over the next few weeks, as I’ll be adding fresh items every few days.
Below you’ll see one of the newly listed goodies: a gorgeous high-grade copy of a 1941 issue of Amazing Stories with one of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ John Carter of Mars novelettes.
Once again Murania Press is holding a special holiday-weekend sale, so those of you who’ve not yet ordered the recently published Distressed Damsels and Masked Marauders or the Blood ‘n’ Thunder 2013-14 Special Edition can now do so at a significant savings. Beginning Friday, May 23, at 12:01 am EST, all Murania Press publications will be available for 20 percent off list price. Each item’s page on this site will be adjusted to reflect the sale price, so when you order via our Shopping Cart function you’ll be purchasing books at the discounted rate.
The sale will last until 6 pm EST on Monday, May 26, at which time the cost of all publications will revert to cover price. Orders will be processed immediately, in order of their receipt. Last year’s sale produced a high volume of transactions that caught us by surprise, but this year we have the assistance of Kevin C. to help with order processing.
Exempt from the sale are Blood ‘n’ Thunder subscriptions (which are available at $40) and items offered in our Collectibles section, which is undergoing thorough revision as these words are being written.
Sale prices include postage and handling to domestic purchasers. International buyers qualify for the 20 percent discount but will be assessed an additional fee to reflect the difference in shipping charges. All copies will be shipped direct from the printer.
Now’s your chance to catch up on Murania’s recent releases. Since our last sale we have released The Blood ‘n’ Thunder Guide to Pulp Fiction, the Blood ‘n’ Thunder 2013-14 Special Edition, and Distressed Damsels and Masked Marauders, all of which have gotten high marks from readers. So don’t pass up this limited-time opportunity to save 20 percent off the price of each!
- On My Way to Cinecon
- BLOOD ‘N’ THUNDER #41 (Summer) Now Shipping To Subscribers
- PulpFest: Just One Week Away!
- Coming Soon: HANDSOME HEROES AND VICIOUS VILLAINS
- Preview Of BLOOD ‘N’ THUNDER #41 (Summer 2014 Issue)
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