EDitorial Comments

Now Available: A Scintillating Slice of Serial History

Posted in Murania Press,Serials on December 13, 2019 @ 10:55 pm

The complete story of Walter Miller and Allene Ray, king and queen of the silent serial. Beautiful, blonde Allene had already starred in three chapter plays for Pathé Exchange, Inc., when the firm teamed her with handsome, virile Walter in early 1925. Their first starring serial, Sunken Silver, was based on an Albert Payson Terhune novel adapted to the screen by ace scripter Frank Leon Smith. Directed by George B. Seitz with an assist by Spencer Gordon Bennet, it proved successful beyond expectations. With the glory days of episodic epics receding into history, Pathé was delighted to keep the pair together. Although Seitz left serials to direct features at Paramount and other studios, the Miller-Ray unit continued to function with Bennet promoted to full director and Smith providing the scenarios.

This group collaborated on nine more serials released by Pathé over the next four years. While some were better than others, the overall average was remarkably high. Among the very best were The Green Archer (1925, adapted from the classic mystery yarn by best-selling British mystery writer Edgar Wallace) and The House Without a Key (1926, adapted from Earl Derr Biggers’ first Charlie Chan novel). With a total of ten chapter plays to their credit, Miller and Ray were the most prolific team in the history of the form. To further exploit their popularity, Pathé occasionally featured each with other co-stars; Allene Ray would ultimately take the female lead in 16 chapter plays—more than any other actress. Miller notched 17 serials as leading man and at least a dozen more (in the sound era) as a villain. Director Bennet, having early on displayed his affinity for the genre, ultimately helmed some 53 episodic thrillers, including 1956’s Blazing the Overland Trail, the final serial produced for the theatrical market in America.

Partners in Peril, expanding upon material originally published in two Blood ‘n’ Thunder articles and the book Distressed Damsels and Masked Marauders, covers the Miller-Ray serials in exhaustive detail. Its exclusive sources include the private correspondence of Frank Leon Smith, several interviews with Spencer Bennet, and surviving copies of the original scripts to half of the team’s chapter plays. Additionally, this monograph features dozens of rare photos—including on-the-set candids—that became available to me only after publication of the BnT articles and Distressed Damsels.

For anybody interested in the silent-movie era in general and the classic cliffhangers in particular, Partners in Peril will not just provide hours of entertainment but also become a valuable reference to which you’ll return again and again.




Collectibles For Sale update 12-6

Posted in Uncategorized on December 6, 2019 @ 4:22 pm

I’ve just overhauled the Collectibles For Sale section, adding another 20 items for sale and reducing prices on most that have been hanging around a long time. The new additions include a complete set of the classic fanzine PULP VAULT, high-grade pulps and first-edition hardcovers. The best stuff tends to go fast whenever I update this section, so hop on over and take a good look at your earliest convenience!

Order Now for Delivery by Christmas!

Posted in Murania Press,Special Sale on November 29, 2019 @ 3:11 pm

If you plan on taking advantage of Murania’s 2019 holiday-season sales and want to have your books in hand by Christmas, don’t wait much longer….

We know from (painful) experience that, due to seasonal demand, our printer takes longer to fulfill orders once we get a week or so into December. So those of you looking to buy Murania Press books as Christmas or Chanukah gifts don’t have very long to make your purchases and be assured of receiving them in time.

As announced earlier, we’ve structured this year’s discounts around groups of books rather than reducing prices across the board. These special sales are listed in our Books section, where you can find additional info regarding contents on each volume’s individual page.

We’ve slashed prices on targeted tomes by 30 percent, more than any previous discount. So don’t miss out on this unique opportunity. Order today!




Another Holiday Season Bargain!

Posted in Murania Press,Special Sale on November 21, 2019 @ 7:24 pm

Continuing our series of holiday-season sales focusing on groups of books, this week we offer three must-have reference works for anybody interested in pulp-fiction history. The Blood ‘n’ Thunder Guide to Pulp Fiction (revised and expanded second edition) is our all-time best seller, with more than 2000 copies in print and buyers in 23 countries! With 428 pages and more than 750 reproductions of pulp covers and original paintings, the Guide presents a comprehensive history of rough-paper magazines. It has been used as a text in a half-dozen American universities offering courses in pop culture and popular literature of the 20th century.

The sale also includes both volumes of The Best of Blood ‘n’ Thunder, which reprint the cream from the long-out-of-print first 20 issues of the award-winning BnT. Each book supplies more than 300 pages of text and picture galleries.

Purchased separately these books would lighten a buyer’s wallet by nearly $80. Buying all three together during this sale will cost just $54.95, a 30 percent savings. Don’t miss this opportunity to get the trio for a bargain price. And don’t waste any time ordering if you’re interested, because seasonal demand means slower delivery times from our printer as we get closer to Christmas! You can order here.


Holiday Season Bargains Now Available!

Posted in Murania Press,Special Sale,Uncategorized on November 15, 2019 @ 4:34 pm

We’re beginning the 2019 holiday season a little early, and this year we’re doing things a little differently.

Previously we’ve offered discounts across the board, usually 20 percent off each book. This year we’re offering special sales on groups of books, and the amount of the discount for each group will vary. Last week we collected our four books and two monographs devoted to cliffhanger movie serials, pricing all six items at $79.95—a savings of $50 for the entire package, with shipping thrown in for domestic purchasers as always. This group is available in our Books section as “Serial Spectacular.”

Today we’re unveiling a separate sale for the four-volume set of Blood ‘n’ Thunder Presents, our well-received series of oversized books covering different aspects of pulp-fiction history. Now you can buy the quartet for just $69.95 (again, shipping included within the continental U.S.), which represents a savings of 30 percent. In other words, it’s like getting one of the four books free and receiving a five-spot in addition.

For information on the quartet’s contents, please consult each volume’s page in our Books section.

We’re urging customers to take advantage of these sales quickly, because seasonal demand generally translates to longer wait times from our printer as Christmas draws closer. Ordering early ensures faster receipt of merchandise, which is why we’re not waiting for Thanksgiving weekend, as we’ve done in the past.







Next Week: BLOOD ‘N’ THUNDER Volume Two, Number Two

Posted in Blood 'n' Thunder,Murania Press on October 25, 2019 @ 9:30 pm

We’re now accepting orders for the second issue of the revived Blood ‘n’ Thunder!

Volume Two, Number Two begins shipping next Friday, November 1st. Interest in BnT‘s new incarnation remains strong, and the feedback we’ve received to date indicates reader satisfaction with the new format and price point.

If this issue gets the same reception that Volume Two, Number One got this summer, we’ll begin thinking about a third issue for debut next April at the Windy City Pulp and Paper Convention. If it doesn’t, we won’t. The new BnT will succeed or fail based entirely on issue-to-issue sales, and if or when we perceive a lack of interest the revival will stop in its tracks. We have no intention of offering subscriptions or committing ourselves to a firm schedule. Thus far, however, we’ve been encouraged by the enthusiasm people have shown for BnT‘s return.

For a full description of Fall 2019’s contents, check out the listing here.


Coming Soon: The Forgotten Classics of Pulp Fiction, Second Series!

Posted in Forgotten Classics of Pulp Fiction,Murania Press on September 27, 2019 @ 4:31 pm

Murania Press is proud to announce that, owing to the success of its recent “Forgotten Classics of Pulp Fiction” reprint line, a second series of ten books will be published soon. We expect to have the next ten volumes ready early next year; stay tuned for a firm release date.

As with the first series, released this past summer, individual books will be priced at $15.95 (postage included in the U.S.) but the entire set will sell for $100.

Like the earlier “Forgotten Classics” volumes, this second set offers considerable variety as to tone, genre, setting, and time period. In coming weeks we will have more to say about the new additions, but for now here are the titles, listed alphabetically by author:

1. H. Bedford-Jones, Blood, Amber and Jade. Action and intrigue in the Far East with Jim Hanecy, dealer in rare Oriental jewels and artifacts, and his daring associates.

2. Max Brand, The Sword Lover. The overlooked but excellent second novel by this specialist in Westerns is a swashbuckling adventure yarn set in 18th-century England.

3. J. Allan Dunn, The Island. The sequel to Barehanded Castaways is a rousing adventure in its own right and an eminently worthy continuation of Dunn’s original narrative.

4. Clarence E. Mulford, Black Buttes. Almost certainly this author’s best novel not featuring Hopalong Cassidy. Its protagonist spends years combing the West for his sister’s despoiler and becomes involved in a frontier murder mystery.

5. Roy Norton, The Glyphs. After deciphering ancient Mayan hieroglyphs, an eccentric archeologist, a soldier of fortune, and an English sportsman head to Nicaragua in search of a lost city that houses tremendous wealth.

6. Randall Parrish, The Strange Case of Cavendish. A baffling mystery that begins with murder in New York City and the victim’s disappearance, with the only clues directing an intrepid female reporter to the contemporary West.

7. Perley Poore Sheehan, The Copper Princess. The mummy of an ancient Peruvian princess is scientifically revived in early 20th-century New York, and her resuscitation has terrifying ramifications for a curious antropologist.

8. Francis Stevens, Serapion. Combining elements of fantasy, science fiction, and psychological horror, this spine-chilling tale chronicles the efforts of a malevolent spirit to dominate a weak man and his hapless associates.

9. Edgar Wallace, Blind Men. Mysterious events, culminating in murder, seem to have their origins in and around the London headquarters of a charity for the blind. Original pulp-magazine version of a novel later revised and published in book form (and brought to the screen) as Dark Eyes of London.

10. Gordon Young, Hurricane Williams’ Vengeance. The best of this author’s Hurricane Williams novels, a South Seas adventure with an unforgettable climax.



Lone Pine and the Movies

Posted in Murania Press on @ 3:39 pm

The very first publication from Murania Press appeared in October 2003. No, it wasn’t an issue of Blood ‘n’ Thunder; at that time the zine was still being published under the auspices of MGT Media Services, a company operated by BnT co-founder Mark Trost. The first Murania Press product was a 32-page pamphlet titled Lone Pine in the Movies. I had put it together for distribution at that year’s Lone Pine Film Festival.

Long-time followers of this blog will remember that Lone Pine is a small town about 200 miles north and east of Los Angeles, nestled in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, practically in the shadow of Mount Whitney. Lone Pine and its nearby Alabama Hills—picturesque formations of granite boulders spewed across the countryside during a pre-historic volcanic eruption—have been used by Hollywood filmmakers for location shooting since at least 1920. While many classic “A” films have been lensed in the area (among them Gunga Din, High Sierra, and Bad Day at Black Rock), Lone Pine has been employed mostly in Westerns; every major cowboy star and most of the minor ones worked there at least once. More than half of the 66 Hopalong Cassidy feature films were shot there in whole or in part.

In 1990 a few of the town’s prominent citizens organized a weekend-long tribute to Lone Pine’s movie history. That first Lone Pine Film Festival was conceived as a one-shot affair during which some of the above-mentioned motion pictures were screened. The Festival was a rousing success and became an annual event. I got involved in 1993 by loaning rare 16mm prints from my collection for exhibition at the confab. Ten years later, I decided to create a magazine celebrating Lone Pine’s role in Hollywood history.

The 2003 edition of Lone Pine in the Movies sold out at the Festival and I produced subsequent annuals through 2012, when I relinquished the copyrights and editorial control to the recently established Lone Pine Museum of Film History. The Museum’s mission statement called for a concentration of interest in movies made in the area, but several years ago it was revised to focus on Western movies specifically, and not only those filmed in the Alabama Hills. At that time the magazine’s title was changed to Lone Pine and the Movies.

Editorial chores were assumed by my old friend Packy Smith, who’d been Film Coordinator of the Festival since its inception. Following his untimely death late last year, the Museum’s newly installed director asked me if I would be willing to sit in the editor’s chair once more. I could hardly refuse.

So now, once again, Lone Pine and the Movies is being produced by Murania Press. The 2019 edition, which will “technically” debut on October 10th at this year’s Film Festival, is now available from me directly. You can read about and order it here.




The BLOOD ‘N’ THUNDER Revival Will Continue!

Posted in Blood 'n' Thunder,Murania Press on August 30, 2019 @ 12:17 pm

We recently published a “Volume Two, Number One” of Blood ‘n’ Thunder as a trial balloon, giving the zine a smaller format and a cheaper price point. The response thus far has been extremely gratifying, with initial sales stronger than anticipated. After printing up what we thought would be a sufficient quantity for the recent PulpFest, we were surprised when our entire stock sold out within 90 minutes of the show’s opening on Friday morning. (About half the copies had been sold on Thursday evening during the dealer set-up period.) Sales here at the web site have been steady, and we’ve even moved quite a few copies on Amazon, where the zine carries a suggested retail price that’s 20 percent higher.

Therefore, we are moving ahead with plans for a second issue to be published this fall. In fact, we already have enough copy on hand to fill more than half of it. Well-known pulp historians Will Murray and Don Hutchison will be represented with significant contributions, and there will be a special section devoted to the works of Frank L. Packard, the creator of Jimmie Dale and one of early pulpdom’s most prominent figures.

Our plan is to “formally” debut Volume Two, Number Two at the Pulp Adventurecon in New Jersey on November 2. Whether the BnT revival continues beyond a second issue will depend upon its reception. But we’re encouraged by the favorable response to Volume Two, Number One.

Stay tuned for further details.


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