EDitorial Comments

BLOOD ‘N’ THUNDER Back-Issue Availability

Posted in Blood 'n' Thunder,Murania Press on December 4, 2017 @ 8:08 pm

Here’s a heads-up for readers and collectors of Blood ‘n’ Thunder:

Individual back issues will be removed from the Murania Press catalog on December 31st. Therefore, if your set is incomplete, the time to bring it up to date is now.

Numbers 22 through 50 are being reconfigured for sale as “omnibus” volumes that will combine three issues for an approximate length of 300 pages each. The omnibus books will sport newly designed covers but otherwise present each issue’s contents exactly as originally published, minus out-of-date advertisements. They will be priced at $29.95 and become available in January 2018.

The first 21 issues of BnT — printed on letter-sized paper and side-stapled, pamphlet style — remain out of print, although most of their contents were reprinted in the two Best of Blood ‘n’ Thunder volumes that are still available on this site. At some point we might reconfigure those too for sale in an omnibus-volume format, but the digital files were prepared with now-obsolete software, so we’d have technical hurdles to overcome first.

If you’d like to get individual back issues delivered in time for Christmas, you should place your orders before Friday, December 8th, as after that date our printer won’t guarantee delivery by December 22nd.

Collectibles Section Updated for December

Posted in Collectibles For Sale on December 1, 2017 @ 3:33 pm

So now that we’re past Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday and all that jazz, it’s time to do a little Christmas shopping for yourself — and this is the place to do it!

Naturally, you should help yourself to the various Murania Press publications. I have it on good authority that, in the next week or so, Santa will be stocking up on a couple of newly introduced titles as well as perennial favorites from the catalog.

But I’ve also just updated the Collectibles For Sale section with more than two dozen new items: pulps, hardcovers, vintage fanzines, and assorted goodies. There are high-grade Arkham House titles, classic first-edition mysteries, and small-press science fiction favorites in addition to scarce and desirable magazines.

I’ve also reduced the prices of several items that have been listed for many months, in hopes of clearing additional storage space for anticipated 2018 arrivals.

I often sell many items within hours and even minutes of announcing Collectibles-section updates, so don’t waste any time checking the latest additions!  Here are just a few of them….


THE ART OF THE PULPS: Here at last!

Posted in Special Sale on October 24, 2017 @ 4:33 pm

Today, October 24, The Art of the Pulps officially “drops,” climaxing a process that for me began just over one year ago.

Last year during the first week in October I got a phone call from my friend Doug Ellis, a fellow pulp collector and chairman of the annual Windy City Pulp and Paper Convention, with which I’ve been involved many years. He and Robert Weinberg—author, anthologist, and long-time collector of pulps and pulp art—had recently pitched a pictorial history of rough-paper magazines, to be titled The Art of the Pulps, to the London-based Elephant Book Company, a producer of high-quality coffee-table books. The project had been underway for some time; Doug and Bob, the book’s co-editors, had already asked me to write the chapter on Western pulps. Other genre specialists, among them Blood ‘n’ Thunder contributors Will Murray and David Saunders, were being pressed into service as well.

Bob, who had been in poor health for many years, suddenly took a dramatic turn for the worse and passed away on September 25. After getting over the shock of losing his friend and colleague, Doug realized the entire project hung in the balance. He called to ask if I’d be interested in taking over for Bob, whom I too had known for many years and for whom I had enormous respect. Assuring Doug that I’d be honored to step into the breach, I became the book’s co-editor on the strength of my work with Blood ‘n’ Thunder and my authorship of The Blood ‘n’ Thunder Guide to Pulp Fiction, still the best-selling book Murania Press has ever published.

In addition to supplying the chapter on Western pulps, I penned other essays Bob was to have contributed, wrote numerous sidebars, and performed the editorial carpentry that’s required to make copy fit neatly in space allotted by a book’s designers. Then Doug and I composed the meaty captions accompanying each of the more than 400 covers, paintings, and illustrations included in the 240-page tome. Elephant’s project director wanted 50 to 60 words per illo, so we divvied up the chapters and packed as much information possible into every caption. Each of us pounded out approximately 12,000 words during this phase of the project alone.

Since Art of the Pulps was scheduled for manufacture in China, which these days turns out most books printed in full color on thick glossy stock, our deadlines were unforgiving. Doug and I worked off and on throughout the first half of this year—initially editing contributors’ essays, then massaging copy to fit the layout and grinding out captions to complete the package. There were several rounds of proofreading to catch the inevitable minor mistakes, and by late June the finished project was finally dumped into our printer’s lap. The only cost-effective way to get Chinese-produced books stateside is to sail them across the Pacific, and finished copies reached San Diego-based IDW Publishing (marketing the book under its auspices) early last month. Doug and I received our preliminary authors’ copies just a few weeks ago.

This past Friday I got together with my esteemed co-editor at a Secure Undisclosed Location to jointly sign a limited number of copies.  I’ve been selling some here and will bring a handful to Rich Harvey’s Pulp Adventurecon on November 4th. Doug is saving the rest for next year’s Windy City con.

Signing copies this past Friday at a top-secret location.

Our friend Jim Steranko, legendary publisher, graphic designer, and comic-book artist, got a sneak peek at the final PDFs before they were shipped off to China, and he had this to say about Art of the Pulps: “If there’s only space for one pulpmania book on your crowded shelves, The Art of the Pulps is it—an irresistible entry to pop-culture sorcery! It’s the volume we’ve been awaiting for decades!” Last week, Jim and Doug met for dinner and the Jaunty One (as Stan Lee called Steranko during the latter’s heyday as a Marvel Comics top-notcher) got the first look at a finished copy. I’m happy to report that, according to Doug, he was impressed.

I only have a few—literally, three—more signed copies available here on the Murania Press site, so if you’ve been thinking about ordering one, don’t think too much longer!  I’m extremely proud of this book and will always be grateful to Doug for bringing me on board.



Doug shows the book to Jim Steranko at dinner last week.

Collectibles Section Updated

Posted in Collectibles For Sale on September 29, 2017 @ 3:15 pm

I’ve just added another dozen or so items to the Collectibles for Sale, in addition to the three rare Shadow pieces I listed last week.  You’ll find some nice magazines and hardcovers among the new goodies, including a sharp copy of a 1933 Underworld Magazine, one of the scarcer pulps.

Below are scans of a few of the new arrivals. Hope you see something you need!




Labor Day Weekend Sale: Both Volumes of CLIFFHANGER CLASSICS

Posted in Serials,Special Sale on August 31, 2017 @ 8:40 pm

Beginning at midnight tonight (Thursday, August 31st) and for the next four days, you can purchase both volumes of Blood ‘n’ Thunder’s Cliffhanger Classics for $39.95, with shipping included to buyers in the continental United States. That’s a discount of 20 percent, as each book normally sells for $24.95. (Buyers in Alaska, Hawaii, and foreign countries can still get both volumes at the sale price but must contact me to inquire about the cost of mailing.) Volume One has been in our catalog for several years; Volume Two was released late last month. Several reviews have already been posted to Amazon’s listing for Volume Two, and we’re happy to report that they unanimously rate the book five stars!

Reviewer “Tal Chotali” writes: “The world of movie serials has a wonderful historian in Ed Hulse. . . . His chapter on the making of one of the best Republic serials, Spy Smasher, alone is worth the price of the book. Very few people have had the opportunity to seriously interview the stars, directors, producers, and crew who worked in this genre, and Ed Hulse’s interviews are a model for anyone that seeks to be an accurate chronicler.”

Rich B. says, “This is not a puff piece or coffee-table book. It’s a meticulously researched series of essays on a number of movie serials. Anyone interested in film and film production will find this book rewarding with its detailed production history and first-hand anecdotes of the serials that are discussed.”

Mark headlines his review, “The best historian on movie serials does it again.”  He goes on to say, “Well written and full of original research, this is another great book by Ed Hulse. It focuses on several important serials and provides quite a bit of behind-the-scenes detail.”

We’re extremely flattered and grateful for such glowing notices, which match those posted for the first volume of Cliffhanger Classics.

We frequently offer a holiday-weekend sale of some kind, and those of you who might be new to the award-winning Blood ‘n’ Thunder and its satellite publications from Murania Press are invited to take advantage of this special deal — provided, of course, you’re interested in movie serials to begin with.

Head on over to our Books section to find a special page set up just for this weekend’s two-book deal. It’ll be taken down at midnight on Monday and both volumes will revert to their standard price of $24.95 each.


Now Available for Immediate Shipping: THE PENNY-A-WORD BRIGADE

Posted in Blood 'n' Thunder Presents on August 3, 2017 @ 9:50 pm

The second volume of Blood ‘n’ Thunder Presents is now ready for immediate shipping. I’d hoped to debut it officially at last week’s PulpFest, but a printer snafu prevented me from getting copies to the show on time. The Penny-a-Word Brigade represents a departure for Murania Press in that it’s the first non-fiction book I’ve published that doesn’t contain any of my writing — except for the introduction, from which I quote below in explaining what the book’s all about.

From today’s vantage point, some 120 years after the first all-story, rough-paper magazine started a revolution in the publishing industry, the life of a pulp-fiction writer may appear more romantic than it actually was. There’s something quintessentially American about the scrappy entrepreneur laboring in solitude, relying on talent and initiative to achieve success in his chosen field against overwhelming odds. Viewed in that light, the pulp fictioneer of yore casts a lengthy shadow. If you admire those who make their living with words, it’s easy to find something admirable—perhaps even noble—about an earlier era’s ink-stained wretches, who endured privation for weeks, months, and even years before finally breaking into print.

Frank Gruber’s 1967 memoir, The Pulp Jungle, speaks of aspiring fiction writers getting evicted from their hotels or boarding houses, of long days spent making the rounds of Manhattan-based publishing houses, of haunting automats and subsisting on the only free meal available to penniless scribes—tomato soup improvised by drawing hot water in coffee cups, then adding ketchup and crackers from the dining tables. Born of necessity, this tactic was said to keep many a writer alive long enough to “click” with the right market. Then, once established, it was understood to be only a matter of time before he would rival Max Brand, H. Bedford-Jones, or Edgar Rice Burroughs. And after conquering the pulps, why, it wouldn’t be any time a-tall before he cracked the slick-paper periodicals—Collier’s, American, Red Book, The Saturday Evening Post—where one’s work attracted the attention of discriminating readers and, with any luck, editors from the prestigious houses publishing cloth-bound books. At least, that’s what the struggling storytellers dreamed as they gulped steaming mouthfuls of that tomato soup.

It was a tough grind, to be sure, but one that continued to attract hopefuls. Dewy-eyed aspirants were willing to serve an apprenticeship in the pulps, secure in the knowledge that raw talent and hard work would carry them to inevitable success in the slicks. And from there to—book sales! Newspaper syndication! Hollywood movie rights! These neophytes, eager for helpful tips and sage advice from the pulpwood Big Timers, poured over the pages of trade journals such as Writer’s Digest, Author & Journalist, Writer’s Review, and Writer’s Markets and Methods.

Established pulp writers and editors who contributed to these publications were surprisingly generous with advice and admonition both. Every now and then their articles were vague or self-serving, but a large number offered genuinely useful tips and outlined methods of working that are just as sound today as they were in 1930 or 1940. Indeed, although the rough-paper magazines themselves are long gone, many essays collected in this book will hold significant educational value for today’s wannabe writers.

A majority of the trade-journal pieces herein saw revival in issues of Blood ‘n’ Thunder. A few—specifically, those by hero-pulp legends Lester Dent, Norvell Page, and Walter B. Gibson—have been reprinted multiple times, but never all between two covers. In context, surrounded by similar articles from peers, each represents a vital piece in the larger puzzle.

Variety has been my watchword. I’ve mixed straight how-to articles with market analyses and personal reminiscences. Walter Gibson’s 1941 piece, celebrating his tenth anniversary as chief chronicler of The Shadow’s exploits, has a wealth of nostalgic detail but also some very sound advice for potential authors of single-character series. In addition to Gibson & Company, you’ll find contributions from such legendary high-volume producers as Arthur J. Burks, H. Bedford-Jones, and Erle Stanley Gardner along with many second-tier favorites, including Nelson Bond, Frederick C. Davis, G. T. Fleming-Roberts, Frank Gruber, and Henry Kuttner.

The blue-pencil boys also supplied guidance to followers of the writers’ magazines, and I’ve added excellent essays by Adventure‘s Arthur Sullivant Hoffman, Black Mask‘s Joseph T. “Cap” Shaw, and editorial directors of the major pulp outfits: Rogers Terrill (Popular Publications), Leo Margulies (the “Thrilling Group”), Robert A. W. Lowndes (Columbia/Double Action/Blue Ribbon), Ralph Daigh (Fawcett Publications), and Robert O. Erisman (Martin Goodman’s “Red Circle” line). Agents Lurton Blassingame and August Lenninger, frequent contributors to Writer’s Digest, present market reports that at the time of publication were considered valuable tools for newcomers aiming to crack well-established sheets.

One essay deserves a bit of explanation. “A Cent a Word,” bylined “Anonymous,” was first published in the February 1936 issue of American Mercury, a highbrow journal with limited circulation among the literary set. Vividly written and highly evocative of the period, it’s also an acidly cynical, unrelenting exercise in self-loathing. I find this piece a valuable counterpoint to the largely hopeful and encouraging submissions to the trade journals. It presents the dark side of pulp fictioneering and warrants close reading for purposes of balance.

Bottom line: Whether you’re a would-be fiction writer in the pulp tradition or a student of the pulp era and American popular culture, this book will make a great addition to your reference library.



PulpFest 2017 Report

Posted in Conventions,PulpFest on August 1, 2017 @ 11:18 pm

Last weekend found me mingling with some 300 rabid enthusiasts gathered at the Double Tree by Hilton Hotel in Mars, Pennsylvania, not far from Pittsburgh. The occasion? The ninth edition of PulpFest, the annual convention of pulp-fiction fans and collectors. Having moved from its original home in Columbus, Ohio, the summer event was making its debut at a new venue.

And what a venue. I’ve been attending conventions of various kinds for exactly 50 years now but have rarely set foot in a hotel more perfectly suited than the Double Tree for the event it hosted. The dealers room, where most of the weekend’s action took place, ran to more than 13,000 square feet and was beautifully designed and lit. The programming room—where the panels, presentations, and Saturday-night auction were staged—was right next door, a not-insignificant convenience.

The Double Tree has been undergoing renovation and, quite frankly, is a far more impressive facility than its out-in-the-boonies location would suggest. The hotel’s design and layout is quite appealing, the sleeping rooms are sizable and well-appointed. Also, the convention rate included free breakfasts for guests every morning—including the services of an omelette chef. Easily a $15 value.

The 13,440-square-foot dealer room. Photos by Karen Davis Cunningham.

PulpFest (of which I was one of the original founders) early on distinguished itself with the variety and quality of its programming, and this year’s confab boasted a typically stellar lineup of events. The convention’s theme this year was “Hardboiled Dicks, Dangerous Dames, and a Few Psychos,” to which the various readings and discussions adhered faithfully. The Farmercon, PulpFest’s yearly adjunct devoted to the works of Philip José Farmer, presented a panel discussion featuring Win Scott Eckert, Frank Schildiner, and Art Sippo, with Mike Croteau weighing in on Farmer’s connection to Robert Bloch. Win also read from Farmer’s The Scarlet Jaguar.

Jeffrey Marks was on hand with “Hardboiled and Dangerous: The Many Characters of Erle Stanley Gardner,” and Altus Press head honcho Matt Moring supplied an overview of Dime Detective that included some very interesting tidbits of related info, such as circulation figures for Black Mask. Tom Krabacher and Walker Martin commented on Gordon Young’s Adventure Magazine series featuring Don Everhard, a rough-paper tough guy now believed to have had more influence than previously suspected on the hard-boiled school of pulp fiction.

Guest of Honor Gloria Stoll Karn, who painted dozens of covers for such Popular Publications pulps as Black Mask, Detective Tales, and Rangeland Romances, was introduced by pulp-art historian David Saunders, who compiled a terrific selection of her art for his slide show. A petite and still lively nonagenarian, Gloria related some choice anecdotes about her tenure as a Popular cover artist and seemed delighted to field questions from fans and sign examples of her work after the Saturday-night event.

Adventure House’s John Gunnison and son before their “wall o’ pulps.”

As always, the New Pulp contingent dominated afternoon programming with readings by authors Ron Fortier, Frank Schildiner, and Win Scott Eckert. Additionally, Ron moderated a New Pulp panel discussion featuring his fellow fictioneers Fred Adams Jr., John Bruening, Wayne Carey, Michael Maynard, and Charles Millhouse.

I have to confess that I never attend the afternoon events, being occupied with crassly commercial pursuits in the hucksters room. But based on reports heard after the fact, I should’ve sat in on a reading from last year’s Robert Bloch’s Psycho: Sanitarium by its author, distinguished horror/fantasy writer Chet Williamson. Various friends told me it was first rate, as is the book itself.

Adventure House’s John Gunnison and veteran PulpFest dealer Joe Saines deserve kudos for their handling of a longer-than-usual Saturday-night auction in which approximately 280 lots were gaveled over a period of more than three hours. Items from the estates of two recently deceased pulp collectors (one of them Blood ‘n’ Thunder contributor Larry Latham) were auctioned off, with multiple groups of Western Story Magazine issues making particularly strong showings. Items coming under the headings of effluvia and ephemera fetched some hefty amounts; a brace of Shadow promotional decals sold for more than $500, and bidding got heated for an empty trunk that belonged to Don Everhard creator Gordon Young.

Exhibit arranged by the son of prolific pulp illustrator Gould.

Although attendance was down from previous years (perhaps owing to uncertainty over the new location’s feasibility), everyone with whom I interacted seemed to have a good time. Business was relatively brisk at my table after a slow start on Friday; I brought approximately six dozen pieces of Murania Press inventory and went home with just three. My collectable pulps, digests, and paperbacks sold pretty well too, although I dumped two boxes of the latter into the auction just to make additional room for all the stuff I bought at the show.

The general consensus was that moving PulpFest to Pittsburgh and the Double Tree took the sting out of abandoning our long-time Columbus headquarters. (Actually, it was the Hyatt that did the abandoning, informing chairman Jack Cullers last year that our group was too small to justify turning so much square footage over to us—”Thanks, but no thanks, guys, find another venue.”) Frankly, I thought the new digs reinvigorated the convention. I liked the Hyatt, but the Double Tree’s amenities and overall convenience (did I mention the free parking and easier load-in for dealers?) make it infinitely more attractive from where I sit.

The small community of pulp-fiction aficionados is well served by PulpFest and the Windy City Pulp and Paper Convention, which unfolds every spring. Both events are organized by unselfish volunteers who work all year long to make their respective conventions fun and memorable. In 2017 they succeeded beyond my wildest expectations. If you’ve never been to a pulp show and are interested in vintage rough-paper fiction, you really owe it to yourself to pay a visit. The web sites for these shows can be found here and here; bookmark them today and follow them in the months ahead as 2018’s meetings begin to take shape.

CORRECTION, August 3 — In posting the original report I was remiss in neglecting to acknowledge and thank the PulpFest committee members: Jack and Sally Cullers, Mike Chomko, Chuck Welch, William Lampkin, and Barry Traylor. Thanks also to the volunteers who gave up a nice summer weekend to placate several hundred goofy collectors.

Legendary artist (and pulp aficionado) Jim Steranko dropped by to say hello.


Memorial Day Collectibles Sale!

Posted in Collectibles For Sale,Special Sale on May 26, 2017 @ 4:41 pm

Our Memorial Day Weekend sale extends to our Collectibles section, where prices on many items have been dropped and another group of pulps and hardcovers has just been added. Some of the new arrivals are pictured below.






Holiday Weekend Sale!

Posted in Special Sale on @ 4:32 pm

Another Memorial Day weekend is upon us, which means it’s time for another Holiday Weekend sale of Murania Press publications.

Between now and midnight (Eastern time) on Monday, May 29, you can purchase all of our books and magazines — with the exception of our new release, the first volume of Blood ‘n’ Thunder Presents — for 20 percent off list price. As always, our sales prices include shipping to buyers in the U.S. International buyers will still have to pay extra for shipping and must ask us for quotes before making purchases.

Now’s your chance to catch up on our recently published books you might have missed. Or you can make your set of Blood ‘n’ Thunder complete by picking up back issues that slipped past you. But remember, the sale ends promptly at midnight on Memorial Day.


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