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Countdown: 100 Days to Windy City!

Posted in Conventions,Movies,Western Movies on January 15, 2014 @ 4:16 pm

At this writing the beginning of 2014’s Windy City Pulp and Paper Convention is just 100 days away. I’m already excited. The Windy City con is always a great show, and I’m proud to have been a part of it since 2002, when Doug Ellis invited me to handle the film program. For the first several years my choices were more or less random, although from the beginning I only ran movies adapted from stories originally published in pulp magazines. Later, when Doug began assigning themes to each convention, the annual film lineup was more sharply focused to reflect the authors, characters, or magazines being celebrated that year.

In 2014 Windy City will acknowledge two milestones in pulp history. First, the 95th anniversary of Street & Smith’s Western Story Magazine, which for many years was not only the genre’s best-selling title but also the home of Frederick Faust (aka Max Brand), whose innumerable works practically defined the horse opera. Second, the 85th anniversary of the serialization in Black Mask of Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon, arguably the greatest hardboiled private-eye novel of all and certainly one of the most influential yarns ever to appear in a pulp magazine. So this year’s film offerings will naturally pay homage to Black Mask and Western Story. I’ve already compiled a list of titles to be screened and am waiting only for confirmation of print availability before releasing it. Keep an eye on the Windy City home page for the complete lineup, which will be posted soon.

Needless to say, the film program is just a small part of the Windy City Pulp and Paper Convention. Every year there’s also a top-notch exhibition of original pulp art; auctions featuring rare, desirable books and magazines from notable collections; panels and award presentations by the New Pulp community; and, above all, a massive dealers room crammed with hundreds of thousands of pulp and paper collectibles culled from the inventories of top dealers who come to Chicago from all over the country. As of today (January 15) some 136 of the 151 available exhibit tables have already been leased, and I have no doubt that the remaining space will be sold out before month’s end.

I know many, many serious collectors who don’t attend the conventions. “Why,” some say, “should I spend hundreds of dollars on airfare and hotel rooms when I can buy pulps and books on the internet or from mail-order dealers?”  But I’ve rarely encountered one who, having attended a convention like Windy City or PulpFest, has been disappointed by what he or she experienced there. To begin with, over a three-day period you’re surrounded by a quantity and quality of merchandise that you might not see on the internet, or in mail-order catalogues, for many years. But there’s also the camaraderie, the enjoyment derived from mingling with fellow enthusiasts, which is admittedly difficult to valuate in dollars and cents, but which is so vital a part of the convention experience.

If you’ve never been to a pulp convention, why not give this year’s Windy City a try?  In between frequent forays to the film room I’ll be manning the Murania Press table and selling our latest books (which, as I’ve previously announced, will include another issue of Blood ‘n’ Thunder, among others). I’ve always found Windy City to be an ideal venue for making new friends and renewing my acquaintances with old ones. I’d love to see you there this year.


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