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Pulp AdventureCon Report

Posted in Conventions,Pulp People on November 13, 2015 @ 3:43 pm

The 15th annual Pulp AdventureCon was staged on November 7th in its usual location, the Ramada Inn in Bordentown, New Jersey. Rich Harvey and Audrey Parente presided over a gathering of some 155 people (dealers and attendees) in a huckster’s room crowded with 47 tables sagging under the weight of thousands of pulps, books, other magazines, original artwork, bootleg DVDs, and even comic books.

I enjoy this get-together because it lacks the hectic nature that typifies the major pulp conventions with their bustling dealers rooms and non-stop programming. Pulp AdventureCon offers enthusiasts a chance to shop for collectibles while enjoying leisurely conversations; it’s nice not to be checking your watch every ten minutes, worrying whether or not you’re missing a panel or presentation.

This year’s show will make the history books if only for one transaction: New Jersey uber-collector Walker Martin purchased the last four issues he needed to complete his file of Munsey’s All-Story. Pulp AdventureCon’s 2015 special guest, horror/fantasy writer Chet Williamson, was offering a sizable group of All-Story and All-Story Cavalier Weekly, two magazines not seen in large quantities at pulp shows these days.

There was lots of action in the hucksters' room.

There was lots of action in the hucksters’ room.


To the best of Walker’s knowledge (and mine), he now owns the sole existing set of what arguably is the most important pulp magazine of all. Windy City Pulp and Paper Convention chairman Doug Ellis has approximately 90 percent of the run, lacking about 40 of the 444 issues. San Diego-based collector Ray Skirsky, who attended the show and snapped up a stack of issues from Chet, has the majority of them but isn’t quite as far along as Doug. Walker’s set includes a few coverless copies (including the all-important October 1912, containing the first Tarzan novel) but is in generally nice shape. He purchased the bulk of the run from Oregon dealer/collector Dick Wald many, many years ago and has always hoped he would complete the file. So you can imagine how thrilled he was with this year’s Harveycon.

And Walker’s luck didn’t end with the All-Story buy; he also picked up a Western Story Magazine cover painting from an early-Twenties issue. I did pretty well myself. Adventure House’s John Gunnison brought a dozen or so long boxes from deep storage; among them were three boxes of Adventure. From these I culled some two dozen issues from 1918 to 1929, a few in exceptionally nice condition. The earlier ones were pricey, but I’m finding it increasingly difficult to locate 1918 and 1919 numbers in any condition, so I sucked it up and paid the freight.

Standing (L to R): Chet Williamson, David Saunders, unidentified, me. Seated: Mike Chomko, Walker Martin.

Standing (L to R): Chet Williamson, David Saunders, unidentified, me. Seated: Mike Chomko, Walker Martin.


Traditionally, after the show’s close a bunch of us retire to a local diner for supper and postmortem discussion. This year’s group included me, Walker, Digges La Touche, Scott Hartshorn, Nick Certo, Paul Herman, Matt Moring, and newcomer Sai Shankar, who flew in from Seattle to attend Pulp AdventureCon for the first time and make a pilgrimage to Walker’s house in nearby Trenton, where on Sunday he got to see a newly completed set of All-Story in addition to the tens of thousands of pulps and books in the famous Martin collection. For those of you who don’t know Sai, he’s the purveyor of Pulp Flakes, a welcome addition to the roster of pulp-related blogs. He’s also a dedicated and disciplined collector.

Pulp AdventureCon is always a bit melancholy for us because it’s the last pulpish event of the year. We used to have an antiquarian book fair in northern New Jersey every December, but that show’s organizers gave up the ghost several years ago. November ushers in the long cold winter that ends with Doug’s Windy City convention in late April. During winter, weather permitting, Digges, Walker and I get together every month or so for a leisurely Sunday lunch peppered with pulp talk, but that’s hardly as exciting as attending a convention. Well, at least I’ll have all these new issues of Adventure to read in front of the fireplace during the coming cold winter nights.

Thanks to Audrey Parente for taking these photos and letting me use them here.

Nick Certo and I minding our respective stores.

Nick Certo and I minding our respective stores.



133 thoughts on “Pulp AdventureCon Report

  1. I love reading reports about book and pulp conventions! I guess that’s why I’m always writing about such events as Pulpfest, Windy City, and Pulp Adventurecon. I believe it’s very important that we document what happens at these shows.

    Sai Shankar did indeed visit me on Sunday after the convention and he took many photos of my pulp art collection. I hope he finds time to continue his Pulp Flakes blog because it’s one of the best websites dealing with old fiction magazines.

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