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PulpFest 2013 Report: Part One

Posted in Conventions,PulpFest on August 2, 2013 @ 4:11 pm

It’s taken me four days to recover from PulpFest-induced sleep deprivation, but finally I’ve regenerated enough brain cells to make some observations about what I believe was another terrific convention.

With veteran pulp collectors Walker Martin and E. P. Digges La Touche in tow, I began the drive to Columbus at approximately 6:30 a.m. last Thursday. It was a beautiful day — sunny and pleasantly warm — and would remain so all the way to Ohio. Nine hours later we were safely ensconced in the Hyatt Regency, PulpFest’s host hotel. An hour after that I was in Ohio State University’s Thompson Library, delivering a presentation titled “The Ancestors of Batman: Colorful Crime Fighters of Pulp Fiction.” Given the gorgeous weather, I didn’t think my talk would draw much of a crowd; to my surprise, more than 40 people showed up. OSU’s Eric Johnson, who’d arranged all this, seemed to think it was a pretty good turnout. Although the drive had tired me out, I blundered through the hour-long talk and at least managed to keep the audience awake — always a plus.

Explaining the hero pulp-comic book nexus at Ohio State University.

Then it was back to the Hyatt, where dealer set-up and advance registration were already underway. Setting up the Murania Press tables kept me just busy enough to miss Rick Lai’s 8 p.m. presentation on the pulp descendants of Fu Manchu, whose American centennial we were celebrating. I stumbled into the programming room at 9 p.m., just in time to deliver another speech, “Hollywood and the Hero Pulps,” which was by way of an introduction to the first five chapters of The Spider’s Web, the 1938 Columbia Pictures cliffhanger serial adapted from the adventures of a popular pulp-fiction crime fighter. The fifth episode finished at midnight or thereabouts and, bleary-eyed, I staggered up to my room for an abbreviated and fitful night’s sleep.

After joining some pals for breakfast at 7 a.m. on Friday, I hit the huckster’s room just prior to the 9 a.m. opening. There were just over a hundred tables of merchandise for sale, and although several of our usual dealers didn’t join us this year, I found no shortage of desirable items. My preliminary sweep of the room turned up nearly 20 issues of Adventure I needed, and after having those put aside for later purchase, I manned the Murania table for what turned out to be a very busy day.

I’d spent the entire month of July working feverishly on three publications I planned to debut at PulpFest: The Blood ‘n’ Thunder Guide to Pulp Fiction, the Summer 2013 issue of Blood ‘n’ Thunder, and the fifth volume in Murania’s Classic Pulp Reprints series, The Island (J. Allan Dunn’s 1922 sequel to Barehanded Castaways). I couldn’t get a suitable cover design for The Island in time, and a bush-league mistake prevented me from printing the Summer BnT in time to get copies for the show. Only the Guide to Pulp Fiction arrived on schedule, and to my amazement I sold all 25 copies on hand before the end of Day One. I even sold the display copy I’d brought for potential buyers to thumb through. And I took orders for an additional dozen or so copies that, as I type these words, are being printed and shipped. I also did a brisk business in back issues of BnT and previously published Murania Press books. So Friday was an extremely profitable day for me.


During the afternoon we’d had two readings from New Fictioneers William Patrick Maynard and Van Allen Plexico, and a panel featuring several members of FarmerCon, a satellite convention PulpFest has hosted the last several years. This group includes fans of SF writer and latter-day pulpster Philip José Farmer, whose Wold Newton Universe provides the impetus for their activities. Since PulpFest 2013 was dedicated primarily to celebrating the 80th anniversary of 1933’s hero-pulp explosion, the Newtonites were back that evening for a discussion of Farmer’s contributions to the Doc Savage mythos. Participants included Rick Lai, John Allen Small, Win Scott Eckert, and Christopher Paul Carey; Art Sippo acted as moderator and piped in with some trenchant observations of his own.

Next I moderated a panel discussing the aforementioned explosion of single-character pulp magazines in 1933. And a blue-ribbon gathering of historians it was, too: long-time fan Nick Carr; Don Hutchison, author of The Great Pulp Heroes; Will Murray, authorized chronicler of new Doc Savage adventures; and Garyn G. Roberts, college professor and noted anthologist.

Then came David Saunders, son of famous pulp-cover artist Norman Saunders and a talented artist in his own right. David has extensively researched the lives and careers of other pulp artists, several of whom he grew up around and was privileged to know as friends. His presentation on one of them, the prolific and immensely talented Walter G. Baumhofer, featured a slideshow with dozens of rare, behind-the-scenes photographs and heretofore-unseen sketches. After David’s hour wrapped, I came back to run Chapter Six through Ten of The Spider’s Web. The second-night screening was better attended than the first. I slept longer and better that night, looking forward to Saturday.

39 thoughts on “PulpFest 2013 Report: Part One

  1. Pingback: Yellowed Perils | PulpFest 2013 reports

  2. I was at Ed’s talk at Ohio State. It was a lot better then he says and was very well received.Lots of questions were asked about the pulps.Maybe that’s why he sold out his Guide To The Pulps?

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