Pulp prose

The 16th issue of Purple Prose should be out around the time of Pulpcon 31, July 11-14. According to editor Michael Chomko, the upcoming issue features the first publication of the late Henry Steeger’s “Notes and Name Droppings from an Editor’s Chair,” which is a draft history of the pulps that Steeger was working on in the early 1970s. It’s a mix of research and recollections by the president of Popular Publications, publishers of such classic pulps as The Spider and G-8 and His Battle Aces. It’s annotated by Chomko and there’s an afterword by Don Hutchison, author of The Great Pulp Heroes (Mosaic Press, 1996). Purple Prose is available for $5.50 postage paid for single issues, or $10 for a one-year/two-issue subscription. Write Michael Chomko, 2217 W. Fairview St., Allentown, PA 18104-6542.

Pulpcon premiere

Also due out at Pulpcon is the premiere issue of Blood ’n’ Thunder, published by Mark Trost and edited by Ed Hulse. The new quarterly zine, Hulse says, is for “fans of adventure, mystery and melodrama in American popular culture.” Featured is a 4,500-word story by British novelist Edgar Wallace, “The Green Archer.” In addition to about 150 novels, Wallace also wrote the screenplay to the 1933 version of King Kong. For pulp fans, the zine includes “Pulp Page to Silver Screen,” which looks at a pulp Western, “Tombstone Canyon,” that was made into a movie; reviews of Adventure and Crime Busters pulps; “Tricks of the Trade,” a reprint of a 1936 writer’s magazine article listing the pulp magazines, editors, story requirements and pay scales; and a Wade Hammond mystery story from a 1933 issue of Ten Detective Aces. “Issue Two, which is already in the works, will be available in early October. It’s our horror/weird menace special,” Hulse says. The zine is available for $6 U.S. postage paid (or a year’s subscription for $20) from Ed Hulse, Mountain Club, Building 15, Apt. 4B, Morris Plains, NJ 07950.

Republished pulpwood

There aren’t many books available that were written by pulp magazine veterans during or after the pulp period. I was tickled several years ago to find a copy of The Pulp Jungle (Sherbourne Press, 1967) by Frank Gruber. Written in the 1960s, author Gruber looks back on a pulp career that started in the early 1930s. He not only writes about various publishers, authors and pulps, but the day-to-day life of a pulp author (such as eating tomato soup day after day at the Automat). Then there’s Pulpwood Editor: The Fabulous World of the Thriller Magazines Revealed by a Veteran Editor and Publisher (Stokes, 1937; Greenwood Press, 1974), by Harold B. Hersey. Hersey worked for Clayton and MacFadden, helped create Ranch Romances and published pulps such as Speakeasy Stories, Racketeer Stories and Gangland Stories. Pulpwood Editor has been called the only book about the pulps written during their golden age. Up until now, if you could find a copy, you’d pay quite a bit for it. Adventure House has just published a new paperback edition that’s available for $16.95. The new edition includes a new introduction by Gunnison and John Locke and 200 black and white and color illustrations.

Pulitzer pulp

A book that mentions both Doc Savage and The Shadow within the first two pages must be good, right? Well, it did win the Pulitzer Prize for literature. It’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay (Picador USA, 2001) by Michael Chabon and it’s a great read. The comic book industry during the late 1930s and 1940s is the main setting, but Chabon sets the stage with plenty of references to the pulps. I won’t offer a review (there are plenty to be found with a quick search using Google), but suffice it to say it’s well worth the time.

In the museum

In the better-late-than-never category: In the April/May 2002 issue of Air & Space Smithsonian, Bob Craddick writes about the more than 2,200 space toys given to the National Air & Space Museum by Michael O’Harro. Most of the items pertain to Buck Rogers and Craddick devotes much of the two-page “In the Museum” column to Philip Francis Nowlan’s space hero from Amazing Stories.

— William Lampkin

Pulp Q&A

Are there any good sites or sources for information or images of Black Book Detective and the Black Bat? I’m fascinated by the parallels to Batman and have been largely frustrated in my search.

We’re not aware of any Web sites with interior images of the Black Bat, but several sites, including Adventure House and the Galactic Central, have posted covers from Black Book Detective featuring the character.

Several books and articles touch on Batman’s pulp forefathers. An article in Jim Steranko’s Mediascene magazine back in the ’70s (No. 17, January-February 1976) discussed the Black Bat and his influences. There’s also The Black Bat, a chapbook by Tom Johnson published by Golden Perils Press and Fading Shadows in 1990. Howard Hopkins’ Web page (he publishes Golden Perils) indicates that the booklet is out of print. But it includes several pages on “Bat Man (sic), Comics and Others.” (Both include some photocopy-quality b&w interior images of the Black Bat.)

An article, “The Ancestors of Batman,” by Will Murray was included in Pulp Heroes of the Thirties, edited by James Van Hise. Murray looks at the Black Bat, the Bat (a Better Publications character), “Bat Man” (a story by Lew Merrill for Spicy Mystery Stories, 1936) and others. Murray also refers to the Batman entry in Jim Steranko’s History of the Comics. Unfortunately, Van Hise says Pulp Heroes of the Thirties, which also has a few interior images, is out of print.

More recently, Les Daniels’ Batman: The Complete History (Chronicle Books) talks about pulp influences on Batman. This book should still be available online and in bookstores.