Blog: Thoughts and comments on the world of the pulp magazines

Exploring ‘This Island Earth’

Posted by at 10:00 am Tuesday, December 8, 2015 in Movies/TV/Radio, Pulps, Review

Exploring ‘This Island Earth’
Raymond F. Jones

Raymond F. Jones

When I saw that actor Rex Reason had died last month, the news brought back fond memories of watching This Island Earth as a teenager in the ’70s. Back then, late nights on Friday and Saturday television were devoted to old movies before the TV stations signed off the air. (Remember that?)

This Island Earth from 1955 was one of the stand-out movies among the many low-grade horror and science fiction that often showed up on local TV at that late hour. Of course, this was before home video tape recorders — let alone DVRs. So when it aired, it was always worth watching.

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On ‘The Texas-Siberia Trail’

Posted by at 10:00 am Thursday, October 30, 2014 in Books, Opinion, Pulps, Review

The Texas-Siberia TrailBack in the early spring, I had the great fortune of meeting Nicky Wheeler-Nicholson, the granddaughter of Maj. Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson at a nearby convention.

I was mostly familiar with the Major‘s background as one of the founders of DC Comics. But before that, he was a pulp fictioneer.

Nicky was promoting a book of her grandfather’s adventure stories, “The Texas-Siberian Trail.” The book was edited by John Locke and published by his Off-Trail Publications.

Being known as the Major obvious indicates that he had a military background. Nicky provides a very informative preface. She discusses the Major’s service in the U.S. Army Cavalry along the Texas-Mexico border and in the Philippines, and in Military Intelligence in Asia and Russia, then on the Western Front of World War I.

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PulpFest 2014 wrap-up

Posted by at 10:00 am Friday, August 15, 2014 in Events, News, Opinion, People, PulpFest, Pulps, Review

I’ve titled this post “PulpFest 2014 wrap-up.” But I’m sure this won’t be the last post mentioning PulpFest 2014.

A week ago yesterday, PulpFest 2014 was just getting under way. Two-and-a-half days later, it was almost over, and I was leaving Columbus, Ohio.

So much was condensed into those days at PulpFest. I got only about five hours of sleep a night, but even that seemed wasted time. The days were divided into three P’s: pulps, people and programs.

Daytime was mostly spend in the dealers’ room, looking for pulp treasure.

And speaking of the dealers’ room, here’s a five-minute, time-lapse video I shot of the room coming alive on Saturday morning:

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A look at comic book artists in the pulps

Posted by at 9:00 am Friday, July 19, 2013 in Books, Opinion, People, Pulp Art, Pulps, Pulpsters, Review

Astounding, Mysterious, Weird & True, Vol. 1: The Pulp Art of Comic Book ArtistsEarlier this year, Steven Brower and Jim Simon published “Astounding, Mysterious, Weird & True, Vol. 1: The Pulp Art of Comic Book Artists,” a book that has an intriguing title. (I’m a sucker for books about the creators of the pulp magazines.)

This was a book that had great potential, but I’m only moderately pleased with it.

Simon has a nice essay, “Diamonds and Rust,” that opens the book. It includes a brief overview of the pulp magazines (for those who aren’t familiar with them).

Since a number of the pulp publishers also went on to publish comic books, it’s not surprising that some pulp illustrators soon found themselves working in comic books.

It’s fun to flip through the book, admiring the varied styles of illustrations that artists created for the pulps. Since pulp stories typically had only one or two illustrations accompanying them, action figures prominently in many of the examples.

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Tarzan revisited

Posted by at 11:00 am Friday, May 24, 2013 in Opinion, Pulps, Review

I have a confession to make: I only recently read “Tarzan of the Apes.”

All-Story (October 1912)Believe me, I tried to read it several times — back in high school in the ’70s, again sometime in the ’80s, and another time still — but I could never get past the first chapter or two.

I finally decided I needed to read one of the most famous pulp characters. So I revisited Tarzan. And I’m glad I did. I enjoyed the first book so much that I quickly picked up the next three novels in the series.

I flew through each of the first three adventures — “Tarzan of the Apes,” “The Return of Tarzan” and “The Beasts of Tarzan” — in just a couple of days each. But the fourth, “The Son of Tarzan,” proved to be a completely different beast.

Putting aside the fact that the whole idea of Tarzan stretches plausibility — hey, that’s what makes many pulp stories entertaining and why we read them, isn’t it? — the fourth novel pulls and twists plausibility past the breaking point, and brings all of Edgar Rice Burroughs‘ storytelling flaws into sharp focus.

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Before the ‘Planet of the Apes’

Posted by at 9:30 am Thursday, May 9, 2013 in Opinion, Review

Humans discover that Earth in the future is populated by civilized apes. Sounds like “Planet of the Apes,” doesn’t it?

"Super Science Novels" (March 1941)Well, turn back the clock back 22 years — and then ahead several million — and you have “Genus Homo,” a pretty solid SF novel by L. Sprague de Camp and P. Schuyler Miller.

It was originally published in the March 1941 number of Super Science Novels (the temporarily renamed Super Science Stories), a typically lackluster SF pulp edited by Frederik Pohl that, while it did occasionally run a good story, is most notable for publishing the early works of a number of now well-known writers.

Pierre Boulle‘s 1963 novel, “Planet of the Apes,” is primarily about a human mission to a planet orbiting Betelgeuse that turns out to be inhabited by intelligent apes (with a twist at the very end); whereas the 1968 and 2001 movies take place on Earth, but in the future.

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