Pulp Renaissance

The 2013 Windy City Pulp and Paper Convention runs April 12-14 in Lombard, IL. Organizers Doug Ellis and John Gunnison predict it will be the largest yet. They’ve sold out all 150 tables in the dealers room. Over 200 lots of material from the collection of Jerry Weist will be on the block at the con’s Friday night auction. And Sunday’s program will emphasize pulp’s promising future.

Wait, pulp has a future? Yes, and a present too.

Decades ago Ed Cox astonished me by opening copies of early pulps in his collection that still had ivory-white pages like they were fresh off the newsstand. Thereafter I associated “pulp” with the effort to collect and preserve these venerable relics of science fiction history, but nothing more.

I’ve discovered I was too pessimistic.  Pulp writing and publishing never really went away. If no longer conducted on the scale of Ziff-Davis with 200,000-copy runs, pulp does occupy its own niche in the market. That’s something to ponder, amid speculation about the survival of a market for physical books. (Though it must not be overlooked that some “pulps” appear in digital editions).

Tommy Hancock explains pulp’s continued heartbeat on the New Pulp site:

New Pulp is fiction written with the same sensibilities, linear storytelling, pattern of conflict, and creative use of words and phrases of original Pulp, but crafted by modern writers, artists, and publishers.  New stories with either completely original characters or new tales of established characters from Pulp past.   It’s really that simple.  New Pulp is Pulp written today.

So much New Pulp is now available, including work from noted pulp historians such as Will Murray and Tom Johnson as well as the entire Wold Newton family of creators and beyond.   Add to that the literal multitude of mavericks and new guns that have stepped forward, myself thankfully included, and New Pulp is suddenly more than just a group of guys and gals telling stories like the ones we grew up on.  It’s its own movement, its own subgenre, within Pulp as a whole. 

The New Pulp Movement will be celebrated by Windy City Pulp & Paper Convention in five-hour program block. Ron Fortier, Managing Editor of Airship 27 Productions and Tommy Hancock, Managing Editor of Pro Se Productions have arranged three panels and eight authors’ readings. They’ll be joined by Chris Bell, Rob Davis, Joe Bonnadonna, David C. Smith, Wayne Reinagel, William Patrick Maynard, David White and Terrence McCauley.

The con will also hosts the Pulp Factory Awards, given to the best in new pulp fiction and artwork.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter for the story.]


Pulp Factory Awards


Rusty Hevelin’s House Burglarized

The late Rusty Hevelin’s house was broken into and trashed reports Jack Cullers on a fannish e-mail listserv.

Cullers checks on the place from time to time for Rusty’s son, Bruce. Based on a tip from a neighbor he found a door had been jimmied open, the interior had been torn apart and water left running in the basement. When told the news by Cullers, Bruce inquired about damage to the pulps in the basement, and Cullers told him they were gone.

It is not clear what pulps were in the basement. However, Kathryn Hodson, Special Collections Department Manager, University of Iowa Libraries, confirm that the Hevelin collection has already been delivered to the University of Iowa as announced in its its April press release.

Update 06/25/2012: Added information received from UI. // Gregory J. Prickman of the University of Iowa Libraries adds:

Rusty’s collection is indeed safe at the University of Iowa–we worked diligently to bring it here because we knew it wouldn’t be safe for long in his house. There were some pulps left in the basement, they were duplicates that Rusty had set aside. We took a certain percentage to have some teaching copies of a few things and the rest were intended for one of Rusty’s dealer friends. I’m sorry to hear that he may not have picked them up, but Rusty’s collection, at least, is safe.

Hevelin Collection Goes to Iowa

James L. “Rusty” Hevelin’s collection of pulps, fanzines and sf books is going to the University of Iowa Libraries.

“The Hevelin collection presents a rare opportunity to study the development of this genre, as seen in many of its most important formats, through the lens of a single collector,” says Greg Prickman, Head of Special Collections & University Archives. “Fans like Rusty weren’t just fanzine writers, or pulp collectors, or science fiction readers, they were all of these things, and Rusty’s collection shows how these materials interact with one another.”

Covering nearly a century of genre history, these materials will enrich the University’s impressive array of Fandom Resources which includes Horvat Collection of Science Fiction Fanzines, the Ming Wathne Fanzine Archive Collection (mostly media fanzines), and materials from the Fan Culture Preservation Project, a partnership with the Organization for Transformative Works.

The full press release follows the jump.

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Robinson Auction Sales Released

The first of twelve lots from the collection of Frank Robinson was auctioned last week by Adventure House and the results have been posted. I copied the web pages into a spreadsheet and the sales displayed online added up to $577,606.50.

A complete run of Weird Tales, labeled the “crown jewel of Frank Robinson’s collection,” 366 pieces, fetched $250,000.

Other sales in the upper limits of the stratosphere were:

Doc Savage, complete set –$50,000
The Blue Book Magazine, a nearly complete run, 593 pieces –$48,000
Adventure, complete set, 753 pieces –$40,000
Amazing Stories, a nearly complete run through 1998, 594 pieces — $40,000
Astounding, a full run (pulp, large size, and digest) –$30,000
Planet Stories, complete set, 71 pieces — $14,000
The Mysterious Wu Fang, complete set, 7 pieces — $9,400
Wonder Stories, 68 issues — $8,000
Thrilling Wonder Stories, complete run, 111 pieces — $6,650
Startling Stories, complete run, 99 issues –$4,750
Fantastic Adventures, complete run, 129 pieces — $3,500
Air Wonder Stories, 11 issues — $3,000

While a lot of the sales have eye-catching totals they didn’t always amount to much per-issue. After the run of Wu Fang, among the most valuable individual items were the 2 issues of Miracle Science and Fantasy Stories (a complete run), commanding a price together of $2,200.

Because I used to collect bedsheet Astoundings I was interested that a set of 25 brought $300. I suspect that with inflation factored in it’s really no more than I was buying them for in the Seventies.

Likewise charter subscribers to Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine will be disappointed that a nearly complete run through 1999, 229 issues, sold for a grand total of $1,000. If you were holding these for investment, now would be a good time to clear that space on your bookshelves.

While only an experienced pulp collector would be able to spot the genuine missed values, as a layman I was surprised by some results among the British prozines. The first 21 issues of New Worlds went for just $400. Several other lots of New Worlds received no bid at all. The 54 issues from the Sixties sold for only $425. Going unsold were 39 copies of Nebula Science Fiction, a British prozine of the Fifties, noted as the first to publish Robert Silverberg and Brian Aldiss, and also ran a book review column by Ken Slater. So I must be naïve to expect historicity to translate to higher prices.

First Robinson Pulp Auction

The first lot to go under the hammer in the auction of Frank M. Robinson’s pulp collection fetched $250,000 reports John King Tarpinian. (Eventually the official take will be posted here.)

Tarpinian also heard Robinson was offered $100,000 for the lot before the auction started.

The second of 12 lots is scheduled to be auctioned on March 9.

Update 03/01/2012: Participants in the auction dispute the figure reported here, saying it was actually much higher. Well, if there had to be a mistake I’m glad the correction means Frank Robinson realized even more from the first lot auctioned from his collection. I will be watching for the results to be posted as promised by the official web page.

Bill Trojan Passes Away

I was astonished and saddened to read SF Site’s announcement that Bill Trojan died Monday, August 21 in his hotel room at Renovation. 

Just a couple of days earlier Bill had been at the Worldcon business meeting supporting Rich Lynch’s zine Hugo amendments — after he first told us his own strong personal preference was to trim the Hugos and leave only the traditional fanzine category, with none for semiprozines or fancasts. I’d admired his undaunted frankness, for he knew most present felt differently.

Update 08/23/2011: Removed references to Adventure House in response to corrections provided in comments.

Ecstasy and Agony

An article in Antique Week begins ominously:

There is nothing like the smell, the look, the feel of pulp magazines from the early part of the 20th century. Although that wonderful smell is actually a bad thing since it means the acid in the paper is gradually destroying them.

The well-written piece about these old magazines is accessible through the main page here — click on the article, and click again to bypass a subscription offer and reach the full (free)story.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter for the story.]

2009 Pulp Fan Conventions

As reported here last year, a schism in the Pulpcon board led to rival pulp magazine conventions being scheduled for August, both in Ohio — Pulpfest 2009 in Columbus, July 31-August 2, and Pulpcon 38 in Dayton, August 14-16.

Rusty Hevelin and PulpCon’s other top officers remain with the original con, while Mike Chomko and two other former directors have launched Pulpfest.

The two events are already competing for the core interest group, so it can’t help that their dates also bracket the Worldcon in Montreal, August 6-10. Will scheduling cost them a critical number of potential members? Hard to say. Last year’s Pulpcon ran successfully the weekend before Denvention – and really, since the date of the Worldcon has been advancing progressively earlier in the summer, it must be impossible to avoid that conflict without bumping up against the dates of MidWestCon, Dragon*Con or other events that a Midwestern specialty con cannot afford to overlap.

A lot of pulp collectors I know are from the generation that depends on paper more than it does electronic communication. However, fans who care about the quality of internet-based communication will find their decision practically made for them. The Pulpcon 38 site is static and its Registration and Information links are dormant. Pulpfest 2009 has a full-blown convention information website with incredible graphics.