Pulpcon Torn Apart

Once I read Mike Chomko’s September e-mail defending his conduct on the Pulpcon committee, I wasn’t surprised that a lawyer got involved in the controversy about who has the right to call their con “Pulpcon.”

Chomko, Jack Cullers, and Barry Traylor, three of the seven members on the Pulpcon committee, had been pushing for changes in the way that Pulpcon is run, such as holding it elsewhere than Dayton, OH. In fact, Chomko went off on his own and contacted three other Ohio cities about hosting the convention. But the four other committee members – including chair Robert Gorton — responded by voting to renew the contract with Dayton.

In the democratic spirit that characterizes America of the present day, Chomko soon demanded that Gorton and another committee member resign:

Jack Cullers, Barry Traylor, and I have decided that if we want to move the convention forward, it is impossible to continue to work with Bob Gorton and Don Ramlow. They seem to feel that shortening the convention to three days will be enough to turn things around. They seem to think that by creating a few generic flyers that seem to be addressed to people who already know about Pulpcon, the convention’s troubles will be over. They seem to think that they need to devote very little time and energy to turn Pulpcon around. They seem to think that communication is unnecessary.

The trio decided to move on, and take the Pulpcon name with them. Jack Cullers had researched the service mark originally registered by Rusty Hevelin and discovered it had lapsed in 1989. Cullers applied to have it re-registered in his name.

As a result of the schism, two Pulpcons were announced for next year, Pulpcon 38 in Dayton on Aug 14-16 and Pulpcon 2009 in Columbus on July 31-Aug 2.

However, on November 3 Jack Cullers received letter from Robert W. Jones, an attorney retained by Robert Gorton. The letter asked Jack to voluntarily withdraw his application to register the service mark “Pulpcon” and to discontinue using the mark on the Pulpcon 2009 website. As Chomko explained in an e-mail he sent to a list this week, Gorton’s attorney says that although Rusty Hevelin’s initial registration of the “Pulpcon” service mark lapsed in 1989, Gorton has been named Hevelin’s successor in interest to Pulpcon and has been handling the con’s business matters since 2002, and “any use that Jack or others on the Pulpcon committee made of the service mark was only with the express or implied authority of Mr. Gorton.”

So Chomko and company say they will be changing the name of their pulp convention in Columbus to PulpFest 2009. Their website is also accessible by visiting www.pulpfest.com.

Update 11/07/2008: Thanks to Dave Langford for sending word that the new Pulpfest domain has been activated.

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4 thoughts on “Pulpcon Torn Apart

  1. So, now we have two conventions serving the same fandom in the same state just a few weeks apart, where previously there was one struggling con. Now i remember how much i hate fannish politics.

  2. JeffConn wrote: “…now we have two conventions serving the same fandom in the same state just a few weeks apart, where previously there was one struggling con.”

    At this point, your observation is correct. However, PulpFest 2009 has been working hard to promote the Columbus convention and will continue to do so throughout 2009. In fact, at this early juncture, the PulpFest 2009 committee estimates that between 1/2 and 2/3 of the dealer tables have already been spoken for. It is our hope that PulpFest will be a resounding success. I’m not sure you’ll be able to say that about the Dayton Pulpcon, a show that, historically, has not been promoted.

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