By John King Tarpinian: The 34th Annual Vintage Paperback Show was this past weekend, the largest of its kind. There were 84 tables of stuff, from vintage paperbacks, pulps, old girlie magazines and assorted stuff of that ilk. This show is unique in that all the authors that attend will sign pretty much anything put in front of them…without charging for the honor. A number of them will bring long out of print items of their own from out of storage, not so much to make money but to clean out the attic…to the delight of fans.
It is not uncommon for the collectors’ line to have 50 people standing in line multiple times to get their entire hoard signed. In order for everybody to get something signed we often limit the number of books per turn in line. Many authors are kind enough to spend hours and hours making sure everybody goes home happy. Carrying bags and bags of books may be the only exercise us readers ever get.
The authors at this year’s show were Peter Atkins, Peter Beagle, James Blaylock, Louis Charbonneau, John DeChancie, L.J. Dopp, Dennis Etchison, Laura Freas, Bill George, David Gerrold, Gary Gianni, Mel Gilden, James C. Glass, Tony Gleeson, Donald Glut, Cody Goodfellow, Scott Tracy Griffin, Barbara Hambly, Denise Hamilton, Earl Hamner, Odie Hawkins, Glen Hirshberg, George Clayton Johnson, Bruce Kimmel, Tim Kirk, Michael Kurland, Terrill Lankford, Rick Lenz, Richard Lupoff, Ib Melchior, Lisa Morton, Larry Niven, William F. Nolan, Charles Nuetzel, Gary Phillips, Felice Picano, Jerry Pournelle, Tim Powers, Robert Reginald, John Skipp, Harry Turtledove, Len Wein, and Stephen Woodworth.
I have the honor of being the Author Wrangler during the show so I get to greet the authors and have a few very nice conversations with them. Because fortune fell my way many years ago and I was befriended by Ray Bradbury many of the authors treat me more than in a casual fanboy manner.
Getting together with William F. Nolan & George Clayton Johnson is always fun. Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle make for a learning experience hearing them talk about the old days when Robert Heinlein would edit/review their works. A couple decades ago I ran Atari-only computer shows locally, Jerry Pournelle used to attend and write reviews for his Chaos Manor column in Byte Magazine.
Harry Turtledove is so casual about his works and very accommodating with his fans. Tim Powers and James Blaylock were paired off together this year. John Skip and Cody Goodfellow are very popular with the Steampunk crowd. The likes of Don Glut, Lisa Morton (the queen of Halloween), Robert Reginald, Peter Atkins (such a lovely fellow to write such scary stuff), John DeChancie, Dennis Etchison (master of psychological horror) and so many more authors kind enough to attend for their fans.
Two first-time guest authors doing signings this year were Gary Gianni and Len Wein. Graphic Novel fans were delighted. Think Prince Valiant with steel claws as a pairing. Len was a relatively late addition; one of the comic book oriented dealers was caught by surprise and wish he’d have brought more of Len’s work. Gary worked on the last book of Ray Bradbury’s published before his passing, The Nefertiti-Tut Express. Most readers here should know that Len is the creator of Swamp Thing and helped re-launch/revive/save X-Men not to mention the creator of Wolverine.
The show has been at the same venue for a quarter of a century. Unlike the rest of us it is beginning to show its age so most likely the show will be moving to another location next year. Now I am back to soaking my feet in Epson salts.