Apr 152014
 

All Story 1905-01Shortly after The Argosy had been converted to the first all-fiction magazine in 1896, and not long thereafter the first pulp magazine, its circulation had doubled to about 80,000 copies per issue. By 1907, the year the periodical celebrated its 25th anniversary, its circulation had reached a half million copies, earning its publisher about $300,000 per year.

From its beginning, The Argosy made a home for fantastic fiction, reprinting “Citizen 504,” a dystopian short story written by Charles H. Palmer, in the December 1896 issue. Other reprints, from a variety of sources would follow. As the century turned, original fiction of a fantastic nature began to appear in The Argosy, including works by Jared L. Fuller, Park Winthrop, and longtime dime novelist William Wallace Cook. Edgar Franklin Stearns also began to contribute his humorous fantasies concerning off-beat contraptions to the magazine.

As its readership grew, The Argosy was bound to attract some imitators. Street & Smith, the longtime publisher of dime novels and story papers, was first to meet the call, debuting The Popular Magazine with its November 1903 issue. As the circulation of the new magazine grew, it became apparent to Frank Munsey that there was room on the newsstand for more than one pulp. At the end of 1904, the publisher debuted The All-Story Magazine.

allstory_tarzanMore than any other periodical prior to the introduction of the specialized science-fiction and fantasy pulps, The All-Story became the major repository for the “different” tale or the pseudo-scientific yarn. It was soon joined by other Munsey magazines–The Scrap Book and The Railroad Man’s Magazine (both 1906), The Ocean/The Live Wire (1907), and The Cavalier (1908). All of these, The Cavalier in particular, published fantastic fiction. However, it was all but a prelude to the serial novel that would begin in the February 1912 issue of The All-Story– “Under the Moons of Mars”–credited to Norman Bean.

Bean’s novel—the first published fiction of Edgar Rice Burroughs—would introduce John Carter of Mars to readers. It would soon be followed by the author’s “Tarzan of the Apes,” published in its entirety in the October 1912 issue of The All-Story. These two novels, along with the pseudo-scientific works of H. G. Wells and his American disciple, George Allan England, would serve as templates for much of the science fiction written over the next twenty-five years, generating a type of fiction best known as “the scientific romance.” The Munsey chain in particular worked to develop this school of fiction, creating a stable of writers–Ray Cummings, J. U. Geisy, Victor Rousseau, Francis Stevens, Charles B. Stilson, and the best of all, Abraham Merritt–able to contribute such stories.

Adventure 1910-11Although the fiction of Burroughs and Wells and those “inspired” by their work would remain popular for some time to come, its share of the pulp market would diminish as new magazines began to arrive on the scene. Beginning with Adventure Magazine, introduced by the Ridgway Company in 1910, these specialized pulps lessened the attraction of the general fiction magazines for those who enjoyed a certain type of story–mystery, romance, western, or straight adventure. In not too many years, the fantasy and science-fiction fan would likewise be served.

To learn more about the images used in this post, click on the illustrations. Click here for references consulted for this article.

Jul 102013
 
My birthday was earlier this week, and I was fortunate to receive a little cash as gifts from various family members. As I usually do around my birthday & Christmas time, I decided to pick up a few graphic novels. This year, my focus was almost entirely on the interplanetary adventure genre.

I ordered two John Carter Of Mars comics collections from Dark Horse Comics. The first of these, Weird Worlds, collects all of the Carter stories published by DC Comics in the early 1970s, while the other volume presents nearly the entire run of Marvel Comics' series from the latter half of that decade. The Marvel John Carter, Warlord Of Mars book was one of my favorite comic book series of all time (along with their Star Wars series of the same vintage), and I've long wanted a square-bound collection of those Barsoomian chronicles for my bookshelf.

The other two trade paperbacks I sprung for were from Dynamite Comics, a company that I've had mixed feelings about in the past. Exploiting the public domain status of Burroughs' early novels, they've been publishing their own Carter comics for the past few years. I've never read any of their Mars books, but I took a chance on Warriors Of Mars because I was intrigued by the premise. In this book they've dusted off Edwin Arnold's Gullivar Jones (protagonist of Lieut. Gullivar Jones: His Vacation, a Martian adventure novel published more than a decade before Edgar Rice Burroughs' A Princess Of Mars), and introduced him to John Carter's milieu. Scholars have long noted the similarites between Arnold's novel and Burroughs' subsequent Martian tales, so I'm intrigued by the idea of seeing the two works/characters combined.

I also picked up the collection of their Flash Gordon: Zeitgeist miniseries, because I've read that the Alex Ross-plotted tale incorporates a lot of story elements from the 1980 Flash Gordon movie and the 1979 Filmation animated television feature. I happen to like both of those versions, and I know that Ross is a huge Flash fan, so I'm curious to see how that series turned out.

With luck, most of these books will be here by the weekend! 
May 022013
 
I received the new Bomba The Jungle Boy manufactured-on-demand DVD collection from Warner Archives yesterday. I've watched the first four of the six films in the set, and while I'll be posting a real review over on my DVD Late Show site early next week, I wanted to mention here how much I'm enjoying these Monogram B-movies.

While clearly shot on a shoestring budget, and a bit too leisurely-paced for their brief running times, I think these compare rather favorably to the Tarzan films that Sol Lesser was producing at the same time; they're clearly cheaper, but not much cheaper than the Lex Barker Tarzan entries. Johnny Sheffield, while still decidedly boy-ish of face, has a remarkably impressive adult physique worthy of a jungle man, and appears to be doing a surprising number of his own stunts.

In these first four films - Bomba The Jungle Boy, Bomba On Panther Island, Lost Volcano, and The Hidden City - there's a reasonable variety to the storylines, even if they do manage to include almost every convention (or cliché) of the jungle adventure film - and we wouldn't want it any other way. (Haven't seen anyone trapped in quicksand yet, though.)

I'm definitely looking forward to spinning the last couple films in Volume One, and hope that Volume Two will be coming soon.
Apr 242013
 
Robert Moore Williams' dinosaur-riding jungle man, Jongor of Lost Land, battles a centaur on this Fantastic Adventures cover. The cover art illustrates a scene from The Return of Jongor, the middle installment of Williams' pulp trilogy. I've got these adventures in paperback (with Frazetta covers), but it was cool to stumble upon this scan during one of my recent Google safaris...
Apr 232013
 
This week, Warner Archive released the first volume of Bomba, The Jungle Boy films on DVD. The films, based on a children's book series published in the 1920s, were produced by the Poverty Row studio Monogram Pictures starting in 1949 as a vehicle for youthful actor Johnny Sheffield, who had just completed his tenure as "Boy" in the Tarzan films produced by MGM and RKO. As Bomba, Sheffield was able to remain in the jungle spotlight for a few more years (until 1955!), in much the same manner as his on-screen father figure, Johnny Weismuller, who moved on to make a series of low-budget Jungle Jim B-movies for Columbia, post-Tarzan.

I've never seen any of the Bomba films, but I love old Hollywood backlot jungle adventures, and look forward to checking these out. This first volume contains six features: Bomba The Jungle Boy, Bomba on Panther Island, The Lost Volcano, The Hidden City, The Lion Hunters, and Elephant Stampede. With luck, I'll be reviewing these for my DVD Late Show site.
Aug 062012
 

PulpFest 2012 will begin on Thursday evening, August 9th, with a salute to the 100th anniversary of Tarzan. Edgar Rice Burroughs’ world-renowned character was introduced to the public in the novel “Tarzan of the Apes,” published in its entirety in the October 1912 issue of Munsey’s The All-Story. Friday will bring a celebration of the 100th anniversary of Burroughs’ first novel, “Under the Moons of Mars,” the tale that introduced John Carter to lovers of adventure and interplanetary fiction. On Saturday, PulpFest turns to Robert E. Howard’s Conan of Cimmeria, who turns eighty in December.

Early indications are that we will surpass last year’s show both in our number of registrations and rooms booked at the hotel. So this year’s con will be our biggest and best yet. We are still receiving registrations every day, many from people who have never attended PulpFest before. If you’ve been thinking about attending, but still haven’t pulled the trigger, you probably should call the hotel and make your reservation immediately. You can do so by calling 1-888-421-1442 or 1-614-463-1234 or by clicking our link to the Hyatt Regency Columbus on our home page under “Book a Room.” Please be sure to mention PulpFest when placing your reservation.

The Hyatt Regency is located at 350 North High Street in downtown Columbus, Ohio. The hotel is south of I-670, just 15-20 minutes from Columbus International Airport. In the heart of the active Arena District, the Hyatt Regency is just a few minutes’ walk from the trendy Short North Arts District. There are shops and restaurants galore right outside the hotel’s entrance.

From 4 PM to 11 PM on Thursday, the dealers’ room will be open for exhibitors to set up their displays. During set-up, dealers are asked to arrange their displays and, upon completion, cover them up and then depart the room. No buying, selling, or trading will be permitted during Thursday’s set-up. Dealers should please refrain from all such activity.

At this point, we urge all of our dealers to take full advantage of our generous load-in and set-up period. After all, this is our first year in a new location, and while uploading and transporting your goods should be much easier–there’s a side entrance to the hotel for loading and we have been granted exclusive use of a freight elevator–there is bound to be a certain amount of disorientation as folks negotiate their way around the Hyatt for the first time. We feel very strongly that attendees have every right to expect a fully-set-up hucksters room as soon as the convention opens on Friday, which is why PulpFest has always offered a lengthy load-in period on Thursday from 4  – 11 PM. We welcome your cooperation in this aspect of the show.

Early registration for the general membership will also take place on Thursday, beginning at 6 PM at a location to be determined. All members, dealers included, can pick up their registration packets at this time. For those of you who have not yet registered for PulpFest, Thursday evening will be an ideal time to do so. Three-day memberships will be available for $35. Single day memberships costing $15 per day will also be available. Please visit our Registration page for further details.

The dealers’ room will open to all members on Friday, August 10th at 9 AM and remain open until 5 PM. It will be open from 9 AM to 5 PM on Saturday and from 9 AM to 2 PM on Sunday. Dealers will be allowed to enter the room approximately 15 minutes prior to opening in order to prepare their displays.

There will be programming on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings and several presentations during the Friday and Saturday afternoon. Please visit our Programming page for further details.

All PulpFest attendees will be able to submit material for inclusion in the Saturday Night Auction. For additional information, please visit our Auctions page under “Programming” or contact Barry Traylor via email at barry@pulpfest.com. However, due to the substantial amount of material submitted by Al Tonik, we will have to place limits on the number of lots offered by each consignee. The sooner you submit your consignment, the more likely that it will be including in our auction.

For those attendees who would like to ship their purchases to their homes, PulpFest 2012 has arranged for a local UPS provider to be available at the hotel on Sunday, August 12th, starting at 12:00 PM. Further information is available on our FAQ  page.

The entire PulpFest 2012 organizing committee–Mike Chomko, Jack Cullers, Ed Hulse, and Barry Traylor–is looking forward to seeing you all in just a few days. Have a safe trip to Columbus.

 Posted by at 10:00 pm
Jul 192012
 

In October of 1912, not long after introducing John Carter of Mars, Edgar Rice Burroughs created Tarzan of the Apes,  the original twentieth century superhero. The singular creation of a then-fledgling author, Tarzan was a savage yet principled character that went on to strike a chord in generations of readers of every age, race, and nationality. He wasn’t an alien from another world, nor did he acquire any special powers or magic in his relentless fight to protect the African jungle and its inhabitants. But he was indeed a superhero.

Almost immediately after his introduction, Tarzan became a cultural phenomenon, spawning a trademark that spread throughout multiple media and business outlets: on film by 1918, as a comic by 1929, on radio by 1932, and as the century progressed, in television, gaming, merchandising, animation, the Internet, and soon after the century turned, a Broadway musical. Burroughs’ character somehow possesses a strange plasticity that allows him to be put into countless, even contradictory, kinds of stories. In short, way back in 1912 when he first came into the public eye through The All-Story, Tarzan became the first of a generation of multimedia superstars. One hundred years later, the name “Tarzan” still conjures instant recognition for millions of people across the globe.

On Thursday, August 9th, please join PulpFest in welcoming Henry G. Franke, III, editor of The Burroughs Bulletin and treasurer of The Burroughs Bibliophiles as he presents Tarzan: Hero for the Ages, a look at the multimedia character created by the wonderfully imaginative Edgar Rice Burroughs.

Many thanks to Bill Hillman, the editor and webmaster for the official Edgar Rice Burroughs websites and webzines ERBzine, Tarzan.com, and Tarzan.org  for his help with this post.
 

 Posted by at 11:00 pm
Jul 192012
 

In 1934, after years of unsatisfactory dealings with Hollywood studios, Edgar Rice Burroughs entered into partnership with an old friend to produce motion pictures adapted from his novels and characters. Late that year, the ill-fated Burroughs-Tarzan Enterprises sent an expedition to Guatemala to film a 12-chapter serial titled The New Adventures of Tarzan. This complicated undertaking proved to be a bigger adventure than anything the serial’s scriptwriters had concocted. At various points during the production, cast and crew ran out of food, water, and money. Severe weather, logistical problems, and countless illnesses beset the entire unit.

Former Olympic athlete Herman Brix, making his starring debut as Tarzan, gave an exclusive interview to Blood ‘n’ Thunder editor Ed Hulse in 2002. The actor’s insights, combined with Ed’s own research, laid several myths to bed while adding important details to the extraordinarily rich history of ERB’s involvement with The New Adventures of Tarzan.

On Thursday, August 9th, at 11 PM, Ed will offer his insights into the history of ERB’s involvement with the 1934 film serial. Following the presentation, PulpFest will run the 72-minute cutdown of the chapter play, released simultaneously under the same title, The New Adventures of Tarzan, for theaters that did not book serials. A question and answer session will end the night.

 Posted by at 2:03 am
Jul 162012
 
The best thing about my birthday this Summer was that between the generosity of my wife and my mother-in-law (hey, Cathy!), I was able to finally get all of the Lex Barker and Gordon Scott Tarzan films for my collection. Since these particular titles were issued by Warner Archive as manufactured-on-demand product, the prices were somewhat steeper than your average DVD. There also weren't many options out there for buying them used (one way I manage to keep building my video library is by buying things second-hand and as cheap as possible, when possible). This meant that I hadn't been able to pick them up before. But now I have them!

Unlike the Barker films, most of which were new to me whole or in part, I'm more familiar with most of the Scott Ape Man movies. I taped many of them off of AMC back in the 90s, when that was still a "classic movie" channel. My favorites are the last two films that Scott starred in (and the first two produced by Sy Weintraub), 1959's Tarzan's Greatest Adventure (with Anthony Quayle & Sean Connery among the villains) and 1960's Tarzan The Magnificent (with Jock Mahoney and John Carradine as the bad guys). Unlike most of the Tarzan movies up to that point (specifically excluding MGM's first two films with Weismuller in the role), these last two Gordon Scott vehicles were written for adults and were shot, in large part, on location in Africa. Scott plays the Lord Of The Jungle role with intelligence and a no-nonsense, moral conviction/ badass attitude that works astoundingly well, and Cheetah is all but absent from both of these installments, so there's none of the usual pandering chimpanzee antics.

They're terrific, grown-up adventure films, and I'm grateful to have widescreen copies in my DVD collection at last. My only disappointment is that the bean counters at Warners didn't authorize digital restorations of the movies; they all looked pretty beat-up. I wish these short-sighted, short-term profit-motivated corporations realized the inherent artistic and historical value of these films (and genre movies, in general) and invested in prolonging the existence of these pop culture artifacts. The restorations would pay for themselves over time.

Anyway, I'm pretty much where I want to be now, as far as my Tarzan DVD collection goes. I still have a few titles to get (the last two Mike Henry films and a couple of the early silents, for example), but I'll pick them up eventually....

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