Breathlessly I jumped in the roadster knowing that time was running out if I was going to make it to the rendezvous that would change my life. Sailing past the mean streets of the City with its hustlers and dreamers I made it–well–just in the Nick of time.
Okay, that’s not exactly what happened. I took the trusty green hornet subaru and drove down on a gorgeous fall day to the Pulp Convention in Bordentown, New Jersey. It was thrilling, full of action and adventure and top-notch and I found a room full of some of the best names in pulp. Everyone was schmoozing, going through boxes and bins of everything from Adventure to Western Romance. I jumped right in amidst the throng with my list in my hand searching for that elusive Argosy to complete the serial. I will find it, I will. Kneeling on the floor with other aficionados going through various bargain boxes I said “how do you dos” with the usual nice crowd. I quickly realized what an amateur I am when I saw guys with far more organized lists than mine in some kind of mysterious color code and a couple of guys with I-Pads who strolled up to dealers’ tables and tapped the screen bringing covers in all their vivid forms floating to the surface. Now that is some serious hi-tech collecting.
Rich Harvey, Bold Venture Press © BMA Studios.
Rich Harvey from Bold Venture Press had promised me that this would be an intimate atmosphere but with the best of the best and he was right on all counts—great pulp selections and great people who really know their pulps. Rich confessed to me that he thought I was a guy. I always forget that with a name like Nicky that you could be either gender and since I hang out in comics and pulps not to mention military history, which are all pretty much a guy thing, there is that automatic assumption. It’s funny when people have corresponded with me and then meet me in person and have a startled expression. At first I thought it was my southern accent. Guess not. Rich did a terrific job organizing this event and very kindly made sure that I met everyone. Here is a link to Rich’s site with all kinds of wonderful books on the pulps. I love his sense of graphic style.
Rich told me that I had to meet Ed Hulse who publishes a magazine called Blood ‘n’ Thunder. Ed was bemused at my excitement but kindly indulgent. I was happy to see his book about collecting pulps—The Blood N Thunder Guide to Collecting Pulps right in front of me. I have been looking at this book online and thinking I should obtain a copy so I did immediately. Let the shopping begin! This is one of the great things about being a girl who loves the pulps. You can shop with complete exhilaration and the guys don’t mind your excitement. I’m so happy to have met Ed who is very knowledgeable and I will be pestering him in the future. Here is the link to his beautiful magazine on the pulps. The covers are nice and slick and the illustrations are as attractive as they should be. Having met Ed you can bet there is great content as well and I’m looking forward to catching up on these. I’ve started reading the B nT Guide to Collecting Pulps and I’m already wiser for it. Ed gives basic information about the genre, some of the important people in the pulps and even how to care for and manage your collection. This is an aspect that particularly appeals to me. The book is written in a fun style and adheres to the “real pulp” definition of His Nibs John Gunnison.
I had a great time talking to David Saunders. David is well, just lovely. He’s funny and smart and knows his pulps and his comics as well. His father, Norman Saunders for those of you who don’t know was one of the great illustrators of the pulps. David has created a wonderful tribute to his father’s art and passion and you can find out more about Norman Saunders and his art here.
David who is an artist himself also publishes books on pulps and illustrators and his latest is on H.J. Ward. Ward is another of the amazing artists of pulps who influenced our visual understanding of some of the great heroes of popular culture like The Green Hornet, The Lone Ranger and our old friend Superman. David told me some fascinating stories about Ward’s experiences working for Harry Donenfeld and confirmed my own understanding of what that was like. Here is a link to this beautiful book.
David also had a copy of the new book by Paul Levitz on the 75 years of DC. If any of you have anything to do with Psychology then you probably know about C. G. Jung’s famous The Red Book, which the Jung family finally permitted to be published recently. It is huge, no I mean really huge and more like a library table book than a coffee table book. Imagine my surprise upon seeing that 75 Years of DC Comics is approximately the same size as The Red Book. I had only seen it in image form online, not in real life and oh my goodness. Do not attempt to buy this book alone. You will need assistance unless you’re a strong guy like Paul Levitz in this photo here. David and I discovered we had all sorts of things to chat about with one another so I’m looking forward to continuing our conversation. Buy David’s beautiful books. I mean it.
I also had a nice time speaking with Richard Hall whose specialty is James Hendryx. When he first started talking to me I had one of those crazy brain waves—where am I, who am I kind of thing and I couldn’t quite understand why he was collecting Jimmy Hendrix’s writing. I had a hard time envisioning Jimmy Hendrix with his guitar and head band sitting at a desk writing stories for the pulps, no less! Oh please, you’ve never had a moment like that? It took a minute or two and then thankfully from somewhere in the hard drive of my brain a vision of a pulp cover with James Hendryx on it floated to the surface and I got back into the right time and space. So Richard, if you’re wondering why I had such an odd expression on my face, now you know.
It was great fun speaking to Eric Renderking Fisk of The Fedora Chronicles. Eric had the requisite fedora and he was bowlered over when I told him that the Major always wore one in the colder seasons. I promised Eric I would show him this wonderful photo of MWN taken by Swedish cousin Finn Andreen in Sweden circa 1948-49. Sean Welch and Mac Carter liked it so much they used it in the DC documentary that just came out. (It’s a family photo and in copyright so please ask before using. Thanks.) It certainly belies the French Boulevardier’s cape and hat story, doesn’t it? No offense to Gerard Jones who now knows better.
The Fedora Chronicles are wonderfully quirky with lots of great stories and radio shows. Eric interviewed me and I thoroughly enjoyed talking to him. He doesn’t ask the usual pat questions but really makes you think about what you’re talking about. Here is their site so you can find out all about the mysterious Fedora.
Of course, the exquisite man of the hour was Jim Steranko. Just the other day Danny Fingeroth posted some of his comic book work on Facebook and all the smart guys chimed in with astute comments on his style and his influence on all that came after. His work is so clean and clear and grabs you immediately. I think I’m at least at the point where I can recognize his style. Danny, don’t test me—yet. If you want to know more you can start here. I was thrilled to chat with Mr. Steranko. He is probably one of a handful of people who really knows the Major’s work thoroughly and admires it. For that alone I am completely smitten with him. But when you add Signore Steranko’s incredible career, his talent not just in comics but other genres and his dapper charming self well what more do you want? I warned him I was going to gush. See that’s the other good thing about being a girl in the midst of all this.
I fell in love with my grandfather’s pulp fiction when I searched it out for the first time in the mid 1990’s. I kept trying to convince members of my family how good it was but like so many of my grandfather’s critics who have never actually read any of his work, they assumed it was not up to snuff because it’s “pulp fiction.” Conversing with someone as revered as Jim Steranko and have him not only agree with my love and respect of my grandfather’s writing and also have him pass on his knowledge and understanding from his point of view–well, you have no idea how much it means. Thank you so much Maestro Steranko.
Last but not least I did some serious shopping at my pulp guru’s house—Adventure House that is. Wow, John Gunnison has the most amazing collections of vfg/fg (very/fine grade) pulps. I won’t reveal the excess that occurred but suffice it to say I’ll be standing at the copy machine for a while. I copy everything and put them back in their wrappers and store them in a secret underground bunker. That way I can read them over and over and not worry about the crumbling paper and spines but you already knew that, didn’t you. Here is John’s wonderful site with all things pulp—pulps, reprints and books about the pulps.
The only person missing who would have made it the perfect day was John Locke but he insists on being on the West Coast so I’ll just have to wait. There were lots of other terrific dealers there and an incredible array of goods and everyone who was tearing down the aisles like me seemed really, really happy. For the most part pulps are reasonable to collect and the dealers and collectors are nice guys who enjoy themselves. Really, I cannot believe how incredibly nice these guys are. They’re the best. Rich, thank you so much for including me. It was Big Fun!