Friday, July 18, 2014


I have very exciting news - my grandfather's collection of western stories, RIDING THE PULP TRAIL, is now an AUDIOBOOK! A big thanks to Radio Archives for producing this and for James C. Lewis for his fantastic reading of these stories. There is a 5 minute clip that you can listen to here.

If you are new to the Paul Powers library of western stories, here is a short synopsis from the Radio Archives page:

Most fans of Western fiction know Paul S. Powers as one of the foundation authors of the famous pulp magazine of the 1930s and 1940s, Wild West Weekly, in which his popular characters Sonny Tabor, Kid Wolf, Freckles Malone, and Johnny Forty-five appeared for fifteen years.

Lesser known is the career Powers had after Wild West Weekly stopped publication in 1943. Powers continued to write for the best of the western fiction magazines throughout the 1940s. Now, here for the first time, are twelve Paul Powers stories written in the years after his Wild West Weekly career. Six of these were published in the leading western pulp magazines of the period. The other six, never published before, were discovered by Powers’ granddaughter Laurie in 2009.Two of the published stories, “A Pard for Navajo Jack,” and “Judgment Day on Whisky Trail,” appeared in Thrilling Western in 1947 and 1948. “Hangnoose for a Prodigal” appeared in Thrilling Ranch Stories in March 1948. “Buzzards Hate Bullets” was published in Exciting Western in November 1947. The two other stories, “Boothill is My Destination,” that appeared in Texas Rangers in December 1947, and “Death is Where You Find It” in Rio Kid Western in August 1949, were imprints of Better Publications.

All of the stories in this collection reflect a new style that Powers had to adopt in the early 1940s. His earlier Wild West Weekly style was geared towards its adolescent audience and full of the “blood and thunder” that was indicative of the pulp westerns during that period. Writing stories for Wild West Weekly was a highly lucrative trade for my grandfather, but he had to change course and relearn his craft when the old style was no longer popular. No longer were heroes to be the semi-super human cowboys who survived hundreds of bullet wounds and shoot targets with jaw dropping speed and accuracy. They were now to be more mature and sometimes with a darker look on life. Heroes that for years were clean-cut, highly moral and almost puritan in their habits were replaced by lead characters who drank, smoked, and swore.

But Powers rose to the task and continued to have his stories published through the 1940s and into the early 1950s. These twelve stories are representative of that era; they make for an outstanding collection of frontier stories that represent the glory years of the Western short story and the best of Powers’ prolific pulp career.

When I first started listening to the clip, I confess I cried a little bit. My grandfather would have been very pleased with the result.

RIDING THE PULP TRAIL can be bought in CD form here, or you can purchase a digital download here.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014


I apologize for not being around much the past few weeks. The decision has been made for me to move to the Sonora area so I can be closer to family. My mother is 86 now and my sisters need my help. I'll be moving sometime in the fall, provided I find a place. I'm looking for a house to buy and the prices are of course much cheaper than Los Angeles, but the pickings are pretty slim. Plus I need to find a place that has a minimum of stairs (for my mother) and a fenced yard (for the dogs). That may not sound too hard, until you see the mountainous terrain of the area. I find myself checking Zillow and Trulia every five minutes.

I'm really looking forward to living in that area. I'll be closer to the family, and it definitely will be a pleasant change from Southern California. I'm tired of living in a ghetto neighborhood just to be next to the ocean. But the move will be bittersweet as I'll be leaving many close friends and family behind.

I'm still coming to Pulp Fest of course, and I'm looking forward to my presentation at Ohio State on Thursday the 7th at 4:30 PM. Believe me, after all this, going to Pulp Fest will be a very nice diversion. And yes, I'm still writing the book on Daisy.

Anyway, I'll try to post news and events as they crop up.

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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Dime Novel Roundup Reviews HIDDEN GHOSTS

I was delighted to get the latest copy of Dime Novel Roundup, and see the following review of our latest collection of my grandfather's stories, Hidden Ghosts. This collection, the last of the Paul Powers anthologies, was released last summer at PulpFest. With Dime Novel Roundup's permission, here is the review in it's entirety:

"Of the making of new collections of stories by Paul S. Powers may there be no end! When last we saw such a collection, it was Riding the Pulp Trail, also published by Altus Press; that one was devoted to his western stories. This one is almost all non-western and is a collection of noir, thriller, horror, and even some animal stories. The editor, Powers' granddaughter, admits that it is her favorite because it's filled with themes that she knows were very close to her heart.

"The fourteen stories are arranged according to the date of publication or, in the case of the unpublished ones, in the order of their composition. They appeared in issues of Weird Tales, Real Detective Tales & Mystery Stories, Thrilling Wonder Stories, Range Rider Western, Ranch Romances, and the modern Beat to a Pulp anthologies. As such, they reveal something of Powers' development as a writer. Even at the beginning (and his first published story is here) he knew how to write for the market and the reader he wished to reach. His stories fit the magazines that published them like a glove fits the hand, but some could just as well have been published anywhere. The pulp magazine was only one of many available markets for writers of fiction at the time, and Paul S. Powers was not merely a writer of stories for the pulps; he was a Writer - period.

"Most of the stories are told in the first person or told from the point of view of one of the characters, even when the character speaking is a dog. There are stories of mad scientists, resurrection from the dead, drug addiction, jungle explorers, a powerful account of an alcoholic's attempt to get sober, a true-crime article about a murder in 1865, a tale of the creation of a race of sentient ants, and a speculation about the fate of writer Ambrose Bierce. If you think you know what to expect in the stories of Paul S. Powers after having read Riding the Pulp Trail (2011), or any of his other books, think again. Hidden Ghosts is a collection worth returning to again and again. Highly recommended."

Thank you, Dime Novel Roundup!

Hidden Ghosts can be bought on amazon in either softcover or Kindle here, or at its publisher's website, Altus Press.

And if you're interested in subscribing to Dime Novel Roundup (the only scholarly quarterly devoted to the study of dime novel and related popular culture subjects), contact the editor at (And this is a unsolicited plug from me.)

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Sunday, July 6, 2014

Quick Trip to Sonora, California

I spent 4th of July week in Sonora, CA with my sister and her husband. Sonora is in the "gold country" area of California, in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. Along with towns like Angels Camp, Sutter Creek, Jackson, Jamestown and the Columbia (now a State Historic Park) and others, it is rich in history dating back to before the California gold rush. I say "before" because of course the American Indians were here way before the prospectors.

This first photo was taken very early on the 4th of July. It was the only time the entire week when there was no traffic downtown.

I didn't get a chance to really delve into Sonora history, so I can't give you the background of some of the photos here. Suffice to say, there are plenty of Victorian homes dating back well over 100 years, some earlier than that, and the neighborhoods behind the main street, Washington Street, are crammed with Victorian and farmhouse style homes, very tightly packed, along very narrow streets that can be so steep as to be heart-stopping.

It was VERY hot - over 100 degrees most of the week. But it does cool off at night, and people tell me it's not 100 degrees every single day in the summer like other places.

One thing I loved about the place - not ONE firecracker was heard all week. It was so nice to see a community that respects its surroundings and doesn't try to set it on fire. And it was bliss not having to tranquilize my dog.

This is a photo of Washington Street on a normal day.

As a person who grew up in a neighboring town and who has lived in other touristy areas, I know how frequently historic towns can turn into ill-planned tourist traps that don't provide anything of value and also don't really consider the local residents when planning. I think Sonora did it right. Yes, Washington Street is always packed with traffic, but that is a good thing for the local shop owners who need the business. Residents, on the other hand, aren't forced to partake in these traffic jams because there are several backstreets and overpasses. Supermarkets, hardware stores, and shops and services that full-time residents need are on the outskirts. Many days residents can completely avoid Washington Street when going about their daily business.

One store I visited immediately became a favorite. When you first walk into Legends, (at 131 S. Washington Street),you see that there is an attractive soda fountain on the left. There are also several places to sit and relax while enjoying your root beer float. Used books, antiques and a smattering of stationery and other interesting trinkets are for sale. All of it I found very interesting.

But then I spoke to Kat behind the soda fountain, who gave me a little bit of history. Apparently the building that Legends occupies is the second oldest building in downtown Sonora. When the gold rush hit, the Bank of Italy occupied this building. Underneath the main floor, tunnels were built so gold could be transported across the street without being noticed by ne'er do wells and then subsequently robbed. There was also an underground creek that runs along the same corridor. Go downstairs and check it out, Kat said.

And this is what I found downstairs.

In one of the rooms is a vault. Notice the door in the photo with window panes - beyond that door is the tunnel. tunnels.

My grandfather would have LOVED this.

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Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy 4th of July!

Having a great time in Sonora. It's fantastic up here, albeit hotter than you know what. Will post pics in a post in a few days when I get back. In the meantime, everyone have a great 4th of July. Be safe and keep your pets away from fireworks.

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Monday, June 30, 2014

Off For The Holiday

I'm off reaaallly early in the morning to drive up to Sonora, CA, where I'll be spending the 4th July with my sister. I grew up in Calaveras County, just a stone's throw away, but I left the area as soon as I hit 18 and could get out of the house. It's been decades since I've been to Sonora. I'm really looking forward to checking out the town. My sister says it's changed quite a bit.

For those of you not familiar with Sonora, it's in the "gold country" in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. Sonora is just below the snow line, but you don't have to drive too far up the highway to get into the winter wonderland if you want. Sonora is a 70 minute drive to Yosemite. I'm thinking it might be a good place to - gulp - retire!! - which is not that far down the road (hopefully). Call me crazy, but I'm thinking that trying to retire in Los Angeles isn't a good idea with the price of housing here. Not to mention the crime, pollution, traffic, earthquakes, etc etc.

I'll be taking both of my animals with me - by taking Annie with me instead of leaving her with a pet sitter, she won't have to suffer through the fireworks on the 4th. Ain't I smart?!

Everybody have a safe and great 4th.

photo credit: For more information, go to their nice website.

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Rest in Peace, Frank Robinson

Very sad news today. Frank Robinson, collector, writer, activist, and overall icon and beloved human being, died this morning at the age of 87. I did not know Frank but have known about him for years. His magnificent book PULP CULTURE, was one of the first "major" books I found on the topic of pulp fiction, and it completely blew my mind. I have yet to find a more beautiful book on the subject of pulp fiction covers. Frank was also very proud of his small role in the move MILK (2008). His massive collection of pulp magazines was auctioned off a few years ago. Rest in Peace, Frank.

Any of you who wish to leave your comments on your memories of Frank, feel free to do so.

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Monday, June 16, 2014

Pulp News: June 16, 2014

Work is still crazy, but we're in the home stretch. Hopefully after this week, I'll have a little bit more time to devote to the blog.

PulpFest News

PulpFest has loaded many more insightful articles since the last time I posted Pulp News. As part of the series "The History of Magazine Science Fiction," the latest installment is "To Infinity and Beyond," discusses science-fiction and fantasy publishing after the great magazine boom of 1939. To the right of the article are links to previous articles in the series.

New Releases

Radio Archives has released a new audio book, The Pecos Kid: Riders of the Gunsmoke Rim.

Here's the description of this new release:
In the post World War II era, Popular Publications was slow to launch new magazines built around a single character. But when they did, they went completely out of the box. Captain Zero was one of those.

In 1950, with the pulp era dwindling, Popular put out The Pecos Kid Western. He was, in the words of editor Mike Tilden, “hardly a regulation Western character.”

What did Tilden mean by that? Simply that here was a hero who was neither a steely-eyed pulp stalwart, nor a rodeo-shirted Hollywood trick-shooter — both infallible crusaders for justice, but about as realistic as the Lone Ranger.

The Pecos Kid was really William Calhoun Warren, late of Texas and the Confederate Army. After the Civil War, he set out to make an honest living, assisted by his saddle mates, Big Jim Swing and Hernandez Pedro Gonzales y Fuente Jesus Maria Flanagan. The series was created to reflect the shift toward more mature Western films, which had been growing on Hollywood over much of the 1940s. It would reach its zenith with such cinematic classics as Howard Hawks’ 1948 epic Red River, along with High Noon, Shane, and The Searchers, all just around the corner from 1950.

In his debut novel, Riders of the Gunsmoke Rim, Bill Warren and his comrades have just finished driving a heard of cattle up from Cheyenne to the untamed town of Miles in Montana Country when they muscle into a hornet’s nest of hate and...but you can hear all the ruckus and ruction for yourself as Milton Bagby narrates Dan Cushman’s bullet-torn tale ripped from the pages of Pecos Kid Western, July, 1950.

Also included is a novelette by one of the the Pulp West’s major stars, Harry F. Olmsted’s “Hoss Greer––The Devil’s Line-Rider.”

Backing their play are five frontier fictions by Lloyd Eric Reeve, James Shaffer, Tom Roan, E. E. Halleran, and Giff Cheshire––all storied names back in the heyday of the Pulp West.

Notable Sales on eBay: (Thank you David Lee Smith for the tips and photos.)

A copy of the first issue PRISON STORIES (Nov. 1930, first issue of 6) sold for $456.00. This magazine was one of the famous Harold Hersey's inspirations at the Good Story Magazine Co.

A copy of NEW YORK STORIES, which had an even shorter run that PRISON STORIES, sold for $383.75. This was another Harold Hersey magazine.

WEIRD TALES lives on: (thanks, Bill Crider, for pointing us to this article).

There is a long essay on the Weird Tales website. "90 Years of Weird: Keeping the Brand Alive." Should be interesting reading, but I have not read this so I can't endorse it as to it's accuracy. Would love to read what others think of it.

Noteworthy Comments

And another interesting comment came in on the EXTRA, EXTRA, post from a few weeks ago that I found noteworthy. Erwin K. writes:

World War 2 censorship of information useful to our enemies is a totally different subject than censorship for the "benefit" of public morals. By all reports that I've seen the war censorship was carried out well, and with few personal agendas. The same can not be said for "morals" censorship.

In the late 1930's the New Jersey Back Society is reported to have badgered federal regulators to yank the licenses of a number of radio stations. The broadcasters' crime? Playing swing versions of classical music. For shame.

That sort of thing still rears its head from time to time."

At the very beginning of research, there was the possibility that the banning of Love Story was due to wartime censorship to prevent aiding and abetting the enemy. We just didn't have enough information. But then Sai posted the articles that helped so much, and at that point we knew it was due to some kind of wartime sensitivity.


With that, I have some interesting new book acquisitions:

THE WAY THE FUTURE WAS. Frederik Pohl's memoir.

SECRETS OF VICTORY: The Office of Censorship and the American Press and Radio in World War II

HARPO SPEAKS! Harpo Marx and Rowland Barber.

Harpo Marx was close friends with Alice Duer Miller, who he met through the Algonquin Round Table. I was hoping I could get some dirt on Alice or Henry Wise Miller in this memoir. So far, nothing. But it's a very entertaining tale, told very well with the assistance of Rowland Barber. (Harpo wouldn't have gone far without a co-writer, as he didn't get past the second grade.) Highly recommended.

That's all for now!

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