Well, another Pulp Fest has come and gone. This year's was at a new venue, the Hyatt Regency in downtown Columbus. New friends were made, old friends reunited, others that had passed on were missed. In the middle of all this, a lot of pulps were bought and sold, including some big deals, and what must have been the world's record for longest auction was made.
The new hotel was a definite improvement over the one used in past years. The old hotel had its strong points: it was cozy and comfortable and it was reasonable. But the Hyatt, although more expensive, was hands down a better accommodation and definitely gave the con a boost.
I shared a room with Dominique Hopkins, who came to Pulp Fest to honor her husband Howard who passed away suddenly last winter. Howard was a well-known modern pulp writer who specialized in writing Westerns and horror novels. Dominique had mentioned beforehand that this would be the first trip she would take without Howard. I felt honored to be Dominique’s roommate.
I flew in Thursday night and did not arrive until about 10:30 that night. Needless to say I was tired but once I got to the hotel and met Dominique, I got my second wind. We decided to take a tour of the hotel and the area where the convention was take place. The Hyatt is gigantic it's almost like a mini city, with several rooms for conferences the ballroom the food court a second floor mezzanine with the bar, And 20 floors of rooms. The layout is a little confusing but nothing out of the ordinary for such a large convention venue. I really didn't get the hang of where everything was until Sunday when it was time to leave. Our room was wonderful; we had a beautiful view of Columbus, the beds were comfortable, and with the exception of some thin walls, was fairly quiet.
I was stunned when I saw the ballroom where the dealers have already set up their tables. It was huge with two-story ceilings and a walkway up above. I couldn't wait for Friday morning when I could meet everyone in the room at 9 AM when the doors opened.
It was great to see everyone hard to believe that it been an entire year since I had seen them. It was just like old times again Jack and Sally Cullers and their family, Barry Traylor, Ed Hulse, Walker Martin, Randy Van Der Beek, Michelle Nolan, Anthony Tollin, and my table mate Will Murray. Even though it had been years since I'd seen them all it felt like yesterday.
On Friday night, Dominique and I went to the German Village in south Columbus. Both of us have lived in Germany when we were kids the idea of visiting the German area sounded intriguing. It’s a lovely little enclave with colonial homes with flower gardens and cobblestone sidewalks. While we didn't find a lot of stores that would make me feel I was back in Frankfurt in 1968, we did find a fabulous book store with 32 rooms of books.
After getting lost in the bookstore several times we ventured down to Schmitz Sausage Haus where we indulged in the most wonderful starch laden dinners of schnitzel and bratwurst. For dessert, Jack Cullers had recommended getting the restaurant specialty, a creampuff which was about the size of a cantaloupe. It didn't take much for us to decide to get one, and it actually was the best part of the meal. By the time we left the restaurant it was about 6:30 and the waiting area was so crowded that we have to fight our way out - something to remember if you're going to be there next year.
I didn’t get to many of the panels this year, so I’ll copy some of Walker Martin’s report on the panels:
“The Guest of Honor was SF author Mike Resnick and following his speech were panels such as "Barsoom and Beyond", "J. Allen St. John", and "Tarzan on Mars". Saturday night panels were on Robert Howard and "The Illustrated Conan". Artists Jim and Ruth Keegan and Mark Schultz discussed this last topic. John Locke also presented a talk on pulps at Ohio State University. Even Thursday night had interesting panels such as Ed Hulse and Garyn Roberts discussing John Campbell and ASTOUNDING, Rick Lai on how French literature may have influenced writers, Henry Franke on "Tarzan: A Hero for the Ages", and Ed Hulse again, on Burroughs as movie producer.”
One of the programs Saturday afternoon was a tribute to Howard Hopkins and Rick Burton, who both passed away this year. Win Scott Eckert, Ron Hanna, and Ron Fortier gave their recollections of how fine both of these men were and how they touched them in different ways over the years. It was a great tribute and I’m glad I went.
Afterwards I joined a few (more like a dozen) others and went across the street for dinner. I don’t remember the name of the restaurant, but it was good food and reasonable. I also hear that they serve breakfast, which is outstanding considering the prices at the hotel for breakfast.
Saturday night was jam-packed with events. First off, the Rusty Hevelin Service Award was given to Jack and Sally Cullers for all their hard work over the years and for their generous help to Rusty when he was failing. The Munsey Award was awarded to Matt Moring, owner of Altus Press, and I couldn’t have been happier. Not only because Matt has produced some of the finest collections of reprints ever produced, and Altus is home to my grandfather’s reprints, but Matt is one of the nicest, most professional men in the community.
Then there was the auction: all 320 lots of it. The auction started at 9:30 PM and went until 1:30 PM. A good majority of the lots this year were from the collection of Al Tonik, and many of the lots consisted not of pulps, but pulp fanzines, books about pulps, paperback collections, original ledgers from prominent people like August Lenninger, and various other lots.
You certainly couldn’t tell that there was a economic recession in the room, at least not this year. Al’s collection of PEAPS issues (PEAPS stands for The Pulp Era Amateur Press Society) were a prime example. One of the lots showed up on the screen, represented by only a big brown box and the lot number. But when the bidding started, several hands flew up and the bidding rose from $10 to $600 in about a half minute. PEAPS 1-25 went for around $600; PEAPS 26-50 went for $500. I believe the two later boxes also received high bids. Al’s total collection of PEAPS went for $1450.00.
I noticed that some people in the room were laughing over the prices commanded by these seemingly obscure collections of pamphlets with black and white artwork for covers. Experienced collectors know that these humble little pamphlets are packed with lengthy articles that any historian or writer would view as very valuable resources.
Lot 50 of Leonard Robbins PULP MAGAZINE INDEX (6 volumes), went for $600. Al Tonik’s Desoto cover painting recreation of a PHANTOM cover went for $900.
I bailed after the first 100 lots, but only because I couldn’t keep my eyes open. It actually was very entertaining.
It was all over way too soon. By Sunday afternoon I was done spending money and had sold all the copies of PULP WRITER and RIDING THE PULP TRAIL that I was going to. And even with all my complaining over not finding the love pulps I needed (who would have thought that love pulps would be a hot commodity?), I still managed to collect a substantial pile of issues and had to ship two boxes home. The PulpFest committee arranged to have a UPS agent at the convention hall on Sunday for a couple of hours, which is a fantastic thing.
Of the very few gripes I heard, I guess the most common ones were that the ballroom had bad lighting, and as like Ed Hulse says on his report, “When you’re inspecting old books and magazines priced at hundreds of dollars, you want all the light you can get.” My personal gripe was that by Sunday the ballroom was as cold as a meat locker, but then that could be a woman thing.
All in all, I’d say that PulpFest 2012 was a rousing success in its new home. Now I just have to wait until my boxes show up to start reading.
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