Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Relationship Between Pulp Editor and Writer: Fantastic Article Out Now

I was very happy to receive the latest issue of BLOOD N THUNDER in the mail the other day. I'm always happy to get BnT, but this one is special: it has a lengthy article featuring the relationship between Ronald Oliphant, editor of WILD WEST WEEKLY, and my grandfather, Paul Powers. Called Wild West Days: How Ronald Oliphant and Paul S. Powers made Wild West Weekly One of the Most Memorable Pulps of All." I can say with all honesty that this article is the best and most thorough piece on my grandfather since PULP WRITER came out in 2007.


Ed Hulse did a fantastic job on this article, which is based around 100+ letters from the editors, dating from 1928 - 1943, that I found in my grandfather's papers in 1999. Some of the letters were included in PULP WRITER, my grandfather's memoir that was published in 2007.

When I found these letters, they were a jumbled mess. There were almost 180 letters in total; it took me a few days just to put them in order and then a very long time to read them all. I knew as I read them that they were very very special. Primarily there were a rare look into the relationship between editor and writer of a pulp magazine. They showed the mentoring and grooming that went into the training of a new writer, the trials and tribulations of a writer dealing with burn-out and the stressful transitions that took place in the late 1930s.

Thank you, Ed, for doing these letters justice. I always knew they were an important piece of pulp fiction history, and now this article properly summarizes them and presents them in a magazine, so everyone can read about them.

You can buy this issue of BLOOD N THUNDER (Fall 2012, Volume 35) here on amazon for only $11.95.

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6 comments:

Walker Martin said...

Yes, this was an excellent article. BLOOD N THUNDER, as usual, is a must buy. Also of great interest in this issue is the piece by David Saunders on pulp artist Stockton Mulford. Nathan Madison gives his impressions of his first pulp convention. Reminds me of my first convention; 40 years later I'm still feeling the influence!

Randy Vanderbeek said...

What I would love to see would be a booklet of ALL the 180+ letters complete. That would give everyone a historic perspective of the creative and editorial process of the author and editor.
Randy Vanderbeek

Walker Martin said...

Randy is right, a book of 180 letters between the editor and Paul Powers would be of great interest. Even though it is all one sided because Powers kept only the letters from the editors. He did not keep carbon copies of his own letters to the editor. I know I'd buy it right away.

Laurie Powers said...

That is a good idea about the booklet. I've been trying to find a way to make use of them since I found them. Ed did such a great job with the article, though.

Ed Hulse said...

At the risk of dampening Laurie's enthusiasm should she consider printing the letters in booklet form, I would point out that many of them are quite brief, perfunctory, and repetitive. Some are little more than a couple sentences in one short paragraph, asking how soon this-or-that story can be expected. I did my best to cull the most interesting material -- such as Oliphant's plotting and writing tips, and his explanations of Street & Smith editorial policy -- without excerpting letters that covered the same ground. In fact, it was my original idea to rely on those letters that Powers himself hadn't excerpted in PULP WRITER, but to do that would have meant sacrificing substantive material.

The only significant chunk of material I omitted were several letters relating to a proposed Kid Wolf movie or movies that would have starred Ken Maynard, at that time producing and starring in his own films for Universal release. I was going to run that material as a sidebar to the WWW story but instead decided to hold it for a much longer article on Maynard at Universal, which will appear in the next issue of BNT'S WESTERN MOVIE ROUNDUP.

While we're on the subject, I'd like to thank Laurie -- not only for her thumbs-up on the article, but also for trusting me to do justice to the letters. To be honest, neither one of us had a clear vision of the piece when she gave me copies of the letters at PulpFest a couple years ago, but I'd like to think that the approach I took maximized the information to best advantage.

Laurie Powers said...

I think you did a brilliant job with them; I knew you'd do them justice. And you are right about many of them being short and repetitive - I kind of forgot about that in the excitement of things. I still think it would be a good idea to at least make them a collection of some kind available for research purposes for those interested. But this article will be the definitive piece on these letters for a long time to come.