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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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Upcoming Paul Powers Stories and Articles

I have a trifecta of Paul Powers announcements. There's something for everyone coming out soon.

First of all, one of my grandfather's short stories that never appeared in print before is going to be included in the next BEAT TO A PULP anthology, which will be entitled BEAT TO A PULP: Hardboiled 2. The story, "A Killing on Sutter Street" is one of the stories that I found a few years back and was first seen on the Beat to a Pulp website about two years ago. It is a great example of my grandfather's non-Western writings. BEAT TO A PULP: Hardboiled 2 is coming out in February and as soon as I get any more information, I'll let you know. I know it will be coming out in print and e-book.

Next is a long-awaited article in the next issue of BLOOD -N- THUNDER. This article, about the day to day work of pulp editors and the trials they faced in working with writers and deadlines, is based on a collection of over 100 letters written to my grandfather from the editors of WILD WEST WEEKLY, mostly Ronald Oliphant and John Burr.

Lastly, I am now working on the next collection of Paul Powers stories. This one will be mainly his non-Western work and will be a combination of stories published in many different pulp magazines and stories never published before. It will include his stories previously published in WEIRD TALES, REAL DETECTIVE TALES, THRILLING WONDER STORIES and RANGE RIDER MAGAZINE. There will be noir, horror, detective, science fiction, dog stories, and maybe a non-fiction story or two. Also included will be a story co-written by my father, John Powers, and is probably the only story in existence co-written by the two of them.

I don't have a title for this collection yet, but as soon as I know, you'll know.

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Sunday, January 13, 2013

Pulp Reprint Releases and Announcements

Here's some of the latest news on pulp reprints and coming soon attractions.There is plenty of new reading material out there to satisfy any pulp enthusiast, regardless of what your favorite genre is.

A new reprint of FROM DEEP WATERS: THE COMPLETE ADVENTURES OF THE MAJOR, VOLUME 1, is now available from Altus Press. The first twelve stories of The Major (AKA Aubrey St. John Major) as they appeared in SHORT STORIES are in this first volume. Included are an introduction by Ed Hulse, an article by Archibald Bittner on the author, L. Patrick Greene, as well as correspondence from Greene. FROM DEEP WATERS is available at amazon.

Another new Altus Press release is THE MASKED RIDER ARCHIVES, Volume 1, by Oscar Schisgall and William H. Stueber, with an introduction by Will Murray. This one isn't out yet, but will be coming soon. Here's the cover:

Altus Press has been on fire lately with the number of releases they've had over the past few months, including collections on the Foreign Legion, the Green Ghost, Senorita Scorpion, Secret Agent X, and of course who can forget Doc Savage. For more releases, go to their website; trust me, the number of releases and the quality of the work is mind-blowing. I don't know how Matt does it.

A very exciting event is taking place in New York on January 27 - a panel celebrating the 75th anniversary of Superman. It's being held at the Center for Jewish History, and my friend and partner in crime Nicky Wheeler-Nicholson, who's grandfather was the co-founder of the company that became DC Comics, will be one of the panel members. The Center's website describes the event:

"How has Superman managed to thrive for 75 years and counting, long enough to rank him as America's most enduring hero of the last century? What did Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel have in mind when they brought Superman to life? What answers does Jerry Siegel's newly-discovered memoir offer? And, who knew that Superman was Jewish?

Experts on the superhero including his biographer, writers, and artists and publishers will gather to discuss these and other questions related to one of the most enduring cultural figures of the last century."

You can also check out the article that appeared in the New York Times here.

And there are two very exciting Paul Powers announcements coming soon - but I'll save those for the next post. :)

I'd like to start doing these kind of announcements on a regular basis; if any of you have new reprints you'd like announced, please send me the information. (reprints only, please - not new pulp.) I've been out of the loop lately so if you've released something in the past few months and want it covered, go ahead and send in the info.

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Saturday, January 5, 2013

Hunting Down the Holy Grail of Pulp Mags -

And what is the Holy Grail, you might ask? It's this October 1912 issue of ALL-STORY, containing the story "Tarzan and the Apes."

It's all but impossible to find a copy of this issue anymore, and when they are found, they can go for tens of thousands- it's not usual to see over $50,000 paid for a good copy. It might be safe to assume that it's so rare, that this scan, which I pulled from Galactic Central, is probably a scan of a photo pulled from a book.

Walker Martin announced to the world yesterday that now he has not one copy of this issue, but now he has acquired a second copy.

His story as to how he managed to have two copies is over at the Mystery File. Congratulations, Walker.

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Thursday, January 3, 2013

Number Crunching in the Pulps

Continuing on my previous post about circulation numbers for the pulps, I found this information in the same article called "The Love Pulps" that Thomas Uzzell wrote for Scribners in April 1938. This is either going to be way more information than you ever cared to know about pulp history, or you'll find it interesting and maybe it will answer some questions. For one thing, it answers the question as to whether unsold copies were returned.

Here is Uzzell's detail on the numbers that are used to determine profit for one issue.

"The rates paid love-pulp writers are not high: their editors make money by not spending much of it. In the boom days of the 1920's, pulp romances brought as high as four cents a word, or around $200 a story. Today, two and a half cents is probably the top; LOVE STORY, for instance, averages around one and three-quarter cents. LOVE BOOK pays two cents, but averages less, while the Wyns pay around a cent and a half.

"In a single issue, the total fees paid authors for an average of six stories, two installments of serials, and space-filling poetry are from $500 to $2500. The ratio of this expense to the total cost of a successful pulp book can be seen in the cost sheets furnished by one of them which totals 128 pages, has a print order of 100,000, and sells for fifteen cents on the newsstands. These other costs are: printing $1400; paper, $1000; engraving, $230; illustrations, $175; editorial salaries, $200; overhead, $100. The total, including an average charge of $700 for the authors is $3790.00

"The publisher sells the entire print order to the distributor for eight and a half cents a copy and is credited with $8500. At the end of the sale period, the distributor returns unsold copies at nine and a half cents each. The sale varies from forty-five to fifty-five per cent. On a fifty per cent sale the net return to the publisher is his credit of $8500 less $4750 or $3750. Advertising space for this magazine is calculated at from eighty cents to a dollar per page per thousand, minus a twenty-five per cent agency commission and staff costs. Allowing $250 as the net on advertising and a similar sum for resale of the returns abroad, we have a net revenue of $4250 and a net profit of one issue of $460."

So there you have it. All that work for a net profit of $460. What I found interesting was the editor salaries of $200. If there were two editors, then you'd guess that they were making $100 each per week. That's $400 a month, and $4800 a year. By comparison, Daisy Bacon, in her own writings, disclosed that she made $12,000 a year throughout the Depression.

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