Tuesday, November 14, 2006


Growing up in the 1950s I was exposed to a lot of fun Science Fiction and Monster movies. That is where I learned to love the entire genre. Probably the movie that grabbed my attention the most was The 7th Voyage Of Sinbad, with effects created by stop-motion genius Ray Harryhausen (the good-looking guy standing to my left in the picture). Ray Harryhausen was an early Science Fiction fan (along with folks like Ray Bradbury and Forrest J. Ackerman). He fell in love with King Kong (1933) and learned the techniques of special effects artist Willis O'Brien. Years later Harryhausen worked with O'Brien on Mighty Joe Young.

His career started taking off about the time I was old enough to go to the movies. The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms, Earth Vs The Flying Saucers, 20.000,000 Miles To Earth, and, of course, The Seventh Voyage Of Sinbad were favorites. (The latter film introduced me to the music of Bernard Herrmann, but that's another topic.)

We got our first television in time for me to catch the final season of Tom Corbett Space Cadet. Rocky Jones was another favorite series, and my sister and I never failed to watch Science Fiction Theater. I can even remember listening to the radio version of that series.

Interests changed over the years but I kept drifting back to Sci Fi, eventually joining the Nashville Science Fiction Club in 1972. I have had varrying levels of activity over the last 34 years from helping run conventions, publishing fanzines or even running away from it all at times. Now I have drifted back into the fold and have started going back into my collection and reading the wonderful pulp magazines from years past.

For anyone stumbling on this blog who is unfamiliar with the term, pulp referred to the cheap wood pulp paper these magazines were printed on. At one time there were literally hundreds of fiction magazines in just about any genre you could want; Science Fiction, Detective, Western, Romance, Western Romance, Horror, Sports, Railroads. You name it there was probably a magazine on that subject. Writers did not become rich writing for the pulps Some titles (very rarely) might pay five cents a word; many paid as little as 1/2 cent a word when they got around to paying. Still, a prolific writer could make a living by writing for as many markets as possible.

Part of the appeal of the pulps (and sometimes the opposite) were the often-lurid covers by artists such as Frank R. Paul, Earl K. Bergey and Virgil Finlay. I'll show a few of these in later postings. But as the 1950s rolled around the magazines tried to be less lurid and less sensational covers were used. However the age of the pulps was coming to a close. Paper costs, distribution problems, and the rise of the paperback book took their toll. Astounding went to digest size, new titles appeared in the same format with better paper and more respectable covers. These and other factors brought an end to the pulp era (which, oddly enough, was roughly the same time span as the motion picture serials).

So, this was the era in which I was introduced to Science Fiction, but somehow I managed to backtrack from the respectable digest magazines and into the world of the pulps. But then again, I grew up during the birth of rock and roll but I prefer big band music. Go figure. So check back from time to time and see what sort of lurid covers I post here.


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