Thursday, August 9, 2012

Pulpfest 2012 Day One

The annual Pulpfest convention began tonight here in Columbus. I've been attending this show for several years now and I always have a good time at it.

I plan to go on three of the four days this weekend: today, Friday, and Saturday. I thought a brief write-up of what I see at the show might be of interest to some readers so I'll be featuring this over the next several days.

Rick Lai prepares for his panel on
the influence of French literature in the pulp traditions.

The first panel tonight was titled "The French Connection: How French Literature May Have Influenced the American Pulps." Rick Lai presented many connections between works of French fiction and later pulp heroes. Among the French characters he focused on were Arsene Lupin, Fantomas, Count Cagliostro, and many others. He noted similarities in plots and character attributes between the two seemingly-disparate groups of stories. One thing I was left wondering was whether the same similarities could be drawn between other European literary traditions (German, Italian, etc.) and the pulps. Some of the things that were discussed seemed like rather broad themes (avenging a slain family member). It could be that Lai was intending to discuss this, but there was a bit of a delay in getting the A/V set up, so he worked to condense his presentation. It was certainly an interesting 45 minutes or so, all the same.

Ed Hulse (left) and Garyn Roberts (right)
prior to their panel on the Golden Age of Astounding.
Next up was the duo of Ed Hulse (one of the organizers of Pulpfest) and Garyn Roberts (a professor at Northwestern Michigan College). They talked about the Golden Age of Astounding, specifically the years right after John W. Campbell took over as editor up through much of World War II. The concept of the panel had been for them to debate things back and forth, a la the Robert Ebert and Gene Siskel "At the Movies" television show. Much more than Ebert & Siskel ever did, though, Hulse & Roberts found themselves in near-constant agreement. There were good anecdotes (such as one about Doc Smith being paid $5000 -- good money during the Depression -- to help a doughnut company with its recipes) and it was an entertaining panel. A pity they didn't find something to argue about, though! :)

There were two more panels scheduled for tonight, but I'm working tomorrow and didn't want to get home too awfully late, so I called it an evening after the panel on Astounding.

And finally, there's the swag. The dealer's room wasn't officially open yet and wasn't even supposed to be open for unofficial browsing, so like a good con-goer I followed the rules and will wait until tomorrow to start spending money at the convention. However, they did have a table of freebies which were fair game tonight. The most exciting things I picked up are above along with my copy of The Pulpster, the annual program book/magazine of the convention.

Tomorrow night's presentations should be very interesting. Among them are Mike Resnick's Guest of Honor Presentation, a panel on the Verne and Burroughs inspired works of Philip Jose Farmer, and a presentation on the various depictions of Mars in the pulps. Will I manage to keep going through the 11 PM panel which includes videos including several minutes of test footage for a proposed 1930s cartoon of the ERB Mars stories? I certainly hope so!

If you happen to be at the convention and want to say hello, feel free to do so! I hope to browse the dealer's room briefly in the daytime hours and then be at most or all of the evening programming.


  1. Sounds like you had a great time. Look forward to more of what you share regarding the Pulpfest.

    1. Thanks, Angela. I had a very good time and I'm looking forward to next year's show. Writeups of what I saw at day two and three are now online.