Laurie Powers is a writer, traveler, blogger, photographer, pulp fiction enthusiast, horse lover, collector, Dodger fan, and woman about town. She has been to every PulpFest since 2009. The article below is © 2013 Laurie Powers and used with permission. Pictures accompanying are unaccredited.
PulpFest 2013 has come and gone. I didn’t post any reports during the convention as I was too busy hanging out with friends. Nothing personal, but I only see these people once a year, unfortunately, so I’d rather spend my time catching up with them instead of writing a blog post.
It was a great weekend, one in which I sold a great many copies of Hidden Ghosts, the final collection of my grandfather’s short stories that we’re publishing. What was interesting is that right before I left for the con, I realized that I hadn’t made any arrangements to have his first two books, Pulp Writer and Riding the Pulp Trail, at the convention. So I raced over to my storage unit and pulled out three copies of each to shove into my suitcase. I figured that it was a crapshoot over whether they would sell, as many people at PulpFest already have copies.
But what I didn’t realize until I got to the convention was that once you put these two books together with the new book, they make a stunning set. So stunning that Altus Press and I are considering getting slipcases made so we can sell them as a trilogy. All of the copies I brought with me on the plane sold out on the first day.
I feel like I’m living two separate lives at PulpFest. When I sit down at my table, I’m selling my grandfather’s writings, but when I get up from the table, I switch over and am on the hunt for issues of Love Story Magazine and other publications that may help me in my research of pulp editor Daisy Bacon. Before this PulpFest, I had roughly 75 copies of Love Story. Why would I need any more, you ask. Well, when you consider how influential Daisy was in the era of love pulps, and how much of her life she poured into this magazine, you’d see why I need to get a good representation of the magazine from its run that lasted from 1921 to 1949.
Another reason is that Love Story almost always ran serials. Each issue of the magazine would contain one or two serials, five or six short stories, poems, and columns. Serials were long stories that were separated into installments, one installment appearing in the issue every week. Serials could run from two installments to as many as six. Which means that you may need to get every single issue for six weeks straight in order to read a complete serialized story. That is not easy to do. Even though Love Story was the most popular pulp fiction magazine of its generation, with a circulation of hundreds of thousands every week, very few copies survive. In addition, romance pulps have never been of major interest to collectors, as the vast majority of collectors have been men. So it has been a struggle to find the magazine.
Here is where going to a convention can give you an immediate return on your investment (cost of the flight, hotel, etc.), because you can find, in one weekend, huge amounts of pulps that could take you years if you were only searching on eBay. I found quite a few issues of Love Story this year at PulpFest, ending up with about thirty. There were many more available, but most were issues that I already had. I was even lucky enough to pick up at least one set of 1931 issues that made up an entire serial. I brought one inventory list with me that listed all my issues of Love Story; by Friday night I had to completely redo my list because I had so many updates to add.
The hotel, the Hyatt Regency Columbus, was wonderful. There are plenty of good restaurants around Columbus’ Arena District to please almost anyone. Friday night we went to an Irish pub called The Three-Legged Mare. I had a grilled salmon salad–always dicey when ordering food from a pub–but it was delicious. There are plenty of options for breakfast and the hotel has a food court with the usual suspects like Subway so you can grab a quick lunch.
What panels I went to were fascinating–Chris Kalb did a hugely entertaining presentation on pulp premiums. The auction, this year was heavy on reference books from Al Tonik’s collection, and I couldn’t stay awake past lot #100.
The connections you make, the camaraderie you share with friends, and the ability to bounce ideas off of people of like minds (very valuable if you’re a writer and don’t get much exposure to other writers the rest of the year) are all some of the side benefits of going to PulpFest. But finding those issues of Love Story–priceless.