Monday, 10 October 2016

Kindle edition of Richard Matheson's classic vampire story, I am Legend $2 at

The Kindle edition of Richard Matheson's classic vampire story, I am Legend, is now on sale at for $2. Those of you with an allergy to ebooks can ignore this, others should pick this right up.

Matheson delivers a knockout punch at the end of what seems to be just another apocalyptic "vampires are taking over the world" scenario. Leaves you contemplating the nature of deviation from the mean, and at what point it becomes the new mean...further commentary would spoil the book. Go ahead and get it, it's cheap at the price.

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Saturday, 1 October 2016

Clarence Budington Kelland - The transmigration of a sheep

This is a change from the usual content from the pulp magazines - a story from one of the slick magazines - Country Gentleman. This magazine was a sister publication of the Saturday Evening Post, aimed at farmers.
Country Gentleman magazine, January 1931 cover courtesy

This particular story is one of a series about Scipio Mather, written by Clarence Budington Kelland. The author is not particularly well known today, and if at all remembered, it is as the author of the story behind the Frank Capra movie "Mr. Deeds goes to Washington", and also apparently the originator of this quote about fathers "He didn't tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it."

 I was put on to the track of these stories by Walker Martin, who mentioned it in passing as a series that he sought out to read - similar to the Alexander Botts stories by William Hazlett Upson that appeared in the Saturday Evening Post. Well, I like the Botts stories a lot, and i recently found out that the public library near me has a complete run of the magazine from 1920ish to 1954. I went and dusted off the volumes (literally blew about 20 years of dust off the top) and read one story, probably the first in the series.

The story is a rags to riches tale told with considerable humor, with a good slice of Yankee ingenuity added. The dialogue between Scipio Mather and the heroine is of the sparkling, charming variety that can be found in good screwball comedies. In the course of this story, Scipio goes from being a wandering man owning a sheep to being a part owner of the local bank, never selling or buying anything, instead bartering his way up the economic and social ladder.

You can read the story here. The complete story's there, but due to my limited success in copying the bound pages, i was unable to keep the illustrations by James C. McKell. The story is from the January 1931 issue of the Country Gentleman.

If you like the story, leave a note in the comments and i'll consider adding more of them.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

In memoriam - Bob Weinberg (1946-2016), pulp and art collector extraordinaire

Recently, I got the sad news that Robert (Bob) Weinberg, pulp and art collector extraordinaire a passed away. I didn't know Bob very well, I spoke to him only a few times, but he shared his knowledge and passion for pulp magazines and art with me in many ways.

Robert (Bob) Weinberg - portrait by Jon Arfstrorm, Weird Tales illustrator (courtesy David Saunders)
Robert (Bob) Weinberg - portrait by Jon Arfstrorm, Weird Tales illustrator (courtesy David Saunders)
It all began with my picking up an issue of Famous Fantastic Mysteries on EBay. It was part of a lot i purchased; i would not have picked it up on its own merit. If i remember right, it was this issue:
Famous Fantastic Mysteries magazine, October 1946

To be honest, the cover art rather put me off reading the pulp, and I put it aside to get at the others in the lot. About a week later, I picked it up and started flipping through the pages. I was struck by the amazing interior artwork - this issue has illustrations by both Virgil Finlay and Lawrence Stevens. It was the first time i ever flipped through a magazine looking for more art and ignoring the stories entirely. When i was done, i knew i wanted to see more of their work and read about how they did this. So i googled them - and i came across some articles by Bob on collecting pulp artwork, including many by Finlay and Stevens - they're listed here:

Collecting Fantasy Art #1: Starting at Zero
Collecting Fantasy Art #2: Aces and Earls
Collecting Fantasy Art #3: Meet Marty G.
Collecting Fantasy Art #4: Art Mania!
Collecting Fantasy Art #5: Lail, It Rhymes with Gail
Collecting Fantasy Art #6: An Art Potpourri
Collecting Fantasy Art #7: Susan and Betsy
Collecting Fantasy Art #8: Sam and the Scientologists
Collecting Fantasy Art #9: Darrell and Sam, Two Famous Collectors
Collecting Fantasy Art #10: A Party and Some Sales
Collecting Fantasy Art #11: Secrets of New Jersey -- Part 1, Two Visits
Collecting Fantasy Art #13: Two Great Artists

Bob's anecdotes of buying art without any real competition amazed me, as was the wide variety of pulp art that he collected. I discovered a lot of titles and artists through him that i wouldn't have considered collecting otherwise.

The first time i spoke with Bob was at the Windy City pulp convention in 2015. It was my second year at the convention, and i had just walked into the hospitality suite, and was looking around to see if there was anyone who remembered me. I ran into someone and he and i started chatting about recent acquisitions, which led to his talking about the pulp art in those issues, and i said that the best i had ever seen was in Famous Fantastic Mysteries. At this point, Bob joined the conversation and agreed with me. We talked a bit about the art in other pulps - I mentioned that Blue Book was a title that i liked - but Bob remained firm in placing Famous Fantastic Mysteries above it. At the time, i didn't know who he was. The conversation moved on to other topics and i left the group to meet other friends.

The next day, i visited the art display, always a highlight of Windy City. It was the first time i saw a Finlay illustration up close, and i was even more impressed than i had been the first time i saw his art. A day later, i was attending the panel discussion and i saw Bob walk on stage and get introduced as Robert Weinberg. I couldn't believe who I'd been talking to  - a person who had been collecting pulp art since a long time, and who i regarded as a guide. I also saw the pulp art on display at the convention, a lot of which was from his collection. 

The last time we spoke was at the 2016 Windy City. I saw him sitting at his table, and i went up to him and complimented him on the work he'd done on Collector's Book of Virgil Finlay, most of the originals for which came from his and Doug Ellis' collections. I grabbed it when it came out, as it's probably the closest I'm going to get to having an original Finlay in the house. 

R.I.P., Bob. Thank you for the books and generously sharing your art with other fans. You will be missed.

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Improbably beautiful covers #1 - Western Story Magazine, December 21, 1929 cover by Gayle Hoskins

Western Story Magazine, December 21, 1929 cover by Gayle Hoskins
Western Story Magazine, December 21, 1929 cover by Gayle Hoskins

Another minute, and there would have been only a red dot on the ground, so i suppose this was the more interesting moment...a very well painted one at that. Gayle Hoskins manages to give the impression of a immense herd of bison very well in the limited space for the painting's portrait orientation, one dictated by the magazine's orientation on the newsstand. 

I wonder if a different perspective - maybe over the hunter's shoulder - would have worked better, though. Leave a comment with your thoughts.

Monday, 19 September 2016

Adventure magazine covers featuring a pirate

In honor of International Talk like a Pirate Day today, here's a series of covers from Adventure magazine featuring a pirate. All these covers were done by the artist A.L. Ripley and appeared in the magazine from 1922 to 1925. During at least part of this period (1923-1925), Ripley was in Europe on an art scholarship, so it's interesting to speculate whether these were done in Europe and sent over, or done in bulk earlier and then appeared one at a time.

Pick your favorite and leave a note in the comments. Mine's the March 10, 1924 issue with the two pirates shown in shadow fighting over treasure.