Tuesday, August 11, 2015

This Week in Columbus: PulpFest

I'm taking time out from my series on politics in science fiction to let you know that the 44th PulpFest is taking place this week in Columbus, Ohio. The convention begins on Thursday afternoon, August 13, 2015, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Columbus and will run until 2 o'clock Sunday afternoon, August 16, 2015. This year, PulpFest will be celebrating the 125th anniversary of the birth of H.P. Lovecraft, as well as the magazine that showcased his work, Weird Tales. This year's guest artist will be Jon Arfstrom, cover artist for the original Weird Tales magazine. If you would like to learn more about PulpFest, click on the following link:

One of the great questions about Weird Tales is: Why didn't H.P. Lovecraft ever get a cover story? I have a possible answer: His byline was guaranteed to sell magazines, so the magazine didn't need a Lovecraft cover story in order to appeal to its readers. Weak, but a possibility. I have another possible answer: Maybe Lovecraft's work didn't lend itself very well to cover art, especially for a magazine that would have been displayed on the newsstand for a general readership vs. for a specialized readership. Weaker still and not really worth considering. In any case, it isn't true that Lovecraft never got a cover story in Weird Tales. In fact he got exactly one--this one--from May 1942. The problem was, you had to live in Canada to pick up a copy. The cover story was "The Shadow Over Innsmouth," rejected by editor Farnsworth Wright in 1933, published in booklet form in 1936, finally published in Weird Tales in January 1942, then reprinted in the Canadian edition of May 1942. This cover dispels any possibility that Lovecraft's stories may not have lent themselves to cover art. The Canadian-American illustrator and cartoonist Edmond Good (1910-1991) was the man behind the cover. He is in a category of one.

Here is Jon Arfstrom's first cover for Weird Tales. It was published in January 1952 when the artist was barely twenty-three years old. Now eighty-six, Mr. Arfstrom is one of the last living contributors to the original Weird Tales. I hope to see him at PulpFest.

Text and captions copyright 2015 Terence E. Hanley

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