I got into pulp in my teens by way of Sword and Sorcery and the great Weird Tales authors; Robert E. Howard, Clark Ashton Smith and H. P. Lovecraft. This was back in the early 70’s when there was very definitely a pulp renaissance under way. I am not entirely sure why that was. I suspect that there was probably a generation of people working in publishing who were as nostalgic for the comfort reading of their youths as I now am for the comfort reading of mine.
It probably didn’t do any harm that there were vast stocks of pulp writing just waiting to be reprinted. The 20s and 30s were in many ways the golden age of popular fiction magazines, an age before television had superseded print as the medium for popular entertainment. Close at hand, lay Conan, Kull, Solomon Kane, all of the strange story cycles of Clark Ashton Smith’s Hyperborea, Zothique and Averoigne, the complete Cthulhu mythos. And that’s just to mention the work of the three titans of thirties weird.
Shortly after I had this formative encounter, a second wave of pulp revival hit the shores of Scotland, possibly a little later than it hit the rest of the world. It consisted of reprints of Doc Savage and the Shadow, the two demigods of pulp adventure. I was big into Marvel comics back then and these were proto-super-heroes of the first order. In many ways Clark Savage Junior was the prototype of all those bright philanthropic ubermensch such as Superman, and the Shadow seemed the forerunner of aggressive outsider vigilantes such as Batman.
The second wave of pulps ran its course much faster where I lived and there were never too many samples available but I grabbed those I could find and consumed them the way I consumed everything back then, as quickly as possible. I’ve picked up one or two when I’ve seen them but it’s not been often enough. They became something of a secondary interest for me, and I tapped into them often enough back when I used to run role-playing games such as Justice Inc and Mercenaries, Spies and Private Eyes.
Anyway, I was reading James Reasoner’s blog recently and I came across a review of a release by Radio Archives of the old Operator 5 series. This sent me scurrying across to the Radio Archives site and there I found an absolute treasure trove of pulp. Ebook versions of many of the great pulp series such as the Spider, facsimiles of 30s magazines, print omnibuses of the Shadow books even audiobook and CDs of the old radio shows. This was just an awesome archive of the sort of pulp I had never got a chance to get my hands on back in my youth. Take a look at those cover reprints!
I skipped over to Amazon and discovered to my delight that the ebooks were available there so I picked up the omnibus edition of the first four issues of The Spider, Master of Men. This was excellent value, containing ( as far as I can tell) the complete contents of the original magazines as well as an introduction by Will Murray. No doubt a review of this purchase will follow at some point.
This is one of the joys of the age of ebooks for me. I can suddenly get my hands on all of this stuff, easily and instantly and at a very reasonable price. If you’ve any interest in this sort of thing, you should take a look. There’s everything from detectives stories to range-land romances.