Sinister Cinema: Warren “Spider” Hull

For Autograph Hound Super-Sunday Brian Leno reports:

“As an added bonus I’ve included a scan of the signature of Warren Hull, who played the Spider in the two serials, The Spider’s Web (1938) and The Spider Returns (1941).

“Hull was a busy actor in the serials and showed up not only as the Spider, but as Mandrake the Magician, and as the Green Hornet in The Green Hornet Strikes Again (1941) — pic below.   

“He also appeared in two movies with Boris Karloff, Night Key and The Walking Dead. (Not exactly the best of Boris, but anything with Karloff is worth watching.)

“Just an extra note, but if the Hull autograph is turned over, the other side displays the signature of baseball great Rocky Colavito, one of the great home run hitters for the Cleveland Indians in the fifties and sixties.

“Of course there was also a serial made from The Shadow magazine, with great character actor Victor Jory in the leading role.

“Some Sunday we’ll show a Maxwell Grant/Walter Gibson double autograph along with that of Jory.

“Stay tuned — it’ll either be a Saturday or a Sunday. For the matinee.”

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Rediscovered: Two of Norvell Page’s The Spider, and One Other

Brian Leno says, “Apologies for bombarding you with so many pictures, but I’ve always felt that some of the Robert E. Howard and H. P. Lovecraft bloggers (one very prominent HPL scholar springs to mind) should start including a few photos of pulp covers in their posts. Give them some color. 

“Their blogs are as boring to the eye as a pulp with the front cover torn off.”

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Rediscovered: Norvell Page

Brian Leno’s back on deck to do his thing for Autograph Hound Super-Sunday. Take it, Brian:

Norvell Page is a worthy subject for Super Sunday.

“Without Page, the pulp magazine series The Spider may never have acquired the readership it had in the thirties — and maintains today.

“Page wrote the majority of the adventures, gripping, bloody tales of action and super science. Under the house name Grant Stockbridge, of course. His only real competition during those halycon days of pulpdom was The Shadow and Doc Savage.

“Page wrote many stories for other pulps. This check shows he received payment for ‘Three Roads to Glory’ which saw life in Ace G-Man Stories on March-April 1938.

“He even wrote some heroic fantasy, two of these being the novels Flame Winds and Sons of the Bear-God. (‘In the Conan tradition’ declares the Jeff Jones cover of the Berkley Medallion edition — like so many other Sword-and-Sorcery novels riding the publication tidal wave of the Howard Boom.)

“I was a fan of Norvell Page before I ever read any of his stories.

“Robert Kenneth Jones’ The Shudder Pulps: A History of the Weird Menace Magazines of the 1930s (1975) introduced me to the writer who ‘stormed about in hat and cape, muttering and gesturing, an eccentric figure indeed.’  

“Jones quotes Harry Steeger  — who signed the front of the Page check — as saying that the pulp author would ‘show up at the office with a black cape and dark slouch hat, wearing a Spider ring and stalking about as though he were going to perform some miracle of fiction.’ 

“Now that — I thought then and still do — is a writer.”

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Rediscovered: H. Bedford Jones

What do you think? Can Brian Leno deal the hand on yet another weekend of autograph excitement?

Looks like it. He just popped in enough material to bury me for an hour or so, noting, “A fun morning for me, rummaging like a frenzied squirrel through my junk.”

So, for Autograph Hound Saturday, what does Brian offer? 

“The check you see is for H. Bedford-Jones’ ‘Land Sharks and Others’ which appeared in Argosy All-Story Weekly, September 24, 1921.

Bedford-Jones is another of those ‘King of the Pulps’ that collectors hear so much about.

“Pretty much a writing machine. Employed more aliases than a bank robber.

“He splashed into all fields, including westerns, science fiction and historical fiction. He co-authored, with W. C. Robertson, The Temple of the Ten, a short lost race novel which first appeared in Adventure, March 3, 1921 — reprinted by Don Grant in the 70s. 

“Bedford-Jones is not a difficult autograph to obtain — how could he be when the guy wrote so much?

“He must have signed hundreds of checks like the one pictured.

“Not all that expensive for the beginning collector and if you are interested in amassing a set of pulp writer signatures, he’s a bedrock figure you can’t do without.”


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Rediscovered: Now You’ll Need Two Issues

Just heard from John Haefele, who just heard from Firsts, that they broke his coverage of Modern Era Arkham House Ephemera in twain — the new September/October issue will have his essay covering the subject, BUT (a big but) the actual checklist will run in the following issue.

Space restrictions jumped them, or something.

Too bad, it would have made a nice one-stop-shop in a single issue, like my coverage of the Classic Era ephemera did back in 2002.

On the other hand, I suppose you don’t have to pop for both issues, you could just wait and grab the checklist. I’m presuming most people will want the checklist. 

And yet, the history/essay is very interesting, that’s where Haefele really gets to swing his dead cat around.

I’m thinking about whether or not this development is a good thing.

Maybe it’s just a thing. What happened.

Haefele will hold down two issues, they’ll make a nice set. . . .

I do hate waiting to get that list, though. Kind of been waiting for it for seventeen years.

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Two-Gun Bob: Once Again, Lovecraftians Beat Us to the Punch!

Might as well keep the cover images for recent magazine appearances for John D. Haefele rolling along.

Just put up the cover for the new issue of Firsts with his history and checklist of Arkham Ephemera: The Modern Years. And somewhat recently presented two of the three covers of recent Crypt of Cthulhu in which he dips his eldritch pen.

Here’s the other Crypt not yet spotlighted. Killing two birds with one stone with this one. Now the curious can gander the Haefele “trilogy” covers at their leisure, with a few moves of the mouse. But also check out the Grandma Moses-style artwork (it wraps around onto the rear cover, too) provided by Sam Gafford.

I don’t know, for some reason, I kind of like this cover. A primitive charm about it, harkening back to fanzine artwork I seem to recall from the mid-1970s, when I got into this scene. 

About the time Crypt 112 was released, Sam Gafford died. He was around in Lovecraft fandom for quite awhile, but for whatever reasons, I never had contact with him.

I was chatting with Morgan “The Morgman” Holmes about this and that, and Gafford’s death came up. Almost by osmosis we realized that the Lovecraftians were experiencing the Great Extinction Event that we’ve been watching and waiting for in Robert E. Howard fandom.

The Great Extinction Event in Howard Fandom has come up on the blog from time to time. The idea is simple enough: given that most of the famous scholars and critics and fanzine publishers who made their mark came on the scene from roughly the mid-sixties to the mid-seventies (and not much later), then there must come a year when they begin dropping like flies.

Just from the normal perils of aging, not counting by design or accident (although anyone who drops for any reason will be counted).

That calculation is the current version, but the idea really took off in more Apocalyptic fashion at the Howard Days in Cross Plains, Texas in the early 2000s when I went in as a Guest Speaker, and lots of the people we’re talking about showed up — and someone said, Man, what if a tornado rips through here and kills all of us?

A tornado had destroyed the house that once sat on the site where most Howard Days activities take place, so it’s not as preposterous a concept as you might think.

But to be a genuine Extinction Event, you need a lot of folk toppling by the wayside in short order, not just one guy here and another guy three or four years later. Kind of like the dinosaurs popped off. Here today, then BOOM.

And, yes, at least one guy I know has questioned the entire interest in tracking the Extinction Event, watching hawklike for the first to fall, as being more than a shade morbid.

Well, yeah. . . .

The entire genre Lovecraft wrote in crystallized when Edgar Allan Poe arrived on the scene, and Poe also influenced REH, and mystery fiction — the literature of homicide — kicked off with Poe.

If you want to track down one morbid dude, then I suggest starting with Poe. Burials and torture. Premature burials and torture!

If we’re being a trifle morbid, it’s only because we’re true fans of the genre. We know our roots, and dig them — out of the moldering corpse, entwined, they caress. 

With the death of Sam Gafford, we did a quick tally of croaking Lovecraftians. An outlier a couple years back would have been the death of John J. Koblas, a.k.a. Count Koblas — big pal of mine when I lived in St. Paul, Minnesota and the de facto leader of the local Lovecraft fans, which included Dave Schultz and Eric Carlson (Eric, alas, died much too soon, around forty years ago).

And Stan Sargent, author of The Taint of Lovecraft.

And Wilum Pugmire.

And I heard that Edward P. Berglund also died recently — compiler of A Reader’s Guide to the Cthulhu Mythos. I met Berglund back circa 1974 and 75, nice guy — thing I recall most vividly is that he did not pronounce Mythos as Myth-THOS. He spoke about it, enthusiastically, as the MY-thos.

Maybe others have bowed before the Red Death, as well. But I think the Lovecraftians have racked up enough mortalities to say they are well into their own Great Extinction Event, while the Robert E. Howard fans, well, we hover on the inevitable brink.

As for them beating us to the punch on Extinction being the second thing they’ve been ahead on, in The Dark Barbarian That Towers Over All I sketch in how they were the first group to dispute L. Sprague de Camp, when he was laying down a heavy hand telling everyone how HPL and REH were just sort of minor writers, having fun. In 1975 and 1976.

Without looking it up, I believe my wording ran: led by Dirk Mosig, a pack of savage Lovecraftians attacked de Camp. . . .

Something like that. Mosig was the major figure in the emerging group of modern HPL scholars. They got their claws on de Camp just ahead of me.

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Rediscovered: Arkham House Ephemera, the Modern Years

Ah, just in time for Halloween, but you can order it now — the September/October 2019 issue of Firsts: The Book Collectors Magazine, notable for including the first comprehensive checklist of Arkham House ephemera, Modern Era, ever published.  

And this list wasn’t slapped together by some bozo who is just cribbing from and recycling old info everyone already knows. Not at all.

This list comes from no less an Arkham authority than John D. Haefele, based on long years of collecting, and in consultation with a select coterie of other ephemera-seeking savants.

You may recall that Haefele helped out with the checklist of Arkham ephemera of the classic Derleth/Wandrei years that I put together for Firsts back in October 2002. That one covered the Classic Era, from when the press started up, until the death of Derleth in 1971. A list of 100 items that recorded the history-as-it-was-made.

Haefele’s new list takes up the baton as Arkham initially reels from the demise of its founder, struggling to keep its footing. Covering the years when James Turner took over the editorial helm. The Peter Ruber period and beyond. Last I heard Haefele had totaled up 108 items, and of course provides an essay on the era.

I haven’t held a copy in my hands as yet — it is as new as new — but if you’re interested in Arkham House, trust me, it’s got info you’ll get nowhere else, from a scholar who loves the subject.

And now, after this brilliant career sidebar, I suppose Haefele can get back to writing his magnum opus, Lovecraft: The Great Tales.

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Rediscovered: Faust/ Brand/ Urial

Pulp fans need no introduction to the name Frederick Faust — better known by his penname Max Brand. Or his penname Evan Evans. The guy wrote so much, so fast, he needed a ton of pennames. The guy — who attended U.C. Berkeley, by the way — became known as “The King of the Pulps,” and given how many pulp fictioneers were knocking out yarns, climbing up toward a million words per year, I think that gives you the idea of where Max stood on the production line.

Now, with the various autographed cheques we’ve been putting up, obviously just seeing the John Hancock is the big thing. Historical types probably appreciate the dates and bank marks.

And occasionally the info on a cheque can help fill in the saga of a pulp writer. 

For Autograph Hound Super-Sunday let’s dive into a little known — or unknown — moment in the career of Faust/Brand/etc.

Kevin Cook tossed a huge pileup of autos my way, but singled one out as especially worthy of Super Sunday attention.

Here’s Kevin:

“The prize of the new group, though, is a Frederick Faust signature on a check for the Max Brand story ‘John Ovington Returns’ in All-Story Weekly.

“This check is especially interesting because it is payment for ‘The Return of John Ovington’ by ‘Henry Urial.’

“Henry Urial is yet another Faust pseudonym.

“Although I am NOT a Faust expert, I do not believe that the name Henry Uriel was ever used with any published prose by Faust.

“Only on his poetry.

“The name was never used in the pages of All-Story Weekly.

“What that means is that sometime between the purchase of the story on January 12, 1917 and its publication on June 8, 1918, Faust decided to use his regular All-Story byline of Max Brand on the published story.

“Thus, ‘Henry Urial’ lost his bid for pulp immortality.”

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Rediscovered: A Woolrich Slugfest

Weekend after autograph weekend, I like to think of my two main Autograph Hounds — Brian Leno and Kevin Cook — as a pair of boxers, circling each other in the ring. Bursting out with sudden bruising jabs.

A Seabury Quinn v. an E. Charles Vivian.

An Arthur O. Friel v. a Tod Robbins.

A George Allan England v. a George Allan England!

I see them hanging on the ropes after trading quick rounds of John Hancocks back and forth, exhausted by the contest — legs rubbery, arms depending to their sides like those of anthropoid apes. . . .

But in real life they don’t seem to be tired at all. If anything, I’m the one being pummeled, buried under dueling avalanches of autographs.

For today’s Autograph Hound Saturday I might be able to make the image work, however, because I’ve ended up with samples of the signature of noir titan Cornell Woolrich from both parties. Pow. Pow. Can’t you hear the smack of the gloves?

Brian Leno

I was with Brian when he picked up his Woolrich at PulpFest, got it off Walker Martin, I think. Let Brian tell his story:

“Cornell Woolrich was one of the greats and his signature was a particularily desirable one for me.  

“One of my very first purchases of a Woolrich collection was the paperback Bluebeard’s Seventh Wife, published under the William Irish pseudonym.

“Old enough to remember watching Boris Karloff’s Thriller when it first appeared on television, I saw three Woolrich stories adapted for the show — ‘Guillotine’, ‘Late Date’ and ‘Papa Benjamin.’ That last episode cost me at least one night’s sleep.

“Many cinematic treasures were based on Woolrich’s writing, including Rear Window, The Leopard Man and Phantom Lady. Being a fan of the radio series The Whistler I’ve always enjoyed The Mark of the Whistler and The Return of the Whistler, two of the entries in the movie cycle based upon the radio program.”

Brian’s purchase covered the story “Gratitude” which saw life in print as “I.O.U. One Life” when it first appeared in Double Detective, November 1938.

And in this corner we find the taciturn slugger and collector

Kevin Cook

Who pops his gloves together and says, “I will note if there is interest that I have three more signed Cornell Woolrich checks, but none are for a story as good as ‘Jane Brown’s Body’ — although the estimation is my opinion and not gospel fact.”

Yeah, let’s haul the Gospels in on this deal — adds some authenticity to the scene. 

Posted in Film, Lit | Tagged , , , , , , |

Rediscovered: The Don Grant “Time-Lost”s, and Others

Some more commentary on last weekend’s autographs rolled in, with Kevin Cook stating: “Great to finally see an Arthur O. Friel autograph. Congratulations to Brian for tracking that one down.”

But Kevin adds, “I hope that Brian realizes that the Time Lost paperbacks from Donald M. Grant had his typical tampering with the texts, and The Pathless Trail was horribly abridged. Probably not known as well (because who’s seen the pulp text?) but Grant also edited and abridged The Bowl of Baal by Robert Ames Bennet. I only have two of the four parts in All Around, but checked the text just to see what damage Grant inflicted.

“Still, they were my first exposures to Friel — and to J. Allan Dunn as well with The Treasure of Atlantis. I had to wait decades to read that one untouched by Grant, when I finally found a copy of the December 1916 issue of All Around.

“(There’s some fascinating texts in the pulps that few people are aware of anymore. It is pretty well known that Burroughs killed off Jane in the magazine version of ‘Tarzan the Untamed’ but then changed his mind when the book was published.

“(Everyone also knows that Burroughs had tigers in Africa in the magazine version of ‘Tarzan of the Apes.’  He also made the same error in ‘The Return of Tarzan’ — but few people have ever seen the magazine version serialized in seven parts in New Story Magazine. Both instances were corrected in book form.)”

And Brian replies: “Yep, I know about Grant and his heavy hand at editing, but he was always nice to me through the mail. He helped me break into the Adventure authors, so I’m grateful.”

Kevin agrees: “Don Grant was a great guy in person; I talked with him at a number of East Coast conventions back in the 1970’s. And yes, of course Adventure was his favorite pulp.

“Thanks to Grant for introducing us to authors like Friel and J. Allan Dunn. Plus, of course, I owe another offer of thanks for City of Wonder by E. Charles Vivian which sparked one of the largest collecting interests of my life.

“Grant also allowed me to read The Werewolf of Ponkert with the Centaur Press paperback years before I bought a copy of the hardcover, my only signed H. Warner Munn book.”

Kevin and I have had numerous discussions of how Don Grant also botched his various editions of Robert E. Howard — essentially, he Politically Corrected them. The editorial tampering put a real ding in the value of his line.

And I guess if we ever get around to doing H. Warner Munn autographs, it’ll mostly be up to me. Leno tells me that “I was thinking about it and I don’t think I have a single signed Munn.”

Every book and chapbook by The Munnster I’ve got is inscribed. 

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