Rediscovered: Hannes Bok — “Dear Virginia”

And how about a gander at the letter legendary artist Hannes Bok sent before the one he sent yesterday?

Also courtesy of noted book and pulp collector Kevin Cook prowling around in his treasure trove, of course.

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Rediscovered: A Letter from Hannes Bok

And noted book and pulp (and autograph, and letter, and miscellania) collector Kevin Cook thought some of you might like to peruse a letter the legendary fantasy artist Hannes Bok tossed into the mail seventy-eight years ago today.

Cool, right?

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Rediscovered: Theodore Roscoe

Noted book and pulp collector Kevin Cook mentioned to me that Up & Down has “yet to feature Theodore Roscoe, who did write fantastic fiction, including two stories in Weird Tales in 1928 — but whom I admire most because of his Foreign Legion stories in Argosy.”

Those Thibaut Corday Foreign Legion stories from Argosy were collected complete in four volumes by Altus Press in 2012, for the curious.

Kevin also sent in an example of Roscoe inscribing a novel from 1935 — in 1990.

Murder on the Way! (Dodge Publishing Company, 1935) is a rewritten version of the Argosy serial “A Grave Must Be Deep”  from 1934. Roscoe would do the same thing for Dodge Publishing when he rewrote “War Declared” from Argosy in 1935 into I’ll Grind Their Bones in 1936.

Our pal Morgan “The Morgman” Holmes gave Roscoe a blurb earlier this year over on Castalia House.

Consider Roscoe featured. Ka-Chow!

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Sinister Cinema: Doc Savage Meets Bogie

On Sale Every Wednesday: Pulps in the Movies — and How!

Today hero-pulp stalwart Doc Savage shares a scene with Humphrey Bogart. Man, you cannot get any more pulp and movie than that, right?

Not that anyone ever spotted Doc’s cameo in all these years since 1945.

But we’ve got the eagle-eyed pulp enthusiast and movie savant John Locke working the mean streets, ready to break the story so everyone will know.

Here’s John with the scoop:

It’s a nation’s shame that the historic encounter of Doc Savage and Bogie — Pulp Icon meets Movie Icon — has gone unnoted until now.

In Conflict (1945) — one of the least known of Bogie’s films after Falcon made him a star — he sits at an interrogation table in police headquarters answering questions about his wife’s mysterious disappearance. To the left is the sister-in-law he’s secretly in love with (Alexis Smith), and on the right is a prominent psychiatrist and friend of the family (Sydney Greenstreet).

The table is strewn with books, pulps, and other magazines. Several shots — including in this closeup, at lower left — reveal the April 1940 Doc Savage:

From 1933-49, Doc was to the adventure story what The Shadow was to the detective tale: a larger than life hero embroiled in the most amazing of exploits.

And there are other pulps on the table, but the oblique camera angles wouldn’t allow identification.

The idea of the table seems to be that it was like a doctor’s waiting room where clients might need reading material to pass the time.

Which raises the question: Did actual waiting rooms in those days keep pulps on hand?

Notably, Conflict is the most Hitchcockian of Bogie’s films — not that that’s been a thing until now, either.

First, it’s a tale of suspense, not a mystery, since the murderer (Bogie) is revealed closer to the beginning of the story than the end.

Second, and most interesting, Conflict forms a weird thematic bridge between two of Hitchcock’s most haunting films. Conflict successfully mimics Rebecca (1940), Hitchcock’s only Best Picture winner, mesmerizingly demonstrating how a dead woman can cast a powerful shadow over the events of the present. (Note that Conflict was actually made two years before being released, when the memory of Rebecca would have been fresher in the creators’ minds. It was held up in a rights dispute over the source story, “The Pentacle,” by Alfred Neumann and Robert Siodmak.)

At the same time, Conflict foreshadows another Hitchcock classic, Vertigo (1958), based on a 1954 French novel, in which a dead woman’s spirit (Carlotta Valdes) seems to inhabit the present.

The difference is subtle, and Conflict deftly merges the two themes.

Critics quibble with the plausibility of Conflict’s plot, the way they used to with Vertigo.

But the real issue is how these films function as dreams — or nightmares. Dreams operate on a level where plot is less important than mood, but that makes them no less compelling while they’re being experienced.

Finally — because it’s the, er, stuff that dreams are made of — we circle home to the Black Bird. When Bogie’s murderer visits the office of the chief investigator of his wife’s case, what do we see on the top of the bureau?

The brooding presence of the Maltese Falcon!

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

Tour: Feeling a Trifle Bookish

Ah. The Angela Hill article on the Dashiell Hammett Tour I mentioned yesterday turns out to be only one of several articles in a new supplement to the Mercury News titled Bookish.

Bookish. I like it. Couldn’t be more apt for the sort of life I’ve lived.

If you want to look over the contents in the main, start out from this page and follow your nose. If you only want to know when sports are starting up again, that’s in another section of the paper.

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Tour: Locked Down and Written Up

Even though the Dashiell Hammett Tour is under lock down, Angela Hill fired off a new article in the Mercury News today against the moment it comes gumshoeing back.

Bound to happen — if I can pry myself away from the tube in this little Golden Age of epic binge-watching.

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Sinister Cinema: A Meta-Pulp on Broadway

Pulps in the Movies!

All Singing!

All Dancing!

On Sale Every Wednesday!

Today John Locke, our resident pulp expert and movie buff, strikes a new chord in the hallelujah chorus of pulp sightings.

Doctor, fix me up a new pulp, and pronto.

(Best of all this installment of his long-running series puts the spotlight on Buddy Ebsen. Check the latest Dashiell Hammett Tour book, pages 181-82, and you’ll find an anecdote from September 1, 1985 when the tour group shadowed our way up to Ebsen near Union Square and kind of spooked him. You sense something behind you, turn, and a group of thirty people are staring intensely at you to see if you’re Buddy Ebsen. . . . And you are Buddy Ebsen!)

Here’s John with his latest showcase:

This screenshot tells us that while the human universe contains fiction magazines, the Hollywood meta-human-universe contains fictional fiction magazines. In this case National Detective — which sounds more like the title of a true-crime mag — is a doctored copy of the March 1937 Popular Detective.

The doctoring was a common practice, as many pulp sightings are of partly or completely mocked-up magazines.

Why not just use the original magazine?

Our best guess is that permission to use the magazine was not obtained from the publisher and copyright holder, Beacon Magazines (i.e. Standard Magazines, or the Thrilling Group).

Note that the publisher’s imprint (and the story listings) were scrubbed from the cover art.

The studio, MGM, could be reasonably assured that the magazine would not be identified since it only lingered on-screen for a few seconds. Additionally, the odds of Standard pressing a legal claim against mighty MGM were slight.

The sighting is from Broadway Melody of 1938, a musical which started production in February 1937 and was released on August 20, 1937. The futuristic title expressed that the film would showcase tomorrow’s hot music and dance trends today.

The studious actor is Buddy Ebsen, best known on television as Jed Clampett on The Beverly Hillbillies (1962-71) and as detective Barnaby Jones (1973-80).

Back then he was a nifty dancer who, memorably, hoofed a duet with seven-year-old superstar Shirley Temple in Captain January.

What so fascinates him in this issue of “National Detective”? Our patented photogrammetry software reveals that he’s just started Frank Gruber’s Samuel Deering yarn, “Murder on the Mat.”

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

Rediscovered: T.S., Eliot

Autograph Hound Saturday rolls around and Autograph Hound Dog Brian Leno keeps landing major John Hancocks, even as the pandemic howls at his door. To defy the reaper Brian puts a memento mori spin on things, including the display of his latest haul, a T.S. Eliot.

“Some previous collector,” Brian writes, “had mounted it (pasted) to a large piece of cardboard, making it look fairly hideous.

“So a little emergency surgery with a knife and Eliot was free.

“He’s been enclosed in plastic (glued on the back) which could be easily removed — but enough operating for today.

“I stuck him next to a skull — not a real one, just a museum replica — and I think he looks pretty cool. 

“Handful of dust, human skull before it turns to dust, what’s the difference?”

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Sinister Cinema: Chain Gang

Pulps in the Movies. On Sale Every Wednesday.

From three hour extravaganzas with multi-million-dollar budgets to quick and cheap studio shorts, our resident pulp expert and cinema hound John Locke works the entire waterfront. Tirelessly.

Here’s John with the latest:

Warner Brothers polished off 1932 with a Bang! — Bang! — releasing two riveting American-punishment-is-hell sagas in quick succession: I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (November 19), then 20,000 Years in Sing Sing (December 24).

Give the Brothers credit for their sense of humor.

They soon sent up both movies in 20,000 Cheers for the Chain Gang (August 12, 1933), one of their Broadway Brevities two-reelers used to fill out an evening at the movies.

The short features a convict enjoying one happy ending after another in the May 1933 Snappy.

Who said prison wasn’t a blast?

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Rediscovered: Arcane Arkham Arch-Collectors Corner No. 3

A few weeks ago I mentioned a couple of ephemera pieces done by Arkham House authors to promote their Arkham House books. Since the publishing firm had nothing to do with them, we experts on Arkham House ephemera don’t number them on the official lists. That post showed off one by Frank Belknap Long, but I also mentioned the bookmark Donald Sidney-Fryer had made up to plug his new book Songs and Sonnets Atlantean in 1971.

I had DSF sign the back of the bookmark I keep with my main copy of S&SA — I think DSF collectors kind of need it, Arkham ephemera collectors can toss a coin.

And that’s what I told bookseller Paul Dobish when he asked where the bookmark might appear in the list of Classic Arkham Ephemera. Dobish, of course, consulted on the list of the Classic Era I did for Firsts: The Book Collectors Magazine in October 2002 and he consulted on the list of the Modern Era ephemera John D. Haefele did for the November/December 2019 issue of Firsts. He’s a lion in the ephemera jungle.

I’d bet on Arkham authors Nelson Bond and Joseph Payne Brennan being prime candidates also to have manufactured their own personal ephemera items — a brochure, a broadside — since Bond released dealers catalogs and Brennan did little magazines.

Stuff Is Out There. I know it is.

And Dobish mentioned a related area of possible interest to Arkham collectors.

I suppose if you have a Complete Arkham House then you may need new worlds to conquer — or if you realize assembling a Complete Arkham is an impossible dream, you could do a sub-collection of the select by-product.

Paul pulled info on a few signed “author editions” of some books, side ventures a few Arkham authors produced to promote their titles at the time to an elite collecting class.

“I know,” Dobish writes, “that John D. Harvey did a 14 page — seven 8.5″ x 11” leaves stapled together at one upper corner — ‘Novel excerpt by John D. Harvey’ from The Cleansing — front ‘cover’ reproducing the front panel and spine of the dustwrapper plus the foregoing text, all leaves printed on both sides, save that the rear ‘cover’ only is blank.

“I have a copy inscribed to me.

“Something associational to potentially add to one’s collection.

“For Greg Bear’s signed run on The Wind from a Burning Woman there were apparently also lettered copies done. I have both 250/250 and Z/250.

“There was also a 10 copy traycased edition of The Black Book of Clark Ashton Smith, each with a piece of the original art used in the book, plus an illustrated limitation/signature leaf.

“The text on the limitation/signature leaf includes:

THE BLACK BOOK OF CLARK ASHTON SMITH / ARTIST’S EDITION / Is limited to 10 copies signed and / numbered by the artist and includes / an original drawing from the book

“Arkham House was not involved, as far as I know. Terence McVicker was.

“An ‘artist’ edition rather than an ‘author’ edition.”

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