Pulp!: A TwoFisted Forum
The legends: Sherlock Holmes. Conan the Barbarian. Philip Marlowe. Doc Savage. Flash Gordon. The Shadow. Come add to the mythos by reading/writing the best pulp stories Fictionpress has to offer.
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Sherlock Holmes. Conan the Barbarian. Philip Marlowe. Doc Savage. Buck Rogers. Flash Gordon. The Shadow. Tarzan. Zorro. Arsène Lupin. Allan Quartermain. Fu Manchu. John Carter of Mars. The Green Hornet. Simon "The Saint" Templar. C. Auguste Dupin.

Perhaps you know some or all of these names, perhaps you don’t. Either way, these are but a small fraction of characters (not to mention all their writers) to which modern storytelling owes a lot, most of them borne of a then-looked-down-upon medium.

I’m talking pulp fiction. Not the Tarantino movie, though I am a fan. What I’m talking about is the old books and magazines of the 19th and 20th centuries. Penny dreadfuls, dime novels, whodunnits, scientific romances, space operas, “weird tales,” war stories, and on and on.

Pulp had everything. It attained a certain zenith for the imagination. You could tag along with adventurers and witness their derring-do in exotic locales. You could unravel a murder mystery beside a wise-cracking, cynical P.I. You could fight aliens or werewolves or robots or zombies. You could travel wild jungles, barren deserts, outer space, the Old West, prehistory. You could wallop Hitler and his Nazi goons or take on the Red Menace or the (admittedly not PC) Yellow Peril.

Do you love reading or writing stories that tip their hat to or wholeheartedly drown themselves in pulp fiction elements? Then welcome, fellow enthusiasts (or random virtual passers-by)! This forum was created exclusively for you. Chat, whore out yours or others' stories, worldbuild, whatever. Have fun!


Your Humble Moderator

1/18/2010 . Edited 1/19/2010 #1

Needs more John Drake. (Do you consider him pulp? I'd argue he's far superior to The Saint, anyway! That could just be my Prisoner bias, however.)

Otherwise, good call on the genre. It's one of the most fun and fluid to write, I've found, and definitely great fun to read. It's pure storytelling, and an antidote to ponderous bricks of sound and fury; you know, the stuff that rakes in the big bucks!

I'd also cite its influence in other works, particularly in the thriller genre--'Marathon Man' by William Goldman (yes, the guy that wrote 'The Princess Bride') is one of my favorite novels ever, and definitely owes a lot to the pulps as well.

What amazes me is, given how predominant pulp films still are, that the genre has not regained some measure of popularity within the written word. In an age when practically nobody reads (and everyone reads the same few books), I wish we didn't consider ourselves too literary for simple but good stories.

(Currently ironing out a few kinks in my own pulp-inspired piece; I'll post a heads-up when it's up.)

1/18/2010 . Edited 1/19/2010 #2

Hmm… Danger Man? Never heard of him, but this is exactly what I have this forum, to spread the word on obscure pulp characters/stories. Sounds fun. =D

I’ve actually nevered watched The Prisoner, to be honest. A lot of the things I claim are awesome I’m just going purely on say-so or my own initial assumptions after browsing Wikipedia. =P

I am a fan of Patrick McGoohan, though. Loved him in Scanners and Braveheart. How the hell do you pronounce that last name of his, any ideas? Mick-GOO-en? Mick-Owen? Mick-Gwin? No clue here.

And yeah, pulp is still sadly little-known even despite being something of an invisible backbone to much of today’s media. That’s another reason I made this forum, to gather our numbers (at least on this site).

And yes, keep us posted.

1/19/2010 #3

I'm a big fan of pulp, myself. I love classic literature as much as the next guy, but dammit, sometimes I just want to kick back and read something fun and exciting. It's what I try to write, too. I like comic books and action movies; pulp fiction contains a lot of the same sorts of tropes and atmosphere.

Hell, last year I had a Pulp Art calendar hanging up in my kitchen with artwork from different pulp magazine covers on each month. Great stuff.

Would you guys consider H.P. Lovecraft's horror/fantasy fiction to be pulp? A lot of his stories used to run in those sorts of magazines.

1/19/2010 #4

Nice to see you here, DSD. My apologies, also, for having yet to read more of your stuff. =(

And do I consider Lovecraft pulp? I'm pretty sure I do, yes. One of my faves.

And that calendar sounds awesome. I want one.

1/19/2010 #5

(Why does the editing bar hate me?)

dreamshell: Mc-GOO-en, accent on the caps syllable. Although considering he was Irish-American living in Britain and his own accent was a weird mishmash, I bet you could get away with just about any pronunciation. Weird guy, as he lived much of his life as a recluse, but brilliant nevertheless. 'Danger Man' you might know as 'Secret Agent Man' (I'd bet dollars to donuts you at least know the song). It was a precursor to 'The Prisoner'; both are (of course) highly recommended. I can confidently say you've never seen anything like 'The Prisoner' before and will never see it again.

Since this will come up: Should there be a general advertisement thread, to consolidate recommendations to pulpy works on the site? I'd also suggest a 'read and review' style thread, but don't know how much traffic the forum might actually get (I suspect its numbers will be smaller than the Twilight-inspired forums, at least.)

DeepSeaDragon: You bring up a good point re. comics (which are probably the lone holdover from pulp literature's golden age) and art itself. It does go hand-in-hand with the genre, probably because I see pulp as a direct takeoff of cinema (both began at about the same time, even if pulp's penny-dreadful precursors were before). Writing in a genre so influenced by imagery, it demands its own.

Regarding H.P. Lovecraft, I'd argue that whether his stuff qualifies as pulp depends on how weird/specifically scifi the individual stories are. Something like 'The Colour Out of Space' wouldn't qualify as pulp, because of how much it reaches. Pulp is supposed to be for the masses (a weakness and a strength), and I don't think that story in particular is for mass consumption. I'd much more easily place someone like Heinlein in the pulps: Even though he uses scifi trappings, his storylines are still very much about heroics and derring-do. (And I'd cite Joseph Conrad as a precursor to the pulps; he's too literary to qualify but is still probably a huge influence.)

(Gosh, I sound way too much like the literature professor that I currently am. Sorry! I'll try to tone that down.)

1/19/2010 . Edited 1/19/2010 #6

I know the song, at least. And hrm, good point. I suppose I should start a few more threads. Just so they don't get mixed up amongst one another, I suppose separate places for writers to mention their own stuff and others' would be good. Also, a thread for non-FP pulp recs in general.

And hmm. I don't necessary agree that something can't be "literary" and pulp at the same time. It's more about the tropes employed to me, and the atmosphere. "The Colour Out of Space" very much works in both those regards, to me. Conversely, not certain I'd call Heinlein pulp, but debate is an intended (and inevitable) facet of this forum.

1/19/2010 #7

(Blarg! Second time having to retype this. The backspace key keeps sending me back a page. Pooh on you, Internet browser!)

Thefilmchick: Tone it down? I wouldn't. I love seeing the input of people more educated than myself. After all, I'm on this site to help myself become a better (and hopefully publishable) writer. I wouldn't worry too much about sounding pretentious if that's your concern; pulp may be wild and woolly, but that shouldn't stop us from analysing it like any other sort of literature. I say it's fair game.

I haven't read The Colour Out of Space yet. I just finished Call of Cthulu; it feels pulp to me, but if we define pulp by its "for the masses" appeal, then I would be hesitant to classify it as such. I'm not sure how well Joe Schmo would take to it. (For the record, I thought it was groovy.)

Dreamshell: Good to be here. ;) I'm trying to get more involved in the FP community. Plus, Jave recommended the forum to me, so I had to show up eventually. Looking forward to some fun stuff here.

I feel like pulp gets a bit of a bad rap. Why do people feel as if it's wrong to kick back and read something that's just meant to be fun? It's not like you can't learn life lessons and gain knowledge from an adventure or mystery story. Besides, I'm a sucker for old-school heroes and action set-pieces, and pulp has that in spades.

1/19/2010 #8

I agree with you on all points, DSD. Shall I call you Bud or anything instead? Letters feel depersonalizing. As for me, Jave usually just calls me "Shell."

1/19/2010 #9

Bud's fine by me. Deepseadragon doesn't have any particularly special place in my heart; it's actually a pretty random screenname.

Wonder if we'll have "Cthulu is An Awesome God" stopping by? He's one of my favorite writers on this site, and Primordian Chronicles is some of the best pulp-inspired stuff I've read, not to mention that it hits just about every major pulp trope in existance (zombies, dinosaurs, intelligent gorillas, airships, Nazis, monsters, robots, noir, etc). I think that Jave mentioned inviting him to this forum, too.

1/19/2010 #10

Yeah, I hope so. I'm a fan of his, too. Also, Doctor Vile. His "Quentin Quark" story is amaaaaaazing.

1/19/2010 #11
Jave Harron

Sadly, Quentin Quark's been taking down for rewriting (with funny note left in place). A story with similar vibe by Doctor Vile, Fractal, has been posted, though.

1/19/2010 #12
J.A. Fletcher

This is great! I'd be honored to join!

2/3/2010 #13
Jave Harron

Pardon my late welcome, Fletcher! What kind of pulp do you enjoy the most?

2/4/2010 #14
J.A. Fletcher

Mostlythe far-flung adventure pulps. And air adventure. Like Tailspin Tommy, and Doc Savage...Dick Tracy is alright, too, but I'm not into the gumshoe too much.

2/5/2010 #15
Lord Monbodo

Hi everyone. I've never really payed attention to pulp before, but I've started writing it and it's quite fun.

4/8/2010 #16

Hey, Monbodo. Welcome! Take a look around, post to your heart's content, and hey, why not see if the Pulp! Writing Contest might be something you want to enter? =P

4/8/2010 . Edited 4/8/2010 #17
Lord Monbodo

I think I will.

4/8/2010 #18

Hey, y'all! I've long been looking for a forum like this; I grew up with such stories (although I'm only in my early twenties), so, yeah!

Most of my favorite authors and series come out of the pulp tradition. Here's a sampling:

Mickey Spillane (and, by extension, the Mike Hammer series)

Ed McBain (and the 87th Precinct series)

Louis L'amour

James M. Cain

EC Comics (Tales From the Crypt, The Vault of Horror, Two-Fisted Tales, etc.)

Johnny Boggs (wrote such novels as the westerns THE KILLING SHOT and NORTHFIELD)

Robert B. Parker (wrote two great series: the Spenser, Private Eye series and the APPALOOSA western series (Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch))

Donald E. Westlake (especially the Dortmunder series)

Lawrence Block (especially the Bernie Rhodenbarr series)

The Tintin comics (CAN'T wait for the movie)

So, yeah, you can see I do love pulp fiction :) Glad to be here!

6/3/2011 #19
Jave Harron

Hey there. Glad to see a new face around here. Sadly, partner, forum has been a ghost town recently. Thanks for the list, though!

6/6/2011 #20
J.A. Fletcher

Yeah. I miss the contests.

6/8/2011 #21

This is a bit of a shameless plug, but Shell and I are trying to get a new forum going over at extropia.forumer.com (stupid FP formatting)

It isn't exclusively focused on old-style pulp, but that is an acceptable subject of conversation. The forum isn't exactly jumping with life yet, so please, come over, talk about pulp, talk about not pulp, post some of your own work. Or don't do any of that.

6/22/2011 #22
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