WINDY CITY PULP CON REPORT
Convention coverage provided by Ron Fortier
Pulp conventions are a bit more subdued than their comic cousins. Still they are really lots of fun, overflowing with amazing treasures, new and old and attended by some of the nicest fans you’d ever want to hang with.
I attended my first Windy City Paper & Pulp Con last year and had so much fun there was no question I’d return this year to do it again. My plane from Manchester, N.H. touched down at Midway airport just before 8 AM and my Airship 27 Prod. partner,artist Rob Davis was there to greet meet. Rob had driven all night from his home in Missouri. Next stop, check into our hotel and then make it down to the convention hall.
Both of us were tired, having gotten no sleep, but still excited about doing the show. As we pulled up to the convention hotel parking lot, we ran into artist Doug Klauba. Doug, whose recent work has graced the covers of the Phantom and the Spider anthologies for Moonstone Books, is a fellow member of our intern club, the Pulp Factory. Aside from being a fantastic artist, he’s also one of the nicest fellows I have ever met.
Inside the hall, we quickly set up our table and Rob erected his tall wooden stand to hold our posters, placing just behind us and the table. We laid out lots of copies of our recent pulps; Brother Bones, the Hounds of Hell, Captain Hazzard-Curse of the Red Maggot and of course lots of copies of our recent graphic novel Daughter of Dracula. Soon we were meeting and greeting familiar colleagues, some for the first like Denver based writer, Win Eckert. Win and I have been pals for many years and this was our first ever face to face. Win actually flew down to spend that one day, Friday, at the show. I’m so glad he did. He was staying with his Chicago pal, fellow writer Rick Lai.
Fridays are usually slow days, as most creators and vendors just get in, set up and meet what few fans do show up on what is still a work day. Yet we did have fun meeting our table neighbor to our right, writer Wayne Reinagel. Wayne had a brand new action pulp novel he was debuting at the show this year. By late afternoon our neighbor to our right, another Pulp Factory member, writer Van Allen Plexico finally arrived. Van is the writer of those amazing superhero novels, the Sentinels. The series has recently been picked up by Swarm Press and I can’t recommend it enough. If you like the 60s Avengers from Marvel, these adventure novels are you cup of tea. And as Chuck always reminds, Van is also responsible for that amazing literary tome on the history of those vary Avengers called Avengers Assembled. Consider by many to be one of the finest non-fiction book ever done on a comic theme. Van was very happy to let us know that Avengers Assembled has sold so well, he’s now in the process of putting together a second volume.
Finally the last person I have to mention here is artist/sculptor Michael Hudson. This was his first time to the Windy City show and he brought along several of his amazing statues from his Reel Art Studios to include the recently released Spider. Pulp fans that passed his table during the weekend were having trouble keeping their eyes in their socket. Among his other genre statues were a Tarzan figure and his amazing 3 figure realization of the Frank Frazetta paperback painting, the Frost Giants!! Oh, and did I add, Michael is also a member of the Pulp Factory. Ha.
The show’s two main guests this year were to be Ron Goulart and Will Murray. Whereas the theme was celebrating the 75th Anniversary of Doc Savage, what better way then to spotlight two writers who actually wrote under the penname, Kenneth Robeson. Will wrote seven published Doc novels and Ron almost a dozen Avenger books, both for Bantaam Paperbacks. Sadly, Goulart had to cancel at the last minute, but happily Will was there and the pulp faithful really enjoyed meeting this multi-talented gentleman who is one of the leading pulp historians in the world.
Con Promoters, Doug Ellis & John Gunnison, once again delivers a terrific convention and established an atmosphere of genuine for all who attended, both vendor/creators and the fans. At the end of the day, several of our group wanted to get together socially in the courtesy lounge. Alas both Rob and I were wiped out from our overly extended day
Saturday saw us both fully recharged and eager to get going. As my flight home was scheduled for Sunday morning, we were going to have close up shop at the end of Saturday, so we were determined to make it a real blow out. And thanks to all the great fans who attended that day, that’s exactly what happened. The traffic was steady all day long and we sold lots and lots of pulps and copies of our graphic novel. Much to our delight. It’s always nice to add profits to your con experience. Ha.
I also want to add that during Saturday, my old friend, Moonstone Comics Managing Editor, Joe Gentile stopped by to visit with us. Moonstone has been doing lots of pulp related books in the past two years and I’ve been very proud to be a small part of these efforts. Later that same time, noted comic editors, Mike Gold, stopped our table to say hi. He and Rob are old acquaintances. We talked about the new Grimjack stuff Mike is producing and some of the new projects on his table. He told us Trevor von Eden is now writing and drawing a book on the life of African-American boxer, Jack Johnson. Mike was very excited when describing it for us. It was my first meeting with Mike and I made a point of letting him know how much I loved First Comics, an outfit he help create and guide into comics history.
As you can see, all kinds of people show up at this con, Chicago being a major comics hub. By the time Sat. night rolled around, Rob and I were packed up and moving all our gear back into the back of his pick-up truck. After dinner, again with Van joining us, we returned to the con hotel to hear Will Murray’s talk, then we headed for the courtesy lounge to rap with other con attendees. Always much fun for all of us. We called it a day around midnight.
Last year, Rob and I met with Doug Klauba over Sunday breakfast. In that hour we just had so much telling stories about our experiences in our careers, we made it a point to repeat that experience. Only this year we invited Van to join us. So, at 8 AM, at a nearby coffee shop, the four of us sat down over java and croissants and had an informal conversation about everything under the sun. It’s such an informal way to unwind from the con and just get to know each other better.
Something all of relish greatly. Then, all too soon, it was 9 AM and time for Rob to drive me back to the airport to catch my flight back to New Hampshire. The four of us said goodbye, all promising to do this again next year. Driving to the airport, Rob and I were both in agreement that this, our second trip to the Windy City Pulp con had been twice as much fun as last year. So you know we’ll be back next year, hoping to help make the show even bigger and better. It’s my fervent hope that many of you reading this report will join us.
Thanks ever, Ron.
-- By Ron Fortier for Comics Related - 29 April 2008
Artist Doug Klauba
Writers Rick Lai & Win Eckert
Ron Fortier & Rob Davis of Airship 27 Produdtions
Van Allen Plexico
Visit the official show website at www.windycitypulpandpaper.com.
About Ron Fortier - Ron has been a professional writer for over twenty-five years working on comic book projects such as The Hulk, Popeye, Rambo and Peter Pan. His two most popular comic series being The Green Hornet and The Terminator (with Alex Ross). With Ardath Mayhar he has penned two TSR fantasy novels, and in 2001 he had his first play, a World War II romantic comedy, produced. His most recent projects include the novel Witchfire and the graphic novel Daughter of Dracula. Learn more about Ron and his work at his blog www.airship27.com or in his forum.