Friday, February 4, 2011
I’ve always wanted to interview The Pulp Hermit, so when he asked me to set up a Blog to post his Quotes, I compromised with the old gentleman: “I’ll set up your Blog, but only if you will agree to an interview.” Well, he didn’t come around for a while, but after viewing my Blog at http://pulplair.blogspot.co/ he finally relented and agreed to a short interview with me.
TJ: Thank you for taking the time to visit with me via the Internet. First, how about telling the readers a little about yourself, and where you live.
TPH: I live in a cave. Actually, it’s quite modern, and well equipped. But it wasn’t always thus. I did work through the 1950s and ‘60s, as my parents expected it of me. However, one day in the 1970s, I heard about the value of certain comic books. As I no longer cared for comic books, and my real love was for the pulp magazines, it was a simple matter of selling my huge collection of comics for a vulgar amount of money. I quit working immediately, but took so much flack from my dad, I decided to move out of the house at thirty-five. That’s when I became a hermit.
TJ: I understand you have an extensive collection of pulps. Won’t the old magazines deteriorate in a cave? And what’s it like living in one?
TPH: I did mention the comic books I sold, right? Some of the money went into equipping the cave with generators, and other necessities. I had a vault built to house my pulps and this is kept humidity free and at a constant temperature. I will admit, there were some problems at first. I stepped on a huge centipede one night, and was stung by several scorpions. That resulted in my becoming a pet owner. In fact, I have several cats and dogs, and they keep the bugs out of the cave.
TJ: Okay, let’s get right to the meat of this interview. Pulps! What is it about pulps that influenced you to give up comic books for the magazines? Aren’t they basically the same, and do pulps exist in modern sensibilities today?
TPH: Pulps entertained me as I grew up. Okay, I admit, comic books, old time radio, and Saturday Matinee movies and serials as well as other things entertained me. But I grew away from the rest, even though I still have fond memories of them. The pulps were filled with a type of adventure that pulled me into the stories. The heroes were down to Earth. We didn’t need the ability to fly or leap tall buildings. But we might be able to fade into the shadows, or travel to exotic locales to save people in danger. I think comic books started out as pulp in pictures, but quickly became something else. Today there is little or no similarity in the comic books to the pulps of the 1930s. There does appear to be a pulp renaissance today, but much of it is vastly different from the pulps that entertained me.
TJ: Let’s discuss the modern pulp revival for a moment. A lot of old time pulp enthusiasts turn their nose up at the stories being written and published today, while there appears to be a new generation of readers that are open to the new material. Do you wish to comment on this?
TPH: If we’re talking about bringing the pulps into a new generation, then I’m all for it. Honestly, I can’t say much about the new material since I have read very little of it. What I have read does tend to turn me off. I don’t think many of the writers have actually read an original pulp. Someone puts out a “Bible” of the character, and a new writer kicks out a story, and it sounds nothing like the original because s/he has never read the series. I think the problem between the new reader and old can be summed up here: The new reader does not know the original character, so accepts the new story as truth. While the old reader still wants the characters they read growing up, not a fake. I’ll stick in the movie, PULP FICTION here. It had nothing to do with pulp, but since its release this generation believes that is what pulp was.
TJ: Any suggestions for the new writers/publishers of pulps? I’ve heard many say that the originals ran their course, there are no more stories out there, and it’s time for them to be updated. Is this true?
TPH: Throw away the so-called Bibles that have the wrong information. Read the original stories, and return to the great fiction that entertained the masses since pulps began. The originals have not run their course. There are still original stories that were never told. Why do they need to be updated?
TJ: What would you say is your greatest gripe with the new writers/publishers of pulps?
TPH: Besides what I said above? I don’t like the idea of the new writers leaving out the heroes’ assistants, then bringing in several guest heroes as assistants. You only need one hero in the story. Their aides were quite capable of assisting in the case. Plus, too many peas spoil the soup, right? Why have five or six heroes in the same story when they’re not needed? And why should they create new assistants for the hero when they aren’t needed? The original ones were just fine.
TJ: What do you think of new stories in the pulp tradition? Is this a good idea?
TPH: Of course! I would rather see the new writers create their own characters instead of ruining one of the originals. In fact, I wouldn’t mind reading new pulp heroes. My one concern is that what we may get will not truly be a new “pulp” hero, but a “comic book” character in prose. “Look, up in the sky, it’s a bird. It’s a plane! No, it’s …” The new writers are darn good, and I think they can bring the pulps into the 21st century. But they have an awful big shoe to fill. The original pulps were an institution!
TJ: One last question. You’ve been quoted as saying, “Those who don’t know pulp, will see pulp in everything,” or something similar. What do you mean by that?
TPH: If you look at Superman, Casablanca, and Mighty Mouse, they all have a central character or characters, and a story. Superman is a comic book, even if his creators did clone him from Doc Savage. Casablanca was a movie, and Mighty Mouse is a cartoon. But if you don’t know what a pulp is, you’ll think all three are pulp. That can be said for fairy tales (Paul Bunyon), vampires (Dracula) and the Frankenstein Monster, though these were never in the pulps. The paperback action novels of the 1950s and later were called Aggressor novels, not pulps, yet fans continue calling Destroyer and Killmaster, and dozens of other titles, “pulp”. That doesn’t make ‘em so. They are Aggressor novels. Someone will see a movie, and say, “Oh, that’s pulp!” Trying to make everything you see pulp, waters down the real item.
TJ: I appreciate you stopping by for this little chat. I know that there are many fans looking forward to more of your quotes.
TPH: Thank you for setting up this Blog for me!