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Curator of the art, history and fiction of old dreams.
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Dec 2, 2018 18 tweets 7 min read
It is the greatest frog-worshiping zombie biker occult horror film ever made. Possibly the only one. It's certainly like no over movie you've ever seen.

Today in pulp, I look back at the 1971 classic Psychomania... By the early 1970s British horror films were trying to get 'with it' to attract a younger audience. So it wasn't surprising that in 1971 screenwriter Arnaud d'Usseau tried to create a biker horror movie.
Oct 9, 2018 13 tweets 6 min read
"The gun is good! The Penis is evil!" bellows a huge stone head floating over the Irish countryside. It's quite a strange start to any movie, but it's about to get even stranger...

This is the story of John Boorman's classic 1974 film Zardoz. In 1970 director John Boorman began work on a Lord Of The Rings film for United Artists. It would be an unusual adaption; The Beatles would be the Hobbits and Kabuki theatre would open the movie . Alas the studio said 'No', but the idea of a fantasy film stuck with Boorman...
Oct 8, 2018 12 tweets 6 min read
As it's #LibrariesWeek let's look back at Britain's favourite library book*: the 1977 Usborne Guide to the Supernatural World!

(*according to my readers) Supernatural World was an anthology of three existing Usborne pocketbooks: Vampires, Mysterious Powers and Ghosts. As an Usborne hardback it was deemed perfect for the nation's libraries.
Oct 7, 2018 14 tweets 7 min read
It was a university course for the price of a packet of cigarettes: Pelican Books! Maybe the blend wasn't to everyone's taste, but there's no denying the addictive nature of the range.

Today in pulp I look back at the autodidact's bible... In 1937, two years after Allen Lane founded Penguin books, the company decided on a new imprint to provide academic and intellectual non-fiction for the general public. Lane believed there was a market for “intelligent books at a low price” which he was determined to serve
Oct 7, 2018 13 tweets 6 min read

And today's letter is home computer related... Mr Derrick Wibley from Penge writes: "Dear PL, I recently invested in a 48k ZX Spectrum to help run my stationery business 'Penge Pens'. However I'm worried it's not powerful enough to meet the needs of my ambitious business expansion programme. What should I do?"
Oct 6, 2018 26 tweets 10 min read
The Time Machine, Brave New World, 1984: these weren’t the first dystopian novels. There's an interesting history of Victorian and Edwardian literature looking at the impact of modernity on humans and finding it worrying.

Today in pulp I look at some early dystopian books… Paris in the Twentieth Century, written in 1863, was the second novel penned by Jules Verne. However his publisher Pierre-Jules Hetzel rejected it as too gloomy. The manuscript was only discovered in 1994 when Verne’s grandson hired a locksmith to break into an old family safe.
Oct 6, 2018 16 tweets 7 min read
"It is the colour of a bleached skull, his flesh; and the long hair which flows below his shoulders is milk-white."

This is how we are introduced to Michael Moorcock' s anti-hero Elric of Melniboné... Elric, also known as The Albino Emperor, Elric Kinslayer and the Pale Prince of Ruins is the 428th emperor of Melniboné, and the last. A sickly sorcerer sustained by enchanted herbs, he is a brooder and an outsider to his people.
Oct 5, 2018 18 tweets 7 min read
It was a phenomenon, spawning a franchise that has lasted fifty years. It's also a story with many surprising influences. Today in pulp I look back at a sociological science-fiction classic: Planet Of The Apes... Pierre Boulle is probably best known for his 1952 novel Bridge On The River Kwai, based on his wartime experiences in Indochina. So it was possibly a surprise when 11 years later he authored a science fiction novel.
Oct 5, 2018 14 tweets 6 min read
Today in pulp I look back at the simple idea that launched a thousand fanzines: Letraset! Launched in 1959 by Dai Davies and Fred Mackenzie it heralded a graphic design revolution that brought funky fonts to the masses... Davis and Mackenzie – both experienced designers – created Letraset as a cheaper alternative to phototypesetting, to help speed up the design process. From humble beginnings in an old factory behind Waterloo station Letraset eventually swept across the design world!
Oct 4, 2018 15 tweets 6 min read
Today in history: Sputnik 1 is launched on 4 October 1957 and kicks off a worldwide space race! Let's look back at a few notable satellites that helped pave the way forwards... Arthur C Clarke wasn't the first to come up with the idea of satellites, but his 1945 essay in Wireless World did popularise the idea of geo-stationary communication satellites: though these would rely on valve technology.
Oct 3, 2018 9 tweets 4 min read
The nickel weeklies - story magazines for young adults - paved the way for the bigger, more adult pulp magazines of the 1920s. Today in pulp I look back at one that tried to sneak some history into its pages too: the Liberty Boys of '76. Liberty Boys of '76 was first published in 1901 by Frank Tousey and racked up almost 1300 issues over its 24 year lifespan. It told tales of the American Revolutionary War as seen through the eyes of a band of young volunteers.
Oct 3, 2018 13 tweets 6 min read
For some aspiring writers a rejection letter from a publisher is crushing; for others it just spurs them on. So if you've been knocked down recently don't worry, you're in good company - as I'll show you in this thread of famous rejections... “This author is beyond psychiatric help. Do not publish.” 

#RejectionLetterQuote for Crash, a novel by J.G. Ballard.
Oct 2, 2018 12 tweets 7 min read
In January 1919 a new magazine heralded the dawn of the Weimar era. Its aesthetic was a kind of demented Jugendstil, and its stories were dark gothic fantasies.

This is the story of Der Orchideengarten... Der Orchideengarten: Phantastische Blätter (The orchid garden: fantastic pages) is probably the first ever fantasy magazine. Published in Munich by Dreiländerverlag, a trial issue appeared in 1918 before the first full 24 page edition was published in January 1919.
Oct 2, 2018 12 tweets 6 min read
Today in pulp I look at a legendary magazine that built an equally legendary publishing house: a tale that starts with reveille and ends in revelry. Stand by your beds!

This is the story of Captain Billy's Whiz Bang... Captain Billy Fawcett was a U.S. Army captain during WWI, working on the military paper Stars and Stripes. After the war he ran a bar in Minneapolis until Prohibition shut it! So in 1919 he decided to publish a men's humour magazine, aimed at former Doughboys like himself.
Oct 1, 2018 10 tweets 4 min read
Let me introduce Mark Hardin: The Penetrator... Mark Hardin is a one-man strike force against corruption. Orphaned at the age of four, he was brought up mean and hungry. He learned his fighting skills in Vietnam, befire returning to an America gone bad...
Oct 1, 2018 14 tweets 7 min read
Time for our occasional series Forgotten Pulp Genres: today I'm looking back at the rise and fall of romance comics! Prepare for love and heartache... Romance comics grew out of the 'true confession' magazines of the 30s and 40s, but were targeted at a post-war teen market. The comics industry was looking to diversify and love stories looked like an untapped market.
Oct 1, 2018 6 tweets 2 min read
I'm sorry to say that comics legend Carlos Ezquerra has sadly passed away... Ezquerra pretty much redefined the Beiish comics scene with a range of gritty anti-heroes for IPC Comics. They shook up the entire industry and left a generation of readers thrilled.
Sep 30, 2018 15 tweets 8 min read
What font should be on your book cover? Well if you've had it with Helvetica and you're fed up with Futura why not revive a classic pulp typeface or two? As it's #FontSunday here's my list of some pulpy fonts that are fruitier than Frutiger and louder than DIN 1931... Any pulp sci-fi writer must give serious consideration to using Amelia as their book cover typeface. Designed by Stan Davis in 1964 it's the font used on the Moon Boot and reminds people we haven't actually been to the Moon since 1972, so we really should try again!
Sep 30, 2018 24 tweets 10 min read
Whatever happened to the modern gothic romance? For 30 years they were a staple of the publishing world, with their iconic covers of women with great hair fleeing gothic houses.

Today I look back at the modern gothic genre and try to uncover its dark, forbidding secret… Gothic fiction is heavy on atmosphere and place. This helps it adapts to changing times, rather than being a period drama genre. And in 1938 the gothic received a hefty jolt of life when Daphne du Maurier published her novel Rebecca: an instant success that sold 3 million copies.
Sep 29, 2018 17 tweets 7 min read
Bűvös Kocka was patented in Hungary in 1975: a plastic cube, made up of nine coloured squares on each side, that could be rearranged in 43 quintillion different ways. Eight years later over 200 million had been sold worldwide.

This is the story of the Rubik's Cube... In 1974 Ernõ Rubik was an architecture professor from Budapest. Looking for a way to help his students better appreciate 3D design he began work on a wooden puzzle block that could be reconfigured by twisting it.
Sep 28, 2018 19 tweets 7 min read
What do Star Wars and James Joyce have in common? Fractals! And the most famous fractal – the Mandlebrot Set – can be created in a few lines of computer code. But what are fractals?

Today in pulp I look at the “Devil’s Polymer.” This may involve maths… Benoît Mandelbrot was born in Poland and educated at the Paris Polytechnique. He was also fascinated by Johannes Kepler, the 17th century ‘father of planetary motion,’ and followed a more eclectic scientific journey that eventually took him to MIT and then IBM.