Retirement & Releases

Even though I semi retired at the end of December 2009, I hope to continue helping Matt with some of his projects at Altus Press occasionally. But with my age and health, I’ve got to slow down. Plus, I do want to catch up on some reading I have neglected for too long. Speaking of Altus Press, this year should see the release of the rest of my research books, as well as one or two volumes of collected articles. Over at NTD, Barbara Custer has my SF novel, THREE GO BACK, plus a new Black Ghost novel, and a SF anthology once she completes some current books. So I’ll be around throughout 2010.

The big news this time around is the release of three books from Altus Press that I’m very proud of. First up is the collected Red Finger series by Arthur Leo Zagat, from the back pages of the Operator 5 magazine. This has long been a favorite character of mine from the pulps. Since there were only 12 stories in the series, Matt let me contribute a final story for the book, which I had fun writing. I hope everyone will check out, THE HAND OF RED FINGER, from Altus Press. I think you’ll like the character also! On the heels of the Red Finger volume is the latest Triple Detective, which will likely be my last involvement with this wonderful title. I hope Altus Press will continue the title, though, and bring in new writers for the book. This issue contains the first new Eagle story after 70 years, titled GIBBERING GAS OF MADNESS, plus the Phantom Detective and Black Bat finally meet in CITY OF PHANTOMS, then my final Masked Avenger story, THE DEATH PLAGUE rounds out the issue. However, Matt had asked for a special Feature this time, so I wrote a piece about pulp legends, then got carried away and wrote a story featuring, The Legend! To make the book even more interesting, we included another Phantom Detective comic that was left out of the Phantom Detective Companion. Folks, this issue of Triple Detective is the biggest and best yet, and is a good way for me to say farewell. My third release is PULP DETECTIVES, my tribute to both Johnston McCulley and the pulp heroes I loved so much. There are nine stories in this huge volume, featuring such costumed heroes as the Black Bat, Secret Agent X, and Phantom Detective. For fun, I’ve written the first new Masked Detective and Lone Eagle stories since their pulp days. Also included is one of my own costumed characters, Nightwind, a masked rider of the plains. Unless Matt can really interest me in another project, these will likely be the last pulp stories I will ever write.

I have had the privilege of knowing so many of the giants, that it is going to be impossible for me to remember all of their names. But let me name a few that I was able to call friend and acquaintance. There were Harry Steeger and his wife, Norman Saunders, and Norman Daniels. Leigh Brackett, Tommy Thompson, Hugh B. Cave, Ryerson Johnson, John Jakes, Michael Avallone, Norma Dent, and Walter B. Gibson! Good grief, I brushed shoulders with so many others! Least I forget let me add Nick Carr, Bob Sampson, Fred Cook, Lyn Hickman, Tony Tollin, and Will Muray. If I tried to name them all, this would turn into a book, so let me stop with those names. All of them giants.

With the start of 2010, it has been nearly 60 years since the pulps died in 1953. Thankfully, we have publishers like Altus Press and a few others who are reprinting the old stories as they were originally written. But after so many generations of readers have joined the ranks, new trends are taking over the old heroes. New writers, all top-notch, are writing new stories about the old heroes, though they may not have ever read one of the original stories. Or if they have, they want to change the character to fit in with the world today, and the results are characters that are nothing like the original pulps I loved so much. I’m not saying that is a bad thing. These writers are keeping the pulp characters alive in their tales, so that has to be a good thing. But for me, I wanted them to stay the same forever. Our heroes only fought gangsters and super villains, not floating alien heads from another dimension. They were not faster than a speeding bullet, and could not leap tall buildings with a single bound. But perhaps that is what the reader wants today, so I give my blessings to the new writers. And with that, I think it is time I bid adieu to pulp fandom and the pulp community.  As I said at the beginning, I will still be around, but I plan to be reading a lot of good books as I relax in my old age. The last forty plus years that I have been involved in pulp research were the best years of my life!



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  1. Tom,
    What a ride. You have put your imagination in print for the entire world to see. Not just in one or two books, but in a bunch of books. You are an inspiration to all who want to write. I hope you enjoy your semi-retirement, but like I said once before, it’s in your blood. As long as you have a thought and a pen, you will write.


    Malcolm “RAGE” Petteway

  2. Thanks, Malcolm, you’re “right on”, of course! I could always get the bug and “have to write” something else, whether it’s ever published or not. I think writers are cursed from the day they first get the inspiration. I remember those slow nights working Desk Sgt in France, and trying to plot simple stories for characters I created. Appreciate the comment!

  3. Malcom said it, “What a ride,” and you took many of us along with you. Your and Ginger’s Fading Shadows helped me and others to get started, and I still miss Alien Worlds which carried many of my stories.

    Here’s hoping you an enjoyable semi-retirement, and success in all your future ventures.

    May The Good Lord be with you and may the road rise to meet you.


  4. Thanks, Sully! Yeah, I look at Popple’s NTD magazine and still see so many of FADING SHADOWS writers churning out great stories. Plus, we still get emails from past writers that got their start in ALIEN WORLDS or one of our other titles, and have gone on to a paperback career, and they thank us for giving them their start. Talk about a ride! Ginger and I have known a great bunch of folks over the years, and that has made our life worthwhile. I think that’s the main thing wrong with the Internet, there’s not the closeness we had that was associated with the print magazines. But with you, Malcolm (“Rage”), and all our current friends, we’ll still be connected to a bunch of great folks! Popple and Matt Moring will be around for a long, long time yet. You know, in passing, I think it all started for me when I picked up A.E. van Vogt’s “Pawns of Nul A” back in the early ’50s. My life was changed forever (lol).

  5. I’m a great fan of A E van Vogt, too. Another of the books that got me started was Leigh Brackett’s “Hounds of Skaith.” I see that she is listed as one of the giants you have known. Fantastic.


  6. I think I’ve read just about everything of Leigh Brackett’s. We had our picture taken together not long before her passing. Yes, van Vogt remains my favorite SF writer from the time I discovered “Pawns of Null A”.

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