Heady words, right? But I don’t feel like they’re the wrong words.
Pulp Fiction has many layers. More than a genre or a field of writing, Pulp is a historic event, has been since the first cheaply made, quickly written magazines hit the newsstands so many decades ago. Was it necessarily a whole new form of literature, then? No, not when you take into account the dime novels and such that preceded pulps. What it became, however, is an unstoppable force, an unbelievable influence on writers of the era and especially writers, both famous and unknown, of every year since. The simplistic, yet layered storytelling, the one-two punch of the dialogue and the action, and the over the top antics, characters, and resolutions that made readers believe in the amazing, the fantastic, and the incredible have leaked into modern literature in ways that no one expected.
As a writer of New Pulp, something that has been going on really since the original era of the Pulps ended, I have heard many people say and have even said myself that we are in the midst of a Pulp Renaissance. That now with the advent of things like the internet, Print on Demand, and an overall increase in interest, Pulp is becoming more and more popular and noticed every day. I believe this simply because of the number of writers, artists, and especially publishers I am aware of that have set up shop in the last 5 or so years, creators who are simply out to do one thing-write Pulp. And even before this new crop of artisans, Pulp still had a strong foothold. Collectors, dealers, and fans of the original works and legendary stories have been active enough over the decades that Pulp has shown up at a variety of conventions and venues, even so much so that there are at least two major Pulp conventions a year, not to mention smaller dealer shows and other events throughout the year.
It’s a proven fact. Pulp, if it ever really went away, is back and with a Norvell Page like vengeance. And out of this resurgence in interest, out of the dedication of dealers and collectors keeping the love of Pulp alive, and out of the creative, inspired minds of modern creators thirsting to express their ideas, stories, thoughts through the prism of Pulp, something else has arisen. Something innovative, yet not disconnected for the established work. Something original, yet grounded solidly in inspiration and influences past. Something novel, but familiar at the same time.
This is the era of New Pulp.
Pulp will never die. What has come before will never change. Dent, Gibson, et al. will continue to be the almost mythic purveyors of this most awesome fiction. But they have descendants in spirit, authors and artists who have picked up the banner and carried the standard of Pulp forward. The past of Pulp will be preserved by the historians, touted by the collectors, distributed by the dealers, and reprinted by the fantastic resources that have taken that on. Those unbelievably great adventures will thankfully never fade away.
And out of that legacy, out of that history, out of that imaginative period and body of work has come New Pulp.
It is time to define New Pulp as its own entity. Not separate from Pulp as a whole, but as something defined within the genre. What is New Pulp? Well, as far as my definition goes, the explanation is fairly simple. New Pulp is fiction written with the same sensibilities, linear storytelling, pattern of conflict, and creative use of words and phrases of original Pulp, but crafted by modern writers, artists, and publishers. New stories with either completely original characters or new tales of established characters from Pulp past. It’s really that simple. New Pulp is Pulp written today.
So much New Pulp is now available, including work from noted pulp historians such as Will Murray and Tom Johnson as well as the entire Wold Newton family of creators and beyond. Add to that the literal multitude of mavericks and new guns that have stepped forward, myself thankfully included, and New Pulp is suddenly more than just a group of guys and gals telling stories like the ones we grew up on. It’s its own movement, its own subgenre, within Pulp as a whole. And that doesn’t mean it is set apart from Pulp as we’ve all known it until now. New Pulp will always be a part of Pulp conventions, dealers shows, and the continuing appreciation and discussion of classic Pulp and all that made it what it was.
But I think it can be that…and much more.
Here’s what I’m proposing. And understand, this is a proposal, an idea…a suggestion. Having said that, I have discussed this line of thinking with other writers and creators, even if they didn’t know what my intent was at the time we discussed it, and feel that this is the right time for a defining of New Pulp. So, I bring this to you with some ideas and concrete plans. And with an invitation, but that’ll come later.
In order to define New Pulp, to bring in new audiences, to find and take on new markets, and to shine light on this wonderful literary form that thus far has been shined elsewhere, the first step is coming together. As a publisher myself, I know that there’s a certain level of competition, that ‘my stuff has to outsell your stuff’ mindset and that’s okay. That’s healthy. But we are at a point that if we want to break out, if we want people to walk by a bookshelf and see a New Pulp title and say, ‘Hey what is this?’ and in some instances if we even want to get on some bookshelves, then we have to recognize that although we are individual creators and companies, we are also invested in the same genre. We are all a part of New Pulp.
With that in mind, here’s what I’m proposing. A push for New Pulp. Getting the word out that New Pulp exists, that it is both a part of something classic and great and is its own movement. To establish an identity for New Pulp, a way that when someone encounters a tale published, written, or drawn by a New Pulp creator, that they know they have a New Pulp work in their hands.
One way to do this is combined advertising. We need to come together and work up some ads, print, net, and otherwise, that tout New Pulp, not just as a concept, but with creators, publishers, and product from various New Pulp purveyors. Pro Se, Airship 27,Wild Cat, White Rocket, Granton City Press, Seventh Realms, Moonstone, and the list goes on. Advertising, either free or paid (with each party tossing in a share of course) is crucial to any endeavor breaking beyond its established fanbase, but it is particularly critical for a field wanting to establish itself. To that end, I had Sean Ali, a great friend and Pro Se’s designer, develop a logo that will be free for any publisher of New Pulp to use. A handful of writers and publishers have already agreed to participate in efforts under this logo and anyone else in the New Pulp field is welcome to join in.
Also, I’ll announce that PULP ARK, the writer’s conference/convention that Pro Se is hosting May 13-15, 2011 in Batesville, AR, will be the first NEW PULP Conference/Convention. At current count, 25 writers, publishers, and artists of New Pulp will be in attendance at Pulp Ark, the biggest gathering of New Pulp creators in one place to date. Dealers and collectors are also welcome and several will be present, moving everything from classic pulp magazines to reprints to cds to all sorts of Pulp related material. But Pulp Ark will focus on New Pulp creators with panels, classrooms, and programming designed to promote New Pulp and welcome fans and new readers into the world New Pulp has established.
If Pulp Ark makes the mark we feel it will, talks are already in works for adding a convention in a different location under the New Pulp banner as early as next year. This would be done in an effort to give New Pulp creators who can’t make it to Arkansas every year to have at least one other venue, maybe even two eventually, to be a part of. And of course, it would also open up New Pulp to new fans and readers.
Another aspect of this is that shared, cooperative pages can be established. Already in the works are ideas for a NEW PULP site that spotlights all New Pulp creators who wish to participate and hawks their wares, either print or e-books. That piece will take a bit to get set up, but it is in development.
These few ideas and plans are just the tip of the iceberg. As I said at the start, this is not a Pro Se or a Tommy Hancock project, but I did feel and was encouraged by others that someone had to sort of step up and take the reins. The yahoo group PulpDefined, that some of you have requested membership, will be a major workplace for the New Pulp movement. If you are interested in participating, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org that you are a writer, artist, or publisher and wish to be a part of Pulp Defined. Or if you just have questions or comments, the same email is good for those, too.
Of course, there is no rule that says you have to identify with, work with, or even support what I’ve proposed. This is one person, with the encouragement of a few others, who has recognized a need and hopes we can come together to fill it. We are all individuals, but we are also all New Pulp. It’s time to let the world know that we not only exist, but that we are here to stay and will provide them with endless fantastic tales and exciting adventures. That is our world. That is New Pulp.