Downtown Wichita Falls, Texas, in the mid 1940’s was a bustling metropolis for a boy of 7 just away from the farm and ranch community where he was born. My father, a cook and cowboy by trade, had just started as one of the first cooks for the Casa Manana restaurant in 1947. He moved us to an apartment on Ohio Street, right across from the Gem Theater, between 7th and 8th Streets. It’s here that we would stay for the next three years. The Gem Theater became a magic palace for a young mind. But it had to share that distinction with the rest of the magic that was Wichita Falls. I attended San Jacinto and Carrigan elementary schools, as well as Reagan Junior High, and belonged to the Boys Club on 6th Street. Please join, and share your stories and pictures through a Guest Blog, of early Wichita Falls - or your home town. Contact me at or leave a comment. We could use old pictures of movie houses, drive-in theaters, and other nostalgic pictures related to our youths.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Fading Shadows Presents NEW PULP

Fading Shadows Presents
Edited By Tom & Ginger Johnson

NOT FOR SALE. This anthology of New Pulp novels is collected for--and available to-- a few close friends in hope of keeping the stories on file for the future. Currently, each story is available for sale in their original publication, as long as those copies exist. But once they are gone, the stories may be lost forever.

The victims died with their faces eaten away by a mysterious, insidious power. A fiendish mastermind had decreed these ghastly murders--and, guarded by an army of killers, he thought himself safe from retribution. But a strange grey shape glided through the shadows, sworn to bring justice to . . . THE FLESH-DESTROYERS  (features the Night Star) By Steve Mitchell

Sneering, Talking Skeletons, Formally Clad, Prophesy Doom For Members of The Swank, Exclusive Aegis Club, Turning It Into . . . THE CRIME CLUB a Complete Adventure of The Visage By Shawn Danowski.

CARNIVAL OF DEATH, a complete adventure of The Black Ghost By Tom Johnson. When a new menace rears its ugly head in his Great City, The Black Ghost finds that he may be up against an old enemy. One that refuses to stay dead! But why is Spider back, and who – or what – is Cipher, the team of ex soldiers that accompany her? And why is an agent of British Intelligence on the case? Plus, it seems the British government may know the identity of the intrepid fighter in black!

Monday, October 20, 2014

New Pulp And New Pulp Fiction

New Pulp And New Pulp Heroes

Clancy O’Hara’s PULP #7
The hero pulp magazines ended in the summer of 1953, while genre pulp magazines continued through the late fifties, and even into the 1960’s. One had the gall to hang on until about 1972. But the end had arrived. Men’s adventure paperbacks were taking the place of those old magazines on the racks, and digest magazines replaced the SF, Mystery, Western & Romance pulps.
The pulp magazines had kept to a strict moral code watched over by publishers and editors, though some of the covers might have given a different impression of what was inside. By 1953, however, the hero pulps were not immune to the changing time, and the morals were beginning to evaporate. The final issues of The Phantom Detective, Dan Fowler (G-Men Detective), and The Black Bat (Black Book Detective) contained strong hints of sex and rougher language. But by then their time was dying, and the paperbacks had taken over for good.

Jerry Page’s The Armadillo
Let’s concentrate on the pulp hero, or I might use the term NEW PULP HERO at this phase. When did it start? That’s easy. The first we absolutely know of for sure, was Jerry Page’s The Armadillo, a masked hero that appeared in print just a few years after the hero pulp magazines ceased in the mid 1950s. By the 1960s there were new stories of The Shadow, to prove that OLD PULP HEROES were not dead. And others were writing clones of Doc Savage and Tarzan, like Phil Farmer and Lin Carter, among others. I don’t have a good track on all the new pulp heroes that were strangely appearing in paperback, but I could name some, if pressed. Even major comic book houses like Marvel and DC were bringing their characters out in prose paperback editions.

Tom Johnson’s The Black Ghost
Unfortunately, there wasn’t a concerted effort to maintain this new pulp/new pulp hero tradition until 1995. In January of that year – dated Winter - it all changed. The culprit was Clancy O’Hara’s PULP FICTION MAGAZINE - changed to PULP, A FICTION MAGAZINE with the third issue and just plain PULP with the seventh issue. And the first new pulp characters to arrive in Clancy’s magazine were Aaron B. Larson’s Haakon Jones, and Tom Johnson’s The Black Ghost, both appearing in early issues. In June 1995, Tom & Ginger Johnson’s FADING SHADOWS magazines kicked off with CLASSIC PULP FICTION STORIES and ran through December 2004, and the new pulp/new pulp heroes were claiming their place as “new pulp fiction”. Clancy may have been the first to call it NEW PULP, but we at FADING SHADOWS called it NEW STORIES IN THE PULP TRADITION. I’m not really sure when the NEW PULP banner started, but I imagine someone at Pro Se could fill us in.

As the reader can see, NEW PULP is really quite old. I still prefer NEW STORIES IN THE PULP TRADITION, however. Doesn’t that make sense? But whatever we call it, since 1995 NEW PULP FICTION has been going strong, and we’ve definitely seen some interesting characters show up on radar. In January 2015, the modern day pulp fiction will be twenty years old. Haakon Jones and The Black Ghost will also share that honor.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Let's Pretend

Let’s Pretend

In the 1940s and early ‘50s, I was a huge fan of Let’s Pretend on Saturday morning. The fairy tales my mother used to read to me when I was very young I could now hear portrayed on the radio by real people – usually children themselves. We didn’t have television until I was sixteen so home entertainment was always radio.
I actually recognized some of the voices back then. One in particular played with the Bowery Boys in the movies. Another young boy that was on the show for many years was Arthur Anderson who, in 2004, wrote the above book about the show, and that time.
I didn’t know at the time, but the woman at the head of Let’s Pretend was Nila Mack (1891-1953), a woman in a man’s work force. She had directed children’s programs on CBS since 1930, and in 1934 retitled one of the programs to Let’s Pretend. It ran until 1953, about the time of her death.
I know I loved the program, at least until I grew out of fairy tale age, but I never forgot that wonderful show. Even though Nila Mack had no children of her own, I think she knew what we liked.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Great SF Movies From The Fifties

Great SF Movies from The Fifties

The movie THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL from 1951 was based on a 1940 pulp story, “Farewell To The Master” by Harry Bates, and starred Michael Rennie and Patricia Neal, along with Gort the robot, and probably one of the best SF movies of the period, about an emissary from space arriving in a flying saucer to warn the world of disaster if they continue show aggression when they enter space.

Another flying saucer brings another kind of emissary in THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD, starring Kenneth Tobey and Margaret Sharidan, and a monster carrot creature played by James Arness. The Thing was here to conquer Earth, and except for a brave team at the Arctic Circle might have just did that. It was Box Office success, and still popular today.

I had recently read the hardback edition of THIS ISLAND EARTH, which was originally written in three stories appearing in the pulp magazine, THRILLING WONDER STORIES in 1949, when this 1955 movie played in Wichita Falls. Starring Jeff Morrow, Faith Domergue, and Rex Reason, is was about scientists from another world arriving in a flying saucer to recruit Earth scientists into helping them save their planet.