PULP ARK WEEKEND-GUEST INTERVIEW WITH MARK HALEGUA
PULP ARK GUEST PREVIEW INTERVIEW
PULP ARK has a host of guests planning to attend in May. ALL PULP will be posting interviews of some of these guests throughout ALL PULP WEEKEND, some of them interviewed for the first time time here, others interviewed specifically about their part in PULP ARK! To kick this off, we have…
AP: Mark, its really great of you to take time out to sit down with ALL PULP! First, tell us a little about yourself?
MH:OK, I live alone, except for my pet Sun Conure, Apollo, in Queens County NYC. Born in Alaska, came to NYC when 1 year old. Love to read, and generally prefer SF and fantasy, action/adventure (what some might refer to as new pulp like the Destroyer, Gunsmith, and others), and collect comic books. My favorite comic characters are Green Lantern, the Batman, Flash and mostly DC comics, used to have a complete set of Batman, golden age to current. Sold off a lot of the early issues. Like SF and action/adventure TV.
AP: Your involvement in Pulp is from a few different angles.
We’ll get into them, but can you give an overview of what you have done/do/are doing that relates to the field of Pulp?
MH: Well, I collect pulps, I’ve organized the Gotham Pulp Collectors Club, which meets once a month, I sell digital pulp cover images in sets from my big DVD with over 23,000 images to smaller CD genre sets for westerns, Detective and Mystery, Hero and Villain, Anthology titles, Air and War, and others to come., and I write pulp stories of which I’ll write more later.
AP: You are the organizer/driving force behind Gotham Pulp Collectors. What is the purpose of this group? Is there an overall mission or is this simply a gathering of enthusiasts?
MH: I guess you could say getting pulp fans is the mission. NYC and the metropolitan/Gotham area has a lot of collectors and we meet once a month, the 2nd Saturday, to share our common affliction um, hobby. For anyone interested they can go to the gothampulpcollectors.com web site.
When we get together we talk about old pulps, we sometimes have a show and tell showing our new acquisitions, we talk about pulp adaptations in film, radio, comics, and what ever other media. One of our members, Ed Hulse, is a film and serial aficionado and the Windy City film expert, playing pulp related films during the convention. Another, Chris Kalb maintains a couple of web sites on the Spider and other pulp heroes. He’s also involved in pulp reprints called Age of Aces and did the reprint of the Spider versus the Black Police. Robert Lesser collects pulp cover original art, has written some books on that subject. David Saunders is the son of pulp artist Norman Saunders, a pulp art historian (written books on his father and H. J. Ward). We have other members as well.
We sometimes play pulp related movies, TV, and radio. We don’t charge to attend or be a member. We just share a common insanity … er … like for pulps.
AP: Do you think organizing pulp fandom as you have with the Collectors and through other ways, like fanzines, blogs, etc. is important to the existence and future of pulp? If so, why?
MH: I haven’t done anything in fanzines or blogs other in response to the yahoo groups I’m part of, PulpMags and others. I did create a Google group for pulp collectors, but, since PulpMags already existed, I really haven’t done anything with it. One of the purposes of the GPCC is to try and get younger people involved in the hobby. It’s been a (very little) successful in that. Most pulp magazine collectors are in their late 40s and later. I do know of a very few younger, a couple attend the meeting (Chris Kalb is one)
AP: You show a definite interest in pulps, covers especially. So much so that you’ve turned it into a business, Pulps 1st. A couple of questions about this. What is it about pulp covers that draws you and others as fans?
MH: I wouldn’t say I’m interested in covers particularly. I do like them. Frankly, my main interest is reading them. How I accumulated the images is interesting. Initially I did it for recognition purposes. I wanted to know what the covers I wanted looked like so I’d recognize them at conventions.
One day I wondered how many covers I’d gotten from the and other places. I had over 5,000! I thought to myself others might want to see them as well, and PulpCon was coming up in a few months, perhaps I could sell CDs of the images there. I’d already take tables at PulpCon in the past to sell pulp cover t-shirts. There are issues with doing that, so I wanted to change what to sell.
In the next few months before the convention I collected another 6,000 images, put together a disk, made my own cover for the disk, and went to the con. I sold 20 disks for $50 each. There was obviously a market for it.
Over the years I continued getting images and improving on images I already had. The current DVD now has over 23,000 images, including complete sets of Doc Savage, Shadow, Phantom Detective, and others and long runs of other titles (over 1,500 Argosy, nearly complete Weird Tales), this disk is the Pulp Image Library version 7. A few years after my first disk people started asking for single genre disks. They didn’t collect everything, only Western titles, or hero, or … well you get the idea. So, I’ve been adding them to the mix.
The market isn’t as big now. Anyone who has wanted a disk has one, so I don’t sell that many at conventions anymore.
Now, the question is, who has bought them? Well, artists, pulp collectors, people who like good cover art.
If anyone is interested, http://pulps1st.com. It needs updating, but they can enquire what I have for sale.
One thing I have done is add images scanned from my collection. Those are generally scanned at 150 and 300 DPI. I’d like to replace all my images with this kind of resolution, but I don’t own more than a couple three thousand pulps.
AP: What goes into turning an interest in pulp covers into a business? Is there a market for this and if so, who/what is it?
MH: I think I answered this above. There is a market, but it’s not a big one. I do all the work myself, from the DVD/CD covers to manufacturing the disks. One thing, I generally make enough money selling the disks and pulp mags I sell at my table to pay for the table and travel.
AP: You are a collector. Do you collect pulps in general or do you have a genre or character(s) you prefer? What draws you to the particular favorites you have?
MH:I started off collecting mostly hero and SF. I have widened my scope and have pulps in all genres. I started collecting Thrilling Western because the early covers were just beautiful. Ed Hulse got me more interested in Blue Book and Adventure (I’d already had some Argosy because of Zorro, Johnston McCulley, and Ray Cummings), and Earle Stanley Gardner stories got me into Detective Fiction Weekly. I love his Lester Lieth stories in particular, and pretty much anything he has written.
I also have, limited, samples of romance, sports, and railroad pulps.
AP: You are a creator and writer as well and have an original pulp character appearing soon. Just who/what is The Red Badge?
MH:Red Badge was born in tragedy and rage. A young woman was raped and beaten and left for dead. Someone didn’t like that. In the first story, Red Badge Attacks, he goes after one particular gang in a mid-western city (Central City) and. Like the Spider and Shadow) kills them. Unlike those two he also aims to cripple, shooting or knifing some of the gang in the joints. He wants the thugs to fear him more for the crippling than the killing.
The setting is the mid-1930s, a rather lawless time, where there are corrupt politicians and police.
This first story is scheduled for Airship 27’s Mystery Men and Women, vol 2, coming out sometime in mid year.
After submitting my bible for the characters and a short story, Ron Fortier asked me to add 10,000 words, which I did, and then Andrew Salmon helped me put a shine on it.
The mystery of the story is not what Red Badge or who he’s after is. The mystery is who is he behind the mask.
If you want to see one interpretation of how he looks, go to http://red-badge.com/
AP: When creating a character that you want to be considered pulp, what goes into that, sort of like ingredients? What does a good modern pulp character need to have to be good and pulpy?
MH:Writing in a pulp style is interesting. It’s getting to the action quickly, not getting verbose and flowery. I’ve heard some say it’s a punch in the nose.
You want action! You want the protagonists to get in each other’s face and duke it out! It’s like a heavy weight prize fight with the fighters going toe-to-toe and trading punches! You do want a good story and plot, but action drives the story.
I think that comes out in the two pulp stories I’ve completed, the Red Badge, published later this year, and a story I wrote for Christmas and put on the group for pulp writers and artists thepulpfactory. This story, titled the Night Before Christmas, was also published here on All Pulp. It’s about Santa Claus as a crime fighter on Christmas Eve.
I’m working on a second Red Badge story, a Secret Agent X story, and a couple of other characters I’m creating, one called Crescent Moon and the other … well, I’m deciding between two names for him. Stay tuned.
AP: Pulp lately seems to be divided into three camps-The Purists who want new pulp to pretty much be in the vein of the classic pulps and for original pulp characters to be treated with respect and their original directions maintained…The Modernists who want to bring in new themes, take characters different directions, and explore broader horizons through the venue of pulp…Then there’s those who don’t really fit either category or waffle back and forth. Where do you fall and why?
MH:In most ways I’m a purist, however, I don’t agree with your concept of three adversarial camps. What I don’t like is people making radical changes to characters. For example, what DC has been doing to Doc Savage and the Avenger. First, they exist in some unidentifiable time period that includes jets, cell phones, TVs, autogyros, zeppelins, and such.
Next, they have people call the Avenger, Richard Henry Benson, Benny? And have Josh Newton be an inveterate gambler, owing big money to bookies, with his hair in cornrows?
These show a lack of respect for the characters.
In trying to integrate this indiscriminate time period with some of the rest of the DC universe, Doc Savage and Batman are teamed. Batman has and uses guns (I know Batman used guns in his first year, 1939, but since then he doesn’t and abhors them. You’re going to forget 70 years of a character for one year most people don’t remember or know about?).
Plus, the story was lame, vanilla, and plot-less. It just seemed like a vehicle, a bad one, to get these two together. It made no use of the things they have in common (and they do have things in common) or the things which are totally different about them.
To fix this, at least for myself, I wrote a comic script teaming them and, did exactly what DC didn’t do. The story is available for pulpfactory members in the files section.
Moonstone seems to be following a similar path. I’ve only just read the semi-graphic novel teaming Black Bat, the Phantom (Detective), Domino Lady, Secret Agent X, and G-8, and I wasn’t impressed. I’d like to see at least one issue of the individual characters before I continue further.
To get to the question posed, I do like new stories about the old pulp characters. But radical changes no. I don’t want my pulp characters gaining super powers. There were only 3 such published– 4 if you count Captain Hazard and his telepathy – in the Black Bat being able to see in the dark, even when there was no light; Richard Henry Benson – The Avenger – when he could manipulate his face; Captain Zero, who could uncontrollably turn invisible (from midnight to 7AM).
I’m not including real magic.
And I don’t want their personalities to radically change either, or at least not without a period of time for it to happen.
But, I can see making gradual changes, with good reasons.
I’m not a fan of giving the Black Bat a costume, for example. He wore a business suit with a cowl (to hide his facial scars) and his ribbed cape (those stories need be before he was given a dog by Lt. McGrath). His guns were in shoulder holsters.
There’s enough good characters out there with good back stories radical changes are unnecessary. Use what’s given. There’s a lot given.
AP: What’s coming up on all fronts pulp wise for you?
MH: What I’ve just expounded on isn’t enough?
My real job is as a Computer Consultant or Information Technologist (no, I’m not related to cousin It!). I try to keep up with technology and install and maintain it for small business and home users in New York.
That’s how I integrated my love for pulps and pulp covers into selling the disks. I combined my knowledge of one with my passion for the other.
I’m scheduled to attend the Windy City convention in April, Pulp Ark in May, and PulpFest in July.
I might come up with an update for vol 8 of my Pulp Image Library DVD and one or more of the genre CDs.
And I hope to have more pulp stories finished and published.
Whew, I’m tired just thinking about it.
AP: Mark, thanks for dropping by!