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A Con Report for Comic Related by Ron Fortier

(photos by Rob Davis & Dave Flora)

After months of waiting, early last Friday morning I jumped on a plane for Midway Airport in Chicago to meet up with artist Rob Davis.  Rob is of course my partner in our pulp company, Airship 27 Productions. We produce new pulp fiction in the form of novels and anthologies that are published via Cornerstone Book Publishers of New Orleans. It should be noted that I also moderate a Yahoo Group called the Pulp Factory, made up of many of our Airship 27 pulp writers and artists.

Once Rob and I had our personal geared stowed away at our hotel, we headed straight for the registration desk and signed in. Walking into the hall, we were thrilled to find we had been given the exact same spot as we'd had the previous year, smack dab in the center of the entire huckster hall. This was our third trip to Windy City. We immediately started setting up shop, with Rob unfolding the huge, absolutely stunning new Airship 27 banner he had made up. I'd seen photos of it, but that was nothing like seeing the actual banner with our logo unfurl as he hooked it on the accompanying stand. During the course of the next three days that banner would generate lots of gracious comments, many pulp fans letting us know how much they liked our dirigible logo.

Within a few hours of setting up, in walked Canadian writer and good friend, Andrew Salmon. This was our first meeting and all three of us quickly shook hands and started to get to know each other, all the while fans started trickling into the hall. Andrew is a fine writer and his journey from Vancouver had been an adventure in itself. He entertained us for several minutes with the experiences he'd endure while traveling via train and bus to get to the show. Andrew's sense of humor is dry and witty and he was a joy to have as a con neighborhood. Eventually he would be joined by another of associated, sci-fi writer Van Allen Plexico, as the two of the them were sharing the table.

Meanwhile Rob had his digital camera out and was preparing to take snapshots of both fans and fellow colleagues. One of the first to come walking by was none other than Doug Ellis, one of the two con promoters, the other being John Gunnison. Grabbing a notebook and pen, I got up and went over to query Doug about the show's history and current status. He informed me that he and Cat Jaster had begun the Windy City show back in 2001 and Jaster would remain his partner until 2004, at which time she opted to move on to other projects. Happily, Gunnison, the publisher of the popular High Adventure pulp reprint series offered to come in and replace here and he and John have been doing the show together since 2004. When I asked Doug about the show's health, he was hesitant to say it was growing, but did feel it was strong and attendance this year was similar to last, ballpark between 420 and 450 attendees. Certainly not what anyone would call a "big" con, on the other hand the show's very size is what contributes to its inherent fun and good times. We ended our discussion with agree that there is definitely a pulp revival through out the entertainment community which should bode extremely well for pulp fandom in the months and years ahead.

The rest of the show was two day blur of out and out fun. As luck would have it, all of our Pulp Factory buddies were lined up in the same row. The row itself started with artist supreme, Doug Klauba, who this year was sharing his table with an energetic young fellow named Dave Flora. Dave's a gifted comic writer and artist with a flair for the pulps. If you don't believe me, check out my review of his first GHOST ZERO comic, which I had him autograph for me at the show. Next to Doug and Dave was the ever affable Mr.Joe Gentile of Moonstone Books. Like Airship 27, Moonstone Books have been publishing new pulp fiction for the past two years, starting with their Spider Chronicles. This was an excellent opportunity for me to grab a copy of one of their recent pulp anthologies, The Avenger Chronicles. Little realizing that within hours of landing a copy of this truly awesome book, I'd be asked to contribute a story to a planned volume two! Hot dog!! I was also invited aboard another Moonstone anthology, but this one I'm going to keep under wraps, as to say anymore with unjustly rob Joe of the fun in announcing this character's return in his forthcoming Press Release. And no, I'm not talking about the Green Hornet. It's as yet another great hero from the past. Stay tuned.

Then came Van and Andrew, and finally Airship 27 Prod. By the end of Friday night, everyone with a table was settled in and ready to have some pulp fun. Six of us went out to dinner together that evening, five being members of the Pulp Factory and the sixth none other than Mark Halegua, the co-founder of New York's Gotham Pulp Collectors Club, one of the longest pulp fan groups in the country. Mark's a great guy and a story teller in his own right, never mind that we have a friendly baseball rivalry as he's a Yankees fan and I'm the Red Sox guy. We had the rest of the gang chuckling loudly as we fired back friendly sport insults at each other over a nice repast.

Saturday morning rolled around quickly and all of us were manning our tables for what is traditionally the biggest sell day of the con. And this year was no exception. Lots and lots of wonderful pulp fans streamed by our tables all day long, many stopping to simply chat, while others examined our wares and picked up one or more to take home. Many were old customers from last year anxious to see what new titles we'd brought with us. One delightful surprise was when a fellow stepped up to our table and Andrew leaned over to me and directed me to look up at guy's hat. He was wearing an Airship 27 baseball cap!! The gracious folks who follow my personal website I call my Loyal Airmen and none is more so than John Bodnar, who has written me many wonderful fan letters in the past. And here he was in the flesh, to say hi and tell us how much he enjoys our books. What super nice guy. It was a real treat to me him and of course Rob got a nice shot of us together.

Along about this time the final Pulp Factory gang member arrived, Wayne Reinagel, and this year he brought with him his latest pulp project. Wayne is an avid pulp enthusiast and he spent months crafting a poster that includes a time-line history of all the major pulp characters, artists, writers etc. dating from the late 1800 to 1954!!! It has thousands of entries and has to be seen to be believed! Hopefully I'll be posting pictures of it on my Airship 27 website soon. As a reference tool for pulp writers, this map is priceless and Wayne hopes to eventually put it on sale on-line for anyone with an interest in pulps to be able to procure one. He came to the show with free copies to all the Pulp Factory brothers. What a guy!

Of course I'm saving the true highlight of this show for last, which is chronologically when it does take place; the annual Pulp Factory Sunday Breakfast Summit. It all began three yours ago when Rob, yours truly and Doug Klauba met in the cafe of the hotel lobby to have breakfast before going into the hall for the last day of the show. When Doug later mentioned how much fun we'd had just chatting up pulps on our boards, the thing took on a life of its own and last year we moved it to a neighboring restaurant and included Van Plexico to our gathering. Well, this year there were seven Pulp Factory brothers in attendance and it was one of the most enjoyable meetings yet. This year's Breakfast Summit attendees included, beside yours truly, Rob Davis, Dave Flora, Andrew Salmon, Van Allen Plexico, Doug Klauba and Wayne Reinagel. Next year we hope to have even more members of the PF group with us.

Getting to the show, we began wrapping things up. By noon, lots of vendors had packed their bags and bid us farewell till next year. Along about this time, we were greeted by Mike Chomko, one of the promoters of pulpdom's newest convention, Pulp Fest, to be held in Columbus, Ohio, the weekend of July 31. Mike's a great guy and wanted to thank us for signing on with Airship 27 Prod. to do the show. While there his associate, Ed Hulse, joined us and I made it a point of telling them that Comic Related would also be coming to the show in bombastic full-force, podcast-combat mode ready to go. They were thrilled and assured me CR would be welcome with open arms. So there you go, what better way to end this year's Windy City Pulp & Paper Show. As always, these three days went by way too fast. But left us all with tons of great memories and looking forward to next year already. But first, it's on to Pulp Fest, and Comic Related's first ever pulp show. I don't know about you, but I can't wait!!

3rd Annual Pulp Factory Sunday Breakfast Summit

Left to right, (his back to us-Rob Davis) Doug Klauba, Van Allen Plexico, CR's own Ron Fortier, Wayne Reinagel and Dave Flora.

Ron Fortier ( / Writer, Creator and Imagineer
Ron Fortier has been a professional writer for over 25 years working on comic book projects such as The Hulk, Popeye, Rambo and Peter Pan, his two most popular comic series being The Green Hornet and The Terminator (with Alex Ross). With Ardath Mayhar he's penned two TSR fantasy novels, and in 2001 he had his first play produced. Ron is a constant supporter of the site, writes for it from time to time and shepards our forums. Learn more about Ron at Airship27.

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