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Category Archives: Adventure Fiction

Pulpwood Proofing

A Thousand Fops or How I Got Into the Proofreading Biz

by Rodney Schroeter

At the 2004 Windy City Pulp and Paperback Show, I was on a mission.

Obviously, I was looking for pulps, originals, books, and any other miscellanea that struck my fancy. But my mission went even beyond that.

I’ve been to every annual Windy City show since it started in 2001. In the years since, I’ve picked up lots of small-press publications that reprint the kind of pulp fiction that makes me smile, clench my teeth, widen my eyes so that the whites show all around, and chuckle insanely, causing my wife to wake in alarm and order me to turn off the light.

And when I did finally turn out the light, I could not easily fall asleep. It was rage that kept me awake. The seething resentment that had built up, causing my skin temperature to rise, as I read publication after publication.

All those typographical errors!

How could they publish books with all those typos? Didn’t anyone actually read them before the manuscripts were sent off to the printer in Timbuktoo?

I don’t think the science of psychology is advanced enough to explain why I developed my razor-sharp ability to catch errors as I read. (Actually, I don’t think psychology is advanced at all, but that’s another rant.) Part of it has to do with my decision to master the English language. (I haven’t done that, quite yet.)

I think, also, that my error-catching mindset is due to the fact that I deliberately chose to never mentally skip over errors. I remember a nice lady that my mother knew, when I was ten, lending me some science fiction paperbacks. Even back then, I didn’t let the publisher get away with anything; I circled and corrected each error with my orange-ink cigar-pen before I returned them to her.

In contrast, most normal people would shrug it off. An error? OK, I know what it should be; let’s move on. But for me, it’s like tripping over a carpet.

Thus, at the 2004 Windy City convention, I stopped at each publisher’s table, gave them a spiel about how I could help improve their product, and submitted a business card. I’d also put an ad in the show’s program and here, for posterity, it is:

Publishers!

You put a lot of work into your book or periodical. But your publication’s attractive, professional look is all too easily undermined–made amateurish and substandard–by only a handful of typos.

I can help! My eagle eye, and mastery of the English language, make my proofreading skills and ability to spot typos unsurpassed.

And I’ll do it for free!!–the first time I work with you. Thereafter, you’ll find my fees so reasonable, my services so invaluable, that you wouldn’t consider going to press without first subjecting your manuscript to my stern scrutiny.

Have a project in the works? Please e-mail me!

Rodney Schroeter
Proofreader
sreels@execpc.co
m

Several publishers offered polite, “We’ll let you know” responses. As I walked down an aisle in the dealers’ room, one such publisher caught up with me. “Come to think of it,” he said, “I do have something you could work on.”

I returned to the tables of Dr. George Vanderburgh, owner of the Battered Silicon Dispatch Box press. I have asked him just what the Dickens that phrase means, but he simply responds with a cagey smile that it’s a reference to a Sherlock Holmes adventure. (Dr. George is a serious Sherlockian.)

“I have this project that needs proofing,” he said, bringing forth two thick spiral-bound manuscripts from one of his boxes. It was The Compleat Adventures of the Moon Man, written by Frederick C. Davis. I’d never heard of the character; working with Dr. George would prove to invaluably enhance my knowledge of pulp authors and characters. (Another recent tremendous boost to my pulpwood education is Robert Sampson’s 6-volume work, Yesterday’s Faces, which I’ll write about at some point.)

“Can you have this done in a month?” Dr. George asked. I thrust out my chest and said, “Sure!”

It was no idle boast. Proofing that nearly 800-page set of 38 stories was about all I did for the next few weeks, but I got her done. The absolute worst aspect of that job: I did not have the source material. So I was left guessing on a lot of mysterious typos, which will no doubt lead to pulp fiction historians, centuries from now, sneeringly making light of my work on that edition.

Dr. George has provided me, for subsequent projects, with that much-needed source material, so I have been able to check the input whenever that wacky OCR program has garbled up the output beyond all recognition.

And those subsequent projects? Here they are, to date:

(Most are part of a series called Lost Treasures from the Pulps, edited by and/or with input from Robert Weinberg and other collectors/pulp historians.)

2005, The Compleat Adventures of the Green Ghost, by G.T. Fleming-Roberts. Edited by Garyn Roberts. 2 volumes.

2006, The Compleat Great Merlini Saga, by Clayton Rawson. 2 volumes.

2006, The Compleat Park Avenue Hunt Club, by Judson P. Philips. Edited by Garyn Roberts. 2 volumes.

2007, The Other Seabury Quinn Stories, by Seabury Quinn. 2 volumes.

2009, The Compleat Saga of John Solomon, by H. Bedford-Jones. 3 volumes.

2009, The Macabre Quarto, by August Derleth (jointly published by the August Derleth Society and Arkham House). 4 volumes.

2009 (forthcoming), The Compleat Adventures of The Suicide Squad, by Emile C. Tepperman.

Incomplete and unpublished, The Strange Ocean Vistas of Philip M. Fisher.

In-process, The Compleat Adventures of Luther McGavock, by Merle Constiner.

In-process, The Compleat Adventures of Satan Hall, by Caroll John Daly.

Finally: In case you’re wondering, “What’n’e heck does that title refer to?” Well, that was one of the most interesting boners the OCR program pulled on my most recently-completed project, The Suicide Squad. The output: “a thousand fops”. The input? “a thousand Japs”. (This was published during World War II, so that kind of thing was OK then.)

Rodney Schroeter, in Wisconsin

 

“The Suicide Squad” in the home stretch.

Last weekend, Rodney Schroeter sent me his proofed version and corrected version of the “Suicide Squad” project as an attachment. When I see him again this weekend at the American Club in Kohler, Wisconsin we will exchange the various paperwork and the projects we collaborated and are collaborating on at present.

The next step is to place the various internal and cover illustrations in the text of the stories, and print another set of page proofs with assorted captions.

The series is about 3 F.B.I agents who take on impossible tasks before and during the US entry into WWII and these fellows always rescue the beautiful lady in the red dress. All three and survive the ordeal to fight again in the next issue. This is not great literature but it is entertainment. Especially when you consider the pulps they appeared in are rare and hard to find, and the copies that have survived are either in the hands of serious collectors, or in libraries, with restricted access, and rules which make it very difficult to actually read them. And if this enough trouble, the pulp paper that the magazines are printed on is NOT acid free, and the magazines are slowing self-destructing as I write this.

Here’s a detailed table of contents of the collection. Bob Weinberg had a complete run of this pulp to share with me. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised (but I haven’t checked) that the list you can find on the internet will not be identical. But frankly I don’t want to take the time to double check — it is simple not necessary. I would say that I would like to be wrong on this point.

However, the list in Bob Weinberg’s and Lohr McKinstrey’s Hero Pulp Index is accurate, but incomplete lacking the last entry, and that’s another large project that progresses slowly but relentlessly to a publication conclusion.

the-suicide-squad

1. Mr. Zero and The F.B.I. Suicide Squad (Ace G-Man Stories, May-June 1939)
2. The Suicide Squad Reports for Death (Ace G-Man Stories, July-August 1939)
3. The Suicide Squad’s Last Mile (Ace G-Man Stories, September-October 1939)
4. The Suicide Squad Pays Off (Ace G-Man Stories, November-December 1939)
5. Coffins for the Suicide Squad (Ace G-Man Stories, January-February 1940)
6. The Suicide Squad—Dead or Alive! (Ace G-Man Stories, April 1940)
7. Shells for the Suicide Squad (Ace G-Man Stories, June 1940)
8. Suicide Squad’s Murder Lottery (Ace G-Man Stories, August 1940)
No Story (Ace G-Man Stories, September 1940)
9. The Suicide Squad and the Murder Bund (Ace G-Man Stories, November 1940)
10. The Suicide Squad in Corpse-Town (Ace G-Man Stories, January 1941)
11. The Coffin Barricade (Ace G-Man Stories, March 1941)
12. The Tunnel Death Built (Ace G-Man Stories, May 1941) 201
13. Wanted—In Three Pine Coffins (Ace G-Man Stories, September 1941) 220
14. The Suicide Squad’s Private War (Ace G-Man Stories, December 1941) 236
15. —For Tomorrow We Die! (Ace G-Man Stories, February 1942) 256
16. The Suicide Squad’s Dawn Patrol (Ace G-Man Stories, April 1942) 273
17. The Suicide Squad Meets the Rising Sun (Ace G-Man Stories, June 1942) 288
18. So Sorry, Mr. Hirohito! (Ace G-Man Stories, August 1942)
19. Move Over, Death! (Ace G-Man Stories, October 1942)
20. Targets for the Flaming Arrow (Ace G-Man Stories, December 1942)
21. Blood, Sweat and Bullets (Ace G-Man Stories, February 1943)
22. The Suicide Squad and The Twins of Death (Ace G-Man Stories, August 1943)
23. The Masked Marksman’s Command Performance (Spider Magazine ??)
 

Lord Tweedsmuir created Richard Hanney

I have always admired the writings of John Buchan, and have watched the Adventures of Richard Hanney in “The Thirty-Nine Steps” more often than I shall admit to, in fact, I’m going to watch it again as I write this blog. Two points, Alfred Hitchcock did the original movie, and secondly the book version differs significantly from the film version, and it is the kind of book that once you start to read it, you won’t put it down. A third point Buchan’s sequel Greenmantle is even better.

John Buchan created a second character, Sir Edward Leithen whose travels and adventures spanned three continents in many novels and some short stories. My friend John Robert Colombo has written an essay to introduce this tomb once it is published. It does require another proof reading before going to press to expunge those testy scanning typos.

John Buchan in his other worldly incarnation was Lord Tweedsmuir and he was appointed by the King as The Governor General of Canada in 1936 and he died in office after a fall in 1941. It was Lord Tweedsmuir who initiated the Governor General’s Literary awards in 1937.

Stephen Leacock won this award for My Discovery of the West. There is a file folder in the Yosef Karsh fonds at National Archives labelled something to the effect “1937-Tweedsmuir-Leacock” which is unfortunately empty. I suspect Mr. Karsh was the photographer who immortalized Lord Tweedsmuir presenting Stephen Leacock with this award, but lacking the photographic evidence, I cannot prove it.There is a chapter on Alberta which describes in some detail a “have-not province” before the discovery of black gold at Leduc which I can recommend to you.

I continue to work on an omnibus edition of both Buchan and Leacock, but the problem is that so many other worthy projects are getting in the way.

I append below are two “Gallic” interpretations of Lord Tweedsmuir by Jean-Pierre Cagnat. I don’t think the author would have been fond of them, but J-P has an eye for detail which readers of Le Monde will already be familiar.

jon-buchan-cover1jon-buchan-frontispiece1

 

Who is John Solomon?

king-of-the-pulps1

2003 ISBN:1-55246-464-4

Back in 2002, Peter Ruber approached me with a publishing project, and I accepted immediately. Before approaching me, Peter, I am confident had approached every other publisher under his sun, who declined his offer to publish. In fact he had first started to discuss this project with me back as far as 1999 or 2000. He had two major collaborators Victor Berch, and Darryl Richardson. The title of the book “King of the Pulps: The Life and Writings of H. Bedford-Jones.

I knew of HB-J because he was a correspondent of Vincent Starrett, and Starrett had written in his autobiography Born in a Bookshop that HB-J had attempted a literary hoax, but I will let the reader wonder about this hoax for now. I worked hard to draw the project together. After the publication I received a stern reprimand from one of Peter’s contributors, Darryl Richardson who was unhappy with the end result. I attempted to smooth things over. I also received several e-mail communications from a certain editor of an ERB Fanzine who demanded a complimentary review copy. I repeatedly declined — with amusement.

Well, the book was published in 2003, and I repeatedly suggested to Peter that it should have an index — well it doesn’t, and the only criticisms I have received to date have been the lack of an index!

Henry Bedford-Jones was born in Canada, but spent all of his writing life in The United States of America, and lived in California.

A large portion of the book consists of a bibliography of HB-J’s writings for the pulp magazine, and more importantly, a listing for his many pseudonyms. One of the major series characters is JOHN SOLOMON.

Well, after the book was published, I thought the next project would be a collection of the John Solomon stories. The early adventures were published in magazine and book form under Alan Hawkwood. They were quite elusive, and expensive. I relied on the bookshelves of many collectors in the quest to complete — Digges La Touche, Randy Vanderbeek, Robert Preston and Robert Weinberg. The six episodes of “The Gold of Ishmael” was actually the hardest to complete.

The final collection of stories consists of 970,000 words in three folio volumes.

 

The Hebrew Hero or Lady Helen’s Mistake

The author is Judson R. Taylor, and I don’t have any biographic information otherwise. This novella originally appeared in Street and Smith’s New York Weekly in seven installments starting January 21, 1878. It is unusual that it has a Jewish fellow has a hero, and is certainly NOT anti-semitic. Back in those days anti-semitism was I suspect much more prevalent. I borrowed the original newspaper tear sheets from Dr. Steve Lomazow, and I shall return them this weekend at Pulpcon in Dayton Ohio, not trusting them to the post. This is #10 in a series called Pocketbook Lost Treasures. ISBN 978-1-55246-796-1 for $16.00 plus shipping.

hebrew-hero