Sunday, February 6, 2011


Tippin' Hancock's Hat-Pulp Reviews by Tommy Hancock
by Tom Johnson
Published by Altus Press
384 Pages

In this day of what is truly a modern Pulp renaissance, we are seeing fantastic new takes on old pulp concepts, new pulp heroes fighting new pulp villains, and new techniques used in telling two fisted action adventure tales.  All that new is necessary to move a genre into the forefront of modern reading, to make sure that a type of fiction continues to live for years and years to come.  Having said that, however, it's also important, particularly for pulp, that our roots not be forgotten, that the magazines and writers who started this vital arena of heroic fiction be remembered and honored.  Not just in terms of reprinting the old standards.  No, we still need someone skilled enough and willing to write in the old style, to stick to the conventions established by the originals, to write new stories that read like old pulp.

Thank God that we have Tom Johnson to do just that.

EXCITING PULP TALES, Johnson's latest from Altus Press, is a collection of ten new stories spotlighting little known and even obscure Pulp characters that have entered the public domain.  Names like Ki-Gor, The Purple Scar, Funny Face, and others that mostly didn't make it past 2 or 3 original appearances fill the pages of this book with excitement, action, mystery, and enough humor to balance it all out.  Normally, I would go story to story and rate them, but with this collection, that's not necessary.  Johnson emulates the style of pulp authors from the hey day of the medium with such precision and exact attention to not only the period and character elements, but also to the stylistic work of the individual authors.  These stories each could have appeared in a pulp magazine from the 1930s and 40s and fit perfectly.   Do they follow a formula? Yes.  Do they have heroes, villains, and some stock literary devices? Yes.  Do they stand out as some of the best pulp stories I've read in a while? You bet.

Are they perfect, though? No.  A couple of stories drag in places, getting more involved in setting the scene than telling the tale, but Johnson quickly pulls the reader back to where they need to be.  On the edge of their seat waiting for the next bullet to be fired or body to be found.  

Exciting? Yep.  Pulp?  No doubt.   Tales?  Ones I would read again and again for the most part.  Altus and Tom Johnson, both known for their excellent work in pulp storytelling, have most assuredly done it again with this one.

FOUR OF FIVE TIPS OF HANCOCK'S HAT-Overall, these stories are exactly what I feel Tom intended them to be.  New tales told in the old way bringing some excellent rarely seen characters to the spotlight where they belong.