Saturday, July 01, 2017

Leo Margulies and the grandchildren of the pulps

Philip Sherman's Leo Margulies: Giant of the Pulps (Altus Press, 2017) is a mixture of biography and history of the pulps that never quite commits to either but is fascinating nonetheless.

What most intrigued me was how writers of my generation owe a debt of gratitude for what Margulies accomplished, even though many of us aren't quite old enough to have written for the pulps. The writers we admired and who, directly or indirectly, served as our mentors had long careers writing for the pulps, and we looked up to them as role models.

When they touched our lives, though, we had a direct connection to the past even if we may not have realized it at the time. Robert Bloch, for example, once wrote a brief article for Knights, a science fiction fanzine I published during my late teens and early twenties.

Dennis Lynds, writing as Michael Collins, contributed "The Horrible, Senseless Murders of Two Elderly Women" to Fedora: Private Eyes and Tough Guys (Wildside Press, 2001), my first anthology. His story was nominated for an Edgar Award, which I believe was his last nomination prior to his death in 2005.

He also passed my name along to Jeff Gelb, who invited me to contribute to his and Max Allan Collins's Flesh and Blood: Guilty as Sin (Mysterious Press, 2003). My story, "Feel the Pain," was selected for inclusion in Maxim Jakubowki's Best New Erotica 4 (Carroll & Graf, 2005), my first ever appearance in a best-of-year anthology; Gelb then invited me to contribute to his and Michael Garrett's Hot Blood: Strange Bedfellows (Kensington, 2004); and "Moe Ron" Boyette, the protagonist of "Feel the Pain," appeared in a handful of additional short stories.

Margulies also indirectly impacted my writing career by founding Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine. Many crime fiction writers of my generation sold their first stories to MSMM before and after his involvement with the publication. My first appearance in MSMM, my third mystery short story sale, came well after Margulies's death. Charles Fritch was editor by the time "Vengeance to Show in the Third" appeared in the October 1983 issue, and I went on to place three more stories (my fourth, fifth, and seventh mysteries) in the magazine before it ceased publication.

So, even though I never wrote for the pulps, I think I can lay claim to being a grandchild of the pulps.


Jack Bludis said...

Thanks, Michael.

I know you are one of the best short fiction writers today, and probably one of the two who most influenced me when I restarted my career as a hard-boiled PI I writer. (The other was Robert J. Randisi, AKA J.R. Roberts of GUNSMITH fame, and this year's winner of the Ed Hoch Award, an award you already hold.) I did not know that your writing went back as far as Mike Shane.

Anyone on the short mystery list should know more about Michael and his anthologies.

Jack Bludis

Michael Bracken said...

I've been around a long time, Jack, not because I'm particularly old but because I made my first pro sale as a teenager, five years before my first appearance in Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine.