Sunday, February 22, 2004

Reviving the Pulps 

George Easter, the man behind Deadly Pleasures Magazine, got an email recently from Charles Ardai, the editor of a new line of paperback originals set to launch this fall. Hard Case Crime is aiming to bring back the feel and style of the pulps of old, and are doing so by reissuing such works by genre masters like Lawrence Block, Max Allan Collins and Donald Westlake along with more recent and up-and-coming authors like Domenic Stansberry and Allan Guthrie. On why Ardai and his partner chose to start this new publishing venture, he says:

[We] were both born too late to write paperbacks for lines such as Gold Medal or Lion or Popular Library, and in some small way this project is our way of recreating that era, or at least the type of book published then. We think these books will appeal not just to people who remember the paperback original era fondly, but also to the much wider audience that snaps up each new title by authors such as Elmore Leonard, Ed McBain, and Lawrence Block, or that turned movies like "Ocean's Eleven," "The Italian Job," and "Mystic River" into huge hits at the box office.

The website doesn't have much on it right now, but all it needs is the cover art of some of the books and wow, they are gorgeous. I can't wait to see the books themselves on newsstands, and hopefully HCC will expand beyond the six books they are publishing in 2004 and in 2005.

Another small press that's focusing on pulp novels is Wit's End, which also aims to revive Southern literature and Florida-based novels. Founded in early 2003, they first released two Charles Willeford reissues, with two books by Douglas Fairbairn (and another by Allan Guthrie, TWO-WAY SPLIT) forthcoming later this year. They, too, are creating a nice "look" for their books, which is more than welcome. As mainstream publishing houses reduce their author stable and concentrate on the bottom line, it's great to see (hopefully) viable, vibrant alternatives spring up to fill the void that is left when niche authors are orphaned or unable to get their work in print.

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