Thursday, October 15, 2009

Forrest J. Ackerman Pulp Fiction and Science Fiction Writer, and My Aunt

Every so often, as I grew up, Mom would tell me about my Aunt and her correspondence for many years with Forrest J. Ackerman also now known as Mr. Science Fiction, or “Forry” to his friends.

My Aunt was an aspiring writer herself, and loved science fiction among other genres, but somewhere in my Aunt’s early years, she started writing Forrest and they corresponded for years. How few or many I do not know at this time. Perhaps my Mom wrote about it in her Life Story, but it was for quite a few.

At any rate, Mom used to tell me how after Aunt and Forrest became friends, Forrest wrote a story that incorporated her families’ names into the story. And somewhere down the years my Aunt did send a copy of the pulp called The Spider, as seen at the top.

The episode in question was published November of 1941.


However, the printed author name is a shared pen name called “Grant Stockbridge”.

I did some online research about this and came up with this information from The Horror Timeline:


Followed immediately by The Great Depression. In the economic down-turn of the next decade radio plays and pulps took people's mind off their problems and saw the creation of such as the hugely popular The Shadow (1930) and The Spider (1933), both dark vigilantes, wreaking havoc on the underworld. The former started as a radio narrator of the 'Detective Story Hour', leading into success in magazine (edited by Frank Blackwell) and novel (the first written by stage magician Walter B. Gibson) formats, with over 280 novellas detailing his exploits. In early 1932 the Shadow appeared in his own radio show, and was portrayed by Orson Welles in 1937-8, and Lynn Shores directed the first movie in '37, followed by two serials. The Spider first appeared in The Spider Strikes, written by R. T. M. Scott, but was soon the work of

'Grant Stockbridge', a pseudonym for several writers,

most frequently Norvell Page, totalling 118 novellas (and yes, the first movie serial appeared in 1938, the sequel in 1941). Both of these characters can still be found today, mostly in reprints and comics (and the lacklustre 1994 version of The Shadow), but the best preserved of the group appeared in 1939 and is just as well-known as ever.

And a reference here: Grant Stockbridge: pseudonym of Norvell W. Page

But I see no mention of Forrest using that pen name except that it was a shared one as I mentioned. Interesting. I may have to email some Ackerman fans who might know.

I double checked, and indeed, the unmistakable names of my Mom’s family are in that issue. Each name changed by one letter, I suppose for anonymity, but still obviously my family names.

I went to visit this Aunt years ago, and she also told me how she wrote to Ackerman for many years, so I don’t doubt that it was he that wrote this story, as far as I can tell from family history, but we all know family history can sometimes be wrong.

At any rate, it will be interesting to see if I can find out more about this.