A "uniquely American form of popular literature," one that gave rise to the comic-book superheroes so prevalent on movie screens today, will be celebrated during the second annual PulpFest convention.

A "uniquely American form of popular literature," one that gave rise to the comic-book superheroes so prevalent on movie screens today, will be celebrated during the second annual PulpFest convention.

The event, which will include creators, collectors and fans of the pulp magazines that had their widest audiences in the 1920s and '30s, will run from Friday, July 30, through Sunday, Aug. 1, at the Ramada Plaza Hotel and Convention Center, 4900 Sinclair Road.

"This second annual gathering is designed to cater to both longtime genre fans and those curious about the pulps and how their characters, artists and writers laid the groundwork for all that is celebrated in today's popular culture," convention spokesman Mark Trost wrote in announcing the event. "From armor-wearing iron-men and defenders of Sherwood Forest to angst-filled vampires and blue skinned aliens, the pulps were there first."

PulpFest, according to Ed Hulse of Dayton, one of the committee members organizing the gathering and an editor as well as author of books on collecting pulp magazines, said the Columbus convention evolved from "PulpCon," which originated in Missouri in 1972 and then migrated to Ohio, shifting back and forth between Dayton and Bowling Green until some internal squabbling led to formation of this new convention.

"Actually as it turns out, for reasons nobody can figure out there is a huge concentration of pulp collectors in the Midwest and especially in Ohio," Hulse said last week.

Pulp fiction, the cheap magazines with the sometimes lurid covers, not the 1994 crime caper film directed by Quentin Tarantino, describes the tales that first appeared in 1896 but had their heyday between the world wars, according to Hulse. These magazines came to be known for the cheap wood pulp paper on which they were printed.

"They were meant basically to disintegrate, to turn to ash," said Trost, who lives in Long Island, N.Y.

"Attendees will not only enjoy panels featuring pulp fiction historians, authors and editors, but will also hunt for rare issues of such seminal publications as 'The Shadow,' 'Spicy Detective,' 'Amazing Stories,' 'Black Mask,' 'Weird Tales' and thousands more in a 10,000-square-foot dealers room filled with exhibitors from all across the country offering everything from inexpensive pulp-story reprints to the most hotly coveted first issue collector's items," Trost wrote.

Last year's first PulpFest in Columbus drew between 400 and 500 people, according to Trost.

They're hoping for more this time around, hard-core fans and those simply curious to learn more.

"The message that we're trying to convey and what I believe is the enduring fascination of pulp fiction, is that as a very early form of mass market American literature, the storytelling techniques, plot devices, character types, tropes, whatever you want to call them, are still being used in American popular culture to this day," Hulse said.

"You can find traces of pulp magazine ideas even in the current bestsellers of the day," he added. "It's all part of a continuum, I guess you'd say."

"It's sort of like archeology and you're tracking back through the roots of popular culture," Trost said. "All of this stuff is basically an outgrowth of the pulp fiction on the '20s and '30s."

He noted that the two Cleveland youths who created Superman were fans of the pulp magazines, and that most comic book heroes owe their existence to the ground plowed by the pulp writers a generation and more before.

Such enduring characters as Tarzan of the Apes, Zorro, Buck Rogers, Conan the Barbarian, The Shadow and Hopalong Cassidy were all created by pulp writers, Hulse said.

The writers were paid by the word, Trost said, maybe one or two cents each.

"It's a shame these guys sort of started popular culture in the way we know it, and the great majority died ... with no money, drunk, just lived from the next check," he said. "They just wrote to eat, and it's hard to conceive given what they created."

"Even the show '24' has a pulp precedent," Hulse said.

The character Operator No. 5 in the 1930s was a lone Secret Service agent who frequently saved the United States from doom.

"That's Jack Bauer," Hulse added.

PulpFest's 2010 guest of honor will be award-winning author, editor, screenwriter, biographer and pulp scholar William F. Nolan, best known for his science fiction classic "Logan's Run."

Another PulpFest guest will be Robert J. Randisi, the author of more than 500 books and often called "the last of the pulp writers."

Among the speakers will be novelist, comic book author and pulp historian Will Murray, who recently completed a book resurrecting the pulp character Doc Savage.

Admission to PulpFest 2010 is $35 for all three days or $15 a day. Tickets include access to all convention events and a copy of "The Pulpster," a program book.

Show hours will be noon to midnight July 30, 9 a.m. to midnight July 31 and 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 1.

For additional information on PulpFest, visit www.pulpfest.com.