The word "pulp" comes from cheap paper known as wood pulp that old magazines were printed on in the early 20th Century. These lowbrow books told stories of unusual science fiction. For just 10 cents, people had access to a litany of strange tales that dealt with mysteries, adventure, and whole other worlds to explore. Eventually, the term "pulp fiction" was introduced to our vernacular.
The origin of these zines is what initially struck illustrator Robert Jimenez. He was inspired to create his own pulp magazine (or comic book, as we call them now), Strangewise No. 9.
The Brooklyn-native-turned South Florida local admires the work of DC Comics artists Neal Adams and Jim Aparo. Although he himself is new to the art world (he became a full-time artist seven years ago), Jimenez has had his work featured in card sets such as Topps and Upper Deck, as well as large canvas paintings.
He got the idea for his own comic book story after drawing a vampire bellhop. Its style was something one would see or imagine during the pulps of the '30s or '40s. Strangewise No. 9 features not only the art and stories like classic pulps, but also fake ads and newsletters that help establish the illusion of a bygone era.
This endeavor to create full pulp book would be his most ambitious project to date. The illustrator turned to Kickstarter to raise funds, and his initial goal of $1,200 was met within the first day. “It’s a great feeling…to see the support to help make these things happen,” Jimenez says.
Since launching the online campaign, Jimenez says, he has received inquires and submissions as well as those interested in the back catalog for the remainder of the series. So far, only Issue 9 is complete, as he intends to start backward and work his way to the final issue, Strangwise No. 1.
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“I wanted to create the feeling that this has been around for a while,” he says.
The world he has conceptualized already has readers curiously interested, and they have bought (literally and figuratively) his creation. Stories about vampire bellboy Benny Got Bit, an innocuous item that turns into mystifying mayhem, and an awkward professor who can’t handle disappointment ("Professor’s Got a Crush"), are all told in Strangewise No. 9. Each tale is as captivating, bizarre, and scary as the next.
Jimenez reacts as if his success with this comic book is like a pulp fiction. “There is a sense of accomplishment, [but] when I hold it in my hands, it doesn’t feel like I created it. It’s very strange,” he says.
“I hope at the very least [readers] are entertained… and I hope people see that the magazine is a work of fiction and enjoy that aspect of it, but also see the whole thing as a work of art.”
Strangewise No. 9
To purchase a copy, visit Robert Jimenez's Kickstarter page or zerostreet.com. Saturday, May 7, is Free Comic Book Day. Although this is not a featured freebie, visit freecomicbookday.com to support your local comic book stores.