FADING SHADOWS was a small-press publishing house that began in June 1982 with the publication of ECHOES, the hobby magazine for the pulp enthusiast. It was originally published out of Knox City, Texas, but in May 1983 the operation moved to Seymour, Texas where it remains to this day. ECHOES lasted for 100 issues before becoming a newsletter, finally ceasing in December 2004.
In June 1995, FADING SHADOWS branched out to fiction magazines with the first issue of CLASSIC PULP FICTION STORIES. That first issue contained a number of stories written in the pulp tradition, from a Vietnam War story to the start of a science fiction serial. Also in the first issue were new stories of Ki-Gor, Doc Harker, Bill Barnes, and the Phantom Detective. In coming issues, there were more of the same, though the characters still under copyright were quickly dropped. But the writers continued to send in new adventures of the Black Bat, Phantom Detective, Doctor Death, and even a Jim Hatfield western by James Reasoner. We did not coin the phrase, NEW PULP, but we were certainly publishing new pulp in 1995.
Soon it became apparent that one magazine could not contain all of the stories coming in, so more titles were quickly added: WEIRD STORIES for the weird menace genre, STARTLING SCIENCE STORIES for the science fiction (title later changed to ALIEN WORLDS), DETECTIVE MYSTERY STORIES for the detective mystery fans, EXCITING UFO STORIES for the UFO crowd, and DOUBLE DANGER TALES for the new hero stories. There was no shortage in writers and artists, only in subscriptions.
There were only a few established authors, like James Reasoner, Will Murray, Clayton and Patricia Matthews, and maybe one or two others. But many of the new writers that got their start with FADING SHADOWS went on to become established writers in their own right. They sharpened their writing skills while turning out great yarns for the genre magazines, and are now writing novels for larger markets.
What discouraged most writers and artists was the lack of recognition from readers. Not only couldn’t the magazines bring in subscriptions, it was almost impossible to get letters of comment from readers.
Each issue contained approximately 40,000 words. There were 91 issues of CLASSIC PULP FICTION STORIES, 32 issues of STARTLING SCIENCE STORIES, 39 issues of ALIEN WORLDS, 55 issues of DETECTIVE MYSTERY STORIES, 63 issues of DOUBLE DANGER TALES, 26 issues of WEIRD STORIES, and 6 issues of EXCITING UFO STORIES, for a total of 312 issues. You do the math. That adds up to a lot of words for a small-press publishing house. I figure something like 1,248,000 words. That was a lot of new pulp.
Publishing on a monthly schedule made it impossible to get special art for each issue. Although there were over a dozen topnotch artists contributing to the magazines, by the time a story came in, there wasn’t time to ask a specific artist for special art, so artists were asked to send generic art, i.e., a science fiction, a detective, or a general piece, or just a flying saucer or cowboy illustration, and when there was a story that sort of matched, that’s where the art went. Artists and writers were all treated the same. There were no favorites played. The only reason the same author might appear in six straight issues was because that author got his stories in on time. But even then, attention was given to each issue, and what authors and art was on hand, and what artist or author should be next.
There were problems. The magazines were a two-person operation, Tom and Ginger Johnson, both sharing in typing stories to format. The early years were done on manual typewriters, and then word processors, until finally, Ginger was using a computer. Most authors sent their manuscript in double-spaced, and each story had to be retyped to format. There was no time for a proofreader, and one was desperately needed, as typos appeared in every issue, if not every story! The magazines were amateurish at best, but the stories and art were top notch.
FADING SHADOWS paved the way for the current trend in new pulp titles. Genre magazines like ours closed out the last century and started the new century before ceasing publication. In March of 2002, Tom had a stroke, which limited his workload, and Ginger was not able to take on more of the responsibility, so it was decided to plan on stopping the magazines. So one at a time, the titles folded, until they were all gone by December of 2004.
FADING SHADOWS returned in 2012, and has since published eight paperbacks and numerous releases on Kindle format.
Some day I would like to compile an index to the authors and stories that were published under the FADING SHADOWS imprint, but that would be a massive task, and I’m not sure I am up to it. However, all of the data is available, thanks to Bill Thom.
By clicking on the covers along the side of the Blog, it will take you to information on each book/series. Tom’s FADING SHADOWS are available in PDF for reviewers. We need reviews on Amazon and your Blogs. Contact us, if interested.