Clutch your pearls and shield the impressionable, ladies and gentleman of decent society!

Clutch your pearls and shield the impressionable, ladies and gentleman of decent society!

This weekend is PulpFest, the annual gathering of pulp fiction's savants. Pulp fiction was printed in magazines made from inexpensive pulpwood during the early 20th century, and the periodicals were known for their (at the time) salacious cover art and racy storytelling.

Today, pulp fiction is valued for its historical impact on nearly all avenues of popular culture - from TV to film noir to LGBT art - and the shaping of genre literature. Not bad for a popular scene once pooh-poohed for its prurience.

"It was considered by many to be a lowbrow market and therefore a market that could be easier to break into," said Eric Johnson, associate curator of Ohio State's Rare Books & Manuscripts Library, home to thousands of pulps.

That ease was due to the multitude of magazines looking for content, not because of lack of literary merit.

"It gave would-be authors so many publishing opportunities," he said. "They could cut their teeth in the profession and work out their own writing style and development."

Pulp magazines featured the writing of many of today's high school English class staples - F. Scott Fitzgerald, O. Henry, Ray Bradbury. Science, romance, horror and western fiction also matured in the pages of pulp magazines.

"Modern genre fiction would not exist if not for pulp fiction," Johnson said. "Stephen King would be a pulp writer."

See or purchase bibliophilic history at PulpFest, and check out a lineup of lectures and panels and a 1930s short-film tribute to crime-fighting pulp character The Shadow (tonight at 9 p.m.).

"You will see a ton of stuff you have no chance of seeing anywhere else," Johnson said. "All these guys who are dealers are the true historians of the field."