Palmer’s Ascension: A True Story From Early Fandom

Raymond A. Palmer began his pioneering work in science fiction fandom in 1928 at age 18. In 1938, his amateur accomplishments as a club organizer, fanzine publisher, author, editor and promoter of science fiction launched his professional career when he became editor of the iconic pulp magazine Amazing Stories. This is his story, an excerpt from The Visual History of Science Fiction Fandom, Volume One: The 1930s.

Art by Mark Wheatley (Breathtaker, Doctor Cthulittle, Song of Giants).
Click the crossed-arrows for a full-screen view!

You can read more about Palmer’s early adventures as a leading fan at The Cosmos Project. His full life story is told in engaging fashion in “The Man From Mars: Ray Palmer’s Amazing Pulp Journey” by Fred Nadis (Tarcher-Perigee, 2013).

Our sources for this narrative comic include Harry Warner’s “All Our Yesterdays,” which recounts the timeline of Palmer’s first day at Amazing Stories. Also informing the text is an article Palmer penned that appeared in Stardust, v2n2, November 1940. From here we get Ray’s triumphant quote at achieving his position as editor:

“You can imagine how I felt. Here at last I had it in my power to do to my old hobby what I had always had the driving desire to do to it. I had in my hands the power to change, to destroy, to create, to remake, at my own discretion.”

In his autobiography “Man of Two Worlds,” Julius Schwartz related how he came to use Palmer’s name as the real-life moniker of DC Comic’s The Atom:

“An accident had damaged [Palmer’s] spine when he was a youngster, so Ray never was able to grow to full adult height… So I called up Ray and asked his permission to appropriate his name for the civilian identity of the new Atom, and he graciously assented. (An added bonus of the call was that it inspired me to come up with one of the Atom’s unique powers, where he could travel from place to place along the phone lines as if he was one of the transmitted sound particles.)”

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