“Of recent I have been troubled by an overwhelming number of publications that are subjective, proposing theory and analysis. These books, usually published through print-on-demand, masquerade as documentary in nature, only to contain opinion and are short on facts. When I buy a book about a particular subject, such as The Lone Ranger, I expect to know more about the program such as how specific special effects were made, production costs, story origins, and so on. Who was cast for the lead role before being replaced by the actor we see today? Can scans of archival historical documents be included? My rule of thumb when writing a book and documenting our pop culture past is to ensure everything is included. Your one-stop source for anything you want to know about that program. Sure, Wikipedia and the Internet in general provide the necessary ABCs, but entries on Wikipedia never extend to adverbs, pronouns, contractions or prepositions. Others may use the Internet as a source for reference (and thus reprint the same errors) and in many cases attempt to sell books on Amazon.com that are nothing more than a cut-and-paste from Wikipedia, I do actual research (also termed “legwork”). Research, combined with the assumption that such books are a form of preservation, is why I write these reference guides. And thankfully, based on the awards and reception I have received (not to mention strong sales figures), this is a recipe for success.” — Martin Grams, Jr.
Dubbed as the young “Isaac Asimov” by Ivan Shreve of Thrilling Days of Yesteryear, Martin Grams has authored or co-authored more than 20 books about old-time radio and retro television. He also wrote more than 100 magazine articles for Filmfax, Scarlet Street, Ed Hulse’s Blood ’n’ Thunder and Sperdvac’s Radiogram (to name a few). He contributed chapters, essays and appendices for numerous books including Ken Mogg’s The Alfred Hitchcock Story (Titan Books, 1999), Bear Manor Media’s It’s That Time Again (2002 and the two sequels), Arthur Anderson’s Let’s Pretend (2004) and Ben Ohmart’s The Alan Reed Story (2010). He also wrote two books for McFarland Publishing, a college/university press, and is presently a research consultant for two magazines and one publishing company.
Everyone has a different take on what defines “success.” The famous literary giant, Henry James (The Turn of the Screw), once remarked: “With the proceeds of my last novel, I purchased a small handbarrow, on which my guests’ luggage is wheeled from the station to my house. It needs a coat of paint. With the proceeds of my next novel, I shall have it painted.”
Martin considers himself lucky in regard to book sales. Remembering David Brinkley, Martin chose to lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him. While still in High School, Martin proposed his first book project, Suspense, to a number of publishers. “I met them personally at conventions when the publishing houses set up to sell their wares,” Martin recalled. “They never even looked or glanced at my manuscript. They saw how young I was and patted me on the head, told me I was a good boy and handed me one of their catalogs to go home with.” Using the rejections as his personal Dumbo feather, Martin was motivated to back his own money to self-publish his first book. In 1998, book sales were strong and with the proceeds of his first book, Martin was able to purchase the plot of ground his house now resides on. Talk about a success story!
Besides authoring books and magazine articles, Martin spends a good part of his year preserving archival photographs and radio scripts. His insistence of creating offsite backup copies are made to ensure the longevity of rare radio scripts and glossy photos. “There are people who lodge complaints about why there isn’t more preservation,” Martin remarks. “I find it ironic that most people who complain are part of the problem… not the solution. I say ‘Don’t complain about it, do something.’ Don’t find reasons why you cannot preserve the arts. If the budget is shrinking, then do a fundraiser. That’s how preservation happens.”
Besides authoring more than 20 successfully published reference guides, Martin and his wife Michelle are co-founders of the Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention, a three-day festival designed to stimulate interest in the by-gone era we now call “nostalgia.” The event helps encourage and preserve all aspects of the past including old-time radio, vintage comic books, retro television, drive-in movie theaters and more. “The event is not about making money… it’s about preserving our past,” Martin explains. “Last year’s event reached 2,000 in attendance.” The convention is open to the public. For more information about the Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention, visit: www.MidAtlanticNostalgiaConvention.com