When do you cross the line from casual collector to full-on vintage reseller? For Michael W. Phillips Jr., a south side-based film programmer and copy editor, the moment happened in 2019 when he started posting books for sale on Instagram under the name It Came From Beyond Pulp. A more robust eBay store followed, and suddenly a hankering for 70s and 80s sci-fi (and their artful paperback covers) turned into a part-time business.
Phillips is used to working in multiple venues simultaneously. He’s worked in various capacities in the Chicago film world, from being the founding director of the Black Cinema House to serving as the first film programmer of the Chicago International Movies and Music Festival. In 2011, he founded South Side Projections, a film-presenting organization that specializes in screenings shown around the south side accompanied by conversations about complex social and political issues. Through it all, he’s been on several film festival juries and also makes the occasional music or performance video for local musicians.
It Came From Beyond Pulp
Publications including Stoopin: A Bronzeville Twitter Project are available at itcamefrombeyondpulp.com. Vintage books are available through the imprint’s Instagram or eBay accounts.
Somehow he finds time to read voraciously, and the lure of sci-fi novels, especially the classic paperbacks with speculative art, is hard to pass up. It Came From Beyond Pulp’s web presence includes the odd review from Phillips (right now it’s heavy on classic Twilight Zone episodes) and a link to a YouTube channel where Phillips has compiled recordings he has digitized from 60s and 70s records that included stories and novels read by the original authors, including Ursula Le Guin reading two of her stories, and Arthur C. Clarke reading his story “Transit of Earth,” a tale perfectly written for the audio book format with its diary-like structure.
And if that weren’t enough, It Came From Beyond Pulp has jumped into the world of short-run publishing with three chapbooks currently available. The imprint started in 2020, when Phillips worked with Bram Stoker prize-winning author Kealan Patrick Burke and Chicago illustrator Corinne Halbert on Distinguishing Features, a 32-page booklet originally sold in an edition of 200 (all paper copies are now sold out, but it remains available in e-book format). Another horror-themed chapbook followed last year with writer Cynthia Pelayo’s Snow White’s Shattered Coffin (illustrated by Chicago artist Vheto Gutierrez Vazquez). This month’s forthcoming Stoopin: A Bronzeville Twitter Project is based on a series of Twitter observations by its author, Chicago musician Lloyd Brodnax King, and Phillips found and commissioned local comic book artist Daimon Hampton to collaborate with King’s words and illustrate the volume. While Stoopin isn’t sci-fi, it does explore a different kind of horror—the heartbreak of watching your neighborhood rapidly changing around you.