In the Studio

AudioFile magazine talks with John Goodwin President of Galaxy Press

audiofile logo
AF: Tell us about the scope of the project Galaxy has undertaken.

JG: Eighty audiobooks of L. Ron Hubbard’s adventure, science fiction, fantasy and Western short stories written for the pulp magazines of the 1930s and 1940s will be produced and released over the next six years.

AF: What spurred Galaxy’s interest to publish L. Ron Hubbard’s pulp fiction works?

Photo of Galaxy Audio Recording

JG: The re-emergence of pulp stories can be seen everywhere—from movies like Sin City to the comic book serials that now dominate the box office (Indiana Jones, The Mummy, etc.). We did research into how familiar today’s readers would be with the original pulp era and the particular style of the stories from that period.

AF: What were the biggest challenges to overcome to bring these stories to life?

JG: Picking the right car, plane, phone and other sounds was vital to keeping the listener listening and involved. The sci-fi sounds were a creative challenge because we wanted them to sound different than the known real world and at the same time keep to a feel of “pulp era” sci-fi. These were really fun to create because we could make them sound like anything we wanted to, as long as we didn’t break the “pulp era” feel.

AF: Tell us about the kinds of special effects and music that you used.

Photo of Galaxy Audio Sound Design

JG: We used top Hollywood sound libraries in addition to a recording team that took care to ensure an authentic creation for each of the soundscapes. The underwater scenes were amongst the harder to create. We pitched sounds down and added long spooky reverbs to emulate the swollen, ominous sounds of metal banging around underwater, two divers grappling beneath the waves, or of a submarine crunching to the sea floor.

There are eight genres in the collection, and each presented its own challenges. Faithfully re-creating prop plane dog fights, ’30s detective drama, French Foreign Legion infantry battles, Western shoot-outs, head-hunting island tribes, and a bustling pre-WWII New York City was every bit as challenging as creating wizards’ spells, 75-foot island gods and extraterrestrial expeditions.

AF: Were new sounds created as well as using sound libraries?

JG: Sound libraries were a starting point for much of the sound tracks, but we have an extensive library of original (not commercially available) recordings that we drew from, and hundreds of creative sounds throughout were manipulated, combined and designed to create unique sound tracks. All the historic and period sounds just had to come from libraries.

Photo of Galaxy Audio Original Music

We would have loved to have been able to record the sounds of an eighteenth century naval battle ourselves, but . . .

AF: What about original music? How was that composed and scored to the production?

JG: Original themes that captured the feel of each genre were created in-house, and interludes based on these themes were used transitionally between the chapters in each story. We created a library of over 275 musical elements specifically for this project. The air-adventure theme captures the soaring, looping feel of propeller plane adventure, while the Orient theme conveys all the mystery and exotic excitement of the Eastern world.

AF: How many actors have been recorded so far? What spontaneous takes happened in the studio?

JG: Seventy-seven actors participated in the recording of these stories, and there were all kinds of spontaneous and hilarious moments in the booth. The actors always had the most fun doing the “actor effects”—the grunting, showing, panting, punching, fighting, falling, crying, etc. additional to the dialogue. For an hour or so after recording the body of these stories, they all ran through these together and were usually laughing nonstop. Five actors in Los Angeles being a hundred Berbers charging a post in the Atlas Mountains was always fun.

Photo of Galaxy Audio Sound Mix

AF: Did you replicate the original pulp covers of the ’30s and ’40s magazines? There’s a great “pulp gallery” of the magazine covers on the Golden Age site.

JG: We cleaned up the original pulp covers to bring them back to their original brilliance. We attempted to always use the original cover art of the pulp magazines the stories appeared in, but sometimes Mr. Hubbard had multiple stories in the same pulp magazine using one or more of his 15 pen names.

—Michael Sangiacomo & Robin F. Whitten