Pulp Cthulhu expands upon the [Call of Cthulhu] setting and rules system, allowing for fast-paced, cinematic game play. It provides rules for insane scientists, reanimators, mentalists, gadgeteers, professor-sorcerers, supernatural detectives and much more...
--From Chaosium's Pulp Cthulhu blurb
Chaosium has been talking about Pulp Cthulhu for nearly 10 years - I remember hearing about it back when Cthulhu d20 was released, and I seem to recall an early version was even supposed to be a dual-stat product (BRP and d20). That's a long time ago.
As I'm working through the background for our upcoming Trail of Cthulhu campaign, I realize the game is already going to be heavy on the pulp side of things - the characters will be a bit more stalwart than the nervous, sensitive types in Lovecraft's bleaker stories; the struggles will be a bit more real-world and physical than philosophical and dread-inspiring cosmic nihilism.
Note: Ultimately I would like to run a campaign that features Lovecraft's bleaker themes, but I think it's something we'd either build up to, or run some one-shots in the Purist mode first - Trail has quite a few excellent Purist one-shots I'll be reviewing in the near future. But a pulp campaign is a safe start for D&D gamers on their first foray into Cthulhu gaming.
I recently re-read Stunning Eldritch Tales, and it struck me how much two-fisted pulp action is already in some of the Trail of Cthulhu books - you've got sinister Nazi and Japanese agents, vicious Chinese triads and gangsters, jaunts to deserted islands, and weird science. There's even a masked crime fighter like the Shadow, or the Green Hornet, in one of the investigations.
I'm working through the Dramatis Personae for the campaign, and we've got plans to make player characters in a couple of weeks.
I've been thinking about pulling out my Mignola Lobster Johnson stories for some extra inspiration. So here's the question for the readers - what's your favorite bit of pulp inspiration? It could be a film, a comic, or even a gaming supplement or book. Thanks!