Pulp noir

Mix a bit of the supernatural with some detective noir and what do you get? Try Brother Grim.

Ron Fortier, who wrote the Green Hornet series for Now Comics back in the 1970s and ’80s, has taken over scripting the weekly Brother Grim comic strip as well as short stories featuring the spectral avenger. Brother Grim is part of the Supernatural Crime Digital Comics and Pulp Web site, created and run by Christopher Mills.

Comic hazzards

Ron Fortier says he met Christopher Mills when they worked for Alpha Comics, a small, independent comic company in Maine. “One day I tossed Chris a copy of (a Robert) Weinberg fascimile edition of the Doc Savage clone, “Captain Hazzard.” Chris loved it and together we adapt the book to a three part comic mini-series that Alpha was to publish. Pro comic artist Ken Penders (who was then doing “Star Trek” for DC comics) signed on to do the artwork and we got the ball rolling. Some pulp zines even got wind of what we were doing and gave us some decent press. Alas, after completing full issues, Alpha went belly up — most of the artwork ended up in my lap and the project died unfinished.

“Since the comics scene pretty much imploded and jobs dried-up, it seemed like many of us creators were simply going to be out of the game,” Fortier says. “But them along came the Internet and a whole new playing field came into existence. Chris called me up about a year and a half ago asking if I’d be willing to help out with a comics site with a very heavy pulp flavor and then proceeded to detail what would eventually become Supernatural Crime. . . . I jumped at it.”

The pulp flavor is pretty strong with Brother Grim. The prose stories could easily be featurettes in some 1930s pulp. The weekly comic strip installments, which are drawn by Delfin Barral, blend noir with touches of The Shadow, H.P. Lovecraft and more.

“I discovered pulps pretty much through the back door of comics,” Fortier says. “I was an avid comic book reader and collector as a boy. This progressed to devouring paperbacks in the late ’50s and ’60s, most of these being sci-fi and private eye mysteries with lurid covers of sexy dames, etc. It was through these two avenues I learned of the existence of the pulps and their heydey during the depression and pre-WW II days.

“The Shadow was the first hero pulp I discovered and when I found some of his old adventures reprinted in paperbacks, I scooped them up fast,” he says. “Next up was Doc Savage, thanks to the Bantaam paperback series. Wow, what I rush. This guy was the exact polar opposite of the Shadow. Don’t know how many of those I read, I filled boxes in my bedroom. The Bama covers were awesome. . . . Lester Dent is by far my favorite pulp writer and biggest influence. He is followed closely by Edmond Hamilton. When I tripped over his Captain Future character, I was in seventh-heaven.”

Supernatural Crime has been in hiatus for the past couple of months, but Fortier expects August to bring updates and new installments for Brother Grim, as well as the other features on the site: Femme Noir, a female private eye; and Nightmark, a “hardboiled occult detective.”

What’s next for Brother Grim? “Once I wrap up this first strip adventure, I’d like to work with Chris about the chances of printing all his prose stories in some kind of a chap book,” Fortier says. “And then I’m hoping to try my hand at writing a 30-minute Grim radio script. Wish me luck.”