Blog: Commentary from the den of a pulp super-fan

Examining Dr. Nikola

Posted by at 10:00 am Monday, June 26, 2017 in English Pulp, Proto-pulp, Villain Pulps
Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

Examining Dr. Nikola

Dr. NikolaWhen it comes to series centered around the villain, we usually think of Fu Manchu or perhaps Fantomas.

But a character that appeared before them and may have been an influence is Dr. Nikola.

Created by Guy Boothby, he appeared in five novels between 1895 and 1901 that were serialized in English magazines. Dr. Antonio Nikola seems the model of a sinister Italian. Elegant, cultured, he is slim with dark hair and eyes, with olive skin. Highly intelligent and with psi powers, he is unscrupulous, but honorable (like some other super villains). His constant companion is a black cat, Apollyon, who perches on his shoulder.

His goal is not so much world domination or to run a criminal enterprise, but the search for a formula that will resurrect the dead and prolong life. But too often in the works it’s not clear what his goal really is. It’s a problem with early characters where the author doesn’t know how to use a character to its fullest.

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‘Blood ‘n’ Thunder Presents #1: Pride of the Pulps’

Posted by at 10:00 am Wednesday, June 21, 2017 in Non-fiction, Pulps, References, Review
Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

‘Blood ‘n’ Thunder Presents #1: Pride of the Pulps’

'Blood ‘n’ Thunder Presents #1: Pride of the Pulps'Last year when the great fanzine Blood ‘n’ Thunder ended with issue #50 (actually a double issue of #49/50), we were promised that BnT would continue as a series of standalone themed books.

Well, we now have the first of these: Blood ’n’ Thunder Presents #1: Pride of the Pulps!

Pulps, of course, were usually looked down upon regarding their literary quality. But a few, very few, published stories on par with the “slick” fiction magazines. So the focus of this volume is on the handful of top all-fiction pulp magazines, Adventure, All-American Fiction, Short Stories, The Popular Magazine, Famous Fantastic Mysteries and West (just the 1920s issues), that accomplished this.

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Night Raven: Marvel UK’s pulp hero

Posted by at 10:00 am Wednesday, June 21, 2017 in Comics, Pulps
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Night Raven: Marvel UK’s pulp hero

Night Raven: The Complete Stories“Where brooding darkness spreads its evil wings, the Night Raven stings!”

Marvel Comics for several years had an imprint in the U.K. publishing their comics: Marvel UK. Basically, it just reprinted American comics in a format expected in the U.K.

Instead of monthly titles with a long story focused on a single character, British comics were anthologies published weekly or biweekly with each character getting one or two pages each issue, so a story would be serialized over several issues. Also, titles were usually in black and white.

However, Marvel UK started doing some original content. First it was Captain Britain, though produced in the U.S. before British creators took it over. Out of the several original characters and series, another standout was Night Raven. He was a pulp hero set in 1930s America who fought crime similar to The Shadow or The Spider.

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Pulp Heroes conclusion: ‘Sanctuary Falls’

Posted by at 10:00 am Wednesday, June 14, 2017 in New Pulp, Pastiche, Review, Wold Newton Universe
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

'Pulp Heroes: Sanctuary Falls'One of the works I got into when I got back into pulp (and discovered New Pulp) was the pulp epics of Wayne Reinagel. He was working on a trilogy called Pulp Heroes, the first being the massive More Than Mortal, which came out in 2008.

In that one we saw his takes on four major pulp heroes: Doc Savage (Doc Titan), The Shadow (The Darkness), The Avenger (The Guardian), and The Spider (The Scorpion), plus their aides and assistants.

More Than Mortal also makes use of the Wold Newton concept of Philip José Farmer to create the backdrop to the story, weaving in various heroes and characters from earlier fiction.

Clocking in at over 400 pages, it was actually a pretty good read.

It was followed two years later by a massive sequel (nearly 600 pages), Khan Dynasty, that was actually more of a prequel, being set before More Than Mortal.

We were promised the conclusion in Sanctuary Falls. And finally after seven years, we get it. All 800+ pages!

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‘Awesome Tales’ #5

Posted by at 10:00 am Wednesday, June 7, 2017 in Fanzines, Pulps, Review
Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

‘Awesome Tales’ #5

'Awesome Tales' #5After a little longer then expected, we get the fifth issue of Awesome Tales (Spring 2017), a fanzine produced by Black Cat Media (R. Allen Leider) and packaged/published by Bold Venture Press.

Science fiction is the theme this issue, kicked off with a Tom Corbett story, which is the cover feature. For those who don’t recall Tom Corbett, Space Cadet, it was a fairly popular TV series from the space-crazed 1950s. It spawned a comic strip, juvenile book series (eight total), comic books (from Dell and later Prize), and radio show (he was originally developed for radio). We get an intro to the story that gives some basic background on the character.

“Tom Corbett and the Mutant Masters,” by R. Allen Leider, has Tom and his associates looking into kidnappings on Mars. And they find the cause: a mad scientist who is doing genetic experiments.

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‘The Encyclopedia of Pulp Heroes’

Posted by at 10:00 am Monday, June 5, 2017 in Hero Pulps, References, Review
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

'The Encyclopedia of Pulp Heroes'A much needed work, Jess Nevin‘s new The Encyclopedia of Pulp Heroes (2017) is a “sequel” to his Encyclopedia of Fantastic Victoriana (2005). Now, to get his Encyclopedia, you have two choices. Get the whole thing from Amazon for the Kindle, or get four hardbacks from Lulu, with it broken up as Pulp Adventures, Fantastic Pulp Heroes, Pulp Cowboy, and Pulp Detectives. I have no idea of any plans for paperback editions.

The Encyclopedia is not a “be–all and end–all” work on pulp heroes. It’s great (and important) as a reference on the wide range of characters, and that includes pulp villains (the ones who “starred” in their own series such as Doctor Satan, Black Star, etc., as well as a very few notable foes of certain heroes). But don’t expect an exhaustive look at each character, or a source of story breakdowns. And the definition of “pulp” is pretty broad. Also included are characters outside pulp magazines (from movie serials, comic strips, but not comic books), and foreign “pulp” characters. Nothing that happens with these characters after the pulp period of 1902-45 is noted, so nothing on new works (comics, movies, reprints, new prose, etc.) is included.

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‘Windy City Pulp Stories’ #17

Posted by at 10:00 am Wednesday, May 31, 2017 in Fanzines, Non-fiction, Reprints, Review
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

‘Windy City Pulp Stories’ #17

'Windy City Pulp Stories' #17The 2017 Windy City Pulp and Paper Convention has come and gone and we have a new edition of the Windy City Pulp Stories #17.

This year’s focus is on gangster pulp and Martin Goodman‘s Red Circle pulp line. Martin Goodman also started Timely and Marvel comics. As always, we get new and reprinted articles, and some fiction as well.

From the gangster pulps we get several articles. We get “The NEW Gangster Story,” by Joséph Lichtblau, which is reprinted from Writer’s Digest in 1930. Harold Hersey, who was a pulp publisher and formed (among others) Ace Magazines gives us “Underworld, Gangster, G-Men, Etc.,” another reprint, this time from Pulpwood Editor from 1937. Here Hersey briefly gives info on how he starts new gangster pulp mags.

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