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

From comic strips to pulps

Posted by at 10:00 am Friday, February 10, 2017 in Comics, Hero Pulps

From comic strips to pulps

'Dan Dunn Detective Magazine' (September 1936)Several pulp heroes made the transition to comic books (and one case comic strips). A very few comic book characters became pulp heroes. And very few comic strip characters did the same. Strangely, the three that did were done by the same company.

In late 1936, CJH Publications put out a trio of short-lived pulp magazines using popular comic strip characters: Dan Dunn, Flash Gordon, and Tailspin Tommy. Not much is known of this short-lived company that lasted about a year, other than the “H” in the company name was for Harold Hersey, founder of Ace Magazines, who at the time was doing a variety of new publishing efforts after selling Ace off several years prior.

Interestingly, these pulps were not like your typical pulps. The cover artwork was more comic book/strip line art than the painted covers we would expect, and, from descriptions, were saddle stitched. Each issue came out in short succession, and it’s unclear what killed the line. Poor sales? One article claimed the rights to one of the characters weren’t properly secured, which sounds kind of sloppy but happens. But as the three characters used were from different syndicates, that hopefully wouldn’t kill the whole effort. Sadly, I was only able to get access to reprints of a couple of the original stories.

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‘Echoes Revisited’

Posted by at 10:10 am Wednesday, February 8, 2017 in Fanzines, G-8, Non-fiction, Phantom Detective, References, Review, Secret Agent X, The Avenger

‘Echoes Revisited’

'Echoes Revisited'The fanzine Echoes ran from 1982 to 2002, before the advent of print-on-demand changed pulp fan publishing and ushered in the current New Pulp era.

Echoes was published by Tom and Ginger Johnson for 100 issues and then for a period of time it was an “newszine.” Its last new issue was Echoes Revisited, published in 2002 as a 20th anniversary special issue. This one had a color cover (The Shadow by David Burton) and special binding. There were also 100 numbered copies.

This issue celebrates Echoes with a collection of articles new and old, along with several art portfolios and photocopies of some pulp covers. Sadly, I don’t know which articles are reprints, or from where, nor where some of these articles have appeared since. The articles are grouped by their authors.

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‘Tales of the Shadowmen #13: Sang Froid’

Posted by at 10:00 am Wednesday, February 1, 2017 in Doctor Omega, Foreign Pulps, French pulp, Harry Dickson, Pastiche, Review, Roulatabille, Sar Dubnotal, The Black Coats, Wold Newton Universe

‘Tales of the Shadowmen #13: Sang Froid’

'Tales of the Shadowmen #13: Sang Froid'There’s another volume of Tales of the Shadowmen out. The Black Coat Press series is now up to 13 volumes. This one is subtitled “Sang Froid,” which means “cold blood.” For me, I think of a murder mystery where someone is “murdered in cold blood,” but here it’s about the ability to stay calm in difficult or even dangerous situations — which many of these character have in spads.

As noted, this annual series makes use of Philip José Farmer‘s “Wold Newton” concept, mixing in a variety of literary characters, with a focus on the various pulp and pulpish characters of France and Europe, such as Arsene Lupin, Fantômas, The Nyctalope, Rouletabille, and many others, as well as those from other countries.

This year’s volume gives us:

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Pulp comics: ‘Captain Gravity’

Posted by at 10:00 am Friday, January 27, 2017 in Comics, Review

Pulp comics: ‘Captain Gravity’

'Captain Gravity' #1An interesting, though short-lived comic-book series that came out several years ago is Captain Gravity. While mainly taking inspiration from movie serials, there are some pulp elements as well. Set in the backdrop of 1930s Hollywood, it has movie serial heroes, Nazis, and mystical powers like the Vril.

Published by Penny Farthing Productions, two mini-series were produced, along with a one-shot. The first mini of four issues came out in 1998 and was collected. A one-shot came out in 1999 (it was never collected). And then a second (and final) mini of six issues came out in 2004-05 and was collected in 2006. No word on any further series or stories being planned. The character was created by Stephan Vrattos, who wrote the first series and one-shot. Joshua Dysart wrote the second series.

The series centers around Joshua Jones, a young, black man working behind the scenes in Hollywood in 1938. There, he is the personal assistant to the head of a movie studio. This studio is creating a new pulp-inspired movie serial character “Captain Gravity,” who they feel will compete against characters like Spy Smasher and the like.

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Biff Brewster Mystery Adventures

Posted by at 10:00 am Friday, January 20, 2017 in Juvenile fiction

Biff Brewster Mystery Adventures

'Brazilian Gold Mine Mystery' (Biff Brewster #1)A short-lived juvenile fiction series from the 1960s is the Biff Brewster series. Published by Grosset & Dunlap from 1960 to ’65, it was not created by the Stratemeyer Syndicate. Thirteen novels were put out during that five-year span, written by about four authors, under the house name of Andy Adams.

Biff is a 16-year-old boy. His father works for a mining company, which means frequent travels to various exotic locations. So on his vacations, Biff accompanies his father. There, he gets involved in some mystery, joined by a local boy that he befriends in each of these locations (luckily ones that knows English!), which considering the time period is pretty progressive. Also, because of the foreign locations, the books have an element of travelogue, giving a lot of local color to the story.

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‘Sargasso’ and William Hope Hodgson

Posted by at 10:00 am Monday, January 16, 2017 in Fantasy Pulp, Fanzines, Pulps, Weird Fiction

‘Sargasso’ and William Hope Hodgson

'Sargasso: The Journal of William Hope Hodgson Studies' #1William Hope Hodgson (1877-1918) is an author more people should be aware of. He wrote essays, short fiction, novels, and poetry, most in the genres of horror, fantastic, and science fiction. Much of his short fiction appeared in pulp magazines in the U.K. and U.S.

Because he had ran away to be a Merchant Marine at age 13, an experience he grew to hate, many of his stories were clearly influenced by this, especially his “Sargasso Sea” stories. Most pulp fans are probably aware of him due to his occult detective, Carnacki, or perhaps his various sea stories or mention of his works by H.P. Lovecraft.

For those wanting to delve further into Hodgson, there is a semi-annual journal, Sargasso: The Journal of William Hope Hodgson Studies. Three issues have appeared so far in 2013, 2014, and 2016. All are available on Amazon. These journals have essays, poetry, artwork, and even short fiction, all focused on Hodgson and his work. They are edited by Sam Gafford, a long-time scholar and editor of Hodgson’s works. I’ve gotten all of them over the years and look forward to each one.

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Pulp comics: ‘Chimera Brigade’ vol. 2 & 3

Posted by at 10:00 am Friday, January 13, 2017 in Comics, Foreign Pulps, Pastiche, Review

Pulp comics: ‘Chimera Brigade’ vol. 2 & 3

'The Chimera Brigade' Vol. 2After getting the first volume of The Chimera Brigade from Titan Comics, I got the second and third volumes. As with the first volume, these will soon be reprinted in comic-book form as the third through sixth issues. These two volumes reveals the Chimera Brigade, setting things down for what appears to be a coming war.

We are also introduced to several new characters, and I’m not always certain which are originals. First off, we meet the Brigade, four individuals who are released from Dr. Severac: the angelic Unknown Soldier; the mother goddess Matrikia; the intelligent bear Brown Baron; and the skeletal Doctor Serum.

Other characters introduced are: the mystic Palmyra, who operates in Paris; The Elastic Man, who had increase and decrease his size and was released in the last volume. Here, The Eye (the Nyctalope) and his C.I.D. capture him and send him against the Radium Institute. The evil hypnotist Cagliostro is defeated, but he doesn’t seem to have any connection with the Count Cagliostro. We also meet Odd John the Cosmic Man and his dog Sirius. These two characters were mutants created in novels of the same names by Olaf Stapledon in the 1930s. Here they are given powers more like Superman and Krypto.

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