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

A look at Cap Fury, the Skipper

Posted by at 10:00 am Monday, February 17, 2014 in Doc Savage, Hero Pulps, Pulps, Review
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

A look at Cap Fury, the Skipper

The Skipper (July 1937)Cap Fury, the Skipper was part of Street & Smith‘s attempt to repeat the success of The Shadow and Doc Savage.

After the success of those two characters, they tried additional characters in other genres with less success, such as Nick Carter (hard-boiled detective), Pete Rice (western), and Bill Barnes (air). So they tried to create two new characters in the mold of The Shadow and Doc. And strangely enough, both were written by the same person!

So in October of 1936, we got The Whisperer. Really Police Commissioner Jim “Wildcat” Gordon, he went after crooks as the mysterious Whisperer. Soon after, Street & Smith kicked off The Skipper in December of 1936. Both series were written by Laurence Donovan, who ghosted a dozen or so Doc novels, of course under different house names.

Both series lasted a little over a year (12 issues for The Skipper, 14 for The Whisperer), and were canceled. The Whisperer moved into The Shadow magazine, and was quickly taken over by Alan Hathaway. The Skipper moved into Doc Savage magazine, still written by Donovan. But eventually William Bogart (1), Harold Davis (4), and then Norman Daniels (24) wrote them.

The Skipper actually outlasted The Whisperer by several years, lasting in the back of Doc Savage magazine until 1943 for a total of 52 stories. They did give the Skipper a novel in the Crime Busters pulp, like they did for the Whisperer, maybe to see if he was popular enough to give him back his own pulp, like they did for the Whisperer.  It didn’t happen, obviously.

So, who is the Skipper? Well, when I first got into pulps years ago, I had never even heard of him. Only a bit later did a learn a little more (very little), basically that he was a sort of “nautical Doc Savage,” if you will. Only more recently have I learned more. He is Captain John Fury, usually just referred to as Cap Fury, a electro-chemical engineer and explorer.

He roams the seven seas, righting wrongs and punishing the bad guys. So like Doc, he is a scientist and explorer and do-gooder. Unlike Doc, he doesn’t wear a vest with gadgets. Instead, he wears big sea boots, and that’s where he puts his gadgets. He operates from what appears to be a broken-down ship, The Whirlwind, but looks can be deceiving, and it’s a technological wonder. Instead of Doc’s aide, he has his ship’s crew to help him, including Marlin “Spike” Briggs, First Mate; “Hurricane” Dan Belmont, Second Mate; and former police inspector Peter Doom.

In addition to his pulp stories, he also appeared in Street & Smith’s comic books from 1940 thru 1942, always known as “Cap Fury” for a total of 10 stories. Sanctum Books reprinted one of them recently, and now has kicked of a reprint of the original novels (they had done a handful of the short stories). As The Skipper only lasted for 12 issues (plus the novel in Crime Busters), this should be done in six volumes from Sanctum Books. I hope we will also get all the short stories (39 total) as well.

Check out this character to see another attempt at repeating the success of Doc Savage.