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

‘Three With a Bullet’

Posted by at 10:00 am Wednesday, February 7, 2018 in Hero Pulps, Johnston McCulley, New Pulp, Pro Se Press, Review
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

‘Three With a Bullet’

'Three With a Bullet'Three With a Bullet is a collection of three new stories by three different authors with three different classic pulp heroes: The Man in Purple, the Masked Rider, and The Purple Scar from Pro Se Press.

All three of those characters have (or are being) reprinted by Altus Press. Pro Se Press published Three With a Bullet, but not in their Pulp Obscura line, which has new stories of classic pulp characters. I was surprised by this because they have put out a collection of new Man in Purple stories, but none with the other two. In fact, Airship 27 has been putting out new stories of the Purple Scar.

The Man in Purple was one of Johnston McCulley‘s short-lived “bent heroes” from the 1920s. Richard Staegal — helped by his girlfriend, Betty, and his chauffeur and assistant, Broph — robbed from the unjust rich and gave the money to the poor, similar to McCulley’s better-known character The Crimson Clown. Richard would dress in an special all-purple outfit with hood, and once he had finished using the outfit he would use a vial of acid to dissolve it all. He was pursued by Detective Troman.

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‘King in Yellow’ and Robert W. Chambers

Posted by at 10:00 am Monday, January 29, 2018 in Authors, Pulps, Weird Fiction
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

‘King in Yellow’ and Robert W. Chambers
Robert W. Chambers

Robert W. Chambers

I think more people who have read horror works that are considered “Lovecraftian” have probably heard of the King in Yellow, either the character or the play. Less well known is the person who created it — Robert W. Chambers (1865-1924) — not surprising as the bulk of his writing was not macabre. Though what he did write in that area is pretty good.

Chambers only wrote some weird or macabre stuff. While he started out as an illustrator, he moved to fiction, and wrote in a wide range of genres. The bulk of his work — and where he made his fortune — was in writing romance fiction. In his later years he wrote historical fiction. It would be like if Stephen King just dabbled in weird fiction, but mainly wrote Harlequin Romance novels. H.P. Lovecraft praised his work, but was disappointed that he didn’t continue to do weird fiction.

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The children of Burroughs

Posted by at 10:00 am Monday, December 18, 2017 in Edgar Rice Burroughs, Reprints, Review, Science Fiction Pulps
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

The children of Burroughs
Edgar Rice Burroughs

Edgar Rice Burroughs

It is interesting that while many artists and writers have children, few of those children follow in their footsteps. There have been a few comic strips continued by the sons and daughters of the creators, and not much else. At most you’ll have the children perhaps manage the estate of their parents.

An interesting example of this in the pulp world is found with the children of Edgar Rice Burroughs. He had three: Joan, Hulbert, and John Coleman.

Joan would marry one of the early actors for Tarzan, and she played Jane in a Tarzan radio show. Hulbert, as far as I know, pursued other matters, but apparently did get involved with helping with the business side of Edgar Rice Burroughs Inc. John Coleman got involved in his father’s work, but in a unique way.

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‘Vic Challenger #6: Event’

Posted by at 10:00 am Wednesday, December 13, 2017 in Edgar Rice Burroughs, New Pulp, Pulps, Review
Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

‘Vic Challenger #6: Event’

'Vic Challenger #6: Event'I have previously posted about the Vic Challenger series, in particular numbers 1, 2, and 5. Set in the 1920s, the series stars young Victoria Custer who discovers she is the reincarnation of a cave girl, Nat-ul, born and died 100,000 years ago.

Using the name “Vic Challenger,” she works as a travel writer (and adventurer) while looking for her soul mate from 100,000 years ago whom she thinks is also reincarnated. But in her travels, she gets into various dangers, and her past life as a cave girl warrior helps her out.

The character actually comes from Edgar Rice BurroughsThe Eternal Lover (later renamed The Eternal Savage). As the Burroughs novel is in the public domain, I am sure calling the character “Vic Challenger” makes it easier to copyright this different take on the character.

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Meet the first Spider

Posted by at 10:00 am Monday, December 11, 2017 in Johnston McCulley, Pulps, Villain Pulps
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Meet the first Spider
'Detective Story Magazine' (Oct. 22, 1918)

Detective Story Magazine (Oct. 22, 1918)

Mention the name The Spider and most pulp fans will recall the popular and long-running hero pulp published by Popular Publications. But while the most popular character in the pulps to use the name, he is not the first.

That honor goes to Johnston McCulley‘s early pulp villain who appeared over a year in Street & Smith’s Detective Story Magazine in 1918-19. He is McCulley’s second serial character, following Black Star, also a villain, and soon followed by the pickpocket Thubway Tham.

After that McCulley would go with heroes as serial characters, either “vengeance heroes” (going after a group of villains who have done wrong to the hero) or Robin Hood-like “bent heroes” (who steal from bad guys and give to others).

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Burroughs’ Moon trilogy

Posted by at 10:00 am Monday, November 27, 2017 in Edgar Rice Burroughs, Pulps, Science Fiction Pulps
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Burroughs’ Moon trilogy
Edgar Rice Burroughs

Edgar Rice Burroughs

Edgar Rice Burroughs is best known for Tarzan, and probably also his Mars novels with John Carter and others. But he set stories in a variety of locations including the hollow earth, Venus, and even the Moon.

The Moon series, usually referred to as the “Moon Trilogy,” consists of “The Moon Maid” (1923), “The Moon Men (1925), and “The Red Hawk” (1925). This trilogy first ran in Argosy All-Story, and may be available in one or two volumes (the last two stories are usually published as one volume). Bison Books has a single volume version of it, but I believe the most accurate collection is available from ERBville Press, which contains the original magazine appearances.

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