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

‘The Man Behind Doc Savage’

Posted by at 10:00 am Monday, August 21, 2017 in Doc Savage, Lester Dent, Non-fiction, Review
Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

‘The Man Behind Doc Savage’

'The Man Behind Doc Savage: A Tribute to Lester Dent'In 1974, Robert Weinberg edited and published a short booklet (130 pages) titled The Man Behind Doc Savage: A Tribute to Lester Dent. For a while I just thought it was a bio of Lester Dent, but I recently obtained a copy of it and found it’s much more than just a bio, containing several short articles on Dent and his works, as well as two reprints.

First off is a short biography of Dent by Weinberg.  For those familiar with Dent’s life, nothing new here.  For unfamiliar, this may give you some insight.

Robert Sampson provides three articles. First off we learn more about Oscar Sail, Dent’s character from a pair of stories that ran in Black Mask. I really wish someone would reprint these two stories in some form. Then we get a look at the trio of works that ran in Argosy: “Hades,” “Hocus Pocus,” and Genius Jones. I’ve reviewed all three previously. While I have the reprint of “Hades” and “Hocus Pocus,” I wish these would be reprinted again for others to read. Finally we get a look at the later works of Dent, from the digest Docs to his last non-Doc novels. Again, I wonder why no one has reprinted these non-Doc novels?

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A look at Street & Smith’s ‘Crime Busters’

Posted by at 10:00 am Monday, April 24, 2017 in Detective Pulps, Hero Pulps, Lester Dent, Street & Smith
Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

A look at Street & Smith’s ‘Crime Busters’

'Crime Busters' (November 1937)Street & Smith kicked off the hero pulp trend with The Shadow in 1931. They eventually followed that with Doc Savage in 1933. While those were successful, their subsequent series were not, as they tried western (Pete Rice), detective (Nick Carter), and air adventures (Bill Barnes).

Next they tried to copy the success of The Shadow and Doc with The Whisperer and The Skipper.

Walter Gibson suggested something different. A pulp magazine that would contain about three novelettes (long short stories) of different serial pulp heroes, from which successful ones could be spun out in their own magazines. Editor John Nanovic decided to go with that idea, but made some changes (probably not for the best).

In 1937, they dumped The Whisperer and The Skipper, and retitled Best Detective Magazine (which was mainly reprints) as Crime Busters.

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The works of Paul Malmont

Posted by at 10:00 am Wednesday, April 6, 2016 in Lester Dent, New Pulp, Review
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

The works of Paul Malmont
Paul Malmont

Paul Malmont

Paul Malmont appeared on the New Pulp scene in 2007 with his first book, The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril.

This novel made used of several pulp authors as characters in a fictional adventure. The main ones were Lester Dent (the creator and writer of Doc Savage) and Walter Gibson (the creator and writer of The Shadow), but there were various other science fiction pulp authors who appeared, along with L. Ron Hubbard (later founder of Scientology).

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Lester Dent in ‘Argosy’

Posted by at 10:00 am Monday, September 21, 2015 in Adventure Pulps, Altus Press, Lester Dent, Pulps
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Lester Dent in ‘Argosy’
Lester Dent

Lester Dent

Lester Dent, the co-creator and major author of Doc Savage, is too often overlooked in regards to his non-Doc work he did before, during, and after he wrote the character. I’ve done previous posts on several of his “gadget heroes” and other works, and am sure I’ll do further posts on his other non-Doc works.

One particular episode of his career is when, during a too brief lull in writing Docs, he was able to try breaking into other markets. This allowed him to try to get stories in Argosy, the long-running and well respected Munsey pulp. Out of this was two novelettes: “Hades” and “Hocus Pocus,” and the long novel “Genius Jones,” serialized over six issues. All three stories have some similar elements. All have several interesting characters, many who seem influenced by Doc and his associates. And all have a higher level of humor than his regular output, with “Genius Jones” the most explicit version of this.

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The Argosy Library, Series I

Posted by at 10:00 am Monday, August 3, 2015 in Altus Press, Fantasy Pulp, Lester Dent, Pulps, Review, Western Pulps
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

The Argosy Library, Series I

Genius JonesWhile most people when dealing with pulps focus on the later periods of the 1930s, ’40s, and ’50s, the hero pulps that occurred then, the crime, detective, mystery, science-fiction and fantasy of those eras, it’s important to also look at the pulp fiction that preceded those eras.

The pulp magazines got their start due to Frank A. Munsey, who started to convert his fiction magazines to pulp paper and reduced their price, making them more profitable. He published the well-known Argosy magazine, which got its start in the late 1800s, and several other popular magazines such as The All-Story and Flynn’s Detective Fiction Weekly.

Now, Altus Press has started a new line called the “Argosy Library,” which is composed of several series of 10 books each highlighting some of the great fiction that appeared in those magazines, now often overlooked.

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‘The New Adventures of Lynn Lash’

Posted by at 10:00 am Wednesday, June 24, 2015 in Lester Dent, New Pulp, Pro Se Press, Pulps
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

‘The New Adventures of Lynn Lash’

"The New Adventures of Lynn Lash"The first of Lester Dent’s “gadget heroes” was Lynn Lash. This short-lived character came out before Doc Savage was created, and it’s said that these stories helped Dent get the Doc gig.

Lash appeared in two published and one unpublished stories. They appeared in 1932 in Ace’s Detective Dragnet. All three are collected in the Altus Press collection, “Hell in Boxes.”

Lynn Lash has many elements we would see in Doc Savage. The hero worked out of a skyscraper headquarters and tackled scientific threats the police couldn’t. Lash has some association with the police, such that he gets a lot of special treatment from cops (similar to what Doc received). The source of his income is never mentioned. (Is he paid by the police? Independently wealthy? He only seems to do stuff for the police.) The third story adds some elements we see in Doc: a gun shooting mercy bullets, a special apartment with a secret elevator, a basement with special vehicles, the villain hooking up with the hero to keep an eye on the investigation, and Lash working out the solution midway, but not revealing things until the end.

Sadly, there aren’t many secondary characters that are used through all the stories. The first and third stories has Lash’s boyish secretary. A reporter is the main helper in the second story, but we don’t see him in the third.

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