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

Pulp Comics: ‘Astro City’

Posted by at 10:00 am Friday, February 9, 2018 in Comics, Pulps
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Pulp Comics: ‘Astro City’

'Astro City: Life in the Big City'Astro City is a long-running comicbook series created by writer Kurt Busiek with cover artist Alex Ross and with most issues having Brent Anderson for interior work. This series has been published over the years by Image Comics (1995–1996), Homage Comics (1996–2004), Wildstorm (2004–10), and Vertigo Comics (2013–present).

The “universe” of Astro City has a wide range of superheroes and villains who go back to the 1800s at least. Almost all are based on archetypes or are characters done “in the style of” certain writers or artists. But these characters are different enough to be more original than just being copies or pastiches.

So for Superman, there is the Samaritan, a man sent from the future to change things for the better; for Batman, it’s The Confessor, a priest turned vampire who becomes a costumed detective to fight crime; for Wonder Woman, it’s Winged Victory, an ordinary woman empowered to become a symbol for all women. The main superhero team is the Honor Guard. Instead of the Fantastic Four, there is the First Family. And so on.

Read more

Read More

Pulp comics: ‘Sandman Mystery Theatre’

Posted by at 10:00 am Friday, January 26, 2018 in Comics, Review
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Pulp comics: ‘Sandman Mystery Theatre’

'Sandman Mystery Theatre: The Tarantula'I have previously noted that many early comicbook characters were inspired by pulp characters. Many of these early characters wore suits (even if somewhat colorful), and later we got characters in more color spandex-like outfits. And in a few cases, some of the early comicbook characters changed their looks, dropping the suits for more superhero-like outfits (such as the Crimson Avenger, Blue Beetle, etc). A modern term used retroactively for such characters is “mystery men” rather than “superheroes,” as they don’t have any superpowers.

An early example of this is DC Comic‘s Sandman. Originally more pulp-inspired, he wore a suit, a hat, and a gasmask, and used a gas gun against bad guys. Now, his suit was a bit garish, in orange and green, with a purple cape or cloak. Later he was given a purple-and-yellow spandex outfit, a kid sidekick (in red and yellow) and dropped the gas gun for a “wirepoon” gun.

Read more

Read More

Meet Flash Gordon

Posted by at 10:00 am Friday, September 29, 2017 in Comics, Movies, Pulps
Estimated reading time: 9 minutes

Meet Flash Gordon

Flash Gordon battles Ming the Merciless.A character that is often times trotted out as a pulp character is Flash Gordon. But he’s really not, as he originated in the comic strips. Created to compete against Buck Rogers, he has outshined Buck, and would later appear in comic books, movies and serials, TV, books, radio, and even a pulp magazine. I debated doing an article on him, but feel I must, because there are pulp-like elements.

Most people recall the basic parts of the storyline, which is your “planetary romance” mixed with space opera adventure. Earth is menaced by the rogue planet Mongo. Flash and Dale Arden crash near the lab of Dr. Hans Zarkov, and the three launch into space in Zarkov’s spaceship to put a stop to it. Crashing on Mongo, they find a bizarre world of people and races, ruled over by the despotic Ming the Merciless. Flash and company team up with others, including Prince Barin and Vultan of the Hawkmen, and lead a rebellion against Ming and overthrow him. This leads to further adventures by Flash, Dale, and Zarkov on Mongo (sometimes dealing with another attempt by Ming or someone else to take over), on Earth, and on other worlds.

Read more

Read More

‘Pulp Adventures’ #25

Posted by at 10:00 am Wednesday, August 9, 2017 in Adventure Pulps, Comics, Fanzines, New Pulp, Pulps, Reprints, Review, Weird Fiction, Western Pulps
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

‘Pulp Adventures’ #25

'Pulp Adventures' #25The 10th issue of the new Pulp Adventures — #25, Spring 2017 — is out.

This issue has a set of new and reprinted pulp fiction, all under a Norman Saunders cover (again). No non-fiction other than the information on the authors or pulps these appeared in, which I think added to things. I’d just like to see an occasional full article on some topic.

For pulp reprints, first up is one of Robert E. Howard‘s Sailor Steve Costigan stories, “Waterfront Fists” which appeared in Fight Stories. I was surprised to learn that this pulp, the first focused on a specific sport, ran for over two decades.

Next, we get some different Western stories. First is “Chicago Man” by E.K. Jarvis, which ran in Mammoth Western in 1946. From Will H. Thompson, we get “Tigre and Isola” that appeared in Adventure way back in 1911. And then a very short short story by Larry Latham: “Desert Rescue.” This one appeared in Thrilling Comics, due to postage regulations. Comics had to have two pages of text, so many ran short stories or later letter pages. I recall seeing this in many of the comics I got in the ’60s. Since many early comic-book publishers where connected to pulp publishers, they could get this done.

Read more

Read More

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.

Read more

Read More

Pulp comics: Dynamite ‘Shadow’ 1-shots

Posted by at 10:00 am Friday, April 28, 2017 in Comics, Review, The Shadow
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Pulp comics: Dynamite ‘Shadow’ 1-shots

'The Shadow Over Innsmouth'Since 2012, Dynamite has had the rights to do The Shadow comics. Since then in addition to an on-going series (now ended), they have had several mini-series and one-shots with The Shadow. This is the third of three articles looking at what they have produced, here focusing on the several one-shots.

The one-shots are The Shadow Over Innsmouth, The Shadow Annuals 2012 & 2013, The Shadow Special, The Shadow Special 2014, The Shadow #0 (One-Shot) 2014, and The Shadow #100. There is also Altered States: The Shadow, which I covered in another posting, as I did for the 2014 one-shot.

The Shadow Over Innsmouth has The Shadow along with Margo Lane in fog-bound Innsmouth, after they landed their seaplane there. After getting a tale told them of Captain Marsh, the South Seas, the Deep Ones, and more, they discover that it’s just a cover to scare people off from a major bootlegging operation that even includes a submarine. But The Shadow makes short work of it. The coda at the end has H.P. Lovecraft hearing the same tale, which we assume is the source of his story, “A Shadow Over Innsouth.”

Read more

Read More