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

DC Comics’ pulp connections

Posted by at 10:00 am Friday, March 31, 2017 in Comics, Pulps
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

DC Comics’ pulp connections
Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson

Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson

In the past I’ve written on the pulp-comics connections with several of the major and minor pulp publishers. And recently I posted on the pulp roots of Marvel Comics. But I guess I need to take a look at DC Comics.

The pulp connections at DC Comics are even more obscure then Marvel’s. Not helped that, again, most are not aware of DC Comics “origins” as a company.

What we now know as DC Comics was formed as National Allied Publications by Major Malcom Wheeler-Nicholson in 1935. The Major was a pulp writer, but never a publisher until he formed National Allied. The major change he brought to the comic-book industry was to publish original comic-book work, not just comic strip reprints. That was actually kind of daring, and increased his costs (and risks).

However, when he was trying to get his third title out, Detective Comics, he had to take on backers. These were Harry Donenfeld and Jack Liebowitz. Within a couple of years Donenfeld and Liebowitz forced out Wheeler-Nicholson and took over his company. And that is putting in mildly. Most liken it to a “hostile takeover.”

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‘Pulp Adventures’ #24

Posted by at 10:00 am Wednesday, March 22, 2017 in Comics, Fanzines, H.P. Lovecraft, Reprints, Review
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

‘Pulp Adventures’ #24

'Pulp Adventures' #24Pulp Adventures #24 (Winter 2017) kicks off 2017 with this great pulp fanzine from Bold Venture Press. As always, we get a collection of classic and New Pulp fiction (with some notes) and this time also a pulp graphic novel, under an Emmet Watson cover, which ties to one of the stories reprinted here.

For classic pulp, we get:

The cover feature, “Sheridan Rides Again,” is a post Civil War adventure by Sam Merwin Jr. that first appeared in an issue of Thrilling Adventure in 1941. Accompanying this reprint is an article that appeared in the same issue by Merwin that explains the historical background of the story. A prolific pulp writer (mysteries and science fiction mainly) and editor (several leading science-fiction pulps), most of his works are out of print. Bold Venture plans on reprinting more of them soon.

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Pulp comics: Dynamite’s ‘The Shadow’ mini-series

Posted by at 10:10 am Friday, March 3, 2017 in Comics, Review, The Shadow
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Pulp comics: Dynamite’s ‘The Shadow’ mini-series
'The Shadow: Year One' #3

The Shadow: Year One #3

Since 2012, Dynamite Entertainment has had the rights to do The Shadow comics. In addition to an on-going series (now ended), they have had several mini-series and one-shots with The Shadow. This is the second of three articles looking at what they have produced.

Here I will be looking at the several mini-series staring The Shadow: Year One, Shadow Now, Midnight in Moscow, and Death of Margo Lane. Masks and other minis that have The Shadow with other characters will be covered in other postings.

The Shadow: Year One (2013-14, 10 issues) is written by Matt Wagner, and as the title indicates, is meant to show The Shadow’s first year of operating in New York. It actually starts in Asia, with The Shadow on the trail of another man. We will learn The Shadow’s background as the aviator-spy The Dark Eagle, and sadly adds in that in Asia he became a drug lord (an element I never cared for) and later would be taught by masters in Shamballah in the psychic disciplines.

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Marvel Comics’ pulp roots

Posted by at 10:00 am Monday, February 27, 2017 in Comics, Pulps
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Marvel Comics’ pulp roots
Publisher Martin Goodman

Publisher Martin Goodman

Most everyone knows of Marvel Comics, publishers of Spider-Man, Captain America, X-Men, Iron Man, and all the rest. But few know of the man behind Marvel (and I don’t mean Stan Lee): Martin Goodman.

Goodman got into the early days of pulp/comic-book publishing along side some of the founders of MLJ/Archie and DC Comics. Like them, he diversified into a wide range of publishing: magazines, pulps, comics, and books. And sadly he did this under a wide range of shell companies, which can make it a bit confusing.

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From comic strips to pulps

Posted by at 10:00 am Friday, February 10, 2017 in Comics, Hero Pulps
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

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 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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Pulp comics: ‘Captain Gravity’

Posted by at 10:00 am Friday, January 27, 2017 in Comics, Review
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

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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