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

Examining Dr. Nikola

Posted by at 10:00 am Monday, June 26, 2017 in English Pulp, Proto-pulp, Villain Pulps
Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

Examining Dr. Nikola

Dr. NikolaWhen it comes to series centered around the villain, we usually think of Fu Manchu or perhaps Fantomas.

But a character that appeared before them and may have been an influence is Dr. Nikola.

Created by Guy Boothby, he appeared in five novels between 1895 and 1901 that were serialized in English magazines. Dr. Antonio Nikola seems the model of a sinister Italian. Elegant, cultured, he is slim with dark hair and eyes, with olive skin. Highly intelligent and with psi powers, he is unscrupulous, but honorable (like some other super villains). His constant companion is a black cat, Apollyon, who perches on his shoulder.

His goal is not so much world domination or to run a criminal enterprise, but the search for a formula that will resurrect the dead and prolong life. But too often in the works it’s not clear what his goal really is. It’s a problem with early characters where the author doesn’t know how to use a character to its fullest.

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More Gees, from ‘Mumps to Murder’

Posted by at 10:00 am Monday, November 14, 2016 in English Pulp, Occult Detective, Review
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

More Gees, from ‘Mumps to Murder’

'Mumps to Murder'I recently posted on a new (to me) occult detective I discovered: Gees, real name Gregory George Gordon Green. Created by British author and editor Charles Henry Cannell (1882-1947), better known by one of his pseudonyms E. Charles Vivian, but these appeared under his Jack Mann pseudonym.

There are eight novels in the series, and I read the first and third. Recently I got the second, fourth, and fifth: Grey Shapes, The Kleinart Case, and Maker of Shadows. All originally appeared, so I am told, in 1938. All eight are available from Ramble House in both paperback and hardcover.

We are introduced to Gees in Gees’ First Case. We learn his background: a former policeman who has quite to form his own detective agency, to the disapproval of his father, a general. His agency is just him and a secretary, Eve Madeleine Brandon. But there is no hanky panky there. Gees investigates anything from “mumps to murder,” as his card says, and thanks to the funds he took from communist conspirators in the first story, he is free to take the cases that interest him.

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Occult detective ‘Gees’

Posted by at 10:00 am Monday, August 29, 2016 in English Pulp, Occult Detective, Review
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Occult detective ‘Gees’

I am always on the lookout for new occult detectives, and I recently discovered one who is actually an old one, written in the 1930s and ’40s.

'Gees' First Case'Detective Gregory George Gordon Green, or “Gees” as he prefers, was created by British author and editor Charles Henry Cannell (1882-1947), better known by one of his pseudonyms E. Charles Vivian. However, these were written under his Jack Mann pseudonym.

The series consists of:

  • Gees’ First Case (1936)
  • Grey Shapes (1938)
  • Nightmare Farm (1938)
  • The Kleinart Case (1938)
  • Maker of Shadows (1938)
  • The Ninth Life (1939)
  • Her Ways Are Death (1940)
  • The Glass Too Many (1940)

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Sexton Blake, the ‘poor man’s Sherlock Holmes’

Posted by at 10:00 am Monday, October 5, 2015 in English Pulp, Foreign Pulps, Sexton Blake, Sherlock Holmes
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Sexton Blake, the ‘poor man’s Sherlock Holmes’

Sexton BlakeSexton Blake, a hugely popular British character during his time, is probably the best known of the various Sherlock Holmes knockoffs, which is interesting, because he didn’t start out as such.

Created in 1893, he was published in numerous stories (some 4,000 by 200 authors!) and comics up until the 1970s, along with radio shows and movies, and even a TV show. He fell out of popularity in the ’70s, but in recent years several stories have been reprinted by various publishers.

Sexton Blake is apparently the third-most published character, with either Nick Carter or the now largely forgotten Dixon Hawke as the first two (which is which is debatable). I find it interesting that Dixon Hawke doesn’t even have a Wikipedia entry!

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