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

Jess Nevin’s ‘The Pulps: A History’

Posted by at 10:00 am Wednesday, March 29, 2017 in Foreign Pulps, Non-fiction, Pulps, References
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Jess Nevin’s ‘The Pulps: A History’

'The Pulps: A History'For those who don’t know him, Jess Nevins is probably one of the main pure researchers today in the world of pulp. And not just pulps in the U.S., but also overseas.

He has in the past maintained several websites that had information on a wide number of pulp characters. He has also put out several encyclopedic books on the topic, most out of print. He works as a research librarian, and so has access to information that most of us can only dream of.

Thankfully Nevins has shared much of that information. And his recent small book, The Pulps: A History, is but his latest.

While not flashy or the like, this small little tome provides a lot of data on the pulps that too many are either ignorant of or overlook. It seems that part of the reason for putting out this work is to correct all the misleading or inaccurate information out that. As an evocative historian in several areas, I can understand where he is coming from. I’ve tried as best I can in this blog to present as much accurate information as I can, usually hampered by what I have access to.

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‘Tales of the Shadowmen #13: Sang Froid’

Posted by at 10:00 am Wednesday, February 1, 2017 in Doctor Omega, Foreign Pulps, French pulp, Harry Dickson, Pastiche, Review, Roulatabille, Sar Dubnotal, The Black Coats, Wold Newton Universe
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

‘Tales of the Shadowmen #13: Sang Froid’

'Tales of the Shadowmen #13: Sang Froid'There’s another volume of Tales of the Shadowmen out. The Black Coat Press series is now up to 13 volumes. This one is subtitled “Sang Froid,” which means “cold blood.” For me, I think of a murder mystery where someone is “murdered in cold blood,” but here it’s about the ability to stay calm in difficult or even dangerous situations — which many of these character have in spads.

As noted, this annual series makes use of Philip José Farmer‘s “Wold Newton” concept, mixing in a variety of literary characters, with a focus on the various pulp and pulpish characters of France and Europe, such as Arsene Lupin, Fantômas, The Nyctalope, Rouletabille, and many others, as well as those from other countries.

This year’s volume gives us:

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Pulp comics: ‘Chimera Brigade’ vol. 2 & 3

Posted by at 10:00 am Friday, January 13, 2017 in Comics, Foreign Pulps, Pastiche, Review
Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

Pulp comics: ‘Chimera Brigade’ vol. 2 & 3

'The Chimera Brigade' Vol. 2After getting the first volume of The Chimera Brigade from Titan Comics, I got the second and third volumes. As with the first volume, these will soon be reprinted in comic-book form as the third through sixth issues. These two volumes reveals the Chimera Brigade, setting things down for what appears to be a coming war.

We are also introduced to several new characters, and I’m not always certain which are originals. First off, we meet the Brigade, four individuals who are released from Dr. Severac: the angelic Unknown Soldier; the mother goddess Matrikia; the intelligent bear Brown Baron; and the skeletal Doctor Serum.

Other characters introduced are: the mystic Palmyra, who operates in Paris; The Elastic Man, who had increase and decrease his size and was released in the last volume. Here, The Eye (the Nyctalope) and his C.I.D. capture him and send him against the Radium Institute. The evil hypnotist Cagliostro is defeated, but he doesn’t seem to have any connection with the Count Cagliostro. We also meet Odd John the Cosmic Man and his dog Sirius. These two characters were mutants created in novels of the same names by Olaf Stapledon in the 1930s. Here they are given powers more like Superman and Krypto.

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Pulp comics: ‘The Chimera Brigade’

Posted by at 10:00 am Friday, December 23, 2016 in Comics, Doc Savage, Foreign Pulps, Harry Dickson, Nyctalope, Pastiche, The Shadow
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Pulp comics: ‘The Chimera Brigade’

'The Chimera Brigade'An interesting pulp-inspired comic-book series is The Chimera Brigade. Mainly because unlike making use of American pulp characters, it mainly makes use of European pulp characters, many of whom have been used in the Tales of the Shadowmen series (the author of this series writes for it, so if you’re read Tales, that will help). It originally appeared in France and has only recently been published in English.

Written by Serge Lehman with Fabrice Colin, and art by Gess, it first appeared in 2009. Recently Titan Comics reprinted it in three slim hardback volumes and is reprinting that in comic book form (two issues per volume) that should lead to further stories. I’m told there have been some changes in the comic from the books, but I can’t see that after comparing the first two comic books with the first volume.

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Proto-pulp: ‘The Mysteries of Paris’

Posted by at 10:00 am Monday, June 13, 2016 in Foreign Pulps, French pulp, Proto-pulp, Review
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Proto-pulp: ‘The Mysteries of Paris’
'The Mysteries of Paris'

The Penguin edition of ‘The Mysteries of Paris’

In the past I have posted on works that preceded the pulps, both U.S. and foreign, including works from storypapers and dime novels. But nothing is more “proto pulp” then Eugène Sue‘s The Mysteries of Paris, now out in a new translation from Penguin Books. Be advised this is a long work, coming in at about 1,400 pages!

Eugène Sue (1804-1857) is largely forgotten today, which is unfortunate. He established the genre of serialized novels with The Mysteries of Paris, which appeared over 150 parts in 1842-43. It was soon published in 10 volumes. His second most well-known work is The Wandering Jew, which was also serialized.

The Mysteries of Paris is important is that it launched a large number of imitators referred to as “city mysteries” in Europe and America in the 1800s. This genre focused on the “mysteries and miseries” in various cities, basically the secret underworlds revealing the corruption and exploitation of the lower classes, and the indifference of the upper classes. Some of the better known of these works is Paul Feval‘s The Mysteries of London, which is a forerunner to his later Black Coats series (Black Coat Press has published the Black Coat series, but only put out the stage play version of The Mysteries of London under the title The Gentlemen of the Night); Ponson du Terrail‘s The Dramas of Paris, which would introduce the character of Rocambole; and even later-day works like The Mysteries of Lyon, which featured the Nyctalope, and The New Mysteries of Paris, which featured detective Nestor Burma.

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Dr. Mabuse, pulp villain

Posted by at 10:00 am Monday, February 22, 2016 in Foreign Pulps, Villain Pulps
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Dr. Mabuse, pulp villain
Rudolf Klein-Rogge as Dr. Mabuse in "Dr. Mabuse, der Spieler" (1921)

Rudolf Klein-Rogge as Dr. Mabuse in Dr. Mabuse, der Spieler (1921)

Dr. Mabuse is a character that may be known to some. Mostly through the various Dr. Mabuse films by Fritz Lang and others.

But few may know that he started as a villain in the pulps, inspired by other pulp villains. And when you know a bit more about the background of the character, it’s almost sad that he’s not seen as more of a pulp character.

Norbert Jacques created and introduced the character in the novel Dr. Mabuse, der Spieler in 1921, which was first serialized in Berliner Illustrietren. Jacques was inspired by previous villains such as Dr. Fu Manchu, Dr. Nikola, Fantômas, and Svengali. His goals with the character were apparently to have a commercial success and to make political comments. But things didn’t work out.

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