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

Young Harry Dickson

Posted by at 10:00 am Monday, March 6, 2017 in Fantomas, French pulp, Harry Dickson, Pastiche, Sherlock Holmes

Young Harry Dickson

'The Man in Grey'I have posted in the past about Harry Dickson, the American Sherlock Holmes. While the character started off as nothing more than an unauthorized version of Sherlock Holmes published in Germany, he became a character in his own right in Belgium and France, rivaling even Holmes himself.

In looking at the history of the character and where he got his name, some have justly looked at an early and popular character, Allan Dickson, King of the Australian Detectives. Created by Arnould Galopin, who also created Doctor Omega, Allan Dickson appeared in several short stories and a few of novels between 1906-12.

The folks at Black Coat Press have put forth the idea that Allan Dickson is Harry Dickson, but just a younger one, as the main period of Harry Dickson’s career is the mid-1920s to mid-’30s. Plus, Allan Dickson is shown being mentored by Sherlock Holmes, and Harry would move in to 221B Baker Street (I guess after Sexton Blake also moved out?).

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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

‘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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More Doc Ardan

Posted by at 10:00 am Wednesday, December 28, 2016 in Doc Ardan, Doc Savage, French pulp, Pastiche, Reprints, Review

More Doc Ardan

'Doc Ardan: The Abominable Snowman'I have posted before on Doc Ardan, and Black Coat Press has come out with a volume of new and old Doc Ardan stories.

So let’s be clear. French writer Guy d’Armen created young adventurer Doctor Francis Ardan in a trio of sf-adventure novels: The City of Gold and Lepers (1928), The Troglodytes of Mount Everest (1929), and The Giants of Dark Lake (1931), serialized in a French pulp magazine. All tell of Ardan’s adventurers going up against several super-science villains in distant areas of Asia. The first novel actually occurs after the second and third.

Because of his similarities to Doc Savage, Jean-Marc and Randy Lofficier made some tweaks to their translation to have “Francis Ardan” be an alias used by a young Clark Savage before his pulp adventures. This allowed for others to use Doc Ardan as a Doc Savage pastiche in Tales of the Shadowmen series and other works. As the earlier works were never available in English, claiming they were an influence on the creation of Doc Savage is a bit much.

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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

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

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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M. Lecoq, the first fictional detective

Posted by at 10:00 am Monday, June 6, 2016 in French pulp, Pulps, Sherlock Holmes

M. Lecoq, the first fictional detective
Monsieur Lecoq

Monsieur Lecoq

Who is the first fictional detective? Sherlock Holmes? But what about Edgar Alan Poe‘s C. Auguste Dupin, who appeared in 1841? Nope, its Monsieur Lecoq who appeared in 1866.

But maybe we need to be a little clear on things, as all of these characters were very important in the development of detective fiction. Lecoq is important as he was a policeman whose job it was to be a detective. Dupin was not a professional detective, and Holmes was a consulting detective, not a policeman.

Holmes also owes a debt to Lecoq. A major characteristic of the Lecoq stories was having an extended flashback sequence that explained the reasons behind the crime. This was also used in some of the Holmes stories, in particular A Study in Scarlet, along with The Valley of Fear and The Sign of the Four. Holmes even mentions Lecoq in the first Holmes story, but dismisses him as a “miserable bungler.” Both Lecoq and Holmes are also masters of disguise.

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