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

Norvell Page’s Ken Carter: a proto-Spider?

Posted by at 10:00 am Monday, July 17, 2017 in Ace, Pulps, Reprints, Review, The Spider
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Norvell Page’s Ken Carter: a proto-Spider?
Norvell W. Page

Norvell W. Page

For most pulp fans, if they’ve heard of Norvell Page (1904-61), it’s for his longtime work on The Spider, where he was responsible for the bulk of the stories and turning the character from an ordinary vigilante hero into the manic character going up against weird menaces.

But he had a long career in the pulps, and one of the earlier works he did was the short-lived Ken Carter series. This series should be of interest to many because it was apparently this series that brought Page to the attention of Popular Publications and landed him the job of The Spider, which he started with the third issue (after The Spider creator RTM Scott left) in December 1933. Page would write 92 of the 118 issues!

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Pulp comics: Dynamite’s The Spider

Posted by at 10:00 am Friday, January 6, 2017 in Comics, Pulps, The Spider
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Pulp comics: Dynamite’s The Spider

Dynamite's 'The Spider' #1In 2012, Dynamite got the license for The Spider from Moonstone. They soon did a comic with The Spider, written by David Liss. But they moved the character into modern times and made various changes to all of the secondary characters. I, like many fans, wasn’t very pleased with what I saw. Hopefully you’ll see why.

So, a brief recap of The Spider and his associates.

In the pulp, Richard Wentworth is a former Army major and wealthy playboy. It’s established that his parents are dead. He is accompanied in his adventures with several characers: his fiance, Nita Van Sloan; his Sikh manservant, Ram Singh; his butler, Jenkins; his chauffer, Jackson, who had served under him in the army; and Professor Brownlee, who provided him with weapons. He had to deal with his friend Commissioner Kirkpatrick, who figured that Wentworth may be The Spider, but couldn’t prove it.

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The Spider: Master of Men

Posted by at 10:00 am Monday, January 4, 2016 in Popular, Pulps, The Spider
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

The Spider: Master of Men
"The Spider" (October 1933)

“The Spider” (October 1933)

In October 1933, Popular Publications launched their two longest-running pulp heroes: The Spider and G-8.

The Spider is nominally a Shadow clone, but that doesn’t do him justice. The first two stories were written by R.T.M. Scott, author of Aurealus “Secret Service” Smith, an earlier and somewhat popular character. However, I have heard rumors he really didn’t write these two stories, but his son who worked at Popular did. This Spider was more in the line of an amateur detective, though he had a spider stamp he used on the criminals he killed.

With the third story, Norvell Page took over and soon turned The Spider into an over-the-top vigilante hero, fighting over-the-top weird-menace super villains that we all know. Unlike most of his covers, which show a handsome Spider wearing a domino mask and slouch hat, The Spider in the stories wore a hat and mask, but also a fake hunchback, a fright wig, and fake fangs. He laughed maniacally. His view was the only good crook was a dead crook, and he littered the back alleys and crime dens with plenty of good crooks. Then he made sure to stamp them with his spider sign so everyone knew who did it. He outlasted G-8 with 118 stories.

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‘Pulp Hero’ epics of Wayne Reinagel

Posted by at 11:30 am Wednesday, November 25, 2015 in Doc Savage, New Pulp, Pastiche, Review, The Avenger, The Shadow, The Spider, Wold Newton Universe
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

‘Pulp Hero’ epics of Wayne Reinagel

"Pulp Heroes: More Than Mortal"Wayne Reinagel is a New Pulp author who is creating an epic set of novels. The main series is called Pulp Heroes and will consist of three pulp novels plus two associated works. Another series is Modern Marvels, which I’ll cover in another posting.

The first Pulp Heroes novel is More Than Mortal.

This book is an obvious labor of love to create an epic pulp hero novel, teaming up pastiches of four of the major pulp heroes (and hints of several others).

Here, we have his takes on four major pulp heroes: Doc Savage (Doc Titan), The Shadow (The Darkness), The Avenger (The Guardian), and The Spider (The Scorpion), plus their aides and assistants.

It also uses the Wold Newton concept of Philip José Farmer, to create the backdrop to the story, weaving in various heroes and characters from earlier fiction. We see analogues of Tarzan, Captain America (and his two main Nazi villains the Red Skull and Count Zemo), Captain Satan and even the Angel Detective. Further, Reinagel uses the names of various people from pulp fiction for the names of minor characters. At times one wonders what the basis of certain characters. (Is there a background story to Skull Island/Wilder Island that I’m missing? Or the assistant to Doc Titan’s father, or the real identity of the Black Skull?)

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Pulp comics: Dynamite’s 2014 specials

Posted by at 10:00 am Friday, February 6, 2015 in Comics, Doc Savage, The Shadow, The Spider
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

"The Avenger Special 2014"At the end of 2014, Dynamite put out a trio of square-bound, one-shot specials with the three Street & Smith pulp heroes they were publishing: The Avenger, Doc Savage, and The Shadow.

As all three came out at the same time, with the same cover style and cover art by Robert Hack, I figured I’d review all three at once.

• The Avenger Special 2014: The Television Killers. Set in 1939, this is probably the best Avenger comic-book story I’ve seen ever. This beats out DC’s first attempt at an Avenger comic, which had been the best so far. The inside cover gives us an overview of the members of Justice Inc., though it makes the mistake of saying The Avenger’s wife and daughter died in a plane crash (but got it right later on in the story when recalling his “origin”).

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The fantastic works of James Van Hise

Posted by at 10:00 am Friday, October 31, 2014 in Cthulhu Mythos, Doc Savage, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Fanzines, G-8, H.P. Lovecraft, Hero Pulps, Lester Dent, Non-fiction, Operator #5, Pulps, Review, Robert E. Howard, Tarzan, The Avenger, The Shadow, The Spider
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

"Pulp Heroes of the Thirties"Probably few pulp fans today are familiar with James Van Hise. He has been a writer, editor, and publisher for many years within certain genres such as “Star Trek,” movie serials, The Green Hornet, comic books, and pulps.

He was involved at times with publishing several Edgar Rice Burroughs fanzines and did the last run of the classic comic-book fanzine Rocket’s Blast Comicscollector.

In the late 1990s, he put out several large books collecting articles and artwork on the pulps. Sadly, these are out of print and getting hard to find. I was fortunate to get them when they came out, and if you look around, they are still available.

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