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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‘Steam Man of the West 6: Juan Nadie’

Posted by at 10:00 am Wednesday, November 2, 2016 in Dime Novels, New Pulp, Pastiche, Proto-pulp, Review
Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

"Juan Nadie: The Steam Man of the West, #6"I have posted previously on Joseph Lovece‘s series, the “Steam Man of the West.” This is an original series inspired by the various “boy inventor” adventure series that ran in the dime novels, the late 1800s forerunners to the pulp magazines.

Known as the “Edisonades,” these included characters like Frank Reade Jr., Jack Wright and others who built steam- and electric-powered vehicles that went on the land, sea, and air.

Lovece’s series is obviously inspired by Frank Reade Jr., as the main character is young inventor Frank Rude Jr. I had read the five books, and now we have a new ones: Juan Nadie.

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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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Fanzine focus: ‘Pulp Adventures’ #20

Posted by at 10:00 am Wednesday, March 9, 2016 in Domino Lady, Fanzines, Johnston McCulley, New Pulp, Proto-pulp, Review, Western Pulps, Zorro
Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

Fanzine focus: ‘Pulp Adventures’ #20

'Pulp Adventures' #20Pulp Adventures #20 (Winter 2016) is the sixth issue of the new version from Bold Venture Press.

As with the others, we get a collection of classic pulp fiction, new pulp fiction, and non-fiction articles, all under a Norman Saunders cover (a western this time). In my view, this blend of new and old pulp fiction (with occasional pre-pulp and post-pulp) that doesn’t focus on one pulp genre (we get western, horror, science fiction, sports, and pulp hero in this one) makes this one of the best pulp fiction fanzine coming out now. You might not like everything that appears in an issue, but I know you will like something.

So what’s in this issue?

In the area of proto-pulp is the classic horror tale, “The Horla” by Guy De Maupassant. It first appeared in 1886 in a French periodical. For me, this is the most well-known story of his, which tells through the use of journal entries of a man being driven insane by the presence of a ghostly entity who seems to haunt or possess him. This story influenced many, including H.P. Lovecraft.

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Dime Novel Cover Series revisited

Posted by at 10:00 am Wednesday, September 30, 2015 in Dime Novels, Foreign Pulps, Harry Dickson, Proto-pulp
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Dime Novel Cover Series revisited

Jack Wright, the Boy InventorAn interesting series of works that I have previously posted on is Joseph Lovece‘s “Dime Novel Cover Series.” The series makes use of various “dime novel” works from the U.S. and overseas.  What is great about this series is it shows the wide variety of such works.

Joseph has added to the series. I have already given reviews on some of them. So I update what is out there, and give information on the newer volumes.

So far, the series consists of the following:

  1. “Denver Doll, the Detective Queen”
  2. “Six Weeks in the Moon”
  3. “Hank Hound, the Crescent City Detective”
  4. “Sherlock Holmes vs. Jack the Ripper”
  5. “Hercules, the Dumb Destroyer”
  6. “Night Hawk”
  7. “Sexton Blake: the Mission Millionaire”
  8. “Lord Lister, Known as Raffles, Master Thief”
  9. “The Witch Hunter’s Wards”
  10. “Jack Wright, the Boy Inventor”
  11. “The James Boys and Pinkerton”
  12. “Harry Dickson The American Sherlock Holmes: Escaping a Terrible Death”
  13. “Jörn Farrow’s U-Boat Adventures: The Sea Monster”
  14. “Sexton Blake: A Christmas Crime”
  15. “The Silent City”

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‘Fantasy Classics’ and ‘Fantasy Reader’

Posted by at 10:00 am Wednesday, July 22, 2015 in Fantasy Pulp, Fanzines, Proto-pulp, Review, Science Fiction Pulps
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

‘Fantasy Classics’ and ‘Fantasy Reader’

"Fantasy Classics" No. 1An interesting pair of reprint series from the 1970s is Fantasy Classics and Fantasy Reader, published by the short-lived small press Fantasy House. These reprinted early (sometimes very early) fantasy stories from the pulps and other sources.

In addition to these two series, Fantasy House did a few other works. They started a more comic-book zine called Infamous Funnies, which lasted only one issue.

They had a series called Fantasy House Paperbacks that had at least two volumes. I am only aware of the second one, a collection of Robert W. Chambers stories called “The Horror Chambers.” (Does anyone know what the first volume was?) And a facsimile reprint of Perly Poore Sheehan‘s “The One Gift.” They planned a series called Space Fantasies which never appeared to my knowledge.

These works were edited by longtime SF editor and publisher Ken Krueger, who took over the publication of Fantasy Reader toward the end.

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