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

A look at Street & Smith’s ‘Crime Busters’

Posted by at 10:00 am Monday, April 24, 2017 in Detective Pulps, Hero Pulps, Lester Dent, Street & Smith
Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

A look at Street & Smith’s ‘Crime Busters’

'Crime Busters' (November 1937)Street & Smith kicked off the hero pulp trend with The Shadow in 1931. They eventually followed that with Doc Savage in 1933. While those were successful, their subsequent series were not, as they tried western (Pete Rice), detective (Nick Carter), and air adventures (Bill Barnes).

Next they tried to copy the success of The Shadow and Doc with The Whisperer and The Skipper.

Walter Gibson suggested something different. A pulp magazine that would contain about three novelettes (long short stories) of different serial pulp heroes, from which successful ones could be spun out in their own magazines. Editor John Nanovic decided to go with that idea, but made some changes (probably not for the best).

In 1937, they dumped The Whisperer and The Skipper, and retitled Best Detective Magazine (which was mainly reprints) as Crime Busters.

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Meet I.V. Frost, science detective

Posted by at 10:00 am Monday, April 10, 2017 in Hero Pulps, Pulps, Review, Street & Smith
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Meet I.V. Frost, science detective
'Clues Detective Stories' (April 1935)

Clues Detective Stories (April 1935)

Another pulp hero who has been largely overlooked by most pulp fans is I.V. Frost. A science detective created by Donald Wandrei, he appeared in Street & Smith’s Clues magazine in 1934.

S&S was frustrated that Clues, their newly-acquired dedicated mystery pulp, was being outsold by Black Mask. So they commissioned Wandrei to create a continuing character that would attract and keep readers.

Ivy Frost ran for 18 stories from September 1934 to September 1937. Several stories were cover featured. Was it successful? I don’t know, but Clues/Clues Detective Stories lasted until 1943 and appears to have ended due to the wartime paper shortages.

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Fanzine focus: ‘The Pulpster’ #24

Posted by at 10:00 am Wednesday, March 2, 2016 in Conventions, Doctor Death, Fanzines, H.P. Lovecraft, Non-fiction, References, Review, Street & Smith, Thrilling
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Fanzine focus: ‘The Pulpster’ #24

'The Pulpster' #24The Pulpster is the program book for PulpFest, and this time we look at the most recent Pulpster, #24, from Pulpfest 2015. I wasn’t able to attend, but got it.

Each issue of The Pulpster is packed with articles on the pulps, rounded out with artwork, and professionally printed. They stand up to any fanzine. Many articles are written by several of the major pulp researchers, and many articles are organized around the theme for PulpFest. For 2015, the theme was H.P. Lovecraft at 125.

The cover is a photo of Lovecraft taken at age 25. The rest of the issue features several great articles, plus one piece of fiction.

Tying to theme, we get a retrospective of Lovecraft’s legacy from several authors. Each one contributes about a half page write up, and many of the authors have themselves contributed Lovecraft-esque works. So these was an enjoyable set of pieces.

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Fanzine focus: ‘Windy City Pulp Stories’ #15

Posted by at 10:00 am Wednesday, May 20, 2015 in Comics, Fanzines, H.P. Lovecraft, Pulps, Review, Street & Smith
Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

Fanzine focus: ‘Windy City Pulp Stories’ #15

'Windy City Pulp Stories' No. 15Well, another Windy City Pulp and Paper Convention for 2015 has come and gone, and with it we get another convention program book: Windy City Pulp Stories #15.

This year’s theme is H.P. Lovecraft, the celebrated pulp horror author, along with Street & Smith’s comic line. It’s the 125th birthday for Lovecraft, and the 75th anniversary for the S&S comics. Most of the contents focus on HPL.

We get a large selection of articles on Lovecraft. From David Keller are two articles reprinted from the 1940s. The first is a good, general article on Lovecraft, and the second is on his astronomical notebook.

Author F. Paul Wilson (Repairman Jack, etc) remembers “My First Lovecraft,” and his experience reading “The Thing at the Doorstep.” Gene Christie looks at “Collecting Lovecraft: A Gallery,” with the covers of early sources for Lovecraft works.

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Meet Nick Carter

Posted by at 10:00 am Monday, May 4, 2015 in Dime Novels, Doc Savage, Hero Pulps, Pulps, Street & Smith
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Meet Nick Carter

"Nick Carter Weekly" (Nov. 10, 1906)Nick Carter is a literary character which has been around a long time, was enormously popular during his time, but is today largely forgotten. He has appeared in a large number of forms — dime novels, pulp magazines, men’s adventure paperbacks, movies, radio, and comics, — and has also appeared around the world.

He first appeared in a story paper, the New York Weekly, published by Street & Smith in 1886. The son of Old Sim Carter, Carter was trained by his father from an early age to be a physical and mental marvel (sound familiar?), and was able to bench press horses, and was a master of disguise.

He pre-dated Sherlock Holmes, and was more inspired by previous dime novel detectives like Old Sleuth, Old Cap Collier, and Old King Brady (no, I don’t know why they liked using the word “Old” in their names). He was so popular that Street & Smith soon started the Nick Carter Weekly dime novel series. It would, in 1915, become the long-running Detective Story Magazine, and at that point, new Nick Carter stories ended after nearly 40 years! There would be reprints for a couple of years in the pulps, and several years of paperback reprints, but no more new stories.

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Pulp comics: Doc Savage at Street & Smith

Posted by at 10:00 am Monday, July 28, 2014 in Authors, Comics, Doc Savage, Pulps, Street & Smith
Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Pulp comics: Doc Savage at Street & Smith

Doc Savage in the comicsDoc Savage, the Man of Bronze, has long been a popular pulp hero. But he has also appeared in comic books over the years; some good, some not so good.

He first appeared in comic books published by Street & Smith themselves from 1940-49. Sadly, because of the limitations of eight-page stories and artists that were frankly not that good, the stories in these early comics are pretty poor. This was most likely because S&S just weren’t into comics, mainly farming the work to outside studios. But it is interesting to see how S&S tried to adapt Doc to comics, especially as the comics were obviously intended for a younger audience.

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