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

Clive Cussler’s ‘Isaac Bell’ series

Posted by at 10:00 am Wednesday, March 8, 2017 in Pulps, Techno-Thriller

Clive Cussler’s ‘Isaac Bell’ series

'The Chase'I have previously posted on Clive Cussler‘s many series, mainly his Dirk Pitt series, but have touched on his other series.

One series that is a bit different from the rest is his Isaac Bell series. Unlike the others, this one is set in the early 20th century and focuses on Bell, the lead investigator for the fictional Van Dorn Detective Agency. Also unlike the prior series, nautical matters don’t play a big part.

One element of this series, we often see the villain in action without knowing who he (or she) is at first. And usually there is a follow-on part set years or decades after the main action, to sort of put an end to the story.

The first novel was written by Cussler, the rest have been co-authored by Justin Scott, who holds the record of not only co-authoring the most novels with Cussler, but being the sole co-author of one of the Cussler series.

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Marvel Comics’ pulp roots

Posted by at 10:00 am Monday, February 27, 2017 in Comics, Pulps

Marvel Comics’ pulp roots
Publisher Martin Goodman

Publisher Martin Goodman

Most everyone knows of Marvel Comics, publishers of Spider-Man, Captain America, X-Men, Iron Man, and all the rest. But few know of the man behind Marvel (and I don’t mean Stan Lee): Martin Goodman.

Goodman got into the early days of pulp/comic-book publishing along side some of the founders of MLJ/Archie and DC Comics. Like them, he diversified into a wide range of publishing: magazines, pulps, comics, and books. And sadly he did this under a wide range of shell companies, which can make it a bit confusing.

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‘Sargasso’ and William Hope Hodgson

Posted by at 10:00 am Monday, January 16, 2017 in Fantasy Pulp, Fanzines, Pulps, Weird Fiction

‘Sargasso’ and William Hope Hodgson

'Sargasso: The Journal of William Hope Hodgson Studies' #1William Hope Hodgson (1877-1918) is an author more people should be aware of. He wrote essays, short fiction, novels, and poetry, most in the genres of horror, fantastic, and science fiction. Much of his short fiction appeared in pulp magazines in the U.K. and U.S.

Because he had ran away to be a Merchant Marine at age 13, an experience he grew to hate, many of his stories were clearly influenced by this, especially his “Sargasso Sea” stories. Most pulp fans are probably aware of him due to his occult detective, Carnacki, or perhaps his various sea stories or mention of his works by H.P. Lovecraft.

For those wanting to delve further into Hodgson, there is a semi-annual journal, Sargasso: The Journal of William Hope Hodgson Studies. Three issues have appeared so far in 2013, 2014, and 2016. All are available on Amazon. These journals have essays, poetry, artwork, and even short fiction, all focused on Hodgson and his work. They are edited by Sam Gafford, a long-time scholar and editor of Hodgson’s works. I’ve gotten all of them over the years and look forward to each one.

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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

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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Fanzine focus: ‘Pulp Adventures’ #23

Posted by at 10:00 am Friday, December 30, 2016 in Fanzines, New Pulp, Pulps, Reprints, Sherlock Holmes

Fanzine focus: ‘Pulp Adventures’ #23

'Pulp Adventures' #23Pulp Adventures #23 (Fall 2016) begins the third year of this revised pulp fanzine from Bold Venture Press.

As always, we get a collection of classic and New Pulp fiction (with some notes) and even some pulp comics, under a George Rozen cover (a detective one, from a spicy pulp).

In the area of old pulp, we start off with “Luck” by Theodore Roscoe, which appeared in Short Stories in 1941. This one is set at a horse track. We also get an short article on Roscoe, who is probably best known for his series about Thibault Corley of the Foreign Legion, which has been reprinted by Altus Press. Bold Venture is planning on reprinting some other books by Roscoe in 2017, and has reprinted a biography on him as well.

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Fanzine focus: ‘Awesome Tales’ #4

Posted by at 10:00 am Wednesday, December 14, 2016 in Fanzines, Fu Manchu, New Pulp, Pulps

Fanzine focus: ‘Awesome Tales’ #4

'Awesome Tales' No. 4After too long, we get a fourth issue of Awesome Tales, a fanzine produced by Black Cat Media (R. Allen Leider) and packaged/published by Bold Venture Press.

The cover story of this issue is Leider’s Devil Doctor story, “The Manchurian Menace,” which has the doctor and his daughter after a Chinese scientist in WWII China.  He has the secret of the atomic bomb, and is pursued by Nazis, Japanese, OSS, and MI-6.

Other stories in this volume include a new Pink Reaper story, a Domino Lady-like new pulp heroine by Patrick Thomas. I’ve only seen one other story with this character, so not certain where else she has appeared.  Patrick has several other series, such as the Mystic Investigators.

KT Pinto provides another story, this time with private eye Raphael Jones, and Robert Water has a story about conquistadors in Central America.

Hopefully we will see another volume soon. This is a nice series and wish we would see issues more often.  Am told that v5 will come out in February.

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