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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‘Weinberg Tales’: a Robert Weinberg tribute

Posted by at 10:00 am Friday, July 14, 2017 in Non-fiction, Pulps
Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

‘Weinberg Tales’: a Robert Weinberg tribute

'Weinberg Tales'In 2016, Robert Weinberg passed away. During his life he was an author, editor, publisher, collector, and book and art dealer.

I have posted about some of the important work he did in the pulp area with his fanzine Pulp, as well as his anthologies of Pulp Classics, Lost Fantasy, Weird Menace, and Incredible Adventures. He edited collections for other publishers, such as the dozen or so “Little 100” series of horror, science fiction, and such stories. He was also responsible for the six collections of Jules de Grandin stories.

I don’t know how well current pulp fans are aware of him, but Robert Weinberg paved the way for a lot of stuff going on in our field.

Thankfully, a recent tribute book came out: Weinberg Tales. While published by American Fantasy Press, you have to order it from Phyllis Weinberg.

We get the various tributes and remembrances from those who knew him. The longest is a tribute by Doug Ellis.

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The pulp heroes of ‘Flying Aces’

Posted by at 10:00 am Monday, July 3, 2017 in Ace, Aviation Pulps, Hero Pulps
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

The pulp heroes of ‘Flying Aces’

'Flying Aces' (April 1935)Flying Aces, published by Ace Magazines/Periodical House, is one of the rare pulp magazines that continued past the pulp era, by evolving beyond being a pulp magazine.

Launched in 1928, it was your typical air adventure pulp magazine, with stories contributed by many writing in that area: Archie Whitehouse, Joe Archibald, Donald Keyhoe, Robert Sidney Bowen, Major George Fielding Eliot, and others. In the early years, most stories were stand-alone, with only the rare serialized characters. Later the magazine had a lot of serialized characters.

A major change in the magazine occurred in 1933. It went from being published on pulp paper to slick paper, and added plans for model planes as well as non-fiction articles, to make it more appealing to a wider range of airplane enthusiasts.  They even plugged it as being “3 magazines in one”!

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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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‘Blood ‘n’ Thunder Presents #1: Pride of the Pulps’

Posted by at 10:00 am Wednesday, June 21, 2017 in Non-fiction, Pulps, References, Review
Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

‘Blood ‘n’ Thunder Presents #1: Pride of the Pulps’

'Blood ‘n’ Thunder Presents #1: Pride of the Pulps'Last year when the great fanzine Blood ‘n’ Thunder ended with issue #50 (actually a double issue of #49/50), we were promised that BnT would continue as a series of standalone themed books.

Well, we now have the first of these: Blood ’n’ Thunder Presents #1: Pride of the Pulps!

Pulps, of course, were usually looked down upon regarding their literary quality. But a few, very few, published stories on par with the “slick” fiction magazines. So the focus of this volume is on the handful of top all-fiction pulp magazines, Adventure, All-American Fiction, Short Stories, The Popular Magazine, Famous Fantastic Mysteries and West (just the 1920s issues), that accomplished this.

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Night Raven: Marvel UK’s pulp hero

Posted by at 10:00 am Wednesday, June 21, 2017 in Comics, Pulps
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Night Raven: Marvel UK’s pulp hero

Night Raven: The Complete Stories“Where brooding darkness spreads its evil wings, the Night Raven stings!”

Marvel Comics for several years had an imprint in the U.K. publishing their comics: Marvel UK. Basically, it just reprinted American comics in a format expected in the U.K.

Instead of monthly titles with a long story focused on a single character, British comics were anthologies published weekly or biweekly with each character getting one or two pages each issue, so a story would be serialized over several issues. Also, titles were usually in black and white.

However, Marvel UK started doing some original content. First it was Captain Britain, though produced in the U.S. before British creators took it over. Out of the several original characters and series, another standout was Night Raven. He was a pulp hero set in 1930s America who fought crime similar to The Shadow or The Spider.

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Pulp Heroes conclusion: ‘Sanctuary Falls’

Posted by at 10:00 am Wednesday, June 14, 2017 in New Pulp, Pastiche, Review, Wold Newton Universe
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

'Pulp Heroes: Sanctuary Falls'One of the works I got into when I got back into pulp (and discovered New Pulp) was the pulp epics of Wayne Reinagel. He was working on a trilogy called Pulp Heroes, the first being the massive More Than Mortal, which came out in 2008.

In that one we saw 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.

More Than Mortal also makes use of the Wold Newton concept of Philip José Farmer to create the backdrop to the story, weaving in various heroes and characters from earlier fiction.

Clocking in at over 400 pages, it was actually a pretty good read.

It was followed two years later by a massive sequel (nearly 600 pages), Khan Dynasty, that was actually more of a prequel, being set before More Than Mortal.

We were promised the conclusion in Sanctuary Falls. And finally after seven years, we get it. All 800+ pages!

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