Blog: Writing about all things pulplish

Perry Mason: novels #35 and #36

Posted by at 10:00 am Friday, April 21, 2017 in Old TV Shows, Perry Mason, Pulp
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Perry Mason: novels #35 and #36
Erle Stanley Gardner seems in a good mood...

Erle Stanley Gardner in a good mood…

Perry Mason for the defense, your honor. Although Perry Mason never appeared in the pulps, he had close ties to the pulps. Author Erle Stanley Gardner was a pulp author for a dozen years before writing the first Perry Mason book. He was quite a prodigeous writer, too. He had over 400 stories published before he started with Perry Mason. So when people say that Erle Stanley Gardner got his training in the pulps, there is definitely a reason for it.

Yes, Perry Mason was on TV. We all remember Raymond Burr in his definiing performances as the lawyer who never lost a case. Well, almost never. But please remember that there were nearly 50 Perry Mason novels published before the TV series ever started. The novels came first. Still, Raymond Burr left such an indelible imprint upon the character, that you’ll be forgiven if you visualize the face of Perry Mason to be Raymond Burr when you read the books. I do.

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TMM #4: Death in the Easter Basket

Posted by at 10:00 am Friday, April 14, 2017 in Pulp, The Shadow, Two-Minute Mystery
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

TMM #4: Death in the Easter Basket
A series of puzzlers starring a classic pulp figure

A series of puzzlers starring a classic pulp figure

Here is another in my rotating series of Shadow Two-Minute Mysteries. Two minutes? Yeah, that’s about how much time you’ll invest in reading it. But can you solve the mystery along with The Shadow? That may take more than two minutes. Just look at the clews, and test your sleuthing skills.

This mini-mystery originally appeared on my “Shadow in Review” website. The one presented here today was one of those. Perhaps you’ll remember it, and remember the solution, as well. And perhaps not…

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The Spider #42: ‘Satan’s Workshop’

Posted by at 10:00 am Friday, April 7, 2017 in Pulp, The Spider
Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

The Spider #42: ‘Satan’s Workshop’
Into the corpse grider with her!

Into the corpse grider with her!

“Satan’s Workshop” was originally published in the March 1937 issue of The Spider Magazine. There was no clue to the kidnapping of wealthy, powerful men and beautiful, talented women. The Man Who Dealt in Death — a devil-brain that was using science and surgery, death and torture and extortion, to enslave the city’s great. The Spider answered the challenge of the Laboratory of the Lost — gambling life and more against weird dangers that no man had ever faced before!

I found I really liked this story, but for reasons that had nothing to do with plot. Now, don’t get me wrong. It was a great plot. There’s some fantastic weird-science stuff in it: transplanting a person’s abilities by stealing their hormones, giving a person a ten-year case of leprosy in only three months… and then let’s not forget “the grinder” which is basically a gigantic meat grinder intended for living humans. (See the cover.) Oh, yeah, the plot’s great. But that’s not why I liked this story. I liked it because it was a bit slower paced, and as a result was better thought out. Very few loopholes in the plot. The action actually makes sense. And it’s all because this story was written by Emile C. Tepperman, instead of Norvell Page.

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Perry Mason: novels #33 and #34

Posted by at 10:00 am Friday, March 31, 2017 in Old TV Shows, Perry Mason, Pulp
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Perry Mason: novels #33 and #34
Erle Stanley Gardner showing a rare smile.

Erle Stanley Gardner showing a rare smile.

It’s time for two more reviews of Perry Mason. Not the TV show, starring Raymond Burr and Barbara Hale. I’m talking about the series of books upon which the TV show was based.

And what does all this have to do with pulp magazines, you may ask? Erle Stanley Gardner was the author of the best-selling mystery series, and Gardner started his writing creer in the pulps, way back in 1921. He wrote for almost all the major pulps of the time, from Double Detective to Black Mask and many more.

Perry Mason came along in 1933, and was never published in a pulp magazine. The series was intended for the book market, and that’s where it got its very successful start. And that’s where it stayed for all 86 of the Perry Mason books, ending in 1973 with the posthumous publication of The Case of the Postponed Murder.

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‘The Shadow’: Blue Coal goes to war

Posted by at 10:00 am Friday, March 24, 2017 in Old Time Radio (OTR), The Shadow
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

‘The Shadow’: Blue Coal goes to war
Blue Coal ink blotter

Blue Coal ink blotter

When war was declared by the U.S. Congress after the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, the entire nation was quick to rally to support the cause, including The Shadow radio broadcasts. During the war years, The Shadow‘s adventures included skirmishes with Axis spies and saboteurs, mixed in with the usual blood-and-thunder fare.

But it wasn’t just the plots of the stories that reflected the war. No, the sponsor, Blue Coal, did its part as well. Below are pages of some scripts that illustrate how Blue Coal supported the war effort on the Shadow radio program.

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The Spider #20: ‘Reign of the Death Fiddler’

Posted by at 10:00 am Friday, March 17, 2017 in Pulp, The Spider
Estimated reading time: 10 minutes

The Spider #20: ‘Reign of the Death Fiddler’
Pulp magazine cover.

Pulp magazine cover.

“Reign of the Death Fiddler” was originally published in the May 1935 issue of The Spider Magazine. The Death Fiddler — master of the grotesque, he held an entire city in the strangle-hold of a helpless terror; even the forces of the Law stood in shuddery, superstitious fear of this new destroyer. The Spider, too, was baffled; not all Richard Wentworth’s efforts seemed enough to destroy this new, this ugliest of all Hydra heads rearing out of the noxious slime of the Underworld…

Here’s a pretty much routine Spider story. Not the best; not the worst. Not over-the-top crazy; but certainly not boring. The ending winds up nicely, and doesn’t have the rushed feeling that some stories have. There is no weird menace, here… Okay, maybe just a touch… but basically it’s a crime story about an underworld boss who threatens the safety of the city. This time around, there’s no threat that encompasses the entire nation. It’s restricted to New York City. There are a few loose ends that are never tied up, but it’s not too blatant this time around. So, here we have a fun Spider story with plenty of shooting and falling bodies. There’s the usual non-stop action, and it makes for a very enjoyable, if somewhat standard, story.

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Perry Mason: novels #31 and #32

Posted by at 10:00 am Friday, March 10, 2017 in Old TV Shows, Perry Mason, Pulp
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Perry Mason: novels #31 and #32
Erle Stanley Gardner at the typewriter.

Erle Stanley Gardner at the typewriter.

Perry Mason. Della Street. Paul Drake. Hamilton Burger. Lt. Tragg. And the author of those immortal characters, Erle Stanley Gardner. Gardner was a pulp author who went on to write probably the most famous fictional lawyer ever created. Hey, Gardner was a lawyer himself, which couldn’t hurt. He passed the bar in 1911 and started writing for the pulp magazines in 1923.

Black Mask, Argosy, Clues, Dime Detective and Double Detective… those were but a few of the magazines for which he wrote. It was in 1933 that he wrote his first Perry Mason courtroom drama. Not for the pulps. It was published in hardback. And the Perry Mason novels just kept coming. When Gardner died in 1970, he had 86 Perry Mason books under his belt. The pulp magazines produced some notable authors, and Erle Stanley Gardner was one of the brightest among the stars.

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