Blog: Writing about all things pulplish

TMM #1: The Grove of Death

Posted by at 10:00 am Friday, September 23, 2016 in Pulp, The Shadow, Two-Minute Mystery

TMM #1: The Grove of Death
A series of puzzlers starring a classic pulp figure

A series of puzzlers starring a classic pulp figure

This week, I present you with a chance to match wits with The Shadow. Below you will find a short Shadow mystery. It will take about two minutes to read. The Shadow will solve the case, but you won’t be told exactly how. You are challenged to solve the mystery yourself; all the clews are there. (Yes, I spelled it clews.)

This mini-mystery originally appeared on my old Shadow in Review website. There were a series of 262 of these Two-Minute Shadow Mysteries posted between 2003 and 2008. The one presented here today was one of those.

This mystery is based upon the original 1930s pulp character, The Shadow. He had no supernatural abilities; he was simply a man; a top physical and intellectual specimen. He haunted the dark streets of Manhattan in a black cloak and black slouch hat that rendered him “virtually” invisible, allowing him to blend into the shadows. He was a crime fighter of the highest rank. And it is upon this pulp character that this solve-it-yourself mystery is based.

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How bug-eyed was my monster?

Posted by at 10:00 am Friday, September 16, 2016 in Pulp

How bug-eyed was my monster?
cover of Planet Stories, Spring 1942

Planet Stories (Spring 1942)

This week I have a special treat for you pulp fans! I’m pleased to feature a guest-blogger G.W. Thomas here on That’s Pulp! That’s right, instead of my usual drivel, you get to read something from someone who actually knows what he is talking about.

G.W. Thomas’ writing has appeared in Writer’s Digest, The Armchair Detective, Black October Magazine and over 400 other publications. He is currently writing for Michael May’s Adventureblog. He is the author of the horror-noir series, The Book Collector. His website is gwthomas.org.

Below, he takes time out of his busy schedule to fascinate you with the matter of the science-fiction pulp covers that featured….

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Commando Cody now on DVD and Blu-ray

Posted by at 10:00 am Tuesday, September 13, 2016 in Movies, Old TV Shows, Serials

 Take a look at the DVD cover and drool...

Take a look at the DVD cover and drool…

Special News Bulletin! Normally my blog entries appear magically every Friday morning at 10 a.m. Eastern time. But I just couldn’t wait to give you the great news.

Commando Cody, Sky Marshall of the Universe is now out on DVD and Blu-ray. And it’s an official release, licensed from Paramount Home Entertainment by Olive Films. Yeah, I know there have been bootleg “gray-market” DVDs available before, but they had substandard picture and sound. Now, you can get the best version possible, all cleaned up and restored. No specks of dirt. No scratches in the film. Looks to be from a 35mm print.

I just got my copy on DVD today (Sept. 12, 2016) and have watched well into episode 4 before writing this. What a joy it is to watch again. I can only imagine that the Blu-ray version is even better, being in high-def. It may not be perfect, so you perfectionists take note. There are a few scenes in which the film seems a bit overexposed… and if I were remastering the video, I would have adjusted the brightness and contrast a little. The audio is slightly low, but it’s nice and clear. While it may not be perfect, it’s head and shoulders above any other copy you’ve got. Trust me!

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Perry Mason: novels #19 and #20

Posted by at 10:00 am Friday, September 9, 2016 in Novels, Old TV Shows, Perry Mason, Pulp

Gardner at work

Gardner at work (click to enlarge)

One of pulpdom’s most famous writers was Erle Stanley Gardner. He wrote for some of the biggest names in pulp, such as Black Mask, Argosy, Clues, Ace High, Dime Detective and many, many more. He graduated from the pulps to the slicks like Cosmopolitan and The Saturday Evening Post. And he wrote series books like The D.A. and Cool and Lam. But of them all, he is probably best remembered as the creator and author of the Perry Mason courtroom dramas.

The first Perry Mason book came out in 1933, and the 85th and final one was published posthumously in 1973, three years after his death. I’ve been taking a look at the series, one by one, here in this blog. Today, we’ll examine #19 and #20, which were published in 1941 and 1942.

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‘The Black Widow’: a serial in 13 chapters

Posted by at 10:00 am Friday, September 2, 2016 in Movies, Serials

‘The Black Widow’: a serial in 13 chapters
This is what kids saw for 13 weeks in a row!

This is what kids saw for 13 weeks in a row!

The Black Widow was one of Republic’s 1947 serials that had a lot of potential. Untapped potential, it sadly turns out. The plot was engaging. The music, mysterious and oriental. The studio had plenty of stock footage to select the best cliffhangers from. And yet, it falls curiously flat.

Chapter one sets it all up, as we enter the fortune-telling parlor of the beautiful Madame Sombra. Evil, but hot. Confusing to 10-year-old boys who made up the vast majority of the audience, I’m sure. Anyway, she tries to bribe Michael Burns into divulging American atomic secrets and joining her foreign spy ring. He refuses and dies; death by spider bite. You see, there’s a mechanical spider hidden in the backrest of his chair. It pops out and sticks its poison-drenched fangs into the back of his neck. Exit Mr. Burns.

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‘Gray Face’: Gibson’s final Shadow tale

Posted by at 10:00 am Friday, August 26, 2016 in Comics, Pulp, The Shadow

The following is an excerpt from my new book The Shadow in Review. If you’d like more information about the book, see the end of this blog entry for my shameless promotion. But for now, let’s get right into Walter Gibson‘s final mystery featuring The Shadow.

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Gray Face and his Malay henchmen.

Gray Face and his Malay henchmen.

“Gray Face” was originally published in the March 1981 issue of Detective Comics. A man of mystery, an international pirate, his features were fixed, smooth as parchment with the hue of dried ashes. His name came from trembling lips: “Gray Face!”

This was the last Shadow story that creator Walter B. Gibson ever wrote, re-written as a Batman story. It was conceived by Gibson with The Shadow in mind. The similarities between The Shadow and Batman are well documented. So creating a story about The Shadow and then changing it to a Batman tale wasn’t all that hard. Just change a few names and locations. Supposedly, Gibson even left behind some notes on how this “Batman” story could easily be changed back to a “Shadow” story.

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The Spider #112: ‘The Howling Death’

Posted by at 10:00 am Friday, August 19, 2016 in Pulp, The Spider

Pulp cover for 'The Howling Death'

Pulp cover for “The Howling Death”

“The Howling Death” was originally published in the January 1943 issue of The Spider Magazine. The Spider found a city mad with terror, its population fighting each other to escape the mysterious death that turned humans into screaming, howling maniacs.

Here’s another top-notch Spider adventure. It’s the war-years, and The Spider adventures had lost none of their steam. The action still comes fast and furious. The perils that strike an unsuspecting populace are widespread and terrible. And when The Spider shoots, there are no wounded thugs left behind. Instead, they lay with a bullet hole in the center of their foreheads. One of the things that makes this story stand out, in addition to the gruesome Howling Death, is that Nita van Sloan really gets to shine, here. And for that reason, even if for no other, this story gets a strong recommendation.

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