The two Clarks

Clark Savage Jr. (left), as he appeared in “The Land of Terror”; Clark Gable, as he appeared in a contemporaneous publicity photo

Clark Savage Jr. (left), as he appeared in “The Land of Terror”; Clark Gable, as he appeared in a contemporaneous publicity photo

So who is the Man of Bronze? Well, early on in the character’s creation, actor Clark Gable provided inspiration in both name and appearance.

In his book Cheap Thrills: An Informal History of the Pulp Magazines, Ron Goulart reprints the instructions that cover illustrator Walter Baumhofer was given: “A Man of Bronze — known as Doc, who looks very much like Clark Gable. He is so well built that the impression is not of size, but of power.”

Though Baumhofer followed his own instincts in painting Doc Savage, at least one interior illustrator took the instructions to heart. Compare the photo of Clark Gable and this drawing of Clark Savage Jr. from his second adventure, the January 1933 pulp story, “The Land of Terror.” The only thing missing is the mustache.