Sunday, December 16, 2018
I COVER THE MURDER FRONT
There’s a skunk in the woodpile! I guarantee I Cover The Murder Front was not the title Robert Sidney Bowen gave his g-man story originally. The first oddity is the cover for the June 1937 issue of BLACK BOOK DETECTIVE. That title is prominently displayed on the cover, but strangely there is no author credit. I’ve got a sneaky suspicion that the original story for that title was a 1st person narrative, but it was either rejected or published later, under a different title. But since the cover was already done, they needed a story for the issue, and stuck Bowen’s g-man novel in under the cover title.
Jerry Page first alerted us to the story, calling attention to a chapter heading that accidentally listed the main character as Fowler, yet the character in the story was named Tom Denby. It wasn’t hard to figure out this was a rejected Dan Fowler yarn, but I was unable to beg, borrow, or steal the issue from anyone to read the tale. I offered trades, offered to give a pulp to anyone who would just let me read the elusive story. But there were no offers. Finally, Matt Moring procured a copy, and sent me the story to read for research.
Robert Sidney Bowen was a well-known author at the time. He had written the Dusty Ayres series for POPULAR PUBLICATIONS, and was writing the Lone Eagle stories for the THRILLING GROUP, so he was a house author for Leo Margulies, and I could not understand why such a popular writer as Bowen would have a story rejected by Leo’s editorial staff. It just didn’t make any sense! While researching the Dan Fowler series for G-MAN COMPANION, I thought I detected Bowen’s hand in several published stories: Big Shot from February 1936, Hollywood Czar from June 1936, Death Rampant from March 1938, and even Bullet Justice from May 1937. Whether these were his, or not, doesn’t matter. Bowen was writing for Leo Margulies, and was one of his lead authors, so why was a Dan Fowler by him rejected?
Let’s see if we can answer why I Cover The Murder Front was rejected? First, let’s consider the date it was published in BLACK BOOK DETECTIVE, June 1937, then reading the story we find it begins in Paris, 1935, then strangely skips to January 1937 for the rest of the story. That seems to make sense. Most stories had a six months waiting period from submission to publication, so if the story was written and submitted in January, a June publication would be reasonable. But here’s another skunk in that woodpile! Without giving away any spoilers, let’s just say that Fowler’s assistant isn’t Larry Kendal. And it reads more like a premier story than a later 1937 period adventure. So how could this be? Something we might consider is the way Leo and his editors brought in a new series. Leo was probably the guiding hand in creating characters, though he might have ran his thoughts by other editors to sharpen them. Then they would give a casting call to their stable of writers, giving them the profiles to work from, and asking for stories. It’s very possible they had three or four stories on hand by the time the first story was published. I’m “guessing” that Bowen’s story was one of them, but it was rejected. The reason is obvious when you read the story.
Now, back to that darn date of 1937. If what I think happened, then Bowen might have stuck the manuscript in a drawer and forgot about it. When he found the old story, instead of making a couple of corrections and re-submitting it as a Dan Fowler, he merely changed Fowler’s name to Denby, and updated the time period from 1935 to 1937, and sent it off to BLACK BOOK DETECTIVE. It was a hastily revised manuscript, and several times the name Fowler appears where it should be Denby. I don’t know why it went to BLACK BOOK DETECTIVE instead of G-MEN. The story was darn good, and would have been a great entry in the Fowler series. See if you don’t agree.
If this had been submitted for the first story in the Dan Fowler series in 1935, Bowen made a big mistake. He kills off Dan Fowler’s sidekick at the end of the story. But Leo Margulies must have wanted the sidekick to remain in the series, which Larry Kendall does. So either Leo rejected the story, or stuck it in a drawer somewhere until Bowen could rework it. Another strange oddity, the beginning of I Cover The Murder Front begins very similar to a George F. Elliott Dan Fowler yarn during the first year of the G-MEN series. Was Eliott using Bowen’s scene, or did Bowen borrow the scene from Eliott. There was a lot of stuff happening behind the scenes in the pulps, and Ned Pines paid on acceptance of stories, so Bowen’s yarn was probably paid for. In fact, Leo Margulies published it again in 1940 in the GATEWAY PRESS hardback edition, as The Art Treasure Murders. Again, names were changed, including the author’s. The GATEWAY PRESS edition was credited to John L. Benton, as the author. Not surprising since a number of George F. Eliott’s Dan Fowler stories, as well as a Dan Fowler story by Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson’s Murder Over London as Death Over London in 1940 from GATEWAY PRESS.
My guess, it was written and submitted in 1935, but rejected by Leo Margulies, and G.F. Elliott’s story started off the Dan Fowler series However, Margulies had bought Bowen’s story, and when Ned Pines bought BLACK BOOK DETECTIVE, Leo remembered the Bowen manuscript and had an editor change some names and run the story in their new magazine. I’m also betting, the title wasn’t I Cover The Murder Front, but The Art Treasure Murders, or something very similar.
We could really use a good g-man to investigate this case, don’t you think? Happy reading.
Saturday, December 1, 2018
New Pulp Author Debra DeLorme
The FADING SHADOWS’ magazines literally had hundreds of contributors turning out new pulp stories every month, from 1995 through the end of 2004. Unfortunately, we did not collect all of their bios at the time. Thankfully, Ginger started doing this when she was publishing her anthology series, TALES OF MASKS & MAYHEM. She was selecting stories from our old fiction magazines, and decided to add author bios in the back of each issue. So, basically, what we have here are authors that wrote for our magazines. But elsewhere I have invited other new pulp authors to submit bios.
Debra DeLorme: Debra created the character of The Scarecrow. I remember my first exposure to pulps was to The Shadow while vacationing with my grandparents in the late 1960s. I was bored and looking for something to read and plunked down some change in a vending machine at a hotel. I rediscovered that love for the pulp hero again in 1994 when the Shadow movie came out. This time, I learned there was more to the pulps than just The Shadow. I’ve been writing for a number of years, mostly for fanzines, and The Scarecrow was my first attempt at original pulp fiction, fueled by a love for the larger-than-life pulp heroes. These were being published in Tom & Ginger’s Fading Shadows magazines. In mundane life – at the time I’m writing this – I work as a Radiology transcriptionist for a hospital in Charlotte, NC, and share the house with my husband (who doubles as my editor) and three cats. When I’m not working or writing, I can be found playing video games or reading. I’d like to do more Scarecrow stories, so if you want to give me incentive, please send word to Tom & Ginger and they will pass it on to me.
Tuesday, November 20, 2018
The Equalizer #2: “To Even The Odds” by David Deutsch. Based on the television episodes “The Defector” and “Back Home”. In “The Defector” McCall is helping a minor Russian Trade Attaché to defect when Control’s man on the scene messes up and the defector is killed. Now, it’s up to McCall to protect the man’s daughter, and assist her in defecting. Control’s man is back on the case, and The Equalizer must make sure nothing goes wrong this time. McCall is also helping a young schoolboy learn to defend himself against a gang of boys. In “Back Home” elderly people in a tenement building are being forced out of their rentals by their landlord. Tough hoodlums are placed in the building with a mean dog to frighten them. McCall brings in tough Irishman, George Cook to protect them while he digs into the landlord’s background and dealings. Although I’ve seen all the episodes, it was still fun reading the book
Saturday, November 17, 2018
INTRODUCING NEW PULP AUTHORS: Jeff Deischer
Once in a while I will be spotlighting one of our new pulp authors. These will just be short bios. The author is encouraged to add more information at any time, and since my data is a bit old (taken from the back of books we – or others – published) new information would be appreciated. This is not limited to just the authors of the FADING SHADOWS magazines. Other new pulp authors can be included. Just send me a short bio, and an illustration if you have one.
Jeff Deischer: Jeff is probably best known for his chronologically-minded essays, particularly the book-length The Man of Bronze: a Definitive Chronology, about the pulp DOC SAVAGE series. It is a definitive chronology, rather than the definitive chronology, he explains, because each chronologist of the DOC SAVAGE series has his own rules for constructing his own chronology. Jeff believes his own chronology to be the definitive one – using his rules, which were set down by Philip Jose Farmer in his book, Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life.
Jeff was born in 1961, a few years too late, in his opinion. He missed out on the Beatles, the beginning of the Marvel Age of comic books and the early years of the Bantam reprints of the DOC SAVAGE series, the latter two of which he began reading when he was about ten years old (on the other hand, he was too young to go to Viet Nam ….).
Jeff had become enamored of Heroes – with a capital “H”, for these were not ordinary men – at a very young age. He grew up watching DANIEL BOONE (to whom he is distantly related, by marriage), TARZAN, BATMAN, THE LONE RANGER and ZORRO on television. There is a large “Z” carved into his mother’s sewing machine that can attest to this fact (as you might imagine, it did not impress her the way it always did the peasants and soldiers on ZORRO).
This genre of fiction made a lasting impression on his creative view, and everything he writes has Good Guys and Bad Guys – in capital letters. As an adult writer, he tries to make his characters human, as well.
Jeff began writing as a young teenager, and, predictably, all of it was bad. He started to write seriously while in college, but spent the next decade creating characters and universes and planning stories without seeing much of it to fruition. This wasted time is his biggest regret in life.
In the early 1990s, Jeff began a correspondence with noted pulp historian and novelist Will Murray, while he was writing both the DOC SAVAGE and THE DESTROYER series (THE DESTROYER #102 is actually dedicated to Jeff). Jeff currently consults on Will Murray’s DOC SAVAGE books (as evidenced by the acknowledgements pages in the novels of “The Wild Adventures of …” series), a privilege that he enjoys. Will Murray’s sage advice helped turn Jeff into a true author.
Producing few books over the next few years, Jeff’s writing finally attained professional grade, and, after being laid off from the auto industry in 2007, he was able to devote more time to writing. From 2008, he produced an average of three books a year, most of it fiction, and most of that pulp. Reading so much of the writing of Lester Dent, the first, most prolific and best of those using the DOC SAVAGE house name “Kenneth Robeson”, Jeff’s own natural style is similar to Dent’s. He “turns this up” when writing pulp, and “turns this down” when writing non-pulp fiction.
Jeff primarily writes fiction, and, combining his twin loves of superheroes and pulp, began THE GOLDEN AGE series in 2012. This resurrected, revamped and revitalized the largely forgotten characters of Ned Pines’ Standard, Better and Nedor publishing companies. These characters, drawn from superhero, pulp and mystic milieus, fill the “Auric Universe”, as Jeff calls it. In 2015, he started documenting his own Argentverse, filled with characters of his own creation. It is a nostalgic look back on the comic books he read as a young teenager.
Jeff’s webpage is jeffdeischer.blogspot.com, where he posts the first chapters of his novels, so that potential readers can peruse his work without having to spend several dollars on a trade paperback to find out if they like it or not.
Saturday, October 20, 2018
THE BLACK BAT NOVEL THAT DISAPPEARED
At the end of 1951, there was probably a decision at the THRILLING GROUP to drop some of their titles. With the Winter 1952 issues of BLACK BOOK DETECTIVE and G-MEN DETECTIVE, chances are both titles were included in the shake up. The next story in the Dan Fowler series was advertised as Each Night I Die by C.K.M. Scanlon, while the next Black Bat story was advertised as The Eyes of Murder. Following is the announcement in BLACK BOOK DETECTIVE:
"Next issue's Novel: The Eyes of Murder by G. Wayman Jones. Plus - An all-star array of other crime and mystery stories!"
But the Spring 1952 issue did not appear. Instead, the next issue was Stewart Sterling’s Hot, Willing – And Deadly, Winter 1953, one year later. The same thing happened over at G-MEN DETECTIVE, there was no Spring 1952 Dan Fowler story. Instead, Richard Foster’s The White Death appeared one year later, Winter 1953. Something happened the previous year. My guess is, both titles were canceled. Curiously, Stewart Sterling was brought in for the Phantom Detective in 1952, which makes me wonder if The Eyes Of Murder wasn’t his. Strangely, there is a 1941 Dan Fowler titled The Eyes of Death, and I had a suspicion that he might have planned on rewriting that into a Black Bat yarn.
It gets stranger. The Spring 1953 issue of 5 Detective Novels contains Sterling’s Model For Murder, a similar title to The Eyes of Murder. But let’s go back to 1952, and look at Sterling’s Phantom Detective entries. We have three stories, Candidate For Death, Fall 1952; The Staring Killer, Winter 1953; and Odds On Death, Spring 1953. However, it’s the Winter 1953 story we are concerned with. Here is the Blurb for The Staring Killer.
“It is Muriel Havens alone who has seen The Staring Killer committing a heinous crime. She knows he has pushed a man off a subway platform to death under the train wheels – and what’s more, The Staring Killer knows that she has witnessed the murder. For an instant, as he races past her, the killer gives her one glaring stare – a look she can never forget. It’s a peculiar, frightening stare that seems to bore straight through her hypnotically. A stare that spells death!
The killer’s staring eyes are a challenge that Muriel can’t disregard. At great personal danger, she drifts into the waterfront district, posing as one of the water front babes – determined to find The Staring Killer and help unearth his sinister machinations.”
Sounds like “The Eyes of Murder” to me. At the time he was writing The Phantom Detective, Sterling was also writing Myro Catin stories. When the Black Bat was suddenly resurrected, and they asked him for a quick story, he must have made a few changes to Hot, Willing – And Deadly, and it was accepted in place of The Eyes of Murder. They must have asked for more stories, so he turned the second Myro Catin story, The Lady of Death into a Black Bat. At the same time, Norman Daniels, who had moved to California, sent an outline for The Celebrity Murders, and those were the line up for Winter, Spring, and Summer, 1953. But only the Winter 1953 story was published. The Black Bat was canceled again. Sterling reverted The Lady of Death back to Myro Catin, and published it as The Lady’s Out For Blood, TRIPLE DETECTIVE 1953. That’s what I think happened.
There is a footnote to all this, as well. Back at The Phantom Detective, Norman Daniels’ Murder’s Agent was published in the Summer 1953 issue. The announcements listed the next story as The Merry Widow Murders by Robert Wallace, and the plot reads curiously similar to Sterling’s 1943 Spider novel, When Satan Came To Town. The Spider was about to become The Phantom Detective. There was also some similarity to that novel and Odds On Death, PHANTOM DETECTIVE, Spring 1953. Want to bet Sterling wasn’t rewriting some old novels? Nothing wrong with it, authors did it all the time in the pulps. I hope someone proves me wrong, and manuscripts are discovered for The Eyes of Murder and The Merry Widow Murders, but remember in Candidate of Death when the Phantom Detective became The Shadow? Think about it, if I’m right, the Black Bat became the Phantom Detective in The Staring Killer, and The Spider became the Phantom Detective in The Merry Widow Murders. Only in the pulps!