Tuesday, March 6, 2018
Frederick C. Davis
FREDERICK C. DAVIS
Frederick C. Davis was a prolific short story writer. Though most pulp enthusiasts remember him as the author of the first twenty Operator #5 stories over at POPULAR PUBLICATIONS, perhaps his best known creation was the Moon Man for TEN DETECTIVE ACES; the Moon Man was actually Stephen Thatcher, a detective-sergeant on the police force, who donned a type of fish bowl helmet and black robe to fight crime. He was considered a criminal, and there was a standing order for the police to shoot the Moon Man on sight. The stories were pretty standard pulp fare that worked from a formula. Sue McEwen was the love interest, and she was the daughter of Detective Gil McEwen, who was constantly trying to catch the Moon Man. Ned “Angel” Dargan also assisted the Moon Man.
In 1935, Fred Davis introduced fighting D.A., Mark Hazzard to the back pages of the SECRET AGENT X magazine, running simultaneously with his Moon Man stories over at TEN DETECTIVE ACES. An easy enough task because the Mark Hazzard and Moon Man stories were carbon copies of each other, except Hazzard didn’t wear any kind of costume. Hazzard wasn’t his real name, either. Falsely convicted of a crime he didn’t commit, young Dennis Grant had changed his name and took on a new identity. The fighting D.A. was always looking over his shoulder as a hunted criminal. Even the supporting characters from the two series were almost identical, and one story could have been switched to either character as the need arose – or recycled with minor touches of the typewriter.
There were 38 Moon Man adventures, from June 1933 through January 1937. Unfortunately, Mark Hazzard didn’t do as well, ending after only six stories in six months. Davis must have tired of the Hazzard/Moon Man formula, or someone at ACE wanted him to do something different. Just a few months after the Hazzard series ended, Frederick C. Davis had a brand new series in the back of SECRET AGENT X. Ravenwood was completely different from either Hazzard or the Moon Man, and would have actually made a nice full length novel adventure series. However, it only lasted for five issues during 1936, and then ended. Sadly, the Moon Man would cease in only a few months too.
Regardless of its short run, the Mark Hazzard stories were quality writing and good story telling. It may have suffered from the fact that the hero didn’t have a gimmick like Ravenwood, or wear a neat costume like the Moon Man. Personally I’ve always felt that the series should have been added to any Moon Man collection because of its similarity to that character, but for some reason it has been overlooked over the years, and publishers have missed a golden opportunity.
(ALTUS PRESS has recently released a complete volume of the Mark Hazzard stories.)
If the reader is not familiar with Frederick C. Davis, the Moon Man, or Mark Hazzard, then it’s time you were introduced to them.