Sunday, September 15, 2019
Tom Johnson: Tom was an early pulp fan after discovering The Shadow and Doc Savage in paperback reprints in the 1960s. It wasn’t long before he found the rest of the pulp heroes. Returning from a tour in Vietnam he met a fellow fan that introduced him to Fred Cook’s BRONZE SHADOWS. Tom and his wife, Ginger, were fascinated with the concept of Fred’s fanzine and subscribed to every pulp fanzine on the market until 1982 when they published their own pulp fan magazine, ECHOES, then in 1995 they began a string of fiction magazines that would last for another decade. Over the years Tom has created new pulp heroes, as well as writing new stories featuring the original characters.
Three of those new pulp heroes are The Black Ghost, The Masked Avenger, and The Mind Master.
Tom also researched and wrote histories of such pulp characters as Dan Fowler (G-Men Detective), The Phantom Detective, The Black Bat, Secret Agent X,and The Belmont Shadow (From Shadow To Superman), as well as Operator #5’s Purple Wars, The Green Ghost and The Black Hood. These he published in his FADING SHADOWS magazines. When ALTUS PRESS came along, Marr Moring picked up Tom’s research books and some of his new pulp stories, publishing them in more professional volumes. Tom was also special guest editor for ALTUS PRESS’ Triple Detective series.
Now retired from writing, Tom is enjoying the many new writers in new pulp, and especially their continuing stories in the original pulp series. It’s like a return to the old days to pick up a new Phantom Detective, Moon Man, or Dan Fowler.
Sunday, September 1, 2019
A NEW ARTIST COMES TO ECHOES
From the very beginning,Echoes had some of the best art appearing anywhere in the pulp fanzines. If I attempted to name all of our artists, I am sure I would miss someone, and they would swear I did it on purpose, so to keep from losing a friend, let me just say they were all fantastic! However, our first artist was the highly talented Frank Hamilton, whose illustrations filled the first two years of the magazine, and made Echoes one of the best for its time. Unfortunately, Frank left Echoes after the second year, and his art was certainly missed from our pages.
However, it was about this time that I saw a piece of art in another magazine, which illustrated a scene from The Spider. I don’t remember in what magazine, maybe it was Nemesis, Inc., but I’m not positive. I immediately wrote the publisher and told him that I loved the art, and asked who in the world is “Wilber”? The publisher sent me a nice letter, along with Ron Wilber’s address. I quickly wrote to Ron, and as usual, stuck my foot in my mouth, something I’m notorious for doing. I told him how much I loved the piece of art, and said something like, “I just read the story you ‘copied’ the art from.” Needless to say, he wrote back, telling me he hadn’t “copied” anything! Well, of course, what I had meant to say was, “the scene that had influenced his art.” Not copied.
But, regardless of my stupid blunder, Ron didn’t abandon us. Soon afterwards, he started sending artwork to Echoes, fast and furious. His first piece appeared in issue #26 of Echoes, two issues after Frank’s last piece, I believe. Frank had been with us for two years. Ron Wilber stayed with us for the next 18 years! And he remains a friend to this day, even if I do stick my foot in my mouth every so often. And we still love his art. He arrived on the scene at the right minute, helping to save Echoes after we lost Frank Hamilton. This in no way diminishes the work from our other talented artists, but Ron was a dynamo, turning out plenty of art to sustain the magazine.
The only controversy we have ever had with his art, and I’ll never understand the reason for it, were the complaints on Ron’s semi-nudity. First, I am not a fan of erotica, though I am a fan of his artwork. But the semi-nude pieces we printed in Echoes went no further than what you would find on a cover of Weird Tales or the Spicy pulps. Some of the other publishers were reproducing ‘those’ covers in their own publications, as well as using Wilber’s art, but we were the ones taking the flack. I even got into a debate with a pulp dealer at the time who was complaining about the art, who sold Weird Tales and the Spicy pulps, and argued my case, but he said it this way: “When someone ‘buys’ a Weird Tales from me, they know what they are getting. So I can offer them for sale. But when you print a piece of art like that, your subscribers ‘don’t’ know what they are ‘buying’ until it arrives in their mailbox.”
I never won my argument, and those that were upset about Ron’s art never stopped complaining. And we never stopped using his art. I am continuously amazed that someone would collect Weird Tales or a Spicy with a nude woman on the cover, or buy, read and collect comic books with big bosomed, half naked women on the cover and throughout the book, and then complain about Ron’s illustrations. But I forget, they know what they are buying. The next time you are near a comic book rack, check out the covers on some of them, and then tell me why those sexy, semi-nude women are okay, but Wilber’s are not. I still don’t understand the controversy.
Well, enough about complaints. For us, two things come to mind when we think about Ron Wilber. Of course, first of all, we think that Wilber’s black and white illustrations are among the best out there. And second, Ron is reliable! If you want a special piece of art, he will get it to you. On time, and you will be satisfied with it! We’ve had our share of artists who wanted to do something their way, when we begged for them to do it the way we wanted it. Once you’ve had trouble with an artist, you seldom go back to them. And they don’t come back to you, unfortunately. Ron Wilber has never balked at a special assignment. When we told him how we wanted it, that’s what he gave us. He is a true artist, and can do it your way!
The real controversy, in our opinion, is that Ron Wilber is not working in the comic book industry right now! He is as good as anyone out there. Better than many! His phone should be ringing off the hook!
Sadly, Ron Wilber passed away in late 2016 at the young age of 51. He had only recently lost his mother and was in a depression. His art will be missed.
Thursday, August 15, 2019
Ginger Johnson: With her husband, Tom, she published ECHOES and several genre magazines, contributing articles and fiction. She created Mr. Minus, a new pulp hero in the mold of Captain Zero, plus helped compile essays on the new pulp heroes. A long time fan of Doc Savage and the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs, she became a pulp fan in the 1960s with the explosion of pulp reprints. She has also written western and mystery short stories, The Cowboy From Texasand The Suicide That Wasn’t.
Thursday, August 1, 2019
BETTY DALE, CHARLOTTA & LEANNE MANNERS
Betty was with Secret Agent Xfrom the very first, although a few novels featured her in no active part, she merely gave the Agentinformation over the phone. However, she was usually right in the middle of his cases, and getting captured, being drugged, put in dungeons and tortured, the usual fate of a pulp female. At least once in every novel, Agent Xwas forced to penetrate a criminal stronghold to rescue the young reporter.Shesaw the Agent's true face for the first time in City Of Madness(December 1936). She remained with the Agentfor another year of the magazine, making her final appearance in the December 1937 issue, titled Plague Of The Golden Death. At that time she was dropped from the series (but the Agentstill finds other fair damsels to rescue).
Betty had relatives in a town named Branford (no State given, but assumed to be New York), an aunt and cousin. The cousin, Paula Channing, is very wealthy in her own right, and popular in the community (City Of The Living Dead, June 1934).
Also important to the series was the love interest for the Agent'stwo aids, Jim Hobart and Harvey Bates, though the two ladies involved were only featured in one novel each, their parts were very important and deserve mention:
Leanne Manners (The Murder Monster, December 1934): Leanne was a red-haired young girl from a mid-western town. The fiancée of Jim Hobart, she was refined and educated (and also a graceful dancer). Agent Xgot her a job at the Diamond Club, where she quickly became the star of the nightclub show. However, she actually had another job there, which consisted of keeping tabs on the mobsters that frequented the club.
Leanne and Hobart were soon to be married, but she only appeared in the one novel and was never mentioned again. However, as Jim Hobart only remained with the Agent for two more years it might be assumed that they did get married and, due to the dangerous work he was involved with, he was released from active service by the Agent.
Charlotta (City of Madness, December 1936): Darkly beautiful, her narrow velvety-lidded eyes were almost black and extraordinarily shrewd. High cheekbones accentuated a small, pointed chin. Her rouged lips suggested determination without in any way detracting from her beauty. She wore a short, flared black skirt and the postage stamp apron of a housemaid.
Though American born, nature had endowed her with brains as well as beauty, and she had served Russia in the early days of the war. Her mastery of foreign languages and her love for adventure had enticed her to seek fortune in strange lands at an early age. She later left Russia and transferred her abilities to the French Intelligence Service. Wherever adventure and intrigue could be found, there too was Charlotta.
Harvey Bates fell in love with her (and so did I) in the novel and she returned his love. But after this novel Bates was only active in four more cases and seldom placed in a position of danger. Thus, it might be assumed that Charlotta added the name of Bates to her own - and Agent Xonce again lost another very capable operative.
With Harvey Bates and Jim Hobart gone, Secret Agent Xbecomes a Lone Wolf crime fighter.
Monday, July 22, 2019
“A Piece of Something Big” by Harry Reed: Curtis Kruger is locked up in an Arizona jail when a mob lawyer bails him out and brings him to California where he’s to do a job for the mob capo B.J. Baldoni. Baldoni claims that his daughter is enamored with a black boxer, and he wants Kruger to beat the boxer up. Kruger may be small, but he has a kung fu iron fist. While serving in the Navy in Japan Kruger had boxed, but after discharge remained in Japan to study karate, eventually calcifying one of his hands into a deadly weapon. He does beat up the black boxer, but that gentleman ends up dead from the strike of an iron fist, and Kruger is tagged with his murder. There is a lot of mystery behind what is going on. Thankfully, Kruger has a buddy in the police department who knew him in the Navy, and believes he is being set up. In fact, there is a Japanese karate expert with an iron hand in the background who wants Kruger dead, and he’s waiting around to do the killing himself. There is quite a bit of karate in the action, and even the background reminds the reader of Burns Bannion, an ex Army Ranger who stayed in Japan to study karate. I’m sure the Bannion novels were a model for this novel, and it is a good story. The book was published in 1972, shortly after the Bannion run, and copyright by Josephine Reed, which may mean Harry was dead by the time the book was released. That, or Josephine Reed wrote the book, which I highly doubt. The writing is too masculine. It is a very good read.
Thursday, July 18, 2019
The Tokaido Road by Lucia St Clair Robson. Promoted as a Japanese erotica and martial arts novel, I would question the claim of erotica, as it just wasn’t there. However, martial arts fans will enjoy all the action. This is feudal Japan, probably in the 1400s. When her father fails to bribe the official, Lord Kira correctly, he is removed and his name pulled from record. He commits suicide, which is the only thing left for him to do. However, his daughter wants his named revenged. Kinume Asano, known as Cat, and her mother have no way to survive, so Cat sells herself to a pleasure house. But Lord Kira is keeping an eye on her, and serves her a blowfish not properly prepared. Her client eats the fish and dies, but she knows it was meant for her. She changes clothes with the dead man and escapes. Now she must travel the Takaido Road to reach her sensei, Lord Asano’s samurai, and her master. The story is Lady Asano’s journey down this long and dangerous road, the adventures she has, and the friends she meets along the way. Of course, Lord Kira has his samurai harassing her along the way, but they don’t know that Cat is a master samurai also, and she makes them look like fools. However, the journey is hard and dangerous, and the companions she meet teaches her many things, like how to be humble, and trust in others. Even love comes hard for her, until she discovers how others see her, and are willing to suffer hardships for her. This was an exciting read, and I felt there could be only one ending to the journey. I kept dreading the final page, knowing it could only end one way. I will say no more, as I would give the end away, but I encourage readers to read this yarn to the last page. The action and adventure will keep you turning the pages. Highly recommended.
Tuesday, July 16, 2019
Joel Jenkins: He lives in the misty reaches of the Great Northwest, shadowed in the perpetual gloom of the Rainier Mountain. This former rock vocalist for such bands as Static Condition and Red Die #5 enjoys spending time with his family, weightlifting, weapons collecting, and oil painting. Joel wrote The Dust of Death, featuring Eel & Adder. The story first appeared in
DDT #28, and later reprinted in TALES OF MASKS & MAYHEM Vol 3.
Sunday, June 30, 2019
THE LAST BLACK BAT STORY
For years now many pulp researchers have been looking for the last promised Black Bat story, The Lady of Death by author Stewart Sterling. We had a starting date for our search since the last published story, Hot, Willing, And Deadly, also by Stewart Sterling, published in the Winter 1953 issue of BLACK BOOK DETECTIVE to go on. At this time the stories were a year apart, so if they had the title of the next story, then surely it was already written.
But where, and when could it have been printed? We knew that it was likely the title would be changed, but we felt the author would keep his byline on the story, or reasonably figured thusly. So over the years, while in correspondence with Monte Herridge, we looked at just about every Stewart Sterling story we came across. All to no avail. Finally, Monte wrote to say he had found a suspicious story, and what did I think about it. He sent me a photocopy of the story, and I reluctantly began reading it, thinking this would probably be another false trail.
It wasn’t. Imagine my surprise, as I read the story, how much this sounded like Hot, Willing, And Deadly, including the format and similar characters. The more I got into the story, the more I recognized it for what it was – the missing Black Batstory, The Lady of Death.
The story is, The Lady’s Out For Blood by Stewart Sterling, and it was published in TRIPLE DETECTIVE, Spring 1953, V9 N1. Whereas Hot, Willing, And Deadly was 35 pages in length, The Lady’s Out For Blood is only 31 pages in length, and reading the story you see a few pages where something has been removed from the story. My guess would be the roles of Butch and Silk; who were normally in the stories. Their counterparts were not in this story.
In my correspondence with Norman Daniels, the lead author of the Black Bat series, he once told me that the new editor, a woman, had demanded more sex, thus the change to Stewart Sterling at that time. Hot, Willing, And Deadly had plenty of sexual suggestions to satisfy the new editor. And in that story Tony Quinn drops his pretended blindness, and becomes D.A. of Vulcan City in Ohio. It is a strange story in the series, and not in keeping with the long-lived Black Bat we knew so well over the years. The story involved prostitutes, venereal disease, and murder.
InThe Lady’s Out For Blood, a young girl has been shot and is dying. A mysterious phone call alerts the police, and when they find the girl, she is almost dead, but claims to have accidentally shot herself with the gun. The Medical Examiner (ME this time instead of D.A.) doesn’t like the set up, and refuses to rule the case an accidental shooting or suicide. Strangely, he does a lot of snooping, even venturing out at night to investigate the people involved. Not the normal activity of a medical examiner, but right up the path for D.A. Tony Quinn, alias, theBlack Bat.
Similar to Hot, Willing, And Deadly, there are some complicated twists in the story. First, the man in the case is married, but having an affair with the young girl. All the time he’s been promising to get rid of his wife. At the very first, the girl has a gun, and plans on killing herself. The man stops her.
Later, she does turn up dead. As the story unravels for the ME, he finds out there are other forces at work – the man’s fat wife, and her young male chauffeur; these two are having an affair also. The husband wants to murder his fat wife so he can be with the young girl, and confides in the young chauffeur, who tells his mistress. She decides to have the girl brought to her, and knocks her out, placing her in in her own bed. When the husband comes to kill his wife, he shoots the young girl in his wife’s bed instead. The fat wife has him return the girl to her own apartment, where she will eventually be found and die from the gunshot wound. Thus, the lady of death. The young girl knows that it was her lover who shot her, thus her claim of accidental shooting.
Also in the story, a girl assistant jumps from nowhere into the story suddenly, very likely the role originally played by Carol Baldwin. She is used as bait for the roaming husband, and has a hard time resisting his advances. But the ME arrives just in time to save her from being murdered by the fat wife. From there, after the police arrive and take the husband and wife to jail, the ME explains everything to his assistant, almost exactly as D.A. Quinn did in Hot, Willing, And Deadly.
The changes: As already mentioned, Butch and Silk were dropped from the story, D.A. Tony Quinn becomes ME Myro Catin of Naveral City, Ohio. A beard is added for effect. Carol Baldwin becomes a girl named Paulette. Changes over. What the reader is reading is, The Lady of Death.
Okay, so we now know that The Lady of Death was written, and does exist. Now we still have another Stewart Sterling mystery, the Phantom Detective’s last case, The Merry Widow Murders. Well, it doesn’t exist, but I discovered where it was coming from. The author was rewriting an older pulp story of his, one that might surprise you. But I will detail that one another time.
I very much appreciate Monte Herridge for his help in locating this lost story. Long and hard research eventually pays off. Happy reading.
Sunday, June 16, 2019
Introducing New Pulp Author, Teel James Glenn
Teel James Glenn: TJ is a man of many talents. Hewas born in Brooklyn New York and started out as a sickly kid until he discovered the likes of Judomaster comics and Doc Savage novels that set him on the road to the martial arts and physical development. Eventually he traveled the world for forty years as a stuntman, fight choreographer, sword-master, jouster, illustrator, storyteller, bodyguard, actor and haunted house barker. One of the things he’s proudest of is having studied stage sword under Errol Flynn’s last stunt double which he continues to teach.
He’s had stories in over a hundred magazines from Weird Tales, Spinetingler, SciFan, Mad, Fantasy Tales, to Sherlock Holmes Mystery SciFan, Sixgun Western, Crimson Streets, Silver Blade Quarterly, Tales of Old, AfterburnSF, and Blazing Adventures as well as tales in close to a hundred anthologies in many genres. His short story “The Clockwork Nutcracker” won best steampunk story for 2013 from Preditor and Editors poll.
He is also the winner of the 2012 Pulp Ark Award for Best Author.
His Dr. Shadows and Maxie/Moxie series are both echoes of his pulp loving roots and continue to be popular.
Mr. Glenn worked regularly as an actor on Guiding Light and New York soaps alternately doing stunts or acting in over 300 episodes. He worked as an actor and stuntman (in a fight scene with Hawk) on the “Spenser for Hire TV Series and in episodes of the Equalizer.
His most famous ‘small screen’ appearance was as Vega in the worldwide web series “Street Fighter: The Later Years.”
His website is: theurbanswashbuckler.com
Saturday, June 1, 2019
After over fifty years, I think it is time to honor the publication that brought us into the pulp community, BRONZE SHADOWS. It was the creation of Fred Cook for his circle of friends still interested in the old pulps. Credit is long over due to Fred, so in thanks and memory to the magazine that started many of us along the path to pulp fandom, please accept this article as a tribute to both the man and the magazine.
To understand how I came into the pulp community, a little stroll down memory lane is in order. Actually, I had been aware of pulps since my childhood back in the 1940s and had even tried to buy one off the newsstand; but my loving and caring mother had blocked the purchase. The magazine was THRILLING WONDER STORIES, and the year was around 1947. We lived on Ohio Street in Wichita Falls, Texas (skid row at the time), and there was a corner drug store on 8thand Ohio where I would look through the comic book rack. One day I spotted the fore-mentioned pulp magazine on a nearby rack and was captivated by the space cover. I ran home and asked my mother to buy the magazine for me. Well, she walked back over with me and looked at the cover and shook her head. I think the girl in space was probably showing a lot of skin, and my mother felt it wasn’t something I should try to read, anyway. Although I never obtained that particular magazine (though it may be in my collection today), my interest had been aroused. And every time I stopped by Miller’s Drug Store after that – usually to buy a comic book – I would now look through those pulp magazines, too, marveling at those beautiful science fiction covers.
By the early 1950s I had become an avid science fiction reader, buying used paperbacks and digest magazines. By then we had moved from Ohio Street and I never went back to Miller’s Drug Store. But we were living near the Kemp Public Library now, and I discovered they had a science fiction section, and books I could check out to read.
Two things would happen in 1964 that would take me back in memory, back to that pulp magazine rack in Miller’s Drug Store on Ohio Street. First, as a U.S. Army corporal stationed in France, the current Cyprus Crisis had forced President Johnson into send troops to Turkey. I was sent as a squad leader. One of my men, a PFC whose name has been long forgotten, knew my interest in reading and suggested I try reading a certain book at the Post Stars & Stripesbookstore. He then gave me a rundown on the character and history, which sparked my interest. The book was Return of The Shadow by Walter B. Gibson. I connected instantly, as I remembered The Shadow from the radio!
Later that year, after returning to my original Army Post in France, I visited the local Stars & Stripesbookstore, where the lady proprietor knew me quite well – I was the one buying all those jungle books. She pointed out a particular paperback that had just come in and she thought I might be interested in. The cover caught my eye immediately – it was The Thousand-Headed Manby Kenneth Robeson. The adventures of Doc Savage became regular reading for me from then on.
In 1968, and I had found (and read) the book, The Shadow: Destination Moon by Maxwell Grant, I remembered that previous story I had read back in 1964. BELMONT BOOKS hada list of the other issues of The Shadow titlesI had missed, and I ordered them.
In early 1970, while serving my tour in Vietnam – books were hard to come by. Ginger and I were meeting in Hawaii for my R&R for a week, and I spotted two paperbacks in a military store that caught my eye. They were The Spider Strikes and The Wheel of Death by R.T.M. Scott. I didn’t know it, but I was becoming a fan of the BLOODY PULPS.
In mid 1970, after my tour in Vietnam, I met an airman in California named Newham, who introduced me to something called a fanzine, and I discoverd BRONZE SHADOWS. Ginger and I were so taken by this publication that we rushed out and bought a small portable copier from SEARS (I believe) and made copies of the BRONZE SHADOWS issues. I also wrote letters to several people whose names and address were listed in the magazines. By this time, we were becoming members of the pulp community.
Even looking back today, 50 years after the demise of BRONZE SHADOWS, the nostalgia is still there, and the publication still holds up very well, though the information is old hat now. But it was the beginning of pulp fandom for us.
Oh, those photocopies we made with that portable copier in 1970? The print has faded till the pages are black now. A shame someone doesn’t reprint them, I would certainly buy a set.
Issue #1: Not dated, but listed in MYSTERY FANFARE as October 1965. This issue was mailed free to certain people who Fred knew were still interested in the pulps – with special interest in Doc Savage, The Man of Bronze and THE SHADOW(s). It only contained 6 pages, and was printed by Mr. Fred Cook, of Grand Haven, Michigan. Lynn Hickman, who was publishing ARGASSING back then, told me that he actually printed the fanzine for Fred. Lynn later changedARGASSING to THE PULP ERA, hoping to expand his reach in the pulp community. In this first issue Mr. Cook introduces himself, reprints a few letters, lists a few names, and supplies a checklist of dates – not titles – of THE SHADOW and DOC SAVAGE pulp magazines. He offers the next issue to all who send a stamp. Approximately fifty copies of the first issue were printed.
Issue #2: Dated December 1965, approximately one hundred circulation. Cost for the issue was a postage stamp. Mr. Cook wrote the editorial, “Your fee to enter this wild world of the pulps is a stamp for the next issue. Not only has the circulation grown, but so, too, has the page count. It is now 24 pages, the contents page being the front cover. This issue, and all the rest, was printed on regular size paper, the pages printed on both sides and pages stapled together. It was then mailed with the address label on the back page. The contents for this issue included Incidental Information (letters from readers); James E. Bama – Today’s Doc Savage illustrator byJim Bama; Paul Orban – Yesterday’s Doc Savage Illustrator by Paul Orban; Doc Savage’s Creator – Lester Dent by Billy G. Smith; The Man of Bronze – And His Creator by Samuel W. Potts; A Critical Analysis of The Doc Savage Novels by Herman S. McGregor (a continuing series of articles the run of BRONZE SHADOWS); Kenneth Robeson’s Alter Egos and Where Are The Pulp Fictioneers? By Robert Osterman. Also included was a complete listing of the Doc Savage stories by title.
Issue #3: Dated February 1966, approximately 200 copies printed. Cost is still free, only the price of a single stamp. But now Fred brings up the possibility of charging a price, asking his readers, “What would you pay for BRONZE SHADOWS …? This issue contains 20 pages. Contents include Incidental Information; John D. MacDonald Vs. Doc Savage by John D. MacDonald; The Father of Og by Gerry de la Ree; Welcome Back Doc Savage … And Crew by John Kessler; Johnny Wasn’t always Superamalgamatedby John DeWitt; A Critical analysis of The Doc Savage Novels by Herman S. McGregor; A Full Length Shadow Novel As Told To – by Fred S. Cook; Bill Barnes – Air War Adventurer by B.W. Overn; Frank Tinsley - Yesterday’s Bill Barns Illustrator by Frank Tinsley; and finally, The Great Comic Book Heroes – a book review.
Issue #4: Dated May 1966, 20 pages. Still free, mailed with the price of a stamp. However, future issues will now carry a price tag of 35 cents per issue, or three issues for a dollar (yeah, I know, prices now are at least $15.00 for one issue of a professional zine). Contents include Incidental Information; Doc Savage Returns by Gerald Weales; The Law And The Shadow by Jack Gilbert; A Critical Analysis of The Doc Savage Novelsby Herman S. McGregor; The Wonderful World of Street & Smith by Samuel W. Potts; Name, Address, And Ten Cents by Fred S. Cook; and finally, The World of Entertainment.
Issue #5: Dated July 1966. 22 pages, with the first actual cover to my knowledge – this featuring a reproduction of the October 1937 issue of the Doc Savage magazine, Repel. Circulation is still around 200 – or, at least the approximate number of copies printed. Price is still 35 cents. There are also pulp illustrations reproduced in this issue. Contents include: Incidental Information; The Return of Doctor Death by Jack DeWitt; Monk, Ham, And Their Private War by Paul Orban; A Critical Analysis of The Doc Savage Novels by Herman S. McGragor; Renny by Paul Orban; A Doc Savage Folio – Words by Kenneth Robeson and art by Paul Orban; Long Tom And Johnny by Paul Orban; The Strange Case of Phillip Strange by Bud Overn; Ki-Gor And The Fiction House Monster by Fred S. Cook.
Issue #6: Dated September 1966. 24 pages, cover reproduces the April 1934 issue of Operator #5, The Masked Invasion. Price is still 35 cents, and printing of approximately 200 copies. Contents include: Incidental Information; A Visit With Mrs. Doc Savage by Bill Smith; The Birth of (DR.) Death by Dick Myers; What Will TV Do To Doc Savage? By Sam Potts; Operator #5 Bounds Of The Thirties(Part One) by Nick Carr (I believe this was Nick’s first pulp article anywhere); Special Inclusion – Illustrations from the Operator #5stories reproduced (the art is by Rudolph Belarski); A Critical Analysis of The Doc Savage Novels by Herman S. McGregor;Notes of A Pulp Collector by Bernie Wermers; and finally, Huckster Area.
Issue #7: Dated November 1966. 22 pages, front cover reproduces the 9/1/33 pulp cover of The Shadow, The Grove of Doom. Price is still 35 cents. Contents include: Incidental Information; Pulp Perspective Plus by John D. MacDonald; Operator #5 Bounds Out of The Thirties (Part Two) by Nick Carr; BRONZE SHADOWS Special Insert features a segment of an Operator #5 story; A Critical Analysis od The Doc Savage Novels by Herman S. McGregor; Doc Savage On Fear Cay – Paul Orban artwork from Doc Savage magazine.
Issue #8: Dated January 1967. 22 pages, front cover reproduces pulp cover from The Spider, October 1936, The Devil’s Death Dwarfs. Price is still 35 cents. Mr. Cook is now living and working in Sylvania, Ohio. Contents include: Incidental Information; “What Evil Lurks In The Hearts of Men” by Nick Carr; A Critical Analysis of The Doc Savage Novels by Herman S. McGregor.The Avenger’s First Adventure by Bob Jones; The Shadow On The Moon by Joe Vucenic.
Issue #9: Dated March 1967. 22 pages. No cover this time. Price 35 cents. Contents include: A Second Round For Doc by Paul H. Bonner, Jr.; The Case of The Illusive Author by Dick Meyers; A Critical Analysis of The Doc Savage Novels by Herman S. McGregor;Doc Savage In Land of Always Night – Paul Orban artwork; The Weird Adventures of The Shadow (Book Review) by Nick Carr; The Great Escape Artist by Bob Jones.
Issue #10: Dated June 1967. 22 pages. The front cover is by Paul Orban, an illustration featuring Doc and his five aides. Price 35 cents. Contents include: The Weird Menace Pulps(Part One)by Bob Jones; A Critical Analysis of The Doc Savage Novelsby Herman S. McGregor; Notes of A Pulp Collector by Fred S. Cook; The Case of The Illusive Author (Part Two) by Dick Meyers; The Fright Syndrome by Nick Carr; and Incidental Information.
Issue #11: Dated August 1967. My copy has 20 pages, but there is a possibility there were 22 pages for the issue. The front cover is by Bill Kline, featuring a collage of Doc Savageadvertisements. Price is 35 cents. Contents include: A Critical Analysis of The Doc Savage Novels by Herman S. McGregor;The Shadow contest from 1931 contributed by Dick Meyers; A Checklist of The Phantom Detective (dates and titles) by Bernie Wermers; The Weird Menace Magazines (Part Two) by Bob Jones; The Pulp Paper Fiction Plot – a reprint of a Lester Dent article.
Issue #12: Dated October 1967. 20 pages. The front cover reproduces cover of Wu Fang fromSeptember 1935, The Case of The Six Coffins. Price is 35 cents. This issue has a print run of 500 copies, and Mr. Cook is trying to build the circulation. Contents include: Contemplating Seven of The Pulp Heroes(Part One) by Nick Carr & Mac McGregor; The Weird Menace Magazines (Part Three) by Bob Jones; The Pulp Hero Quiz by G. Alan; A Critical Analysis of The Doc Savage Novels by Herman S. McGregor; A Three Cornered Viewpoint by Nick Carr, Dick Meyers, and Herman S. McGregor.
Issue #13: Dated January 1968. 20 pages. The front cover is by Bill Kline, featuring Conan the Barbarian. Price is 35 cents. Contents include: Confessions of A Pulp Eater by Sam Potts; The Weird Menace Magazines (Part Four) by Bob Jones; A Critical Analysis of The Doc Savage Novels by Herman S. McGregor;BRONZE SHADOWSPresentsConan by Fred S. Cook; and finally, The Pulp Hero Quiz by G Alan.
Issue #14: Dated March 1968. 20 pages. The cover is by Jim Jones, but it is not on my copy. The price is 35 cents. Contents include: Doc Savage’s First Cover Artist by Walter M. Baumhofer; A Comprehensive Survey of The Doc Savage Novels by Herman S. McGregor; The Shadow Speaks by George Wolf; The Pulp Quiz by G. Alan; The Weird Menace Pulps (Part 5) by Bob Jones; Notes of A Pulp Collector by J. Randolph Cox; The Doc Savage Comic Bookby Tony Isabella and Wayne Vucenic. The back cover reproduces The Spider pulp cover from October 1933, The Spider Strikes.
Issue #15: Dated November 1968. 20 pages. The front cover reproduces the Spanish edition of the first issue of the Doc Savage magazine, El Hombre de Bronce.The long gap between #14 and #15 is noted by Mr. Cook, who has changed jobs and addresses – he now resides in Jackson, Michigan. Unfortunately for the pulp community, this was to be the last issue of BRONZE SHADOWS(although a cover was prepared for #16). Contents for this issue include: The Weird Menace Pulps (Part 6) by Bob Jones; Notes of A Pulp Collector by Stewart Kemble; A Comprehensive Survey of The Doc Savage Novels by Herman S. McGregor; Notes of A Pulp Collector by G. Alan; The Scheme of Things byHerman S, McGregor; Incidental Information; andThe Pulp Quiz. The back cover reproduces the cover for HORROR STORIES from January 1935. A curious note from one of the letters in Incidental Information written by Richard Frank (evidently an editor of GRIT magazine), asked Mr. Cook for more articles on ARGOSY, BLUE BOOK, ADVENTURE, etc. Thirty years later we were still getting the same requests at ECHOES from our readers. And Fred’s answer then was the same as ours: “In order to print these articles, someone has to park his posterior in front of the typewriter and write!”
An overview of this fine pulp fanzine leaves one with a touch of nostalgia. Though Mr. Cook did not subscribe to ECHOES, we hope he did get his copies from Robert Weinberg at the time. BRONZE SHADOWS was the beginning for many pulp enthusiasts, and though fifty years later, I believe we have come a long way down the road, we could not have done it without there first being a BRONZE SHADOWS. And we at ECHOES wish to acknowledge that credit.
What may have been lacking in BRONZE SHADOWS were good interior illustrations and cover art, but then Frank Hamilton had not come into pulp fandom at that time. Frank’s first piece of art for the pulp community was with Robert Weinberg’s PULP,a SHADOW illustration that blew the fans away. What Fred Cook did do, however, was start collectors doing serious research into the pulp magazines, and the fanzines that followed received the rewards in more in-depth articles.
IfBRONZE SHADOWS started questions for us to solve in the future, they also left a few questions of their own. For insteance, did Herman S. McGregor ever finish his analysis of the Doc Savage novels? And whatever happened to Part Two of Contemplating Seven Pulp Heroes by Herman S. McGregor and Nick Carr. Well, we do know that Bob Jones published books on his ADVENTUREand WEIRD MENACE research, and Nick Carr did write numerous books on The Pulp Heroes. But what else was never published when BRONZE SHADOWSceased publication?
Though fanzines don’t truly exist today, due to the Wide World Web having access to whatever question you are looking for. And artists are displaying their work online instead of a poorly produced fan magazine.
But for now, let’s remember BRONZE SHADOWS for the ground-breaking publication that it was, and give Mr. Fred Cook the credit he deserves – his publication of BRONZE SHADOWS was the beginning for fans of The Pulp Heroes.
Friday, May 17, 2019
INTRODUCING NEW PULP AUTHOR KATE A. GANNON
Kate A. Gannon: From Novato, California, Kate was a very prolific writer, not only for the FADING SHADOWS magazines, but many others. So prolific she had to use a number of pseudonyms, such as Ed (Edilsson) Barsse, Wren Wynn Burke, Chuck Bushnell, Mem Merkader, Kathleen Eastland, Linney Teague McCall, Mario Kesh Navar, and a couple of others. Her list of pen names rivaled those of Steve Mitchell, in fact. Although her stories lend more toward literary fiction than pulp, they seemed to fit in perfectly with the rest of the writers at the time. We are still in contact with Kate, and she continues to write for small literary presses.
Wednesday, May 1, 2019
LEGION OF Living DEAD
Although G.T. Fkeming-Roberts penned both Legion of Living Dead and Ringmaster of Doom, the Legion of Living Dead is of particular note in the Secret Agent Xseries. Fleming-Roberts wasn't above borrowing plots or characters from previous stories - or other series, for that matter. But I imagine all pulp authors borrowed an occasional plot or character once in a while. To his credit, Fleming-Roberts usually did a better job with them, so all is forgiven.
Case in point is a character named Tasha Merlo from the September 1934 issue, Octopus of Crime. It is an odd story from the onset. The Agent even uses a retired policeman named Thomas McGrath in the story, which reminded me of Thomas Gregg from the Phantom Detective,and Captain McGrath of the Black Bat. But it's Tasha Merlo that's important to the present discussion. She is:
"A redhead, beautifully molded in face and figure, with heavy-lidded violet eyes. The lines of her face showed little outward character and were deceptively mild, almost babyish. Her laughter was a silvery tinkle. She was a jewel fence of international fame and had two fierce leopards, Satanand Nero, as pets."
Fleming-Roberts' first short story in the Secret Agent Xmagazine appeared in the September 1934 issue, titled The Murder Masterpiece. It's not surprising, then, that he read the lead story, Octopus of Crime, and liked the character of Tasha Merlo, whom he must have found fascinating. When he wrote Legion of Living Dead, he brought her back, somewhat changed of course. She is:
"Felice Vincart - The Leopard Lady. Her face was small, nearly round, and dark complexioned. Her lips slightly voluptuous, were rouged a striking shade of red that was almost like Chinese lacquer. Her nose was slightly tip-tilted and her eyes were actually arresting: true emerald green they were beneath long, penciled brows that curved upwards at the outer extremities. Her every movement was feline grace. And at her side are two fierce leopards!"
Her youth remains a mystery, though it is believed she grew up in a circus atmosphere. Her parents were probably circus performers. She found that she possessed a power over animals, especially the big jungle cats. She became an animal trainer, and left the circus to perform on stage in New York. Her stage act consisted of a wild barbaric dance with two great leopards, and she was dubbed, The Leopard Lady.
While performing on stage, she met and fell in love with a young millionaire named Phelps. He swept her off her feet in a swirling courtship, and took her away from the stage. On a honeymoon voyage around the world, he died somewhere in the Orient, and when she returned to the States, his family would not accept her, claiming she had murdered her husband, but could not prove it. Assuming her maiden name, she ended up on the wrong side of the law.
Although she was secondary to the mastermind in the story, Felice Vincart is the center attraction in Legion of Living Dead, and has the distinction of being the only major villain to oppose the Secret Agent more than once. She escapes at the end of the story, and I'm sure the readers at the time figured that was the last they would ever see of her. But she would return in February 1936, in Dividends of Doom.
I think what separated Paul Chadwick (the originator of Secret Agent X) and G.T. Fleming-Roberts was in the latter's ability at characterization. Chadwick's stories are steeped in horror and mood, and you remember that about them. But with Fleming-Roberts, you remember his characters first. And he was especially good when creating the many vamps that dominated his stories. Whether minor characters, or leading villains, the females always took center stage.
Although she had turned to crime, Felice Vincart will always be remembered in the annals of Secret Agent X!
I would like to think that, in some way, this article is a tribute to her.
Wednesday, April 17, 2019
Introducing New Pulp Author John French
Sorry for being so late, my computer crashed three weeks ago, and I only today received my new one.
John French: John is a crime scene investigator for the Baltimore Police Department. He has been writing crime fiction for over well over thirty years and has been published in a variety of magazines and collections, including Alfred Hitchkock Mystery Magazine, Hardboiled, Futures Mysterious Anthology Magazine, DIME, and various Fading Shadows Magazines. Some of his characters include The Grey Monk and The Devil. His current book from Bold Venture Press is a hardboiled titled The Last Redhead.
Saturday, March 16, 2019
OF OTHER DAYS AND OTHER SPIDERS
It was 1933, almost 90 years ago. To some, it was a long time ago. To others, the year is a memorable time in their own past history. True, the old timers are fading away now, but a few still remember the year, as do many of the young readers – the fans of the pulp heroes. It was the year Doc Savage began his long, adventurous life in the pulp magazines. There were other great heroes joining him that year: The Phantom Detective, G-8 And His Battle Aces, The Lone Eagle, The Moon Man (TEN DETECTIVE ACES), Nick Carter (in a new resurrection), Pete Rice, and The Spider, to name just a few. These larger-than-life hero characters were a resurgence of the older DIME NOVEL characters of the previous century.
The pulp hero magazines, or single character pulps, as a lot of folks prefer calling them, had actually begun in 1931 with The Shadow. But it is 1933 that will give the magazines their most forcible push. It was the year of Doc Savage, the beginning of the heyday of the pulp magazines that would last for the next twenty years. Please forgive me if I sound like I have a slight case of nostalgia. I probably do. But this is a special period, 1933 to 1953. Twenty years of the greatest fictional heroes of all time. We may never see their likes again.
One character magazine that appeared in in October 1933 was The Spider, and featured a hero of gigantic stature. But this article is not about him. However, following the debut of that hero, two months later, December 1933, was a novelette titled, Spawn of The Spider by Frederick C. Painton (ALL DETECTIVE). It might be noted that Mr. Painton had numerous short-lived series running in the pulp magazines, but Spawn of The Spider and its sequel, Spider’s Return in March 1934, is memorable because this Spider is a super crook!
Fortunately, we do have a hero to fight this super villain, and maybe we should first take a look at this shining knight before looking at the dastardly villain. So, without further ado, our hero is … Captain Gary Galt; he is lean in body, with a bronzed face, and a shock of yellow hair. He is also a master of disguise, a dead shot, and speaks five languages fluently. And what’s more, he has the cleverness of the devil himself.
In Spawn of The Spider, we learn that Captain Galt, a U.S. Secret Service agent, while assigned to the Middle East, and attached to a big American oilman by the name of A. P. Hargrave, is framed for a crime and imprisoned in France for twenty years. However, Captain Galt soon escapes and plans to get even with Hargrave, whom he believes double-crossed him.
Galt is on the same ship as Hargrave, who is returning to America. Our hero decides to break into Hargrave’s cabin and steal his valuable diamonds from the safe. But while he is in the act he is caught by the beautiful Lura Tellaire, the mysterious woman employed as Hargrave’s secretary.
“ ---Leave if where it is, Captain,” said a soft, feminine voice. “I can kill you easily at this distance.”
He squinted his eyes in the direction of the speaker. There, in negligee and scarlet pajamas stood Lura Tellaire, A. P. Hargrave’s confidential secretary.
She was a beautiful woman, no doubt of that. Her black hair fell in waving folds on each side of her olive face. Her long, narrow eyes – almost Chinese in their effect, he thought – were heavy lidded and alluring. Her tall, slim body was perfectly proportioned, and her full red lips had a soft, seductive appeal. She smiled now lazily at Captain Galt’s obvious chagrin.
But instead of turning him in, she offers to become his lover, and promises that if he joins with her, she would lead him to more fortune than Hargrave’s mere diamonds. Galt agrees to play along with her to discover what her game really was. However, he has no plans on becoming her lover – you see, he has all ready fallen in love with Hargrave’s lovely niece, Janice Marsh, and though he feels no remorse against stealing Hargrave’s diamonds, he does draw the line at cheating on his future bride.
As the story unfolds, we learn that the mysterious woman is a member of the Brotherhood of The Spider, an equally mysterious group of criminals that are operating in America. The members of the gang are called spiders, naturally. They are ranked by colors; for instance, the criminal lieutenants are green spiders, while the group leaders are gold spiders.
The Spider murders Hargrave, and captures both Captain Galt and Janice Marsh, and takes them aboard his private yacht bound for the Bahamas. But Lura Tellaire really loves Captain Galt by this time and helps him escape. As they have distanced themselves from the yacht, they look back and see the Spider standing on the deck of the ship as the vessel explodes.
We have this description of the Spider: the man who stood there with arms folded on his breast was tall and heavy, yet he was not fat. He had a huge, noble head in which deep-set eyes burned with a peculiar glitter that seemed half insane. His hair was black, his skin dark, his face solid, reflecting tremendous will power. There was cruelty in the mouth, power in the chin, ruthlessness in the hawk-like nose. The small room in which they now were made the Spider seem a towering giant. He turned and faced them. His only emotion reflected in the increased glitter in his eyes.
Needless to say, if there was going to be a sequel, the Spider had to survive the explosion on the yacht. And remember, in the first story Gary Galt had watched the brooding figure of the half mad villain lighted by the glare of the burning ship. He had seen it a split second before an explosion had sent the vessel asunder. He could have sworn the Spider had died in that instant.
The plot of Spawn of The Spider was deep, but not complicated. The villain was a super criminal who had gathered the beggars together under one leader, one master plan. The beggars were pushing drugs in their guise of selling pencils on the streets. The Spider had used his own sister, Lura Tellaire, to get close to A. P. Hargrave. Vengeance and fortune were at the bottom of the affair. Hargrave had married Lura, and that night the Spider kills him so his sister will inherit Hargrave’s fortune. To complicate matters, Lura was really in love with Captain Galt, who loved Janice.
To further complicate matters, Galt’s old boss, Hugh Jeffrey, the Secret Service chief of the Middle East division, wants Captain Galt to return to the Secret Service. He refuses until one of his old friends in the Service is brutally murdered by the Spider. This gives Captain Galt incentive to run the Spider to ground, so he plays along with Lura until he weeds out the identity of the Spider.
This was a very nice entry, but should have been twice as long as it was. There was too much in too short a story, but a topnotch yarn, regardless.
In the second story, Spider’s Return, March 1934, a number of strange crimes have occurred; a trench digger is stolen, as is a diving bell, and gas masks! Naturally, Gary Galt believes the Spider is back, which indeed, he is. Hugh Jeffrey still wants Galt back with the Service, and meanwhile Gary Galt and Janice Marsh are preparing for their wedding.
So we automatically know there is going to be complications. Naturally. The Spider hates Captain Galt, and desires justice for himself. This should make for an equally interesting story as the first one, but unfortunately it only moderately lives up to Spawn of The Spider.
After a lot of action, Gary Galt figures out the Spider’s scheme. It appears that this dastardly villain plans on robbing the National Gold Reserve by tunneling with the trench digger, using the diving bell under water, then breaking into the place through an outer wall below ground that is protected by a poisonous gas. Simple.
Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, the Spider is killed during the battle for the gold. Or at least I haven’t heard about a third story in the series yet – though anything is possible. For whatever it means, it appears that Galt is back with the Secret Service at the end of the story. But he is taking some time off to marry Janice Marsh. I guess they will live happily ever after.
Tying up the loose ends: How, you may ask, did the Spider survive the explosion on the ship in the first story? That is a good question. However, we are merely told, in one short paragraph, that the Spider had merely remained in the water after the ship went down, until a fishing boat picked him up. Never forget, in the pulps anything is possible. Remember Doctor Death? Nothing seemed to kill him.
Surprisingly, there were more than one Spider in the bloody pulps, even though Richard Wentworth was undoubtedly the most popular, and best remembered. For instance, there was the Johnston McCulley novelettes that ran in DETECTIVE STORY MAGAZINE in 1918-1919. For more information on this character, those interested should read The Other Spider by Robert Sampson, ECHOES SPECIAL ISSUE, June 1982.
One item that shocked me when I read Spawn of The Spider was that the author used the spelling of okay as okeh. Of all the pulp stories I’ve read until now, I had only ran across this particular spelling in stories written by G. T. Fleming-Roberts. To my knowledge, Frederick C. Painton is a real person, so this gives us researches a warning not to rely completely on certain phrases, spellings, and quirks in identifying authors. We could be surprised in the end. There were Okeh records that produced jazz music, I believe.
Finally, my thanks to Will Murray for suggesting these two stories for my research, as well as providing them so I could read them. If the readers are interested in these two fascinating stories, they are available to the pulp fans as they have been reprinted in BEHIND THE MASK, a companion publication to ECHOES. The stories appeared in issues 17 and 19, respectively.