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.