This Site is for essays on The New Pulp Heroes. It’s about time we catalog new characters appearing in books and anthologies. Since I do not have time to read everything being published, I will offer space here for legitimate creators of new pulp characters to send me their data, and I will post their essays. It is not my place to say what is, or what is not a new pulp hero, and the only changes I will make to essays will be editing and format. If you wish, include a jpeg of a book cover or b&w illustration if you have permission from the artist. By sending me your essays, you are giving me permission to promote and showcase this data. Essays should be up to 500 words, and include information on MC and back up characters, creator, title of books, and where the stories can be found. A paperback edition is now available for $12.00, plus $3.99 postage (US). The book will only be sold through us: Tom Johnson, 204 W. Custer St., Seymour, TX 76380. Send questions or data to fadingshadows40@gmail.com

Sunday, July 6, 2014

A Couple Pulp Ladies

A Couple Pulp Ladies

Although most women in the pulps fell under two categories: one, they were pretty damsels to be rescued, or two, they were Mata Hari’s or femme fatales.  A few exceptions do come to mind. Back in 1921, Johnston McCulley’s short novel, The Masked Woman was originally published as a serial in The Washington Post; this is another of McCulley's early costumed characters, appearing nearly two decades before The Domino Lady and The Black Cat. Like her future protégés, she brought beauty, brains, and sex appeal to the female vigilante long before they were popular. Calling herself Madame Madcap, she wears a sexy evening gown, long black cloak with hood, and a black mask to cover her features. Appearing mysteriously, she recruits a gang of hoodlums to do her bidding, demanding complete loyalty. Then she sets them up for a fall, handing them over to the police with enough evidence to convict. This was an interesting story from the very first. As with most of McCulley's stories, his characters are heroes who act outside the law, but for the good of society - or for a purpose, like Zorro. Though there are no gun battles or sword fights, we see plenty of fisticuffs. Madame Madcap's chauffeur and bodyguard is a huge, muscular black man, and her right hand man is a professor of anthropology, who is studying the criminal element of society.

The Masked Woman was the forerunner of The Domino Lady, a masked crime fighter that appeared in 1936. Truth is many of Johnston McCulley’s characters were the influence of the pulp heroes of the 1930s. Like The Masked Woman, The Domino Lady was a beautiful woman in a mask. Criminals had murdered her father, and she was after them, and any that got in her way. She wears a gown of either black or white satin, daringly cut and backless. The halter-neck of the negligible bodice revealed a gleaming expanse of faultless white bosom and creamy shoulders. She drew a cape of black silk around her shoulder, then a shiny black domino mask over her eyes. Her adventures appeared in SAUCY ROMANTIC ADVENTURES and MYSTERY ADVENTURE MAGAZINE.

Sheena, Queen of The Jungle, first appeared in comic books, but was so popular she moved over to movies and pulps. Wearing a leopard-skin, she is a golden-haired beauty. Slim, tall and bronzed, with blue eyes. Unfortunately, she was short-lived in the pulps; only two issues were published. Fiction House released SHEENA, QUEEN OF THE JUNGLE in 1951, with three novelettes; then a final story was published in JUNGLE STORIES in 1954.

Lady super heroes fared much better in the comic books, as the men seemed to dominate the pulp magazines, which to me is a surprise.  The Black Cat was merely a secondary character in The Angel Detective, which ran for one issue, then folded. However, there were comic books that featured The Angel and The Black Cat, but I’m not sure these were the same. Could be, though. I’ve never been able to figure out why there were so few masked heroines in the pulps. Of course boys were probably the majority readers of the pulps, and I’m sure they wanted to read about characters they could connect to. Still, boys were also fascinated with girls and they read comic books that featured them.

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