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

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Kid Turns 74

The Kid Turns 74

Tom Johnson was born at 5 AM, Friday, July 26, 1940, at his grandmother’s home in Seymour, Texas, 74 years ago today. Darn, I feel old. The above picture was taken in 1944 at age 4, 70 years ago. I was cute then, and cute now at 74 (lol). I had medical problems when I was born, and the doctor told my mother I would not live past the age of 20, yet I joined the Army at age 18, and spent twenty years in the military, and I’m still around today. I’m thankful for all my friends, all those that I have known, and those no longer with us. It’s been a good life so far, and I hope I can be around for a few more years yet. Below is one of my many memories as a child. I hope you get a kick out of The Day I Fought Frankenstein.
The Kid Today

The Day I Fought – Frankenstein!
It’s odd how something insignificant can force your mind to wander into the past on occasion. Recently, while taking my wife to the hospital in Wichita Falls in preparation for surgery, a loud voice drew my attention to a gentleman my age in a wheelchair. He was instructing a person where to wheel him. The man’s voice, and his features triggered something in my brain, and I was again on the San Jacinto elementary school grounds.
Our memories of childhood often reflect on some of the more frightening moments of our life. Though we try to recall the good times, like our first date, first kiss, or even that first bicycle or Red Rider BB Gun. At times other things are brought to mind that may not be all that pleasant. My childhood was filled with many such unpleasant memories.
I attended San Jacinto elementary school in Wichita Falls between 1947 and 1953; sometime around 1951, when I was about eleven, we had a boy in school that was much taller than the rest of us. Being bigger, he tended to be a bully, and pushed the rest of us around on the playground. So we knew to stay out of his way. This kid always acted like he was the Frankenstein monster, walking stiff-legged, with his arms outstretched as if to grab one of us. He took pleasure in seeing us scatter. One day he even stuck something that looked like bolts on both sides of his neck! He was his own Frankenstein monster.
I had a good friend I’d known about four years, since we moved to Wichita Falls. He was a little bit fat, and maybe somewhat awkward, but he was my buddy. It all started at recess one day, when something happened – I don’t know what – but suddenly the kid we called Frankenstein jumped on my pal and was hitting him. Sometimes I do things without thinking. I jumped on the monster!
We had just started swinging when the bell rang, calling an end to recess. We headed for the school building. Frankenstein threatened, “I’ll see you after school!”
I said something like, “Good!”
Unfortunately, I had the rest of the day to think about what this monster was going to do to me after school. It wasn’t a good thought. He would look at me from across the classroom, and snarl.
Time cannot be halted, however, and eventually the bell ending the day finally sounded, and I knew it was time for me to die. Frankenstein was going to kill me. But instead of running home like a sane person, I stopped outside the door and waited for the inevitable. Maybe I had a slim chance, I thought. My heavyset pal was nowhere to be seen, he was smart and got away from school quickly. He wasn’t about to wait around for the monster to tear me from limb to limb, and then start on him!
Well, I waited, and I waited. Just about all of the kids had left the building, and was headed home, only a few stragglers remained. The longer I waited the braver I got. Frankenstein is scared of me! I thought. Well, it was worth thinking anyway.  Just as I was sure the last kid had left the building, a boy came out who remembered about the fight.
“Hey, Frankenstein is waiting for you on the north side of the building!” he yells. “I’ll go get him!”
The north side of the building! Of course, the San Jacinto school building was built in a square, with four sides, four exits! While I had been waiting on the west side, the monster was waiting for me on the north side of the building.
Thankfully, I didn’t have much time to think about my predicament. In no time at all, Frankenstein came running around the building anxious to dismember me. I don’t know who threw the first punch, but we were quickly swinging meaningful headshots; we weren’t skilled fighters, as you can imagine. But I was giving as good as I was getting, and the monster was starting to cry. Maybe I was too. But we kept on throwing those headshots with hard knuckles, and neither of us had gone down.
Suddenly, someone yelled, “The principal is coming.” That ended the fight. Everyone scattered, included Frankenstein. I raced for home also.
I don’t remember if I worried about the monster that night, or not. But the next day school was normal. Frankenstein didn’t approach me. In fact, he never bothered my buddy or me again. Like all bullies, once someone stands up to them, they become less aggressive. But it wasn’t bravery on my part believe me. I had merely acted instinctively, without thinking. If I had had a second to stop and think, I would never have jumped on the Frankenstein monster that day!
There is something of an addendum to this story. In 5th Grade art class one day, our teacher gave us an afternoon assignment. Each of us was to draw a self-portrait of what we wanted to be as an adult. After we finished, she picked up the drawings and glanced through them, and then selected mine and Frankenstein’s to hold up in front of the class. I had drawn a sheriff with a badge on his chest, and Frankenstein had drawn jail bars with him looking out. What she said kind of chilled me. She said, “What you have seen in these drawing is what you will become.”
I didn’t become a sheriff, though I did become a cop for twenty years. I wonder if Frankenstein ended up behind bars? I don’t remember his name, except for what we called him, nor did I ever see him again after leaving San Jacinto school. There were other fights, some even more violent than the day I fought Frankenstein, but few that I remember as vividly.
Was the old man in the wheelchair my Frankenstein monster? I don’t know. I would have felt foolish going up and asking him. From the wheelchair, he posed no threat today, if he was. I’m sure he would have had many fights over the years, so our little encounter at age eleven would not have been something he was likely to recall. I merely watched him a while and remembered other times in my childhood with fonder memories.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Kim Oh

Kim Oh

Creator: K.W. Jeter
Kim Oh
Donnie Oh

Our main heroine is an American born Korean girl who, along with her brother have lived in Foster Homes most of their lives. Learning book keeping, Kim got work with a mob boss "cooking" his records so the IRS and Feds could not get anything on him. When the kingpin decides to present a legitimate front, he brings in a Harvard accountant and fires Kim, throwing her out on the street. He was having all his competitors murdered by his assassin, Cole, and Kim ends up with records, which could likely benefit the FBI. Kim can't find work and she must pay rent, and feed her brother and herself (he's an invalid). When she learns that her boss had attempted to kill Cole, but left him paralyzed instead, she offers to pay him to assassinate their old boss. The assassin sees something of himself in Kim and wants to make her into what he once was.
Kim Oh is small and meek, a one-hundred-pound orphan, barely out of her teens, and caregiver for her disabled brother. She’s no martial artist and doesn’t wear a costume, but quickly learns weapons, and how to kill from her mentor. All Kim wanted was the job she’d worked hard for, but when her boss McIntyre threw her out on her ear, she began dreaming of revenge. She hires Cole, a psychotic assassin who was also dispensed with by McIntyre. Left crippled by McIntyre’s security guards, Cole tells Kim that the only way they’ll be able to pull off the hit is if she’s there with a gun in her hand. Before she knows what’s happening, Kim is training to be a professional assassin, with everything at stake and she’s only going to get one chance to pull it off.
Donnie is Kim’s wheelchair-bound younger brother. They had both been in the Child Protective Services, but now he was with her.
Cole was McIntyre’s hired assassin, until the boss wanted to look legal, and rid his company of unsavory characters, then he had his bodyguards kill the assassin – but they failed, only leaving him paralyzed. Now, he’s hiding out with his girlfriend, Monica.
Monica is Cole’s redheaded girlfriend.
Although this is set in contemporary times, like The Spider Kim only kills the bad guys. It was fun reading about the small Korean girl going from nerd office worker to professional assassin. It wasn’t a fast transformation, either. She gets better with each novel. Her brother learns what she is doing and wants to help, though he’s a prisoner in the wheelchair; still, in a later story, he does leave the chair and crawls to her assistance.
There have been four novels in the series so far:
“Real Dangerous Girl”
“Real Dangerous Job”
“Real Dangerous People”
“Real Dangerous Place”

Sunday, July 13, 2014

More Pulp Heroes

More Pulp Hero

The Black Bat was a later pulp hero, beginning in July 1939 from the STANDARD pulp house, about the same time as Batman in the comic books. Very similar in appearance, there might have been a lawsuit to stop The Black Bat, but the pulp character was pretty well covered; they published a very similar version back in 1934, so DC couldn’t press them to cease, as they were first. Tony Quinn, blinded in the courtroom by criminals he was prosecuting, is forced to retire from law. Until a young girl brings him secretly to the Midwest, where her dying father has left his eyes to the New York attorney. Unknown to the world, the new eyes bring sight back to Tony Quinn, but he remains blind to the public, and battles crime now as The Black Bat. Very popular, the series lasted for 62 issues, ending with the death of the hero pulps in 1953.

Don Diavolo was a stage magician who also solved mysterious crimes that baffled the police, such as locked door mysteries or paranormal crimes. He only appeared in four issues during the 1940 & ’41 period from RED STAR MYSTERIES, and was a casualty of the war in Europe. Called The Scarlet Wizard, the stories were written by mystery author Clayton Rawson under the pseudonym Stuart Towne, who also wrote The Great Marlini novels.

Operator #5 was a fascinating series in its short run of 48 novels, from 1934 through 1939, under the byline Curtis Steele. Three authors wrote the series: Fred Davis, E. C. Tepperman, and Wayne Rogers. Jimmy Christopher was a Secret Service agent, code name Operator #5. He originally fought American criminals and foreign agents Under Fred Davis; then, with E. C. Tepperman begins the invasion of America. Known as The Purple Invasion, the Purple Army from Europe conquers America in 13 books; the 14th novel tells of our reconstruction after driving the enemy from our shores. No sooner have we beaten the Purple Invasion from Europe, Wayne Rogers brings Asian soldiers to our shores in the remaining novels, and in the last published novel, November 1939, drop an atomic bomb on America, almost six years before America drops the atomic bomb on Japan.  The series then ends, though an unpublished story remains untold.

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.