Friday, July 9, 2010

Volume Four, Number Ten

My first true love is comics but I also have a love for the pulps. I have been aware of them for as long as I can remember; "Doc Savage", "The Shadow", "The Avenger", "Conan", these were the kinds of things my father read as a kid-along with the long gone British publication CHUMS-and when I was a kid he used to tell me all about his childhood love for them.

I didn't really, really start to fall in love with the pulps though until the 1970s when some of the old stories started to appear in paperback and Ron Goulart's excellent "Cheap Thrills: An Informal History of Pulp Magazines" came out.

That was also around the same time that I started to learn about the origins of comics and what a big influence pulps played on the creation of some of the heroes and how even some of the publishing companies-Fiction House, Timely, National Periodicals and Nedor just to name a few-were originally publishers of pulp magazines.

This was around the time when I began to use the pulps and pulp-influenced comics characters as my inspiration. My "Snow-Man" character for example was strongly influence by the original Sandman and "Mister Chameleon" ( ) was influenced by "Cosmo The Phantom of Disguise", one of the early characters of Detective Comics.

Cosmo also got me interested in another type of pulp genre;the yellow peril tales. Now if you aren't familiar with that term you can check it out at . The best known of the yellow peril characters was and still is of course Dr. Fu Manchu but there were others including Doctor Yen Sin, Wu Fang, Doctor Zeng Tse-Lin are just a few of them. And just about every pulp hero around battled a yellow peril inspired villain back in the 30s from The Shadow to The Spider to The Phantom Detective. The list goes on and on.

Now the tales were clearly racist and jingoistic but they did reflect the events of the day. And the fears of the yellow peril in fact continued into the fifties and sixties with The Yellow Claw (from Atlas) and The Mandarin, Iron Man's enemy.

An excellent subject on the yellow peril genre in the pulps is IT'S RAINING MORE CORPSES IN CHINA TOWN' that is edited by Don Hutchison. As well as packaging some great tales from that period he wrote an excellent, brief history on the genre. Mr. Hutchison also wrote an excellent book on the history of pulp heroes called THE GREAT PULP HEROES. Both are still available and might even be in your local library. Check them out.

Now I still love comics first and foremost. Never doubt that. But the pulps definitely are worth reading, too. Check some out when you get the chance.
Jonathan "A" Gilbert is a writer, editor, small press publisher and t-shirt designer. He can be contacted at .

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