So I’m doing research and reading into a classic pulp hero that I’m relatively unfamiliar with because I have a gig writing said character. Scary and thrilling at the same time because I know this character has some diehard fans. So I’m hoping to do it justice… but it got me to thinking: fifty years from now, are any of our New Pulp heroes going to be well remembered? Which characters, to this point, have the best chance of becoming ‘classic’ heroes? I figured I’d share some of the ones that I think might fit the bill.
A couple of rules that I set for myself were that the character should a real part of “New Pulp” so no revivals of Moon Man or Doc Savage, please. Those new stories certainly qualify as New Pulp but the character himself is from the golden age. I wanted new creations (with one exception, that you’ll see below). Also, there should be a body of work around the character. Yes, Captain Mega-X’s one novel might have been a real firecracker but until there’s more than one book about him, he’s not in the running as a classic New Pulp hero. My list, my rules.
So… in no particular order… let’s begin:
1) Dillon – Created by Derrick Ferguson.
Appearances: Dillon has so far appeared in Dillon and the Voice of Odin, Dillon and the Legend of the Golden Bell and Four Bullets for Dillon, with more on the way.
Qualifications: One of the most recognizable New Pulp heroes, Dillon’s writer is extremely popular. Dillon is capable of breaking out of the New Pulp crowd and reaching mainstream action/adventure audiences. There are no masks, it’s not a period piece and the fact that Dillon is one of the few great modern-day heroes of color all add up to make this a character with some real staying power.
2) Captain Hazzard — Reinterpreted by Ron Fortier (with assistance on book two from Martin Powell) .
Appearances: Python Men of the Lost City, Citadel of Fear, Curse of the Red Maggot and Cavemen of New York.
Qualifications: Though Hazzard dates back to the Golden Age, his one appearance (by Chester Hawks) was probably doomed to be forgotten before Ron Fortier redid Python Men and then launched the character into his New Pulp form. This is the only one on the list that give a break to in terms of it being a “new” character because I think that Fortier has really put the stamp on the character — any attention being given to Hazzard by others is, I think, thanks to Fortier’s work on him. A pleasant Doc Savage-style character, Hazzard is another one that could “break out” with the proper marketing.
3) Garvey Dire – Created by Joel Jenkins.
Appearances: Dire Planet, Exiles of the Dire Planet, Into the Dire Planet, Strange Gods of the Dire Planet and Lost Tribes of the Dire Planet.
Qualifications: Astronaut Garvey Dire finds himself lost on the dangerous world of Mars, trapped in its brutal past. Though the premise is rooted in ERB’s John Carter of Mars series, the action is intense and the stories are well-told, building up a continuity that eventually moves it beyond any kind of John Carter-pastiche. With five excellent volumes out there already, I think this is a character who has already established his staying power.
4) The Black Centipede – Created by Chuck Miller
Appearances: Creeping Dawn – Rise of the Black Centipede.
Qualifications: What’s that, you say? I’m violating my body of work rule? Well, it’s true that only one volume of The Black Centipede has been published to date but the character has been lived online for some time before that and Miller has a bevy of tales on the way. Given the pseudo-historical nature of the character, I think he can appeal to conspiracy buffs, history nuts, horror fans and diehard pulp hero readers. The way that horror and adventure blends together is intriguing and the way Miller weaves historical figures into the narrative sets The Black Centipede apart.
I thought about including Lance Star on the list but I didn’t want to break my “new” character rule twice and apparently Lance Star is a revival of an old pulp hero — though I’ve never seen anything but the Airship 27 stuff, so someone correct me if I ‘m wrong (EDIT: See the comments section for more on this!). There are other great characters out there (like Elisa Hill, Hugh Monn or the heroes of YesterYear) but they don’t have the body of work to warrant ‘classic’ status (yet). What New Pulp heroes do you guys think are on their way to becoming classics?