As anyone who knows me well will tell you, my favorite pulp hero is The Avenger (followed not too far behind by The Shadow). Debuting in 1939 and written first (and best) by Paul Ernst under the Kenneth Robeson pseudonym, The Avenger was a character forged by tragedy. After the mysterious disappearances of his wife and daughter, Richard Henry Benson became something more and less than human: he became a relentless manhunter, dedicated to the eradication of evil in all its forms. Eventually forming a group of like-minded individuals dubbed Justice, Inc., The Avenger went on to star in 24 novels written by Ernst, six short stories by Emile C. Tepperman and another dozen stories by Ron Goulart. He’s also appeared in a few different comic book versions.
But most recently, The Avenger has found new life at Moonstone Books. Moonstone has published two anthologies featuring the character: The Avenger Chronicles (2008) and The Avenger: The Justice, Inc. Files (2011). I was deeply honored to be able to contribute an Avenger story to the Justice, Inc. Files book and that story (“The Devil’s Workmen”) won the 2012 Pulp Ark Award for Best Short Story.
Moonstone is currently compiling stories for a third volume in the anthology series and I’ve recently finished final edits on a story that’s intended for that book. Entitled “The Box of Flesh,” the story is a sort-of sequel to “The Devil’s Workmen” but doesn’t require you to have read the earlier tale.
Getting a chance to work on The Avenger once was a dream come true. To get to do so twice is an amazing honor. You never know if such an opportunity will ever come around again so you have to take it when it comes. Now, obviously, things may change and Moonstone may decide that “The Box of Flesh” doesn’t fit in with the rest of the book’s contents or whatever — but that’s beside the point. I had a blast writing The Avenger and it’s been fun to be, even for a short time, “Kenneth Robeson.”
Thanks to Joe Gentile for giving me the chance to work on The Avenger. And thanks to Paul Ernst for writing some of the very best pulp stories *ever*.