My Favorite Pulp Heroes

1759222-conan_the_cimmerian_by_frank_choI’ve read a lot of pulp.

I mean, a lot.

So over the years I’ve found myself drawn to certain characters more than others — it’s natural, right? Not every series will connect with you in the same way. So I figured I’d list my ten favorite pulp heroes, counting down from 10-1. Some of them are from completely different genres than each other but that’s okay.

For the sake of the list, I kept it to ‘classic’ pulp heroes — so nothing from New Pulp is on this list.

Here we go:

10. The Spider
9. Thunder Jim Wade
8. Doc Savage
7. Norgil the Magician
6. Tarzan
5. John Carter
4. Conan
3. Seekay
2. The Avenger
1. The Shadow

For years, I would have put The Avenger at # 1 and The Shadow at # 2 but the sheer weight of Shadow stories and their excellence throughout has moved him into the top spot. I read every Avenger story years ago and I’m still reading Shadow stories for the first time (there’s over 300 novels!) so I think that has a lot to do with it. Seekay and The Avenger, it should be pointed out, are both written by Paul Ernst (though other people also contributed to later Avengers)… who happens to have also been the guy behind the evil Doctor Satan, one of my favorite villains. Ernst is right up there with Walter Gibson and Robert E. Howard as my favorite pulp authors.

What would your list be like?


  1. I think I’ll steal your idea and do a post on my blog about my faves.
    I came to pulp stories in a rather circuitous way, and might be fun talking about it.
    Anyway, my list would certainly feature The Spider in the top three, together with Solomon Kane and… ah, Conan? Tarzan?
    It’s hard.
    There should be a slot for Captain Future, too, and one for Eric John Stark.
    But I find it really hard to make an ordered list – these guys are like old friends or family, it’s hard picking one over the other.

  2. I’m new to the genre, so this list will be a bit shorter:
    1 – The Green Hornet – first real exposure to the Genre (Van Williams/Bruce Lee, then the Gordon Jones/Keye Luke serial)
    2 – The Shadow – Started with the 1990’s DC comic, then the 1994 movie, then the old radio plays from various sources
    3 – The Spider – started with the 1990’s Eclipse Comics, then found a pair of novels at a used book store
    4 – Doc Savage – From the Double Danger crossover with The Shadow, recently rediscovered
    5 – The Avenger – Paperback reprints from the same store I found the Spider books at.
    6 – Operator #5 – Amazon ebook omnibus
    7 – Zorro – First exposure was the old Filmation series, then saw some of the old serials recently.
    8 – Eli Borak – recent find at a bookstore.

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