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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?

Monday Morning Musings

billHello, folks! It’s the start of a whole new week and I’m feeling a bit low-key this morning. Got to get those creative juices flowing! Wish me luck.

Shadowman: The Red Sash made its Kindle Worlds debut last week and hit # 3 on the Action/Adventure cart before settling in at # 5, which is where it’s been the past few days. Several people have asked me if I plan to do more and my response is — not any time really soon. I have a couple of projects-with-deadlines that I have to work on and I’d like to finish off Lazarus Gray Volume Five… and then there’s this crossover novel that I’ve been teasing you guys with (the one that will sport a Chris Batista cover). So I have plenty on my plate! But I enjoyed the experience and if more Worlds are added, I might reconsider. Hell, I’d love to write a Batman story, for instance… and this seems like the perfect way for some of the rights holders to the old pulp characters to gauge public interest in a revival. Put someone like Norgil or Seekay up there and see how fast I’d jump on that!

Pro Se publisher Tommy Hancock attended a convention this past weekend and reported strong sales for The Adventures of Gravedigger Volume One, which is always nice to hear. I was really pleased with how that book turned out and all the positive feedback it’s garnered has been flattering. Hopefully people will enjoy the second book just as much.

I have a lot of work to do this week at my “real” job and the pressures there sometimes conspire to not allow me much time for writing. In a perfect world, I’d be making enough off my pulp adventure stuff to just do that full-time but that’s unlikely to ever happen. In the meantime, it’s a fun sideline and occasionally brings in a nice check to supplement everything else.

For those of you excited about the guest blogger that I’ve been teasing — hang in there! He’s making sure that all his t’s have been crossed and his i’s have been dotted, so to speak.

I’ve been greatly enjoying the album True by Avicii. It’s a lot of dance kind of stuff but it’s got more depth than usual for that genre. The instrumentals (especially Heart On My Sleeve) are very strong and there’s even some folksy stuff infused with the dance beats. It’s a really strong album and highly recommended, even if you don’t normally go for that sort of thing. Sample a few tracks and you’ll see what I mean.

I’ve been thinking about giving tumblr another try. I had an account there for awhile but finally deleted it because pinning pictures just seemed… kinda pointless? I don’t know. I have a blog so I don’t need to use it for that and I have a Facebook plus a Twitter… but I was thinking of using tumblr this time for my music interests and maybe some comic book stuff. I don’t know… Anybody out there use tumblr and love it? Am I missing something?

Take care, folks — see you guys tomorrow!

Characters I Love # 9: Seekay

seekay_coverEvery Wednesday, I focus on a character from adventure fiction (film, comics & prose) that I simply adore. This week we’re talking about: Seekay. This pulp hero is relatively obscure, having appeared in only five stories, published in 1937 & ’38. Written by Paul Ernst (the genius behind the original Avenger novels and the Doctor Satan series), Seekay’s entire series has been reprinted by Altus Press in the volume The Casebook of Seekay and Other Prototypes of The Avenger. It’s a $29.95 paperback, which is a bit steep, but it’s well worth the price and you can probably do some shopping around to get it for less.

Seekay is a private detective who wears a plastic mask to hide his disfigurement. There was a whole trend of “defective detectives” who suffered from some form of ailment, be it physical, emotional or mental — and Seekay is one of the best of those. The first two of his stories appeared, appropriately enough, in “Stange Detective Stories” before the rest of the series switched to “Detective Tales.” While the full truth about his disfigurement is never detailed, we do get some tantalizing hints. In the very first story, he aids a young woman who goes on to become his secretary and sidekick in adventure — she yearns to know more about him and there’s some nice romantic tension as she struggles with what is obviously a growing crush on the tragic hero.

While Seekay’s success rate isn’t focused upon, we have to assume that he’s doing quite well for himself, since he’s able to pick and choose his cases. If they intrigue him, he takes them on — but if not, he refuses to even hear them out.

As with all Ernst stories, the characterization is spot-on and I’m continually amazed at how he’s able to make you feel for his characters while never losing the pace of the story. As with The Avenger, Seekay is perfectly willing to let his enemies engineer their own demise, as well.

I am genuinely sad that there’s only five of these stories out there as I think he could have had a long and interesting run. At one point, I was told the character was in the public domain but I’ve since learned that’s not true. It’s a shame in some ways as I would love to have the opportunity to write Seekay or at least read what others would do with him.

Definitely seek out the Altus Press book and see why I’m so high on this character!

Favorite Pulp Heroes

When it comes to classic pulp, I love The Avenger, Conan, The Shadow, Doc Savage, Tarzan, John Carter, Ki-Gor, The Moon Man and Seekay. There’s really no point to this post other than saying that. 🙂