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     Thanks to an invite from Ellid, I'm taking a turn at a BSBTG diary today. Today's topic is an archetypical hero from the Pulp era who had an amazing run - and isn't done yet. There are few who would consider the pulps great literature - but that doesn't mean there's not a lot of fun to be had indulging in them.

       The interval between the World Wars: a time of turmoil, innovation, deprivation, and the continuing struggle for good in a world of misfortune, bungling, and evil. The horrors of World War I had ground to a halt only after tremendous bloodshed, and idealistic efforts to build a better world out of the wreckage managed only a mixed success. The U.S. had its own hubristic experiment in morality, again with mixed results. The Roaring Twenties still managed to party thanks to bootleggers and bathtub gin, but all parties come to an end - and this one crashed hard. The world was becoming a smaller place, thanks to advancing technology and daring, but that too would prove to have mixed results. The world of popular music was entering into the jazz age; art was transforming the machine age, culminating in a future that is a long time gone.

      It was a time of heroes and exciting adventures - in the world of fiction! Simon Templar, AKA The Saint had already been loosed on the world. John Wayne and Gene Autry were both whooping it up as cowboys on the silver screen and The Shadow was sending chills down the spines of listeners to his radio adventures, having made the jump to the then new media from the world of pulp magazines. Speaking of which, Amazing Stories had launched in 1926 and was in full swing with tales of super science. Superman and Batman would both come out of this era.

          And then there was Doc Savage, the Man of Bronze.

       Clark Savage Jr. is one of the more interesting creations to come out of the Pulps. The more you learn about his career, the more you'll begin to see how many of his contemporary and our current hero-adventurer characters have elements that look like they could have been borrowed from him and his tales. Some of it is because of the similar story terrain, of course - but some of it is because he was a big influence on the field.

     His career begins in the eponymous "Doc Savage - Man of Bronze". No super powers, no mystical abilities - yet still larger than life. Doc Savage has almost superhuman strength and reflexes the old-fashioned way: good genes and an intense course of physical and mental conditioning from early childhood at the hands of the best scientists his father could provide. Every day he spends two hours doing a special exercise routine to bring his body, mind and senses to the absolute peak of human capability. Physically, his body is so well proportioned that his larger than life stature is not apparent at first glance. His skin is of a bronze color, his close-fitting hair a slightly darker shade - and his eyes have a peculiar golden color that can be hypnotic.....

      According to the wikipedia entry, his creation was a response to the success of The Shadow. 181 adventures of Doc Savage were published between March, 1933 and the summer of 1949; that works out to around 11 a year. Nearly all of them were written by Lester Dent, under the Street & Smith Publications house name of Kenneth Robeson. If the wikipedia article about him is to be believed, he was able to write the Doc Savage stories based on personal experiences.

Issue Number 1 of Doc Savage magazine hit the stands in February, 1933; within 6 months it was one of the top selling pulp magazines on the market. Much of the success stemmed from Dent's fantastic imagination, fueled by his own personal curiosity. Dent was able to use the freedom that his new-found financial security allowed him, to learn and to explore. In addition to being a wide-ranging reader, Dent also took courses in technology and the trades. He earned both his amateur radio and pilot license, passed both the electricians' and plumbers' trade exams, and was an avid mountain climber. His usual method was to learn a subject thoroughly, then move on to another. An example is boating: in the late 1930s, Dent bought a 40 foot two-masted schooner. He and his wife lived on it for several years, sailing it up and down the eastern coast of the US, then sold it in 1940. The Dents traveled extensively as well, enough to earn Lester a membership in the Explorers Club.
    Doc Savage is not just a perfect physical specimen, he's also a polymath, trained in every branch of science, math, medicine, multilingual, ambidextrous...... He could easily hold his own with Spock, Data, or Doctor Who when it comes to comprehending new phenomena, mysteries of science, or obscure bits of knowledge. Save for the inability to fly or be bulletproof, the Man of Bronze could almost pass for the Man of Steel. And as it happens, Doc has his own Fortress of Solitude somewhere in the Arctic where he periodically retreats to work on his fantastic inventions, scientific investigations, and refresh himself mentally.

        Think Batman is cool with his utility belt? In the course of his adventures, Doc Savage comes to habitually wear a vest of many pockets filled with handy little gadgets of his own devising. Special chalk to leave secret messages that can only be seen with UV light. Capsules filled with sleep gas. Flashlights powered by miniature spring-wound generators. Miniature grapples and lines for climbing. All that and more. Doc's incredible strength, balance and dexterity allow him to scale buildings, cliffs, etc. where no handholds seem visible; his ability to move swiftly and silently is uncanny - and his unarmed combat skills are incredible. Put him and Batman in a dark room, and well let's just say the odds on who would be the last man standing would be problematic. I don't know if Gordon R. Dickson ever read any of his adventures, but in many ways Doc Savage could pass for a prototype Dorsai. Dickson was born at the right time to have grown up with Doc Savage.

        Doc Savage has his main base of operations - offices and labs - on the 86th floor of what is (probably) the Empire State Building, where many of his adventures start. It's a bit taller than the Baxter Building, but Doc's landlords must have had many of the same headaches as Reed Richards'.

     At the beginning of the Man of Bronze he's alone there while, unknown to him, an assassin is stalking him from a nearby building. At this time we get to meet his five associates: Colonel John Renwick, William Harper "Johnny" Littlejohn, Major Thomas J. "Long Tom" Roberts, Brigadier General Theodore Marley "Ham" Brooks, and Lt. Colonel Andrew Bldogett "Monk" Mayfair. Their military titles are the reminders of their shared service with Doc in World War I; respectively they are now a top engineer, geologist/archeologist, electrical wizard, lawyer, and chemist. They're all world-class experts - and Doc can surpass each and every one of them in their own specialty.

   Each of them is very distinct in appearance, to put it mildly. Renny is over 6 feet tall with outsized bony fists. Johnny is tall and gaunt, "like a half-starved, studious scientist." Long Tom looks like a physical weakling: "thin, not very tall, and with a none-too-healthy appearing skin." (But he's one of the toughest of the bunch.) Ham is "Slender, waspy, quick-moving" and carries a sword cane. Monk "had the build of a gorilla, arms six inches longer than his legs, a chest thicker than it was wide", tiny eyes in gristly pits, and a huge mouth. Each of them has a distinct personality to go along with their appearance.

Needless to say, all of this leads to some interesting group dynamics. Ham and Monk in particular have an ongoing pattern of constantly squabbling and trying to prank each other (while also being best friends beneath it all.) Any time there's a romantic interest in a story, the two of them vie for her affections. As the stories progress, the other members of Doc's team tend to come and go, but Ham and Monk are nearly always there at Doc's side.

      Doc has been training his whole life to follow in his father's footsteps. Clark Savage Sr. was a world traveling adventurer and philanthropist. He'd gone through most of what must have been a good sized fortune doing that, while planning to set his son up in the same line. Alas, he was never to see it - he'd died mysteriously while Doc had been away at the fortress, and his friends were joining him to commiserate while they worked out what to do next. They'd already decided on a life of adventure together, and were looking forward to traveling the world, righting wrongs, solving mysteries, etc. etc.

      Which, if you think about it, rather resembles the set up for Buckaroo Banzai and the Hong Kong Cavaliers.

       What happens next sets the pattern for most of the Doc Savage adventures. When they come together, Doc reveals that while he was away someone burgled the safe in the office, and destroyed most of the last message his father had left him - but they didn't know about the secret message he'd written for Doc on a window using that special chalk. Just as Doc gets the UV light on it, a bullet comes crashing through, followed by another right through the wall. They all take cover until Doc gives the all clear and then immediately go into action. Renny gets to work working out the trajectory of the shots and Long Tom creates a sighting device to locate where they came from; Monk gets chemicals ready for sleep gas; Johnny uses his skills as an archeologist to piece the window and the message back together. Ham waits impatiently and keeps alert.

    They read the message on the window, and then set out to track down the shooter - but come up empty. Upon their return, they discover someone has been in the office to read the message - and he's still in the building. A chase results - the unknown intruder escapes - but Doc has already pulled a trick that saves the day.

    To make a long story short, eventually all of them are aboard a powerful 3-engined plane flying down to the Central American country of Hidalgo, where papers they found in a secret cache from Doc's father tell them he has some kind of legacy waiting. Assassins continue to dog their trail; Doc and his crew are repeatedly attacked; Doc's special talents prevail and eventually lead them to a lost tribe of Mayans in a remote hidden valley. There are further complications, but Doc and his companions triumph - and obtain the resources they'll need to get them through the nearly two hundred adventures to follow!

      Man of Bronze was written by publisher Henry W. Ralston and editor John L. Nanovic at Street and Smith Publications, before they brought Dent on board. They set the basics, and Dent ran with it. Along with Doc's crew of 5, a cousin was added - Patricia Savage. Sharing Doc's exotic skin coloring and love of adventure, she'd periodically get tangled up in his adventures. Although not the Amazon equivalent of Doc, she still had a set of brains and a way of throwing complications into the plot.

        Here's a quick sampling of titles from the early years: The Polar Treasure; Pirate of the Pacific; The Red Skull; The Lost Oasis; The Sargasso Ogre; The Czar of Fear; The Phantom City; Brand of the Werewolf; The Man Who Shook the Earth; Meteor Menace; The Monsters; The Mystery on the Snow. They could take place any where on earth, and usually featured a villain or villains with grotesque features and character utilizing some fiendish device which Doc would have to use his vast knowledge and mental acuity to unravel. Again, a lot of parallels with Batman.

     Doc Savage and his men, although often finding themselves in the midst of carnage, did try to avoid taking life when possible. He and his men often used sleep gas to subdue the bad guys. They had special machine pistols that could - among other ammo - fire mercy bullets that would put people to sleep. Evil henchmen captured by Doc and his team got an extra special treatment when possible. It seems Doc had a special hospital/prison upstate where they'd be quietly carted off to undergo brain surgery and conditioning to transform them into law-abiding citizens who could no longer commit crime. They'd then be set up with jobs so they could make a living. If this sounds creepy today, don't forget Doc Savage comes from the era when lobotomies were routinely performed for some mental disorders.

     Considering that we seem to have entirely abandoned the idea of prison reform and rehabilitation these days, Doc's allegedly superior brain surgery technique doesn't sound like the worst fate for people who would otherwise end up as a pile of bodies. (The Shadow was notorious for the trail of corpses he left in his wake.) A simpler time in some ways. Not that we seem to be doing all that well with tasers either.

        Doc Savage Adventures tend to be full of fast action, sudden reversals of fortune, and cliff hangers. Doc and his men are always getting kidnapped, captured, escaping, and turning the tables. There's usually some secret (Who IS the bad guy? How ARE they doing their evil?) that isn't revealed until the final climax. Doc is often on top of things, but keeping it secret from everyone else until the time to act. Dialog is often of the 'snappy' kind; it's there to move the plot along mostly, not do a lot of deep psychological probing. And every so often Doc emits a mysterious melodic trilling sound by involuntary reflex indicating something big just happened - a sudden insight, a critical observation, satisfaction. It's a cue to the reader that may not go explained until later.

  It seemed like each adventure would feature Doc trundling out some new machine, like a special radio detector or a rocket-propelled dirigible capable of cruising through the stratosphere. (He went through an awful lot of aircraft!) He was always pulling scientific miracles out of his hat, and demonstrating the depth of his knowledge. Gunfire, bombs, and slugfests with bad guys were a constant, as were ingenious traps and nasty ways to die, barely evaded. People attempting to practice deceptions, questions of identity were a constant challenge. There was just one thing Doc Savage couldn't handle.


      The explanation was that Doc had resolved to live a celibate (as far as we know) life, feeling it would be unfair to any woman to have to live with his constant absences and continual danger from unscrupulous villains. (Plus, he didn't have to be constantly breaking up with romantic interests every time some new woman would show up in a story. That avoids a whole set of plot complications for the author.) Damsels in distress would almost inevitably be attracted to him before being set straight by his team. Ham and Monk became rebound experts...

     Needless to say, today there would be a lot of snide remarks and knowing glances at a bunch of guys who spend all their time hanging out with each other - but then also remember this was a common trope in stories of the time, and still is. (Look at how many of the heroes in the Avengers movie who hang out together are male - and how the female characters tend to have a certain eye-candy factor as part of their persona...)

    The pattern is set in the very first book. Among the people they encounter is an incredibly beautiful Mayan princess, Monja. After she's led them to exactly what they need to triumph over the bad guys:

Doc turned to pretty Princess Monja. He hesitated, then said: "Monja, you've been a brick."
     "What's that?" she asked. Evidently her supply of English slang was limited.
   "A wonderful woman," Doc grinned. "Now, will you do something else? It'll save time."
     She smiled. "I will do anything you say."
  And that's about as hot as it gets between them. At the end of the book, she comes to terms with it.
     Pretty Princess Monja was a sensible woman. She saw bronze, handsome Doc Savage was not for her. So she made the best of it. Bravely she hid her disappointment.
     She even discussed it philosophically with homely Monk.
   "I suppose he will find some American woman," she said.
    "Now you listen," Monk said seriously. "There won't be any women in Doc's life. If there were one,you'd be the one. Doc has come nearer falling for you than any other woman. And some pippins have tried to snare Doc."
    "Is that the truth?" Princess Monja demanded.
     "So help my Aunt Hannah if it ain't!" Monk declared.
    Then Monk got the shock of his eventful life. Princess Monja suddenly kissed him. Then she fled.
     Monk stared after her, grinning from ear to ear, carefully tasting the young Mayan princess' kiss on his lips.
     "Gosh! What Doc is passing up!" he exclaimed.
     If you want an idea of what a Doc Savage adventure might look like, picture any of the Indiana Jones movies. In fact, it wouldn't be surprising if Doctor Jones and Doc Savage crossed paths somewhere. Speilberg created the series as an homage to the old 1930's adventure serials. You could also speculate on how much of Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow borrows elements from Doc Savage. It wouldn't be hard to rewrite it as one of Doc's adventures. The novelized version of The Rocketeer has Doc Savage as the inventor of the rocket back pack. What goes around, comes around - and the Man of Bronze keeps popping up.

    Although the original pulp run ended in 1949, it saw a rebirth in 1964 when Bantam Books started reissuing them. That's when I first encountered Doc Savage, that and by way of chance with a Junior High School jazz band connection. Ed Shaughnessy, drummer with Doc Severinsen and the Tonight Show Band, did a program at the school, and I was one of the band members who got to do a concert with him. We played several charts he'd brought with him, including one titled "Doc Savage".

      The original run of Doc Savage didn't just confine itself to the pulps. There were comic books and radio dramas. Bantam's project sparked further interest; one movie was released in 1975 (to bad reviews), another never saw light of day, and there was even talk of a television series. Both DC and Marvel comics have had Doc Savage stories; the man does get around. Philip Jose Farmer got brought in to do some more Doc Savage stories. Among other things, he ended up 'discovering' Tarzan and Doc were cousins, and wrote a biography of Doc. I recall an Ace Double he did featuring both Doc Savage and Tarzan. The Mad Goblin/Lord of the Trees was two novels in one cover - you flipped the book over to get to the other story. Farmer updated both characters into the 1960s (thanks to an ongoing story about a worldwide conspiracy and an immortality drug) and the two stories are linked, coming to the same conclusion by different routes for each character. It's a rather interesting tour de force.

      If you've never read any Doc Savage, and you're in the mood for some good old-fashioned rip roaring pulp adventure, you're in luck. You can find a lot of Doc Savage paperbacks at eBay and Amazon. If you go through the Apple iTunes store, you can find ebooks, podcasts, and the 1975 movie. Given the current wave in Hollywood of mining comic book heroes and the old pulps, who knows if Doc won't return yet again to the silver screen or even TV?

   I'm going to be traveling for the next few days, so my ability to comment is going to be limited. Feel free to chime in on Doc Savage or any other related Books So Bad They're Good.

Originally posted to xaxnar on Sat May 19, 2012 at 06:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by Readers and Book Lovers, DKOMA, and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (54+ / 0-)

    Extra points for anyone who wants to bring up Habeas Corpus or Chemistry. Hmmm. I wonder if the Hidalgo Trading Company is hiring...

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Sat May 19, 2012 at 05:46:32 PM PDT

  •  I wondered if Doc Savage was one of the sources (11+ / 0-)

    of Buckeroo Banzai (the other being, of all things, Thomas Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49).  Thanks for confirming, and for a great diary!

  •  Man of Bronze (18+ / 0-)

    Doc Savage is a favorite of mine too.

    Years ago I was running a WWII-era superhero role-playing campaign and my brother Steeve decided to play Doc.  (Other characters in the campaign included Captain America, Wonder Woman and Rex the Wonder Dog).  I did one game in which graduates of Doc's "Crime College" were being hypnotized into committing new crimes; (Doc's 'treatment' having inadvertently rendered them susceptible to mind-control).  

    The other players were aghast when they found out about what Doc did to criminals in that sanatarium in upstate New York.  "You do WHAT???" said my buddy Russ, who was playing the Golden Age Atom.

    "I remove their Crime Gland," Steeve replied straight-faced, in his deepest, most authoritive voice.

    "There is no such thing!" Russ inisted.

    "You know," Steeve replied benevolently, "the Skeptic Gland is right next to the Crime Gland.  I could take care of that for you.  You'd be much happier."

    * * *

    Regarding Doc and women, in at least one of the books Doc frankly admits that he does not understand women and that he's unsure of himself around them.  This could be because he was pretty much raised by teams of college professors -- all male.

    * * *

    Oh, and I'm certainly going to mention my webcomic, Hannibal Tesla Adventure Magazine, which owes a huge debt of inspiration to the Man of Bronze.

    "All the World's a Stage and Everyone's a Critic." -- Mervyn Alquist

    by quarkstomper on Sat May 19, 2012 at 06:22:31 PM PDT

  •  Philip Jose Farmer "A Feast Unknown" (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xaxnar, Louisiana 1976, Limelite, Aunt Pat

    Doc Savage and Tarzan battle for the secret of immortality and along they way there is much ejaculating, castrations, female circumcisions, bestiality, and cannibalism.  Tarzan takes a couple bad guys prisoner, and when they sneer at his attempt to question them he cuts out one guys liver and eats it.  All of them, including Tarzan, are startled that this causes Tarzan to ejaculate like a race horse.  That's one of the mysteries.  It ain't The Hardy Boys.

    There’s always free cheddar in a mousetrap, baby

    by bernardpliers on Sat May 19, 2012 at 07:02:46 PM PDT

  •  Yes, They Rip Off Each Others Dicks In A Fight (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    efrenzy, Limelite, Aunt Pat

    But they can regenerate body parts (slowly) so it's OK.

    And every couple years their secret society meets and the men have one testicle cut off with a flint knife and the women have their clitorises bitten off.  Or am I thinking of Nancy Drew and The Secret Of The Old Mill?

    There’s always free cheddar in a mousetrap, baby

    by bernardpliers on Sat May 19, 2012 at 07:15:43 PM PDT

    •  EWWWWWW (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Aunt Pat

      Please tell me you're joking about the second paragraph.  


      •  Um, yeah about that. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I didn't read A Feast Unknown, but some of the events that occurred in it are referenced in the Ace Double I did read - if not all the horrifying details.

        The wikipedia link has more of the story context in which it takes place. Based on the additional details there, the actions described make sense according to the internal logic of the story. To quote from the article there,

        All of these editions [of A Feast Unknown] include a postscript by science fiction author Theodore Sturgeon, in which he says that the message A Feast Unknown is intended to send to the reader is that "ultimate sex combined with ultimate violence is ultimate absurdity." This is on par with the idea that Farmer intended the novel largely as satire of pulp fiction, deliberately exaggerated to the point of absurdity, as Sturgeon puts it.[2][3] This fact was lost on both the original publisher, Essex House, who produced "quality porn" novels,[4] and many reviewers, including one who condemned A Feast Unknown as "drivel" and "a worthless book".[5]
        emphasis added

        You can take or leave these out of the Doc Savage canon as you wish - I confess I'd largely forgotten he'd named the character Doc Caliban- but the rest of the story is so obviously based on Doc Savage (aside from the nasty bits), the resemblance is too close to ignore. Thinking of them as some sort of alternative universe version of Doc Savage (and Tarzan) is probably the best way to categorize them.

        "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

        by xaxnar on Sat May 19, 2012 at 08:45:38 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Doc Savage Rules! (5+ / 0-)

    I discovered Doc in high school when they were in the middle of publishing the paperbacks (I think I caught up with them around the number 70's). So corny, but so much fun. And the writing - the humor and the high adventure/melodrama combined. How could I resist?

    One of my favorite badly written pulpish sentences comes from a Doc Savage novel (the Black Spot, I believe), and makes sense only to Doc Savage fans (Doc and crew are held prisoner): "Doc's eyes whirled in his sockets, but he could find no way to extricate them."

    I saw the movie (sadly) - it looks decent (and Ron Ely is a perfect Doc), and the script was actually pretty good (well, on the comedic side of a Doc Savage story). But somehow they decided to go for camp... and then, just in case the audience didn't realize it was camp, add a few extra tons to the movie. I have a hard time listening to Sousa marches without giggling.

  •  In my home town, there was an old-school MD (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Youffraita, xaxnar, Limelite, Aunt Pat

    whose practice was on one of the upper floors of a commercial building. He had no nurse or receptionist and the frosted glass window was stenciled with his name:
    Dr G.F. Savage, MD.

    He wore a rumpled suit over his dumpy frame and chain smoked. His prices were very reasonable.
    High school boys could get their required physical for sports done in a matter of minutes, with only a few days notice on the appointment.
    "How've you been feeling? (Good.)
    "Knees hurt?" (Nope.)
    "Ever feel short of breath?" (Nope.)
    If Doc Savage felt like putting his cigarette down, he might listen to your heart with a stethescope and tap on your chest. Or not. Give him the check your mom wrote, he signed the papers and you could go play football.

    The local drugstore carried a wide variety of paperbacks and Doc Savage novels were a favorite of all the more thoughtful jocks. The buff guy on the covers was obviously no relation to the Doc Savage we knew.

    I started with nothing and still have most of it left. - Seasick Steve

    by ruleoflaw on Sat May 19, 2012 at 10:14:15 PM PDT

  •  I have wondered whether Tolkien read them (or (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xaxnar, Limelite, Aunt Pat, Mayfly

    more likely one of his boys did).

    The Gimli/Legolas/Aragorn triangle is almost identical to the Monk/Ham/Doc one. I bet that Peter Jackson did.

  •  Don't forget Alan Moore's Tom Strong (6+ / 0-)

    I could go on for frickin' hours about Doc (I too discovered him in the Bantam paperback reprints in the late 60s/early 70s, and recently got the compilation of all the b&w comics Marvel did of him).  Love it all to this day.

    And Alan Moore was very obviously creating his own homage to Doc with his excellent Tom Strong series.  If you haven't seen it, well, it's Doc Savage, written by Alan Moore.  Do the math.  (Or the meth).

    Tom Smith Online
    Music In Every Style... Except Dull
    I want a leader who shoots for the moon. The last time we had one, we got to the moon.

    by filkertom on Sun May 20, 2012 at 05:46:16 AM PDT

  •  I was introduced to Doc Savage (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xaxnar, Limelite, Aunt Pat, efrenzy, Mayfly

    by the Marvel Comic in the 1970s and read a large number of the stories in paperback.  I got tired of them after a while but I am a big fan of 1930s culture in general so maybe I'll take a second look.

    thanks for an interesting diary.

    "We are normal and we want our freedom" - Bonzos

    by matching mole on Sun May 20, 2012 at 07:35:00 AM PDT

    •  Another Comic (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Aunt Pat, Mayfly, matching mole

      About the same time the George Pal movie and the Marvel Comics adaptation came out, DC Comics got the right to adapt The Avenger, a pulp hero co-created by Lester Dent and the chief scribe of The Shadow, Walter Gibson.  For obvious reasons, the comic was titled JUSTICE, INC. and was drawn by Jack Kirby, who had recently defected from the House of Ideas to their Distinguished Competition.

      The Avenger was a crime-fighter more in the mold of The Shadow, grim and relentless and packing a pair of matched pistols, (small-caliber weapons named "Mike and Ike" which he could shoot so accurately that he could knock crooks out by "creasing their skulls" with the bullets.).  But like Doc Savage, he had a colorful team of able assistants.  He was a master of disguise, due to a trauma which had left his facial muscles pretty much dead, but enabled him to sculpt his features almost like putty.

      "All the World's a Stage and Everyone's a Critic." -- Mervyn Alquist

      by quarkstomper on Sun May 20, 2012 at 09:55:15 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I loved Doc Savage and his gang (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xaxnar, Aunt Pat, Mayfly

    Worked out for hours doing homemade strength and agility exercises.  Great books for a young kid.  I found The Saragasso Ogre a few years ago and read it.  A lot better when you are young.

    There was a crappy move 30 or so years ago.

    Gotta love the fighting between the pig and  the monkey.

    "I said, 'Wait a minute, Chester, You know I'm a peaceful man.'" J. R. Robertson.

    by NearlyNormal on Sun May 20, 2012 at 08:01:41 AM PDT

  •  I Forgot to Mention... (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Aunt Pat, efrenzy, Mayfly, MT Spaces, xaxnar

    The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril by Paul Malmont features Lester Dent and Walter Gibson teaming up to solve a mystery in New York's Chinatown.  The novel portrays Dent as something of a Boy Scout who earnestly tries to live up to the the "Doc Savage Code" printed in the magazines.

    At one point it says, (is it true, or the novelist's invention?  It's so wacky it could be true) that Dent's publisher provides him with a closet-full of typewriters so that when he runs out of ribbon or the keys jam, he can just toss the typewriter aside and start working on a fresh one without having to break his stride.

    The novel also features a parade of other pulp writers of the era, including an Undead H.P. Lovecraft that's truly creepy.

    "All the World's a Stage and Everyone's a Critic." -- Mervyn Alquist

    by quarkstomper on Sun May 20, 2012 at 10:00:57 AM PDT

  •  Ah, Doc Savage (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mayfly, MT Spaces

    ...and John Carter Warlord of Mars and Jandar of Callisto...

    Such pulpy awesomeness that wasn't awesome, best discovered after the formative years, so you don't end up thinking that this is what SF is.

    The problem with going with your gut as opposed to your head is that the former is so often full of shit. - Randy Chestnut

    by lotusmaglite on Sun May 20, 2012 at 11:20:41 AM PDT

    •  Sorry but (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ellid, lotusmaglite

      I was reading Doc Savage and ERB at the same time i was reading Huxley, Heinlein, Wells, Bradbury, Asimov, Clarke, Sturgeon, etc. and yes, I could tell the difference.

      •  Ditto (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        WB Reeves, xaxnar, Ellid

        *Side Note: Rush Limbaugh has ruined that word forever, hasn't he?

        Anyway, with the exception of Wells, with whom I didn't seem to mesh well, that's basically my high school +2 years reading list. I was being facetious about not having SF ruined; anyone who seeks out SF is almost a lock to have a broader mind than read-one-bad-book-then-chuck-them-all.

        Mostly, I wanted to give you props for the badass reading list. Especially Theodore Sturgeon; vastly under-appreciated by the laity, IMHO.

        The problem with going with your gut as opposed to your head is that the former is so often full of shit. - Randy Chestnut

        by lotusmaglite on Mon May 21, 2012 at 01:40:27 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Thanks for the charming reply. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          lotusmaglite, xaxnar

          Makes me regret my testiness. Sturgeon is one of the greats. Along with Bradbury I think he laid the basis for the cultural revaluing of SF. How many SF authors can lay claim to articulating a new law of poetics? "Sturgeon's Law."

          •  Hell yes (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Sturgeon's Law is what allows/allowed me to tolerate Lady GaGa, Hootie And The Blowfish, Larry The Cable Guy*, reality television, etc.

            They are the necessary remora in a culture that gives us Richard Pryor, Mythbusters, Bob Marley (okay, we had to borrow him from Jamaica) etc.

            Or, in the literary world, it's the awful vampire books of the world that fill up the 90% so we can enjoy the Walter Jon Williams, Ian Banks, Tim Powers, George RR Martins, Neil Gaimans, (pick your poison)...

            The problem with going with your gut as opposed to your head is that the former is so often full of shit. - Randy Chestnut

            by lotusmaglite on Mon May 21, 2012 at 04:16:48 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  In 1935 my dear one was ten years old. Doc Savage (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ellid, MT Spaces, xaxnar

    then was a big event in his life. After we married we talked about our childhoods, and he laughed with appreciation as he remembered racing to the newsstand with his buddies when the latest Doc Savage arrived.  

    As he described the series I could just imagine the boys hanging out in their tree-house, reading about this super ideal masculine model with scary (at 10 years old) uncertain sex stuff nicely put aside for noble reasons.  

    I wasn't even aware of the '60s or '70s Doc Savage editions, but did see the Ron Ely movie because I was curious.  Camp was all the rage then, but most super-heroic stories are so much better told straight. The movie was a disappointment.

    Meant to say, thank you for this very enjoyable diary and thanks to all for the great comments.  I didn't read pulp fiction then but was a comic book fan in the late 1940s, and remember defending comic books to a teacher in grammar school and actually winning her over.

    "'s difficult to imagine what else Republicans can do to drive women away in 2012, unless they decide to bring back witch-hanging. And I wouldn't put it past them." James Wolcott

    by Mayfly on Sun May 20, 2012 at 03:28:19 PM PDT

  •  Doc gets a mention in "In Cold Blood", (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Capote brings up Doc's college for criminals where the few bad guys who survived the adventures had brain surgery to remove the 'criminal element".  I've got a complete set of the Bantam reprints and a disk of the adventures also that I transfer to the Nook when I want to read one.

  •  Doc's writer gets a mention today... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    over in Sunday Puzzle.

    Clue # 2 in the acrostic puzzle reads:

    2. arthur, lester, and sometimes harvey
    The answer, of course, is Dents.
  •  Thanks for reminding me about Doc Savage. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ellid, xaxnar

    I used to read him when I was a youth (in the late 1950's) but he had completely slipped through my sieve of memory until you jiggered that memory link. I now remember that his books were really entertaining. I was more of a Tom Swift reader, but the Doc was something else and I really enjoyed him too. Thanks again for refreshing a long-forgotten and pleasant memory.

    Liberals think the glass is half-full. Conservatives think the glass is theirs.

    by dewtx on Sun May 20, 2012 at 06:24:07 PM PDT

  •  Doc Savage--the best (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xaxnar, dewtx

    Not much of a comment.  But I devoured the Bantam books.   It doesn't matter what an 11 year old reads, just as long as he or she reads.  

    "There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer shelf life." Frank Zappa

    by zootfloggin on Sun May 20, 2012 at 07:03:47 PM PDT

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