A Smorgasbord of Adventure

For the first time in a long while, it’s easy to build a nice collection of classic pulp adventure fiction, and I’ve been doing just that. I started with the Doc Savage reprints put out monthly by Anthony Tollin, magazine-size volumes using gorgeously restored original art, each book collecting two of the long out-of-print novels, like:

“Resurrection Day” and “Repel”
“The Polar Treasure” and “Pirate of the Pacific”

“The Man of Bronze” and “The Land of Terror”

For the uninitiated, Doc Savage was second only to The Shadow in popularity during the pulp era, and served as a key inspiration to the creators of later characters ranging from Superman and Batman to James Bond and Buckaroo Banzai. He’s also the primary ancestor of my own hero, Doc Wilde. The Savage books were reprinted earlier by Bantam, starting in 1964, and I grew up reading them and wanted to give my son something to read that offered the same sort of adventure.

Tollin offers The Shadow in the same format, also monthly. Till this year, I’d read some Shadow comics and two novels, heard a radio play or two, and seen the film with Alec Baldwin (which is unfortunately campy, but possesses some genuine wit, some gorgeous visuals, and a perfectly cast hero). I was going to just get a Shadow volume here and there, being a lot less of a fan than I was of Doc Savage, but after reading a couple I subscribed to that whole series as well. The Shadow is a magnificent character, and the stories are intricate and action-packed. Here are some great examples:

“The Red Blot” and “The Voodoo Master”
“The Plot Master” and “Death Jewels”
“The Blue Sphinx” and “Jibaro Death”

I subscribed to one more series, The Spider. These reprints also come two to a volume, in nice magazine-sized editions using the original art, but are published quarterly instead of monthly, and by Girasol Collectables.  The Spider started as a Shadow rip-off, but evolved swiftly into something much more demented. The Spider tales are more violent, more epic in scale, and far weirder than usual, even for pulp. At the same time, The Spider is a more human and realistic hero than either of his more famous brethren, showing genuine emotion and even involved in a fully committed, intense, passionately romantic relationship.

Baen Books offers a great place to start with The Spider,  a couple of volumes of classic tales with beautiful artwork by Jim Steranko:

The Spider: Robot Titans of Gotham
The Spider: City of Doom

Pulp adventure tales like this are great for us grown-ups who love Indiana Jones, The Rocketeer, or James Bond, but they’re also great for young readers, especially boys. And if you start building your own shelf of pulp, don’t forget to put Doc Wilde into the mix. ;)

Anyone know more great pulp stuff that’s available?

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6 comments on “A Smorgasbord of Adventure

  1. caericarclight says:

    Been getting the Doc Savage (even tho I have all the Bantams) and Shadow reprints, too. They’re stacking up far faster than I can read them but that’s okay.

    Also have managed to snag some Spider double-novels lately.

    My friends at Moonstone Books have been keeping the pulp tradition alive. Aside from comics about Buckaroo Banzai – written by creator Earl Mac Rauch – and the Phantom and the like, they’re also doing prose collections. They’ve done the Spider, the Avenger and Zorro at least so far. Also Kolchak the Night Stalker and…just a ton of cool stuff.

    No…I don’t work for them, just am working on paying their kids’ way thru college, I think. :)

    • Tim Byrd says:

      The Spider is my latest bulk addition to my library. I’d found a great deal on the eight paperbacks Carroll & Graf published back in the early nineties (each with two adventures) a while back, and grabbed City of Doom from Baen, and figured that’d be enough. Dopey me. I read a couple and snatched up the Girasol back issues and subscribed. The Spider rocks, and I appreciate the fact that Richard Wentworth has an adult life outside of fighting crime.

      I haven’t tried the Moonstone books yet, though I’m aware of them, and interested both as a reader and a writer. Unfortunately, even with a reference from Will Murray, the editor over there hasn’t deigned to respond to my email about possibly doing stories for future anthologies. It makes me sad.

  2. […] Savage stories by Kenneth Robeson. I wrote about them, with a few Amazon links, in an earlier post, A Smorgasbord of Adventure. Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Books read in 2008Book Adventure […]

  3. […] tradition of The Shadow, but even more in the tradition of The Spider (both of whom I wrote about here). He’s dark and deadly and armed and dangerous, clad in a black-veiled fedora and a black […]

  4. […] I’ve long been an avid supporter of Sanctum Books’ reprints of classic pulps, specifically the ongoing series of The Shadow and Doc Savage. Each volume is a magazine-sized paperback containing two novels, using the cover art and interior illustrations from the magazines published originally in the 1930s and ’40s. They’re lovely, and I’ve been greatly enjoying immersing myself in this literature that has been so influential not just in popular culture, but also in my own work. […]

  5. […] this blog regularly (well, as regularly as I post to it anyway, these days), you may have noticed I love old school pulp adventure. Doc Savage, The Shadow, Conan, Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, Indiana Jones, The Rocketeer, that sort […]

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