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:
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:
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:
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?