FEAR CAY: Doc Savage On The Radio

The September 1934 issue of Doc Savage Magazine offered an action-packed tale called Fear Cay, which in addition to being a solid pulp adventure also featured the second appearance of Doc’s gorgeous and daring young cousin, Patricia. (I recently reread the tale as I got into the right mood to write the next Doc Wilde novel for Putnam).

In 1985, NPR produced serialized radio plays based on two of the Doc Savage novels, The Thousand-Headed Man and Fear Cay (which they renamed Fear Key, assuming, I guess, that people these days are too stupid to figure out what a “cay” is). These radio plays were very well done and a lot of fun, and are really tough to get hold of these days.

The web radio show Earth-2.net’s most recent podcast features the first two chapters of Fear Key. If you’re a fan of the Man of Bronze, or curious about him and his adventures, it’s worth a listen. Hopefully they’ll be running the remaining five chapters, but if they don’t, I think I have them on some hard drive somewhere and I’ll post them if anyone wants.

Hear the adventure here.

UPDATE: They have now posted the rest of the chapters of the show. The link above is to chapters 1-2, this link is to chapters 3-4, and this link is to chapters 5-7.]

Batman Meets Doc Savage (and I review the result)

So I just finished reading DC’s Batman/Doc Savage Special, which I’ve been looking forward to for a while.

batdss-01-coverGreat cover by J.G. Jones. Inside…hmm.

As a prologue leading into the pulpy First Wave books DC will start publishing next year, it works fairly well in establishing the alternate universe in which these characters coexist. As a story, it kinda fails. Writer Brian Azzarello brings a noirish attitude to it, and gives an interesting take on the heroes, but narratively it just hangs limply and ends on a trite note.

It’s not helped by the artwork by Phil Noto, which lacks the visual dynamism that comic book storytelling really demands, and the book’s color palate (I assume colored by Noto himself, as no credit is given otherwise) is dreary in an obvious attempt at making it feel more noir. It just makes it seem unexciting.

And I really don’t like Noto’s take on Doc Savage, especially the coloring he’s given.

All that said, I’m still looking forward to seeing what they do with First Wave, though with more trepidation. It will feature art by Rags Morales, and the advance images that have been shown are great, a lot better than the art in the comic at hand.

Also, I have to say, in spite of the underwhelming story in this book, I’m intrigued by Azzarello’s comments and notes about the various heroes who will be operating in this pulp, non-superpowered world. He has clearly studied the original characters in depth and put a lot of thought into fleshing them out psychologically and making them somewhat more realistic than might usually be the case. I’ve seen a few comments by devoted pulp fans who detest this approach to the classic characters they love, but I like well-developed characters, and at least in principle I find Azzarello’s ideas pretty cool.

My main reservation along those lines is that, if this comic is any indication, he may have too much noir and not enough pulp adventure in his approach. This could work fine for Batman, but not for characters like Doc Savage, who really need to be somewhat over the top. More realistic I can enjoy. Mundane, not so much.

A Doc Savage Movie On The Way!!!


Art by Ruben Procopio

It’s no secret that Doc Savage, Lester Dent’s pulp hero from the 1930s and 40s, is a huge inspiration for my own character, Dr. Spartacus Wilde (who saves the Earth from Lovecraftian batrachia in Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom). I grew up on paperback reprints of the Doc Savage novels and they, along with other pulp sources I’ve written about, are strong strands of my literary DNA.

In fact, Grandpa Wilde (Spartacus’s father), the original Doc Wilde who was famous in the thirties and forties, is my intertextual acknowledgment that the original hero is parent to the current hero, but also speaks to the fact that the younger Wilde is his own man. As similar as he is to Savage, he is also very different in ways, not least of which is that he is a warm, emotionally accessible family man, unlike the stern and remote man of bronze.

Unlike The Shadow, the only character more popular during the pulp era, Doc Savage isn’t very well known these days, though his influence on characters ranging from Batman to James Bond is widespread. But there are still quite a few fans, many having grown up on the same books I did. One of them is Shane Black. Continue reading

Doc Wilde “a fast mad dash through a landscape littered with mines [of] geek-love”

I just came across the latest review of my book, Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom, and it’s from someone who knows ’em some pulp.


Order Now!

Back in March, I blogged about some oddly inspiring material I found in a new roleplaying game I’d bought (Optimism, Action, and How To Be The Neighborhood Pulp Hero). The text in question “caused a synaptic hiccup and made me think about my life.” Pretty darn cool for a game manual.

The game, Spirit of the Century, is not only the best-by-far pulp game I’ve ever found (and I know most of them, all the way back to the first, 1982’s Daredevils from Fantasy Games Unlimited), it’s quite possibly the greatest face-to-face rpg. I’m reserving final judgment till after I actually have time to play the game, at which time it’ll get a full review here.

My copy of SotC had some issues, alas, but Fred Hicks, one of the game’s co-authors, exhibited some first class customer service and sent me a new copy. These are truly good guys in an industry with an often razor-thin profit margin. I was greatly appreciative at this, so I sent him a signed copy of my book.

Well, apparently Fred read the book, because on October 20th, he gave it a quick review on his blog.

While set in the modern day, this book LOVES pulp (and Lovecraft, for that matter) and makes a bunch of oblique and not so oblique references to it throughout. It’s a breezy, very fast read for an adult, but an adult will be entertained precisely because of those references. It’s like a fast mad dash through a landscape littered with mines that explode with geek-love every now and again.

To summarize the plot would be to tell the story of the whole book, so I’m going to leave that out of this. It’s a fun family romp, has good life lessons for kids, and features a boy child and a girl child who both compete with each other and value each other…And if you’re looking to get your kids primed with some excitement about high-pulp adventure…I think Doc Wilde would be a handy tool for giving that to ’em…

There’s a bit more, which can be found here.

American Rabble: The Pathetic State of Today’s GOP

It amazes me that anyone can still proudly claim to be a Republican these days. And, indeed, a record low number of Americans make that claim, which is a good thing, because those who still do have lost all semblance of a grip on patriotism, sound policy, rational thought, or statesmanship.

We have gun-toting buffoons showing up at presidential appearances, a congressman heckling the elected president in a joint session of Congress, legions of ignorant sheep letting Beck and Hannity and Limbaugh lead them toward the Apocalypse that many of them actually desire, a set of political values that can be summed up as (a) keep anything good from happening under Democratic rule so they can’t get credit, (b) cripple Obama’s power, and (c) do anything we can to regain our dominance so we can better serve our corporate masters.

Want to see a great example of the sort of healthy debate Republicans are bringing to policy issues now? Just watch this video, in all its glory, and see how it looks when unchivalrous, dishonorable rabble with nothing to offer get into government.

Me, I get a kick out of the “What is your objection?” “I object” exchange. With debate like that, who needs morons?

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Frank Schaeffer: On Fundamentalism, Atheism, & American Life

A fascinating interview with Frank Schaeffer, one of the founding members of the modern religious right in America, who has since recognized the dangers inherent in the worldview he once espoused.

Vodpod videos no longer available.