Following the astounding success of their first single-character pulp, The Shadow Magazine, Street & Smith publishing set out to duplicate its good fortune in the adventure magazine market. Working with the company’s business manager, Henry W. Ralston, Shadow editor John Nanovic spent a year developing a scientist adventurer who would travel the globe, righting wrongs and punishing evildoers. They were joined in late 1932 by Lester Dent, a former telegraph operator turned pulp writer. Soon thereafter, Doc Savage, the world’s first superhero, was born.
Doc Savage Magazine premiered early the next year with its first issue dated March 1933. The lead novel, “The Man of Bronze,” introduced Clark Savage, Jr. to a disheartened country thirsting for heroes amidst the dark days of The Great Depression. The magazine was an immediate success, soon rivaling the popularity of The Shadow Magazine on America’s newsstands.
Although the first tale of Doc Savage and his five trouble-busting assistants was credited to Kenneth Roberts, a name belonging to a former journalist and author of historical novels, later novels in the series would be said to be the work of Kenneth Robeson, a house name that hid the identity of Dent as well as Laurence Donovan, Ryerson Johnson, William Bogart, and other writers.
PulpFest is pleased to announce that the current “Kenneth Robeson,” Will Murray, will be one of its presenters at the 2013 convention for fans of pulp magazines and pulp fiction. The author of a dozen Doc Savage novels for Bantam Books and Altus Press, Will hopes to be Kenneth Robeson for a long time to come. Click on Will Murray under the Programming link of our home page for more details on our guest, one of the leading historians of the pulp era as well as one of the best adventure authors of our day.
The March 1933 issue of Doc Savage Magazine featured front cover art by pulp great Walter M. Baumhofer, illustrated Lester Dent’s novel, “The Man of Bronze.”
Murray, Will. “Doc Savage: The First 75 Years” in Windy City Pulp Stories #8. Normal, IL: Black Dog Books (2008).
Murray, Will. “The Duende Doc Savage Index” in Duende Vol. 1. North Quincy, MA: Odyssey Publications (1977).
Murray, Will. “Intermission” in Doc Savage #14. Encinitas, CA: Sanctum Productions for Nostalgia Ventures, Inc. (2008).