Hardboiled and Dangerous: The Characters of Erle Stanley Gardner

Jun 15, 2017 by

When the magazine BLACK MASK is discussed, author Dashiell Hammett generally comes into play. But the creator of Sam Spade and The Continental Op was far from the most prolific contributor to the greatest of the hard-boiled detective magazines. That honor would go to Erle Stanley Gardner, best known for creating Perry Mason. Gardner would appear in THE BLACK MASK over one hundred times.

A practicing lawyer interested in a better income, Erle Stanley Gardner forced “himself to churn out four thousand words a night. It took two years, but he made his first sale to the pulps. It wouldn’t be the last.” During his fifty-year writing career, Gardner would publish close to twenty million words of fiction and create “no less than 49 unique detectives and adventurers who made two or more appearances in book or magazine form . . .”

According to Bill Pronzini’s introduction to THE DANGER ZONE AND OTHER STORIES published by Crippen & Landru in 2004 — Gardner published 128 novels between 1933 and 1970. Eighty-two of these feature Perry Mason, while Bertha Cool and Donald Lam appear in 29 book-length adventures. Crusading district attorney Doug Selby appears in nine novels, while the remaining eight feature other characters.

“All of Gardner’s other series characters . . . were created for the magazine markets, both pulp-paper and slick-paper, and appear only in novelettes and short stories. Several hundred of these yarns saw print from the 1920s into the 1950s, the preponderance in a ten-year-span from 1926 to 1936 when Gardner lived up to his billing as “King of the Woodpulps” by producing and selling an average of one million words of fiction annually. ARGOSY, BLACK MASK, and DETECTIVE FICTION WEEKLY were his favorite pulp markets, printing nearly 200 stories among them. Series tales and one-shots also ran regularly in DIME DETECTIVE, CLUES, STREET & SMITH’S DETECTIVE STORY, TOP-NOTCH, BLACK ACES, ALL DETECTIVE, SHORT STORIES, and a host of others . . . .

“Foremost among his amazing array of short-fiction creations are Ed Jenkins, the Phantom Crook, an outlaw and ‘famous lone wolf’ who lives by his wits and solves crimes unjustly pinned on him by the police, many of which have San Francisco Chinatown settings; and Lester Leith, debonair man-about-town, whose ‘chain lightning mind’ allows him to both outfox criminals and outmaneuver his butler, Scuttle, an undercover police spy. Jenkins appears in 72 novelettes published in BLACK MASK between 1925 and 1943 . . . Leith can be found in 65 novelettes in DETECTIVE FICTION WEEKLY from 1929 to 1943 . . .”

Other oft-published series characters created by Erle Stanley Gardner include Bob Zane of the “Whispering Sands” tales; Sidney Zoom, master of disguises; Señor Lobo, Mexican soldier of fortune; the Patent Leather Kid; Paul Pry, who steals from crooks; Bob Larkin, an adventurer armed with a billiard cue; attorney Ken Corning; gunslinger Black Barr; and Speed Dash, the Human Fly.

At 8:50 PM on Friday, July 28, PulpFest 2017 welcomes Jeffrey Marks for a discussion of Gardner’s four types of pulp characters: the western miner, the non-Perry lawyers, the traditional pulp loners, and the author’s happy-go-lucky criminals. Marks is a long-time mystery fan and freelance writer. His works include WHO WAS THAT LADY, a biography of mystery writer Craig Rice; ATOMIC RENAISSANCE: WOMEN MYSTERY WRITERS OF THE 1940S/1950S; and PULP ICONS: ERLE STANLEY GARDNER AND HIS PULP MAGAZINE CHARACTERS. His latest work is a biography of mystery author and critic Anthony Boucher entitled ANTHONY BOUCHER. It has been nominated for an Agatha and fittingly, won an Anthony Award.

Jeffrey’s work has won a number of awards including the Barnes and Noble Prize. It has also been nominated for an Edgar Award, three Agathas, two Macavity Awards, and three Anthony Awards. Today, he writes from his home in Cincinnati, which he shares with his partner and two dogs.

Please join us from July 27 through July 30 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Cranberry — just north of Pennsylvania’s “Steel City” — for PulpFest 2017 as we celebrate the hardboiled dicks, dangerous dames, and a few psychos of the pulps. You can join PulpFest by clicking the Register for 2017 button on our home page. And don’t forget to book a room at the DoubleTree. They’re going fast!

(First introduced to BLACK MASK readers with the story, “The Shrieking Skeleton,” published in the December 15, 1923 number under the pseudonym Charles Green, Erle Stanley Gardner quickly established himself as a readers’ favorite. Soon thereafter, he introduced his first series character, Bob Larkin. But it was with the January 1925 number that Gardner truly hit paydirt, introducing Ed Jenkins in “Beyond the Law.” By the end of 1926, Jenkins was garnering the cover spot of the magazine, including the March 1933 issue featuring artwork by J. W. Schlaikjer. Erle Stanley Gardner’s Phantom Crook would appear in 72 novelettes published in BLACK MASK between 1925 and 1943.)

Hard-Boiled at 100: The Don Everhard Stories of Gordon Young

Jun 14, 2017 by

Tradition holds that the hardboiled school of detective fiction began with the publication of Carroll John Daly’s “Three Gun Terry” in the May 15, 1923 issue of THE BLACK MASK. Dashiell Hammett’s first Continental Op story followed a few months later. The magazine’s editor, Joseph T. Shaw, would later nurture the genre to maturity. BLACK MASK would become synonymous with the hard-boiled detective story.

Or so the story goes. Few if any literary genres come into being at a single time and place; rather, they draw their basic elements from earlier literary forms. The detective story is no exception. A key precursor to the hardboiled school can be found in the “Don Everhard” stories of Gordon Young. Now all but forgotten, the stories appeared in the pages of ADVENTURE and SHORT STORIESover the course of a quarter century. The first appeared in 1917, a full six years before Daley’s tale. It anticipated many of the basic elements of the hardboiled school, including character types, plot structure, narrative voice, the treatment of violence, and a skepticism toward traditional social institutions. All would become common in BLACK MASK in the decade that followed.

Over the course of his life, Gordon Ray Young was a cowboy, marine, sailor, marksman, reporter, occasional poet, sport fisherman, bibliophile, and literary critic. More importantly he was a storyteller, the author of some of the finest adventure fiction to grace the pages of the American pulp magazines during the first half of the twentieth century. Appearing regularly in titles such as ADVENTURE, BLUE BOOK, ARGOSY, ROMANCE, and SHORT STORIES, his fiction spanned genres as diverse as westerns, crime stories, South Seas adventure, international intrigue, historical fiction, and humor.  His tales also made the jump to the silver screen as Hollywood adapted five of his stories for the motion pictures. 

Young was born in rural Ray County, Missouri  on September 7, 1886 and inherited from his father a sense of independence and taste for wandering.  At the age of fifteen he was working as a cowboy in eastern Colorado and in 1908 — at the age of 22 — he enlisted in the United States Marines. He saw duty both in the Philippines and on shipboard. Upon mustering out of the Corps, Young took up a career in journalism, working on newspapers in both San Francisco and Stockton, California before taking up a position with the LOS ANGELES TIMES. He served as the paper’s literary editor for more than a decade.

His freelance writing career began with  the sale of a minor short story to THE CAVALIER in 1913.  His career as a writer took off in 1917 when he began selling to A. S. Hoffman’s ADVENTURE.  By 1920, Gordon Young was an established member of that select group of writers, which included the likes of Talbot Mundy, Hugh Pendexter, W. C. Tuttle, and Arthur Friel, who regularly filled the pages of ADVENTURE during the magazine’s glory years in the teens and twenties. His novels soon began to find their way into hardcover publication. His reputation as a writer was spreading beyond the pages of the pulp magazines and coming to the notice of book reviewers.

Young showed great diversity in his writing, producing a wide variety of story types.  South Seas stories, for example, were common in the teens and  twenties, while westerns came to dominate his later career.  His longest running character however, was the hard-boiled professional gambler, Don Everhard. Young’s creation appeared in his very first sale to ADVENTURE in 1917 — “A  Royal Flush of Hearts”  — and continued to appear in more than thirty short stories and novels over the course of his career.

Gordon Young died of heart failure in his home in Los Angeles, California in 1948 at the age of 62.

On Saturday, July 29, PulpFest 2017 continues its celebration of hardboiled dicks, dangerous dames, and a few psychos. Please join us at 8:20 as Tom Krabacher and John Wooley discuss “The Most Dangerous Man in America,” Gordon Young’s Don Everhard: “Hard-Boiled at 100.”

Tom Krabacher is a professor at California State University, Sacramento and a member of the Pulp Era Amateur Press Association. He has previously presented at PulpFest, serving on and moderating panels on WEIRD TALES, the Cthulhu Mythos, and John Campbell’s classic fantasy magazine, UNKNOWN. Tom has also published articles on the pulps and their history in BLOOD ‘N’ THUNDER, THE PULPSTER, and elsewhere.

John Wooley — who will also be presenting on Dan Turner and SPICY DETECTIVE at PulpFest 2017 — has written, co-written, or edited over three dozen books. He has also authored comic books, trading cards, and thousands of magazine and newspaper stories. Winner of the Lamont Award in 2006, Wooley is co-owner, with John McMahan, of the pulp-related Reverse Karma Press. In 2015, John was inducted into the Oklahoma Historians’ Hall of Fame.

(Pictured twice on the cover of ADVENTURE magazine — including the May 1936 issue with cover art by Walter M. Baumhofer — Don Everhard was — according to Jess Nevins — a “professional gambler and amateur justice-dealer . . . .he keeps getting involved in helping others or, more often, settling accounts . . . . He’s a cold man, always calm (even when under fire), always rational, invulnerable to the wiles of women, and extremely experienced in the ways of criminals and violence. He has a reputation for being very violent, ‘the most famous gunman in the country,’ and of having ‘killed more mean than any other fellow in America — and is proud of it.’ . . . He kills in self-defense or when the target is guilty and deserving of execution.”)

Somewhere a Roscoe: Dan Turner and SPICY DETECTIVE

Jun 13, 2017 by

“From the window that opened onto the roof-top sun deck a roscoe sneezed: Ka-Chow! Chowpf! and a red-hot hornet creased its stinger across my dome; bashed me to dreamland.”

That’s Robert Leslie Bellem communicating through Hollywood gumshoe Dan Turner. The story is “Lake of the Left-Hand Moon,” originally published in the December 1943 issue of HOLLYWOOD DETECTIVE.

Born in Philadelphia and trained as a newspaper reporter, Bellem began writing for the pulps in 1928. “I was thumbing through a magazine one day. I stumbled on an illustration to a story . . . It depicted two or three native South Seas island gals — clad in no more than the law allowed — surrounding one rather embarrassed-looking beachcomber. I squinted at the daub and got a definite inward reaction. I sat down at my typewriter and batted off ‘Eden Island,’ a sex yarn. It was the first sex farce I’d ever written. I sent it to PEP. They bought it and yelled for more of the same. That’s four years ago — now I sell about five or six sex farces a month, and hardly get time to write anything else!”

In 1934, Harry Donenfeld’s Culture Publications introduced SPICY DETECTIVE STORIES. Edited by Frank Armer, the former publisher of PEP, Bellem would be on board from day one, penning the adventures of Dan Turner, “six feet plus and one hundred ninety pounds of wisecracking, .38 toting, whisky-swilling, womanizing private eye.” The character would go on to fight, shoot, and kiss his way through a “good two hundred tales,” published in SPICY and SPEED DETECTIVE STORIES, as well as HOLLYWOOD DETECTIVE STORIES.

A prolific writer, Robert Leslie Bellem “knocked out hundreds of other stories, at one stretch selling about a million words of fiction per year.”

He wrote a variety of fiction including adventure, detective, western, mystery, weird and of course the sex farces. During the 1930s Bellem regularly appeared in the Trojan/Culture pulps SPICY DETECTIVE, SPICY MYSTERY, SPICY-ADVENTURE and PRIVATE DETECTIVE (and their later incarnations as the SPEED titles) both under his own name and a stable of pennames. On more than one occasion an entire issue of a pulp was comprised of works by Bellem under several names. Bellem also published fiction in REAL DETECTIVE STORIES, DETECTIVE FICTION WEEKLY, THRILLING DETECTIVE, MAMMOTH DETECTIVE, THE GHOST, THRILLING SPY STORIES, SUPER DETECTIVE, and POPULAR DETECTIVE, to name a few.

As the pulp market contracted and died, Bellem turned to the television industry, scripting for DICK TRACY, PERRY MASON, THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN, VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA, 77 SUNSET STRIP, CAPTAIN MIDNIGHT, THE F.B.I., BROKEN ARROW, WANTED: DEAD OR ALIVE, DEATH VALLEY DAYS, THE MILLIONAIRE, and others.

Join PulpFest 2017 on Thursday, July 27, at 9:40 PM as we welcome author, editor, and publisher John Wooley for a look at Robert Leslie Bellem and Dan Turner. Immediately following John’s talk, members of the Pulp-Pourri Theatre will perform a reading from one of Bellem’s entertaining tales of “Hollywood, U.S.A.’s number one gumshoe.”

One of the first books John Wooley sold — to Bowling Green State University Popular Press — was a collection of Dan Turner stories. He has since written, co-written, or edited over three dozen books, including the current HOMICIDE HIGHBALL: THE LOST DAN TURNER MOVIE SCRIPT (Bold Venture Press), which spotlights the alternative screenplay for the Dan Turner made-for-TV movie. John has also written comic books, trading cards, and thousands of magazine and newspaper stories, most of them in conjunction with his work as the music and horror-movie writer for the TULSA WORLD, a position he held from 1983 through 2006. Winner of the Lamont Award in 2006, Wooley is co-owner, with John McMahan, of the pulp-related Reverse Karma Press. In 2015, John was inducted into the Oklahoma Historians’ Hall of Fame.

(Beside the outrageous writing of Robert Leslie Bellem and his peers who wrote for Culture Publications, the Spicy line of pulp magazines is collected for the pulp art of the talented H. J. Ward and others. Ward contributed the cover illustration for the December 1937 number of SPICY DETECTIVE STORIESThe artist began working in the pulp industry in 1931, selling freelance pulp covers to many different publishers, including Munsey, Dell, Popular. However, the majority of his work was published by Culture/Trojan. Ward became the publisher’s top artist.

Many thanks to Tom Roberts of Black Dog Books for his highly informative afterword to CORPSE ON ICE, quoted in this article.)

 

Hardboiled Horrors: New Fiction from John Hegenberger

Jul 31, 2015 by

HegenbergerAlthough he has been a published author since the late seventies, John Hegenberger still qualifies as a “new fictioneer.” He has been attending pulp conventions for years. In fact, back in 1988, John penned a review of Pulpcon 17 for MYSTERY SCENE MAGAZINE, the oldest, largest, and most authoritative guide to the crime fiction genre.

John got his start with a short story entitled “Last Contact.” It was published in the October 1977 issue of GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION. More than a decade later, he followed with a pair of novellas in AMAZING STORIES, a short story in TALES OF THE UNANTICIPATED, and a third novella in an anthology published by Ace Books. John has also published two non-fiction books about collecting movie memorabilia and comic books, both published by Wallace-Homestead, as well as CROSS EXAMINATIONS, a collection of stories featuring Eliot Cross, a private eye based in Columbus, Ohio, that is “. . . fast-moving, atmospheric, and consistently surprising . . .” It’s available for Kindle through Amazon.

Born and raised in the heart of the heartland — Columbus, Ohio — John Hegenberger is the author of the upcoming Stan Wade L.A.P.I. series from Black Opal Books, father of three, tennis enthusiast, collector of silent films and old-time radio, hiker, Francophile, B.A. Comparative Literature, pop culture author, crime-fighter, comedian, ex-lead in the senior class play, ex-Navy, ex-comic book dealer, ex-marketing exec at Exxon, AT&T, and IBM, and happily married for 45 years. He tells us that he “expects to have contracted and completed a couple of additional novels by the time of the show, for a dozen books sold since mid-March.” It sounds like he’s hitting on all cylinders. He’s currently working on a western and the fifth Stan Wade, L.A.P.I. novel.

Join PulpFest 2015 on Friday afternoon at 2 PM for “Hardboiled Horrors,” a New Fictioneers reading featuring John Hegenberger. He’ll be reading “Howard’s Toe,” a short story of Lovecraftian horror, as well as a Stan Wade story, involving Robert Bloch and Alfred Hitchcock during the filming of PSYCHO.

John’s reading will be one of four New Fictioneers readings — stories by today’s fictioneers, the authors writing the new pulp fiction — at PulpFest 2015. If you have yet to book your room for this year’s convention, please do so without delay. Remember that PulpFest will be sharing downtown Columbus with Matsuricon in August. There are still some rooms available at nearby hotels. Please click here and you’ll find a link to a list of hotels to choose from. If you are not from the Columbus area and want to attend PulpFest 2015, we urge you to book your room now and not later. Rooms that are relatively close to PulpFest are disappearing fast during the time frame of our convention. So what are you waiting for? Book a room for three nights and register now for “Summer’s Great Pulp Con.”

(The October 1977 issue of GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION (combined with WORLDS OF IF) featured front cover art by Stephen E. Fabian. Still active today, Fabian became interested in science fiction and science-fiction art in the early fifties while serving in the U. S. Air Force. Admiring the work of artists such as Virgil Finlay, Lawrence Stevens, Edd Cartier, and Hubert Rogers, Fabian began thinking about learning how to draw and paint like his favorite science-fiction illustrators in 1965. Two years later, his drawings and paintings began appearing in print, both in fan publications and professional magazines. In 2006, he won a World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement.)