“There was death afoot in the darkness. It crept furtively along a steel girder. Hundreds of feet below yawned glass-and-brick walled cracks–New York streets. Down there, late workers scurried homeward. Most of them carried umbrellas, and did not glance upward.”
Eighty years ago, nearly to the day, those words were urging readers to buy Doc Savage Magazine, a brand new pulp that first appeared on America’s newsstands around the middle of February 1933. Sporting a front cover painted by that “King of the Pulps,” Walter M. Baumhofer, and published by Street & Smith, the new rough paper magazine promised “a thrilling saga of a scrappy outfit hunting a treasure and being hunted in turn.”
“The Man of Bronze,” credited to Kenneth Roberts, was the work of Lester Dent, a writer who had broken into the pulp market in 1929 with an aviation yarn published by Top-Notch Magazine. In the ensuing years, he had sold about three dozen stories to a variety of magazines including Air Stories, Detective-Dragnet Magazine, Scotland Yard, Sky Riders, War Birds, and Western Trails.
Impressed by Dent’s ability to combine an “extravagant plot, scenes and action with comparatively high credibility and reasonableness of motivation,” the author was invited to the offices of Street & Smith to join business manager Henry W. Ralston and Shadow Magazine editor John L. Nanovic in a brainstorming session to flesh out a new adventure series–Doc Savage.
Although Doc Savage Magazine was the third hero pulp to premier in 1933, it would certainly become the most popular of the single character magazines that debuted in that year, tailing only The Shadow in total issues published. The character would go on to not only inspire the original pulp readers, but also the fans of the Bantam reprints that appeared from 1964 through 1990 and the readers of today who regale to the original pulp tales collected by Sanctum Books and Will Murray’s new adventures of the man of bronze, published by Altus Press.
Join PulpFest 2013 over the last weekend of July to celebrate eighty years of Doc Savage and the pulp heroes of 1933. (more…)