The Dangerous Dames of Kenneth Robeson

Jun 20, 2017 by

Over the years, PulpFest has sought to honor pulp fiction and pulp art by drawing attention to the many ways they have inspired writers, artists, film directors, software developers, game designers, and other creators over the decades. Indeed, the hardboiled dicks, dangerous dames, and a few psychos of the pulps that we’ll be celebrating in 2017 have had a profound effect on popular culture.

Back in May, we set our sights on the mad scientists, crazed hunchbacks, and foul cultists who decimated American cities on a monthly basis in the rough-paper magazines. We also drew attention to the hundredth anniversary of the birth of Robert Bloch, who got his start in the pulps and wrote the suspense classic, PSYCHO.

June found us exploring DIME DETECTIVE MAGAZINE — one of the pulps where the hard-boiled detective story began to take shape. We also examined Robert Leslie Bellem’s tough-guy detective, Dan Turner; Gordon Young’s “Most Dangerous Man in America,” Don Everhard; and the many characters created by Erle Stanley Gardner.

Today, we’re turning our attention to the dangerous dames of the pulps, the hardboiled ladies who helped to pave the way for such modern day gumshoes as Sue Grafton‘s Kinsey Millhone, Marcia Muller‘s Sharon McCone, and Sara Paretsky‘s V. I. Warshawski. Collectively, these authors and their characters have helped the hardboiled detective to evolve in new directions.

Female pulp characters such as Cleve Adams’s Violet McDade and Nevada Alvarado, John Russell Fearn’s Golden Amazon, Walter Gibson’s Myra Reldon and Margo Lane, Robert E. Howard’s Bêlit, “Queen of the Black Coast,” C. L. Moore’s Jirel of Joiry, Norvell Page’s Nita Van Sloan, Les Savage’s Senorita Scorpion, Theodore Tinsley’s Carrie Cashin, Gene Francis Webb’s Grace Culver, Lars Anderson’s Domino Lady, and Sheena, Queen of the Jungle, all depicted women in roles often reserved for men. Generally, they performed equal to or better than their male counterparts. These dangerous dames helped to remove women from the drawing rooms of Carolyn Wells and Agatha Christie, the love and western romance pulps, and into the mean streets.

Perhaps the best known female character of the pulps is Lester Dent’s Pat Savage. As Kent Gutschke has written on THE MARTIAN DEATH RAY:

“She is only the Bronze Goddess of pulp’s Golden Age, and distant cousin to Doc Savage, the Bronze Man of Tomorrow. And she is more fun and psychologically complex than the man whose shadow she lives under. Patricia Savage is also an underdog not because she lacks intelligence and skill, but because the men that surrounded her — both heroes and villains — forever underestimate her.

“In fact the only man in Patricia Savage’s life who does not underestimate her is her creator, Lester Dent. As early as 1934’s ‘Death in Silver,’ Dent planned for Pat to run her own detective agency within the pages of DOC SAVAGE, but editors at Street & Smith rejected the idea. While Street & Smith billed Doc as the Man of Tomorrow, Doctor Clark Savage and his editors had quaint, patriarchal notions about a woman’s place in their brave new world. So Pat Savage and Lester Dent settled for a beauty salon. What trouble could she possibly get into running a beauty salon? With Dent writing, quite a bit and when trouble failed to come her way, Pat cultivated a talent for elbowing into Doc’s adventures.”

Introduced in “Brand of the Werewolf” — originally published in the January 1934 issue of DOC SAVAGE MAGAZINE — Pat Savage would appear in 37 adventures of the Man of Bronze. In “I Died Yesterday,” her final pulp appearance (published in the January 1948 number), she is the first-person narrator of the story. As Terence Towles Canote has written on A SHROUD OF THOUGHTS

“She was in many ways the perfect, female counterpart to her cousin. Pat was spectacularly beautiful, yet very much her own woman. She could fight as well as any man, deadly with her six shooter and skilled in boxing, fencing, and jujitsu. She could fly a plane, pick locks, pick pockets, speak Mayan and German (although she was not very good at the latter), knew Morse code, and was a very convincing actress. She also had an undying love of adventure, which she shared with her cousin (even if Doc would never admit it). Over the course of her adventures Pat emerges as a fully realised character, perhaps more fully realised than any female character from the pulps save Nita Van Sloan from THE SPIDER. This could very well be the reason she still has more than her fair share of fans to this day.”

Please join PulpFest 2017 on Friday, July 28, at 10:30 PM as the convention’s technical director, Chuck Welch, examines The Dangerous Dames of Kenneth Robeson. In addition to Pat Savage, Chuck will be discussing Paul Ernst’s Nellie Gray and Rosabel Newton, two strong female characters featured in Street & Smith’s THE AVENGER, a hero pulp introduced in 1939.

As one of the original Internet Fans of Bronze, Chuck Welch started attending the summer pulp convention in the late 1990s. After meeting his future wife at one of these conventions, Chuck took some time off to start a family. At the behest of Bill Mann, he returned to attend PulpFest. As was his wont, Chuck immediately started volunteering and making suggestions to the organizing committee. Having enough of his puppy-dog eyes, he was asked to join the team. Chuck is the convention’s technology director and webmaster. When the Internet began to take off, Chuck began Flearun, a Doc Savage group now at Facebook. He is also the creator of the Hidalgo Trading Company — perhaps the closest anyone has come to presenting an online Doc fanzine — and the current editor of the Doc Savage fan magazine THE BRONZE GAZETTE.

(Doc Savage and his assistants travel to British Columbia to visit his uncle, Alex Savage, and cousin, Patricia Savage, in “The Brand of the Werewolf,” originally published in DOC SAVAGE MAGAZINE for January 1934, with cover art by Walter M. Baumhofer. When they reach the cabin of Doc’s relatives, they discover that Alex Savage has been murdered. From the start, Pat is ready for adventure, hoping to find the killers of her father. She would be “ready for adventure” in nearly forty tales of Lester Dent’s Man of Bronze.)

Fans of Bronze to Gather for Doc Con XIX

Sep 26, 2016 by

Doc Con XIX (2016)Fans of Doc Savage, the Man of Bronze, will gather for the 19th annual Doc Con on Friday, November 4, through Sunday, November 6, in Glendale, Arizona, a suburb of Phoenix.

The con has grown from the five fans who first got together in Scottsdale, Arizona, in 1998, to almost 100 fans who attended last year to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the 1975 movie DOC SAVAGE: THE MAN OF BRONZE with its star and con Guest of Honor Ron Ely.

This year, fans will have a chance to meet guests Will Murray, pulp historian and author of the “All-New Wild Adventures of Doc Savage,” and Joe DeVito, the artist for Murray’s original Doc Savage books at Bantam and Altus Press. “Attendees will meet Will and Joe in a way that they never have before,” says Jay Ryan, one of Doc Con‘s organizers. “We hope our format will make them more personable and accessible and that we will get to know them as a human being rather than just for their roles as Doc’s author and artist.”

Jay also says that with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson having announced that he’s signed on to play Doc in a new movie, written and directed by Shane Black, this may be the last year for Doc Savage fans to gather before the flood gates of fandom open wide.

Doc Con XIX begins Friday evening with a group dinner, continues Saturday with a day full of programming, and wraps up Sunday morning. Evenings — “Doc Con After Dark” — include a variety of activities and a chance to mingle with fellow fans and their families.

The convention will again be held at the Comfort Suites Glendale, 9824 W Camelback Rd, Glendale, Ariz. A pre-registration web page remains open for a short while longer. For more information, visit the Doc Con Facebook page, or email Jay Ryan at jryands@aol.com.