In 1933, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was inaugurated the 32nd president of the United States of America, proclaiming that “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” Adolph Hitler was named the Chancellor of Germany, amid promises of a parliamentary democracy. San Francisco broke ground for the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge. King Kong premiered in New York City and the game of Monopoly was invented. Prohibition came to an end. And the hero pulp revolution began.
The tremendous success of Street & Smith’s The Shadow Magazine prompted the return of the single-character periodical. The first of these hero pulps was The Phantom Detective. Launched by Ned Pines’ Thrilling Group, the Phantom was the alter ego of man-about-town Richard Curtis Van Loan. A veteran of the first world war, this moneyed playboy was bored with life until a family friend recommended he “try his hand at solving a mysterious crime which had stumped the police.” His initial success led Van Loan to dedicate his life and fortune to combat crime, making the Phantom “a name known and admired by the police of every nation.”
The first issue of The Phantom Detective was dated February 1933. It would be followed that year by other single-character pulps including Doc Savage, The Spider, and Pete Rice Magazine. The Summer 1953 issue would be the final number of The Phantom Detective. It was the longest-lived of the hero pulps, lasting for just over twenty years.
Join PulpFest in July for a celebration of “The Hero Pulps of 1933.”
The cover art for the February 1933 issue of The Phantom Detective is by Bertram Glover, illustrating “The Emperor of Death,” written by D. L. Champion, a.k.a. Jack D’Arcy. (more…)