Ten Years in The Shadow’s Sanctum — Anthony Tollin’s Sanctum Books

Jun 23, 2016 by

Shadow 1One of PulpFest‘s longtime supporters has been Anthony Tollin, the publisher of Sanctum Books. On Saturday, July 23, at 3 PM, PulpFest 2016 will salute the tenth anniversary of Sanctum Books. Our celebration of the occasion will take place in our programming area, located in the Union Rooms on the second floor of the Hyatt Regency Columbus.

Anthony Tollin launched his Sanctum double novel pulp reprints in July 2006. During the past decade, Sanctum Books has reprinted all 182 DOC SAVAGE pulp novels, all 24 of Paul Ernst’s AVENGER novels, the 14 WHISPERER novels from the original pulp series and more than 220 SHADOW novels — all in non-flaking editions with the classic color covers and original interior illustrations, plus comprehensive historical articles and features. Some of these features have included rare radio scripts as well as reprints of Street & Smith comic book stories such as the Iron Munro yarns of Theodore Sturgeon. Additionally, Sanctum Books has reprinted selected NICK CARTER, PHANTOM DETECTIVE, and THE SKIPPER adventures in the double novel format. The publisher has also added THE SPIDER and THE BLACK BAT to its publishing schedule. It goes without saying that Sanctum Books has been one of the leading pulp reprint houses for the last ten years.

Please join Anthony Tollin and his contributing editor Will Murray as they recall Sanctum’s first decade, preview its new anniversary special and annuals, and showcase some of its upcoming projects —  including a hardcover collection of the complete 1940 – 1942 SHADOW newspaper strips.

The only way that you can join this celebration of “Ten Years in The Shadow’s Sanctum” is to attend PulpFest 2016, “Summer’s AMAZING Pulp Con.” Find out “Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?” only at PulpFest. Taking place in the Columbus, Ohio Arena district at the Hyatt Regency hotel and the city’s spacious convention center, it begins on Thursday, July 21 and runs through Sunday, July 24. As of June 21, the Hyatt Regency Columbus has a small number of rooms available for July 21 through July 23. Please see our post “There Are Rooms at the Hyatt!

At www.columbusconventions.com/thearea.php, you’ll find a list of area hotels courtesy of the Greater Columbus Convention Center. Alternately, you can search for a room at tripadvisor or a similar website to find a hotel near the convention. Thanks so much to everyone who has reserved a room at our host hotel. By staying at the Hyatt Regency, you’ve helped to ensure the convention’s success.

As of June 1, 2016, the Hyatt Regency is sold out on Friday, July 22. Please read our post “Friday Night Sell-Out” for alternatives. Thank you.

(Back in 2006, the advertising copy for the first of Sanctum Books’ double novel reprints read: “The Shadow returns in two of his greatest pulp adventures: “Crime, Insured” (acclaimed as Walter Gibson’s greatest thriller) and “The Golden Vulture” (revised by Gibson from Lester Dent’s 1932 tryout novel that won him the Doc Savage contract), featuring writers Walter B. Gibson and Lester Dent (writing as “Maxwell Grant”), and artists George Rozen and Edd Cartier. The first volume of this new series reproduces both original covers by George Rozen, plus all of the original interior illustrations by Edd Cartier. This book also includes new historical background articles by popular culture historians Anthony Tollin and Will Murray (who collaborated posthumously with Dent on Seven new Doc Savage novels previously published by Bantam).”

Over the past ten years, Sanctum’s format has not changed: two or three novels per book, the original covers and interior illustrations, and some sort of historical articles or materials are featured in each volume of the series. The only thing that has changed is the price: the early volumes cost $12.95, while today’s Sanctum reprints can be had for $14.95. They’re a tremendous value at both prices!)

Street & Smith’s Second String Superheroes

Jun 1, 2016 by

The Whisperer 1936-10Will Murray discovered Doc Savage in 1969 when he picked up the Bantam Books edition of DUST OF DEATH. Within a few short years, he began contributing to Doc Savage fanzines, starting with THE DOC SAVAGE READERSoon thereafter, he began placing articles in other fanzines, including ECHOES, THE PULP COLLECTOR, and PULP VAULT, writing about Doc and other pulp characters and the magazines in which they appeared. Today, nearly fifty years later, Will is one of the most respected authorities on the pulp magazine, having authored countless articles and books, including THE DUENDE HISTORY OF THE SHADOW MAGAZINE and WORDSLINGERS: AN EPITAPH FOR THE WESTERN.

In addition to his many non-fiction work on the pulps, Murray was the ghost-writer for about forty of the Destroyer action-adventures novels. He has also written nineteen Doc Savage novels and a fully authorized Tarzan novel, RETURN TO PAL-UL-DON. A second is forthcoming. He also serves as the literary agent for the Lester Dent estate and as the co-editor of Sanctum Books’ highly regarded pulp reprints.

At 9:10 PM on Thursday evening, July 21, Will Murray will begin PulpFest‘s much-admired programming with a discussion of “Street & Smith’s Second String Superheroes — The Whisperer and The Skipper.”

After Street & Smith kicked off the hero-pulp explosion when THE SHADOW MAGAZINE debuted in 1931, pulp publishers scrambled to grab a share of that eager reading audience. More character pulps came into the mix in 1933: Street & Smith’s DOC SAVAGE, NICK CARTER MAGAZINE, and PETE RICE MAGAZINE; Thrilling Publications’ THE PHANTOM DETECTIVE and THE LONE EAGLE; and Popular’s THE SPIDER and G-8 AND HIS BATTLE ACES.

In 1936, Street & Smith decided to introduce a harder edge to their hero pulps. Turning to former newspaperman, Hollywood scripter, and prolific pulp author Laurence Donovan — who had written nine adventures of the Man of Bronze — the publisher brought out THE WHISPERER during the fall of 1936. Hitting the newsstands with an October 1936 number, The Whisperer was police Inspector (later police commissioner) James “Wildcat” Gordon. The stocky, granite-jawed policeman attempted to fight crime within the law during the day, but transformed into The Whisperer to take the law into his own hands when it didn’t go far enough. THE WHISPERER lasted 14 issues, ending with the December 1937 number. All of the novels were written by Donovan under the house name Clifford Goodrich.

Two months after the first appearance of the original THE WHISPERER magazine, THE SKIPPER went on sale with a December 1936 cover date. As The Whisperer is often said to have been inspired by The Shadow, there’s little doubt that Captain John Fury — the Skipper — was a variant of Doc Savage.

The Skipper 1936-12Also written by Laurence Donovan — under the house name Wallace Brooker — Cap Fury wasn’t the giant that Doc was; instead he, like Wildcat Gordon, was stocky, but with “flaming red hair” and “sharp arctic blue” eyes. He had Doc-like skills, which included lip reading, using pressure points to subdue the bad guys, and cat-like agility. He also relied on oversized sea boots to conceal hypodermics, oxygen masks, and other gadgets. His flaming red hair and last name echoed his dealings with the criminal sort. Unlike Doc, who refrained from killing, Cap Fury made good use of automatic pistols and a whip to mete out justice. Vowing to rid the seas of pirates and criminals, he battled a number of fantastic foes who controlled death rays, a meteorite that removed oxygen from the air, voodoo practitioners, plague-bearing rats, and other nefarious foes.

When THE SKIPPER was canceled after 12 issues with the December 1937 number, Cap Fury moved into the back pages of DOC SAVAGE MAGAZINE. The shorter stories were written by Donovan, Harold Davis, and Norman Daniels.

Join Will Murray at PulpFest 2016 to learn much more about The Whisperer and Cap Fury. “Summer’s AMAZING Pulp Con” will salute the 80th anniversaries of the two pulp heroes. PulpFest 2016 will take place from July 21 through July 24 in the Columbus, Ohio Arena district at the Hyatt Regency hotel and the city’s spacious convention center. You’ll have a FANTASTIC time. You can book a room from the PulpFest home page by clicking the link that reads “Book a Room Now.”

(THE WHISPERER was introduced to readers with its October 1936 number, featuring front cover art by the talented John Newton Howitt, a devoted landscape painter whose work was sold at fine art galleries in New York City. With the advent of the Great Depression, the artist turned to the pulps for income. An excellent painter, Howitt found a ready market in the rough-paper periodicals, selling freelance pulp covers to ADVENTURE, DIME DETECTIVE, HORROR STORIES, THE SPIDER, TERROR TALES, THE WHISPERER, WESTERN STORY MAGAZINE, and other pulp magazine titles.

THE SKIPPER, including the first issue dated December 1936, featured cover art by Lawrence Donner Toney, a graduate of the Art Institute of Chicago. During the 1930s and 1940s, Toney painted covers for pulp magazines, such as CLUES, COMPLETE STORIES, WESTERN STORY MAGAZINE, and WILD WEST WEEKLY, all published by Street & Smith.)

A Third Clue to Our Guest of Honor

Jan 9, 2016 by

The Whisperer 1936-10On Thursday evening, we drew your attention to the fact that we are planning to announce our convention’s 2016 guest of honor on Monday, January 11th. The news will be released here and on our social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. We also mentioned that we’re planning to offer a wide array of programming at PulpFest 2016, including a salute to the 80th anniversaries of THE WHISPERER and THE SKIPPER.

In 1931, Street & Smith was promoting their DETECTIVE STORY pulp by dramatizing stories from the magazine over the radio. The program’s narrator called himself “The Shadow.” When this memorable name began to eclipse the title of the magazine being promoted, the publisher decided to launch a new form of pulp magazine, the single-character or “hero” pulp. Within two years, the phenomenal success of  THE SHADOW MAGAZINE had started a rash of hero pulps including THE PHANTOM DETECTIVE, DOC SAVAGE, THE SPIDER, and G-8 AND HIS BATTLE ACES.

Although most of the hero-pulp titles that were introduced during 1933 experienced long runs, two of the magazines — Street & Smith’s own NICK CARTER DETECTIVE MAGAZINE and PETE RICE WESTERN ADVENTURES — were cancelled during the summer of 1936. Their spots in the publisher’s line-up were not long left vacant. THE WHISPERER was introduced to readers with its October 1936 issue, while THE SKIPPER debuted two months later.

THE WHISPERER related the adventures of Police Commissioner Wildcat Gordon, “a new character,” as the magazine’s first number proclaimed, who was “vigorous” and “fascinating.” The new pulp hero was meant to be a more adult version of Walter Gibson’s Shadow character, battling organized crime, racketeers, political corruption, and the like. Disguised in gray and wearing special dental plates that caused him to speak in a spooky whisper, Wildcat carried a pair of silenced automatics and was prone to kill those who ignored the law. The novels of the magazine’s first run were all written by Laurence Donovan, using the house name of Clifford Goodrich.

Hoping to duplicate the success of their globe-trotting super-hero, Doc Savage, Street & Smith released THE SKIPPER. Likewise intended to be a grown-up version of the popular Lester Dent adventure hero, the publisher again turned to Laurence Donovan to create the character and his adventures. The Skipper was Captain John Fury, master of the freighter Whirlwind. Following the death of his brother — killed by ocean-faring evildoers — Cap Fury promises to rid the seas of pirates and criminals. Commanding a tramp steamer that has been outfitted for war, The Skipper battles a number of fantastic foes who control death rays, a meteorite that removes oxygen from the air, voodoo practitioners, plague-bearing rats, and other nefarious evil-doers.

The Skipper 1936-12Here’s another clue to the identity of our PulpFest 2016 guest of honor: as mentioned in our post of  January 8th, the 1930s was the era of the hero pulp, inspired by the phenomenal success of Street & Smith’s THE SHADOW MAGAZINE. During our 2016 guest of honor’s career, he or she has also been associated with super heroes. Drop by our site tomorrow for our final hint. You can leave your guess to our special guest’s identity on our Facebook page. If you haven’t done so already, be sure to “like” us. We’ll provide a free membership to PulpFest 2016 to the first person who guesses the identity of this year’s honored guest. And remember to visit www.pulpfest.com on Monday, January 11th, when we will reveal the identity of the PulpFest 2016 Guest of Honor.

(THE WHISPERER was introduced to readers with its October 1936 number, featuring front cover art by the talented John Newton Howitt, a devoted landscape painter whose work was sold at fine art galleries in New York City. With the advent of the Great Depression, the artist turned to the pulps for income. An excellent painter, Howitt found a ready market in the rough-paper periodicals, selling freelance pulp covers to ADVENTURE, DIME DETECTIVE, HORROR STORIES, THE SPIDER, TERROR TALES, THE WHISPERER, WESTERN STORY MAGAZINE, and other pulp magazine titles.

THE SKIPPER debuted two months after the introduction of THE WHISPERER, its first issue dated December 1936. Lawrence Donner Toney, a graduate of the Art Institute of Chicago, was the cover artist. During the 1930s and 1940s, Toney painted covers for pulp magazines, such as CLUES, COMPLETE STORIES,WESTERN STORY MAGAZINE, and WILD WEST WEEKLY, all published by Street & Smith. Most of his work for pulp magazines was signed only with his initials.

To learn more about these talented artists, be sure to visit David Saunders’ Field Guide to Wild American Pulp Artists where you will find more than 300 biographical profiles of American pulp artists.)