Norman Daniels–Thrilling’s “Go-to-Guy” is 110!

Jun 3, 2015 by

Black Book Detective 39-07Born in 1905, his real name was Norman Arthur Danberg. As Norman Daniels, he sold his first story in 1931 and launched a prolific writing career. He sold hundreds of stories to a wide range of markets, including pulp magazines, radio, television, comic books, digest magazines, and paperback books. His wife, Dorothy Daniels, was also a writer and the two often collaborated.

Daniels’ first published work was “The Death-House Murder,” a short story that ran in the January 1932 issue of Ace’s DETECTIVE-DRAGNET MAGAZINE. By year’s end, he started hitting his stride, placing stories with Street & Smith’s THE SHADOW DETECTIVE MONTHLY, Harold Hersey’s GANGSTER STORIES, Dell Publishing’s ALL-DETECTIVE MAGAZINE, and other periodicals.

In late 1933, Daniels placed his first story with the Thrilling Group, “Cold Steel.” It ran in the December 1933 issue of THRILLING DETECTIVE. Before long, he was selling regularly to Standard and was asked by the company’s managing editor, Leo Margulies, to write a Phantom Detective novel. The “Thrilling” answer to Street and Smith’s tremendously successful The Shadow, The Phantom was a wealthy playboy who sought adventure and excitement by becoming the scourge of the underworld. The second single character magazine to premier during the 1930s, THE PHANTOM DETECTIVE would run for 170 issues over a period of twenty years. Norman Daniels would write about three dozen of The Phantom’s crime-fighting adventures.

In late 1938, Margulies again approached Daniels about a pulp hero series. This time, the author was asked to create a new series for Thrilling’s BLACK BOOK DETECTIVE. Thus was born Tony Quinn, a district attorney who had been blinded after acid destroyed his eyes. Surgically given the eyes of a police sergeant who had been gunned down by mobsters, Quinn became The Black Bat. Nearly all 62 of The Bat’s adventures were written by Norman Daniels.

In addition to his Phantom and Black Bat novels, Daniels also wrote more than two dozen Dan Fowler G-Man adventures, five Masked Detective stories, plus all fifteen of The Crimson Mask tales and twenty-three Candid Camera Kid for DETECTIVE NOVELS. Additionally, he wrote seven Captain Danger adventures for AIR WAR, at least one Masked Rider western yarn, a Range Riders novel, and a trio of science-fiction adventures for STARTLING STORIES. All were published by Standard Magazines. Daniels also contributed significantly to Ace’s detective line, the Spicy group, and Street-and-Smith’s THE AVENGER, CLUES DETECTIVE STORIES, CRIME BUSTERS, DOC SAVAGE, THE FEDS, and THE SHADOW MAGAZINE. He also penned the short-lived DON WINSLOW OF THE NAVY series for Merwil.

Although Norman Daniels stuck with the pulps into the early fifties, he increasingly turned his attention to the radio and paperback markets. Later, he and his wife began writing scripts for ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS, THE AVENGERS, BEN CASEY, DR. KILDARE, and other television programs. By the sixties, Norman and Dorothy Daniels were churning out Gothics, historical romances, and TV tie-ins.

One of the more significant contributors to Ned Pines’ Thrilling line of pulps and comic books, Norman Daniels will certainly be feted at this year’s PulpFest. So here’s your chance to wish this prolific giant a “happy 110th birthday” as PulpFest 2015 pays tribute to Standard Magazines. The action begins on Thursday evening, August 13th and runs through Sunday, August 16th at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Columbus, Ohio. Click here to learn how to register for “Summer’s Great Pulp Con” and join your friends at the “pop culture center of the universe” for a salute to Ned Pines, Norman Daniels, and the “Thrilling Group!”

(Norman Daniels’ Black Bat first appeared in the July 1939 issue of BLACK BOOK DETECTIVE MAGAZINE, two months after the introduction of Batman in DETECTIVE COMICS. Although some have speculated about the resemblance between the two characters’ appearances, Daniels Black Bat was created first. Originally called “The Tiger,” Daniels rechristened his character at Leo Margulies’ request, making it resemble the title of its magazine. The cover art used for the first issue of BLACK BOOK DETECTIVE to feature The Black Bat was by Emery Clarke, a freelance artist who painted covers for ACTION STORIES, DOC SAVAGE, FIGHT STORIES, SHORT STORIES, STAR WESTERN, TEN DETECTIVE ACES, TOP-NOTCH, and other pulps. He also created covers for LIBERTY, THE SATURDAY EVENING POST, and other slick magazines.)