Doc Savage started his illustrious pulp magazine career in 1933. the character later made the jump to comics, radio and film. Doc was given a new lease on life and earned new generations of fans when Bantam Books began republishing his adventure in paperback form in the 1960's. The basic concept of a man trained from birth to fight evil was created by Street and Smith Publications executive Henry Ralston and Editor John Nanovic, to further capitalize on the success of their other pulp hero magazine success, The Shadow. Ralston and Nanovic wrote a short premise establishing the broad outlines of the character they envisioned, but Doc Savage was only fully realized by the author chosen to write the series, Lester Dent. Dent wrote most of the 181 original novels, hidden behind the "house name" of Kenneth Robeson. Currently Nostalgia Ventures is repackaging the Savage stories in a new series of double novels.
Doc Savage, whose real name is Clark Savage, Jr., is a physician, surgeon, scientist, adventurer, inventor, explorer, researcher, and musician. A team of scientists assembled by his father trained his mind and body to near-superhuman abilities almost from birth, giving him great strength and endurance, a photographic memory, mastery of the martial arts, and vast knowledge of the sciences. Doc is also a master of disguise and an excellent imitator of voices, though he admits to having trouble with women's voices. "He rights wrongs and punishes evildoers."
His office is on the 86th floor of a New York City skyscraper, implicitly the Empire State Building, reached by Doc's private high-speed elevator. Doc owns a fleet of cars, trucks, aircraft, and boats which he stores at a secret hangar on the Hudson River, under the name The Hidalgo Trading Company, reached from his office by a pneumatic-tube system called the "flea run." He sometimes retreats to his Fortress of Solitude in the Arctic (which pre-dates Superman's similar hideout of the same name). All of this is paid for with gold from a Central American mine given to him by the local Mayans in the first Doc Savage story.
[We will take a look at his very interesting assistants in the next post.]