Friday, October 5, 2007

A little "pulp" history ....

It's always nice to how the route by which one travels, so in that spirit, here is a bit of literary (& radio) history that brought us to the earliest days of comic book superheroes:

1835 - Nathaniel Hawthorne creates America's first superhero, as The Grey Champion appears in New England Magazine.

1901 - Baroness Orczy writes the Scarlet Pimpernel, the story of a hero of the French aristocracy during the Revolution who disguises himself as an English fop.

1912 - Edgar Rice Burroughs' Under the Moons of Mars begins in Munseys’ All-Story Magazine (six issues). It features John Carter, a man who gains super powers by traveling to another planet.

1913 - Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan of the Apes appears in Munseys’ All-Story Magazine.

1914 - Frank L. Packard creates The Grey Seal for Street and Smith's People's Magazine. Jimmie Dale, a wealthy playboy by day, dons a mask and utility belt to commit crime by night.

1918 - Johnston McCulleys’ The Curse of Capistrano appears in All Story Weekly. It is the first adventure of Zorro, a mysterious western champion of the oppressed who disguises himself as a Spanish fop.

1930 - Alfred Knopf publishes a dystopian savage parody of early science fiction pulps by fledgling slick magazine writer Philip Wylie called Gladiator. Wylie often claimed that Gladiator was the inspiration for Siegel's Superman, although Siegel always claimed he'd never read it.

1931 - Street and Smith launches The Shadow pulp magazine, based loosely on their hit radio program. Walter Gibson writes as Maxwell Grant.

1933 - Fran Striker's the Lone Ranger begins on WXYZ radio in Detroit. The success of the program spawns the creation of the Mutual Broadcasting System. Lester Dent's Doc Savage first appears as a pulp magazine from Street and Smith, although he writes under the house name of Kenneth Robeson.

1936 - Fran Striker's The Green Hornet begins on WXYZ radio in Detroit. A spin-off of the Lone Ranger, the Hornet, accompanied by his chauffer Kato, fought crime in a powerful automobile known as the Black Beauty. Lee Falk's the Phantom begins in the newspapers. In the beginning he appears to be an urban crimefighter but the strip quickly refocuses to a mysterious tropical island. The Phantom may be the first character ever to sport the ubiquitous tights and two-tone pants that mystery-men every where would soon don.

1938 – Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster introduce Superman in Action Comics #1.

1939 - Bob Kane is asked to create a new super-hero to capitalize on the success of Superman. With the help of writer Bill Finger, he comes up with Batman who makes his debut in Detective Comics #27.

And thus superheroes started flying out of the woodwork and the ball began rolling ....


Anonymous said...

It's gret to see some of the comic books of yesterday. I don't know if you could help me on this but, Here goes: During the past few years all of our local newspapers are consumed about writing articles on the "Marcellus Shale and the fracturing of the shale and extracting Millions,and maybe billuions of gallons of natural gas. Brought back the comic strip "Mandrake the Magician." Aliens were draining the earth's supply of water and other natural resources and transporting,through huge vacume pipes and other means of transporting the fluids to space ship intended for other planets. They also used thousands of water tankers ,just like the natural gas drillers of today. I hope you can find something on Mandrake the Magician for me and our present inhabitants of earth.

Anonymous said...

If you'd like you can contact me at my e-mail address. I had no other inten tion except the similarity of Mandrakes encounters with terrestrial people are striking in that they are removinng all the gas and other minerals . If I remember the comic strips came from the Phila Bulletin Sunday editon.. It would be wonderful to have "Superman or some other hero save the earth from total implosion from lack of the earth's innards...
Thanks, Jim Lane