The best of the Encyclopedia of Pulp Heroes: Thomas Carnacki

carnackiCarnacki, Thomas. Thomas Carnacki was created by William Hope Hodgson (Captain Gault, Captain Jat) and appeared in six stories in The Idler and The New Magazine between 1910 and 1912, beginning with “The Gateway of the Monster” (The Idler, Jan. 1910); the stories were collected in Carnacki the Ghost Finder (1913). Thomas Carnacki is an Occult Detective. He is a “Psychic Investigator” who is called in to investigate psychic and or occult phenomena. Carnacki tends to use far more scientific equipment in his cases than most Occult Detectives, although he also uses the traditional paraphernalia of the ghost-breakers. In the Carnacki stories the world is full of evil psychic forces, the “Outer Monsters,” and these sometimes break through into our reality to threaten humans. Although Carnacki is doubtful about the occult–”all hauntings (are) unproven until he has examined them”–over half of the stories in which he appears involve the supernatural and/or psychic. Carnacki always begins by testing for real-world causes of the seemingly supernatural horrors; when his days-long investigation does not reveal anything, he then moves on to checking the occult. Carnacki uses such things as pentacles, standard magical equipment like candles, ribbons, the mysterious Saamaa Ritual, and the Sigsand Manuscript, a 14th century document of great occult insight and worth.

The stories are usually told by Carnacki himself, relayed to his friends Jessop, Arkright, Taylor and Dodgson, at Carnacki’s home at 472 Cheyne Walk in “Chelsa.”

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The best of the Encyclopedia of Pulp Heroes: Gerry Carlyle

gerrycarlyleCarlyle, Gerry. Gerry Carlyle was created by Arthur K. Barnes (Jack Darrell, Pete Manx) and appeared in ten stories in Thrilling Wonder Stories from 1937 to 1946, beginning with “The Hothouse Planet” (Thrilling Wonder Stories, Oct. 1937); several of the stories were collected in Interplanetary Hunter (1956). Gerry Carlyle is the beautiful galactic big game hunter, a sort of Frank Buck Rogers, who works for the London Interplanetary Zoo. She captures dangerous alien beasts on far distant and often hazardous alien worlds, from the saw-tongued whiposaurs on Venus to the ten-foot-tall Saturnian Dermaphos, and brings them back to the Zoo. Carlyle is assisted by her bold and clever sidekick Tommy Strike, with whom Carlyle has a love/hate relationship; he is certain that no woman is his superior, and consistently tries (and fails) to prove it.

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The best of the Encyclopedia of Pulp Heroes: Jim Carly

Carly, Jim. Jim Carly was created by the pseudonymous “Purna Malavaji” and appeared in the Indonesian story serial “Purna Malavaji alias Jim Carly, Pentjoeri Ksatria” (1938?-1940?). Jim Carly is a Lupin (gentleman thief). The mysterious Anglo-Indian Jim Carly is active, usually in Calcutta and occasionally as far east as Shanghai, punishing the wicked (usually British), stealing from the wealthy (usually the British and those Indians who collaborate with them), and giving their money to the deserving poor. “Carly” is actually the Indian prince Purna Malavaji, deposed by the British and working toward revenge.

Jim Carly is typical of Southeast Asian pulp gentlemen thief characters; a surprising number of them were specifically anti-colonialist. Which shouldn’t come as any surprise, of course–popular culture often is used by the oppressed to fictionally target and punish the oppressor, and global pulp literature is no exception to that rule.

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The best of the Encyclopedia of Pulp Heroes: Queen Sue Carlton

queensuecarltonCarlton, Queen Sue. Queen Sue Carlton was created by C.B. Yorke (Velma Dare) and appeared in a number of stories in Gangster Stories from 1929 to 1932. Queen Sue Carlton is a Gun Moll. She is a lone wolf adventuress, smart, entirely fearless, wryly cynical, still young and attractive, and operating in New York and environs. Unlike many gun molls, Carlton is an organizer and boss, running her own gang (until they are all killed by the police), organizing rackets, and hobnobbing with and manipulating gang leaders and district attorneys. Carlton is more sentimental than many, less hot-tempered, and willing to kill bad men, even if it goes against her business interests. She carries a .38 in a leg holster.

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The best of the Encyclopedia of Pulp Heroes: Doctor Caresco

carescoCaresco, Doctor. Doctor Caresco was created by André Couvreur (Professor Tornada) and appeared in Le Mal Nécessaire (1899) and Caresco Surhomme (1904). Doctor Armand Caresco is an Evil Surgeon and was one of the first such in popular literature, following only Doctor Quartz. An Austrian Jew, Caresco moved to France and changed both his citizenship and his religion so as to persuade the French that he was a trustworthy surgeon. Le Mal Nécessaire shows what a mistake the French made in believing Caresco. (The anti-Semitic subtext of an evil Jewish doctor who pretends to be French to allay suspicions–a recurring stereotype in late 19th century Europe– is more pronounced in Le Mal Nécessaire than in Caresco Surhomme). Although Caresco becomes celebrated, with many rich patrons, his seemingly noble actions are only camouflage to disguise his interest in the vivisection of humans, to the ends of enhancing his own medical knowledge and reputation.

In Caresco Surhomme Caresco has taken control of the Pacific island of Eucrasia. Caresco applies his surgical methods to the inhabitants of the island, altering them to better do their jobs. The captain of the plane which brings outsiders to Eucrasia is a limbless trunk with telescopic vision. Even the island itself is in the shape of a human body. The natives of Eucrasia are addicted to various sensual pleasures and generally submit to Caresco’s rule, for fear that he will castrate them or worse. On Eucrasia Caresco makes use of “omnium,” a mysterious and unexplained power source, to create SCIENCE!: a machine capable of stripping the years from human bodies and reversing the aging process, a fast underground train system, food pills, omnium-powered diving suits, and so on. But Caresco is insane as well as brilliant, and is given to such things as collecting the spleens of all those he operates on. Eventually Caresco dies and Eucrasia is destroyed in a volcanic explosion.

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The best of the Encyclopedia of Pulp Heroes: Captain Storm

capitantempestaCaptain Storm. Captain Storm as created by Emilio Salgari (Sandokan) and appeared in the Italian novels Capitan Tempesta (1905) and Il Leone di Damasco (1910). Captain Storm is a Costumed Avenger. During the Third Crusade the Saracens attack the island of Cyprus. Eleonora, the Duchess of Eboli, is trapped in the city of Famagosta when the Saracens lay siege to it. Eleonora’s fiancé, the Vicomte le Hussière, has been captured by the Saracens, so Eleonora puts on a suit of armor, calls herself “Captain Storm,” and fights the invaders, hoping to rescue the Vicomte. Eleonora is a more than capable fighter and gains a reputation for herself, to the point that Muley el-Kadel, the “Lion of Damascus,” one of the Saracens’ finest warriors, challenges Captain Storm to a duel. Eleonora accepts and defeats el-Kadel but spares his life, for Eleonora knows el-Kadel to be a valiant and honorable warrior. When the Saracens conquer Famagosta Eleonora is injured rescuing a child; Eleonora’s servant asks el-Kadel for help. Eventually el-Kadel helps Eleonora free her fiancé, but by that point Eleonora has fallen in love with el-Kadel, who has become her Loving Enemy, and at the end of Capitan Tempesta they are married. In Il Leone di Damasco the pair fight a villainous Turkish leader in the town of Candia and then on the Mediterranean.

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The best of the Encyclopedia of Pulp Heroes: Captain Stinky

captainstinkyCaptain Stinky. Captain Stinky was created by “Gerald Vance,” the pseudonym of William McGivern (Philip Poincare, Tink), and appeared in “Captain Stinky” (Amazing Stories, June 1942) and “Captain Stinky’s Luck” (Amazing Stories, Sept 1942). Captain Ebenezer Scragg is the Captain and Master of the spaceship Sweet Pea. But the Sweet Pea is “the dirtiest, stinkingest garbage scow between here and Earth,” and because of this Captain Scragg is known as “Captain Stinky.” Scragg deeply resents the nickname, and drinks and brawls with “huge-shouldered” Martians and “slight” Venusians (not to mention humans) if any of them should call him by that name. Scragg does a necessary job—“the garbage scows that met the great space liners and removed the accumulation of refuse the liners collected on their three and four week trips”—but the scows are “regarded as beneath the dignity of any respectable space tar,” and that galls Scragg. But not so much that he can’t do his duty and capture Martian spies, deal with Mono, his alcoholic Venusian navigator and deckhand, and handle a swindling human Femme Fatale.

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The best of the Encyclopedia of Pulp Heroes: Captain Mors


Captain Mors. Captain Mors appeared in Der Luftpirat und sein Lenkbares Luftschiff #1-165 (1908-1911); the series was reprinted in Italy, Poland, and Russia through 1912. Captain Mors is a Costumed Avenger. Der Luftpirat was one of the first space operas in 20th century science fiction as well as one of the first science fiction magazines. Mors is a figure similar to Jules Verne’s Captain Nemo. Mors is a brilliant German inventor whose family was killed, years ago, by a group of evil men who wanted to use Mors for their own wicked ends. He creates an armored, technologically-advanced airship and uses it and other advanced crafts and weapons to take vengeance on those who killed his family and then on those who oppress the innocent, both on Earth and in the planets of the solar system.

Mors wears a domino mask and is assisted by a crew of Indian and European men who he rescued from oppression. Mors comes into conflict with a variety of aliens, including Venusians, Martians, crystal robots (who use “strange devices”), and various “slimy” and “terrifying” monsters. Mors also discovers new planets; in Der Luftpirat #42, “In the Deadly Crater of the New Planet,” a small planet, orbiting between the Moon and the Earth, is discovered. Mors and his crew land on the new planet and find it to be in an evolutionary stage similar to Earth’s Jurassic era, full of volcanic activity and dinosaur- and snake-like monsters. The latter are fought with the swords, knives, and axes that are the crew’s weaponry. Through all the stories shines Mors’ love of “Mother Earth,” which must be defended by the unending threats of a hostile universe. As the issues go by, his Nemo-like alienation from human society fades and he becomes a more uncomplicated hero than the misanthropic figure seen in Der Luftpirat #1. Mors never loses his capacity for bloodshed and war, but his distaste for humanity is replaced, despite his personal history, with a more humanitarian love, although he remains capable of great violence when necessary.

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The best of the Encyclopedia of Pulp Heroes: Captain Justice



Captain Justice. Captain Justice was created by “Murray Roberts,” the pseudonym of Robert Murray Graydon (Sexton Blake, Newton), and appeared in several hundred stories in Modern Boy and Boys’ Friend Library from 1930 to 1939, beginning with “Captain Justice–Modern Pirate” (Modern Boy, Nov. 1930). Captain Justice is the “Sea Rover,” a “modern pirate” and “adventurer of the highest order.” His home base is Titanic Tower, a mile-high fortress floating somewhere in the Atlantic and stuffed with technological wonders, including two-way television. Justice uses an invisible airship, the Flying Cloud, to take him and his friends, including red-headed boy assistant Midge and brilliant inventor and scientist Professor Flaznagel (the inventor of the Cloud’s invisibility) around the world, from hidden cities to the depths of the Sahara, and to fight evil and wrong-doers wherever he finds them. This often entails, for example, confronting evil Sheiks who used armies of giant spiders, or going to Lost Worlds and fighting “hordes of prehistoric monsters,” or saving the Earth from alien invasions, or stopping renegade Americans and evil Sheikhs from conquering the world. There are drowned worlds coming to the surface, and technologically advanced Lost Race natives in the Amazon threatening to invade the outer world. There are the evil androids of “Robot City,” and the ill-inclined inhabitants of a Lost World in India, and even the “Weed Men” from the Sargasso Sea. There are boy Rajahs from places like Bhuristan who need restoring to their rightful thrones, stolen from them by evil viziers. There are monster robots on South Seas islands and lost civilizations beyond the Arctic ice and dinosaurs in volcano-heated lands beyond the Antarctic ice. There is the Afghan/Russian Kolensky, the “Wolf of Kabul” (no relation to the Wolf of Kabul), whose heart’s aim was to bring down the British Empire.


There are metal cubes with unnatural powers, the product of Thunder Mountain, a source of “priceless electric ore.” There are cannibals and pygmies in unexplored Africa. There are Yellow Peril military commanders, like Yong Huey, who kidnaps Flaznagel. There are would-be conquerors like Marcus the Mysterious, who intends to CONQUER THE WORLD! There are invasions from the sea, by aquatic creatures, from fish-humanoids to giant crabs. There are invasions from space, as when Professor Flaznagel’s magnetic ray attracts the unwelcome attentions of the inhabitants of the planet Nuvius, who bring not only themselves but their entire planet to attack Earth. There is the Black Napoleon of Science City, out to conquer the world. (Science City is a metropolis of advanced workshops, power houses, and laboratories, ringed by a huge stone wall and a maze of death traps. Science City is located in the middle of a vast, isolated forest in the depths of the Amazon. It was built by captive white scientists enlaved by the native (black) Ambani people; the Ambani have advanced technology and use robot slavers to capture white scientists. The scientists manage to get an S.O.S. to Captain Justice, who manages to free them). There are the Tiger Priests of the Hidden Land. There are giant robots from the floor of the ocean who emerge to crush on everything in their sight, from shipping to Captain Justice’s tower. There is Garth Leopold, who with his remote-controlled robot is a threat to the world’s shipping. There are men who tried and even briefly succeed in taking over Captain Justice’s tower. There is even an earthquake which brings down Titanic Tower, trapping Captain Justice, Midge, and Prof. Flaznagel in it; Captain Justice eventually recovers his secrets and technology from the ruins of the Tower and creates a floating skyscraper city in the Atlantic as his new base. And there are the evil High Lamas of Tibet.

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The best of the Encyclopedia of Pulp Heroes: Captain Future


Captain Future. Captain Future was created by Edmond Hamilton (Rab Crane, Brian Cullan, Ethan Drew, Interstellar Patrol, Stuart Merrick, Jan Tor, Dr. Whitney) and appeared in twenty-seven stories in Captain Future and Startling Stories from 1940 to 1951, beginning with “Captain Future and the Space Emperor” (Captain Future #1, Winter 1939/1940). Captain Future’s adventures take place in the far-distant future of 1990. Roger Newton, his wife Elaine, and their best friend, the brilliant older scientist Simon Wright, have created a significant amount of advanced technology, but they are threatened by the schemes of Victor Kaslan, who lusts for power. So the Newtons and Wright leave Earth for the Moon, where they establish an advanced laboratory. In this lab, which is filled with technology beyond that of Earth, they create two artificial beings: Grag, a seven foot tall, superstrong robot, and Otho, an android who “looked only half human…its arms and legs had a rubbery, boneless look. Its artificially created flesh was not pink like human flesh, but pure, dead white. The white face had no eyebrows or eyelashes, and there was no hair whatever upon the well-shaped, pure white head.” Unfortunately, Simon, “who had achieved fame in a half dozen different fields of science,” is dying from an incurable disease, and Roger is forced to remove his brain and put it in a plastic box; the box (otherwise called a “serum-case”) has a speaker through which Brain in a Jar Simon can communicate and artificial eyes with which he can see. (Eventually he gets tractor beams attached to the box, enabling him to move around). Grag, Otho, and the Brain become known as the Futuremen.

Kaslan eventually catches up with the trio, and the Newtons are killed. This leaves their infant son Curtis an orphan, but Grag, Otho and the Brain decide to raise him. He grows up to be Captain Future, a strapping six-foot-four, red-haired scientific genius with “space-bronzed” skin and two powerful fists. His lab is located beneath the Tycho crater on the moon, and Otho, Grag and the Brain are his steadfast companions, although Otho and Grag continually bicker with each other. Captain Future flies around the galaxy in his spherical rocket ship and mobile lab The Comet, upholding the laws of the System Government and helping the Planet Police. One of their agents, Joan Randall, becomes a friend of the Futuremen and Captain Future’s love interest.

Captain Future wears a blue “synthe-skin” zipper suit and uses, among other SCIENCE! weaponry, a “proton pistol” and “antigravity boots.” His arch-enemy is the Magician of Mars, a Martian half-breed and the son of Victor Kaslan. The Magician of Mars is almost as brilliant as Captain Future and substantially challenges him before finally dying. Captain Future also travels in time, going back a hundred million years in one story and, in another, three billion years backwards, to save the natives of the planet Katain.

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