Introduction On Racism Epigraphs A History of the Pulps A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z Glossary
Breakdown by Character Type Breakdown by Country of Origin Bibliography Table of Contents
Welcome to the Encyclopedia of Pulp Heroes: The Online Edition! This is the online edition of the e-book and the four-volume print edition published in 2017.
The following is most of the introduction to the e-book, which I think is equally useful as an introduction to the online edition, as long as you replace "book" with "website":
The Encyclopedia of Pulp Heroes is intended to be a kind of sequel to my Encyclopedia of Fantastic Victoriana: an attempt at providing a panoptical view of the characters of genre culture from across media and around the world, spanning the years from 1902 to 1945. But as was the case with Fantastic Victoriana the title of Encyclopedia of Pulp Heroes is likely to be misleading, and some explanation of what the book is and what it is not is necessary.
Pulp Heroes is an encyclopedia. However, any book with the word “encyclopedia” in the title is at least implicitly laying claim to both authority and exhaustiveness. I’ve made a reasonable attempt at the former, but the latter was beyond my capabilities, and perhaps beyond anyone’s. As I documented in my Pulp Magazine Holdings Directory, time has been cruel to the American pulps. 38% of all American pulps no longer exist (at least in libraries), and 14% of all American pulps survive in only scattered (less than five total) copies. It’s theoretically possible that pulp collectors own large numbers of these missing pulps, but collectors are hard to locate and many are uncooperative when it comes to letting outsiders view their collections (or even to sharing information).  Only a handful of academic libraries have more than one or two issues of the longer-lasting and better-known pulps, and more obscure pulps, like Spicy Screen Stories, Thrilling Mysteries, and Zeppelin Stories, are completely unavailable. And the rarest pulps of all, Spicy Gorilla Stories, Hobo Romance, and Two-Fisted Quaker Mysteries, are not mentioned in even the most in-depth reference works.
 As was rather brutally pointed out to me by a few people when the Directory came out, the total percentage of pulps that survive is actually a lot higher than I claimed. Otherwise, sites like the Fictionmags Index wouldn't exist. This is true, as far as it goes. The number of surviving pulps held by collectors is much higher than the number of surviving pulps held by libraries, which is where I did my research and what I based my numbers on. However, those people who were throwing this fact in my face conveniently forgot to mention that the collectors who own the many pulps not in libraries tend to be assholes who are only interested in showing their pulps to people they know (if at all, to anyone) and definitely won't make their pulps available to researchers or even casual readers. A depressing number of these asshole collectors go so far as to say that they'd rather their pulps be buried with them than allow them to go to a college or university library. What this means, of course, is that all the pulps the asshole collectors own might as well be lost; nobody except those few people the asshole collectors like are going to read the pulps the asshole collectors own. Pulp collectors and pulp fandom like to mouth sentiments about how the pulps and the pulp characters would do great in movies if the studios would only give them a chance, and would sell very well if publishers would only reprint them. The sad fact is that the biggest obstacle to the pulps being made as movies or tv shows or being reprinted and sold to the public as collections or reprints are the pulp fans and pulp collectors themselves.
Moreover, the situation for American pulps, sad as it is, is far better than the situation for non-American pulps, dime novels, gialli, heftromane, and other pulp-like magazines, many of which survive now only as passing references in decades-old reference books. For example, the Indonesian wüxia pulps of the 1920s and 1930s are held in fragmentary numbers in the National Museum of Indonesia but nowhere else, and their titles, when searched for in Google or in academic databases, bring up under ten hits each and in some cases zero hits. These magazines, and hundreds more like them, are gone beyond recovery or recall. I’d love to know about the numerous detective stories which appeared in the Arabic-language Malay journals of the 1920s, or the serials which appeared in Korean newspapers in the 1910s and 1920s, or the many Yiddish-language dime novels, or the genre material which surely must lurk in pre-1939 Persian newspapers. But those stories will never be known. Posterity is indeed cruel to popular culture.
Too, despite its title, this is a book about more than just pulp characters. I’ve made a good faith effort to include as many series characters–that is, characters who appear in more than one story–from the pulps as possible. But I’m using “pulp” as a shorthand for the many genres and media of the pre-Cold War era. Pulp connoisseurs will likely cavil at this, proclaiming that if the magazine wasn’t printed on wood pulp and didn’t match certain physical dimensions, then it wasn’t pulp and shouldn’t be called such. But, at least as far as the title of this book is concerned, pith triumphs over accuracy. I’m using “pulp” more broadly, in the commonly-used way, to encompass all genre material–as Roland Barthes put it, as a “metaphor without brakes.” For the purposes of this book “pulp heroes” means any of the heroic (and even memorably villainous) series characters from the following: pulp magazines, slick magazines, novels, comic strips, radio shows, and movies. My source material is international, including characters from over 50 countries besides the United States and United Kingdom. For the most part I’ve used characters which appeared between the years 1902 and 1945, but in certain significant, memorable, or simply whimsical cases I’ve included characters from before and after those years. Most of the characters here are series characters–that is, characters who appeared in successive, discrete texts–but in a number of cases I’ve included characters who only appeared once. Most of these singletons are from texts produced outside the West, and are provided here as an example of the wondrous creativity which too many Western scholars and critics of popular culture have ignored.
As I mentioned, I’ve made a reasonable attempt at authoritativeness. But in a number of cases that simply wasn’t possible. I was unable to gain access to some pulps and novels and was forced to rely on secondary works for information about characters. For some characters, accurate or complete bibliographic data was impossible to come by. For numerous foreign characters I was not only unable to access works containing them but even to find extensive information on them in any critical text. (Hence these characters’ names are titles: “Five Greeks (I),” “Public Hero #1,” and so on). And, most regrettably, there are dozens of authors not represented in the book, and hundreds of characters not included here, who were omitted simply because I could not obtain access to their work—a situation that applied not just to foreign authors but even to prolific and once-famous American and English authors. To take just one example, the English writer Roland Daniel (1880-1969) created fifteen series characters in dozens of novels. I’ve only been able to include five of Daniel’s characters because I was unable to read his other novels–they weren’t available in American libraries, and I had a limited amount of time in the British Library.
Each entry is listed along the following lines: for proper names, last name, first name (“Blake, Sexton”); for names with titles, last name, title (“Kildare, Doctor”); for pseudonyms, first name, last name (“Doctor Phantom”). Some entries include words or phrases which are both boldfaced and underlined, such as Bellem, Lupin, or Rootless Veteran. These are shorthand phrases to describe common character types in the fiction of the type, and I have included detailed definitions of these phrases in my Glossary. In a number of cases, despite my best efforts, I was unable to verify bibliographic data about a character or story. In entries in which that is the case I include either a question mark (1934?) or a qualifying word (“possibly beginning with”). Unless otherwise noted, all items are novels.
As is usually the case with popular culture from decades past, a number of the works referenced here are not in line with contemporary politics and mores. Sexism, racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, and various other -isms which we now find reprehensible all make their appearance in some of the pulps referred to here, although to no greater degree than in mainstream literature and popular culture as a whole. (The pulps are quite unfairly singled out in this matter). These bigotries can be as (relatively) benign as the racism in P.G. Wodehouse stories or as pernicious as the antisemitism of G.K. Chesterton’s Father Brown stories and the racism of virtually all of Octavus Roy Cohen’s work. All of these were common enough that, rather than note each individual case I decided to simply include this warning:
There are a number of pleasures to be found in many of the works mentioned in this book. But you are likely to read something offensive as well.
Any book this size will be the product of many people’s assistance, and this one is no exception. I’m grateful to the following for their help: the staff of the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin, the staff of the Rare Books & Music Room at the British Library, the staff of the Cushing Library at Texas A&M University, the staff of the Richelieu Library at the Bibliothèque Nationale, and the staff at the Eaton Collection at the University of California at Riverside; Brenda Lane and Jim Schneider (but none of their colleagues) in the Microfilms Room at the Library of Congress; the friendly, helpful, and very knowledgeable folks of Fictionmags and the sullen, truculent, rebarbative, and very knowledgeable folks of Pulpmags; Ruth Allen, Arnaud, Roberto Lionel Barreiro, Cora Buhlert, Ricardo Barbagallo, Ronald Byrd, John Clute, Bill Crider, Georges Dodds, Robert Dorf, Jeremy Dwyer, Oǧuz Eren, “Dr. Hermes” (Edward Felipe), Win Eckert, Ahrvid Engholm, Mark Finn, Ron Fortier, Doug Frizzle, Stig Magne Frøne, Greg Gick, T.B. Hansen, Wolfgang Hartkopf, Ola Hellsten, Mark Hodder, Steve Holland, Dmitri Kostov, Rick Lai, Jean François Le Deist, Steve Lewis, Denny Lien, Layne Little, Ed Love, John McDonagh, Ric Meyers, Oliver Naudin, Nils Nordberg, Michael Norwitz, Dennis Power, David Pringle, Richard Scott, Samah Selim, Kevin Burton Smith, Phil Stephensen-Payne, Sujit R. Varma, Michel Vermillac, David L. Vineyard, Vladimir, Morgan Wallace, Theodoor Westerhof, Martin Morse Wooster, and Dongming Zhang.
I have to single out a few individuals for particular thanks. The Interlibrary Services staff at Sam Houston State University were invaluable and always good-humored in dealing with my requests, and I’m extremely grateful to Bette Craig, Sammie Phelps, and Stephanie for their help. Similarly, Maria Mendoza and Janet Moores in the Interlibrary Loan Services department of the University of California at Riverside were an enormous help to me, and I am grateful to them for it. Robert Sampson’s “Yesterday’s Faces” series is the obvious model for works on pulp characters, and I happily and gratefully acknowledge that I’m laboring in the shadow of Mt. Sampson. Mike Ashley’s The Age of the Storytellers provided information and leads on dozens of characters, as well as gave me an ideal to strive for. Mike himself was happy to answer my tedious bibliographic inquiries as well, which was more than I could have hoped for. Heinz Galle’s work on the heroes of the heftromane is the starting point for any study of the genre and its characters, and I gratefully used it and am thankful to him for it. Al Hubin, un-asked for (but oh, so welcome!), went through an early draft of this book and identified dozens of mistakes and omissions. Both Jean-Marc Lofficier and Marc Madouraud were fonts of information on French characters. Oğuz Eren was quite helpful with several of the Turkish characters, as Juri Nummelin was with the Finnish characters. Rimmer Sterk and Jim Conkright’s The Continental Dime Novel is an indispensable work for the pulps, heftromane, gialli, and dime novels of Europe. Doug Ellis was very helpful with Scarlet Adventuress. Ora McWilliams did a large amount of leg-work for me at Bowling Green State University. And I cannot thank Farah Mendlesohn enough for acting as my host during my final London trip.
Finally, both Dr. Marra Francis of the Woodlands, Texas, and Cathy Moody, R.N. of the Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit in Memorial Hermann Hospital in the Woodlands, were real life heroes during and after the birth of my son, Henry, and my wife and I are infinitely grateful to the both of them. (Henry, you are worth every second of the trouble). And I continue to marvel at my wife Alicia for many reasons, among them her forbearance and willingness to be a book widow. If there were an entry in this book for her, it would begin something like this:
Nevins, Alicia. Alicia Nevins is a Superhuman Ideal Wife....
So what's in the Online Edition? The same things that are in the ebook and print editions: over 6,000 entries from 50+ countries (not counting the USA & Great Britain). They're arranged alphabetically, on the Table of Contents page. I started converting the entries to individual entries this morning (Sept. 6, 2020); I'll continue to post ten to twenty entries every day until I'm done.
If you have any questions, please feel free to e-mail me at email@example.com. If you would like to drop me a penny to defray the costs of building and maintaining this free encyclopedia, my PayPal account is firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for reading!
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