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 and Character Taxonomy Breakdown by Country of Origin Bibliography Table of Contents The Best of the Encyclopedia
Dunn, Dan. Dan Dunn was created by Norman Marsh and appeared in two comic books, a comic strip, a radio show, and a pulp magazine from 1933 to 1943, beginning with the comic book Detective Dan #1.
Dan Dunn was the first and most successful of the Dick Tracy imitations. Although Dunn is a policeman in an unnamed big city, he doesn’t limit himself to just urban crime. He is also Secret Operative 48 for the F.B.I. (or, sometimes, the Secret Service), and in that role he fights the bad guys across the nation. Among his enemies are Ma Zinger, a Ma Barker-like gang leader; Spider Slick, leader of his own gang of murderers; Eviloff, a hood-wearing arch-criminal who has a private war-dirigible and operates from his own Caribbean island base; and, most memorably, Dunn’s nemesis, the Yellow Peril Wu Fang: “Wu Fang, King of the Dope Smugglers, with diabolical, fiendish cunning, aided by a horde of depraved gangsters, and an endless stream of money squeezed from human blood, corruption and degradation.”
Dan is assisted by Secret Service Operative 185, a female government agent, by Wolf, Dunn’s pet "Wolf Dog," by an orphan girl named Babs that he has informally adopted, and by his chubby sidekick Irwin Higgs.
* I've included Dan Dunn in the Best of the Encyclopedia category because the ideasplosions within his appearances. Most imitations don't surpass their originals and take on lives of their own, and consequently can't be considered as the best of anything, much less the Best of the Encyclopedia. But Dan Dunn managed it, becoming Dick Tracy's equal where someone like Kerry Drake never did. Dunn was as hardbitten and tough as Tracy; Dunn had as wonderfully strange a Rogues Gallery as Tracy did; and Dunn as much as Tracy was the embodiment of American society's obsessions with crime and criminals. But what Dunn had that Tracy did not was Wolf Dog (good boy!), Babs, and most of all Wu Fang, who, yes, is a racist stereotype, but is also a splendid pulp creation. Wu Fang really gets into his supervillainy in a way that few Yellow Perils succeeded in doing. Wu Fang had a good time being horribly evil. The audience sorta finds itself rooting for Wu Fang for that reason. After all, if you want to party or just have a beer, Wu Fang's gonna be much better company than Dunn. Right?
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