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Harst, Harald. Harald Harst was created by “Max Schraut,” the pseudonym of the German author Walther Kabel (Olaf K. Abelsen, Nic Pratt, Rockheart, Three Vigilantes, Fred Walker (I)) and appeared in Der Detektiv #7-372 (1919-1934) and Harald Harst - As Meinem Leben #1-8 (1929).

Harald Harst is a German prosecutor whose fiancée, Marga Milden, is murdered. He becomes a detective to discover the men responsible for her murder. During the course of this first case Harst discovers Max Schraut, a.k.a. “Comedian Max,” a pickpocket who has just escaped from prison to attend the funeral of his mother. Harst agrees not to turn Schraut in until the funeral is over; the grateful Schraut helps Harst find Milden’s killers. After they are apprehended Harst and Schraut remain together as partners.

Harst is tall, genteel, independently wealthy, and intelligent. He is a crack shot with his “Clement pistol” and smokes opium-laced cigarettes. Schraut is short, fat, and dim, but is strong and has a number of contacts with the underworld. Harst and Schraut live in a house in Berlin-Schmargendorf with Harst's mother Auguste and a cook named Mathilde. (The house is later burned down by a gangster queen). Most of Harst’s cases take place in Berlin, but he is also active in other parts of Germany, in Scandinavia, in the American West, and in Southeast Asia, and in India.

Harst's adventures verge on and venture into the fantastic; his enemies include Thugs, walking mummies, Pandora's Box, the Pirates of the Ganges, cursed wizard’s hands, blind Yellow Peril brahmins, the Wandering Jew, a Mad Scientist named Doctor Satanas, a talking Brain In A Jar, Thugs from "The Temple of Kali," a yeti in Tibet, and a ghost rickshaw in Tokyo, the "Hell Machine of Doctor Bluck," the "Wax Napoleon," the talking "Head of the Maharaja," the Sultan's Orangutan, the Iron Man, the New Count of Monte Cristo, the "Master of the Underworld," the Fourth Dimension, the Green Vampire, "Dr. Faust's Magic Spell," "The Marionettes of Frau Niemand," "The Vampire of Berlin," "The King of the Orchids," and many others.

One of Harst’s enemies is the Yellow Peril Mad Scientist Doctor Shing Guddai. The Japanese Guddai wants to achieve Asian world dominance, which requires the complete extirpation of European culture. Guddai’s headquarters are in the birch forests near Berlin, and are guarded by giant, bloodthirsty foxes which Guddai has specially bred. Harst also encounters air pirates who bomb London with nerve gas and a “sand clock” made of cosmic crystals which, when held, visualizes thoughts and allows for clairvoyance. In his final appearance Harst drowns in the Baltic Sea near Swinemünde while fighting a criminal mastermind. (Walther Kabel refused to publish Harald Harst stories under the Nazis and killed Harst rather than let him become a tool of the Nazis). 

* I'm including the Harald Harst stories in the Best of the Encyclopedia category because of their ideasplosions, their archetypal nature, and their historical importance. For fifteen years Harald Harst was the ultimate in heftroman detectives, the influence that other detective writers couldn't avoid. The stories make for good reading, comparatively speaking. The apt comparison is with Sexton Blake: they both have hundreds of stories making up a fictional universe with a loose continuity tying them together, both are stereotypically of their countries, and both have wonderful Rogues Galleries. The ideasplosions in the Harald Harst stories are some of the best in the heftromane--just look at that list! Harst was so popular that letters poured into the post office addressed to the address given in the Harst stories for Harst's home in Schmargendorf in Berlin. Really, the Harst stories are the ne plus ultra of the heftromane, and in the top five list of best pulp series, American and international. 

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