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
Pete (I). Pete (I) was created by S. Clarke Hook and appeared in over one hundred stories in The Marvel and Penny Popular from 1901 to 1922, beginning with “The Eagle of Death” (Marvel #385, March 1901).
Pete (I) is a tall, muscular African-American. He is cheerful and smart, a former sailor and circus strong man who while in a mining camp in Bolivia meets Jack Owen, a wandering, headstrong English teenager, and Sam Grant, an American hunter. They go in search of gold in Bolivia, and from there fight anarchists, revolutionaries, and other evil men from the Andes to Alaska to Japan to the Transvaal, with stops in Glasgow, Northwich, and Canterbury.
* I'm including the Pete (I) stories in the Best of the Encyclopedia list because they are historically important. For twenty years British readers were exposed to stories in which a Black American protagonist led two white sidekicks and was the undeniable focus of the stories. Pete (I) was unfortunately still portrayed with some racism, but Hook was clearly trying to be positive in his portrayal of Pete (I). In a move without precedent in the British story papers, Pete is not an anti-black stereotype. Unlike the various heroic Chinese characters who became protagonists, Pete speaks in coherent, articulate English, different from the bigoted patois usually seen in other black story paper characters. Pete has a wide knowledge of the world and is always successful at whatever he turns his hand to, whether it is learning ventriloquism, making money, or running a theater troupe. And Hook made a point in the Pete, Jack, and Sam stories of ensuring that the snobs and bigots who target Pete get their comeuppance by story’s end. Given the white-dominant and deeply racist nature of the British story papers, the Pete (I) stories, like Pete himself, are historically significant in their racial progressivism.
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