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
Piel, Harry. Harry Piel (1892-1963) was a noted German film star and director from 1912 to the 1930s. In the 1920s he was protagonist of four German Celebrity Pulps: Harry Piel – der Abenteuerer König und Verächter des Todes Innen #1-18 (1920-1921), Harry Piel - der Tollkühne Detektiv #1-92 (1920-1923), Harry Piel Abenteuer #19-150 (1922-1926), and Heinz Barkhoff’s Harry Piel, Abenteuer #1 (1928); a revised and expanded version of Harry Piel – der Abenteuerer König und Verächter des Todes Innen appeared in Hungary in 1923, in Poland in 1924, and in Czechoslovakia in 1926.
The fictional Harry Piel is a crystallization of his film persona, with many of the stories being retellings of his film plots. The fictional Piel is a "gentleman of the world," a detective-adventurer at ease in the abysses of the wilds and in the big city, fighting for good, helping the poor and downtrodden, rescuing imperiled maidens, and so on. Piel encounters a scientist whose flying car is stolen and used by criminals. Piel fights an android used to commit crime and controlled remotely. For twenty issues Piel’s archenemy is the malign Mad Scientist Professor Terlan, who uses SCIENCE!, including anti-gravity and an invisibility gas, to commit crimes. He thrice duels with the Headless Rider. He fights the KKK, flying skeletons, a variety of Mad Scientists, costumed bad guys (like “the Man Without Nerves” and “the Man with the Devil Mask”), and would-be nemeses, sky-pirates, various death traps, mummies, vampires, Yellow Perils, Lupins, and a Lost Race Tibetan city.
Piel is occasionally Watsoned by Murphy, a newspaper reporter.
Piel appears in stories with titles like “The Sky Pirate,” “The Smile of the Medusa,” “A Night of Terror in Paris.”
* I'm including the Harry Piel stories in the Best of the Encyclopedia list because of their imaginative content. Harry Piel got 243 issues of Celebrity Pulp stories ovver the course of 1920-1926, a much greater number of stories and much greater lifespan than any other Celebrity Pulp hero got. This is appropriate, as Harry Piel was just that famous in the 1920s and 1930s. Even more appropriately, given the adventurous (though not fantastika) films he appeared in, the Harry Piel Celebrity Pulp stories are wonderfully imaginative, combining the best of the German ideasplosion tradition with the High Pulp adventures of the usual Celebrity Pulps. The Piel stories are the most imaginative of any Celebrity Pulp stories, the most vivid, the most ideasplosive. As the list above demonstrates, there was no concept too high, not enemy too fantastic, not trope too science fictional, for the writers of the Piel stories to avoid using. The writers threw everything at Harry Piel, and the readers benefited greatly from it. The highpoint of the stories, of course, is the twenty-issue-long duel with Professor Terlan, but even in the pulps' down periods the Piel stories usually had at least one fantastic concept in it for Piel to encounter and usually fight. Recommended.
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