Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Pulp Books 1: The Spider Strikes! Reflections in Bronze & East of Singapore

THE SPIDER STRIKES! by R.T.M. Scott (1961)
Here’s where I first met The Master of Men. I was already acquainted with Doc Savage, The Shadow and The Avenger, so I expected to like this guy. But hey, he was cooler than I expected. You could only know the Shadow through his actions, or the perception of his agents, and Doc was such a paragon he could only be admired. Richard Wentworth, though, was a guy charged with emotion, and finding its outlet in the guise of The Spider.  Though other adventures have been reprinted in years since in a bewildering array of formats, this first appearance of the character (from 1933) has been pretty much snubbed. Luckily, it’s now available for download, right HERE, from Vintage Library.

This 28-page chapbook collects two of Will’s early essays on his favorite subject. They are “Reflections in a Flake-Gold Eye” and “The Girl Who Loved Doc Savage”.  If that weren’t enough, there’s the cover and four fine illustrations by the great Frank Hamilton. Will Murray, of course, has been on the Savage trail ever since. He wrote the final seven books in the Bantam series (published in the early 90s), and he’s now Consulting Editor and regular contributor to the ongoing series of Doc and Shadow reprints from Nostalgia Ventures.

EAST OF SINGAPORE by Frederick Nebel (2004)
Tom Roberts has been publishing pulp classics under the Black Dog Books imprint since 1997, and I have a couple of fistfuls of his fine chapbooks on my shelves. This one reprints a complete novel (at least by pulp mag standards) from a 1926 issue of Action Stories. Nebel is one of my favorites from the heyday of Black Mask. I’ve read most of those stories, along with his three hardcover novels and a handful of slick mag stories, but I’m pleased to say I still have this one to look forward to - about two adventurers hunting the treasure of an ancient Rajah. These days, Tom Roberts has left the chapbooks behind, and is turning out deluxe trade paperback collections of stuff you just can’t get anywhere else. Check out the new website for BLACK DOG BOOKS.


David Cranmer said...

I'm a fan of all the above. Pulp essentials.

Randy Johnson said...

I have that Spider book as well. Bought it new as part of a double pack. I have loved the character ever since and for all the same reasons.

Did you ever see any of those where someone tried too update the novels and had some dude on the cover wearing a white turtleneck?

Evan Lewis said...

I do have those updated versions with the James Bondsy dude on the covers. I hated the idea, but still enjoyed the stories.

Rittster said...


I'm a big Nebel fan, too. His Cardigan stories are my favorite. He really had a grip on the hardboiled patois. The novels are expensive, and I haven't gotten around to using ILL yet. How do SLEEPERS EAST, FIFTY ROADS TO TOWN, and I guess one more book, stack up to his great pulp stories featuring the aforementioned Cardigan, Donahue, Kennedy and McBride, etc. Are they worth seeking out? Or are they closer to his slick work, diluted versions of his tough-guy hardboiled stories. Do they delve into the "mystery" more than they do the characters? (For some reason I have a sneaking suspicion you might say, "I don't remember.)

Rittster said...

By the way, there's a newly reprinted Nebel novel, WEEK-END TO KILL. Have you read it? If so, what did you think?

Evan Lewis said...

OK, Rittster, you guessed right on "Week-End to Kill". I have it in a digest edition from some time in the 40s, but "don't remember" reading it. The other novels you mention, plus But Not the End, have mystery elements but are more mainstream, like his work for the slicks. I'll be reading them again and offering comments one of these days.

James Reasoner said...

Like Randy, I bought that Spider novel and got the second one free, packaged with it. Remember the drugstore in Stephenville, Texas where I bought it, too. The first two are considerably different from the Norvell Page novels that came later, but still pretty enjoyable.