Friday, June 6, 2014
Forgotten Books: ADVENTURE HEROES by Jeff Rovin (1994)
Here's a book I've long admired. How long? Twenty years to be exact. That's how long it's been occupying my bookshelf.
This massive volume (over 300 pages) gives you the scoop on fictional heroes from all sorts of media: comic books, comic strips, folklore, literature, mythology, movies, opera, radio, stage, toys, television and video or computer games. My only complaint (and it's a small one) is that the author excluded anyone you could find in a history book. For someone like my man Davy Crockett, whose legendary persona is much better known than his historical self (and whose heroic adventures have romped through at least six forms of media) that's sort of a shame. But I can live with it, and so can Davy. There are enough purely fictional characters here to entertain anyone for a lifetime.
Sadly, there's no table of contents, or I'd show you the complete list. But paging through, here are a few names that catch my eye: Aladdin, Alexander Mundy, Ali Baba and the A-Team. Barbarella, Baretta, Beowulf and Bomba the Jungle Boy. Captain Blood, Carson Napier, Cheyenne Bodie and The Continental Op. D'Artagnan, the Dead End Kids, Derek Flint and Doctor Who. Elfego Baca, Ellery Queen and Enemy Ace. Fearless Fosdick, Flashman and Fletch. George Smiley, Grizzly Adams and Gunga Din.
Still with me? Han Solo, the Hardy Boys, Hopalong Cassidy and Horatio Hornblower. Jack Ryan, James T. West and Jungle Jim. Kerry Drake, Kid Colt and Kwai Chang Caine. Lew Archer, Little Nemo and Longarm. Matt Bolan, Mad Max and Magnus, Robot Fighter. Napoleon Solo, Natty Bumppo and Nick Fury. Odysseus and Operator No. 5. Paladin, Paul Bunyan and Prince Valiant. Retief, Richard Diamond and Rowdy Yates.
And what the hell, we've come this far. The Saint, Sam Spade, Sgt. Rock and Steve Canyon. Thomas Magnum, Tom Corbett, Tom Sawyer and Tom Swift. Vinnie Terranova and the Virginian. William Tell, Secret Agent X-9, and Yancy Derringer. And hundreds more.
Some striking omissions: Doc Savage (despite his prominent appearance on the cover), The Lone Ranger, Robin Hood, The Shadow, Tarzan and Zorro. Too famous, maybe? Probably not, since James Bond and Sherlock Holmes are both included. Oh well. I didn't even miss them until I looked.
Each entry cites the character's first appearance, features a brief biography and wraps up with illuminating comments. Photos, comic panels and covers accompany the text, but there is far more space devoted to words than pictures. The amount of information here is staggering. Reading Adventure Heroes is an adventure in itself.
Your Forgotten Books round-up is (as usual) at pattinase.
Next week, Davy and I will be honored to feature the links right here on the Almanack. See you then, if not sooner.