Friday, September 29, 2017

Forgotten Stories: The one and only SPENSER short by Robert B. Parker (1982)

I've been reading the Spenser series since the early '80s. I've been through the whole run several times, in both in print and audio, and I'm still enjoying the Ace Atkins efforts of the past few years. Though Red Harvest remains my single favorite book, Parker is my favorite writer, and the Spenser saga is my favorite series. I've heard everyone else's reasons for why they dropped out at one time or another, and they don't faze me at all. All of which goes to say that I identify as a Spenser superfan.

So how the heck did it get to be 2017 before I found out Parker had written a Spenser short story way back in 1982? Beats me! I just happened to see a short story listed on a Parker bibliography (not identified as a Spenser) and tracked down a copy of its first reprinting, in the 1991 anthology New Crimes 3. To my further embarrassment, I now find it was reprinted yet again in Boston Noir 2: The Classics in 2012.

"Surrogate," which runs 12 pages in the New Crimes 3, begins with a phone call from Brenda Loring, who reports that a man has broken into her home an raped her for the second time in two weeks. Brenda, you may recall, (related at least spiritually to Linda Loring, the woman Philip Marlowe met in The Long Goodbye and married in "The Poodle Springs Story") was the woman Spenser was dating in his first novel, The Godwulf Manuscript, back in 1973. She made only a couple more appearances before being aced out by Susan Silverman. 

In "Surrogate," we learn that Brenda has since been unhappily married and divorced. Spenser calls Hawk for help, and, with their usual aplomb, they bring the case to a satisfactory conclusion. No, it's not particularly great stuff, and it's not essential to the canon, but it is a genuine Spenser story, and to a superfan like me, cannot be ignored. This is me not ignoring it. 

The story was first published in a signed and numbered edition, limited to 300 copies, in 1982. The book, based on pics and descriptions found online, was a rose-colored hardcover with a gun motif on the boards (you be the judge), and a rose-colored dust jacket (at top) bearing a charcoal drawing of Brenda Loring. Is it ugly? I think so, but YBTJ. 50 of those copies were considered "deluxe," with a leather spine and blue cloth slipcase. 

I'm relying on internet pics and descriptions because the regular edition now commands between $400 and $1000, and two folks offering the deluxe job are asking $2500. Superfan yes, superrich no.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Jungle Queens and Space Rangers 5: WINGS COMICS

Here's our final preview of Todd Frye's Jungle Queens and Space Rangers. Like Fight, Jungle and Planet, Wings Comics was sort of a spin-off from the Fiction House pulps of the same titles. It ran 124 issues, from 1940 to 1954, and all the covers are outstanding. 

The evolution you'll see in Todd's book begins with straight air war, progresses to GGA, gives a hat tip to the flying saucer craze, and returns to straight out warfare, this time in Korea. Great stuff.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Jungle Queens and Space Rangers 4: PLANET COMICS

Planet Comics ran for 73 issues between 1940 and 1954, and sported consistently amazing covers. You can read all 73 for free online at (right HERE) (Thanks to Mike Britt for the tip), and you can peruse all the covers in Todd Frye's new book Jungle Queens and Space Rangers. We present here but a few.

Day before day before yesterday: FIGHT COMICS
Day before yesterday: JUMBO COMICS

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Jungle Queens and Space Rangers 3: JUNGLE COMICS

Jungle Comics, inspired by Fiction House's first pulp mag Jungle Stories, began in 1940 and ran 163 issues. Every one of them starred a jungle lord named Kaänga, backed by a variety of other strips, including The Red Panther, Simba - King of Beast, Wambi the Jungle Boy, Tabu the Jungle Wizard, Capt. Terry Thunder and Camilla - Queen of the Lost Empire. I'm mighty curious why they didn't use Ki-Gor, their already established pulp star, in the Tarzan role, but that's a mystery for another day.

All 163 covers are here in Todd Frye's new Jungle Queens and Space Rangers, along with complete runs of four other Fiction House titles. Here are scans of just a few . . . 

Day before yesterday: FIGHT COMICS
Day after tomorrow: WINGS COMICS

Monday, September 25, 2017

Jungle Queens and Space Rangers 2: JUMBO COMICS

Jumbo Comics was the first and longest running title in the Fiction House line, and you'll find all 167 good-lookin' covers in Todd Frye's new Jungle Queens and Space Rangers. Though Sheena the Jungle Queen appeared in every single issue (if you squint you'll see her at bottom center on the cover above), it took her thirteen issues to get her first solo cover shot, and within a few issues dominated every cover until no. 161, when Jumbo started trying to look like a horror comic. 

Those covers are all here, they're all good, and it was mighty tough choosing these samples to scan for you. You really ought to see them all. 


Sunday, September 24, 2017

Jungle Queens and Space Rangers 1: FIGHT COMICS

A few months back we featured scans from Todd Frye's book AMAZING! ASTONISHING! WEIRD! (that's HERE), featuring oodles of great pulp covers. Well, Todd's at it again, this time bringing us about a zillion action-packed comic book covers from Fiction House. That publisher, as you may know, consistently had some of the finest covers in comics, thanks in no small part to its association with the (Will) Eisner and (Jerry) Iger Studio. 

All this week, we'll be looking at samples from the new book, Jungle Queens and Space Rangers. It leads off with all 84 covers from Fight Comics, published between 1940 and 1954. It's mighty interesting to see the focus progress from two-fisted adventurers like Shark Brodie to the costumed heroes Power Man and Super-American, and eventually find a steady headliner in the Sheena clone called Tiger Girl.

Tomorrow: Sheena of the Jungle and Jumbo Comics

Saturday, September 23, 2017

YouTube Theater: The Weird, Weird World of TIN-TAN

I've never seen a Tin-Tan movie, and wouldn't understand it if I did. But I know weirdness when I see it. Wikipedia tells me Tin-Tan was a Mexican actor, singer and comedian whose real name was Germán Valdés, and these are only a few of the wacky films he made in the '50s, '60s and early '70s. La Casa del Terror, I understand, really does feature Lon Chaney, who plays a mummy who turns into a werewolf. By the time you see this, I may have succumbed to curiosity and taken a peek, but more likely I'll wait until it appears here and watch some of it (and maybe some of the others) along with you.