Alien Worlds V1

Alien Worlds
By Barbara Custer & Tom JohnsonPrice: $16.50

Barbara Custer and Tom Johnson team up to explore the possibilities of intergalactic adventure. The action and suspense in these stories will keep you turning the pages. Does intelligent life exist on other worlds? Some people believe that God didn’t create the vast universe just for humans. Are they gentle friendly beings, or are they monsters that prey on weaker species?
Custer explores heroic aliens bent on rescuing the human race, and evil aliens intending to destroy it. Humans will be in the crossfire! Brothers will also be at odds in their desire to save or destroy mankind.

Johnson gives us two views of the galactic frontier, with his Captain Danger, a superman of the future who keeps law and order among the spaceways, and a master thief, who operates as a future Robin Hood of the star systems.

Together, Custer & Johnson present their fantastic tales of SF in the first of several anthologies from NTD.
Now Available From NTD www.bloodredshadow.com/ Will be available on Amazon and Kindle, and other Major Outlets soon.

Exciting Pulp Tales

EXCITING PULP TALES by Tom Johnson: Being proofed now, and coming soon from Altus Press. This sequel to 2010’s PULP DETECTIVES contains ten exciting pulp tales with the feel of the original writers of the 1930s and ‘40s. Many of the original characters return for the first time. The Angel Detective returns in “A Devil of A Case”; The Green Ghost returns in “The Case of The Blind Soldier”; The Cobra returns in “Curse of The Viper”; The Crimson Mask returns in “The Mask of Anubis”; Gentle Jones in “Nazis Over Washington”; The Purple Scar in “The Skull Killer”; Funny Face in “The Star of Africa”; and Alias Mr. Death in “Coffins of Death”. Next is a new jungle girl adventure, featuring the Jungle Queen in “Jungle Terror”, and Ki-Gor returns in a 30,000 word story, titled “Lost Valley of Ja Far”, which was previously written as a 15,000 word story for another publication. This volume comes in just under 400 pages. If you want your pulps original, these stories will fill the bill.

The Spider’s Web

In 1980, a young Chinese girl becomes involved with a young man connected to the Italian mob. When she becomes pregnant, her father allows the marriage between his daughter and young man, but secretly conspires to separate them as soon as the baby is born. Throwing a big party for his son-in-law, the Tong places his daughter on a ship for China, while the baby is left under the care of the Chinese.

Thirty years later, the young man now runs his own mob, coming under the scrutiny of the city’s paladin, a mysterious crime fighter called The Black Ghost. In a deadly gun battle between the hero and gangsters, the mob is wiped out, the mob leader killed during the fight. Seeking revenge, the child, now thirty years old, gathers a new gang to go up against the Black Ghost. Trained in the martial arts from childhood, the new mob leader dons the regalia of a ninja and begins robbing banks and killing citizens randomly, hoping to bring the nemesis to them.

With the city streets running red in blood, The Black Ghost and his aides mount a campaign to stop the ninja’s mob. The action is furious, and sometimes quite violent as the Black Ghost matches guns with the gangsters. In a final encounter between The Black Ghost and the ninja, a martial arts battle between the foes ends with only one victor!

I didn’t know where I wanted to take the character when I first wrote “The Black Widows,” back in 1995. I wanted Jimmy Malone to be something of a Shadow, thus the name, Compere, which means a “shadow” or an “equal.” But it was soon understood that others wanted to call him something else. The younger kids called him The Masked Avenger, who was a comic book hero they were reading, while the underworld was determined to call him The Black Ghost. Eventually, the Black Ghost stuck.

The stories had an odd beginning. In February 1995, Clancy O’Hara published a small press magazine titled, PULP FICTION MAGAZINE, (dated Winter 1995), a Ramrod Publications, out of Hermosa Beach, California. Such stalwart writers as R.T. Lawton, Rick Brooks, and Aaron B. Larson were contributors. Clancy and Quentin Tarantino were friends, so I’ve often wondered if Clancy’s magazine influenced Tarantino in his future movie, PULP FICTION. In early summer 1995, with Issue #3, my first story appeared, titled “Behind The Mask”, featuring Compere. The second story, “What’s In A Name?” was published in Issue #6, Winter 1995. I wrote two more stories for PULP FICTION MAGAZINE, “Creatures of Habit” and “Friendships Declared”, all featuring Compere. Unfortunately, if the last two stories appeared, I have either misplaced my copies, or never received them. Clancy mentioned on a Blog that he published the magazine for three years. However, I only have the first seven issues in my collection. Issue #7 is dated Spring 1996, which covers the first two years.

Clancy’s little magazine did spark a fire under me, though, and I decided to start my own pulp fiction magazine, CLASSIC PULP FICTION STORIES, in June 1995. With Issue #18, dated November 1996, I gathered the four Compere stories into a novelette, and published it as “Black Ghost” (aka “The Black Widows”). I had no further plans for the character at that point.

I don’t know who suggested the idea, probably Debra Delorme, but before I knew it, we were collaborating with a story titled, “Hunter’s Moon” for Double Danger Tales. This novelette would feature her Scarecrow and my Black Ghost. It was a whopper of a tale, and appeared in DDT #20, September 1998, and Jimmy Malone meets his future wife in the adventure. After that, my interest in the character was renewed, and I wrote three more tales of the Black Ghost for our magazines: “Calling The Black Ghost”, DDT #44, May 2001, “The Black Ghost At Bay”, DDT #47, October 2001, and “Dark Night of The Black Ghost”, DDT #54, September 2002

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A short time after our magazines folded, I sold “Town of Fear,” a new story featuring The Black Ghost to Filament Book Club. In the meantime, “Hunter’s Moon” was reprinted in “Masks & Mayhem, Volume One”, in 2005, then a brand new story, “Death And The Black Ghost” was published in “Masks & Mayhem, Volume Three”, in 2006. In 2008, I gathered all of the Black Ghost stories, except for “Hunter’s Moon” and “The Black Widows”, and wrote two brand new stories for a collection that NTD published as “Guns of The Black Ghost”.

In 2009, I decided I wasn’t through with The Black Ghost yet, and wrote “The Spider’s Web”. This time, I wanted to include the forgotten first story, “The Black Widows”, which now makes all of the tales available. At the present time, Debbie DeLorme and I are contemplating a brand new novel featuring our heroes, Scarecrow and Black Ghost. Hopefully, this will be available some time in 2011. Following is a listing of the stories, and where they can be purchased:

1)    “The Black Widows” (see “The Spider’s Web”)

2)    “Hunter’s Moon” (“Masks & Mayhem, Volume One”) http://www,altuspress.com/

3)    “Calling The Black Ghost” (“Guns of The Black Ghost”) www.amazon.com/

4)    “The Black Ghost At Bay” (“Guns of The Black Ghost”) www.amazon.com/

5)    “Dark Night of The Black Ghost” (“Guns of The Black Ghost”) www.amazon.com/

6)    “Town of Fear” (“Guns of The Black Ghost”) www.amazon.com/

7)    “Death And The Black Ghost” (“Guns of The Black Ghost”) www.amazon.com/

8)    “Highways In Hiding” (“Guns of The Black Ghost”) www.amazon.com/

9)    “Bullets of Terror” (“Guns of The Black Ghost”) www.amazon.com/

10) “The Spider’s Web” (A sequel to “Highways In Hiding”, plus contains “The Black Widows”) www.amazon.com/

All of the NTD books are available as electronic downloads from Filament Book Club. www.filamentbookclub.com/

Retirement & Releases

Even though I semi retired at the end of December 2009, I hope to continue helping Matt with some of his projects at Altus Press occasionally. But with my age and health, I’ve got to slow down. Plus, I do want to catch up on some reading I have neglected for too long. Speaking of Altus Press, this year should see the release of the rest of my research books, as well as one or two volumes of collected articles. Over at NTD, Barbara Custer has my SF novel, THREE GO BACK, plus a new Black Ghost novel, and a SF anthology once she completes some current books. So I’ll be around throughout 2010.

The big news this time around is the release of three books from Altus Press that I’m very proud of. First up is the collected Red Finger series by Arthur Leo Zagat, from the back pages of the Operator 5 magazine. This has long been a favorite character of mine from the pulps. Since there were only 12 stories in the series, Matt let me contribute a final story for the book, which I had fun writing. I hope everyone will check out, THE HAND OF RED FINGER, from Altus Press. I think you’ll like the character also! On the heels of the Red Finger volume is the latest Triple Detective, which will likely be my last involvement with this wonderful title. I hope Altus Press will continue the title, though, and bring in new writers for the book. This issue contains the first new Eagle story after 70 years, titled GIBBERING GAS OF MADNESS, plus the Phantom Detective and Black Bat finally meet in CITY OF PHANTOMS, then my final Masked Avenger story, THE DEATH PLAGUE rounds out the issue. However, Matt had asked for a special Feature this time, so I wrote a piece about pulp legends, then got carried away and wrote a story featuring, The Legend! To make the book even more interesting, we included another Phantom Detective comic that was left out of the Phantom Detective Companion. Folks, this issue of Triple Detective is the biggest and best yet, and is a good way for me to say farewell. My third release is PULP DETECTIVES, my tribute to both Johnston McCulley and the pulp heroes I loved so much. There are nine stories in this huge volume, featuring such costumed heroes as the Black Bat, Secret Agent X, and Phantom Detective. For fun, I’ve written the first new Masked Detective and Lone Eagle stories since their pulp days. Also included is one of my own costumed characters, Nightwind, a masked rider of the plains. Unless Matt can really interest me in another project, these will likely be the last pulp stories I will ever write.

I have had the privilege of knowing so many of the giants, that it is going to be impossible for me to remember all of their names. But let me name a few that I was able to call friend and acquaintance. There were Harry Steeger and his wife, Norman Saunders, and Norman Daniels. Leigh Brackett, Tommy Thompson, Hugh B. Cave, Ryerson Johnson, John Jakes, Michael Avallone, Norma Dent, and Walter B. Gibson! Good grief, I brushed shoulders with so many others! Least I forget let me add Nick Carr, Bob Sampson, Fred Cook, Lyn Hickman, Tony Tollin, and Will Muray. If I tried to name them all, this would turn into a book, so let me stop with those names. All of them giants.

With the start of 2010, it has been nearly 60 years since the pulps died in 1953. Thankfully, we have publishers like Altus Press and a few others who are reprinting the old stories as they were originally written. But after so many generations of readers have joined the ranks, new trends are taking over the old heroes. New writers, all top-notch, are writing new stories about the old heroes, though they may not have ever read one of the original stories. Or if they have, they want to change the character to fit in with the world today, and the results are characters that are nothing like the original pulps I loved so much. I’m not saying that is a bad thing. These writers are keeping the pulp characters alive in their tales, so that has to be a good thing. But for me, I wanted them to stay the same forever. Our heroes only fought gangsters and super villains, not floating alien heads from another dimension. They were not faster than a speeding bullet, and could not leap tall buildings with a single bound. But perhaps that is what the reader wants today, so I give my blessings to the new writers. And with that, I think it is time I bid adieu to pulp fandom and the pulp community.  As I said at the beginning, I will still be around, but I plan to be reading a lot of good books as I relax in my old age. The last forty plus years that I have been involved in pulp research were the best years of my life!

Tom

Tunnels & Death

A couple of items of interest this time around. First, “Alias Mr. Death” has been released from Altus Press. This is a landmark novel, being the blueprint for the future Phantom Detective, and a novel every pulp fan will have fun reading. This novel sets the tone not only for the Phantom Detective, but you’ll find elements that will appear shortly in The Spider and most other pulp series. Find out more about this book at Altus Press http://www.altuspress.com

I have completed Triple Detective #4 for Matt, though it may not be printed until the first of next year. There are a couple of surprises in this issue, but I think it’s best we keep them secret until release date. I don’t think readers will be disappointed, but then readers are never disappointed with books from Altus Press!

Just in case I didn’t mention our new Phantom Detective Yahoo Groups at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/The_Phantom_Detective/?yguid=321995096

I also found a Pulp Chat group that looks interesting. Check them out at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/pulp-chat/?yguid=321995096

I did receive a nice Review on “Pangaea: Eden’s Children” from Coffee Time Romance; at least as good as could be expected from a romance review group on an adventure SF novel. NTD will Post the Review on their Site shortly.

NTD has released my science fiction novel, “Tunnel Through Space”, with a fantastic cover. Below is the release notice for the book. I hope everyone will pick up a copy.

Tunnel Through Space by Tom Johnson

ISBN #978-0-578-03589-5 $16.50

Pulp thrills in the tradition of Edgar Rice Burroughs!

Sucked into a Black Hole, their cargo ship is spit out at the edge of the universe. Crashing on a primitive planet in a binary star system, Captain Lamont Rogers and his copilot, Lieutenant Marsha Tomlison are separated by hundreds of miles in a savage jungle on an alien world, where they must survive deadly peril while attempting to reunite. Each must deal with personal dangers in their own way, knowing they can never return to their home world.

On the heels of his popular Pangaea series, Tom Johnson creates a new world of excitement and adventure as fascinating as any pulp science fiction yarn today. Just released from Night To Dawn Books, this 265-page novel will make the reader beg for a sequel! http://www.bloodredshadows.com

Awards & Reviews

Pulpfest #1 is now over, and was a great success! There were over 350 attendees, plus 100 dealer’s tables, and lots of pulps. Bill Thom was the winner of the first Munsey Award, which replaces the Lamont Award. He wasn’t in attendance, so Matt Moring accepted for him Bill received the Echoes Award back in 1996, and was overdue recognition from the pulp community for his dedication and service to our community. So the Munsey Award was well deserved.

Speaking of the Echoes Award, the 2009 Echoes Award went to Matt Moring for his dedication and service to the pulp community. It’s good that our people are being recognized for all that they are doing within the community today. Let’s remember to congratulate both Bill and Matt for these awards, and thank them for their service to the community!

Some more good news, apparently Altus Press books sold very well from Mike Chomko’s tables. Good news for me, I heard that a lot of copies sold of both The Phantom Detective Companion and The History of The Purple War. And I understand that Matt picked up a lot of pulp treasures this year. He also gathered up some F&SF magazine give-aways for me, since I’m stuck in the middle of nowhere and can’t get copies. Thanks, Matt!

After over two months, there’s still no review of Eden’s Children, but Ginger and I did review a couple of books, so I thought I’d Post them this time around.

Tom

PAST SINS (Police Procedurals)
ISBN #978-1-890096-40-3
By John L. French
Padwolf Publications, Inc.
www.padwolf.com
$16.00 paperback
216 pages
5-Star Rating

Baltimore Police Department cop, Matthew Grace wasn’t beyond planting evidence to convict the bad guys, and when he’s forced to leave the Force, becomes a licensed P.I. “Past Sins” contains 17 masterfully written short stories featuring John French’s popular detective that originally appeared in such magazines as Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, Detective Mystery Stories, Classic Pulp Fiction Stories, and several others over the years.

The author is a crime scene supervisor with the Baltimore Police Department Crime Laboratory, and each story rings with reality while entertaining the reader. The writing is superb, and Matthew Grace comes alive in these stories of hardboiled police cases, based on the author’s experiences on the streets of one of the most dangerous cities in the country. Each crime is different, and a subtle clue leads Grace to the climax in every adventure.

It’s refreshing to read a police procedural by an actual crime scene investigator with such credentials as John French. You won’t find soap opera dialogue or sloppy police techniques in these stories, and the clues are based on real evidence often found at the scene of crimes, not made-for-television episodes. After reading “Past Sins”, the reader will want to learn more about Private-Eye Matthew Grace, and his pals on the Baltimore Police Department.

Ginger Johnson, Editor

Detective Mystery Stories

DREAM ROOM (True Crime)
ISBN #978-0-9818400-2-4
By Chet Nicholson
Oakley Publishing Company, Inc.
http://www.oakleypublishingcompany.com
$17.95 paperback
417 pages
3-Star Rating

Chet Nicholson’s writing is superb, and his storytelling keeps the reader turning pages!

The author has dramatized actual events surrounding the so-called Dixie Mafia that operated in the Gulf Coast and Deep South from the 1940s through the later half of the century. Although based on real life events, Chet Nicholson tells the story in a fictionalized dialogue as he follows the reign of crime from the early stages of murder and robbery to gambling, prostitution, and dope.

The story is told in short sequences as the characters are fleshed out, until small-time hoods become crime lords ruling the South. The author keeps the reader turning pages as he unravels the long years of terror. It’s as dirty as any criminal enterprise anywhere. That it lasted for so long can be credited to our lenient judicial system, and the bribery of police officials.

This book is a must for readers interested in True Crime. If you read it as a work of fiction, or as actual accounts of the Dixie Mafia, you are in for a treat. The author takes you on a roller coaster ride that doesn’t let up, and you’ll find a thrill on every page!

From a great cover to the author’s story-telling ability, this is an interesting account of a violent period in the South. Chet Nicholson is an intelligent writer, and the sequences keep the reader involved. However, the dialogue is one of the drawbacks to an otherwise fine story. These characters are, for the most part, uneducated southern gangsters. The dialogue makes them sound like college graduates out for a good time; there is a lot of cussing, but the characters would have been more realistic with more southern background in their language.

Tom Johnson, Editor
Detective Mystery Stories

http://www15.brinkster.com/jur1/index.html

Phantoms And Such

If you haven’t purchased a copy of The Phantom Detective Companion yet, you’re missing out on a great opportunity. Matt Moring has taken an old piece of research and turned it into a gem of a book. I remember vividly reading the Phantom Detective series when we were publishing Echoes, and furiously searching for missing issues at the time. There are probably a hundred stories I could tell just on my frantic search. I’ll never forget borrowing some issues from my friend, Robert Sampson at the time. One of the issues was “Death On Swift Wings”, and I’ll always remember Bob’s letter accompanying the package when it arrived. Evidently he had stored some of these old pulps in his attic, including the afore-mentioned title. As he was retrieving the pulps, that one slipped from his hands, and dropped down the inside of the wall, between the outer wooden frame and the inside sheetrock. Bob could tell a good story, and keep us laughing all the while. It seems he rushed downstairs and busted a hole in the sheetrock at the exact place where the pulp had landed between walls, and he was happy to provide the issue for my research! He was quite a character. And after I bought a copy of that particular issue later, it reminded me of this hilarious incident. I still think of Bob Sampson when I see that issue on my shelf.

Many collectors loaned me vital issues for my research, and that was something great about pulp fandom in the early days. We helped each other, and willingly shared information. So many of the old timers are gone now, and I do miss the old days, and special friends like Bob, Will Murray and Nick Carr remain close, and we go back to those early days. A while back I was looking through Bob’s book on The Spider, and couldn’t find what I was searching for. So I wrote Will, and asked him when Norvel Page brought Gunner McGlone into The Spider. I just couldn’t find any mention of him any where in Bob’s book. Will told me, “Gunner was in the Phantom Detective, not The Spider.” I said sure he was, the safe cracker with thick glasses. Will probably had a good laugh, then told me I was thinking of Blinky McQuade! Well, of course I was. I can only blame old age and failing memory for my confusion in the names. Anyway, when Matt asked me if I would mind for Will Murray to join me in the Phantom Detective Companion, I was thrilled. I think the readers will also be glad that Will is part of this thick book. Matt has gathered a lot of material that wasn’t in the original version of this book, so much of what the reader will find is due to the effort of Matt Moring and Altus Press.

The Thrilling Comics of the Phantom Detective alone is worth the price of the book. I would venture to say that I bet not many have ever read any of these, let alone nearly the whole run. When I first wrote this book all that I included was the synopsis of each story, and possible authors. This edition contains much, much more than the original work. Unfortunately, I will never be able to thank everyone involved, like those many collectors that kindly loaned me their copies to research so long ago. But I can thank Will Murray and Matt Moring, and the names on the cover for making this edition the book that it is.

I was also hoping to have a Review of “Pangaea: Eden’s Children”, but it hasn’t come in yet. Maybe next time. For now, I think the big news is the release of “The Phantom Detective Companion”. I know I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy! Thanks, Matt and Will, and all the contributors who made this edition come true.

New Stuff

It’s been a few months since my last Post, so I thought I’d better write something on the Blog or I might forget how. At my age memory slips occasionally and believe me, it’s not as simple as getting back on a bike after falling off! However, there are a few items I need to mention this time.

Earlier this year Altus Press released Triple Detective #3, and from what I hear it’s another good issue. Unfortunately, it’s all Tom Johnson this time around. I had invited a couple of friends to contribute stories for the volume, but they were busy with other projects so I ended up writing all three stories: “The Black Bat’s War”, “The Eyes of Satan”, and “Dark Street of Doom”. I believe the book is only $14.95, plus postage, so is a real bargain for books this size. Plus, Altus Press packages their books beautifully, and looks great on your shelf.

NTD has also just released my SF novel, “Pangaea: Eden’s Children”, the sequel to last year’s “Pangaea: Eden’s Planet”. This series is in the tradition of Edgar Rice Burroughs. The first adventure was set in the Permian Period, sixty million years before the rise of the dinosaurs, while “Eden’s Children” takes place in the Jurassic Period. The sequel is priced at $13.95, plus postage, and can be ordered from NTD’s website. It will be a few months yet before the distribution people have the book on Amazon, but it’s coming. All of NTD’s books have been picked up by Filament Book Club, and electronic versions are available through their website. http://www.filamentbookclub.com/

http://www.bloodredshadows.com/newNTDbooks.htm

I think the big news that everyone is waiting to hear about, is the soon to be released Phantom Detective study from Altus Press. “The Phantom Detective Companion” was originally published in the 1990s under the Fading Shadows imprint, listing synopsis of all the stories, and the possible authors. This old book has been updated by Altus Press, with lots of new material, including the Phantom Detective comics from Thrilling Comics, and a couple Phantom Detective proposals that never made it to the series. Will Murray joined me in digging into the hidden authors of the series, and I think everyone will be surprised at some of their identities. No price or release date has been set yet, but watch for more information on Altus Press and Bill Thom’s Coming Attractions.

http://members.cox.net/comingattractions/

I also want to mention a couple of my Yahoo Groups while I have your attention. My author’s Site is Tom Johnson’s Jur at:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/tomjohnsonsjur/?yguid=321995096

I also have a Site devoted to 1960s paperback collecting at Action Sixties:

http://movies.groups.yahoo.com/group/Action_Sixties/

Another Site that might be of interest is SF Digest Mags at:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/SF_Digest_Mags/?yguid=321995096

Blood Moons

Unfortunately, there’s nothing new to report yet, but I’m still hoping that something will be released soon that I can comment on. In the meantime, here’s another Review, this one on a book I share with Barbara Custer of Night To Dawn. This contains my short novel of the Vietnam War, plus several of my Soul Stealer short stories, for which I received high praise from the reviewer. Tom

BLOOD MOONS AND NIGHTSCAPES
TOM JOHNSON & BARBARA CUSTER
ISBN: 978-0-615-26116-4
Night to Dawn
www.bloodredshadows.com
Trade Paperback
$13.90
200 Pages
Historical / Science Fiction / Horror / Fiction

Bad Moon Rising

Private Martin is RA or Regular Army, better known as a lifer to all company men. He makes Sergeant, and sees much of the world and definitely too much death. The men in his company are survivors. They live with fear as a constant companion, but do their duty just the same. Sergeant Martin is a veteran of the Korean and Viet Nam wars. He has seen death up close and personal. Along the way he has lost many, some friends, some not. To the enemy, they were all the same. It does not matter if you have a wife and kids waiting for you – war does not discriminate. The only real heroes are those that are able to fight despite the fear that threatens to consume them daily. Some men talk big, but when it comes time to fight, they duck and hide. This is an amazing look into the life of a soldier. The descriptive story telling of Tom Johnson allows the reader an insight into one man’s journey. His fears, his laughter, and his pain are wondrously laid out, and give you a glimpse as to what a hero really is.

Chopper Down

Airman 1st Class Jim Stewart is going down. The chopper carrying him and several others has just been hit. The little gray man watches the scene with sad and soulful eyes. His duty is about to begin. He is the soul stealer. The pilot is shot, and the copilot as well as the rest of the crew, have been ejected from the chopper. The only survivor is Jim. Now he must make it to a rescue point before the men who shot them down find him. Surviving in the jungles of Vietnam is no easy feat. The snakes are as deadly as the Viet Cong. One bite, and Jim will be dead in minutes. However the little gray man is there to ease his suffering. This one will definitely make your heart race. The action is constant, and if you dislike snakes, this will only encourage that feeling. The range of emotion in such a short story is remarkable.

Little Ricky’s Monster

As a young country boy Little Ricky is just as impressionable as his friends. They struggle to hide any fear that may cause them to look weak in the eyes of their friends. Paula is a freak of nature. She is known as “The Monster” because of her large stature and the hair covering her body. Monsters are in stories not in real life, but Ricky swears he saw one in the barn. Screwing up his courage, he goes to investigate. What he sees frightens him, but the soft words spoken by the monster calm his nerves. She is hurt, and he needs to help her. But she is not the only surprise for young Ricky. The little gray creature helping Paula has another one for him. One can find a friend in the most unlikely places. Little Ricky stumbles upon one such person. This story is sadly sweet, and shows the kindness of a young boy without the prejudice of society.

Rebirth

Life has been very difficult for young Heather Raytzis. Her mother’s death left her an orphan, and the neighborhood boys are relentless in their harassment. The worst bully is Mark Welsh. He got rid of Heather’s mother, and now he has his sights set on Heather. Heather misses her mother more than she can bear. Her mother was her only friend, and although her foster parents are loving and kind, they cannot make up for the loss. The horrible way her mother died will be with her forever. Mark and his buddies decide to prove once and for all that Ms. Raytzis is a vampire in a very deadly way. Now Heather is left alone with only her memories, or is she? This tale is dark and mysterious. It is the perfect combination of suspense and horror with a touch of the paranormal.

I Saw the Light

Jerry Stone is the lead singer of the rock band, the Heavy Stones. They are working their tails off to get recognized. This means working in some venues that leave a lot to be desired. The little gray lady has her eyes set on Jerry. She watches from a dark corner, and only he notices her. It is almost time to meet him. Jerry is nervous, as he has seen the same old lady at several of his shows. No one else has noticed her, and the uneasy feeling will not go away. But they have a show to put on, and he sets his feelings aside. The club they are playing in is a serious fire hazard, and it only takes one bar brawl for things to get out of hand. However it is the little old lady who is there to ease the pain. Spooky is what comes to mind with this story. Jerry’s concerns with the building they are playing in, and the little old lady who shows up for his last song will give you chills. You can almost hear the eerie music playing in the background.

War

Sergeant Martin is with the 119th Infantry Regiment in Bardenburg, Germany, leading a group of young soldiers against Hitler’s forces. They are little more than boys, and it is his job to keep them alive. The unknown soldier is keeping watch over the young man. It will soon be his time. Sergeant Martin is concerned when one of his young soldiers starts seeing people who are not there. But with weapons fire going nonstop, he has little time to determine the problem. Many soldiers crack under the pressure, and he fears that the young man is doing just that. The nameless soldier will help many cross over in this war, and easing their pain is what he does best. It is a comforting thought to believe that there is help in the end. The soul stealer is a relief for these men, and you can feel their initial reluctance turn to peace.

A Lesson on Suffering

As a certified nursing assistant, Viola Gaunt has a promising career. She is good at her job until one incident with a patient leaves her with chronic back pain, and an anger that warps her senses. Dr. Chuck Walters is Viola’s surgeon when her back is badly damaged. However it is her mind that concerns him most. Viola takes her rage out on her patients. The frail and the elderly never stand a chance against her evil. She systematically drains their lives and their bank accounts. Dr. Walters is ultimately her judge and jury. He is much more than just a doctor, and he can take Viola to a place deserving of her kind. This story will send chills up your spine. The main character is evil incarnate, even more so because she is as human as she is inhumane.

The Bag Lady

Police officer Francis “Frankie” Martin is in her element. She patrols the streets of Chicago with her fellow officers, and is as tough as the next guy. A fact she is quite proud of. The little old bag lady watches as Frankie goes in after a fellow officer. He has already met his maker, but her work is not yet done. The creep that kills Johnny Morales gets away that night, but Frankie receives a second chance. She is quick to determine his M.O., and takes up a position to stop him. He is not going to get away if she has anything to say about it. The bag lady once again makes an appearance, but only the deserving get a pain-free ride out of life. The soul stealer is more of an angel on earth. Her arrival may herald certain death, but it comes with peace and understanding. Each of these stories is told in a unique manner and always gives the reader a new perspective in the face of a tragedy.

Walter’s Matrix

Respiratory therapist Walter Mooney has a good life, a decent job, and a loving wife. A dream changes all of that. Frank Nunzio is the programmer of Walter’s life. He wants a life, and if it means taking over Walter’s, so be it. The dream leaves Walter feeling physical ill. However nothing could prepare him for the terror to come. Upon awakening, Walter steps into his own personal Twilight Zone. Nothing is as it seems, and the final straw is his aged doppelganger showing up as his boss. Walter learns that his life is nothing more than a programmer’s pastime. Only now the programmer wants Walter’s life as his own. The Matrix comes to life for Walter Mooney. His character is spiraling into a vortex that ultimately leaves him really looking at his life and his behavior for the first time. Quite a concept if you can wrap your mind around it.

The Elevator

The man in the elevator is just like everyone else in his building. He arrives and departs from his job at the same time every day, and generally has no contact with anyone other than the occasional hello or goodbye. They are all little more than robots. The little gray person takes the same elevator as the man. They do not speak, but the man is curious; the little man is so small and frail, he appears to be ill. The man taking the elevator finally hears the little gray man speak, and strikes up a conversation. This is so rare, he really surprises himself, but there is something compelling about the little man. After hearing a disturbing news story on the radio, the man is even more anxious to confront his new acquaintance. He gets his chance. This feels so real it is unsettling. How much of our lives do we spend completely oblivious to our surroundings? Hopefully this is a lesson learned that we must become actively involved in life, before it is too late.

Roses for Elaine

Elaine struggles for every breath she takes. Her emphysema has led to pneumonia, and it takes all of her energy just to suck in the tiniest of breaths. Paula Blaine is Elaine’s primary care nurse at the Silver Springs Nursing Center. She takes great joy in watching people suffer, and helps them along in any way she can. Elaine teeters on the edge of life and death, but no matter how bad it gets, she does not want to return to Silver Springs. The threats made to her by Paula will only get worse. Going home with her son Kevin and his wife is what she longs for. However she must tell someone what she knows before any more people die. Even if it means risking her own life. The fact that there are people in the health care industry like Paula is frightening but real. This story really hits home, by showing how easily these patients can be mistreated.

The Naturalist

The Naturalist grew up in the sixties; hippy clothes, smoking pot, and protesting the war were his life. It took a few years, but he finally grew up and became an adult. The little man stops by The Naturalist and admires his paintings. The renditions are so real they look ready to step off the page. But he is not here to admire artwork. Painting wildlife is what The Naturalist does best. His work is so lifelike that most people compare it to a photograph. He especially enjoys painting in the mountains outside of San Bernardino. He is just getting packed up when the little man shows up on the lonely road. What starts out as a pleasant conversation quickly becomes the dire realization that this may be the end. Lives can take many twists and turns throughout the years. The Naturalist was a hellion as a young man, and could have easily chosen a life of sin. However he found his niche in the world and prospered as an admired and talented artist.

The Storyteller

Big Jim Martin has lived a full life, and seen most of the world in his fifty years. He can tell a good story, and is willing to do so at any opportunity. The small man enjoys listening to Big Jim’s stories. Getting to know his clients always helps in the end. Big Jim and his dog, Sugar, have hiked together many times. They put a lot of miles behind them, and sometimes Jim gets lonely for human conversation. He will talk to anyone who stops to listen, and the little man who comes upon them on the trail is a great listener. When the time comes for Jim to depart, the little man is more than willing to help ease his way. Big Jim likes to tell some pretty tall tales, but it is all in good humor. You believe in his goodness, and his story will touch your heart.

The Road Home

Emily Mayes is in the last stages of the nerve disease, ALS. She has battled fiercely, but moving back to the city and into a nursing home is out of the question. Her son, Joe. understands his mother’s reluctance to go into a nursing home, but he has never figured out why she refuses to live in the city. Serenity Springs holds so many memories for Emily, some good, but also some that are horribly sad. The domed city would be so much easier on her and her family, but she just cannot live there. Her late husband comes into her thoughts with more regularity now, and he wants her to return to the city. She must forgive herself if she is to move on, and that forgiveness lies miles away in the frigid cold and blinding snow surrounding Serenity Springs. An old woman’s grief has crippled her life for decades, even more so than her disease. However she can only move past this in her own time. This story is achingly sad and tender.

Tom Johnson writes with a passion that is hard to ignore. His stories are sometimes brutally honest and always emotionally profound. I am a huge fan of his work and highly recommend it. Barbara Custer has a flair for the unusual. She will take ordinary people and twist them into the most bizarre and strangely compelling storylines. The compilation of stories in this book varies greatly. Some are fantastic, some are odd, but all are expertly written.

Lototy
Reviewer for Coffee Time Romance
Reviewer for Karen Find Out About New Books

 

 

 

Johnston McCulley

Johnston McCulley almost single-handedly created the costumed hero all by himself! Although many of his characters wore strange costumes: The Man In Purple, The Crimson Clown, The Green Ghost (early series), Thunderbolt, etc., The Mongoose, his most famous creation was that of Zorro, the masked avenger who rode the west righting wrongs and punishing evildoers. Wearing all black, he was an expert with both whip and sword.
“The Curse of Capistrano” was a 5 part serial, running in ALL-STORY WEEKLY from August 9th, 1919 through September 6th, 1919. Other titles soon followed: “The Further Adventures of Zorro,” a six part serial, “Zorro Rides Again,” a 4 part serial, “The Sign of Zorro,” a five part serial, and a two part serial, “Mysterious Don Miguel.” But most of the adventures were various length short stories, which appeared in WEST from 1944 through 1951.
At least half a dozen Saturday Matinee serials were produced for the theaters, from Clayton Moore’s “Ghost of Zorro,” to Linda Stirling’s portrayal of a female Zorro in “Zorro’s Black Whip,” my all time favorite. In all of the matinees, Zorro was dressed in the familiar black regalia, complete with whip and guns, some times a flashing sword for excitement. In addition, several top-notch, movies were released. Television produced two excellent Zorro series, which remained true to the character, and were highly popular during their time.
As the movies proved, Zorro was a visual success, more so than the printed text of the short stories and serials from ARGOSY. Comic book publishers loved the character, as Zorro was the ideal hero for the comic reader. Let’s face it, without Zorro there would not have been a Lash LaRue or Durango Kid. To take this a step further, The Lone Ranger, the Green Hornet, and all of the masked rider cowboys of the silver screen owe their influence to Johnston McCulley’s famous hero.
But if Zorro was an influence to one media, he was an influence to all. The pulps, called such because of the cheap wood pulp the magazines were printed on, was preparing for the Roaring Twenties when Zorro appeared in 1919. In the 1920s, the pulps were publishing a lot of crime fiction and adventure stories, so the costumed hero had to wait until the 1930s for their heyday. In fact, there was only one new Zorro in the 1920s, and that was the six-part serial in 1922.
After the Wall Street crash of ’29, the readers were looking for new heroes. They were tired of the criminal element in their life and the media. Johnston McCulley, under his own name, and a number of house names, gave the reader the heroes they needed. Characters started appearing with names like the Green Ghost, The Mongoose, The Crimson Clown, The Man in Purple, and others, all by Zorro creator, Johnston McCulley. Another early series, The Bat, as written by (house name) C.K.M. Scanlon, was a costumed hero that researchers say was probably McCulley, as well. And I agree. With the beginning of the costumed hero, other greats began to appear: The Shadow, The Spider, The Phantom Detective, The Ghost! Green Ghost (later series), Masked Detective, the Crimson Mask, The Scar, and many others. All owe their success to Zorro creator, McCulley.
It’s the same with my character of The Black Ghost, though The Shadow was my inspiration. However, I brought my costumed crime fighter into the present, dealing with more modern criminals, although criminals are basically the same, no matter what period they exist. Following is a 4-Cup Review from Coffee Time Romance, so please keep in mind this was the highest rating possible for a non-romance title to receive.
Tom

Reviews for Guns of The Black Ghost

Rating: 4 Cups
Jimmy Malone is an old fashioned super hero. He secretly works alongside the police as The Black Ghost. As long as people do not learn who he really is, especially the police who he aims to help. Using his anonymity, he can bend and break the rules that bind the local law enforcement.
Peggy Malone married Jimmy knowing his alternate identity. Being the only person who does results in her often helping Jimmy in his crime fighting adventures. She has also been known to not only provide an alibi for Jimmy but to dress up as The Black Ghost to help keep Jimmy’s secret safe.
This is a collection of stories depicting a number of The Black Ghost’s adventures. Jimmy has been trained in a number of Martial arts and fighting methods. He is also more than competent with his favored guns. Jimmy’s step-father is in charge of the detective department of the local police. This is where The Black Ghost finds most of the crimes he fights. Although his father suspects Jimmy’s involvement with the masked man, he has never been able to prove it.
Reading this book has been an education for me. Mr. Johnson describes his work as a ‘Pulp Thriller’. This is a genre I had never heard of let alone read, but from the introduction forward, I was hooked. These stories are strong and exciting, as are the characters. Jimmy has a strong sense of justice and a compelling need to protect those he deems innocent. Peggy is Jimmy’s wife and the stable part of his life. It takes a great strength of character to be able to support a man with such an unusual hobby. Mr. Johnson has written an enlightening book and I will definitely be interested in reading more about his unique hero.
Hollie
Reviewer for Coffee Time Romance

Book Review

It’s been a month since I last posted a message in the Blog, so I thought I should put something in just to keep it alive. Unfortunately, with the end of the year, things slowed down a bit, and there really wasn’t much news. “The Day The Earth Stood Still” was released at the theaters, and so far all I’ve heard is negative feed back on it, so it looks like Hollywood goofed again. There’s not even the famous “Gort, Klaatu, Barada Nickto” line in the movie anywhere!

However, on the bright side, Altus Press has several of my books in preparation for early release. And to make them more interesting, Will Murray will be joining me in some of the research again, so 2009 looks to be a good year!

Meantime, over at NTD, I’ve had some good success with several of my books Barbara Custer published in 2008. So I thought this would be a good opportunity for me to Post a Review we got on one of those books. Keeping in mind, the Reviewer is from a romance group, and my novels are more action/adventure, we still received a 4-Cup Rating; a 5-Cup Rating would require steamy sex scenes, so the best I could hope for was what I received. The book can be ordered from NTD’s website, or through Amazon.

Hopefully, I’ll have more to talk about next time. I hope 2009 will be a good year for all of us!
Tom 

 

Reviews for Pangaea

Rating: 4 Cups 

Colonel Evelyn Peterson is ready for the commission of a lifetime. Her career is a testament to years of hard work and dedication, and the trip to Mars is just one more feather in her cap. She will be among the first to build a living community on an alien planet.

 

Major Adam Cooper is second in command to the Colonel. His respect and admiration for her is absolute, and if he drives her a little nuts, it just keeps her on her toes. He would give his life for his crew mates, and there is no question in his mind that the Colonel would do the same.

 

Colonel Peterson and her crew set off on an adventure like no other. They are to set up a bio-dome on Mars, and start a terra forming project. However the mission quickly becomes one of survival on a planet so alien that it barely resembles Earth. The ship and its crew are swept back in time to the Permian Period of the Paleozoic Era; which is approximately 250 million years in the past. Colonel Peterson and Major Cooper along with their five crew mates fight for their lives against a primordial planet and its inhabitants. Humans may be the highest on the evolutionary ladder, but nature has a way of evening out the playing field. Does the crew have any hope of survival? Or will they become just another species to fall victim to the great extinction?

 

This story has such a fascinating concept, I was enthralled from the very beginning. If you are at all interested in prehistoric Earth, this is a fantastic fictional read. Mr. Johnson gives life to prehistoric Earth with amazing detail. His descriptions of plant and animal life, as well as the geographical layout makes the story come to life for the reader. From the scorching desert to the steaming swamps each page is loaded with an eye for detail. The characters are also fully developed, and have a great diversity of personality. I fully enjoyed this story, and hope that Mr. Johnson has many more to come.

Lototy
Reviewer for Coffee Time Romance
Reviewer for Karen Find Out About New Books

Pulp Movies

A while back, I mentioned one of my all time favorite movies on my Yahoo Groups, “The Day The Earth Stood Still”; a science fiction flick from the 1950s. This was a morality movie, with a flying saucer landing in Washington D.C. An alien named Klaatu exits the craft, with a nine foot tall robot following. The military immediately shoots the alien, wounding him, and the robot just as quickly wipes out tanks and artillery guns before you can blink an eye. This was a wonderful movie for its time. The message Klaatu brings to the world is, “Cease your aggression, and join us in peace, or bring your war-like attitude to outer space, and we will turn your world into a burned out cinder!”

Well, the good news is that Hollywood will release a remake on December 12th, starring Keanu Reeves as Klaatu. The current special effects should be fantastic. The bad news is that Hollywood cannot do justice to an old classic like this wonderful old flick. Just remember what they did with the recent “War Of The Worlds”. But I do hope they treat it with the respect it deserves. Another great classic being talked about is, “The Incredible Shrinking Man”, in which a cloud of radiation causes a man to shrink, eventually to the size of a mouse. A house cat chases him into the cellar, where he must contend with a venomous house spider for his food. In the original 1950s movie, they used a tarantula, although the novel called for a black widow spider. I think the remake should feature the more menacing black widow spider. There are enough horror elements in this story for the horror fan, and science fiction elements for the sci-fi fan. This is another movie I hope I am around to see. Unfortunately, they are now considering making this into a comedy. Bad news!

There is more good news on the horizon for this old pulp fiction fan. As most of you already know, Sam Raimi who brought us the latest Spiderman flicks, as well as the Darkman series, and other good movies, has obtained the film rights to Doc Savage and The Shadow, along with some of the other heroes from the pulp era. Raimi is an old fan of The Shadow, and plans on doing a top-notch version of the character. A number of publishers would like to get the publishing rights for both Doc Savage and The Shadow, in anticipation of the new movies, hoping to capitalize on their success when they are released. I would love to see an anthology of short stories featuring Doc and crew. Unfortunately, so far Conde Nast, the current copyright holder of the properties are holding the characters for ransom, and publishers are not willing to shell out the high price they want for such small publishing ventures. Although, there is some exciting news being circulated now: It appears that Will Murray may be continuing the series with some of his own novels! In anticipation of the possibility of an anthology, I have written a Doc Savage short story for consideration, but until things come to a head, everything is in limbo. And I know that I was born to write at least one Shadow yarn in my life. I just hope I am still around when that opportunity arises.

Still on the movie scene, we can expect a new Star Trek soon, plus a new Green Hornet movie. Unfortunately, I understand the Green Hornet will be shot as a comedy. I think someone must have grown up with the old TV Batman series. “Wham! Bam!” So sad, if this is true.

On the writing front, Altus Press recently released my study of the Purple Wars from the Operator #5 series. As always, Matt Moring brings out great books for the fans, both in fiction and pulp history. NTD also released my short story collection in “Blood Moons And Nightscapes”, an anthology coauthored with Barbara Custer. Included in the book is my short novel, “Bad Moon Rising”, about a squad of soldiers in the Vietnam War. These two books end 2008, but I have several books scheduled next year, from NTD and Altus Press. 2009 should be a good year.

As the announcer used to say: “Stay tuned!”

Fading Shadows

FADING SHADOWS was a small press publishing house that began in June 1982 with the publication of ECHOES, the hobby magazine for the pulp enthusiast. The magazine lasted for 100 issues before becoming a newsletter, finally ceasing in December 2004. However, in June 1995, FADING SHADOWS branched out to fiction magazines with the first issue of CLASSIC PULP FICTION STORIES. That first issue contained a number of stories written in the pulp tradition, from a Vietnam War story to the start of a science fiction serial. Also in the first issue were new stories of Ki-Gor, Doc Harker, Bill Barnes, and the Phantom Detective. In coming issues, there were more of the same, though the characters still under copyright were quickly dropped. But the writers continued to send in new adventures of the Black Bat, Phantom Detective, Doctor Death, and even a Jim Hatfield western by James Reasoner.

Soon it became apparent that one magazine could not contain all of the stories coming in to FADING SHADOWS, so more titles were quickly added: WEIRD STORIES for the weird menace genre, STARTLING SCIENCE STORIES for the science fiction (title later changed to ALIEN WORLDS), DETECTIVE MYSTERY STORIES for the detective mystery fans, EXCITING UFO STORIES for the UFO crowd, and DOUBLE DANGER TALES for the new hero stories. There was no shortage in writers and artists, only in subscriptions.

In the beginning, there were only a few established authors. James Reasoner, Will Murray, Clayton and Patricia Matthews, and maybe one or two others. But many of the new writers that got their start with FADING SHADOWS went on to become established writers in their own right. Although FADING SHADOWS was not able to pay for their stories, they sharpened their writing skills while turning out great yarns for the genre magazines, and are now writing novels for paying markets. One writer that would have made it big passed away much too young. Sean Danowski was something of a creative genius, and could write any genre. He stood almost seven foot tall, and had to use a cane to walk, and was barely thirty years old when he died of a rare cancer. Sean created several new hero characters in the mold of The Shadow and Secret Agent X, but he preferred the title CLASSIC PULP FICTION STORIES over that of DOUBLE DANGER TALES, and wanted most of his stories in CPFS. Before he became too ill to sit up, Sean was putting his own weird menace book together, which he was writing and designing. Unfortunately, he never had the chance to finish it.

Other writers did become discouraged. Not because they were not being paid. They understood that ECHOES was paying the bill for printing the magazines, and FADING SHADOWS was not making any profit. What discouraged most of them was the lack of recognition. Not only couldn’t the magazines bring in subscriptions, it was impossible to get letters of comment from readers.

To get a general idea of how many words were published in these genre magazines, each issue contained approximately 40,000 words. There were 91 issues of CLASSIC PULP FICTION STORIES, 32 issues of STARTLING SCIENCE STORIES, 39 issues of ALIEN WORLDS, 55 issues of DETECTIVE MYSTERY STORIES, 63 issues of DOUBLE DANGER TALES, 26 issues of WEIRD STORIES, and 6 issues of EXCITING UFO STORIES, for a total of 312 issues. You do the math. That adds up to a lot of words for a small press publishing house.

Publishing on a monthly schedule made it impossible to get special art for each issue. Although there were probably a dozen artists contributing to the genre magazines, by the time a story came in, there wasn’t time to ask a specific artist to do something special for that story, so artists were asked to send generic art, i.e., a science fiction, a detective, or a general piece, or just a flying saucer or cowboy illustration, and when there was a story that sort of matched, that’s where the art went. And artists and writers were all treated the same. There were no favorites played. The only reason the same author might appear in six straight issues was because that author got his stories in on time. But even then, attention was given to each issue, and what authors and art was on hand, and what artist or author should be next.

There were problems. The magazines were a two-person operation, Tom and Ginger Johnson, both sharing in typing stories to format. The early years were done on manual typewriters, and then word processors, until finally, Ginger was using a computer. Most authors sent their manuscript in double-spaced, and each story had to be retyped to format dimensions. There was no time for a proofreader, and one was desperately needed, as typos appeared in every issue, if not every story! The magazines were amateurish at best, but the stories and art were top notch.

In a way, FADING SHADOWS paved the way. Genre magazines like ours closed out the last century and started the new century before ceasing publication. In March of 2002, Tom had a stroke, which limited his workload, and Ginger was not able to take on more of the responsibility, so it was decided to plan on stopping the magazines. ECHOES was now a newsletter, and not bringing in enough money to support the genre magazines anyway, so one at a time, the titles folded, until they were all gone by December of 2004.

Some day I would like to compile an index to the authors and stories that were published under the FADING SHADOWS imprint, but that would be a massive task, and I’m not sure I am up to it. However, all of the data is available at http://www.geocities.com/fadingshadows1/index.html At least the authors and titles are available. The cover and interior art is not listed.

Anyone care for the task? (Smile)

Bronze Shadows & The Moon Man

One of the first fanzines I ever read was Fred Cook’s BRONZE SHADOWS (Bronze for Doc Savage and Shadows for our hero, The Shadow), which ran for 15 issues, beginning with an undated Issue #1. Issue #2 was dated December 1965. Issue #15 was dated November 1968. Except for Issue #1, which was only a couple of pages of introduction, most of the succeeding issues were around 20 pages each. Printed for the most part on a mimeograph machine and pages stapled together, then folded and mailed without an envelope, it cost something like 35 cents an issue, and worth ten times that price!

Except for Doc Savage and The Shadow, there wasn’t much known about the other pulp heroes at the time. BRONZE SHADOWS set out to correct that lack of knowledge, even though the fanzine was a Doc Savage and Shadow hobby magazine. Nick Carr quickly started writing about G-8 and Operator #5, Bud Overn started writing about Bill Barnes, and soon there were other articles on some of the other great pulp heroes. Herman S. McGregor began his “A Critical Analysis of The Doc Savage Magazine”, which, to my knowledge, was never completed. Robert “Bob” Kenneth Jones started his research into ADVENTURE. He completed it later in ECHOES, and then it was published in book form. Nick Carr’s own research went on to be published in several books: “America’s Secret Service Ace” (a study of Operator #5), “The Flying Spy” (G-8), “The Other Detective Pulp Heroes”, as well as “The Pulp Hero”, and others.

However, about this time, one of the first questions that intrigued all of us was in issue #8, dated January 1967. A letter from Robert Joseph asks: “Did you ever hear of a pulp series character by the name of Moon Man? I know it sounds unsophisticated even by the standards of the 30s and 40s. From what I can remember, he appeared in one of the detective pulps. He was supposed to wear a special helmet that made his head invisible. Any information that you can dig up would be appreciated.”

Fred Cook answers him: “Good Gravy! A man with no head? Sorry, Bob, I can’t place him, but I’m sure Gerry de la Rae, Dick Myers, Bernie Wermers, Lynn Hickman or some of the other collectors can pin him down for you. How about it – you pulp detectives?”

In Issue #10, dated June 1967, Jack Irwin responded with: “In response to Robert Joseph’s query about the Moon Man: The Moon Man stories appeared in TEN DETECTIVE ACES and were written by Frederick C. Davis. I don’t know the extent of the life of the series, but I have several issues between January 1935 and September 1936 that contain Moon Man stories. TEN DETECTIVE ACES was published monthly at this time but the Moon Man did not appear on a regular monthly basis. For instance, he didn’t make an appearance in the February 1936 or October 1936 issues. Incidentally, the Moon Man’s special glass helmet did not make his head invisible in the sense that it became transparent. Instead the helmet was one-way, in that the Moon Man could see out of the helmet, but none could see into it. So then, this was the reason that his head was not visible when he wore the helmet. The shape of the helmet together with its color gave rise to the name “Moon Man”, since his helmet resembled a full moon. The rest of the Moon Man’s costume consisted of a long black robe.

“The Moon Man, like many of the costumed characters of the pulps, worked outside the law and therefore was considered a criminal and hunted by the police. In reality, he was Detective Sergeant Stephen Thatcher, and was the son of the Chief of Police. In addition his fiancée was the daughter of a Detective Lieutenant. How’s that for connections for a criminal?”

Fred Cook answers with: “Thank you for passing this information on to Bob in particular and the rest of us in general. It certainly is fascinating to trace down some of the answers to the questions that pop up. Let’s keep it up and get all the answers that we can.”

Well, by the time BRONZE SHADOWS folded, all of the questions may not have been answered, but a good many of them had been. We eventually learned that Frederick C. Davis not only wrote the Moon Man short stories in TEN DETECTIVE ACES, he also wrote the Mark Hazzard and Ravenwood short stories over at SECRET AGENT X. The Hazzard series lasted for six issues, from 1935 to 1936, and Ravenwood for five issues in 1936. Plus, he wrote the first twenty novels in the Operator #5 series as Curtis Steele. Frederick C. Davis was a professional writer, even though most of his stories were shorts. It was rumored that he dictated his stories to a secretary, some times more than one story at a time. His Operator #5 novels were undoubtedly top notch, and the best in the series. He shared the byline with Emile C. Tepperman and Wayne Rogers. But it’s probably his short story series of the Moon Man that fans remember today, thanks in large part to BRONZE SHADOWS and the question written in by Robert Joseph back in 1967.

TEN DETECTIVE ACES: When Ace bought out DETECTIVE DRAGNET around 1932-33, they changed the title to TEN DETECTIVE ACES, and the new title ran for 161 issues, ending in October 1949. The title boasted ten stories per issue, or a cent a story, and most of the stories were series, or continuing characters by the same authors month after month. A typical early issue might consist of authors like Paul Chadwick, Emile C. Tepperman, Lester Dent, Norvel Page, and Frederick C. Davis. Many of these same authors went on to write the full-length hero novels in other series. Paul Chadwick went on to write Secret Agent X and Captain Hazzard, Emile C. Tepperman went on to write The Spider, Operator #5, and Secret Agent X. Norvel Page went on to write The Spider. Lester Dent went on to write Doc Savage, and Frederick C. Davis went on to write Operator #5.

There were 38 Moon Man stories, from May-June 1933 (“The Sinister Sphere”) to January 1937 (“Blackjack Jury”). All of these stories have been collected into two hardbacks. “The Night Nemesis”, The Complete Adventures of The Moon Man – Volume One, edited by Garyn G. Roberts and Gary Hoppenstand was published by The Purple Prose Press, Bowling Green, Ohio (no date of publication listed in my copy), and “The Silver Spectre”, The Complete Adventures of The Moon Man – Volume Two. Compiled and edited by Robert Weinberg, The Battered Silicon Dispatch Box, 2004. Also with commentary by Garyn G. Roberts and Gary Hoppenstand, and an Introduction by Will Murray. The character basically robbed from the bad guys and gave to the poor, like Robin Hood of legend. Later, Captain Satan would carry the plot to a series of five novels, although his band of men often kept a percentage of the take. Not so the Moon Man. Through his aide, Ned “Angel” Dargan, the money would be distributed to those who were in most need. The act of charity gave the character of the Moon Man his reason to exist. The reading public had just gone through a long Depression. Not only were they looking for a hero, they were looking for their very own Robin Hood of Sherwood Forest, and Frederick C. Davis’s Moon Man character filled this bill perfectly.

As it was, it had been the Great Depression that brought on the pulp hero. For over ten years the pulps were dominated by gangster stories. Mobs, gun molls, and the Machine-gun Kelly’s were the reader’s fare. And readers were tired of the gangsters, real or imagined, and wanted to read about good winning out over evil. In 1931, The Shadow began over at Street & Smith, written by Walter B. Gibson under the Maxwell Grant house name. Shortly after that, The Phantom Detective appeared over at Standard. Soon, we had pulp heroes popping up at all of the pulp houses: Doc Savage in 1933 at Street & Smith. The Spider and G-8 at Popular, etcetera. So it wasn’t surprising to see pulp heroes over at Ace in 1933, even if they were short story series. In 1934, Ace would have Secret Agent X, and by 1935 The Moon Man and a dozen other short story characters were going strong at TEN DETECTIVE ACES.

An Introduction

My fascination with pulps began in the mid 1940s with my love for comic books, radio drama, and Saturday Matinee serials. As a young boy living in Wichita Falls, Texas, I was surrounded by theaters, bookracks and, of course, our family radio. It was during the time soldiers were returning from Europe to their hometowns, and the train depot was half a block from our apartment. I would often visit when trains arrived, and saw the men in uniforms, and knew they were heroes. This was what the pulps also offered. I guess I was a hero worshiper from a very early age. I loved the Batman comics, the Superman serial, and The Shadow on radio. The character pulps were a natural evolution.

I have had a long life, and a long love affair with the pulps. Doc Savage and The Shadow will always remain my favorite series, though I have read all the rest, and hold all of the hero characters deep to my heart.

I hope there is some knowledge I can pass on to others, but if I leave behind a legacy of my feelings for the fiction of a better time for tomorrow’s generation, then I have done something useful with my life.