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Pulp Corner: Why Pulp Matters

As I hinted in another article, I have a fascination with the pulp genre. It started with movies and the film noir movement of the 1940s and 50s but from there I quickly moved to the hardboiled crime novels that inspired those movies and eventually pulp books and art. I decided to develop a new feature on the Evil Geeks site where I can rant and rave about all things pulp related. I figured I would start with a basic overview and why the genre could be important to you.

There’s no way two ways around it, pulp novels are the early ancestors of comic books. Clear and simple. Dating back as far as the 1890’s, pulp books reached their zenith in the 1920s and 30s. Many of them feature heroes, mortal men who sometimes have some kind of special power…but aren’t quite superheroes. People like The Shadow, Zorro and Doc Savage. Their stories were often published in installments in magazines with each chapter ending on a cliff hanger so you’d absolutely need to buy the next issue to find out what happens. Many of them also star wealthy protagonists who dole out vigilante justice by way of an alter ego. These pulp tales mostly alternate between street level, gritty crime scenes or expansive and exotic globetrotting.  Thus the early Golden Age of comics grew out of this.

Don’t believe me? Check out a list of things you might find in comic books that originated from pulp stories.

  • Fortress Of Solitude (Doc Savage)
  • Man Of Steel (The Avenger)
  • Red Skull (Doc Savage)
  • The Hand (The Shadow)
  • Hydra (The Shadow)
  • COMMISSIONER JAMES GORDON (The Whisperer)

These ALL predate their respective comic book mentions. I found those just by browsing the titles of various pulp books with minimal research, I wasn’t seeking out comparisons. Can you imagine what else is out there? Some of these titles even made the jump to comic books and are still be published today (The Phantom, The Shadow, The Spider etc). This is a vast world ripe for rediscovery. So check back often as we begin to dive into all aspects of pulp and what makes it so damn interesting.

All images and characters depicted are copyright of their respective owners

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About Biff Tannen

Film Noir, Pulp, Comic Books and Hitchcock.

Posted on November 20, 2012, in Books, Features, Geekology, Pulp Corner and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

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