Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Friday, April 20, 2012


My week's reading has not touched any Forgotten Books:  some Ed Gorman westerns, some Joe R. Lansdale, some of Joe Hill's Locke and Key graphic novels, and some Stephen King graphic novels.  Everything fairly recent and nothing I would call forgotten.  Luckily, I've also been reading a few of Robert Bloch's Lefty Feep stories from the 1940s.

    Lefty is not like the other children.  To say that he dresses loudly is like saying Sarah Palin ever had a shot at being elected president.  Lefty is a con man, a grifter, a lover of the racetrack, and not so intelligent, although he has a naive wiliness about him which helps him get out of scrapes.  Lefty is also a storyteller...and what fantastic stories.

     The Lefty Feep stories are told in a Runyonesque style.  On steroids.  Lefty's misadventures feature fantastic situations, rhyming phrases, outrageous puns, and a little twist at the end, all narrated in the present tense.  The stories should not be read in one big gulp.  A little Lefty goes a long way.

     The series appeared in Fantastic Adventures from 1942 to 1950 (with two exceptions) so there a lot of refernces to the war and some now non-PC descriptions of Germans and Japanese.  In one, Lefty gets Aladdin's lamp and asks the genie for a room full of riches; what he gets is a room full of rubber tires.  Rationing made them very valuable, you know.  The stories are firmly embedded in their time: a gun is called a "not-so-Gabriel heater," for example.

     He has adventures with time travel, wizards, the devil, living statues, the Fountain of Youth, robots...well, you get the idea.  Anything can happen to Lefty Feep, and usually does.  The strange characters he meets up with have names like Lower Bertha, Joe Blow, Jack Fu Groan and his brother Wuan Low Groan, Gorilla Gabface, Bernie the Attorney, and Horace Hormone.  The stories may not be sophisticated but they sure are enjoyable.

     The first eight Lefty Feep stories were collected, along with an original story, in Lost in Time and Space with Lefty Feep, Volume One in 1987 by the small press Creatures at Large.  Further volumes never appeared.

     There were twenty-five Lefty Feep stories all together (information mainly from ISFDB):
  • *Time Wounds All Heels (Fantastic Adventures, April 1942; The Time Curve, edited by Sam Moskowitz and Roger Elwood, 1968; Lost in Time and Space with Lefty Feep, Volume One, 1987)
  • *Gather 'Round the Flowing Bowler (FA, May 1942; LiTaSwLF)
  • The Pied Piper Fights the Gestapo (FA, June 1942; LiTaSwLF)
  • *The Weird Doom of Floyd Scrilch (FA, July 1942; LiTaSwLF; Rivals of Weird Tales, edited by Robert Weinberg, Stefan Dziemanowicz, and Martin H. Greenberg, 1990) 
  • *The Little Man Who Wasn't All There (FA, August 1942; LiTaSwLF; Knights of Madness:  Further Comic Tales of Comic, edited by Peter Haining, 1998)
  • *Son of a Witch (FA, September 1942; The Second Book of Unknown Tales of Horror, edited by Peter Haining, 1978; Tales of Unknown Horror, edited by Peter Haining, 1978; LiTaSwLF)
  • Jerk the Giant Killer (FA, October 1942; LiTaSwLF)
  • The Golden Opportunity of Lefty Feep (FA, November 1942; LiTaSwLF)
  • Lefty Feep and the Sleepy-Time Gal (FA, December 1942)
  • *Lefty Feep Catches Hell (FA, January 1943)
  • Nothing Happens to Lefty Feep (FA, February 1943)
  • The Chance of a Ghost (FA, March 1943)
  • *Lefty Feep and the Racing Robot (FA, April 1943)
  • *Genie with the Light Brown Hair (FA, May 1943)
  • *Stuporman (FA, June 1943; Superheroes, edited by Michael Parry, 1978)
  • *The Goon from Ragoon (FA, July 1943)
  • *You Can't Kid Lefty Feep (FA, August 1943)
  • *A Horse on Lefty Feep (FA, October 1943)
  • Lefty Feep's Arabian Nightmare (FA, February 1944)
  • *Lefty Feep Does Time (FA, April 1944)
  • *Lefty Feep Gets Henpecked (FA, April 1945; Satan's Pets, edited by Vic Ghadalia, 1972)
  • *Tree's a Crowd (FA, July 1946)
  • *End of Your Rope (FA, July 1950; Science Fantasy Yearbook [no.1], 1970)
  • The Return of Lefty Feep (Out of My Head, 1986)
  • A Snitch in Time (LiTaSwLF)
* available online at

     Lefty Feep is part of a tradition of way-out humorous fantasy stories.  There was also Nelson bond's Horse-Sense Hank, Squaredeal Sam McGhee and Pat Pending, Dwight V. Swain's Henry Horn, and Leroy Yerxa's Freddie Funk.  Later (and more sophisticated) cousins were H. Nearing's C.P. Ransom and R. Bretnor's incorrigible Papa Schimmelhorn.  All of which are worth reading, but there's a special place in my heart for the hapless Lefty Feep.


  1. Excellent idea. I've barely read the Feep stories, and there was never another Feep volume in part because Bloch wasn't that keen on getting them back in print, and in part because Creatures at Large was amateur hour verging on the Old Gnome Press Marty Greenberg level of creative accounting.

  2. I'm not sure I'll agree that the Schimmelhorn stories were more sophisticated, particularly given how misogynist the latter-day stories were.

  3. Papa Schimmelhorn was delightfully misogynistic; I found that part of his charm. (I laughed at Al Bundy, too.)

  4. You didn't get the sense that the writers agreed with Bundy, however.