Rev. Gary Davis.
Rev. Gary Davis.
This is the original Blue Beetle, who first appeared in Mystery Men Comics #1 (August 1939), and went on to be featured in his own comic book for 59 issues. (The Blue Beetle comic book was numbered #1-60, but there was no issue #43.) As with many Golden Age comic book heroes, the Blue Beetle's path to taday has been rocky as comic book publishers die out and characters get bought and re-imagined and re-re-imagined. Over the years, the Blue Beetle was portrayed as three different characters : Dan Garret (later Dan Garrett), Ted Cord, and Jaime Reyes -- it's the first character, Dan Garret, who concerns us here. Artist Charles Nicholas Wojtkoski (as "Charles Nicholas") has been credited with creating the super-hero, although Will Eisner may or may not have written the original script.
Dan Garret is a rookie police officer while also being the Blue Beetle, a man believed to be a crook and wanted by the police. As the Blue Beetle, Dan starts out wearing a blue suit jacket and mask; later, he switches to a full-body cowled costume, yellow gauntlets, and a domino mask. His cosume is bullet-proof and he gains super-energy through "Vitamin 2X," which is concoted for him by neighborhood pharmacist Abe Franz. The Blue Beetle dirve a special powered car that leaves the police in the dust. He starts by rescuing a banker's kidnapped daughter after her father had been murdered, and by exposing the leader of the gang of kidnappers.
This 282-page compilation includes storiues from Mystery Men #1-15 and Blue Beetle #1-1.
Down the Mysterly River by Bill Willingham (2011)
Max the Wolf found himself walking through a great forest with no memory of where he was or how he had gotten there. This was a bit disconcerning because, although he was not a real wolf (that wa just a nickname he had been given), he was a crackjack Boy Scout and, as such, was aways prepared. Until now. Even though the woods were not his native Seattle, he was at least somewhat prepared because he was wearing his Boy Scout uniform, less his cap, and he had his Boy Scout knife in one pocket. Max faced his situation calmly. Although it was a mystery, mysteries were meant to be solved and who better to do that than Max, who was also a boy detective. (Max's many adventures in detection had been chronicled in a series of 37 novels by writer Lawrence Swift.)
His best bet, he decided, was to walk downhill in an attempt to find some water. While going through a dense area of underbrush, a voice warned him, "I don't think either of us would like it if you stepped on me." The voice belonged to a very large badger (Taidea taxus). Since badgers did not talk in Seattle (or anywhere else), Max thought he might be hallucinating, especially after the badger told him that both of them were dead. Max did not feel dead. He could feel pain and he was hungry -- two things that were not supposed to happen to dead people. It turns out the badger, whose name was Banderbrock, had also mysteriously found himself in the forest, decided he had to be dead, and believed that somewhere nearby was the Great Sett, the endless communal badger warren where every good and noble badger went after dying.
In the meantime, not far away, McTavish the Monster was trying to escape from two vicious dogs and their human master. McTavish was a barn cat but no one could be faulted for believing that he was a "might be a cat." He was big and battle-scarred with one eye and a snaggletooth; his tail was missing its tip and was broken at an odd angle. He had little of his original fur left. He was a tough, mean cat.
Max and Banderbrock had set up camp for the night. McTavish saw their campfire (Max was a Boy Scout, remember) and headed for it and ran right past them, hoping to confuse the dogs chasing him. The dogs stopped before the two and the human caught up. It was Lord Andor and he carried a large sword made of blue metal. When he found out who Max was. he told him that he did not belong here, but that others elsewhere were looking for him. He tried to threaten Max by cutting a six-inch thick tree with just one sweep of his sword, advancing to capture the boy. Suddenly, Banderbrock leapt from the nearby trees onto the two ravining dogs and a huge fight began. Max ran off outside of the fire's light and gathered some rocks to defend himself. He conked Lord Andor a good one, but that made the man angrier. Andor pinned Max to the ground and was about to smash his head with rock when McTavish came out of nowhere and landed on his back, clawing him painfully. Anndor ran off, calling his dogs after him. Only one dog, severely wounded, followed; the other had been killed by Banderbrock.
McTavish also had no memory of how he had come to this place. For the last week, though, he had been chased by the relentless hounds. He was sure that the human would be back with more dogs and that they should get away from there as fast as possible. And so the band was three.
They came across their fourth member on a narrow cliff-side path. This was Walden, a black bear, who was the sheriff of the Grand Green. He was trying to find his way back, stopping to eat fish and honey and berries and to eat honey and berries and fish and to eat berries and honey and fish and to take an inordinate amout of naps -- which was pretty much what he also did as sheriff. That, and try to catch the trickster Rake the cougar, who was the closest thing to a criminal that the Grand Green had. Walden was on his way to find Prince Aspen, who was supposed to be a great oracle who could answer all their questions. Prince Aspen, it turned out, was just that -- a large aspen tree who had been a dryad prince of the royal sapline. He was not an oracle, but he did know many things.
What about Lord Andor? He was a member of the Blue Cutters, an evil group dedicated to finding those talking animals that had somehow been tranferred to the giant forest. They liked to kill but they could also Cut -- wounding their victims with small cuts that removed their past memories, an excellent way to gain information. Andor's chapter of Blue Cutters ws led by Lady Kerris, who charged the ambitious Diana with leading a large group of Cutters to capture Max, Banderbrock, and McTavish, not realizing that they had been joined by Walden. Diana's men then captured a marmot and, using the Cutting, she discoverd the location of Prince Aspen. If Max was an important prize for the Blue Cutters, then Aspen was the grand prize, the most sought-after fugitive in the entire realm. Capturing Max and the others would be good, but capturing Aspen would ensure that Diana take Lady Kerris's place as the head of the chapter.
And there's a mysterious man in green who is following both our heroes and the Blue Cutters for his own purposes.
To save his friends and solve the mystery of where they are and why they are there will take all of Max's detecting skills, as well as the leadership training he has learned as a top-notch Boy Scout.
" 'The main thing to keep in mind,' Max said, as they walked along, 'is that most detection is simply a process of elimination.'
" 'You think better after you poop?' McTavish said. 'Me too! Maybe I could be a detective.' "
Down the Mysterly River is a wonderful, inventive, and funny thrill ride suitable for kids my age and younger.
Bill Willingham (b. 1956) is best-known as the writer and creator of the Eisner-winning comic book Fables, which chronicled the adventures of fairy tale and folklore characters hiding in exile nin New York City after their Homelands were destroyed by the powerful Adeversary; those Fables unable to blend in with human characters are hiding in the Farm located in Upstate New York. The varied characters with their strengths and weaknesses provide a rich tapestry for exceptional storytelling. The Fables universe has expanded to include other comic book titles, notably Jack of Fables (fifty issues), as well as miniseries Fairest, Cinderella, and Everafter, a special twelve-issue followup to Fables. A sxi-issue team-up featuring Batman and Fables sheriff Bigby Wolf, A Wolf in Gotham, was issued in 2012. Fables has twice been optioned for televion and for the movies.
Willingham has also been an artist for TSR Games, illustrating a number of their role-playing games. In the comics industry he has wroked on Green Lantern, The Sandman, Robin, House of Mystery, Justice League of America, and others. Among the comics he has created are Elementals, Ieonwood, Pantheon, Proposition Player, Shadowpact, and Salvation Run.
Nazi treasure...murder...Paris...spies and double agents...an elaborate frame...how can you go wrong?
Larry Fielding is a reporter who has just been fired without explanation after five years on the job. Now a beautiful femme fatale has framed him for murder. Could what's behind it all be a hidden Nazi treasure of stolen jewels? Or could it be the secret plans for an anti-missile device? Whatever the answer, Larry is up to his neck in trouble and the City of Lights has becomes deadly trap.
"The Lady Was a Tiger" is an original script by Murrary Bennett and stars William Redfield as Larry Fielding. Also featured are Roger DeKoven, Ian Martin, Chris Gampel, and Joan Loring.
"Woodrow Wilson's Necktie" by Patricia Highsmith (first appeared in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, March 1971; reprinted in Highsmith's collection Slowly, Slowly in the Wind, 1979; reprinted many times, sometimes as "Woodrow Willson's Neck Tie" or "Woodrow Wilson's Tie")
may have been was a mean, unpleasant, horrid person, but she could write. From Strangers in a Train to The Talented Mr. Ripley to her many other novels and short stories, she was the Queen of Moral Ambiguity.
"Woodrow Wilson's Necktie" concerns Clive Wilkes, a high school dropout and delivery boy for a grocery story. Clive's father had abandoned him and his mother when the boy was nine and Clive had gotten into some trouble when he was sixteen but seemed to have straightened himself out. Clive's one obsession was with Madame Thibualt's Waxworks Horrors, a local wax museum; Clive would visit once or twice a week and never tire of it or its bloody tableaus -- Marat in his bathtub, Reginald Christie strangling a woman, the Kennedy assassination, the Tate-Labianca murders, the Lindberg kidnapping -- all seemed to give Clive some comfort and a sense of thrill.
Clive decided he wanted to spend the night in the waxwork. It took some planning, but one evening he was able to hide in a dark nook while the staff locked up and left for the night. It was exciting for a while, but then it tired. To add a little lagniappe to his adventure he stole a necktie from a wax figure of Woodrow Wilson. (The exhibit had a tableau of Wilson signing the Armistice; why this was a feature of a house of horrors is confusing and never explained.) A few days later he revisited the museum; Wilson's tie was still missing -- no one on the staff had noticed it; or, if they had, no one bothered to replace it. Clive could not tell anyone of his great exploit of spending the night in the waxworks and of stealing the neckitie which was now hanging in his closet.
"Clive did get another idea one afternoon, a hilarious idea that would make the public sit up and take notice. Clive's ribs trembled with supressed laughter..." The museum had four employees. One was the ticket-taker who was the first to leave and would lock and bar the front door; the others -- two men and one woman -- would lock the day's proceeds in the office and straighten out the museum before they left through the rear door. Once again, Clive hid in a dark corner as the museum closed and the ticket-taker had left. When the woman was about to leave, Clive stepped out, grabbed from behind by the throat and strangled her. When one the men started to leave, he did the same. But this was a man, somewhat stronger than the woman, and he made some noise before he died. When the second man came out, Clive acted quickly, stunning him with a blow, then smashing his head against the plaster wall repeatedly until he was dead. Or so Clive thought. When the man moved slightly, Clive repeatedly stabbed him in the throat with a penknife. Now all three were decidedly dead.
Now for the real fun part. Clive took the wax body of Marat out of his tub and put it on the office desk. In Marat's place, he put the woman's body; he did not bother to remove her clothers because it was funnier for her to be in a tub fully clothed, wearing her fur-collared jacket and with her hat placed at a jaunty angle on her head. One exhibit had a man eating his dinner while his wife stabbed him in the neck. He took the man's figure and sat it in a chair in the office and placed one of the dead men in his place, making sure that the corpse was holding a knife and fork in front of the dinner plate. At the Woodrow Wilson exhibit. he took the seating figure and placed it on the toilet in the bathroom, replacing the figure with the last corpse; that body slumped forward, it's head covering the document in front of him with blood. Clive then wiped his fingerprints from anything he had touched and left through the rear door, locking it. "God Lord, it was funny!" -- not just the placement of the corpses but also the placement of the wax figures.
The next morning, he showed up with a few other customers and waited for the museum to open. The ticket-taker told everyone to just go in, explaining everyone else seemed a bit late that morning. At first, nobody noticed anything wrong, not the clothed woman in Marat's tub or the dead man at the dinner table. Then one woman asked her husband, "Was someone shot when the armistice was signed?" Suddenly, a woman screamed from the Marat exhibition. The ticket taker then recognized the body as hiks co-worker Mildred. Police were called as Clive left he museum, thinking, "That was good. That was all right. Not bad. Not bad at all."
Rather than show up at work, Clive decided to take a long bus ride somewhere. By that evening, he was in a small town in Indiana, reading the local newspapers; three of them had headlines about the murders. He took the papers and went to a local bar. Nobody else seemed excited or concerned about the murders -- not at the bar, nor at the small diner where he went next. A couple of men sat next to him at the counter, talking about something else. Clive interrupted them to ask if they read about the murders. They had, but they were not interested, and continued their conversation. Clive told them that he was the murderer. They ignored him and went on talking. The next day in another town, the papers were still discussing the murders but Clive's name was not mentioned, nor was the funny way he had positioned the corpses and the wax statues. Again, he told some people that he had done it and got the same reaction. So he went home and entered the police staion and confessed. They treated it as a false confession. Clive was ordered to see a psychiatrist, who also did not believe him. Clive wondered what deadly thing he would have to do next to convince people that he deserved an exhibit in Madame Thibualt's Waxwork Horrors...
A somewhat darkly humorous, ironic tale.
I read this in Anne Perry's excellant anthology A Century of British Mystery and Suspense. I'm still wondering why it was included there. Highsmith was an American, the story was first published in America, and it took place in America. Yes, the book also had stories by Americans John Dickson Carr and Michael Z. Lewin, but they both might as well have been British, but why Highsmith?
Oldest grandchild Mark turns another calendar page today. I may be prejudiced, but he is the sweetest, kindest, funniest man on this planet. Look up the words "awesome" and "amazing" in any dictionary; if it doesn'r have Mark's picture there, it's a terrible dictionary. If you do not automatically fall in love with this guy, there is something seriously wrong with you. As with many of the world's best people, Mark is quiet and unassuming and really does not realize how great he truly is. No matter -- anyone who has ever met him knows he is anyway.
I love him. I'm proud of him. I'm glad he's a big part of my life.
Charlie Wild, Private Detective began as a radio series on NBC on September 24, 1950, replacing The Adverntures of Sam Spade after Spade actor Howard Duff and creator Dashiell Hammett were caught up in the Red Scare of the time; Charlie Wild premiered exactly one week after the last Spade show. Charlie Wild was a tough New York City private eye whose cases usually involved murder and beautiful women. Wild was originally played by George Petrie until December 17 of that year. The program then moved to CBS radio from January 7 to July 1, 1951, with Kevin O'Morrison in the lead, followed by John McQuade.
The show hit the CBS television airwaves on December 22, 1950, running for 20 episodes until June 27; for almost all of that time, the television program ran concurrent with the radio show, sometimes recyling the radio scripts. Kevin O'Morrison and the John McQuade reprised their radio roles. Charlie Wild then moved to ABC television from September 11, 1951 to March 4, 1952. It went to its third network, the DuMont Television Netwrok, for its final episodes, ending on June 19, 1952. The television show ran for a total of 64 episodes -- 20 on CBS, 27, on ABC, and 17 on DuMont. John McQuade continued to star as Charlie Wild through the entire ABC and DuMont runs. Cloris Leachman was featured as Wild's secretary Effie Perrine for 57 episodes.
In "The Case of the Double Trouble," Charlie is tasked with guarding a valuable parchment; as things develop, he may be underpaid for the job.
Openers: The exorcist is dead.
Abby sits in her office and stares at the email, then clicks the blue link. It takes her to the homepage of the paper she still thinks of as the News and Courier, even though it changed its name fifteen years ago. There's the exorcist floating in the niddle of her screen, balding and with a ponytail, smiling at the camera in a blurry headshot the size of a postage stamp. Abby's jaw aches and her throat gets tight. She doesn't realize she's stoppoed breathing.
The exorcist was driving some luimer up to Lakewood and stopped on I-95 to help a tourist change his tire. He was tightening the big nuts when a Dodge Caravan swerved onto the shoulder and hit him full-on. He died before the ambulance arrived. The woman driving the minivan had three differenr painkillers in her system -- four if you included Bud Light. She was charged with driving under the influence.
"Highways or dieways," Abby thinks. "The choice is yours."
-- Grady Hendrix, My Best Friend's Exorcism, 2016
Abby and her best friend Gretchen are high school sophomores. An evening of skinny-dipping goes horribly wrong and Gretchen is acting strangely. She's moody and irritable. Strange things begin to happen whenever she is nearby. Will their friendship be powerful enough to beat the devil? "Like an unholy hybrid of Beaches and The Exorcist, My best Friend's Exorcism blends teen angst, adolescent drama, unspeakable horrors, and a mix of '80s pop songs into a pulse-pounding supernatural thriller."
Grady Hendrix is the author of the 2014 bestselling novel Horrorstor,, showing what could happen when a big box Ikea-like store goes bad. The book has been optioned and is currently indevelopment. My Best Friend's Exorcism was his next book; it was relased as a film in 2022. This was followed by his nonfiction look at horror paperbacks (with Will Errickson) oin 2017, Paperbacks from Hell, which in turn became the inspiration for an ongoing line paperback reprints from Valancourt Books. Other best-sellers followed: We Sold Our Souls, The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires, The Final Girl Support Group, and most recently, How to Sell a Haunted House. Hendrix's unique and witty take on horror, friendship, and life make him an author to check ouot.
Gabby has just graduated from a mail order "detectkative" school and has received his diploma and a box of disguises. He figures that should get him hired on as a "deppity," but no such luck. Gabby bets the sheriff that he'll solve the next crime that occurs before the sheriff does. The sheriff replied that if he did, Gabby would be hired.
Mean-spirited, dad-ratted varmint of a shopkeeper Asa Jones is murdered and his brother Bije says he saw settler Jack Lawlor fleeing the scene. Gabby must use all his deteckative skills to find out who actually murdered the dingbusted polecat before a lynch mob reaches his friend Jack.
A give-away comic book from Quaker Oats, which Gabby says is the most popular breakfast cereal in the whole United States and Texas. If not Quaker Oats, you'll sure smack your lips over a steamin' hot bowl of Mother's Oats from the same company. Either way, it'll cost less than a penny per serving. (In small print we are told that Quaker Oats and Mother's Oats are the same.)
Enjoy this comic book while you're having a Deee-Licious breakfast!
Thirteen French Science Ficrion Stories, edited and translated by Damon Knight (1965)
Taken mainly from Fiction, the French edition of The Magazine of Fantasy and science Fiction, these thirteen stories offer "a galaxy of Gallic fantasy." Slowly, over the magazine's existence, Fiction began to publish original stories by French authors in addition to using reprints from F&SF. Many of the better stories are included here. All stories were transleted by Knight, who admittedly had to "painfully" polish up his French in the process.
Australian paperback writer Alan G. Yates (1923-1985) published some 221 mystery paperback novels under the name "Carter Brown" ("Peter Carter Brown" or "Peter Carter-Brown" for some Australian and British editions). Most were published in his native Australia; many (some of which were revised) were republished in England and in America. Fast-paced, quick reads with breezy dialog, a hint of sex, a dash of humor, and no lack of corpses or adventure -- the Carter Brown novels were popcorn for the mind. Many of his books had series characters: Al Wheeler, a California homicide dtective, Rick Holman, Hollywood private eye, Larry Baker, Hollywood scriptwriter, Danny Boyd, a New York private eye, and Mavis Seidlitz, a not-too-bright private eye with a great body. Among his other detectives were Paul Donovan, Andy Kane, Mike Farrell, Zelda Roxanne, Mark Jordan, Joe Kahn, Ivor MacCullum, Max Dumas, and Randy Roberts. (Some of his U.S. paperbacks may have been ghostwritten, although the Yates esate apparently denies this. Reportedly, Robert Silverberg wrote four "Carter Brown" books; whether they were ever published is anybody's guess. Ten "Carter Brown" mysteries were ghost-written by C. J. MacKenzie in 1958, while Yates was overseas.) There was also a comic books series, several French films, and a Japanese television series. Reportedly, there was a French literary award given out for "the most whiskies drunk in a single novel."
(Yates was generally considered to be the author of the 38 romantic suspense books published as by "Caroline Farr," but only one can be traced to him; the remainder were written by various Australian ghost-writers. Yates also wrote science friction as "Paul Valdez," thrillers as "Dennis Sinclair," and other books, including westers, romances, and horror novesls as "Tex Conrad," "Tom Conway," "Sinclair McKellar," "Ace Carter," and under his own name.)
On Australian radio, there were two series: Carter Brown Mysteries (52 one-hour shows, each comprising four fifteen-minute episodes) and Carter Brown Mystery Theater (28 half-hour shours), both produced in the 1950s. Many of the radio shows lifted dialog directly from the Carter Brown novels.
Newspaper columnist Johnny Lane printed a story about some unhappy thugs paying a visit to mobster Albert Ferraro. who was scheduled to testify at a Senate committee investigating vice in the city -- perhaps to even name Mr. Big. But the story was written before the thugs paid their visit and before Albert Ferraro was found strangled by a silk stocking. The cops want answers...
"Call for a Columnist" was the first program aired on Carter Brown Mysteries, presumably in 1950, although I have not been able to establish an exact air date. The show was introduced by "Carter Brown" himself, who promised to be back the next week with another thrilling story.
"Have a Nice Death" by Antonia Fraser (first published in Fiction, 1983; reprinted in Frasewr's collection Jemima Shore's First Case, and Other Stories, 1986; reprinted several other times, including in A Century of British Mystery and Suspense, edited by Anne Perry, 2000)
Casper Milquetoast Sammy Luke is a mousy little author who has finally made it (sort of) big with his sixth novel, Women Weeping, a masochistic, violent, and misogenystic work complete unlike anything he had written before. Women Weeping has had incredible sales both in Sammy's native England and in America, causing Clodagh Jansen, Sammy's American editor, to arrange an American book tour, featuring Sammy on most of the top American television interview shows in the hopes of pushing sales even higher. Clodagh was a lesbian and an ardent feminist, who openly said she supported potential best-sellers such as Sammy's in order to afford to publish less profitable, more radical books. Sammy's wife, Zara -- whom Sammy relies on for everything, especially advice and courage -- had intended to accompany him but her mother fell ill at the last moment. Sammy never realized how hen-pecked he was, nor how much Zara dominated him. Nervously, Sammy goes to America alone, carrying with him Zara's dire warnings about the untrustworthy and unfriendly Americans -- an opinion that Zara had had reinforced by her influential well-traveled, and opinionated friend Tess.
Sammy is surprised at how friendly every American he met was. The man at the Customs desk wished him a nice day, as did his taxi driver, who also told him that New York was the friendliest city in the world. The staff at his hotel, Clodagh Jenson, Sammy's American publicist Joanie, the people interviewing him...all treated him kindly. the one phrase he consistently heard from all was, "Have a nice day." Sammy's confidence grew, and with it his hoipes for a decent future; it appeared that his book would make he and Zara financially secure.
Sammy got a telephone call at his hotel one night. A female voice. "I saw you on television last night. You bastard, Sammy Luke, I'm coming up to your room and I'm going to cut off your little --" The caller went into vivid, horrifying detail, closing with, "Have a nice death, Mr. Luke."
Clodagh. Joanie, the hotel operator and manager, the police -- were all sympathetic, but all felt this was just a harmless, albeit upsetting call. the hotel agreed to screnn all calls going to Sammy's room. When Sammy got another "Have a nice death call," the hotel operator had no record of the call going through...
"Have a Nice Death" ends ironically and not happily for Sammy. It's proven to be one of Lady Antonia Fraser's most popular crime short stories. The author (born 1932, now age 90) is most recognized for her historical novels, royal biographies, and histories. In the mystery field, she is noted for her stories about investigative journalist Jemima Shore, which were the basis of the UK television series Jemima Shore Investigates. She also won a Gold Dagger from the Crime Writer's Acciation for her nonfiction book, The Gunpowder Plot. Her first husaband, Sir Hugh Fraser, was a close friend of the Kennedy family. In 1975, she, her husband, and Caroline Kenndy -- who was visiting them -- narrowly avoided being killed by an IRA bomb planted in his car; a neighbor of the Frasers was killed in the explosion. Lady Antonia's second husband was the Nobel-winning author Harold Pinter.
"Have a Nice Death" has been described as a "wonderful puzzle story."
One of the main reasons why I am the luckiest man on Earth is my granddaughter Amy. She's a quarter of a century old today but I still remember her as that beautiful blonde baby I held the day she was born. The years have just added to her beauty and to her many graces. Happy birthday, Sweetheart!
This is the very first title to be issued by Harvey Comics, a firm that started in August 1941 (the January 1942 date is the off-sale date). Whereas the typical comic book of the day was 68 pages, Pocket Comics had 100 pages -- and still cost only a dime. Pocket Comics was also a smaller digest size, designed so a kid could fit a copy in a pocket -- this may not have been the best marketing ploy because kids would stash the book in their pocklets and walk out of the store without paying. (Every innovation has some design flaws.)
Pocket Comics #1 starts off with Satan, mad dictator of the underworld. Born with a deformed body and a warped mind, this Lord of Evil exists to spread death wherever he can. This fang-toothed, taloned baddie is buddies with Hitler and is systematically destroying Uncle Sam's munition ships. Private Air Cadet Jim Brady and Camp Nurse Patricia Randall spot Satan and his minions setting explosives to blow up Camp Porter and its arsenal. Jim stops the plot but Satan escapes in a stolen bomber with Patricia as his captive. Jim lands his plane on the bomber while in flight, enters the bomber, knocks Satan to the floor where Satan is bitten by a deadly tarantula (don't ask) and Satan leaps out of the plane to his supposed death -- until next issue.
The Red Blazer is Jack Dawson, a young cowboy who comes across Dr. Martin burying an alien body next to a spaceship. Dawson helps the doctor bury the extraterrestial and, tired and thirsty from the labor, accepts a drink which knocks him out. He wakes up in the spaceship, obiting just over Earth's "Heaviside" layer. There's a note from Dr. Martin saying that Jack is being exposed to "AstroPyro radiation," which will give him superpowers. Clad in a very dorky costume and a domino mask, Jack becomes the Red Blazer, able to fly and to generate and control heat and flame. Jack understands that Dr. Morgan did this because he wanted Jack to crusade against all evil. Gang leader Doc Brennan has organized a deadly prison escape and begins a reign of murderous terror. Seems that's just the type of evil the Red Blazer is crusading against.
West Point Cadet Gary Blakely is the Spirit of '76.' When war breaks out, he is a student at Oxford. He attempts to enlist in the R.A.F. and is rejected due to influence from his family, who want him to follow tradition and serve in the Army. Headed home, he commandeers a French armored car and breaks through enemy lines. He enters West Point and discovers fifth columnists working against Uncle Sam. Donning the army uniform of his great-great grandfather and a domino mask, he becomes the Sprit of '76'! With fists, sword, and scabard he stops a plot to blow up West Point. Gary realizes that the role for the Spirit of '76' must be to protect West Point.
Movie star and former stunt girl Linda Turner is bored. Then she suspects that he director is a Nazi agent. Designing costume she designs herself -- complete with mega cleavage -- she becomes the Black Cat, and trail Garboil, the director, hoping to discover the mastermind of the Nazi spy ring. Also on the trail of Garboil is ace reporter Rick Horne. The two meet, join forces, and foil a plot to secretly send instructions to Nazi agents. Black Cat lets Garboil escape, hoping that in future issues he will lead her to the mastermind. The Black Cat was popular enought that she eventually got her own comic book.
The Great Amron has been revived after 6000 years of hypnotic sleep as a mummy to use the magic of ancient Egypt for the good of all mankind -- he is the Phantom Sphinx! Reanimated by the use of the Pebble of the Nile which had been placed on the mummy's forehead, the Phantom Sphinx's first task is to rescue reporter Nancy Taylor from bandit leader Red Norton. Magic happens. Ancient Egyptian magic. A lot of it.
Hollywood star Alan Douglas returns to his native England. With his mastery of disguise and knowledge of foreign language he is a natural to join the British Secret Service and become British Agent 99. Nazis want to hold the Sultana Zaida hostage to disorganize the loyal Liyans who are working with British forces in Libya. Agent 99 is sent to protect the Sultana, but he is waylaid and German agents kidnap the Sultana while also arranging for the Yogoslave military police to arrest 99 as a spy. What the Nazis forget is that Alan Douglas is not only a Hollywood star but he is also an action star!
Zebra is by-lined "Ellery King." (Why do I think that's a pseudonym?) John Doyle has been convicted of a murder he did not commit. Two days before he is to be executed, Doyle manages to escape and later convince guards that he had died in a pool of quicksand. Knowing the injustice that had been done to him, Doyle vows to devote his freedom to combat all crime and evil where justice fails. And so the Zebra was born -- wearing his striped prison outfit, red cape and boots, yellow gauntlets, a wide red and yellow belt emblazoned with a "Z", and a (you guessed it) domino mask. he sallies forth to do justice. Political boss Happy Mike thinks Doyle's girlfriend Mary Sewell may knoww ho the real killer is, so he sends his thugs to take care of her. The Zebra shows up and makes quick of them. Mary doesn't know who the real killer is, but Happy Mike does, so you just know the Zebra is going to go after him.
"Ellery King" returns with a four-page text story illustrated with comic panels -- "The Zebra's Murder Case."
The issue closes with a tale featuring Spin Hawkins, ace air adventurer and famous author. Spin finds a small uncharted island in the South Seas and decides to land to check it out. Suddenly another plane roars out of the sky to attack his. Spin manages to land his plane but is captured by oriental sailors armed with machine guns. The island is being used as a secret submarine base. Instead of killing Spin right off, his captors vow to execute him at dawn, giving Spin enought time to escape and find a large cache of demoliton bombs. Spin flies off and drops a bomb on the arsenal. KA-BOOM!
A lot of action for your dime, some of it pretty damned silly. Kids back then didn't care about silliness; they cared about heroes beating the pants off Nazis and other enemies. They got that in spades.
The Woman in the Case by "Ellery Queen" (Manfred B. Leer) (1967)
In 1964, the pseudonymous Ellery Queen published a small Dell paperback of true crime stories, Ellery Queen's International Case Book. Three years later, another paperbound volume of true crime was puiblished, The Woman in the Case, this time from Bantam Books. The stories in both books were first published in The American Weekly; the author was Manfred Lee, one of the two cousins behind the Ellery Queen name. As far as I can tell, neither book has been reprinted.
The back cover copy for The Woman in the Case is a bit misleading: "Here is a hair-raising collection of stories about women who killed...who killed for money...who killed out of jealousy...who killed out of sheer love for killing. Mothers. Daughters. Wives. Girl friends. Schoolgirls. Hardened gun molls. MURDERERS ALL! Read about: The mother who murdered her own son's wife. The beautioful pistol-packing hillbilly who made Dillinger look like Casper Milquetoast. The schoolgirl killers who even went Leopold and Loeb one better. And dozens of other horrifying tales in The Woman in the Case."
First of all there are not "dozens" of other tales; the book contains just nineteen stories in its 122 pages. And despite the over-hyped description, not every story is about women who kill; a number of them are about women who have been killed, and one is about a woman who solved a murder. No matter what place a woman had in each tale, all of them are well-written and highly readable; some are ironic -- one woman managed to be declared innocent and left on an ocean voyage -- on the Titanic. The most famous case covered is the Parker/Hulme murder; this story was first published four years after the killing, so the fact that one of the schoolgirl killers would grow up to be the late best-selling mystery author Anne Perry was not known.
All nineteen stories were first published in The American Weekly, 1958-1959:
From out of the West comes Red Ryder, America's famous fighting cowboy!
Reed Hadley is Red Ryder and Frank Bresee is Little Beaver. Red Ryder's horse Thunder is played by sound effects. You betchum!
Red Ryder, based on the popular comic strip, hit the radio airwaves on February 3, 1942, appearing three times a week on the Blue Network, heard only in the East. The show proved to be more popular in the ratings than The Lone Ranger at first. The show then picked up a sponsor, Langendorf Bread, which was sold only in the West, and the show moved to the West Coast Don Lee Network toward the middle of 1942.
Enjoy this early episode.
"Dead Man's Head" by Robert Leslie Bellem (from Spicy Detective Stories, August 1936; reprinted in Pulp Fictions, edited by Peter Haining, 1996)
"I opened the package and a human head rolled out onto my lap. A man's head -- with a bullet hole between the eyes."
And we're off and running with another wild adventure of Dan Turner, the Hollywood Detective. Turner's literary career lasted sone two decades, from June 1934 to March 1953, appearing in at least an incredible 355 short stories. Although Dan Turner is arguably creator Robert Leslie Bellem's most famous creation, the Turner stories count for just a small portion of Bellam's output, which is estimated at over 3000 pulp stories.
A Dan Turner story is like no other. It's hardboiled and embued with sex (mainly hinted) and not-so-subtle violence. It's also more than a little wacky and infused with a type of English colloquialism that just doesn't exist in the real world. Guns go "Ka-chow!" and "Chow! Chow!" and "Wr-r-rang!" But it's not guns that make that noise -- it's "roscoes." As Kevin Burnett Smith wrote, "[I]t was the high-octane use of every slang word known to man (and more than a few Bellem must have coined himself) that fueled the tales. Women were wrens or frills, and their breasts were pretty-pretties or tiddlywinks, something that Dan, "as human as the next gazabo," always took time to notice. Cars were chariots, money was geetus and no one ever got killed in the stories, they were croaked, choked, cooled, iced, de-lifed or had an act of killery performed on them. Guns didn't go bang -- they were roscoes and they spat, coughed and belched. Or sometimes they just sneezed, though the end result was the same -- people ended up dead." And references that would not be coinsidered PC today? Forget about it.
Back to "Dead Man's Head." The severed head had been delivered anonymously to Turner's apartment door. He recognized who it was -- a once-popular movie comic named Skinny Arkle, whose career ended after a wild night with an extra named Nancy Norward. Nancy ended up dead and Skinny went on trial for her murder. The jury decided that she had died from natural causes, but the publicity over the case made Arkle's career as dead as the girl was. (Any resemblance to the real-life Fatty Arbuckle case must be a sheer coincidence, right?) Arkle fled to Euarope for a while, then came back to Hollywood, eventually marrying a rising star; she made enough cookies and he had enough geetus stashed away for them to live comfortably. So what was his head doing in a package outside Turner's door?
Turner calls his homicide squad friend Dave Donaldson, who tells him to meet him at headquarters. And bring the head. As he leaves the apartment, he bumps into a blonde bimbo who needs to speak to Turner immediately. She's the sister of Skinny Arkle's wife. The pair had gotten into a vicious argument and Arkle stormed out, threatening to come back and kill his wife. That was three days ago and the girl and her sister are frightened. Turner tells her she needn't worry about Arkle and shows her the severed head. The girl faints. Now Turner is in a quandry. He has to go to police headquarters and he can't bring an unconscious girl with him. If he leaves her, she may flee before he returns and he wants to question her. So he does what any "private skulk" or "orb for hire" would do. He takes off her clothes and leaves her in just a bra and panties, figuring she won't go out in public like that. Then he hightails it police headquarters.
Turner and Donaldson go to Arkle's mansion to question his wife. but the little Chink maid did not want to disturb her. Turner recognized a strange car in the driveway as belonging to a big Hollywood director. They push their way past the maid and charge upstairs. They hear a shot. Barging into the bedroom, they find Arkle's wife, both very naked and very dead. Standing over the body is the big-time director with a roscoe in his hands. They tell him to drop the gun and stick out his fins for the nippers; if he doesn't, the cop with sock him on the dome with the soft end of his roscoe. The director punches Donaldson and manages to push Turner down as he flees. Turner is just a few seconds after him when he reaches the front door. The director is already in his car. Two shots are fired. Turner thought they were aimed at him, but the director is slumped over in his gar, the warm gun next to him, great crimson gushers of blood spewing out of him. He dies, but it wasn't suicide. Donaldson figure the killer had to be the director's wife, who had found out about his affair. He heads off to her home while Turner waits for the response team to pick up the two corpses. He uses the time to light a gasper and check out the crime scene. The Chink maid tries to escape through a window. She begs him to let her go and fits against him like tissue paper. They kiss, and Turner's blood starts racing...Fade out. "It was some time later when I said, 'Okay, baby." and Turner begins to question her. He lets her escape through the window, but then the police arrive and he tells them she just got away. The police nab her and Turner tells them to put the nippers on her.
Donaldson comes back with the news that the director's wife had a solid alibi, but the director's fiirst wife was Nancy Norward, the girl Arkle had been accused of killing.
I won't go into how Turner solves the case, because you might not believe me. But in the end, the killer fired his roscoe at Turner and a slug zinged past his skull, so Turner sent three slugs into the guys guts. The killer gurgles in his throat and vomits a little blood from his punctured guts, the a spew of crimson gushed out of his kisser, and he folded up.
Case closed. But Turner still has a girl in her underwear and he really should give her clothes back to her. But he won't hurry about it.
Robert Leslie Bellem (1902-1968) started the Dan Turner series in Spicy Detective Stories in 1934 and that magazine remained a primary home for the Holywood Detective until the magazine (by then retitled Speed Detective) closed in 1947. In 1942, however, Turner got his own magazine -- Dan Turner, Hollywood Detective. the title late shortened to Hollywood Detective; which ran until late in 1950. Bellem evidently wrote all the stories in that magazine, using a plethora of pseudonyms. Over the years, about 23 collections of Dan Turner stories have been published, some of them unauthorized and some even mimeographed. Bellam also wrote at least 70, and possibly as many as a hundred, comic book stories about Turner; many of these were published in the pulps and some reprinted as fillers in regular comic books. Two collections of the comics have been published. There were also two Dan Turner movies made -- one, Blackmail, in 1947, and the other, The Raven Red Kiss-Off, a terrible mess that went direct to video in 1990 and died there. The script by John Wooley for the 1990 film was evidently published in 2020.
When the pulps died, Bellem turned to Hollywood, writing mainly for television in the 1950s and 1960s. According to IMDb, he wrote at least 126 scripts for such shows as Dick Tracy, Superman, The Lone Ranger, Perry Mason, and The F.B.I.
This is the twelfth (of twenty-six) Zotaichi films featuring the titular blind masseur and swordmaster in feudal Japan. (Masseurs are typically blind so they cannot see the bodies they touch.) It falls in the category of Chambara (sword fighting) films and, from what I understand, this is a pretty good one.
Zotaichi (Shintaro Katsu) is an unlikely hero, he's a bumbling man, blind, a gambler, and a con man. The women love him (but he doesn't think he's good enough for them); those he's scammed don't. He has a kind heart.
In this film, he meets a ronin (a masterless samurai), Jumonji, played with elan by Mikii Nanto, who is a chess expert. Tensions develop between the two but soon they join forces to fend off angry yakuza and a bloodthirsty family as they fight to save a sick child. The young girl was collateral damage in a fight -- she had been stabbed in the foot, got tetanus, and needs medicine to survive. SPOILER: Zatoichi gets the medicine and the girl is okay by the end of the flick.
I am not an expert on ancient Japan or Japanese films but, according to one review, you can learn more about Japanese history and culture from this film than you can from a year's worth of anime.
Evidently, some fans compare Zataichi to Columbo, so that's gor to count for something.
Yes, it's subtitled.
Openers: She hailed me on East 62nd Street, not far from Bloomingdale's. She was an attractive girl, wearing big-lensed sunglasses against the June glare, and carrying two plaid suitcases, one of which she waggled at me as I rolled down the street. "Say 'Kennedy,' " I whispered, and eased the cab to a stop.
Openoing the rear door, she shoved the suitcases in first, then followed, slammed the door, shoved the sunglasses up on top of her head, and said, "Kennedy."
"You got it," I said, and started the meter with a smile. Not only is the long expensive run from Manhattan out to John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens one of the joys of a cabby's life, but there's no pleasanter way to drive anywhere than with a good-looking woman in the rearview mirror.
Unless, of course, she's crazy. And in this instance the early signs were not good. This girl did not sit back in the seat as I started off, nor did she cross her legs and look out at the passing world, nor did she take a compact from her shoulder bag so she sould study the present condition of he face; all the normal things a good-looking young woman does when settling down alone for a long cab ride. What she did do was talk to herself, muttering phrases I couldn't quite hear. And she kept puttimg her hands up to both sides of her face like the blinkers on a horse, running her fingers through her long brown hair and then tossing the hair backwards in a double heavy wave. And she frowned a lot, and made strange unpleasant faces, and stared at the floor or at the back of my neck. And sat forward on the seat, very tense and upset.
Part of the reason this behavior discomforted me was the lack of a safety partition between the back of my head and the passenger space. In New York City, all the major-company cabs are required tp install that safety partition, but the law says private cab owners can decide for themselves, and the private ownership of this particular Checker (who just happened to be my own father) had decided not to go to the expense. Normally I like it that way, preferring the increased opportunity for friendly conversation and other human contacts, but human contact with a crazy person is where I draw the line.
I endured it all the way down Second Avenue and through the Midtown Tunnel, but after I paid the toll and accelerated up to speed on the Expressway and she still hadn't settled down I felt I had to do or say something to alter the situation. Frankly, she was making me nervous, So I looked in the mirror and I called, "Excuse me!"
-- Call Me a Cab by Donald E. Westlake (2022)
From the back cover: "In 1977, one of the world's finest crime novelists turned his pen to suspense of a very different sort -- and the results have never been published, until now. Fans of mystery fiction have often pondereed whether it would be possible to write a suspense novel without any crime at all."
"Call Me a Cab" first ran as a novella-length story in the June 1979 issue of Redbook, and despite several novel-length drafts, never appeared as a book. Hard Case Crime editor Charles Ardai, working with Westlake's widow and one of Westlake's agents, managed to combine the various drafts into what may be Westlake's last published novel -- a publishing event that will make Westlake's many fans happy.
It is a suspense novel? Not really, not as most people would define the term. There is the matter of will she-won't she will he-won't he at the end of the story, but that's not the edge of your seat, life or death suspense crime readers are looking for. The "suspense story without a crime" hook appears to be the hook Hard Case Crime uses to justify publishing the book. Not that there's anything wrong with that; the book deserves to be published and Hard Case Crime (which had already released three previously unpublished books from Westlake, who died in 2008) is a logical place to publish it. I applaud Ardai for bringing this book out, but I wonder how many readers might feel they were led astray.
The plot is simple. East Coast lady has been dating West Coast guy. He wants to marry her, but she's been dithering without knowing why. Finally she agrees to fly out to him and give him a final answer when she gets there. She still doesn't know what her answer will be. She decides, rather than fly, she'll take a cab from New York to L.A., which will give her several more days to come up with an answer. New York cabby falls in love with her during the trip. That's it. Just a long cab ride. No action sequences. No real adventure. Just a long ride in which the cabby and his fare meet a few people along the way as they get to know one another.
A very readable, enjoyable, and unpretentious novel.
And will she-wpon't she? Will he-won't he? You'll just have to read the book to find out, because that's all the suspense you'll be getting.