RARA-AVIS: Daly and the eye

From: Juri Nummelin ( jurnum@utu.fi)
Date: 23 May 2001

On Tue, 22 May 2001, George Upper wrote:

> Daly pretty much just made something up.
> He just invented a character that survived in the supposed
> no-man's-land between the law and the criminals (this
> is a huge theme in Daly's work).

I'd like to disagree with this. I readily acknowledge that Daly made the private eye pretty much what he is now (or, at least, was up to late 1960's), but I wouldn't say he just made something up. He couldn't have come up with a totally original idea.

Take, for example, Gordon Young's stories about Everhard, a very tough guy, very private eye-like (not exactly a private eye, but very close), who plays sap for no one, etc. etc. And Young's Everhard stories were published in Adventure magazine in 1920 and 1921, over a year before Race Williams appeared in Black Mask in 1922! It would surprise me very much if Daly had never read the pulp magazines of his day! (Jess, do you know anything more about Young and Everhard?)

I think that Race Williams was just a continuation of earlier pulp magazine creations. Besides Everhard, there were also some other private eye characters, with more elegance and not so hardboiled (for example Frederick C. Davis's Dementer Van Winkle (stupid name, that one!)), but with enough street credibility to pose as modern private eyes.


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