RARA-AVIS: Re: Masked Detectives?

From: jimdohertyjr ( jimdohertyjr@yahoo.com)
Date: 13 Jun 2008


Re your question below:

> This probably not hardboiled, but Baen is reprinting The Spider
> stories by Gerald W. Page from the 1930s. I just finished the first
> paperback 'Robat Titans of Gotham', and really enjoyed it. Nostalgia
> Ventrues is also reprinting The Shadow. Are there any other writers
> of this type of story that people might recommend?

I can't personally recommend them, since I have no personal experience, but two you might want to try to track down:

The second "masked avenger" sleuth, following in the wake of the success of Street & Smith's The Shadow by just a few months, and predating both The Spider and Doc Savage (Savage, of course, wasn't masked, but he is generally classed with the other "hero pulps"), was The Phantom Detective, who starred in his own magazine. Another of those "wealthy young men about town," who scratched an itch by fighting crime, his costume was a domino mask and a top hat. His adventures were by-lined "G. Waymon Jones," but, in contrast to characters like The Shadow, The Spider, and Doc Savage, who were primarily identified with a single creator, many different writers contributed Phantom Detective stories under the "Jones" house name, including pulp stalwarts like D.L. Champion, Norman Daniels, and Norvell Page himself. One P/D writer who might be of particular interest was Alvin Schwartz, who also did a lot of work in the comics field, including a number of adventures about the mast famous masked detectve of them all, the Batman, particularly for the syndicated Batman newspaper strip of the '40's.

Erle Stanley Gardner's contribution to the "masked avenger" school of pulp detective fiction was a character called "The Patent Leather Kid," who wore a mask made of (wait for it) patent leather. I think his stories appeared in DETECTIVE FICTION WEEKLY, but I could be wrong about that.


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