Pulp Cover Friday Presents: BEFORE DOC
Kind of a misleading title, but it sounds good, so I’m going with it.
As many of you know, Lester Dent was largely responsible for the Doc Savage phenomena of the 1930s-mid1940s, but like many other pulpsters of his time, he didn’t stop at writing one puny novel a month. I’d love to see his complete bibliography; it must be pretty damn impressive.
In 1932 he had cover stories in four of the seven issues of TEN DETECTIVE ACES. In 1933 his count was upped to seven of nine, highlighted in the July issue of the first adventure of Lee Courtney Nace, the Blond Adder. Nace was the typical multi-skilled Dent protagonist. He’d been a stage magician, acrobat, cowboy, chemist, moonshiner, and worked his way through college as a pro athlete in baseball, basketball, hockey, golf, and tennis! What, no football? Obviously physically impressive, he comes in at six foot seven and a rather boney 180 pounds. And, he has “big feet, like all swedes [sic].” His stories are wild, non-stop action, and when he gets angry, the white snake-shaped scar on his forehead flushes red (hence the name). He uses a lot of gadgets, anticipating Doc in that area.
Unfortunately, he only appears in five stories, his run in 10AD (as it was known) stopped by, as pulp historian Will Murray speculates, physical exhaustion. But Dent came back in 1934 with a new series character for ALL DETECTIVE MAGAZINE, Foster Fade, the Crime Spectacularist (3 stories) and in 1937 for CRIME BUSTERS with Click Rush, the Gadget Man, his most popular series character (other than Doc, of course) with 19 stories.
Dent was a popular writer, and his name appeared on many covers. I wish the covers could have been better, but we got what we got. I would also have loved to see the Blond Adder himself appear (although, upon reflection, that’s probably him in the August issue), but, alas, that was apparently not meant to be. Still, here as some interesting covers from 10AD (and its precursor, DETECTIVE-DRAGNET).