PULP COVER FRIDAY PRESENTS: The Longest Running Hero Pulp
What character had the longest running pulp title? The Shadow? Doc Savage? The Spider?
Nope. Nope. And nope.
Personally, I wouldn’t have gotten this one, myself, though astute readers (ie, ones who have glanced at the side image) know the answer. But really. The Phantom Detective? Knock me over with a feather.
The Shadow lasted 18 years on the stands. Doc 16. The Spider ten, but they were ten wild and hair-raising years. The Phantom Detective, twenty (1933-1953). He was also the second character to have his own self-titled magazine, following the Shadow, and beating Doc to the stands by a month. Although he didn’t have the most issues published (the Shadow had 325, Doc 181) a respectable 170 issues bore his name.
Just who the hell was this Phantom Detective guy, anyway? Richard Curtis Van Loan, just your usual orphaned millionaire man about town. A wastrel playboy until he got into World War I as an aviator, he apparently became addicted to adrenaline during the war and became a crime fighter when he ran out of Huns to shoot down.
More than fifteen different authors chronicled his adventures over the decades, including a couple of the minor Doc Savage writers, Norvell Page (the Spider guy), and well-known sf writers like Henry Kuttner. I’ve read a few and, frankly, don’t have any memories regarding them. Much like the covers below, they were kind of bland, but, I suppose adequate. Perhaps that was the secret to his long-time success.
Anyway, the covers aren’t great, but we do see a number of typical pulp tropes on display, including the ever-popular red robed cultists (I swear, it must be a union requirement or something). I did include one grey-robed cultist, to celebrate diversity in the workplace.