In JohnJosMiller by JohnJosMiller8 Comments

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.

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