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    From Crime Smashers #2, December 1950, comes the second comic book appearance of our Hollywood Detective. This one, like last week's adventure, was probably a reprint from Dan's pulp mag. It was scanned for comicbookplus by loftypilot. If you missed Dan's gig in Crime Smashers #1, that's HERE

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    77 Sunset Strip was the best TV detective show ever, and, as an extra added attraction, this tale was illustrated by Alex Toth. It's from Four Color #1106, from Jun-Aug 1960, and scanned for comicbookplus by Dell4c. It's the ginchiest, dad. 

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    The great pulp illustrator Everett Raymond Kinstler did many, many contents pages for the inside front covers of Avon comics. These three were for various titles starring you-know-who. Kinstler also did many interior stories, but the colors and poor printing muddied up his inking, dampening the effect. More Kinstler coming soon!

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    I just about always like the second book better than the first, so I wasn't surprised to like this better than Tony Costaine and Bert McCall's first adventure, Death Takes an Option (reviewed HERE). But I was very suprised to find my all-time favorite book lurking within this one. Yep, I'm talking about Hammett's Red Harvest - the obvious inspiration for the plot. 

    As in that best book ever, our heroes find themselves in a dirty mill town (Reeseville instead of Poisonville), ruled until recently with a dirty hand by the crust old mill owner. Now he's losing his grip, and the gangsters and dirty cops he brought in to be his iron hand are now trying to push him out. 

    And that's not the only Red Harvest connection. This series, as you probably know, was written by Black Mask writer W.T. Ballard. Well, his characters Tony Costaine and Bert McCall were very likely inspired by the work of Ballard's friend Cleve F. Adams. Like Adams's number one detective, Rex McBride, Costaine and McCall eschew petty anty gumshoe stuff and work only in the business arena. Like McBride, Costaine has an explosive temper and often described as looking like an Indian. Though McBride had no partner, he invariably picked up a temporary flunky (such as a cab driver) to do menial jobs for him, while drinking vast quantities of his liquor and leching after his women. And thtat's where McCall comes in. Though technically Costaine's partner, McCall is really little more than a flunky, providing comic relief and occassional muscle. So what's all this have to do with Red Harvest? Well, the first Rex McBride book, Sabotage, was modeled on that best book ever, as was at least one of his later adventures. 

    There's another Hammett connection, too. Like Sam Spade in Chapter One of The Maltese Falcon, Tony Costaine is described as having vee-shaped features and looking like Satan. 

    OK, enough with the Hammett and Adams parallels, because even without them, this is damn fine read. Ballard makes the most of McCall's comic role. He leches after every woman he meets, the moment she walks in the room, and never apologizes for it. He gets a lot of them, too, and the only reason there are any left over for Costaine is that McCall prefers the "bitches," while Costaine goes for the "good" girls. He's always drinking, and can cosume amazing quantities without getting drunk. At one point, when he wants a drink a guy pulls an unopened pint out of his pocket. "You call that a drink?" McCall complains, and drains it in a single swallow. And strength? He doens't have to bust down dooors - he just grabs the the handle and pulls them off their hinges. When a car annoys him he picks it up and flips it off a cliff. 

    Ballard's prose is entertaining from the first line to the last, and I'm looking forward to book three, 2 Guns for Hire. It's mighty sad that this series has never been reprinted. Sounds like a job for Stark House Press. Are you listening, Greg Shepard? 

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    Here's Dan in his third comic book appearance, from Crime Smashers #3, Feb. 1951. Looks like another colorized reprint from Hollywood Detective. For this one, we're indebted to comicbookplus scanner Dave Hayward.

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  • 10/29/18--05:00: Pulp Gallery: TERROR TALES
  • 1937




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    The Fox So Cunning and Free


    The Hornet

    Mr. Nimoy

    Smashed Hulk


    Tricky Dick

    Kit Walker

    Art Scott

    The 6 Million Dollar Mask


    Damn Dirty Ape

    The Return of Art Scott



    Yo, Rinty

    The Man With the Gun of the Man Called Paladin


    The Merry Man

    The original Flash

    The Boss

    The Tramp

    Uncle Ben Cartwright

    Wolf Dude

    The Donald



    Vlad and friend



    The Sarge

    The Cap'n

    The Other Cap'n

    The Other Other Cap'n

    The Fonz

    The Boze


    Cousin Eerie

    The King

    The other King

    The Walrus

    The Beetle


    Uncle Creepy

    The Return of Uncle Creepy

    Uncle Fester

    "Read my lips."

    Frank Buck

    Armin Shimerman


    The Other George

    Eric Estrada

    Pruneface Boche

    The Fink

    The Dick

    The Pop

    Jaws I

    Jaws II

    The Scarlet Speedster

    Darth's Daughter

    Black Lagooner

    Richard Starkey

    Eddie Albert

    Selina Kyle

    Kevin Costner

    The Ronald

    The Mouse of Tomorrow

    Mr. Greenjeans




    Robert Blake


    Darth Jr.

    Reed Richards, Sr.

    The Monk

    Huckleberry I

    Huckleberry II


    The Barbarian



    Not Lon

    The Pride of Dogpatch

    The Babe of Dogpatch

    The Big Red Cheese

    Mr. Peanut

    Mr. Perv

    Another fine mess

    The Jolly Green Vegetarian

    The Jolly Green Goober

    Mickey Rat


    Wile E.

    The Doctor

    The Other Doctor
    The Doctor's Pal




    David Niven

    Simon Templar in disguise


    Spawn of Metropolis

    You're gonna need an ocean of calamine lotion

    Bonzo's Bedbuddy

    Chicken Colonel

    E. Nygma

    Your consicence

    EC's Old Witch

     Faithful Native American Companion

    Yours Truly

    Lord of the Jungle

    Bat Man

    Jerry (not Lee) Lewis

    The Duke of Hazard

    Wolfman on acid


    Jackie K/O

    Fred Gwynne

    Chris Lee


    The Divine Miss Boop

    The Hulk

    The Mighty

    The Shiek of Araby

    The Shiek of Massachusettes

    Nikita the K

    Wolfraham Lincolnl


    The Wonder

    Blue Kat

    Blue Freeze

    Blue Wieniehead

    King of the Wild Frontier

    King of Skull Island

    The Greatest

    Brother Bret

    Vitametavegamin Girl

    Squirrel and Moose

    Strange Doctor

    The Crypt Keeper



    Son of E.T.

    Hey Hey, I'm a Monkee

    Richard Chamberlain

    French lady

    Crown Prince

    Doug Levin

    Still another fine mess

    The Hood

    The Master of Darkness



    The Vegetarian

    Lynn Easton

    Martin Landau

    Let's be Frank

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    Originally broadcast on Halloween Night, 1948. Pump out a couple of nickels worth of Wildroot, apply to hair, and get ready to listen!

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    The Return of Tarzan

    Tarzan and the Ant Men

    Tarzan and the Forbidden City

    Tarzan and the City of Gold

    Tarzan the Magnificent

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    I've been a Tuttle fan for a long time, but most of my reading has been with his flagship heroes Hashknife Hartley and Sleepy Stevens, with side visits to Sheriff Henry Conroy.
    Leafing through this one in the bookstore, I knew it did not feature any of those guys, but couldn't tell who the heroes were. And it took a few chapters to find out. That's a good thing. Tuttle had a knack of introducing characters so immediately rich and likable that just about any of them would make suitable protagonists. In some books, the supporting cast carries the story for as much as half the story before the heroes come ambling along.

    In this case, they arrive in Chapter 4, and several more chapters - with more important and entertaining interaction among the other characters - pass before it becomes apparent who's here to save the day. And even after we know who the heroes are, they don't monopolize the action - they merely become the most important cogs in an ensemble cast.

    So okay already, you're saying, who the heck are these guys? Like Hashknife and Sleepy, Sad Sontag and Swede Harrison are itchy-footed cowpokes who sometimes function as range detectives. In this book, they're cattle buyers who do their best to mind their own business. But when mysteries and murders and injustice start boiling up around them, they just can't resist taking cards in the game. 

    The game here is cattle rustling on a grand scale, while the killing and mayhem are by-products of the scheme. The story is complex, with a huge cast of folks good, bad, and inbetween. As usual, Tuttle dishes out plenty of humor, and brings it all to a rousing and satisfying finish. 

    On later investigation, I learned that Sad and Swede had a long-running series appearing in Short Stories and West in the '20s and '30s. Like this one, many of those adventures made their way into hardcover. How many, I don't know, but I'll be seeking them out, and you'll likely be hearing about them here.  

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    I have about 25 issues of Dan's pulp mag, Hollywood Detective, ranging from 1942 to 1950, and nary a one of them has a comic story drawn by anyone but Adolphe Barreaux. Does that mean this one, from Crime Smashers #4 of April 1951 was a comic book original? Nope, but it makes me wonder. In later issues we'll see stories that look a lot less like pulp reprints than this one. Thanks to darwination for uploading this ish to comicbookplus.

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    Ex-CIA agent Steve Dane and his lady love, ex-FSB (formerly KGB) agent Nina Talikova, enjoy each other’s company immensely, but aren’t really happy unless bullets are flying and things are blowing up around them.

    That’s where author Brian Drake comes in—sending them hither and yon around the globe, and keeping them up to their necks in action.

    Brian’s new book, Skills to Kill, the first published by Liberty Island, is actually four adventures for the price of one. It’s a four-part novel, tied together as a mission to catch a mysterious new arms dealer known only as “The Duchess.”

    In each leg of their mission, Dane and Nina are aided by—or go up against—old friends from their many years in the spy biz.

    The trail starts in Italy. What begins as a job to rescue the kidnapped daughter of a Mafia boss evolves into a race to recover a stolen SADM (otherwise known as a suitcase nuke). Then it’s off to Paris, where the main fly in the ointment is Dane’s former protégé, IRA alumnus Sean McFadden, who does his level best to kill them. After a side-trip to Greece, it’s off to Mexico, where a particularly vicious cartel—employing more weapons purchased from the Duchess—are terrorizing a big chunk of the country. The trail leads next to New York, where Dane and Nina run a scam on Nina’s Russian FSB mentor and foil a plot to embarrass Dane's old pal the President, then bop over to Helsinki for the final battle with McFadden and the Duchess. Busy bees, these. 

    In between all the firefights, car chases and explosions, there’s plenty of entertaining sexual (and non-sexual) banter between Dane and Nina, a good deal of local color from each exotic locale, and a lot of attention to various sorts of exotic weapons. Adding to the festivities are song lyrics in the dialogue, thinly veiled references to that other super secret agent (you know, the British guy), and a nod to Raymond Chandler.  

    But despite all the focus on action, Skills to Kill’s strongest point is the relationship between Dane and Nina. They are genuinely likeable characters, and when they’re having fun (which is most of the time) you will too. 

    It's available HERE.

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    Military Comics #2, from Sept. 1941 saw the first appearance of the Blackhawk Squadron and their familiar Grumman Skyrocket planes. The art is credited to Chuck Cuidera and Bill Smith. This was one was kindly posted to comicbookplus by djingo. If you missed the Origin of Blackhawk from Military Comics #1, it's HERE.

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    I had fond memories of this one, and had been looking forward to a second reading for a long time. Maybe that was the problem - that my expectations were too high. At any rate, this time through, I didn't really dig it. 

    Sure, it's well written. Probably better written than most of the fifty or more other pastiches I read after this one. Stylistically, it's great. And yeah, it's a clever idea, with many clever touches. But the story - about Watson tricking Holmes into visiting Sigmund Freud to be cured of his cocaine adiction - seemed rather tedious. 

    Though Meyer (via Watson) plays it cagey and avoids naming Freud until our two heroes are sitting in the doctor's office, it's really no surprise. Any reader who read the inside of the dust jacket or peeked at the back of the paperback knew what was coming. For me, having done both those things, plus read the book and seen the movie, it was just sort of sad. 

    Two-thirds of the way through the book, the story shifts gears, giving Holmes a case to solve. And the sadness is finally gone. But the new plot is only mildly engaging, and the book is saved by a wildly melodramic and totally cinematic finale that's about as non-Sherlockian as you can get. Was the big finish entertaining? You bet. It was the best part of the film version of The Seven-Per-Cent Solution, too. But it was like something out of an old B-Western (if Roy Rogers didn't use that gimmick, he should have). 

    This all sounds more negative than I intended, because it's really a pretty good book. It just wasn't as good as my memory of it, and I probably wasn't in the right mood. For this I blame Robert Jordan, because I was still under the spell of one his Conan books, and should have read another instead of shifting to Sherlock.

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    Crime Smashers #5 was dated July 1951, and uploaded to comicbookplus by freddyfly. Let's all tip our fedoras to Fred. He offers a guess the art might be by Robert McCarty, the guy who did last Saturday's story.


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    From December of  1936, and Detective Picture Stories #1, comes this tale of two famous detectives (one of whom is undoubtedly a great uncle of Duane Spurlock). It was uploaded to comicbookplus by stopper75, and story and art is credited to John A. Patterson. Another Spurlock and Watkins story (in black & white, alas) appeared in the next issue, and can be read HERE

    A third adventure (once again in color) will appear here too soon for some, not soon enough for others.