Saturday, 23 February 2008

An Oscars Quiz

As regular readers of this blog probably already know, Beth of the lovely voice laid down a challenge for me at the first of the year. The challenge was simply this: I must create and post one pop culture quiz a month in A Shroud of Thoughts. The quizzes can have a single theme or simply be a collection of random things. At the end of 2008, the reader who has accumulated the most points throughout the year will win a pop culture related prize. For those of you curious about the prize, I decided that it will be a pop culture related key chain of the winner's choice, to cost no more than $5.00 (minus sales tax). The price limit is for the simple fact that I can't afford platinum plated key chains... Since February is a short month (even during a leap year), I'll provide the answers around March 2.

Since tomorrow is the Academy Awards, I thought that it might be fitting for this month's quiz to centre around the Oscars.

1. What was the first film to win Best Picture?

2. Who gave Oscar its name?

3. Who supervised the design of the Oscar statuette?

4. Who hosted the most Academy Award Ceremonies?

5. What actor, director, or producer received the most Oscar nominations in a lifetime?

6. Did Alfred Hitchcock ever win an Oscar?

7. Who was the youngest person to ever win an Academy Award outside of special awards?

8. In what year were the Oscars first telecast?

9. Name one of the two films nominated in the most categories without winning a single one?

10 Name one of the three films to win the most Oscars?

Friday, 22 February 2008

Eva Dahlbeck Passes On

Before anything else, I have to apologise for not making more posts this week. Sadly, I have had a fairly severe sinus infection that has left me so tired after getting off work I have the strength for little else beyond checking my email and reading the various blogs I read. Fortunately, I am feeling a bit better.

Eva Dahlbeck, best known for her roles in various Ingmar Bergman films, passed on February 8 at the age of 87. Having had Alzheimer’s disease for many years, the cause was an infection.

Dahlbeck was born on March 8, 1920 in Saltsjö-Duvnäs, Sweden. She attended the Dramatens elevskola (in English, the Royal Dramatic Theatre's acting school) from 1941 to 1944. She was a regular on the Swedish stage from 1944 to 1964. Dahlbeck's debut on film was in an uncredited role in the film Bara en kvinna in 1941. Her first credited role was in Rid i natt (literally, Ride Tonight) in 1942). By the late Forties she was playing major roles in films, such as Kärlek och störtlopp in 1946 and Tva Kvinnor in 1947. Eventually she would star in several of Bergman's films, including Sommarnattens leende (Smiles of a Summer Night 1955), En Lektion i kärlek (Lesson in Love 1954), Kvinnodröm (Dreams 1955), and Kvinnors väntan (Secrets of Women 1962). She also played the Queen in Gabriel Axel's Den Rode kappe (Hagbard and Signe 1967).

In 1964 Dahlbeck retired from the stage. She last appeared on screen in 1970 in Tintomara. She found a new career in writing, writing several novels starting with Hem till kaos (Home to Chaos) in 1964. Her last novel was Sökarljus (Searching Lights), published in 1999. She also wrote the screenplay for Arne Mattsson's period crime movie Yngsjömordet (Woman of Darkness), released in 1966.

Eva Dahlbeck was an immensely talented actress who could play a variety of roles and be very convincing. She played everything from a celebrity reporter in Kärlek och störtlopp to actress and mistress to a count Desiree Armfeldt. Her versatility gave her a justifiably long acting career. The fact that she was able to follow up her acting career with a successful writing career is even more cause to admire Eva Dahlbeck. She was certainly a woman of a good deal of talent.

Monday, 18 February 2008

Southern Pulp Part Two

Southerners played a pivotal role in the Golden Age of the Pulps. H. L. Mencken co-founded Black Mask, the classic magazine where hard boiled detectives were introduced. Lester Dent realised Doc Savage, one of the most important pulp heroes who would have an impact on both Superman and Batman. Norvell Page created The Spider, one of the most beloved pulp heroes of all time. Robert E. Howard popularised the genre of sword and sorcery and created some of the most memorable heroes from the pulps--Solomon Kane, King Kull, and Conan the Barbarian. The influence of Southerners would not only be felt on the Heroic Pulps, however, as they would also have an impact on the detective genre as well.

In fact, one of the most popular detectives of the era emerged from the pen of a man who could possibly be considered a Southerner. Seabury Quinn was born and raised in Washington D.C. He graduated with a degree in law from National University and was admitted to the District of Columbia bar. Arguably, being the capital of the United States, Washington D.C. could be said to be as much a Northern city as a Southern city. That having been said, it is bordered by Maryland on the north and Virginia on the south. It should not be surprising, then, that Washington has long been Southern in both its culture and its atmosphere. Even the architecture of its older buildings owe more to the South than the North. Perhaps Seabury Quinn was not a Southerner in quite the same way that Norvell Page and Robert E. Howard were, but he would seem to be a Southerner nonetheless.

Seabury Quinn was first published in The Motion Picture Magazine, December 1917, with the article"The Law of the Movies." Over the next few years he would be published in pulp magazines ranging from Detective Story Magazine to The Thrill Book. It was in 1923 that he would first be published in the magazine that would become his literary home. It was with Weird Tales, October 1923 that he first saw print in that classic pulp with the story "The Phantom Farmhouse." Not only was Quinn perhaps the most prolific contributor to Weird Tales, but he was also arguably its most popular writer at the time--more than even H. P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard.

His lasting fame was guaranteed when he introduced the occult detective Jules de Grandin in the story "Terror on the Links," published in Weird Tales, October 1925. To a degree de Grandin was a stereotypical Frenchman, complete with pencil thin moustache and verbal outbursts (often in French). That having been said, de Grandin was far more than a stereotype. He was brilliant, very well educated, and a skilled combatant. Not only was de Grandin skilled with guns, but also knives, stakes, swords, and several other weapons. His knowledge extended from hypnosis even to rudimentary magic. In his struggles against the forces of evil de Grandin was assisted by Dr. Trowbridge (who, like Dr. Watson in the Sherlock Holmes stories, narrated their adventures) and Detective Sergeant Costello. Located in Harrisonville, New Jersey, de Grandin battled everything from vampires to mad scientists to devil worshippers. Jules de Grandin proved to be very popular, ultimately appearing in 93 stories from 1925 to 1951. While largely forgotten by the public at large, de Grandin would have a lasting influence on the horror genre, pre-dating both The X-Files and Buffy the Vampire Slayer by decades.

Jules de Grandin was largely modelled after Sherlock Holmes, but in the pages of Black Mask a new sort of detective was emerging. Contrary to popular belief, Dashiell Hammett did not invent the hard boiled detective. That honour instead goes to a New Yorker, Carroll John Daly. Daly's "The False Burton Combs" would be the first hard boiled detective story, published in Black Mask, December 1922. Daly's most popular character would be Race Williams, who first appeared in the story "Knights of the Open Palm" from Black Mask, June 1923. Williams was a tough private eye with a tendency to shoot first and ask questions later. It can be argued that Williams had to be the way he was, as he existed in a world where danger and betrayal lurked around every corner. Mickey Spillaine freely admitted that Race Williams was an influence in the creation of Mike Hammer.

While the hard boiled detective genre was invented by a Yankee, it would be up to a Southerner to refine it. Dashiell Hammett was born in St. Mary's County, Maryland. His mother's family, the Dashiells, were one of the oldest in Maryland. Among his relatives were Revolutionary War soldier Colonel George Dashiell and Congressman Isaac Dashiell Jones. Hammett's family moved from their tobacco farm in Maryland to Philadelphia where they spent a short time before moving to Baltimore. Hammett left school at the age of 14, working a number of odd jobs before being employed by the Pinkerton Agency. After serving in World War I, Hammett turned to writing. His first story, "The Parthian Shot," was published in The Smart Set, October 1922. He would make his debut in Black Mask with the story "The Road Home" in that magazine's December 1922 issue.

It was in Black Mask, October 1923 that the first of Hammett's major characters was introduced, the Continental Op, in the story "Arson Plus." The Continental Op was a nameless detective for the Continental Detective Agency in San Francisco. While Caroll John Daly's detective stories always had an element of exaggeration to them (particularly those featuring Race Williams), Hammett's stories were more grounded in reality, largely drawing upon his experiences with the Pinkertons. The Continental Op was short, gruff, stubborn, and largely unsympathetic to the plight of his fellow man. Like Race Williams, the Continental Op is the consummate tough guy. And like Race Williams, the Continental Op exists in a world where murder and mayhem are par for the course. But Hammett brought a sophistication to his stories that Carroll John Daly never did to his. Quite simply, Daly wrote good pulp stories. Hammett wrote great literature.

Of course, the Continental Op was not the only contribution Hammett made to detective fiction. He would write what may be the greatest hard boiled detective novel of all time, The Maltese Falcon, first serialised in Black Mask starting with its September 1929 issue. Indeed, the novel introduced Hammett's most famous character, detective Sam Spade. In many respects Spade had much in common with the other hard boiled detectives. He observed the world with cold detachment, acted with his own code of honour, and avoided emotional ties for the most part. He departed from other hard boiled detectives in not being quite so blood thirsty. In fact, Spade generally did not carry a gun! While he is undoubtedly Hammett's most famous creation, Spade only appeared in the novel The Maltese Falcon and three short stories.

While Sam Spade may be Hammett's most famous creation, arguably his most lasting creations were Nick and Nora Charles. Nick was a retired private eye who had worked for the Trans-American Detective Agency. Nora was his wealthy, brilliant, and somewhat independent wife. Urbane and sophisticated, Nick and Nora often engage each other in exchanges of verbal wit. Their only appearance in print would be in the novel The Thin Man, but they would go on to appear in a successful series of movies starring William Powell and Myrna Loy, a radio show, a television series, and even a Broadway musical. Their influence would be felt on couples ranging from John Steed and Emma Peel of The Avengers to Hitchcock's Mr. and Mrs. Smith.

Dashiell Hammett was by no means the only Southerner writing mysteries. "Carl Buchanan" was the pen name of James Robert Peery, who was born in Mississippi in 1900. Using the name "Carl Buchanan," Peery sold mystery stories to Five-Novels Monthly, Super Detective, and Clues and science fiction stories to Astounding. Buchanan would go onto write three novels (The Black Cloak Murders, Night of Horror, and The Red Scorpion. Sadly, today Carl Buchanan is largely forgotten.

This is not the case with author Talmage Powell. Powell was born in Hendersonville, North Carolina in 1920. He was actually a latecomer to pulp magazines--his first story was published in 1942. Powell would make up for this by being amazingly prolific. Ultimately, he would write over 200 stories for the pulps. In fact, while he is now best known as a mystery writer, he wrote in nearly every genre for the pulps, writing everything from Westerns to horror stories. Powell would be published in a diverse number of pulp magazines, including The Shadow, Dime Mystery, Black Mask, Romances, and Fifteen Western Tales. He would later become one of the many men to write under the pen name "Ellery Queen." His series of novels featuring Ed Rivers published in the Fifties and Sixties are often considered among the best of the private eye genre. Powell would also write episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Over the years he wrote hard boiled detective stories, crime fiction, and traditional whodunits.

Of course, there were other pulp writers from the South. From the Twenties to the Forties pulp magazines were a dominant force in American pop culture. It was not unusual for the most successful pulps to sell anywhere from a million to twenty million copies.of any given issue. With the demand for pulp magazines so great there also came the demand for stories to fill those pulp magazines. Quite naturally, for there to be stories there has to be someone to write them. Pulp writers then came from literally everywhere. H. P. Lovecraft was from Rhode Island. Raymond Chandler was from Chicago. Other pulp writers came from further afield. D. L. Champion, who wrote most of The Phantom Detective, was born in Australia. Prolific pulp writer Hugh B. Cave was born in England, but grew up in Massachusetts. That many pulp writers came from the South is then hardly surprising.

What is surprising is the impact that writers from the South had on the pulps, an industry largely based out of New York City. Out of the four greatest pulp heroes (The Shadow, Doc Savage, and The Spider from the Heroic Pulps, Conan the Barbarian from Weird Tales), three of them were created by Southerners. And it was a Southerner, Dashiell Hammett, who refined the hard boiled detective genre. Of course, it must be kept in mind that Southerners were not the only ones to play important roles in the history of the pulp magazine. Robert J. Hogan, who wrote most of the novels G-8 and His Battle Aces, was from New York. Walter Gibson, the creator of The Shadow, hailed from Germantown, Pennsylvania. E. E. "Doc" Smith, creator of Skylark and the Lensmen, was born in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. Clearly, Southerners did not have a monopoly on pulp heroes.

That having been said, it does seem that Southerners had an undue influence on the Heroic Pulps. Are there any pulp heroes greater than The Shadow, Doc Savage, The Spider, and Conan? Three of those four were created by Southerners. The reasons that Southerners had such a great impact on the Heroic Pulps could simply rest with the character of the South itself. Settled by aristocrats in its earliest years, the South evolved its own code of honour, largely derived from the English, Scots, and Welsh who settled the region. Naturally, where there exists a code of honour, there is also bound to be a profound emphasis on heroes and heroism. From Light Horse Harry Lee to Davy Crockett to Jesse James, the South has always relished its heroes. When it came to writing for pulp magazines, then, it would be quite natural for Southerners to be drawn to tales of heroes. Indeed, it is worth noting that while neither Doc Savage nor The Spider speak of honour very often, they each have their own personal codes they live by. The same can be said of Dashiell Hammett's characters, even the Continental Op (whose foremost loyalty seems to be to the Continental Detective Agency). If Southerners were responsible for some of the greatest pulp heroes in the history of the medium, it is perhaps because heroes have been so much a part of Southern culture. While many, perhaps most of the heroes of the pulps were not created by Southerners, it is perhaps significant that the greatest among them were. While the pulp magazine industry was based in New York City, it owed a great deal to writers from the South.

Sunday, 17 February 2008

Southern Pulp Part One

Anyone who knows anything about the history of American pulp magazines knows that New York City was the centre of the pulp magazine industry. After all, it was in New York that Francis Scott Street and Francis Shubael Smith founded Street and Smith, the publisher of dime novels and newspapers who would become the largest publisher of pulp magazines. It was also in New York City that Frank Munsey founded Golden Argosy (swiftly renamed Argosy) in 1882, widely regarded as the first pulp magazine. New York City was the centre of the American pulp magazine industry in much the same way that southern California was the centre of the American film industry. The vast majority of pulp magazine publishers had their home there, and certainly the biggest pulp magazine companies were all based in New York City.

It might then seem a bit surprising for many to realise that some of the most important figures in the history of pulp magazines came not from New York City or even the American Northeast, but instead from the American South (including the Border States of Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, and Tennessee). For whatever reason this was particularly true of the Heroic Pulps, many of whose creators and writers came from somewhat warmer climes than New York. Over the years Southerners would create some of the most important characters in the history of pulp magazines and in the end have a lasting impact not only on pulp magazines, but on American pop culture in general.

Indeed, while Southerners' strongest influence on the history of pulp magazines came by way of various writers, there were two important publishers who were from the South. Bernard McFadden (who later renamed himself "Bernarr" because he thought it sounded stronger) entered publishing with the magazine Physical Culture, devoted to precisely that subject (physical culture being the promotion of strength and health through body building, nutrition, et. al.). Eventually McFadden would expand into other areas, including the movie magazine Photoplay, the tabloid newspaper The New York Graphic, and Sport magazine. Quite naturally, McFadden expanded into the pulp magazine market as well, publishing the confessional magazine True Story, the true crime magazine True Detective, Ghost Stories, and so on. McFadden was born and raised in Mill Springs, Missouri, a tiny town in the southeastern part of the state.

The other important publisher to emerge from the South is a familiar name to many Americans--H. L. Mencken, American newspaperman, satirist, essayist, and professional curmudgeon. Of German extraction, Mencken was born in Baltimore, Maryland on September 12, 1880 and spent nearly all his life there. Although best known for his many writings, Mencken has a singular part in pulp history. Quite simply, it was in 1920 that Mencken founded Black Mask with theatre critic George Jean Nathan. For those unfamiliar with Black Mask, it was the magazine which gave rise to the genre of hard boiled detectives and published many of the early works of Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, Carroll John Daly, and Erle Stanley Gardner. Mencken and Nathan only stayed with Black Mask for eight issues before selling the magazine to its publishers (Eltinge Warner and Eugene Crow). Eventually Black Mask would be acquired by Popular Publications, the company which also published The Spider, G-8 and His Battle Aces, and Battle Aces.

It would not be in the realm of publishing, however, that Southerners would leave their deepest imprint on pulp magazines, but in the field of writing. This was particularly true of the Heroic Pulps, those pulp magazines centred around a specific character. In 1931 Street and Smith met with incredible success with their magazine The Shadow, featuring the dark clad crimefighter who had originated simply as the mysterious narrator of the radio show The Detective Story Hour. In the wake of the success of The Shadow, other publishers introduced their own Heroic Pulps featuring their own characters. Significantly, the two most important pulp heroes to emerge besides the Shadow were mostly developed by Southerners.

Indeed, perhaps the most famous pulp hero of all time outside of The Shadow could well be Doc Savage. Contrary to popular belief, Doc Savage was not created by Lester Dent, although he expanded upon the character so much that he might as well have created him. The basic concept behind Doc Savage originated in Street and Smith's desire to follow up on the success of The Shadow. To this end, Street and Smith's business manager Henry Ralston and editor John Nanovic wrote a broad outline for a new character to be called "Doc Savage." Doc may have partially been based on an actual person. John Nanovic told pulp magazine historian Will Murray about a man named Richard Henry Savage, a modern day renaissance man who was at various times a diplomat, engineer, lawyer, military officer, and writer. As a writer some of Savage's books were published by Street and Smith, just when a young Henry Ralston had started working for the firm at the tender age of 17.

While Ralston and Nanovic provided the initial impetus for Doc Savage, the character would be fully realised by writer Lester Dent. The extent to which Lester Dent expanded upon the character can be seen in that Doc Savage actually shared a good deal in common with the man who chronicled his adventures. Like Doc, Lester Dent was a gadgeteer, not only having been a telegraph operator, but also having passed both electrician and plumber exams. And like Doc he was a bit of an adventurer himself. Among other things, Dent explored Native American cliff dwellings and hunted for treasure in the Caribbean. He even owned his own schooner, the Albatross, and had a pilot's licence. If ever there was a writer born to write Doc Savage, it was Dent.

As many probably already know, Lester Dent was born in La Plata, Missouri on October 12, 1904. La Plata is situated in Macon County, one of the border counties of the area known as Little Dixie because it was thoroughly settled by individuals from Virginia and the Carolinas. Macon County itself was largely settled by people from the Carolinas and even named for Nathaniel Macon, a United States Senator from North Carolina. During the War Between the States, Macon County was very sympathetic to the South, so much so that the county seat was moved from Bloomington to Union occupied Macon City (now simply called "Macon"--sadly, now there is only a marker to even show where Bloomington once stood). To this day the culture of Macon County, including La Plata, is thoroughly Southern (although not quite as much as the counties of Little Dixie). Lester Dent was then for all practical purposes born in the South. Now it is true that his parents moved to Wyoming when Dent was only two, but here we must consider two things. First, while one can take a Southerner out of the South, it is much harder to take the South out of a Southerner. Growing up in a family from Missouri, then, Dent was probably exposed to Southern culture even in Wyoming. Second, the family returned to La Plata when Dent was 15 years old. He completed grade school and high school there. He attended the Chillicothe Business College in Chillicothe, Missouri and even taught there for a time. For a while he was telegraph operator for Western Union in Carrollton. And while Dent's writing career would keep him in New York for quite some time, he and his wife Norma would return to La Plata in 1940, where they spent the rest of their lives. There can be little doubt as to Lester Dent's credentials as a Missourian and a Southerner.

While some might debate whether Lester Dent was a Southerner or not, there can be no such debate regarding the man who most fully realised The Spider, Norvell Page. Although not as well known as either The Shadow and Doc Savage, The Spider is arguably their equal in importance with regards to the history of pulp magazines. Just as Lester Dent was not involved in the basic ideas which would lead to Doc Savage, so too was Norvell Page absent when the idea for The Spider was first developed. In fact, he would not being writing the character until the third issue of The Spider. Like Lester Dent and Doc Savage, however, Page expanded and even changed The Spider so much from the initial concept that he might as well be considered the character's creator.

The initial version of The Spider was created by Henry "Harry" Steeger, publisher of Popular Publications, as competition for rival Street and Smith's The Shadow. To develop the character he brought in writer R. T. M. Scott. Scott was most famous for having created "Secret Service Smith," the hero of five novels and several stories. Smith was an American detective with a Hindu assistant who was deadly with a knife. Curiously, Scott's version of The Spider somewhat resembles Secret Service Smith. For Scott "The Spider" was little more than a nom de guerre adopted by Richard Wentworth as he fought crime as an amateur criminologist. Like Smith, Wentworth was assisted by Ram Singh, a Hindu deadly with a knife. One major difference between Smith and Wentworth was that Wentworth was a bit more bloodthirsty. While Smith always shot to wound, Wentworth would shoot to kill. Wentworth would also brand his victims with the seal of The Spider using a specially made cigarette lighter.

Scott left The Spider after only two issues, whereupon Norvell Page took over as the magazine's writer. Page took the basic concept of The Spider as created by Steeger and Scott and turned it into something entirely different. In fact, in some respects it is hard to say that Page didn't simply create a whole new character. While "The Spider" began simply as a nom de guerre for Richard Wentworth under R. T. M. Scott, Norvell Page would soon make The Spider a distinct identity from Richard Wentworth. Eventually Wentworth as The Spider would dress in a sallow fright mask complete with fangs, a black felt hat, and a black cape, giving him what was perhaps the most frightening appearance of any pulp hero. And while Wentworth was a bit bloodthirsty under Scott's tenure as writer, he became even more so when Norvell Page wrote him. As The Spider, Richard Wentworth was wholly obsessed with fighting crime--one might say he was even compelled to do so. And in his war against evil he showed absolutely no mercy.

Norvell Page made other changes to The Spider as well. While Ram Singh was originally portrayed as Wentworth's Hindu assistant under Scott, Page made him a Sikh who was not Wentworth's assistant, but his friend and equal. Richard Wentworth's girlfriend Nita Van Sloan played a more prominent role, becoming his partner in fighting crime. In fact, Nita Van Sloan would even sometimes become The Spider herself! The final change Norvell Page made to The Spider was in the nature of the enemies he faced. In the two novels by R. T. M. Scott ("The Spider Strikes" and "Wheel of Death"), Richard Wentworth faced rather ordinary criminal masterminds. Page drew upon his own Ken Carter series from the magazine Ten Detective Aces to provide The Spider with a whole new sort of opponent. Carter was a former professional juggler turned detective who fought menaces of an outre nature, such as criminals who use music to kill ("Hell's Music") or who transform human beings into statues ("Statues of Horror"). In the hands of Norvell Page, then, The Spider faced such bizarre menaces ranging from giant robots (Satan's Murder Machines) to a mad genius who could spread insanity (Legions of Madness).

Ultimately, Norvell Page made The Spider entirely his own character. While Steeger and Scott may have created the initial concept and other writers would pen novels for the magazine (including Emile C. Tepperman and Prentice Winchell), there really can't be much argument that The Spider as we know him is largely the creation of Norvell Page. Of course, Page created other pulp heroes besides The Spider. As mentioned earlier, he wrote the Ken Carter stories for Ten Detective Aces. He also wrote two sword and sorcery novels featuring Prester John, also known as "Hurricane John" or Wan-Tengri.

As I said earlier, there can be no debate that Norvell Page is a Southerner. He was born in 1906 in the heart of the South--Richmond, Virginia. In fact, the Pages number among the First Families of Virginia, having settled there in 1650. Those familiar with Virginia's history might recall that there was a John Page who was governor of the state and a U.S. Congressman. Novelist, lawyer, and one time United States Ambassador to Italy, Thomas Nelson Page was also a member of Norvell Page's family. Norvell Page himself attended the University of Richmond and then the College of William and Mary. Of the classic pulp writers, it can be argued that Norvell Page was the most thoroughly Southern.

Of the three major pulp heroes (The Shadow, Doc Savage, and The Spider), it would seem that Southerners created two out of three of them. But the influence of Southerners on the pulps did not end there. Two lesser known pulp heroes would also be created by a Southerner, in this case another Missourian. Frederick C. Davis was born in St. Joseph, Missouri, the city where the Pony Express began and where Jesse James died. Becoming a professional writer at the age of 22, Davis would create two of the more memorable pulp heroes. The first was the Moon Man, whose stories appeared in the pages of Ten Detective Aces (the first appearing in May 1933). As should be fairly obvious from the following description, the Moon Man could well have had some influence on the later superheroes in comic books. The Moon Man was police sergeant Stephen Thatcher, whose father had been a police chief. While he upheld the law in his every day life as Sgt. Thatcher, he had another life in which upholding the law was not so important. As the Moon Man, Thatcher would don a fish bowl shaped helmet made of one way glass and a black cape. So dressed he would then rob the rich and corrupt to give to the poor. The Moon Man would become one of the most popular characters to emerge from Ten Detective Aces.

Frederick C. Davis would also write the first twenty issues of Operator #5. Operator #5 centred on Jimmy Christopher, a secret agent for the United States. His codename was "Operator #5." What set Operator #5 apart from other pulps featuring spies is that Davis often based his novels on fact, even going so far as to include footnotes! While the Operator #5 novels were always fast paced and featured strong plots, there were always enough facts to make the stories believable, no matter how fantastic the plots may have been.

Of course, Southerners wrote for more than the Hero Pulps. Both Lester Dent and Norvell Page wrote for a wide variety of titles. In fact, perhaps the most famous pulp writer to emerge from the South (well, besides Dashiell Hammett, anyway) did not write for the Hero Pulps, but created some of the greatest heroes in the history of pulp magazines nonetheless. Not only was Robert E. Howard born in Texas, but he spent his entire life there. He was born in Peaster, Texas to Dr. Isaac Howard and his wife Hester Jane. Both sides of his family had long been in the South, with veterans of the Confederate Army numbering among his ancestors. The family moved frequently while Howard was young, to such towns as Seminole and Wichita Falls, among others. When Howard was thirteen, they settled in Cross Plains, where Howard would spend the rest of his short life.

Given the genre in which he worked (he has been called the "Father of Sword and Sorcery"), it should not be surprising that much, perhaps most, of Robert E. Howard's work was published in the fantasy and horror pulps. In fact, his first sale would be to the legendary pulp magazine Weird Tales. First published in Weird Tales, August 1928, "Red Shadows" marked both the first appearance of Howard in print and the first appearance of his hero Solomon Kane. Solomon Kane was an adventurer living in the time of the Tudors who finds himself travelling the world battling ghosts, demons, and sorcerers. Ultimately seven different Solomon Kane stories would be published while Howard was alive.

Howard's next significant hero was also published in the pages of Weird Tales. Kull was a barbarian from Atlantis living around 20,000 BCE. Eventually becoming the king of Valusia, he would battle such menaces as the Serpent Men and the necromancer Thulsa Doom. Only two Kull stories were published before Howard's death, although others would be published in the anthology King Kull in 1967. In many respects Kull was simply a prototype for Howard's most famous creation, what may be the most famous pulp character besides The Shadow and Doc Savage.

Conan the Barbarian made his first appearance in the story "The Phoenix on the Sword," first published in Weird Tales, December 1932. Conan's adventures were set during a fictional Hyborian Age (about 10,000 BCE). He was from the land of Cimmeria, a rugged place of mountains and dark forests. Tall and dark haired, Conan was nearly superhuman in strength. He travelled the world, working as everything from a mercenary to a thief. Throughout the various stories he faced such opponents as demons, sorcerers, pirates, and other menaces. Even during Howard's lifetime, Conan the Barbarian would prove to be extremely popular. Howard even wrote his own set of guidelines for writing the character. During his lifetime 17 stories featuring Conan were published, all in the pages of Weird Tales. Conan the Barbarian has since appeared in comic books, movies, a TV show, and scores of books written by others.

While the pulp magazine industry was based in New York City, ultimately it would owe a good deal to individuals from the South. Three of the most famous heroes of the pulps (Doc Savage, The Spider, and Conan the Barbarian) were all created by Southerners. Black Mask, the influential detective pulp, was co-founded by a Southerner. The influence of Southerners on the history of pulp magazines would not end there. Not only would writers from the South have a lasting impact on the Heroic pulps, but on the detective genre as well.