Monday, January 25, 2016
THE PULP CALENDAR: January 25
I don't want to waste a Calendar entry on a 1941 Argosy -- instead, I'm going to give that thing a post of its own -- so here's a 1939 Short Stories featuring one of that pulp's most popular characters. L. Patrick Greene's Aubrey St. John Major -- the middle name is pronounced "Syngen" but he's usually called "The Major" -- actually began life in Adventure in 1919 before moving to Short Stories in 1921, while Greene continued to write other stories for Adventure. Pulp publishers didn't claim to own characters on any consistent basis, apart from those who had books named after them, so authors could move characters where he could get better a deal for them. Tarzan, for instance, bounced back and forth between Argosy and Blue Book depending on which would pay Edgar Rice Burroughs better. As for The Major, he was sort of a good-bad man in Africa, usually wanted for illegal diamond buying but often pitting himself against far worse characters. His sidekick was Jim the Hottentot, who called Major his baas and was prone to stock-African phrases like "wowee!" but evolved over time into a pretty heroic character in his own right. Elsewhere in this issue, Gordon Young's Red Clark also got his start in Adventure, but all but two of his serial adventures appeared in Short Stories, while Gene Van's Red Harris was a Short Stories man all the way from 1937 through 1944. Arthur O. Friel is identified with Adventure, and published his last story for that pulp this very month, but would wrap up his pulp career with ten more pieces for Short Stories over the next two years. As for the other cover-billed writers, Richard Howells Watkins spread himself out evenly across all the "big four" adventure pulps -- he's competent but nothing special -- while I'm not sure what Bruce Douglas did to earn his spot on top, since his piece for this issue was his first pulp story -- under this name, at least, in more than two years. A novella by prolific western write Harry Sinclar Drago and a short story by H.S.M. Kemp round out this 176 page issue. Since Short Stories published on the 10th and 25th during its long twice-monthly period, and no one else, I believe, appeared regularly on the 25th, this is the day of each month when you'll most likely see a cover from this popular pulp.