Pulp heroes? I heard the term “pulp hero” before, but I never got into what it all means.
Until recently, I had no idea what “pulp magazines” were and all the industry that was built on them. A pulp magazine was the home of pulp heroes’ stories. Pulp heroes were normal people, perhaps they had a quirk or gimmick but no superpowers like Superman, Flash, Thor, or Captain America. These were ordinary men and women doing extraordinary feats in the name of law and justice.
Their stories were first published in pulp magazines. The pulp magazines were the ancestors of modern comic books. Published from 1896 to the early 1950s. They were digest-size magazines printed on cheap wood pulp paper, hence the name. Later on, the stories were published as novels or played on radio shows. This genre of racy, action-based stories is known as “pulp fiction”.
PULP HEROES I KNEW
Based on the definition, there are a few characters that are identified as pulp heroes from the movies and series I saw back in the day such as Zorro, The Phantom, Tarzan, Conan the Barbarian, Solomon Kane, and John Carter.
All of them embody what is known today as Pulp Heroism. But I discovered that there are many more pulp heroes like Doc Savage, The Shadow, The Phantom Detective, Buck Rogers, Miss Fury, Sheena, Queen of the Jungle, and many more. Buck Rogers and Sheena look familiar. I believe I saw them at one point when I was a kid but don’t really remember anything about them now. However, Duck Dodgers is a favorite of mine, especially its theme song performed by Tom Jones. The Looney Tunes character is a spoof of the classic Buck Rogers. I guess you can say I knew a little about him.
LOOKING FOR PULP HEROES
The superheroes’ stories have gone through many changes over the years. Most recently there has been a deconstruction of what they are used to be. In most cases due to financial reasons. Corporations are losing copyrights of Superhero IPs and are in no favor of paying proper royalties to creators. Consequently, the new stories are not as attractive as they used to be.
THE EVERYDAY HERO
Since their creation superheroes have always been the favorite of kids over the everyday hero, a normal human being with courage and some special skills. This is why everyday heroes such as firefighters, police, doctors, nurses, and soldiers were always acknowledged as real-life heroes.
Unfortunately, the institutions in charge have been corrupted which tarnished the professions in some way the recruitment, work environment, training, and performance. As a result, you have an infiltration of bad actors. These get the most attention. The professions have been completely disrespected by the government and the media. Can you blame those who try to give their utmost effort and eventually give up and walk away from the profession?
No matter what happens in communities, the firefighters, police, doctors, nurses, and soldiers are always needed. These should be the professions with the best curriculum, training, and performance evaluation on the planet.
LOOKING FOR MISS FURY
Since superhero stories are not as good as they used to be, wouldn’t be interesting to focus on human heroes?
Personally, I look forward to discovering Miss Fury. I came across a crowdfunding campaign for the republishing of the graphic novel containing all the adventures of the heroine.
She immediately got my attention because she looks like the Catwoman from the Batman movie from the 90s and she is way older than Catwoman. Honestly, I never heard anything about Miss Fury growing up. If she is an inspiration for Catwoman why didn’t anyone say anything?
Unless the material is in the public domain I find it challenging to find the old stuff. It’s like a scavenger hunt!
All the pulp hero stories seem very interesting and exciting. There seem to be heroes or heroines everyone can relate to in one way or the other. These stories have become cult classics now and appear to have been an inspiration for the generations of heroes that follow.
One thing in favor of these stories about pulp heroism is that because of the authenticity of the storytelling they are rewatchable to this day. Not to mention that the story structure is an example of how to write concise interesting stories without the need to drag them out. A great example to look at is the Zorro novel “The Curse of Capistrano”
There is so much published entertainment waiting to be discovered. There is no excuse to justify that there is no time for it when a lot of time is spent just on discourse on social media. Those 6 hours fighting with people you don’t even know on social media could have been more productive.
To be fair, there is a lot of material that would be impossible to read and watch everything but they shouldn’t be ignored either. I find pulp stories to be quite entertaining, to the point, and easy to understand as “one adventure ends, another begins.”
I’m curious to know: Which pulp heroes are your favorite?
Comic Art Community. 2012. TOP 10: Pulp Magazine Heroes by Jerry WithWorth.
The Pulp Super Fan. 2017. The encyclopedia of Pulp Heroes.
Manskar, N. 2020. ‘Star Wars’ author says Disney is stiffing him on royalties.