15 Favorite Pulp Heroes / Characters and the meaning of Pulp! Pt. 1 of 2!


Price The Avenger Chronicles Here!

We’ll begin this with a definition of pulp, pulp heroes, and pulp writing, then get into my list of favorite pulp characters and pulp runs.

The perceived definition of a pulp character tends to be a character that takes place in the 20s to 40s, in an America besieged by the spectre of War, and consists of slam-bam action, and a colorful larger than life hero and outlandish villains.

It’s with the cementing of pulp heroes to a specific milieu, a specific time, that I take issue with that definition. Characters such as THE SHADOW and DOC SAVAGE and the AVENGER were pulp sensations AT THE TIME OF THEIR PUBLICATION because they spoke to present fears and issues, in colorful imaginative ways.

But now the nostalgia bunch wants to calcify the definition of pulp adventure to a particular time frame or particular writers. I don’t think pulp heroes need to be set 80 or a 100 years in the past, that’s not what Marcel Allain, Norvell Page or Walter Gibson or Paul Ernst (writing as Kenneth Robeson) or any of the pulp writers we idolize today, were doing.

Now I’m not saying ignore the pulp heroes of yesterday, or not set new pulp stories in the 20s or 30s if you want. But what I am saying is… you’re largely missing the point of what the pulp writers were really doing. They were putting these heroes in a world that really needed them, the present world.

I am saying the pulp fiction of Warren Murphy’s REMO WILLIAMS or Marc Olden’s BLACK SAMURAI or Don Pendleton’s MAC BOLDEN are far truer representations of pulp fiction, pulp heroes, than today’s current writers who are making nostalgic re-workings of 1920s, 1930, and 1940s stories.

Again I have no problem with modern writers setting stories in that time frame, I quite enjoy and have championed many of them, but there seems to be this faulty conclusion in the minds of modern writers and readers that setting them in a specific past time frame, makes it pulp. No. Nothing could be further from the truth. Setting it in that time frame makes it a pastiche.

If Gibson or Page or Allain were writing today their heroes would be set in today, and their horror and villains… expressions of timely concerns. Allain’s FANTOMAS or Gibson’s SHADOW would be hanging the president of Exxon or Shell out of a window, saying “You want to explain those gas prices to me now?”

That’s why I love books like BLACK SAMURAI and THE DESTROYER because they are the pulp aesthetic continued, and have original things to say and original menaces to say it to, rather than simply the tendency to nostalgia, and aping dead writers.

When pulp heroes of yesterday fought nazis and gangsters, that wasn’t simply kitschy entertainment, that took some balls. Because gangsters were very much real things, and Nazis a very real threat, and nobody wanted to touch these topics. The way no one today wants to deal with topics of Guantanamo Bay, or Middle Eastern massacres, or corporate over-lobbying of representatives.

Pulp fiction of the 10s (the wonderful, and horrifying Fantamos),20s and 30s and 40s… was timely and controversial. Pulp fiction (and pulp heroes) was about giving the common man a hero who could stand up against the evils of the day, be those evils foreign or domestic. That is pulp fiction, not this nostalgic, safe, hermetically sealed, removed from any relevance of today, pastiches that people want to sanctify.

True pulp fiction, is a fantastic, white-knuckled, adrenalin inducing and entertaining tirade against the evils of its time. Sometimes in-dispute evil.

People forget there was a portion of America, the loud vocal right wing that were pro-hitler and pro the nazis, right up to and even after Pearl Harbor. So for these books to come out in the 1930s with Nazi Villains took balls. It was controversial. They got their share of grief from the Rush Limbaugh’s of the day.

So when people say “Well, true pulp fiction/pulp heroes needs to be set in the 20s to the 40s”, to that I say “only if you’re living in the 20s to the 40s”. True pulp heroes are an answer… an answer to the truths and the lies of your nightly news.

So while it’s wonderful we have this resurgence of so many writers doing pastiches in the pulp vein, it’s unfortunate so few modern writers are actually doing real pulp novels ala Warren Murphy or the late Marc Olden or even the late Ian Flaming.

So few current writers are doing books with great, even salacious covers, breakneck speed, thrilling action, and larger than life protagonists in conflict with outlandish villains, set in a present/timely context. That is the definition of true pulp fiction, and true pulp heroes… and what we are in dire need… of more of.

-to be continued-

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Part II will bring you the list of 15 favorite pulp heroes. Your jaw will drop!!! 🙂

Copyright 2000-2012 Masai Inc

DISTRICT 9 film, SHELL GAS, NEILL BLOMKAMP, PETER JACKSON and crimes made clean by cash

I found DISTRICT 9 a well structured film, in terms of pacing, and the germ of its story. I mean there is a lot to like about DISTRICT 9. Its fast frenetic pace, strong performances, a short snappy running time, and really amazing special effects and impressive action, all grafted on to what is essentially a chase pic.

So there was a lot to like about DISTRICT 9, unfortunately the few things… not to like, I found to be significant things, and really kinda central to the heart of the film. And the heart was… corrupt.

Where DISTRICT 9 immediately fails for me is in its fairly unsubtle tone and its use of Black faces to deliver and reinforce White messages. A well worn Hollywood trope going back to the BIRTH OF A NATION.

What do I mean? DISTRICT 9 is a thinly veiled allegory to Apartheid South Africa, replacing the Kafirs with Prawns. The fact that in reality it is the aliens, the Dutch who came in and relocated the rightful occcupants into slums is kind of lost in this translation however. Instead we get Black actors (faces, as I’m sure most of them were non-actors) to in essense regurgitate lines that not too long ago the Dutch would have said about them. It is an irony not lost on me, but is without a doubt lost on the Black faces, thrust into a movie that is all about delivering white messages.

The most aggregious of which? The Nigerians. In one stroke they called them smugglers, drug and weapon dealers, sexual deviants, and cannibals. Wow. Who paid for this movie, Shell Gas?

I know a bit about Nigeria and I found that portrayal racist and maligning and calculated to reinforce stereotypes, on an almost unbelievable level. (I mean you can do a pic with Triad gangs, or Yakuza because you typically have positive asian elements in the same film, as well as tons of positive Asian films. However when a people are as underrepresented on the world stage as the Nigerians, it’s important that their only images aren’t negative images. Otherwise it becomes the engine of Stereotype. So I’m not saying “Do not use Nigerians in film”, but let’s try painting them as hereoes as well as villians, or perhaps even just as people)

It’s well known to everyone except the terminally stupid, which includes unfortunately most of America, that for six decades the Dutch-British company that is SHELL gasoline, this survivor of the mad dreams of Reichdom, has made their fortune by stealing and raping the land and resources of the native Nigerian people… the Ogoni (If you saw AVATAR you have seen a fictionalization of that Ogoni saga played out. With the exception being no one has yet come to the Ogoni’s aid). And the Nigerian email scams, are not Nigerian inventions but British/Dutch inventions (Noise to cover the real signal/emails that activists were trying to get out about the attrocities being perpetrated in Nigeria, against the native Nigerians).

So unfortunuately all the masses, who get their news from obviously bigoted sources such as FOX NEWS, know of Nigeria is little to nothing. All the masses know is the noise.

The noise and now DISTRICT 9.

A movie like Neill Blomkamp’s DISTRICT 9, that makes you care for the fictional oppresed Alien race (and want to say “no this is wrong” to what is happening on screen), does so at the expense of real people, The Nigerians, who have been and continue to be victims of staggering colonialism and oppression.

This juxtapositon with the illusion of caring, with the reality of “this filmmaker eithers doesn’t care enough to offer a non-jingoistic view of Nigerians”, ultimately drowns, what otherwise is a tight, faced-paced, stylish thriller of a movie, that I wanted very much to like.

But I see clearly that the films message of misrepresentation will ultimately only serve… to continue the crimes of mass-theft and mass-murder that continue to occur in Nigeria.

DISTRICT 9, has become a very stylish Nigerian spam email, Noise to hide the faint signal… of people who need your help.

So I view the broad license this movie takes, to paint an already deeply attacked and violated people, with such a broad brush of villany, the only way I can… with utter disgust.

Neill Blomkamp with this film proves himself an effective filmmaker, and perhaps he actually had the best of intentions for his film. But honestly I have to doubt it, the commentary against Nigerians was too pointed, and the use of Blacks/South Africans to espouse Apartheid era lines as subtle as a brick to the face. It comes across as the movie of an apologist for Apartheid at best, and a racist at worst. There’s no other way to say it.

Or perhaps Neill Blomkamp, a very young man, is as much a victim of programming as those Black actors in his film, mouthing white messages that can ultimately only harm them and theirs. Perhaps both him and his actors, raised on this cinema and culture of lies, it has become their truth, and all they can do is regurgitate it. All we can be is our father’s failings.

I’d like to believe that’s not true. I’d like to believe that we can all escape slums, both physical and mental. I would like to believe we can all escape our District 9s. Time will tell.

Recommendation: As long as you could go in and not take this picture’s definition of Nigerians as an encompassing definition, take a look. Otherwise read a bit on Shell Gas, and how your car these days runs as much on blood as oil. (For the record I boycott Shell Gas and recommend that all people do the same).

Here endeth the lesson.

Till next time… be well.