Thursday, March 10, 2016

Doc Savage Covered (1934)


(1933) (1934) (1935) (1936) (1937) (1938) (1939) (1940) (1941) (1942) (1943) (1944) (1945) (1946) (1947) (1948) (1949)


To the world at large, Doc Savage is a strange, mysterious figure of glistening bronze skin and golden eyes. To his amazing co-adventurers--the five greatest brains ever assembled in one group--he is a man of superhuman strength and protean genius, whose life is dedicated to the destruction of evil-doers. To his fans he is the greatest adventure hero of all time, whose fantastic exploits are unequaled for hair-raising thrills, breathtaking escapes and blood-curdling excitement.




Continuing on with the Doc Savage covers, showing off cover art for both the Street & Smith pulps and the Bantam paperback reprints. They both feature amazing artwork, and it's fun to see how the same stories were visually represented on either end of a thirty to sixty year time gap. (The pulps were published between 1933 and 1949, the reprints between 1964 and 1990.) Emery Clarke and Walter Baumhofer did the lion's share of the original covers, and James Bama and Bob Larkin did most of the paperbacks. And of course Lester Dent did most of the writing.

At any rate, I'm going through each novel by year of pulp publication (1934 for this post) and comparing each pulp's cover to the reprint's. Since Bantam didn't reprint the stories in original order, those dates jump around a bit. I'm also including plot blurbs from the reprints; the pulps didn't feature any to speak of. I'm not doing a ton of commentary on the covers themselves, except when something really catches my eye or if I just can't help myself.

And as usual, you can click through images for (usually) larger versions, using your browser's back button or keyboard shortcut to get back to the full post. As far as image size goes, I have all the covers but my scans are from days long past. They looked great on a 800x600 resolution monitor (remember those?), but aren't too impressive with today's resolutions. I'm replacing them with high-res images when I can, but if you click through and find no joy you'll know I resorted to my original scan for that cover.

Enough with the explanations. Let's get to it.



Brand of the Werewolf (January 1934 and April 1965) by Lester Dent

Seeking to avenge his brother’s murder, Doc Savage and his daring crew become involved in a desperate hunt for the lost treasure of the pirate, Henry Morgan. Stalking them every inch of the way is the archfiend, El Rabanos, and his strange ally, the werewolf’s paw!

Artist: Walter BaumhoferArtist: Mort Kunstler

Right off the bat we have a first time cover artist on the Bantam reprint: Mort Kunstler. This was the only Doc Savage cover he ever did. (Looks like he was channeling Lon Chaney, Jr.) At any rate, his wolf man is a darn site more threatening than that jovial fellow peeking over Pulp Doc's shoulder.



The Man Who Shook the Earth (February 1934 and December 1969) by Lester Dent

One by one the rich nitrate miners of Antofagasta, Chile, were being hideously crushed to death by falling boulders. Then the Man of Bronze saw the evil hand of The Mad Earth Shaker — and uncovered his terrifying plot to control the world!

Artist: Walter BaumhoferArtist: James Bama

The Mad Earth Shaker and his terrifying plot to control the world! Heh. These are both nice covers, but I really like the color-pop the pulp has. I think I just made that term up. Whenever I see this pulp cover, I think how a rock that big to the face would be the end of ol' Doc, "physical marvel" or not.



Meteor Menace (March 1934 and October 1964) by Lester Dent

Doc Savage and his fabulous crew journey to Tibet in pursuit of their most dangerous adversary, the evil genius Mo-Gwei. Battling against overwhelming odds, they try to stop him from conquering the world with a diabolical machine known as the Blue Meteor, a screaming blue visitor from space that turns men into raving animals!

Artist: Walter BaumhoferArtist: James Avati

James Avati's only DS contribution here (unless The Polar Treasure turns out to be his as well, but I have it on good authority it's most likely not).



The Monsters (April 1934 and June 1965) by Lester Dent

The breeding ground was a walled castle completely covered over with a huge electrified net. Inside were the scum of the earth, gathered from the prisons of the world, transformed into invincible giants. Now they were ready to ravage the world — unless Doc Savage and his mighty crew could stop them.

Artist: Walter BaumhoferArtist: James Bama

Holy Hannah these two are nearly identical! Walter is calling James a copycat right now. I like the subtle palette of the reprint, though. Both great covers.



The Mystery on the Snow (May 1933 and July 1972) by Lester Dent

In one of his most important adventures, the Man of Bronze journeys north to Canada, and in her magnificent wilderness solves a billion-dollar riddle: Who or What has committed murder — and worse! — to possess the secret of the miracle called Benlanium?

Artist: Walter BaumhoferArtist: Fred Pfeiffer

And here's where I start to realize that while I've always thought of Bama as being the one who supersized Doc, several of the other Bantam artists portrayed Doc as being bigger than Bama did. At least in these earlier reprint covers.

Wow. That was a lot of B words in one sentence: bantambeingbiggerbama!



The King Maker (June 1934 and February 1975) by Harold A. Davis & Lester Dent

In the Kingdom of Calbia, the most far-flung plot of the century is already under way. The Man of Bronze and his daring companions join the revolutionary forces of Conte Cozonac but soon find themselves the intended victims of the most fearsome weapons the world has ever seen!

Artist: Walter BaumhoferArtist: Fred Pfeiffer

Those funky made up country and villain names (Conte Cozonac of Calbia!) were half the fun of these stories. Well, not half, because these stories were all kinds of fun. But the names were certainly part of the fun. I really like this Pfeiffer cover.



The Thousand-Headed Man (July 1934 and October 1964) by Lester Dent

With a mysterious black Chinaman, Doc Savage and his amazing crew journey to the jungles of Indo-China in a desperate gamble to destroy the infamous Thousand-headed Man.

Artist: Walter BaumhoferArtist: James Bama

Great Baumhofer cover here, while Bama's gets the Weird Award. Not that it's painted poorly or anything; that's just a weird scene he's got going on.



The Squeaking Goblin (August 1934 and April 1969) by Lester Dent

The tale of a skeletal sharpshooter who used a strange squeaking weapon was told around backwoods campfires. To most it was just a legend, but for some it became a terrifying reality — especially those whose skulls were shattered by the deadly “disappearing bullets.” Doc Savage dodges flying death as he tracks the spectral killer who defies every law of nature!

Artist: Walter BaumhoferArtist: James Bama

Neither of these covers does a lot for me, but Bama wins out with a much spookier specter. For the longest time I thought it was Doc in the Daniel Boone getup on Baumhofer's cover. As amazing an artist as he was, he didn't always differentiate his other cover characters from Doc as well as he could have. In my opinion.



Fear Cay (September 1933 and May 1966) by Lester Dent

It was all a great mystery. Who was this man called Dan Thunden who claimed he was one hundred and thirty years old? Did he really have the secret of the fountain of youth? What was this island called Fear Cay that spelled horror and death? What was the strange thing that turned men to bone? These were the mysteries that Doc Savage and his fearless crew had to solve at peril of their very lives.

Artist: Walter BaumhoferArtist: James Bama

Great Bantam cover for this one, too.



Death in Silver (October 1934 and July 1968) by Lester Dent

An awesome legion of master criminals launch a devastating series of raids that set the entire east coast of America aflame. Skyscrapers explode, ocean liners disappear, key witnesses are kidnapped and brutally murdered as the holocaust rages. In a desperate race against time Doc Savage attempts to discover the true identity of the twisted brain who rules the silver-costumed marauders — while the mysterious Ull and his army of hooded assassins move closer to their grim objective of world domination!

Artist: Walter BaumhoferArtist: James Bama

Pulp Doc is definitely easier on his shirts than Bantam Doc is.

And here's another of Ben Otero's covers from the six-book Golden Press set, along with his original artwork for it. Nice, huh?

Artist: Ben Otero

Again, it's startling how much more vibrant the original's colors are, and how much more nicely the composition works in the original format. (See 1933 for the other example of Otero's artwork.)




The Sea Magician (November 1934 and October 1970) by Lester Dent

King John’s ghost was stalking The Wash, a vast marshy area in England, terrorizing and maiming the inhabitants. Then the mighty Man of Bronze investigated — and discovered the impossible. The Wash was producing real gold … from nowhere!

Artist: Walter BaumhoferArtist: James Bama

I favor the original cover, here.



The Annihilist (December 1934 and December 1968) by Lester Dent

The dread Annihilist was slaughtering the criminals of New York in wholesale lots. Hundreds of men were found mysteriously murdered, victims of the hideous pop-eyed death. The finger of suspicion pointed directly at one man, Doc Savage himself. Even as The Man of Bronze scrambled to solve the terrifying enigma, the invisible assassin began to play havoc with one of humanity’s most important secret defenses — Doc Savage’s legendary crime college.

Artist: Walter BaumhoferArtist: James Bama

Ah, these are both nice covers. I like the action and danger of the pulp--Doc with a seemingly mortal wound! And that Bantam is atmospheric as hell.



And that's it for 1934. Two years down, fifteen to go...

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