Downtown Wichita Falls, Texas, in the mid 1940’s was a bustling metropolis for a boy of 7 just away from the farm and ranch community where he was born. My father, a cook and cowboy by trade, had just started as one of the first cooks for the Casa Manana restaurant in 1947. He moved us to an apartment on Ohio Street, right across from the Gem Theater, between 7th and 8th Streets. It’s here that we would stay for the next three years. The Gem Theater became a magic palace for a young mind. But it had to share that distinction with the rest of the magic that was Wichita Falls. I attended San Jacinto and Carrigan elementary schools, as well as Reagan Junior High, and belonged to the Boys Club on 6th Street. Please join, and share your stories and pictures through a Guest Blog, of early Wichita Falls - or your home town. Contact me at or leave a comment. We could use old pictures of movie houses, drive-in theaters, and other nostalgic pictures related to our youths.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Doc Savage

Doc Savage

            Two of the most popular pulp heroes of the 1930s and ‘40s were Doc Savage and The Shadow. I’ve already discussed The Shadow a bit, so this time I will give a little information about The Man of Bronze, Doc Savage.

After the huge success of The Shadow in 1931, STREET & SMITH Publications was looking for a sister magazine of equal popularity. They came up with world adventurer, Doc Savage and his five aides. They would solve the world’s problems for 181 issues, beginning in 1933 and ending in 1949. Writing as Kenneth Robeson, the main author was a Missouri writer named Lester Dent. The action was fast paced, with wild plots, and plenty of action to make the Depression Era readers beg for more. Doc may have actually been more popular than The Shadow, though The Master of Darkness sold more issues.

Wanting to capitalize on the comic book market, in the 1940s STREET & SMITH published a Doc Savage comic book, but it failed to pull in the revenue other comic books of the day were making in profit.

Perhaps the true success of Doc Savage came in the early 1960s, long after the pulp and comic book editions had fallen by the wayside. Bantam paperbacks began reprinting the series with an iconic cover art by Bama, which captured a new generation of readers. The Shadow failed to find a good home in the paperbacks, but Doc Savage prospered. Eventually, all 181 original novels were reprinted, plus a rejected manuscript was finally published, and a new series began with Will Murray now writing the adventures.

In 1975, Ron Ely portrayed The Man of Bronze on the silver screen. The actor nailed the part perfectly, but the script was a bit too campy, and fans had mixed feelings about the movie. Plans are in the making for a new film, so we’ll see how that goes.
Doc Savage continued to be popular among fans, and has appeared in numerous fan fiction pieces. Plus, Sanctum Books is closing in on finally reprinting the series in total a second time in facsimile reproductions, including inside illustrations from the actual pulp magazines. Will Murray continues to write the new adventures, published through ALTUS PRESS, and fans still love the character.

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