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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Superhero Sunday: Dime Novel Hero

In the 1930's, New York publishers Street and Smith were looking to capitalize on the surprising success of the pulp magazine hero, The Shadow. Publisher Henry W. Ralston along with editor John L. Nanovic conceived of a new hero - an adventurer with unique abilities named Doc Savage.
Doc Savage, the man of Bronze, would be further developed into the legendary character he would become by series writer Lester Dent. (Dent wrote most of the stories, but as their were other writers, Street and Smith  published them under the single by-line "Kenneth Robeson.") Described by Dent as part Sherlock Holmes, part Tarzan, and part Abraham Lincoln, Doc Savage traveled the world righting wrongs with his keen powers of deduction, near-superhuman strength and agility, and strong moral character. He was often joined in his adventures by part or all of his team of fellow geniuses - each with their own abilities. If this all sounds vaguely familiar to a sci-fi cult classic film of the eighties, it's because The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension was very obviously inspired by the Doc Savage stories.
Doctor Clark "Doc" Savage Jr. was a doctor of both science and medicine. He had been trained from childhood  to peak physical and mental condition - possessing great skill in martial arts and a photographic memory. Before Batman, he was a billionaire crime fighter with a secret lair and a fleet of boats, cars, planes. Before Superman, he had a fortress of solitude in the arctic. Most modern heroes - from Christopher Chance in Human Target (one of my favorite TV shows) to Tony Stark in Iron Man - owe some part of their inspiration to the legend of Doc Savage.
Popular during the 30s and 40s, Doc Savage saw a resurgence in the 60s with reprints of the original stories and new cover art by James Bama and utilizing the features of actor/model Steve Holland as Doc. There was even a campy movie in 1975 featuring former TV Tarzan Ron Ely as Doc Savage and Paul Gleason as his buddy Long Tom.

There is talk of a new Doc Savage movie to be directed and scripted by Lethal Weapon scribe and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang scribe and director, Shane Black. I, for one, can't wait. Something tells me that the editor of the following fan video can't wait, either.

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