In today’s Pulp Appeal, I talk briefly about Erle Stanley Gardner, the creator of Perry Mason.
You can’t read pulp fiction, particularly gumshoe detective stories, without stumbling across Erle Stanley Gardner. The guy was such a prolific writer that the eighty, yes EIGHTY, novels he wrote featuring his most famous character, Perry Mason, don’t even account for half of his total bibliography. Holy crap.
Perry Mason is one of the most iconic lawyers in American pop culture. Fun fact: Ozzy Osbourne has a heavy metal song about the character. Before the original tv series run in the 1950s–60s, there were no filmed legal dramas. Of course, you say, because it was the 1950s and there were few tv shows. Yes, but nearly every trope of every legal drama that has come since was copied from the show and the novels upon which it was based. Perry Mason wasn’t just an iconic television legal drama; it was THE archetype for everything from Columbo to Law & Order
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In today’s Pulp Appeal, I briefly cover Zorro.
Millionaire playboy whose identity is known to only a few puts on a black costume and mask to parade around at night, ensuring that justice and peace is maintained as well as possible in the face of corruption, political meddling, and law enforcement incompetence.
No, not Batman. This is the story of Zorro, the fox, a thorn in the side of the early 19th Century Mexican government of California. But despite the parallels to the caped crusader, the story of Zorro more closely parallels that of the English hero Robin Hood and, more directly, that of Sir Percy Blakeney, the Scarlet Pimpernel, created by Baroness Orczy about 15 years before the first Zorro story was written. Because of the existence of Robin Hood, you can’t really say that Johnston McCulley, creator of Zorro, stole the idea of the masked hero with the noble alibi from Orczy, but the parallels are…
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Today Matt shares his feelings of Elric, a character I have literally never read. I keep meaning to rectify that, but never do.
art by Robert Gould
I can pinpoint exactly when I first came across Elric, the doomed albino sorcerer-king of Melniboné. I was a freshman in high school, and there, among the rest of the science-fiction and fantasy books in the school library were two collections of Michael Moorcock’s most famous creation. In retrospect, that is probably the best and worst time to be exposed to that particular character.
Elric is brooding and introspective, at the same time sickened by the traditions he stems from while simultaneously a product of them. Unlike other pulp heroes, who conquer and strive for a kingdom of their own, Elric is born into nobility and abdicates that responsibility. He is the product of a decadent race in their twilight years, having gone from a world-spanning kingdom to being reduced to a single island. He spends as much time entreating sorcerous entities as he does battling…
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