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Retirement. Publishers, thank you for the many years of reading pleasure you gave me, but all good things must come to an end. Due to failing eyesight I am forced to retire. I can no longer review your books, and any that you send will be donated to the local library, unread. Do not send any more. I can only read for a couple hours every day, and this does not allow me to finish a book in reasonable time. I will be devoting time to my own books from now on, and reading on a personal level. Books that interest me. I prefer paperbacks and hardbacks, not eBooks. My eyesight has been failing the last few years, and I cannot handle hundreds of review books any more. My books are still available for review. Anyone interested in reviewing any of them, they are found in the Link to Tom’s Books On Amazon. Contact me for pdf copies at

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Triple Detective

One of the most popular titles of its day, TRIPLE DETECTIVE carried some terrific stories. The magazine was so popular that it lasted long after most titles had folded, continuing until the Fall 1955 issue. Some interesting stories ended up in the later issues after the other titles ceased. Unfortunately, many of the later issues contained reprints of earlier published stories. TRIPLE DETECTIVE is being published in the pulp format of old, and for the pulp collector, and fan of the character pulps, this will quickly become a collector’s item in itself. Available from Altus Press & Amazon.

#1, 2007, $14.95: With the release of the new series from Altus Press, three important stories are included in the first issue for the pulp fan.

THE HAPPIEST HOUR MURDERS by Norman Daniels was written as a Phantom Detective entry in 1934, but rejected, and published later with all reference to the Phantom removed from the story. Restored by Tom Johnson.

THE LADY OF DEATH by Stewart Sterling was originally written as a Black Bat, but left unpublished, and appeared later, with all traces of the Black Bat removed. Restored by Tom Johnson.

THE STOLEN FORMULA by Elia Back (Secret Agent X) was published in Greece in 1950. This is its first American publication in English. Translated by Dimitry Hanos, and heavily edited by Tom Johnson.

#2, 2008, $14.95: DOCTOR DEATH RETURNS by Steve Mitchell: Twenty years before, a sinister madman held the world at bay, using the twin powers of science and sorcery to unleash a crimson tide of murder and destruction that swept across America and Asia. Then he disappeared—leaving no clue to his final fate.

MURDER MUSEUM by K.G. McAbee: The Phantom Detective, that nemesis of all evildoers in New York City, takes on the uncanny powers of the sinister Dr. Darkness!

CRIME'S LAST STAND by Tom Johnson: Will evil win out? Can even The Great Masked Avenger survive the final battle with the city's underworld when crime makes its last stand!

#3, 2009, $14.95: THE BLACK BAT'S WAR by G. Wayman Jones In the trenches of war-torn Germany, soldiers were dying from the medicines they were receiving for their wounds. The Army generals blamed America for the bad drugs, yet nothing could be done until the source of the deadly medicines could be uncovered and replaced with new drugs. While investigators were stymied, The Black Bat and his team of crime fighters took up the challenge, uncovering a giant plot by a master criminal. But would he be in time to save brave young soldiers dying of their wounds in a far off No-Man’s Land?

THE EYES OF SATAN by Robert Wallace: From war-torn Europe comes a mastermind with plans to unite all the mobs under his leadership, but while he is making future plans, a small-time thief murders his young bride, calling for vengeance first. That vengeance results in the death of three people, the small time thief, a respected jewel dealer, and a city cop. Those murders bring in the underworld’s dreaded nemesis, The Phantom Detective. But when the lovely Muriel Havens, daughter of the Phantom’s only contact, Frank Havens, is kidnapped, can even the master detective run down the killer before death strikes again?

DARK STREETS OF DOOM by Tom Johnson: Dark Streets That Lead To Ebony Alleys In The City’s Immigrant District Culminate In A Spider’s Web of Fear When Homeless Children Are Abducted By Emissaries Of Evil. When The Masked Avenger Promises Protection To The City’s Unwanted Children, Can He Keep That Promise?

#4, 2009, $14.95: THE GIBBERING GAS OF MADNESS by Capt. Kerry McRoberts. When Scientist working on military weapons mysteriously go mad, The U.S. Government fears a foreign power at the source of the evil and G-2 calls in their top secret agent, The Eagle. But this time his foe may be the greatest spy in the world – And the most beautiful. Will Jeff Shannon also fall victim to her womanly charms?

CITY OF PHANTOMS by Robert Wallace. When an old case resurfaces, The World’s Greatest Detective is pulled back into a new battle with a deadly enemy, while ex-Fighting District Attorney Tony Quinn’s lovely secretary, Carol Baldwin is kidnapped by a vicious mob, hoping to force the prosecution to drop it’s case against their Boss. Two champions of Justice meet in a race against time!

PLAGUE OF DEATH by Tom Johnson. A German scientist has brought a virus to America to aid in the Brown Shirts taking control of the United States for Hitler. To test the virus, the scientist releases it on a Chicago orphanage, killing all but one child. The Masked Avenger puts the child, a young Korean boy, under his protection, while a Chicago policeman and young Korean woman also watch over him. But when the boy is kidnapped, the trail leads the Masked Avenger to New York, where he must uncover the German scientist and stop the virus from killing everyone in the great city. A wild ride, as the German mob and Brown Shirts combine to bring America to its knees while Hitler concentrates his army on Europe! Can one man, even such as the Masked Avenger, succeed when America looks to be doomed?

An additional surprise is in store for the readers with THE LEGEND by Tom Johnson. In this short story, The Legend returns to bring justice to an old hoodlum! This giant issue also contains a Phantom Detective comic not reprinted in THE PHANTOM DETECTIVE COMPANION.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Golden Gate Gloves

Golden Gate Gloves (Fight Card)
By Jack Tunney (Robert Evans)
Price $2,99
Rating 5 Star

A beautiful girl, and loaded gloves brings T.N.T. to Fight Card!

The San Francisco docks in 1951. Conall O’Quinn is dock champion, but for some unknown reason his boss wants him to lose. They bring in the Union boss’s son to beat him, but when O’Quinn still wins against loaded gloves, he is accused of having the metal in his gloves and fired. He and his old friend, Benson leave, but they want to know why they were fired. Breaking into the warehouse that night, they discover a treasure map in the company safe, but someone sets fire to the warehouse and they have to get out. Now they are being blamed for the fire, and figure it’s too hot to stay in town. They follow the treasure map to the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and a little town named Jamestown where the abandoned mine with the treasure is supposed to be. More trouble. An old man and his beautiful daughter, Maggie, own the mine. But the father has bet his boxer against another mine owner’s boxer, and may lose the mine. Things get even worse when the mob runs them down in Jamestown, and forces them back to San Francisco for a final match with the Union Boss’s son.

This is a busy story, but has some great boxing highlights. Although I was left a little confused why the warehouse was burned down, it was a good plot overall. These Fight Card novellas are filled with men and women strong on moral responsibilities, and though things may look pretty bad for the protagonists we know that good will always triumph over evil in the end.

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Laughing Buddha Murders

The Laughing Buddha Murders by Richard Foster.
The Laughing Buddha couldn’t just have walked away. Statues haven’t been known to walk since Pygmalion brought Galatea to life. But this was only one of the problems facing police after the death of the ruthless millionaire art-fancier and political tyrant who had but one friend in the world. Another problem was the entrance into the case of Chin Kham, good-looking young Tibetan scholar, who seemed to know more than he should about what was going on. It’s a particular engrossing story with Chin himself providing unique interest – and a delightful surprise ending! 
When I learned about this book some twenty years ago, I thought it sounded very much like a possible Green Lama story, but the plot was not one of the published stories in the series. So for years I meant to find a copy in hopes of discovering either an unpublished Green Lama story, or maybe a story based on an unfinished story when the series ended.
Unfortunately, this appears to be a stand-alone story, though the author does reach back to his Green Lama days for the tale. Chin Kham is a Buddhist Lama, though he was born in America, he studied here and in Tibet, and was an expert on Tibetan history and relics. There is one Om! Ma-Ni Pad-Me Hum!” in the story, and remember Dr. Pali, well we do have the Pali language mentioned. Chin walks around quoting Tibetan proverbs, and sounds a lot like Charlie Chan. His assistant, Kay Barrett, is a smartly dressed young woman with dark red hair. Her dress clung fondly to the curves of her body. Hers was the sparkling beauty that made men look twice and then feel the surge of Spring in their veins. She is supposed to be Chin’s Public Relations Council. She is also very feisty, and brings some humor to the story. Chin never wears the robes of a Lama, preferring American suits. The story takes place in Cleveland, where Chin is scheduled to lecture at a university on Tibetan lore.
 Since most of you will never read this wonderful little entry, I will reveal some facts, though not divulge the whole mystery. Chin Kham and Kay Barrett are not what they seem. They actually run a private detective agency in New York City, though Chin is truly a Lama, and descendant of the Tashi Lama. They use the Lecture Tour as a cover when investigating cases out of town or state. A client had hired them for a purpose to come to Cleveland, where the case quickly turns into a murder and the mystery of a two thousand pound statue appears to have disappeared from a collector’s study. Although not a lot of action, there is a good mystery and some pleasant humor that moves the story smoothly to a surprising end. I thought it read better than the Green Lama series, but I’m not sure a second story would work since the reader now knows who Chin and Kay are. It is certainly a lost piece of treasure that would be a great book for one of the current publishers to reprint. (I recently learned that a second story has been found, and it appears to be the only sequel. Plans are currently in the works to reprint them!)

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Rollicking Rogue

Johnston McCulley’s The Rollicking Rogue was another of his fascinating costumed characters that predated the explosion of the so-called pulp heroes in the 1930s, with the likes of The Shadow, Phantom Detective, Spider, etc. The first story appears to be “The Rollicking Rogue” in the November 1930 issue of All Star Detective Stories, which also sports a great cover featuring the character from a scene in the adventure.

The Rollicking Rogue had a neat costume, unlike most of McCulley’s simple hood affairs. He wears a yellow robe and cape, with a red sash, and a red helmet with yellow horns, depicting a devil image. Not only that, but he has a weird laugh to taunt his victim, a la The Shadow, but predating him by several months.
As with many of McCulley’s characters, The Rollicking Rogue also inspired the future Captain Satan series in 1938. Not surprising, since many of his creations inspired others. However, the costume was not unique, even for All Star Detective Stories. The October 1929 cover sported a similar character, but all in red.

Typical of McCulley’s characters, there is the Clark Kent/Superman alter ego at work. The hero, The Rollicking Rogue is tough, fearless, and quite capable. When not in costume, he is a mild mannered secretary, and coward, named James Peters (not his true name we’re told).
The plot is also a simple one well used in the pulps. Ten years previous, a group of financiers and businessmen broke smaller businesses, leaving families destitute. The Rollicking Rogue is the son of one of those families. His sister and mother did not survive, and he’s out to get revenge on those crooked men.
McCulley also had a western character using this name, but I don’t know how similar to the one in All Star Detective Stories he is. I’m not sure how many stories featured this interesting character, but I liked him. If anyone is interested, Matt Moring recently included two of the stories in with the volume of The Swift Revenge of The Green Ghost. Don’t miss these fascinating pulp tales!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

On Research

When Bob Sampson was writing his series of Yesterday's Faces, he selected one of his quotes from one, and framing it, sent it to his research buddies at the time. I still have mine in its frame. Here is Bob with Nick Carr, and below is Bob's wise words of wisdom in talking to us researchers.

On Research

When you speak of those who comment on popular fiction, speak gently. They are childish in their enthusiasms, these commentators. They scratch endlessly in their gray-lighted immensity of forgotten novels, stiffing at the track of the past.
Bits of brown paper cling to their clothing. Their eyes are huge. Soiled papers bulge their pockets, notes scribbled in the stacks. For they have had valuable insights and scrawled these down, so that the thoughts might not escape, not one – although how easily blurted these are when transmitted from thought to the written word.
Speak gently of these commentators. Their thoughts are not of this present. Their bodies consume dinners and feel the sun and even drive automobiles on public highways. But their minds, all interlocked with speculations on the past, balance the merits of books no one cares to read. In doing so, they achieve a sort of dusty happiness. Their candle dwindles. But little they notice that shrinking light. There is still another Nick Carter to read, another clue to consider, another cracksman to emplace in the shabby mosaic of their thought. They honor the forgotten. They search earnestly, stumbling from volume to volume, seeking to understand what is of dubious importance. Accident guides their minds as much as design.
Drop a nickel in their cup and hurry by. For Heaven’s sake, hurry! That one wants to tell you about Jimmie Dale.
A pitiful case. See what reading does to you!

Excerpted From YESTERDAY’S FACES, Volume 1 –
“Glory Figures”, by Robert Sampson (1983)

Saturday, October 13, 2012


Here I am standing on Burnett Street in Wichita Falls, about a block from the Wichita River. This was during the time I was playing on the river with Jerry Odom.

Our drive to the commissary at Sheppard AFB is always the same. Coming in from out of town, we take Seymour Road to Beverly, then turn towards the base and cross the Wichita River. I will glance at the ugly brown water running between the banks, and marvel at how uninviting and dangerous it looks today. We've even seen homeless people living under the bridge on occasion. But it wasn't like this in my youth.
There was a time when the muddy river beckoned to an eleven-year old boy and his companions. On weekends, my San Jacinto classmate, Jerry Odom would drag me from my house to explore the jungle growth of the mighty Wichita; to us it was a great waterway with pirates and beasts to be conquered. Jerry would bring his BB or pellet gun, and I would carry my homemade bow and arrows. Lizards were Komodo Dragons, and snakes became giant anacondas fifty-feet long. Or we might be outlaws of Sherwood Forest. Our imaginations knew no bounds.
Jerry always had plenty of BBs and pellets, and I made arrows from the branches of trees, so we never ran out of ammunition to battle our imaginary enemies. Once, Jerry let me shoot his pellet gun. I spotted an insect on a rock, took careful aim, and pressed the trigger. No, I didn't shoot my eye out, but the pellet hit the rock and bounced back - hard - striking me square in the forehead and knocking me flat of my back. It was my first lesson with firearms!
While exploring the margin of the river one day, we came upon a small tributary that branched from the main stream. It didn't appear to be more than a foot deep, so Jerry leaped over the gap easily. Anything that Jerry could do so could I, so I jumped right behind him. I landed in the water just inches from the bank. To our surprise, the mud below the surface wasn't solid and I began sinking rapidly. I had landed in quicksand! Suddenly, our imaginary adventure turned into a real threat. The mud was sucking me down fast, and it took all of Jerry's strength to pull me from the muck. He succeeded.
I got back to my house with Jerry's help. We only lived a block from the river, but the mud was caked on my clothes, and it was difficult to walk. At the door, my mother saw all that crud, and told me to wash it off with the hose outside, then come inside and change to some dry pants and shirt. When we did get inside finally, and I told my mother what had happened, she just smiled and told us to stay out of the mud in the future. She never did believe the story about the quicksand. Perhaps it was easier for mothers not to worry about their children, if they didn't have to think about dangerous quicksand and venomous snakes. As it was, I didn't learn to swim until I was fifteen, long after the days of playing on the bank of the Wichita River.
My mother had a pair of pet turtles she named Tom & Jerry because of our close friendship. We were Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn playing on the mighty Mississippi River. We eventually moved away from the area, and I entered a new school, losing all contact with Jerry Odom. Time and separation often erases memories of childhood pals. Perhaps I would have forgotten Jerry long ago, if it hadn't been for that day he pulled me out of the quicksand. But every time we cross that muddy old brown river, I can still see us playing on the banks below, repelling hordes of pirates with only BB guns and homemade bow and arrows!
I may be older and wiser now, but deep in my subconscious is also a yearn for those simpler times, when youth knew no fear and two boys could find excitement and adventure in a make-believe world while our mothers laughed at our imagined dangers.
I hope Jerry also remembers. 
An adendom to this story, Jerry Odom passed away in 2012 after a long illness. I had tried to make contact with him, but he must have been under the care of a relative, so there was no phone number or address. I only discovered the town where he was living in the obituary. And even then, I was not able to get a response from his next of kin. A sad reminder that we should never lose touch with old friends.