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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, May 25, 2013

Guns of The Black Ghost

Guns of The Black Ghost by Tom Johnson is available on Kindel for $2.99, and as a paperback from the author at for $16.95

I recently got in trouble with a comic book reviewer that read one of my Black Ghost stories in a previous anthology. Basically, he said my character didn’t deserve the cape he wore since he couldn’t fly or leap over tall buildings. My response was that my character is not a comic book super hero, but a pulp crime fighter who wears a costume. Now, I admit there are a lot of similarities between comic book super heroes and pulp crime fighters, but there is a difference.
After the financial Stock Market crash of ’29, the reading public was discouraged with the Roaring Twenties, and the popularization of the American gangster. They were looking for heroes, and the popular media of the day, the pulp magazines, gave them that change.
In 1931, The Shadow hit the stands and was an instant success. In early 1933, The Phantom Detective followed from another publishing house. By 1933, the market place was flooded with pulp heroes: The Spider, G-8, Doc Savage, and many others. Most wore some weird costume, laughed eerily, or sported a domino mask. Most were copies of The Shadow. They were all a lot of fun.
Walter Gibson, the man who gave us the character of The Shadow, drew from several sources in creating the character; turning New York City into a dark and forbidding locale like that of London in the period of Jack the Ripper, and then dressing our hero like the popular vampire of the movies, Dracula, black cape, hypnotic eyes, a sinister voice, et al. Gibson, himself a magician, put magic in his stories, both in atmosphere and in creativity. The character came alive. He appeared in 325 magazine novels, plus a 1960s updated paperback series from Belmont, and two short stories, plus a long running radio drama, several movies, a number of comic book series, and a Saturday Matinee serial. He was extremely popular.
When Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster created their comic book super hero, Superman, they drew heavily from The Shadow & Doc Savage. Bob Kane and Bill Finger gave us the character of the Bat Man shortly after the appearance of Superman, and they also drew
heavily from The Shadow. By the 1950s, the pulp magazines were dying, being replaced by the comic book as the popular reading material of young adults, but the comic books had pulled heavily from the pulps. The main difference was the super abilities of the heroes. In the pulps, our heroes were tough, could swing a hard fist, were usually an expert in disguise, and carried heavy automatics in which to battle 1920s type gangsters on dark streets. The super heroes of the comics could jump over tall buildings, run faster than a speeding building, and even fly!
I admit it I was a fan of the comic books. In the mid 1940s, I was reading Batman, Superman, and all the rest. But when I created the character of The Black Ghost, I drew from the pulps, especially the character of The Shadow. So the reviewer was correct, my character cannot jump tall buildings or fly, but he didn’t get his cape from the comic books. His cape came from much earlier, the pulp costumed crime fighter!
For readers who are not familiar with my Black Ghost stories, they take place in a modern city (never named), which could be anywhere. He fights crime with a pair of .45 automatics and a sinister laugh, while wearing all black to blend with the dark streets where crime dwells. His costume includes a black hood, which completely covers his head, and a black cape over his shoulder – not to fly, but more in keeping with Dracula of the movies. A martial arts expert, he often has to battle criminals who are also trained to kill with their hands. The stories are full of action, but I also work on plot and characterization, so that the stories are not just mindless action and gun battles.
One difference in my modern hero and those in the pulp era, the crime fighters of the 1930s and 1940s could never marry as long as they wore the mask of the hero. The Black Ghost, however, was married early in his career, recorded in a story entitled, “Hunter’s Moon” (later rewritten as “Murder Town”), and his wife has often donned the guise of the crime fighter to confuse the enemy.
To date, I have written eleven adventures of The Black Ghost. If you like fast action, with a lot of gun battles along with a good mystery, I think you will enjoy the stories in this volume. Seven of the eleven adventures are included. Only missing is “The Black Ghost”, an early adventure when he was still a young boy. Also missing is “Hunter’s Moon”, which was co-written with Debra Delorme, and features him as a young adult. “The Spider’s Web” is a novel, and sequel to “Highways In Hiding”, one of the stories in this volume. Then a short novel, “Carnival of Death” is included in the collection, PULP ECHOES. I am always available for comment and discussion. Just don’t ask me why my character can’t fly!

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