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Friday, April 30, 2021

Pulp Figures: Agents of Justice


Here's the square meal deal youse tuff guys and beautiful dames, I don't get a single thin dime from Bob Murch of Pulp Figures - I just like to paint his figures!

Oh those great golden pulp days of yesteryear, when the bad guys were bad and the good guys did not take guff from them. When mysterious vigilantes fought foul villains from taking over the city - or even the world! Welcome to the world of Pulp Figures which have some of the best of these great heroes and villains (boo hiss). Up first is the pack Agents of Justice.

Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows!

The Shadow is Kent Allard, although his real name is not revealed until The Shadow Unmasks (1937). Early stories explain he was once a famed aviator who fought for the French during World War I, known by the alias the "Black Eagle" according to one character in The Shadow's Shadow (1933). Later stories revised this alias as the "Dark Eagle," beginning with The Shadow Unmasks. After the war's conclusion, Allard finds a new challenge in waging war on criminals. Allard falsifies his death by crash landing his plane in Guatemala, encountering the indigenous "Xinca tribe" as a result, who see him as a supernatural being and provide him with two loyal aides. Allard returns to the United States and takes residence in New York City, adopting numerous identities to acquire valuable information and conceal his true nature, and recruiting a variety of agents to aid his war on crime, only a few of whom are aware of his other identities.

As the vigilante called The Shadow, Allard hunts down and often violently confronts criminals, armed with Colt .45 pistols and sometimes using magician tricks to convince his prey that he's supernatural. One such trick is
The Devil's Whisper, a chemical compound on the thumb and forefinger, causing a flash of bright flame and sharp explosion when he snaps his fingers. The Shadow is also known for wearing a girasol ring with a purple stone (sometimes depicted as a red stone in cover artwork), gifted to Kent Allard from the Czar of Russia (The Romanoff Jewels, 1932) during World War I. The ring is later said to be one of two rings made with gemstones taken from the eyes of an idol made by the Xinca tribe (The Shadow Unmasks, 1937). 

The Woman in Red

The Woman in Red (WIR) was really police officer Peggy Allen. Disgusted after seeing how criminals were getting away from normal law enforcement she decided to do something about it. Thus becoming The Woman in Red. Peggy’s usual method was to investigate first where the crime was taking place. She did this by taking a role that would let her blend in, such as a student, nurse, or actress. After gathering the clues she needed she would strike as the Woman in Red.

The Woman in Red is a no-nonsense Costumed Detective. Although she has a terrible relationship with most uniformed Police officers and Detective Cavanaugh, she is on good terms with the Chief of Police. The WIR is very tough, although not very athletic she is not afraid to confront her foes directly. She is tougher, stronger, faster, very aware of her surroundings making her hard to sneak upon. She is a great shot, easily capable of shooting to wound or kill. Although sometimes outnumbered and overpowered, she quickly recovers and is able to track down her foes for retaliation. Her Detective skills are top-notch and she's quick to gather clues and make connections. 

The Spider

The Spider was millionaire playboy Richard Wentworth, who had served as a major in World War I, and was living in New York City unaffected by the financial deprivations of The Great Depression. Wentworth was easily identified as the Spider by his enemies in a number of early cases and was arrested by the police but quickly escaped. He adopted a disguise, Tito Caliepi, and associated aliases. The Spider's costume consisted of a simple black domino mask, black hat, and cape. These were added to terrorize the criminal underworld, while the Spider dispensed his brand of violent vigilante justice.

Wentworth, according to the fifth story, was 5'11" tall, and had grey eyes and an old battle scar on his head that would flare up at times of great stress. He was an accomplished pianist and violinist, and he drove a Lancia. Wentworth was also psychologically vulnerable and suffered "frequent bouts of fear, self-doubt, despair and paranoia".

The Spider's adventures often involved a bizarre menace to the country and a criminal conspiracy, and were often extremely violent, with the villains engaging in wanton slaughter of thousands as part of sometimes nationwide crime sprees. (Pulp magazine historian Ed Hulse notes that "Spider novel death tolls routinely ran into the thousands.) The master criminal of the stories was usually unmasked only in the last few pages. The stories often ended with Wentworth killing the villains and stamping their corpses' foreheads with his "Spider" mark.

The Phantom Dectective

The Phantom (as he was called in the stories) is actually the wealthy Richard Curtis Van Loan. In the first few issues of the title, the Phantom is introduced as a world-famous detective, whose true identity is only known by one man—Frank Havens, the publisher of the Clarion newspaper. Richard Curtis Van Loan is orphaned at an early age, but inherits wealth. Before World War I, he leads the life of an idle playboy, but during the war he becomes a pilot and downs many German planes. After the war, Van Loan has a difficult time returning to his old life. At the suggestion of his father's friend, Havens, he sets out to solve a crime that had stumped the police. After solving it, he decides he has found his calling. 

He trains himself in all facets of detection and forensics, and becomes a master of disguise and escape. He makes a name for himself as the Phantom, whom all police agencies around the world know and respect. When dealing with law enforcement officials he carries a platinum badge in the shape of a domino mask as proof of his true identity.

Next: Mysterious Masked Avengers

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Back to Barsoom: Mercernaries!

The wandering soldier of fortune or panthan [pan-┼žan] is common upon Barsoom, where most men love to fight. Panthans sell their services wherever war exists, and in the occasional brief intervals when there is no organized warfare between the red nations, they join one of the numerous expeditions that are constantly being dispatched against the green men in protection of the waterways that traverse the wilder portions of the globe. 

When their service is over they discard the metal of the nation they have been serving until they shall have found a new master. In the intervals they wear no insignia, their war-worn harness and grim weapons being sufficient to attest their calling. In times of war such panthans within the domain of a belligerent nation are compelled to don the insignia of that nation and fight with her warriors.

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Back to Barsoom: Holy Therns

Holy Therns in the Valley of Dor.

The Holy Therns were a vicious Martian cult populated by the therns. Inhabitants of the Valley Dor, they worshipped the "living goddess" Issus (who is actually merely an ancient Black Martian woman), and sought to keep her happy with human sacrifices. For centuries, they enthusiastically promoted the idea that the Valley Dor is the gateway to Martian Heaven and decreed that any Martian who had reached 1,000 years of age or merely tired of living should travel to the valley to either spend the rest of eternity in paradise or be reborn. 

When the unsuspecting pilgrims reached the valley, they found a beautiful land where fruit and water were plentiful... which also happened to be heavily inhabited by white apes and plant men. Those who survived those creatures ended up enslaved by the Holy Therns, who would work them to death before feeding them to Issus or the Tenth Cycle. The Holy Therns' downfall came in 1886, when John Carter suddenly returned to Mars. 

The therns are White Martians and completely bald; they where blonde wigs as their ancestors used to have blonde hair. The client requested a white theme and I thought some purple would also add to their sense of superiority to all other Martians . . .

Next: How about some mercenaries on war-torn Barsoom?

Friday, April 23, 2021

Back to Barsoom: Warriors of Zodanga

Zodanga is a Red Martian city and nation that before John Carter's arrival on Mars had long been enemies with the red men of Helium, and the green men of Thark. The city was conquered by John Carter and the green hordes of Thark, with the assistance of many minor hordes. The city then became part of the kingdom of the nation of Helium. However there are many in Zodanga who have no love for Helium. The client requested a green theme for the Warriors of Zodanga.

Oh my gosh, talk about evil: The Holy Therns are next.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Back to Barsoom: Warriors of Helium

Helium is one of the major kingdoms in Barsoom. It is ruled by the Jeddak Tardos Mors and is the residence of warlord John Carter and his wife Dejah Thoris. Helium is noted, among other things, for the excellence of its navy (the fliers of Helium are among the fastest on Barsoom).

John Carter, Tars Tarkas and Dejah Thoris.

For the Warriors of the Twin Cities of Helium, the client requested a red theme. I decided to go with a dark red, with orange highlights to better blend in with the inhospitable terrain of Barsoom.

One of the items I like about the Bronze Age miniatures is that they follow many of the illustrations in style post World War II.

Next: Zodanga. (Boo! Hiss!)

Friday, April 16, 2021

Back to Barsoom: Green Men and Characters


I recently did a commission for some figures for Barsoom the red planet of our Solar System. I grew up on the John Carter books by Edgar Rice Burroughs and I jumped at this commission and finished it in record time! All of the figures are from Bronze Age Miniatures except for the female; I'm not sure who makes the figure. I did two Green Martians:

I love the Bronze Age Green Martians - the variety, the options and the price at $12 US dollars. Figure stands at approximate 54mm tall.

Green Martian number 2. This photo gives a good comparison in scale to the 28mm figures. The Green Martians look exactly how I envisioned them reading the books.

Ulysses Paxton, the second Earthmen to go to Barsoom.

Llanna of Gathol. I was a little disappointed with this figure as you can see the pock marks on her right leg. Time to invest in some green stuff.

I forget the name of this character from the client, but he is from Gathol.

Next on to Helium.