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Doc Savage is a pulp fiction hero created by publisher Henry W. Ralston and editor John L. Nanovic at Street and Smith Publications with additional material contributed by the series' main writer, Lester Dent.
The Doc Savage Magazine ran for 181 issues and was printed from March 1933 to the summer of 1949.
Doc Savage became known to modern readers when Bantam Books began reprinting the stories in 1964 with covers by artist James Bama and under the by-line "Kenneth Robeson". The stories were not reprinted in chronological order as originally published, though they did begin with the first adventure, The Man of Bronze. By 1967, Bantam was publishing one a month until 1990, when all 181 original stories (plus an unpublished novel, The Red Spider) had run their course.
Author Will Murray produced seven more Doc Savage novels for Bantam Books from Lester Dent's original outlines. Bantam also published a novel by Philip José Farmer, Escape From Loki (1991), which told the story of how Doc in World War I met the men who would become his five comrades.
The 86th floor
Doc's headquarters are on the 86th floor of a New York City skyscraper, implicitly the Empire State Building, reached by Doc's private high-speed elevator. Doc owns a fleet of cars, trucks, aircraft, and boats which he stores at a secret hangar on the Hudson River, under the name The Hidalgo Trading Company, which is linked to his office by a pneumatic-tube system nicknamed the "flea run." He sometimes retreats to his Fortress of Solitude in the Arctic — which pre-dates Superman's similar hideout of the same name. All of this is paid for with gold from a Central American mine given to him by the local descendants of the Mayans in the first Doc Savage story.
Clark "Doc" Savage, Jr. From an early age, Doc studied under great masters of all disciplines of science: medicine, chemistry, electricity, engineering, archaeology, and others. He also developed his body as well as his mind by studying the martial arts and other hand to hand combat skills. He became fluent in numerous languages, an expert at ventriloquism, and a marksman with all types of weapons.
When WWI broke out, Doc joined the Army and went overseas. He captured and sent to a POW camp where he met Monk, Ham, Renny, Johnny, and Long Tom. Doc and his crew organized a prison escape, and made a pact that they would form a group to fight evil and crime when the war was over.
An evil plot which killed his father spurred Doc and his crew into action for the first time. Doc saved a lost race of Mayan descendents from exploitation and slavery and in return was given access to the tremendous hordes of gold owned by the tribe. Doc used this fabulous wealth in his fight against evil.
Despite Doc's choice of professions, he seldom took the life of a criminal if he could help it. The fate of the criminals Doc captured was quite different. They were taken to a secret hospital in up-state New York and given a delicate brain surgery by Doc that erased their memories. A staff of attendants would then re-train the criminal to be a contributing member of society.
Doc was a huge man. Six foot eight inches tall, he weighed 270 pounds, he maintains his physique by performing two hours of exercises daily. These exercises consisted of pitting one muscle against another. At the same time, he is exercising his mind by performing complex mathematical calculations in his head. He also develops his other senses with the use of apparatus of his own design.
Brigadier General Theodore Marley "Ham" Brooks is a Harvard law school graduate and a sharp dresser. Ham carries a sword cane made of high tempered steel whose tip is coated with a drug of Monk's invention which produces instant unconsciousness. In his never-ending feud with Monk, Ham acquires a pet during one of his adventures with Doc, a gorilla-like simian which he names "Chemistry".
Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Blodgett "Monk" Mayfair Monk stands 5' 2" and 260 pounds, his is solid bone and muscle. His simian features are very pronounced: red hair as coarse as his pet pig Habeas Corpus covers most of his body, arms that stretch below the knees of his bowed legs, a forehead so low it doesn't look as if he has more than a spoonful of brains. .
Colonel John "Renny" Renwick is 6' 4" tall, 250 pounds of muscle and is an industrial, civil, and mechanical engineer by trade. His profession takes him to the far corners of the earth to design and build roads, air fields, skyscrapers, bridges, and hospitals. He misses many of Doc's adventures, especially in the later years, because of his work.
Major Thomas J. "Long Tom" Roberts is an electrical genius and a millionaire from all his electrical patents. Long Tom is undersized, about 5' 4" tall and 140 pounds, with a high forehead, large ears and a pale, sickly complexion. Despite this, he can more than hold his own in a scuffle and wears two gold front teeth from the many fights he has been in.
William Harper "Johnny" Littlejohn is an archaeologist and geologist. He is slightly over 6 feet tall and extremely thin. He's a sesquipedalian whose favorite exclamation is "I'll be superamalgamated!" Johnny wears a monocle over his sightless left eye which he uses as a magnifying glass in his profession. Doc later operates on his eye and restores his eyesight. In the later years, Johnny misses a lot of Doc's adventures because he is off somewhere on an archaeological dig.
Patricia Savage is Doc's cousin. Very attractive, tall and slender with bronze hair, she joins Doc and the crew in many of their adventures although Doc does his best to keep her from getting involved. She packs a single action six shooter revolver and is a crack shot. When not adventuring with Doc, she owns and maintains an upscale beauty salon in New York City.
Doc's greatest foe and the only enemy to appear in two of the original pulp stories, was the Russian-born John Sunlight, introduced in October 1938 in the Fortress of Solitude. Early villains in the series were fantastic schemers bent on ruling the world. Much later the magazine had a more realistic detective feel where Doc broke up crime rings.
No matter how fantastic the monster or menace, there was usually (but not always) a rational explanation at the end. A giant mountain-walking spider was revealed as a blimp, a scorching death came from super-charged electric batteries, a "sea angel" was a mechanical construct towed behind a submarine, Navy ships sunk by a mysterious compelling force were actually sabotaged, and so on. But Doc Savage also battled invisible killers, a murderous teleporter, and superscientific foes from the center of the Earth.
Lester Dent, the series' principal author, had a mixed regard for his own creations. Though usually protective of his own work, he could be derisive of his pulp output. In interviews, he stated that he harbored no illusions of being a high-quality author of literature; for him, the Doc Savage series was simply a job, a way to earn a living by "churning out reams and reams of sellable crap", never dreaming how his series would catch on. Comics historian Jim Steranko revealed that Dent used a formula to write his Doc Savage stories, so that his heroes were continually, and methodically, getting in and out of trouble. Dent was paid $750 per story during the Great Depression, and was able to buy a yacht and vacation in the Caribbean.
Post Pulp Publication History
All of the original stories were reprinted in paperback by Bantam Books in the 1960s through 1990s. Of the first 67 paperback covers, 62 were painted in extraordinary monochromatic tones and super-realistic detail by James Bama, whose updated vision of Doc Savage with the exaggerated widow's peak captured, at least symbolically, the essence of the Doc Savage novels. The first 96 paperbacks reprinted one of the original novels per book. Actor and model Steve Holland who had played Flash Gordon in a 1953 television series was the model for Doc on all the covers. The next 15 paperbacks were "doubles," reprinting two novels each (these were actually shorter novellas written during paper shortages of World War II). The last of the original novels were reprinted in a numbered series of 13 "omnibus" volumes of four to five stories each. It was one of the few pulp series to be completely reprinted in paperback form.
The Red Spider was a Doc Savage novel written by Dent in April 1948, about the Cold War with the Soviet Union. The story was killed in 1948 by new editor Daisy Bacon, though previous editor William de Grouchy had commissioned it. It was forgotten until 1975, when Doc Savage scholar Will Murray found hints of its existence in the Street & Smith archives. After a two-year search, the carbon manuscript was located among Dent's papers. It finally saw print in July 1979 as Number 95 in Bantam's Doc Savage series.
When the original pulp stories were exhausted, Bantam Books hired Phillip Jose Farmer to pen the tale of how Doc and his men met in World War I. Escape from Loki was published in 1991. It was followed by seven traditional Doc Savage stories written by novelist Will Murray, working from unpublished Lester Dent outlines, beginning with Python Isle. Philip José Farmer had earlier written the book 'Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life (1973), which described the characters and the stories on the entertaining premise that Doc actually existed and the novels chronicled his exploits in ‘fictionized’ form.
In 2011, Altus Press revived the series with another Murray-Dent posthumous collaboration, The Desert Demons. Eight new novels are planned for the new series The Wild Adventures of Doc Savage. In 2011, Doc Savage: Horror in Gold was published. In 2012 Altus Press published Doc Savage: Death's Dark Domain, Doc Savage: The Forgotten Realm, Doc Savage: The Infernal Buddha and Doc Savage: The Desert Demons. Doc Savage: Skull Island was released in 2013.
Sanctum Books, in association with Nostalgia Ventures, began a new series of Doc reprints (starting November 2006), featuring two novels per book, in magazine-sized paperbacks. Several editions came with a choice of the original pulp cover or the covers from the Bantam paperbacks, and most include the original interior artwork, as well as new essays and reprints of other old material. In late 2008, Nostalgia Ventures ended their relationship, and Sanctum Books continues with the reprints on their own.
Street & Smith published comic book stories of Doc both in The Shadow comic and his own title. These started with Shadow Comics #1-3 (1940), then moved to Doc Savage Comics. Originally, these stories were based on the pulp version, but with Doc Savage Comics #5 (1941), he was turned into a genuine superhero when he crashed in Tibet and found a mystical gem in a hood. These stories had a Doc who bore little resemblance to the character in the pulps. This lasted through the end of Doc Savage Comics in 1943 after 20 issues, and briefly with his return to Shadow Comics in vol. 3, #10 (Jan. 1944). He would last until the final issue, vol. 9, #5 (1948), though did not appear in every one. He also appeared in Supersnipe Comics #9 (June 1943).
Post-Golden Age, there have been several Doc Savage comic books:
Gold Key Comics, 1966, one issue adaptation of The Thousand-Headed Man to tie into the planned movie starring Chuck Connors. Doc resembles Connors on the cover.
Marvel Comics. In 1972, eight standard color comics with four adaptations of books — The Man of Bronze, Brand of the Werewolf, Death in Silver, and The Monsters — and one giant-size issue of reprints that was promoted as a movie issue. In May 2010, DC Comics reprinted the eight-issue series as a trade paperback.In 1975, the Marvel imprint Curtis Magazines released eight black-and-white magazines as a movie tie-in. These were also collected by DC Comics and reprinted in July 2011 as a trade paperback. All are original stories by Doug Moench, John Buscema, and Tony DeZuniga. The character also teamed up with the Thing in Marvel Two-in-One #21, an important issue that would form the basis of later significant stories like "The Project Pegasus Saga" and "Squadron Supreme: Death of a Universe".
DC Comics, 1987–1990, a four-issue mini-series tryout, then 24 issues and one Annual, most written by Mike W. Barr. Original adventures, including a reunion with Doc's Mayan sweetheart/wife Monya and John Sunlight, adventures with Doc's grandson "Chip" Savage, and back story on Doc's parents and youth. Included a four-issue crossover with DC's current run of The Shadow.
Millennium Publications published several mini-series and one-shots, including Doc Savage: The Monarch of Armageddon, a four-part limited series, from 1991 to 1992. Written by Mark Ellis and penciled by Darryl Banks, the treatment "comes closest to the original, capturing all the action, humanity, and humor of the original novels" Other miniseries were Doom Dynasty and Devil's Thoughts, and one-shots Pat Savage: Woman of Bronze and Manual of Bronze.
Dark Horse Comics, 1995, two mini-series: a two-issue mini-series The Shadow and Doc Savage and four-issue Doc Savage: Curse of the Fire God.
DC announced in 2009 that it would publish a Doc Savage crossover with Batman, written by Brian Azzarello with art by Phil Noto and a cover by J. G. Jones. Other characters involved will be Black Canary; The Avenger, Rima the Jungle Girl, the Spirit, and Doc Savage's the Fabulous Five. It is a prologue to First Wave, a six-issue limited series with art by Rags Morales. The First Wave line was then expanded to include a Doc Savage ongoing series written by Paul Malmont, with art by Howard Porter. Malmont only wrote the first four issues, with other authors writing the rest of the series.
In 1975, producer and director George Pal produced the movie Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze, starring Ron Ely as Doc. The movie was a critical and commercial failure. Several articles and a later interview with Pal suggest the movie's failure had much to do with its loss of funding during filming, when the studio changed heads and Pal was forced to cut costs. Nevertheless, Pal, as producer, is generally blamed for using the "high camp" approach in the style of the Batman television series. An original soundtrack for the film was also commissioned but when Pal lost his funding, he resorted to a patriotic march from John Philip Sousa, which was in the public domain.
|02/10/1934||The Red Death|
|05/12/1934||The Green Ghost|
|02/17/1934||The Golden Legacy|
|05/19/1934||The Box of Fear|
|02/24/1934||The Red Lake Quest|
|05/26/1934||The Phantom Terror|
|03/03/1934||The Sniper in The Sky|
|03/10/1934||The Evil Extortionists|
|06/16/1934||Needle in a Chinese Haystack|
|06/23/1934||Monk Called it Justice|
|03/31/1934||DeaTh Had Blue Hands|
|06/30/1934||The White Haired Devil|
|04/07/1934||The Sinister Sleep|
|07/07/1934||The Oilfield Ogres|
|04/14/1934||The Southern Star Mystery|
|07/14/1934||The Fainting Lady|
|04/21/1934||The Impossible Bullet|
|04/28/1934||The Too-talkative Parrot|
|07/28/1934||Find Curley Morgan|
|05/05/1934||The Blue Angel|
|08/04/1934||The Growing Wizard|
|January 6, 1943||Doc Savage|
|April 7, 1943||Subway to Hell|
|January 13, 1943||Return from Death|
|April 14, 1943||Monster of The Sea|
|January 20, 1943||Note of Death|
|April 21, 1943||The Voice That Cried 'Kill!'|
|January 27, 1943||Murder Charm|
|April 28, 1943||Cult of Satan|
|February 3, 1943||Death Stalks The Morgue|
|May 5, 1943||When Dead Men Walk|
|February 10, 1943||I'll Dance on Your Grave|
|May 12, 1943||The Screeching Ghost|
|February 17, 1943||Murder is a Business|
|May 19, 1943||Ransom or Death|
|February 24, 1943||Living Evil|
|May 26, 1943||Murder Man|
|March 3, 1943||Journey into Oblivion|
|June 2, 1943||Miracle Maniac|
|March 10, 1943||Hour of Murder|
|June 9, 1943||Skull Man|
|March 17, 1943||Pharaoh's Wisdom|
|June 17, 1943||The Voice That Cried 'Kill!'(repeat)|
|March 24, 1943||Society Amazonia|
|June 24, 1943||Living Evil(repeat)|
|March 31, 1943||Insect Menace|
|July 1, 1943||Murder is a Business (repeat)|
|10/07/1985||The Hanging Man|
|10/14/1985||The Disappointing Parcel|
|10/21/1985||The Island of Death|
|11/04/1985||The Mysterious Weeds|
|11/11/1985||The Crawling Terror|
|11/18/1985||The Black Stick|
|11/25/1985||Three Black Sticks|
|12/02/1985||Flight Into Fear|
|12/09/1985||Pagoda of The Hands|
|12/16/1985||The Accursed City|
|12/23/1985||The Deadly Treasure|
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