One thing I've always liked about the old comic books was their ability to thrust the reader into a total suspension of disbelief while super heroes, atomic men, plastic stretchy heroes, flying carpet guys managed to defeat a range of thugs, bullies, criminals, killers, monsters and aliens from all over the place.
Epic battles. Sad losses. Totally wacky ideas that I loved to death.
While I still love all those old and a lot of the new heroes these days, I thought to myself wouldn't it be cool to combine my love for heroes with my love for art. In other words to come up with a hero who fits our modern day world. Someone I could relate to. And someone who was mysterious, while being down to earth and just possibly a wacky, crazy sort of guy too smart to know when he's doing something absolutely dumb and scary!
Put all of the above into the wonderful, beautiful and mysterious worlds of fractal flames and you have a hero for the ages, just as mysterious and beautiful in his own way.
So I came up with Chesterton K, the teacher. Being a teacher myself, it was only natural for me to gravitate towards someone I knew quite well.
Most people haven't a clue to what teachers really do, really go through, really face on a daily basis, or minute by minute basis more often in the classroom, except for those rare times when one sacrifices themselves in a bloody shooting or those more rare episodes when the teacher...just a human being after all...is accused of harming a child.
It's unthinkable to us that a teacher could ever harm a child, let alone our own child. And I believe that to the credit of many teachers, they do more good than harm. If you've never babysitted a couple hundred kids a day every day for a week, try it sometime. It's no picnic. So the concept of a superhuman teacher, or at least one who could do remarkable things was a bit of fun I couldn't pass up on, and also the chance to stab at some of the silly things teachers face from administrators as well as parents, which have absolutely nothing to do whatsover with whether a person is a good teacher or not.
So out of all of that mix...up and down, good and bad, happy and crazy...comes Chesterton K, a hero for our times, and hopefully one you'll find as fun to read and take the ride with as I have in writing him!
Enjoy his latest adventure on this blog, last entry before this one
A further change that will be happening is that when I post stories on this blog, they will be taken down after five days. This means that what I posted today will be gone five days from now. This will be true for my audio stories as well. Only my original materials!
I will continue to work to post a new short story each day and audio book, as well as other fun things related to my work...even if it's someone who influenced me.
All things posted to this point in time, not including today, will remain on the site. Any articles or history, or interviews, or other items that are not stories I've written originally will not be removed.
Thanks with your patience with these changes.
Glory Road full audiobook by Robert Heinlein. Enter the glory road...death and destruction, beautiful women and horrible monsters.
Robert Heinlein's Glory Road remains one of my most favorite science fiction and fantasy books I ever read.
This is the full length of the novel, so it's a bit long, but will tide you well if you have nothing to do on those long rides to work, or spare time at night before you sleep, or if you just don't care about time at all and want to take a glorious and breath taking ride with one of the best genre writers of all time!
Monsters are Real
"A Samuel Light Story"
By John Pirillo
Monsters are real.
They hide in plain sight.
They hide under beds.
They hide in closets.
They hide in the uniforms of policemen.
They are hidden in the hallways of schools.
They are real.
I know so, because I've seen them.
But they're not like you think.
They're invisible to most people, except some like me, who are blessed...or cursed...depending on your viewpoint...and able to see the creatures.
Now you'd probably like to know what they look like, how horrible they are. My answer will not satisfy your need to know. Nor will it make you a braver person, nor a calmer person. It might, as a matter of fact, quite frankly, scare you to death. Though that...not literally.
You see monsters are not the things you see in movies, or on TV, or in the games you play. Not even in your imagination when you read a book or in the comics you purchase. No, monsters are real, not fantasy things made up by people to make money.
Monsters are people.
Like Saddam Hussein.
Like Jeffrey Dauhmer.
They are people who have died. Some horribly. Some of disease. Some in car accidents, train wrecks, plane crashes, or from gang murders. But for whatever reason a person dies, they are all faced with a choice...to go into the Light, or to go into the Darkness.
The monsters choose NOT to go into the Light. And the confused sometimes too. That's what brings me into the picture. To help those who may have chosen to go into the darkness by mistake. To help them get back on track. To align them once more with the Bigger Picture.
That tunnel of white light doesn't go straight to hell, but to heaven's door. Another world. Dimension where you never grow old. You never die. You never starve or get sick. The world we're all supposed to head towards when it's our time to kick this heavy costume...body...off and away and reach into the land where the true reality lies.
This whole world is an illusion. Just a stinking well made one. One that is sustained by ignorance and suffering. Some of it intended. Some not.
My name is Samuel Light. And I'm a detective. A spiritual detective.
I can touch something or someone and know what ever I'm supposed to know at that time...usually how to help them. Sometimes how to deal with them so I, myself, am not harmed. But usually to guide the lost souls who have decided to meander on the walkway of life and illusion, rather than waltz into the Big Hootzpah of Delight that God wants us all to jump into. Heart and soul.
I do this work for a living. But I also do it for love. I usually don't make a lot of money. The people I help don't usually carry cash on them, nor have a bank account. In fact they don't usually have a physical body, which kind of complicates my life when I, who have a physical body, need to buy something to eat or drink, pay my taxes, my rent, or put gas in my car.
But that's not what this story is about. This is.
It was hot. Usually is in August. Smashing down into every cell of your body, making you feel like the proverbial turkey in the oven. Except that's it not an oven. It's Nevada. Las Vegas, Nevada. Maybe not as bad as out in the desert itself, but since Las Vegas is sprawled in one of the hottest deserts on the planet, it should come as no surprise to anyone, that this place can stew your gizzard as surely as a soup pot does.
"Eventually." I said.
Jimbo wiped his mop of hair and his forehead with one of his hammy fists, and then eyed me uncertainly. "This isn't one of those philosophical times, is it? Because if it is, I'm going to apply for my vampire's license and suck a little blood here."
He wasn't kidding.
We were both totally dehydrated. Squished dry by the lack of moisture in the air, on the ground and in our bodies. I was all up for just lying down and dying, but Al...He's my invisible friend.
Oh, didn't I tell you about him yet? You see Al's this angel guy that got attached to me when I was a kid. He's been bothering me. (Don't get angry, Al. Just kidding.) Bothering me since I was a pre-adolescent nightmare, waking up screaming at night because I could see these invisible beings leering at me and making horrible faces for the fun of it.
He would chase them away and everything would drop back to normal. I'd just sleep uneasily, fearful they would return, but knowing that at least I had someone who understood what was going on. I told my Mom of course. My Dad wasn't there. He never was. Abandoned me as a child. Happens. Not happily. But often. And not nicely.
Al gave us both thumbs up. I saw it. Jimbo didn't. Jimbo, my very best friend and partner in the crime of helping people, had gotten us both into this latest mess. You see, Jimbo, is this very rugged, and handsome tall fellow who just can't say no to the opposite sex, especially when there was the possibility of...you know what....moans and more moans in it.
It all began last Friday. We were seated outside a Starbucks, enjoying a malted coffee. It's this specialty item where they top the coffee with crème malt and dump lots of ice into it. Very cooling. Not very nourishing, of course, but who drinks sugar for nourishment anyway?
"Hey, Big Guy!" A lovely voice rang out.
We both turned to look. Which Big Guy? I'm a bit taller than Jimbo, but slender. He's bumping six two, but broader and thick muscled. We both work out, but he looks like he does. I don't.
She was great. About five nine with sparkling blue eyes. Aren't they always? Eyes that could drill holes right through your head and into your heart. Jimbo was so excited that he accidentally spilled his coffee all over me. Accident? Probably not.
I jumped up. "Jimbo!"
He used the accident to look good. He used his napkin and mine to help mop up the coffee from my now chocolate white pants. They had been starched and bleached just that morning. He gave me a kind look. "Sorry, Sammie."
"Yeah. Sure." I grumbled.
He finished, and then turned to face the blonde. "I know you?"
Of course he didn't. But Jimbo was what we guys call a mean grinder, or babe magnet. He could turn on the charm, like you might turn on a radio. Tuning it as high as was needed to get his object of affection locked and loaded into his love barrel.
"You, Samuel Light?"
Jimbo's smile vanished for a moment, and then graciously, he bowed aside to point at me.
I smiled. "Don't mind him, he's recently been detached from the family of apes and doesn't know how to manage his chromosomes just yet."
That's how it all started. Then she told us about an incident. Not just any incident, mind you, but one in which a dead relative had come to visit her...naked and hot to...well, you know. Do what relatives shouldna, hadna, ought not to.
I sat down. Even though I was already seated. Jimbo had meandered off for three more coffees while she spoke to me, then sat down and spread the gold around. He noted her stressed look, and then eyed me. "You ask her out already?"
She gave me a startled look, and then a suspicious one.
Jimbo put a hand over hers. "Don't let this fool, fool you. He may be good with ghosts, but he's bad luck when it comes to mortal women."
I laughed again. I shouldn't have. It always cemented his stupid talk and shot me in the foot.
She pulled her hand away from his, and then stood up. "Maybe I have come to the wrong guys to help me.
I took her hand.
I saw this frizzy haired old, naked man leering at her as she lay in her bed, undressed and ready to sleep. She was beautiful as an angel. He was gross and quite frankly...gross. I could see straight through him.
"Wanta?" He asked, playing with himself.
I was back. She gave me a startled look. I her.
"He's gross." I said quite frankly. "No charge."
Jimbo spit his coffee out all over the place. "What!" On her look he recanted. "I mean, what else can we do? It's obviously something we need to do to help this young and very sad girl."
She didn't believe a word of it, anymore than I, but she bought my talk. "You saw him, didn't you?"
"How did you know that?"
"Because I was there with you."
Either I was cranking up the spiritual juice, or I had just met someone of a similar nature.
Wrong to both.
The next day we were supposed to meet her near Stateline. We got up early to do so. Jimbo drove his big, honking truck. The one that cost him a few hundred grand. Did I tell you he came from a rich family? We talked about what we were going to do once we met with her. Jimbo kept shaking his head, giving me the evil eye, but I insisted. He finally relented and drove the rest of the way in silence. He only said one thing. "You're such a poor loser."
We drove off the 15, and turned towards a dirt road that swept into the hills. We drove about an hour, and then pulled over when we saw her car. She said it would be a bright red. It was. An old one too. Maybe twenty years. But clean. For that old that is.
She wasn't in sight.
"Where the hell is she?" He asked, as he went to the car to look inside.
I went to the back and he popped the trunk. I looked inside. Straight into the barrel of a sawed off shotgun and one of the ugliest fellows I had ever seen.
"Jimbo." I muttered.
He came around, his arms raised. She was behind him with another sawed off shotgun.
The ugly fellow climbed out of the trunk and blew a kiss to her. "Works like a charm."
"Always does." She said, catching the look on my face.
"What? Just because I'm psychic like you doesn't make me a do gooder."
"What about that naked fellow?" Jimbo asked, vexed at what was happening.
"Oh that's real all right." She admitted. "But nothing I can't handle."
She jerked her head to the man, and he went through Jimbo's pockets, grabbed his car keys, and then headed for the truck.
Jimbo groaned. "Not Betty. Please!"
She winked at him. "We'll make sure Betty gets a nice home. Bye, Big Guy!"
She winked again, then as the truck spun to life again, turned around and said. "By the way, drop your pants and kick off your shoes, then your shirts."
"Wait!" Jimbo blurted out. "We'll die out here with that kind of exposure and no water."
She tossed him a haughty look. "Sometimes a big guy just don't get a break, do they?"
Well. We finally reached the 15 and when we did a highway patrol car pulled up, and then a door was flung open for us. We climbed in. The Patrolmen gave us a grim look. "Looks like you guys are gonna tan badly."
"Part of the job." I told him.
He nodded, gunned the engine and sped us up about ten miles where a roadblock was set. At the roadblock was Jimbo's truck.
The tires had blown out.
The blonde and the ugly fellow were in handcuffs. She saw us in the car and gave us the three finger salute.
I grinned and waved at her.
Jimbo laughed, and then scowled at me. "Why do you always have to be so damned right?"
"Look, Jimbo, I was fooled too at first too, but something stunk about the way she played us. And...She didn't ask me about everything I had seen when I touched her."
"What was that?"
"The ugly fellow she saw wasn't her Uncle, but the fellow with the sawed off shotgun. It was their way of doing romance before they made love."
"Hey 50 shades of whatever." I answered, and then we got out, with blankets draped around our shoulders and headed for the truck and a long drive home.
Yeah. I'm psychic, but sometimes I just don't like how my cases turn out. My name's Samuel Light. I'm a spiritual detective, spelled with an S. You might ask why didn't I avoid the whole mess altogether? Reason not. She and her boyfriend had a lesson to learn. One that will probably lead to about twenty to thirty years hard time.
Hey Writers and Readers!
You're missing out if you haven't checked out this site.
Lots of fun, good reading and if you're a writer, a place to land your ideas.
So don't be like that snobby guy above, click on Readers Gazette for reading and writing adventures!
Best to all.
The Hound From Hell
"A Sherlock Holmes Story"
By John Pirillo
"Hickory, Dickory Doc, the Mouse Ran up the Clock. Now, come on Charlie, surely that's a contradiction of gravity as well as very bad colloquialism." Holmes said amiably to his friend, and partner in crime, Charlie Dickens, an up and coming author with no qualms about bragging about his writing prowess or insight into humanity.
Charlie, who lay on the crest of grass besides Holmes, resighted his binoculars on the second story window of the home they were going to break into. "I find it neither restrictive, nor worrisome, dear Holmes. A man may interpret the world as he likes, as long as he compromises no souls, nor enslaves or murders any."
"I admire your long views." Holmes replied, taking the binoculars from his friend, and sighting it on the first floor window. "But truly it is madness to allow just anyone to interpret the world as they like. Why criminals might come to think they could rule the world!"
Charlie turned to admire his friend, who was on the adventure with him. "Perhaps, but then we would have to find a way to stop them, wouldn't we. Imagine this, Charles Dickens and Sherlock Holmes, Crime Stoppers Extraordinaire!"
Holmes laughed. "I'd rather smoke a bloody pipe, than partner with my worst enemy."
Charlie barked with laughter. "I beat you once at chess, and now I'm your worst enemy?"
"You are until you write an apology." Holmes replied tersely.
"So what's the strategy, my good man?" Charlie asked, flipping his reddish hair aside, to reveal a freckled face with wide eyes, a thick nose, and a grin that would scare a lion.
Holmes laid down the binoculars, then steepled his hands in what was fast becoming a signature gesture for him over the years as he developed into full manhood. "I suspect the midnight approach would be best. These manners of people tend to go to sleep early."
"How can you tell they are that type? We've only been observing them for ten minutes?"
Holmes took the challenge. He pointed to the yard. "First, their laundry hangs on the lines still."
"Does not most laundry lie that way?"
"No, not of a night watchman. He usually brings them inside prior to dark. The fact that they are still wet, tells me that they allow them to dry over night, while at work."
"Then you are assuming there is no lady of the house?"
"Not at all." Again, Holmes pointed to the laundry line. "You will observe the thick trousers, the heavy suspenders, the woolen shirts and underwear with the boots drying beside them."
"Yes. That is all I see."
"Precisely." Holmes agreed. "Were there a woman of the house, she would never let him put the shorts next to the shoes on the line, for fear of them becoming discolored."
"Remarkable. What else do you see?"
"The man stands at least six feet tall. Weighs about 200 pounds, is barrel-chested, and carries quite a large belly."
Charlie shook the binoculars free of the grass, and took another look. "I see clothing, not sizes and heights."
"The clothesline is hung at approximately six feet off the ground. A shorter person could not reach it comfortably, and certainly not to place the pinches on the clothing to hold them there."
"I'll give you that. But what about the sizes?"
"See the waist of the pants and the shirt next to it?"
"The shirt is almost three times as wide as the waist, telling me that he has a large chest."
"But the belly?"
"Observe the bottom of the shirt."
"Yes, by the extra fat in the folds of his flesh when he's working."
"Quite remarkable, Holmes. My hat is off to you."
"Your hat is nowhere near you."
"Matter of speaking."
Holmes gave Charlie an amused glance. "Now as to our attack. You shall fetch the ladder we built from the spare lumber below and place it to the rear of the cottage. I shall enter via the lower window in the kitchen."
"Why that way? If he's as big as you say, he probably lives in the kitchen."
Holmes laughs. "True enough, but when he eats so much, it draws the blood from his brain and starves his body for oxygen. He grows more tired, and compounded with his loss of sleep as a night watchmen, he goes to bed early and sleeps generally from about noon to ten, when he arises to face his new night of work."
"Why those particular hours? How can you tell that by looking at his clothing or the house?"
"Because night watchmen always begin their pursuit when the second bell before midnight chimes, and before the last bell from nine finishes. It is an old tradition in this part of the country."
"It is believed that demons come out at midnight, and that angels protect men who start their work before nine, but not after ten oh one."
Holmes faces Charlie with a frown. "The demons or the tradition?"
"You tell me, since you're the criminologist."
"Very well. Demons can't survive the daylight, or the early part of night because of the moon's light...."
"But what when it's gone, hey old man?"
"The light is still there, but it is not as visible. It is reflected by the earth's atmosphere."
"I see. And the tradition?"
"Begun when London was still a rundown series of quickly built huts near the Thames."
"So you admit that the tradition could be flawed!"
"Not at all, Charlie. Traditions always have their roots in a truth, even if it is fantastical."
The sound of a bell ringing began from the distance.
Holmes rolled over and cupped his hands beneath his head, then closed his eyes.
"What are you doing now?"
"Getting some sleep. The night watchmen will rise just after ten, secure his clothing, then return inside to eat and leave for his job. We will break in shortly after that, but not at midnight, or after."
"Practical. Good night, Mister Dickens!"
"Goodnight, Mister Holmes."
Charlie rolled over and relaxed as well, but could not sleep, because of all the avenues of pursuit his mind was traversing at that time. What if the guard did not leave at the appropriate time? Their bet had been to secure the item before Midnight and return it by dawn before he returned. The challenge was amusing at best, but worried him anyway, as most challenges they had received so far had cost them both many hours of slavish studies by their professor, who hated it when they made their adventures and came back with naught to share.
"One thing bothers me, Holmes."
"If the night watchman leaves his clothing out to dry all night while he works, why would he come outside to retrieve them then?"
"Another tradition." Holmes yawned. "One never leaves one private wears for thieves to discover and take."
"But he can't watch them all the time!" Charlie insisted.
"Did you not observe the long stretches of brown near the poles for the clothing?"
Charlie stiffened. "Dear lord, we're going to break into a home with a hound?"
Holmes began to snore.
Charlie lay there, pondering all the imponderables, and then fell asleep quite by accident. When he awoke, Holmes was up already and rubbing his hands together vigorously to warm them. The moon was high overhead.
"Ready, my good man?"
"Rather, but the hound?"
"How so, if it is a guard dog?"
Holmes smiled, and revealed a small vial which he uncapped to allow Charlie to smell it. Charlie did so, making a face. "You devil you!"
"Compliments will get you nowhere."
"Then lets at it!"
They both shrugged back into their proper cloaks, and then crept down the rise to the cottage.
When they returned to the campus the next morning to reveal the item they had captured from their adventure, the Professor gave them both a huge smile. "And everything went perfectly?"
"Yes, except the part where the hound tore the bottom of my britches off." Charlie said angrily, giving Holmes a scowl.
The Professor eyed Holmes questioningly. "It's really quite elementary. Mister Dickens here made a common mistake."
"To eat that horrible cheese that smells like rotting corpses."
"I do not!" Charlie protested, and then he simmered down. "Well, maybe a little."
"Hounds have a superlative sense of smell, and once Charlie had descended into the home from the second floor, even though he was as quiet as a mouse, his odor preceded him."
"Then why didn't you tell me I smelled so?" Charlie protested angrily, his face turning crimson red.
The Professor laughed, and then put a hand on Charlie's shoulder to calm him down. "You see, I've played a bit of a trick on you, Mister Dickens. My father has trained his dog to hate that odor, and when I persuaded you to eat that sandwich I had made of it, I knew full well you would be caught."
"I could have lost more than my britches!" Charlie protested.
"Not at all." A very large man said, entering the classroom from the Professor's office. "I was watching the entire time."
Charlie glared at Holmes. "You knew this was going to happen?"
"The item we were sent to steal was an apple from the kitchen table, but the item I was sent to retrieve was your pride."
Charlie's face reddened. "I should challenge you to a duel for this insult to my honor!"
Holmes shrugged. "You would lose."
"I am a crack shot."
"But you forget one thing."
"And that is?"
"Without this night, you would have no material for your thesis, which I might add, is long overdue." The Professor jumped in.
Charlie sighed. "I can't win this battle."
"Nor should you." Holmes told him with a smile. "If we are to become partners in crime, then we must also be able to take our lumps, as well as our prizes."
Charlie nodded, but his mind was elsewhere. He suddenly had this great idea for a story. About a man who gives up everything, his kingdom, his way of life, even his wife, to learn what a poor man must experience.
Charlie brightened. "I just had this brilliant idea for a novel. I shall call it the Hound of the Baskervilles. About a man who gives up everything, and then is murdered."
"Sounds like a tale of horror." The Professor said with a grin.
"It shall be a hound from hell like the one that nipped my behind."
The Professor's father laughed, and then clapped his hand. A dog barked and came running from the office. It was the hound. Its ears shot straight up as Charlie backed away.
The Professor glanced at Holmes. "You put the cheese in his pocket?"
Holmes said nothing.
Charlie screamed like a madman and ran for his life as the hound bounded after him.
"He shall never forgive you for this." The Professor told Holmes.
"Perhaps, but now he shall have an even better story to tell."
"How to avoid being eaten by a hunting hound."
They both broke into laughter.
Holmes nodded to the Professor's father. "I'd better catch the two of them, before the hound does put an end to his life."
"Don't worry, lad." The father said. "That hound couldn't harm a fly!"
"HOLMES!" Charlie's word of terror shot into the room.
All the men ran outside and saw Charlie on the grass, and the hound licking his face vigorously, while fellow students laughed and laughed.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
"The Spider" redirects here. For the 29th sura of the Qur'an, see Al-Ankabut. For the British comic character, see Spider (British comics). For Quality Comics and DC Comics characters, see Spider (DC Comics). For other uses, see Spider (disambiguation).This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. Please help toimprove this article by introducing more precise citations. (March 2012)‹ The template Infobox pulps character is being considered for deletion. ›The SpiderCover of the first issue (October 1933), featuring the story "The Spider Strikes"PublisherPopular PublicationsFirst appearanceThe Spider, vol. 1, #1 ("The Spider Strikes") (October1933)Created byHarry SteegerIn story informationReal nameRichard WentworthSupporting charactersNita Van Sloan
Stanley KirkpatrickSpider (pulp fiction)PublisherPopular PublicationsScheduleMonthly (until March 1943)
Bi-monthly (until final issue)GenreHero pulpPublication dateOctober 1933 – December 1943Number of issues118Creative teamWriter(s)Norvell W. Page
Reginald Thomas Maitland Scott
"Grant Stockbridge"Editor(s)Rogers Terrill (1933–1942)
Robert Turner & Ryerson Johnson (1943)Films or serialsThe Spider’s WebColumbia Pictures
Portrayed by: Warren HullThe Spider ReturnsColumbia Pictures
Portrayed by: Warren HullComics and graphic novelsThe SpiderEclipse Comics
1991The Spider: Judgement KnightMoonstone Books
2009The Spider is an American pulp-magazine hero of the 1930s and 1940s.
Wentworth was easily identified as The Spider by his enemies in a number of earlier novels and was arrested by the police but quickly escaped, adopting a hunchback disguise under the name of Tito Caliepi, donning make-up, a wig of lank hair, a black cape and slouch hat. Later in the pulp series, vampire-like makeup appeared and then a face mask with grizzled hair; a hunchback was then added to terrorize the criminal underworld with The Spider's brand of violent vigilante justice. (Actor and comedian Harold Lloyd previously had used a similar mask, lank hair wig and hunchback in the 1922 comedy film Dr. Jack). Caliepi sometimes begged, utilizing Wentworth's talent with a violin.
At times, Wentworth also ventured into the underworld disguised as small-time hood Blinky McQuade in order to gain needed information. To Scotland Yard, Wentworth was known as Rupert Barton and held a badge of Inspector for services rendered; by the fifth novel he also held the rank of Lieutenant in the FBI.
Wentworth himself, 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 musician with violin and piano, and he drove a Lancia. He could speak fluent Hindustani and so talk with Ram Singh in his own language with little fear anyone else would understand.
The stories 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 with the master criminal being unmasked only in the last few pages. The first two novels were written by Reginald Thomas Maitland Scott, but they were slow paced, so another author was brought in with later stories being published under the house name, Grant Stockbridge; most of the Spider novels were written byNorvell Page. Other authors of the Spider novels included Emile C. Tepperman, Wayne Rogers, Prentice Winchell, and Donald C. Cormack. The cover artists for the Spider magazine were Walter M. Baumhofer for the debut issue, followed by John Newton Howittand Rafael De Soto. The Spider was published monthly and ran for 118 issues from 1933 to 1943. A 119th Spider novel manuscript had been completed but was not published until decades later, then as a rewritten mass-market paperback with retitled characters (see paperback novels section, below).
Supporting charactersRichard Wentworth was aided by his longtime fiancé, Nita Van Sloan. Though they were as close as man and wife, they knew that they could never marry and have a family, as Wentworth believed that he would eventually be unmasked or killed as The Spider, and his wife and family would then pay the price; in issue #100, Wentworth expected to die in a story called Death and The Spider. Nita disguised herself as The Spider a few times, covering for Wentworth when he had been seriously injured.
Ram Singh, a Sikh (originally Hindu), was Wenthworth's fanatically loyal manservant; he was a deadly knife thrower and usually carried several knives with him, including the deadly Kukri. Ram Singh never saw his position as a servant demeaning or having a negative impact on his self-respect, feeling that he served a man totally above other men. Ronald Jackson was Wentworth's chauffeur. Sergeant Jackson had served under Wentworth in World War I and often referred to him as "the Major". Harold Jenkyns was Wentworth's butler, an elderly man who had been in the Wentworth family's service for a long time. Wentworth's main ally/antagonist was Police Commissioner Stanley Kirkpatrick or simply "Kirk", who strongly suspected Wentworth was The Spider but could never prove it. An old war colleague and inventor named Professor Ezra Brownlee featured heavily in the early Spider novels before being killed in the July 1935 issue Dragon Lord of the Underworld. Brownlee's son made some appearances afterwards, taking over from his late father.
EnemiesDespite The Spider's tendency to kill his enemies, he encountered several foes more than once, such as The Fly and MUNRO, a master of disguise. Some storylines featuring a struggle against a single villain lasted for several consecutive issues, such as The Spider's four-part battle against The Living Pharaoh and his three-part battle against The Master and his Black Police. Among the enemies he encountered just once were predecessors of the costumed super villains of comic books, such as The Red Mandarin, The Brain, The Bloody Serpent, The Wreck, Red Feather, The Silencer, Judge Torture, and The Emperor of Vermin. The names of two Spider villains, The Bat Man and The Iron Man, would later be adopted for DC and Marvel comic book superheroes.
The Spider's seal and weaponsOne distinguishing feature of The Spider was his "calling card." Wentworth often left a red-ink "spider" image (like a drop of blood) on the foreheads of the criminals he killed so others would not be blamed. In the sixth novel (1934), the Spider imprints his red sign on a gold ring so that any who need his help can use it by taking it to Kirkpatrick (where Wentworth will find out about it). During the same time period, in the same benign fashion and perhaps inspired by the Spider's calling card, Lee Falk's long-running 1936 syndicated comic strip hero, The Phantom, left a distinct skull mark in the faces of those enemies he fought, made by the ring he wore. The Spider's seal, however, was concealed in the base of his platinum cigarette lighter and was invented by Professor Brownlee. The Spider also carried a thin silken line (his "web") which had a tensile strength of several hundred pounds.
Brownlee also invented the lethal and almost silent air pistol the Spider used for 'quiet' kills. He acted as a sort of on-call technical wizard for Wentworth, whom he looked upon as being close to a son. Wentworth also had a gun in one of his shoes in the early issues, which he used twice is issue 5.
Wentworth was a master of disguise; in the small steel case of burglar tools he carried under his arm, he also had his make-up kit (and in the early novels) The Spider's eye mask.
In Timothy Truman's 1990s comic book adaptation, Brownlee created the "Web-Lee," a non-lethal 'stun' pistol that fired projectiles that erupted into a spiderweb-like mass, inundated with microscopic barbs of frozen curare.
Like The Shadow, The Spider's usual weapons of choice were a pair of Browning .45 caliber M1911 automatic pistols; he was a crack shot and normally shot to kill. However, he would not shoot anyone in law enforcement, whereas they frequently were under orders to shoot to kill him on sight.
Master of MenThe Spider's by-name was "Master of Men", indicating that he had a voice commanding enough to get many people to do his bidding. Wentworth could also imitate other people's voices. When he imitated Kirkpatrick's voice, he could give orders to lesser policemen during a stake-out, even during one intended to capture The Spider, so he could himself escape. Wentworth was not above disguising himself as a cop to escape when surrounded by policemen.
Movie serialsThere were two Columbia Pictures Spider movie serials produced; both are 15-chapter cliffhangers starring Warren Hull as Richard Wentworth. The first is 1938's The Spider’s Web, the first to be made from a popular pulp magazine series character. In this serial The Spider battles The Octopus and his henchmen who attempt to disrupt all commercial and passenger transportation systems and later all U. S. industry; Spider pulp magazine novelist Norvell Page was one of the writer's that worked on the serial's screenplay.
The second serial was 1941's The Spider Returns, which has The Spider battling the mysterious crime lord The Gargoyle and his henchmen, who threaten the world with acts of sabotage and wholesale murder in an effort to wreck the U. S. national defense.
Both serials feature a dramatic wardrobe enhancement to the Spider's magazine appearance: his black cape and head mask are over-printed with a white spider's web pattern and then matched with his usual plain black fedora. This striking addition gave the silver screen Spider an appearance more like that of a traditional superhero, like other pulp and comics heroes being adapted for the era's movie serials; it also made the serial Spider look less like the very popular Street and Smith pulp hero The Shadow, which also had been produced by Columbia and starred Victor Jory.
Novel reprintsMany of the original 119 Spider pulp magazine novels have been reprinted over the years in both mass-market paperback and trade paperback editions.
Berkley Books (then Berkley/Medallion) first reprinted the Spider in 1969 and 1970, intending to reprint all 118 novels in order, hoping to tap into the reprint phenomenon of the Doc Savage novels being published by Bantam Books. But these first paperback reissues met with poor sales after only four volumes, and the planned series was canceled.
In the mid-1970s, Pocket Books reprinted four Spider novels, this time featuring "modern" pulp artwork on their covers: Each featured a non-costumed, heavily armed Spider depicted as a muscular blonde hero holding a gorgeous woman. These paperbacks also failed to find an audience and the series was canceled. It seems likely that these four novels were edited and modernized reprints, one of several reasons why they may have never caught on with their intended audience. In one, Death and the Spider, with an original publishing date of 1940, Nita Van Sloan is shown driving an Jaguar E-type X-KE, a sportscar not created and on the streets until 1961, some nineteen years later.
At roughly the same time in England, Mews Books/New American Library reprinted four Spider novels sporting new cover artwork, each being different in style and execution from those used by Pocket Books. This Spider mass-market series also ended after only four titles had been published.
Then, three years later, in 1979, an unusual Spider publishing event happened right out of the "blue." Python Publishing put into print the never-before-published last original Spider novel,Slaughter, Inc., originally to have been published as Spider pulp magazine #119. Python published it as a one-shot mass-market paperback. For copyright reasons all character names were changed and the novel was retitled Blue Steel ("The Ultimate Answer To Evil"). In it The Spider was recast as the title character Blue Steel. As with Pocket Book's Spider editions, this paperback sported a "modern" pulp cover painting featuring a very similar, non-costumed, but heavily armed blonde hero (that cover appears to be an unused cover painting by artist George Gross, finished but never used for a Freeway Press reprint of the pulp magazine character Operator #5).
A year later, in 1980, Dimedia, Inc. reprinted three Spider pulp novels in the larger trade paperback format. Then beginning four years later, they continued with three mass-market Spider novel reprints, one in 1984 and two in 1985. These last three sported new cover paintings of the original costumed Spider by fantasy artist Ken Kelly.
In the early 1990s, Carroll & Graf Publishers began issuing a series of eight mass-market Spider paperbacks, each one in a double-novel format. All used original Spider pulp magazine artwork for their covers. These 16 novels became the longest running Spider reprint series done for the mass-market paperback book market.
After Carol and Graf, several specialized small press pulp reprint houses tried a complete reprinting of the Spider series before finally stopping. Bold Venture Press started this multiple small press revival during the mid-1990s with a series of affordable Spider trade paperback reprints. Others soon joined in with Spider reprintings. In later years, the prolific Wildside Pressstarted offering Spider reprints. But Girasol Collectibles has been the most dogged of them all. It has reissued the novels as both a series of single pulp novel facsimile editions, as well as re-typeset stories in 'pulp double' trade paperbacks. Both series use Spider pulp magazine artwork for their covers. More than eight dozen Spider novels have been put back into print as part of Girasol's ambitious program, which still continues.
New York science fiction publisher Baen Books published in 2007 a single trade paperback featuring three Spider novel reprints. Then in 2008 they released a second companion trade paperback of Spider reprints. Baen then issued both volumes as mass-market paperbacks. One of the three novels in that second omnibus stars another Popular Publications pulp character, the Octopus. The Baen editions sported new Spider cover paintings by noted graphic designer and comics artist Jim Steranko. Steranko had illustrated 27 of the 28 covers [Mobsmen On The Spot used a George Rozen cover from the original pulp run] for the 23 1970s mass-market reprint volumes of [he did 2nd covers for 5 of the titles 2nd printings] rival pulp hero The Shadow, published by Pyramid Books and HBJ/Jove Books.
In late 2009, Doubleday's Science Fiction Book Club reprinted in hardcover Baen's second Spider three-in-one volume from the previous year. This became the first Spider hardcover edition ever published.
In August 2009, Age of Aces reprinted the Spider's "Black Police" novel trilogy in a single volume. Moonstone Books also published an original anthology of brand new Spider short stories entitled The Spider Chronicles the same year.
The Vintage Library has thirty-four licensed Spider novel reprints available in the PDF format. For a small fee, each one can be downloaded from their website.
Facsimile Spider novels continue to appear in print from other publishers; they have also been issued in the Kindle e-book format and are available for download from radioarchive.com, Amazon.com, and others.
Spider comics and graphic novelsIn the early 1990s, the Spider and its characters were reinterpreted in comic book form by Timothy Truman for Eclipse Comics. As noted in Comics Scene #19, Truman set his version of The Spider in the "1990s as seen by the 1930s". Elements of this version of The Spider's milieu included airships as common transportation, the survival of the League of Nations into the near past (Wentworth meets Ram Singh during an intervention into India/Pakistan), and World War II, if it ever happened, taking place differently. This series featured an African-American Commissioner Kirkpatrick.
Moonstone Books started a new Spider graphic novel series, which are structured more like illustrated prose stories than traditional panel-by-panel comics. In March 2011 the same publisher offered the first issue of a more traditional Spider comic book, with art by veteran creator Pablo Marcos.
In August 2011 Dynamite Entertainment announced that they were going to produce a brand new, updated Spider comic book series, written by novelist David Liss; the first issue was released in May 2012. The Spider's costume in this series is based on the one worn by actor Warren Hull in Columbia's 1940s Spider movie serials, but the black costume's web lines are rendered in blood red instead of white. This comics series depicts The Spider and his allies fighting crime in a modern day U. S. In 2013 Dynamite announced that issue #18 of The Spider would be its last.
In December 2012 Dynamite released the first issue of Masks, an 8-issue comic book miniseries that teams The Spider with Dynamite's other pulp hero-based comic book characters; these include The Shadow, The Green Hornet and Kato, and a 1930s Zorro, among others. Together, they fight a powerful criminal syndicate, who, along with their gangster henchmen, secretly controls New York City through the corrupt and powerful Justice Party, which has seized complete control over the city and its citizens. This miniseries, set in the Depression Era 1930s, is not in the same universe/story continuity as Dynamite's main Spider comic book series. The completed Masks miniseries was then gathered by Dynamite into a single volume graphic novel.
An incredible being that lives off the energies of humans and is the other half of the very famous Doctor Jekyll.
The Hollow Man
Empty as a bottle without liquid, but driven by pure hatred for all life. He is set upon conquering the world and converting everyone to zombies!
One of many Moriarities who have chosen the path of evil and uses his giant intellect to subjugate and dominate those about him with the ultimate goal of conquering the world!
These are just a few of the monsters and fiends that the Baker Street Heroes must battle.
The Baker Street Universe
The Battleground where heroes and villains live along with their authors in the same space. Who will win and who will die"
The Baker Street Universe
A blog of the Victorian World that lies parallel to our own written and moderated by John Pirillo, the author of this site.
The Baker Street Universe
Lord Graystone Triumphant
"A Jungle Lord Story"
By John Pirillo
The Jungle called to him. It urged him to fall down to his hands and feet and scamper like a gorilla, snarling and barking, howling at the huge moon that hovered like a death hawk in the black, velvet skies.
Were one a stranger to the Fairie, one might mistake this human for a beast, the way he scampered about on his knuckles and toes, but he was far from it.
Lord Graystone was neither an ignorant savage, nor a stumbling idiot loose from a psychiatric ward; he was a nobleman of high birth, who sought to live in harmony with the world he lived in.
He had seen enough of the modern world to despise it in many ways. His grey blue eyes shone with an inner light that was brighter than the fog lights of London at night. His intelligence shone through his eyes like a beacon in the night and yet, beneath that strict layer of reasoning was a simpler, plainer man. A man who believed that nature was being raped by the greed of man.
He saw it when he went to the huge coal dumps, the toxic dumps; saw the thousands of birds and sea life that lay floating and dead from exposure to the toxic wastes.
Yes, Tesla, who was a good friend, had made some mistakes on unleashing this new economy. And he was striving to turn it all around to a more green future, where man lived in harmony with nature, but until that day, more and more wild life died needlessly and more innocent children were born with diseases they never had and conflicted with abysmal disorders of the body and spirit they never should have encountered.
So one night a year he allowed his more primitive side to dominate and this was that night.
He clawed at the leafy Jungle ground and found a nest of roly polys. He ate them, making sure he only ate the older, slower ones, leaving the rest to renew their colony.
Then he flung himself into a vine strewn tree and grappled with the vines until he reached a bee’s nest. He scooped a hand into the hive, careful not to break it entirely, and cupped a palm in the sticky, white mess there. He brought it out and sucked and chewed its semi-moist, hardened surface into his throat, savoring the sweet flavor of it.
Next, he swung on vines until he neared a colony of black geese sleeping near a pond. He dropped lightly, so as not to scare them all, then swiftly snatched one of the oldest ones, broke its neck before it could squawk, and then leaped back into the trees. He swung for what seemed like hours, but was in actuality only a few moments, and then he landed on a platform that was about a hundred feet off the Jungle floor. He sat there with his feet over the edge, admiring the dark panorama before him. Slowly, and with great relish he began eating the goose.
He spit the feathers out, and the sharper bones, but pretty much ate everything else. He did not waste. Even the feathers and bones he spit out, he caught and deposited beside him to later be used for arrows and other delicate tools he hand made for his use in the Jungle.
Finished, he lay down on the platform and eyed the silvery moon lighting the canopy overhead. It was a full moon. Dragons would be in flight. Centaurs would be calling to their mates to dance and choose partners. The Great Apes he had helped to flee her from certain destruction in Africa, were calling to each other in their deep, grunting voices, singing in their simple ways their poetry of existence.
Man missed so much because he didn’t listen. But he heard it all. The Jungle was an orchestration of nature that filled in every vibration, nook and cranny of existence with joy and exuberation. He felt it in every bone and muscle of his body, vibrating with a lush frequency that made his heart quiver with joy.
And so he fell asleep on his platform, even though he had a very civil bed inside his home above the Jungle floor. Even though it had pillows, quilts, and blankets. Sheets and pillowcases.Silverware and cooking utensils. This night he slept like the savage beast he had once been before he had been reintroduced to the world of man again.
His dreams were not dark and restless, but deep and rich with fulfillment. When he awoke he would start his new day, working on more ways to preserve the greatness of this new land, to protect it from the greed and avarice of man.
For man had slowly been entering these lands. Not the Elves, nor the gnomes and hobbits and trolls one would expect of Faire, but pirates and explorers, both of whom opened the way for others to enter, by twos, then dozens.
Magic was the key to entering and magic was available to anyone with the right coin in their hand. There were scoundrels who gave the name beast an altogether new meaning, as they came into Fairie and began plundering its natural resources and attempting to conquer its peoples.
The men and women coming into the lands of Fairie were not from his world, but another that lay in parallel with it. He and Tesla had figured that out with a new device that he and Einstein, with the help of DaVinci had come up with. The Italian had come up with the idea of a device that could so fine tuned that it would be able to detect the slightest alteration of magic, such that they could pinpoint which world it was coming from.
That was when he and the other Baker Adventurers, led by Sherlock Holmes and Professor Challenger, had discovered that not only was there one other parallel world, but there were more than their current technology could measure.
So as he lay there beneath the stars, his mind filtered through the events of the past day and its portent for the future.
He felt a slight movement beneath the home and tensed, his nostrils flaring. He scented something, but it wasn’t clear. It should have been familiar to him, but it was different somehow.
He relaxed, but his right hand fell across his hip and the long blade he kept in its sheath of hardened wood and vine there.
Tesla powered carriages rolled silently past, their bright head beams illuminating the cobbled roads as they swept past.
One of them slowed and did a u turn, causing two figures to be caught in its blades of light for a moment.
Tesla and Lord Graystone.
The driver must have been somewhat startled by what he saw, if he noticed, because Lord Graystone stood naked in the alleyway, except for a lion cloth about his lower waist.
Maybe a pedestrian saw them as well, but if so, being British, they would have pretended it hadn’t really happened. No one in their proper frame of mind would stand almost naked in the freezing London winter.
Graystone didn’t find it distracting at all. Either the weather or the pedestrians and street traffic. He was engaged in a vigorous conversation with his friend, Nicolas Tesla, the inventor of much of modern England’s electrical devices.What seemed like ages ago he had stood at the gateway to this world with Tesla, who in his normal good natured way was joking about the problems of finding a good vine to swing on these days.
He had humored his long time friend with a smile, but inwardly he grimaced. They weren’t vines, but trailers that hung from the giant, old trees that grew so densely in the forests of Fairie.
His friend had never seen the magic that was woven into the strands to keep them strong and flexible; else they would’ve become brittle and snapped, plunging him to his death many times over.
Tesla scratched his red bead a moment in thought, and then as he gazed at the portal that was whirling beside them he spoke. “I know this is your annual retreat, Graystone, but keep your eyes and ears open anyway.”
He had been angry at the time. The last thing he wanted was another mission. He needed to get away from the heavy trappings of civilization, not add more onto his burden.
He waited for the inevitable explanation. If he had learned nothing else during his years of survival in the jungle, it was patience. He, who was not patience, did not survive.
Finally, Tesla had handed him a small object. “Make sure you keep this on you at all times.”
“What is it?” He had asked.
He had given Tesla a quizzical look.
Tesla grinned. “I know. I know. You never get lost. But trust me on this one. Okay?”
He sighed and pocketed it in his small waist bag he kept at his left hip. Some food, some medicinal supplies and now this, he thought as he eyed the small object, and then shoved it deeper into the other objects, shutting the bag up again.
“There’s more.” Tesla went on, his smile vanishing and a look of utter sincerity and solemnness riding to the surface.
“As you know we had that incident with the Hollow Man not that long ago?”
Graystone nodded. “That would be hard to forget.”
“Indeed.” Tesla agreed, then shook himself out of whatever cavern of thoughts he had momentarily got lost in.
He scratched at his red beard again. “I suspect...”
“You?” Graystone asked.
“Well, actually Holmes.” Tesla replied, shaking off Graystone’s look. “No matter. My point is that we think he’s returned.”
Graystone put his right palm over his waist knife. “I’ll be ready for him when I return.”
Tesla shook his head. “Not here. There.”
Graystone’s eyes narrowed for a moment. A sight that would put the fear of death into any creature seeing it. Finally, he relaxed enough to ask the next question.
Tesla gauged Graystone’s mood for a moment, as if suspecting his next words might cause more than he desired. With somewhat of a hesitation his voice he said simply, “Hyde.”
Up and down Baker Street pedestrians and occupants of Tesla cars were startled by a horrible scream that sounded like a bull ape ripping its opponent apart.
But in the alley Tesla stood there, stock still. He knew what had been coming, but he had forgotten how intense it could be.
Lord Graystone finally lowered his hands from his mouth and looked at his longtime friend. “I’m sorry, Nic.”
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