Doc Savage - Man of Bronze: a page on the history of Doc Savage

Clark Savage. Jr first appeared in March, 1933 in the first issue of Doc Savage Magazine. Because of the success of The Shadow, who had his own pulp magazine, the publishers Street & Smith quickly launched this pulp title.

Unlike The Shadow, Clark Savage (or 'Doc' to his friends), had no special powers, but was raised from birth by his father and other scientists to become one of the most perfect human beings in terms of strength, mental and physical agilities.

Setting up base on the 86th floor of a New York skyscraper (implied but never outright stated as the Empire State Building), Doc Savage fights against evil with the assistance of the 'fabulous five'.

These five individuals consist of: Col. John Renwick ('Renny'), a six foot four inch tall engineer; William Harper Littlejohn ('Johnny'), a geologist and archaeologist; Maj. Thomas J. Roberts ('Long Tom'), an electrical wizard; Brig. Gen. Theodore Marley Brooks ('Ham'), an attorney (who carried a sword cane); and 260 pound, five foot, Lt. Col. Andrew Blodgett Mayfair ('Monk'), a chemist. All five of these men are experts in their field and assist Doc Savage on his adventures.

The adventures of Doc Savage appeared in 181 pulp novels between 1933 and 1949. Written under the house name of 'Kenneth Robeson', the majority of these were written by Lester Dent.

in 1964 Bantam Books started to reprint the pulp stories in paperback. These proved to be extremely popular, with the publisher continuing to reprint the stories off and on until 1990. It was during the 1960s and 1970s that the character really started to catch on again with the paperbacks appearing and the characters appearances in other media such as a movie and comic books.

Doc Savage first appeared in his own comic book series in the 1940s, which lasted for twenty issues. There was some difference between the pulp version and this one as the comic book version had his own costume and powers. The pulp incarnation of the character was revived in a single issue comic book adaptation of the pulp, "Thousand Headed Man" published by Gold Key Comics in 1966. When the pulp version of the character was enjoying a revival in the 1970s, Marvel Comics published eight issues of Doc in a traditional Marvel colour comic book series, and eight issues of a black and white format magazine (which was first released when the movie appeared). Since then the character has appeared in comic books by such publishers as DC Comics, Innovation, Millennium and Dark Horse Comics.

In radio the character appeared in 26 episodes of his own 15 minute serial which started in 1934. There was also a short lived 1943 series based on the comic book version of the character. Unfortunately no recordings of either series seem to have survived. In 1985 Canadian NPR produced 13 half hour episodes of 'The Adventures of Doc Savage', which were more faithful adaptations of the pulp stories.

It was in 1975 that there was a movie made of Doc Savage, Man of Bronze (the title of the first pulp story). Starring Ron Ely in the title role, it was produced by George Pal and directed by Michael Anderson. The movie did remain quite faithful to the pulp story, but had an air of campness about it. The movie was not popular enough to warrant a sequel and has been the only movie adaptation to date, although there is talk about a new movie or television series about the character which comes up every few years.

Links

The 86th Floor - the best all around site on Doc Savage, well worth a look!

Doc Savage.org - a vast site which has lots of image scans from the pulps.

Pulp.Net have a page on Doc Savage which has a brief history and lots of links.

I also have a page giving a brief history of The Shadow.

Wes on the WWW

 

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