How I Met Doc Savage

Doc Savage was an incredible influence on my early life. I discovered Doc as a 5th Grade navy brat when I was living overseas in Gaeta, Italy. I come from a family of readers, and living in a foreign country only increases the habit. The craving for something familiar and in my first language was overwhelming at times.

In this particular period, my older brother had just introduced me to the incredibly violent "Mack Bolan" series of paperbacks, which I loved for their strangely graphic mix of sex and violence. They were a intoxicating, dangerous literary treat -- our parents would have gone ballistic had they ever seen them. We hid them constantly and read them on the sly, trading old ones for new ones at the local American book exchange.

One day I walked into the American Library in the Gaeta, Italy Naval Detachment looking for more adventures of The Exterminator, The Executioner, The Destroyer, The Butcher, The Baker, or The Candlestickmaker (I was consuming any and all of these silly things that I could lay my 11 year old hands on) and noticed a new series amongst the "Men's Fiction" (as the section was called, although I'll never know why, for no man I know will ever admit to reading those books).

This new book was about some guy named "Doc Savage." It had the prerequisite number on the cover so I knew I had discovered some new series. From the word "Doc" in the title, I was expecting to read all about this savagely angry guy who would pull people's arms off and beat them about the shoulders with them while saying clever medical puns.

I had picked out one of the Bantam doubles (#99/100 Hell Below/The Lost Giant) quite by random. I hesitated, hemmed, and hawed, but decided on the Doc book for one reason... it had two stories in it and my other choice only had one. I took that book back to my spartan bunkbed and lay down to peruse it, expecting buckets of blood and ungentlemanly behavior. Imagine my surprise.

I finished the first book by dinner, and consumed the second half that night under my sheets with a flashlight. I was immediately and permanently captivated by the Man of Bronze. I swore that I would grow up and be brave and good like Doc Savage.

Okay, so I turned out more like John Sunlight, Doc's brilliantly evil nemesis, but hey, that can't be blamed on Doc. I'm just a bad seed -- yet another candidate for Doc's Crime College!

So hey, there's a new Doc Savage movie being made, right? Naaah. I talk about that here.

I recently created an animated show which was inspired by all the great pulps I read as a kid. Just in case you missed it, click on: Constant Payne: featuring Doc Payne, Parent of Adventure

Anyway, enjoy the pictures you see on the pages of this site. Most of them are from the great pulp covers by Walter M. Baumhofer. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the James Bama covers as well, but I think Doc's hair looks hipper (and more '90s) in the older renditions.

If you are at all interested in Pulp magazine cover art, then I heartily recommend a vibrantly illustrated reference book which has just been published. "Pulp Art" was written by Robert Lesser, a book and pulp magazine dealer. Mr. Lesser's Coffee-table book sized, it's 192 pages long, with excellent full size pulp cover art and detailed biographies of the great pulp illustrators.

Order it now from Amazon Books! There are few pulp art books I could more highly recommend. At $19.99 (Amazon's Price: $13.99!), it would be cheap at thrice the price.

Doc Savage's Oath

This is Doc's Oath, which as a child I used to swear aloud before falling asleep (to the eternal regret of my brother who had to share my room). I submit that its messages should be recited aloud in schools across America rather than the current McCarthy-era Pledge of Allegiance. Perhaps we would have a better generation of kids if they followed Doc's path of questioning the authority of those who govern -for- us instead of blindly swearing allegiance to their actions.

  • Let me strive every moment of my life to make myself better and better, to the best of my ability, that all may profit by it.
  • Let me think of the right and lend all my assistance to those who need it, with no regard for anything but justice.
  • Let me take what comes with a smile, without loss of courage. Let me be considerate of my country, of my fellow citizens and my associates in everything I say and do.
  • Let me do right to all, and wrong no man.

Finally, this is Steven Holland, the model who posed for almost all of Bantam's Doc Savage paperback covers! He posed for cover artists James Bama and Bob Larkin. Steven Holland was also the cover model for the 1970's reprints of The Avenger pulp series (his facial features were for the covers of The Avenger books).

Steve Holland can be briefly seen in the 1955 Otto Preminger film "The Court Martial of Billy Mitchell." He is most widely remembered for starring as Flash Gordon on television during the 1950s.

Mr. Holland died on May 11th, 1997 at the age of 72.

Now look again at this photo and imagine him kicking your ass, even though he was 53 at the time it was taken. Rest in peace Mr. Holland.

Just in case you missed it, here's the television show I created which was inspired by the Pulps of yesteryear: Doc Payne, Parent of Adventure

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