Sunday, May 27, 2018

Meet the New Doc, Same as the Old Doc

Most of the time, out there in the wilds of the Internetz, coming across something completely flabbergasting is a negative experience. About a week ago, however, I came across something that was definitely positive, if still flabbergasting.

Over at the Castalia House blog, one of their periodic posts highlighting recent releases in Indie and small-press adventure fiction caught my eye with a header mentioning the Man of Bronze, a pseudonym of the classic adventure pulp science-hero and superhero precursor Doc Savage. Now, on previous occasions Castalia House has highlighted the release of the new Doc Savage stories being produced by Will Murray and Altus Press, but this case turned out to be far more interesting.

Except for this one, which is replaced with
the Dynamite comic adaptation cover.
In fact, somebody has released about a dozen of the original Doc Savage pulp stories as Kindle e-books, for about $3.50 a pop. The publisher is listed only as "Amazon Digital Services", and the text appears to be taken from the original 1930s - '40s magazines (complete with introductory illustrations), though the covers are the classic James Bama pieces from the Bantam paperback editions of the '60s - '70s.

With the sole exception of Doc's introductory adventure seen here, none of the specific titles are ones that I'm familiar with. On the strength of The Man of Bronze, however, I'm perfectly willing to recommend them to anyone interested in stories of adventure and heroics.

However, I'm still curious as to how exactly this cornucopia came to be. I'm pretty sure that Doc is not yet in the U.S. public domain (Steamboat Willie is older), yet besides the Castalia House piece I can't find any other references to them. They're not from Altus or the Radio Archives people, as far as I can tell, and I'm not sure who would own the copyright on them anyway. Conde Nast? The price seems way too reasonable to have been set by any major publisher. Maybe it's a stealth marketing campaign for the rumored upcoming Doc Savage movie starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.

In any event, whether the rest of the 100+ Doc Savage stories are going to be hitting Amazon shortly, or whether these are actually pirated editions that will shortly be yanked, this is a great low-investment way to check out the original tales of a key figure in the history of pop culture.