THE JOKER – Time to examine another neglected Pulp Hero in the tradition of Balladeer’s Blog’s looks at the Moon Man, Silver John, the Nyctalope, G-8 & His Battle Aces and Northwest Smith. This time it’s the Joker, but not THAT one. Before the comic book villain and even before Conrad Veidt’s turn as Gwynplaine in The Man Who Laughs (1926), came the 1919 Pulp Magazine figure called the Joker.
NOTE: Sometimes people mistakenly think Pulp Magazines were the same as comic books, only earlier. However, the Pulps were TEXT STORIES, not sequential art like comic books. The Pulps did have colorful, striking covers like later comic books would have and sometimes a few illustrations in the stories but the Pulps were a much higher level of storytelling.
The 1919 Joker was created by Hugh Kahler, who the year before had created the White Rook, another hero/ villain of the Pulps. In some ways the Joker was a rehash of Kahler’s own White Rook crossed with Guy Boothby’s Simon Carne/ Klimo crime figure from 1897. Continue reading
For Balladeer’s Blog’s review of the first episode of this 1971-1973 series about non-Holmes detectives of the Victorian and Edwardian Ages click HERE
*** This review will cover the three 1st Season episodes featuring Max Carrados, Simon Carne and Romney Pringle, each with their own defect. I’m borrowing the term “Defective Detectives” from a subgenre of Pulp stories starring detectives who had some form of defect (even pin-headedness) as their gimmick.
Episode: THE MISSING WITNESS SENSATION (September 27th, 1971)
Detective: Max Carrados, created by Ernest Bramah. The first Max Carrados story was published in 1914.
Review: Private Detective Max Carrados (Robert Stephens) was blind, but brilliant. His gimmick was the ingenious way he alertly used other sensory clues and his computer-like mind to compensate for his blindness.
Amazingly enough, during the six years (1914-1920) that Ernest Bramah’s Max Carrados tales went head-to-head with Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories, Bramah’s detective often outsold Doyle’s. It reached the point where Bramah’s name would appear above Doyle’s on magazine covers.
The Missing Witness Sensation was an ideal choice to dramatize out of the more than two dozen Carrados stories. We viewers are treated to an excellent display of how every activity which sighted people take for granted is in itself a piece of detective work for blind Max.
Naturally, the fictional Carrados takes those masterpieces of observation and attention to detail to nearly superhuman levels when doing detective work. His younger, sighted sidekick Greatorex (Michael Elwyn) handles the fisticuffs and all business elements that require the gift of vision. Continue reading