How the Doc Savage Novel ‘Bleeding Sun’ Came to Be

Feb 13, 2012 by

Reprinted from DocSavage.Info March 2001

shenanigan: “a playful or mischievous act; a prank.”

At first Bleeding Sun was a shenanigan. In 1998, a few attendees of Pulpcon pretended there was a Doc Savage novel named Bleeding Sun. There wasn’t. That was the fun.

Now it really is a novel. A fine work of fiction written by a true Brother of Bronze. No longer can anyone say, “The Bleeding Sun doesn’t exist. It’s a hoax.” No one can claim to own all the Doc Savage novels if they don’t have Bleeding Sun. (2012 Note: Finding the novel is possible. You just have to ask the right person at the Pulpfest dealer room.)

Then again maybe it wasn’t really a shenanigan. Maybe we just pretended to “discover” what already existed. For those who weren’t there…and only a few of us were… here is the true story of the Bleeding Sun….

In the summer of 1998 I attended my second Pulpcon. The year before I had a great time and I was looking for more of the same. This year was to be even better. Fate wanted me to meet my (then) future wife, Catherine. Thank you, Fate.

We did all the usual Doc Savage fan activities. We spent hours in the dealer room looking for coverless magazines and pristine Bantam’s. We sat and thumbed though a near mint copy of The Man of Bronze. We oohed and ahhed over Jay Ryan’s detailed account of the publishing history of Doc Savage. We argued over the relative merits of the various authors. We learned the difference between “e”, “e”, and “e.”

We were Doc fans at “the” convention. All those years of being the only Doc fan in town were forgotten as we had a great time. You won’t find a more dedicated group of crazy and inventive people than at Pulpcon.

The event that would reverberate for months in Doc fandom started with a simple comment over Jay’s book, “What if Jay had missed something?”

The cartoons are right: light bulbs literally appear over our heads.

Email excerpt 8-23-1998 I know it was in the dealer room where the subject was first mentioned. I know that we had been discussing the rather high price that was put on Doc doubles by some of the dealers. — Bill

The story developed over the next two days. The principal members of the shenanigan operated the more popular Doc Savage websites. People looked to us for information on Doc Savage.

What if we quietly inserted information about a Doc Savage novel that had been published by Bantam? A novel that never existed, but that would seem to be as real as any of the others.

Primarily over a single dinner we developed our “back story.” Our Doc Savage was novel scheduled to run late 1945 but was pulled at the last second. The editors at Street and Smith thought the novel was too wrapped up in the war to be published after VJ Day. So the manuscript was filed away until Bantam discovered it 30 years later. Of course they would publish it! Bantam editors would remember the cash they had reaped over The Red Spider.

We decided to insert the novel as Bantam Number 127. That’s when the novels went to Bantam Omnis. Our #127 would be the last numbered Bantam Doc Savage. We all knew that a Bantam 127/128 double had been announced but was pulled in favor of the first omni edition. It would only confuse the issue more.

Next, we had to have a novel synopsis. We attacked the story logically. Since it was to be set at the end of the war it needed to feature the war in the Pacific. The Japanese empire was called the rising sun. We bandied about plays on such words as “sun” “red” “blood” and “setting sun.” We thought about the red sun of the Japanese flag, which took us to “Bloody Sun” and finally to Bleeding Sun.

That would be our title: To Die Under a Bleeding Sun. Of course, Bantam would have shortened that to Bleeding Sun.

You may have noticed I haven’t identified all of the names of the perps of the shenanigan. I’ll leave it up to the dedicated Savageoligist to uncover the posts and interview the participants. Suffice it to say that we numbered at least seven and each had his or her role.

The story and title developed over an otherwise forgettable dinner. During the next day we would identify certain needs to carry out the shenanigan. We needed a blurb. I volunteered to write one. I had just completed an interview with the original Bantam blurb writer, Nick D’Annuzio, and thought I was up to the task.

Chris Kalb not only operated the prime Doc Savage website but was also an award-winning artist. (Later someone claimed the art had been put together by some “idiot with photoshop.”) He agreed to make up a Doc Savage cover….using Photoshop. We didn’t want to make it too hard to figure out.

Email excerpt 8-4-1998 The cover might be a little too nice considering the cheap crap Bantam put on the fronts of the first omni. BTW, looking at the list there’s plenty of time between the doubles (mar 85) and omnis (aug 86). –Chris

We would place that cover and blurb on all of our sites. There would be no special announcement. We wanted it to seem like it had been there all along. Crazy, huh?

I was taking quite a few pictures of the festivities. The previous year I had posted them on the Hidalgo Trading Company along with a record of the event. To sell the shenanigan, I took a picture of Catherine holding up a novel she had purchased. Chris finished the cover and digitally placed it on Catherine’s novel.

Now we had a picture of someone holding Bleeding Sun. It had to exist! We went home and started fixing our sites. Someone noticed the picture of Catherine and asked about Bleeding Sun. I feigned surprise they didn’t own a copy.

The story started to unravel when a copy was placed on eBay. I know it sounds like we were pushing our luck, but it seemed to make sense at the time. Only one person bid on the novel and he laughed when he learned of the joke.

One participant tried to enlist someone outside the group to help. In retrospect, that was the beginning of the end.

Accusations, recriminations and many angry Usenet posts later the word was out. We had pulled a fast one. No one was really hurt and the alt.fan.doc-savage newsgroup was more alive than it had been for months.

Most laughed when they discovered the joke. We had a few emails thanking us for injecting some fun into fandom. I think the following two comments were representative of the majority response to the shenanigan:

Usenet excerpt Aug 13, 1998 As I happen to have been one of the people who actually bid on “Bleeding Sun” and therefore was “taken” by the “hoax”, I want to say to one and all, “Relax”. I appreciate the laugh and I really appreciate the fact that the only thing I lost was some time placing a bid on Ebay. It was a masterful hoax, and I applaud its originators. If, however, in any real or imagined guilt they may or may not feel, they desire to commit acts of restitution, I will gladly accept, though I do not compel this action, help in getting the last 3 Doc PB’s that I need for my collection.
Sincerely, Marcel Allen Lamb

Email 1-16-99 Just wanted you to know I fell for the Bleeding Sun book scam, and loved it! You have to understand I was in a vulnerable state when I saw it, I had just been at J__ G_____ site and found out the hardcover versions of the Bantam pb’s exist so I thought anything was possible. Thanks, Mike S_______

I tried to write Marcel recently. I wonder if he finally completed his collection? Maybe he bought those three to reach his Nirvana. I hope someone sends him a copy of Bleeding Sun so he will truly discover “completion peace.”

Chuck Welch
March 2001

Pulpfest 2012 is Mere Months Away

Feb 12, 2012 by

Pulpfest 2012 is Mere Months Away

The annual pilgrimage for pulp fans is making a pair of changes this year. First off, the con is moving to downtown Columbus. From August 9th to the 12th, the Hyatt Regency Hotel will host Pulpfest. Room rates will be $109 a night, which includes parking for one. It’ll probably be best to split your room with someone without a car. You can find more information here about the hotel and surrounding amenities.

Since 2009 the Munsey Award has been awarded to “a deserving person who has given of himself or herself for the betterment of the pulp community, be it through disseminating knowledge about the pulps or through publishing or other efforts to preserve and to foster interest in the pulp magazines we all love and enjoy.” Starting in 2012, the Munsey has been renamed The Rusty Hevelin Service Award in honor of the man who guided Pulpcon and influenced the Pulp fan world for many years.

This year’s guest of honor is author Mike Resnick. Some highlights of Pulpfest 2012 programming include “How French Literature May Have Influenced American Pulp Heroes” with Rick Lai, Christopher Paul Carey will read from his novel co-authored with Philip José Farmer, the FarmerCon VII panelists will “discuss a sampling of the Burroughsian works of Philip José Farmer,” panels on the depiction of Mars in pulp fiction and J. Allen St. John, the artist most associated with Edgar Rice Burroughs, a panel on Conan of Cimmeria and much more.

The early bird Pulpfest registration this year is $30. Children 15 & younger are free. Dealer tables are $70 or $80, which does not include Pulpfest membership.

You can get more information about Pulpfest at the website, email, RSS feed, Facebook page or Twitter account.

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Pulpfest 2011

Jul 27, 2011 by

DocSavage.org is back, though not in the updated condition I expected. The new design was causing major readability issues. So I’ve reverted to the previous look while I attend Pulpfest. Look here for nightly updates and breaking Pulpfest news for the next four days.

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Doc Savage Radio Actor Identified

Mar 1, 2011 by

With the recent pulp reprint publications of THE SHADOW and DOC SAVAGE, it seems about the perfect time to explore the medium of radio which dramatized the same stories that appeared in the pulps, on the radio. The origin of the DOC SAVAGE radio program began in December 1932, when the Knox Company of St. Louis approached Street & Smith Publishers seeking broadcast rights for The Shadow, unaware that NBC was airing THE SHADOW along the East Coast under exclusive license to a promising sponsor. Street & Smith replied favorably with a counter-offer to sponsor a series of radio dramas based on another of their successful pulp magazines, DOC SAVAGE, which premiered on news stands earlier that same calendar year. Even thought Street & Smith offered to sponsor the program, to promote the magazine, Knox rejected the offer. A series of 26 scripts, however, was later dramatized from February to August 1934 over KFRC in San Francisco. The productions were also recorded via electrical transcriptions in MacGregor & Sollie’s offices for nation-wide syndication, broadcast on more than 80 stations throughout the United States and Canada (verified in numerous advertisements in the DOC SAVAGE magazine), beginning in October 1934.

For decades, the name of the actor playing the lead of DOC SAVAGE, as well as the radio cast, has remained elusive to historians. Until now. Researcher/author Martin Grams has a new book coming out on March 31, 2011, documenting the entire history of THE SHADOW radio program. Along the way, DOC SAVAGE will receive extensive coverage. “Documentation will also include the recoding dates and master numbers for the recordings, rehearsals and the experimental pilot,” Grams explained. “Very little has been written about the radio program, and when I was handed a private collection of the MacGregor & Sollie papers and ledgers, I was surprised to discover one of the Holy Grails of DOC SAVAGE material was included. Because both THE SHADOW and DOC SAVAGE radio programs originated from Street & Smith, it seemed natural that we document what all is known about the DOC SAVAGE program, including the latest information unearthed from private archives.”

The 820 page book is titled, “THE SHADOW: The History and Mystery of the Radio Program, 1930-1954,” was recently praised by Walter Gibson historian J. Randolph Cox, who reviewed: “For the collector and historians of old-time radio, there are facts here that they may be seeking for the first time. For everyone else, this is a book to treasure.” Most fans of THE SHADOW know that the supernatural sleuth with a sepulchral chuckle began his career in July of 1930 as the narrator of spooky detective mysteries. Seven years later, Orson Welles elevated the series with a change of format: The Shadow was now fighting crime with his female companion, Margot Lane. (Spelled Margo in the pulps, Margot in the radio scripts with a silent ‘t’.) The radio program outlasted the pulps, expiring in December 1954. With rare, never-before-seen photos (including one of the lead actor who played DOC SAVAGE in 1934 and 1935), extensive episode guide with cast and plot summaries, interviews with cast and crew and exclusive research unearthing facts never-before-documented, only an index (which it has) can enhance the book’s appeal.

The book is available for pre-sale on Amazon.com for $34.95

A sneak peak of the book can be found at www.MartinGrams.com. The suggested retail price is $29.95.

(Editor’s Note: Article is a reprinting of a MartinGrams press release.)

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Will Murray Working to Publish New "Wild Adventures"

Aug 1, 2010 by

At the 2010 Pulpfest author Will Murray spoke to a crowed room of Doc fans eager to hear news from the latest “Kenneth Robeson.” Murray, who wrote seven Doc adventures using materials from the Lester Dent archives, announced he had secured the rights to publish new Doc Savage novels.

Will Murray (flip)

Will Murray at Pulpfest 2010
Photo CC by Chuck Welch

Murray explained Conde Nast (copyright holders for the Doc Savage character) had given him the right to publish seven new novels and reprint his seven published novels. Murray is in negotiation with a publishing house to produce the novels in paperback form — either in traditional or trade paperback size. Citing ongoing negotiations, Murray refrained from naming the publisher other than to state it wasn’t Anthony Tollin’s Sanctum Books. Tollin’s publishing house currently reprints the original Doc Savage novels from the 1930s and 40s.

The real reason I do this is to salvage the Lester Dent experience. — Will Murray

Murray unveiled a proposed cover for the first of the new novels, The Desert Demons. The cover used original art by Joe DeVito, cover artist for Murray’s seven novels published by Bantam. Murray explained the cover used a painting of Doc commissioned by Jack Juka and applicable to Murray’s story.

Murray explained the new novel was based on material unearthed during his research into Lester Dent’s papers. In 2005, Murray found a discarded Dent chapter that “introduced Doc in a whole different way.” Murray explained the chapter fit into a Doc novel he was considering, but would take it into a new direction.

Murray explained he wanted his new novels to be “over the top.” “We’re trying to take Doc somewhat out of the envelope,” Murray added. He said the stories would be similar to adventures such as those found in The Spook Legion or Repel.

Murray concluded the presentation by answering audience questions about his working methods, writing philosophy and information about the proposed seven novels. Later this week, the Hidalgo Trading Company will publish additional information about the new novels.

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