Sunday, March 6, 2016

The End Of The Savage Trail!


With its eighty-seventh issue Sanctum Books has at long last completed its highly successful reprinting of the classic Doc Savage stories from the 1930's and 1940's by Lester Dent and others writing as "Kenneth Robeson". It's extremely satisfying to own and have at my fingertips all of the classic Doc adventures.

Debut Issue of Sanctum Books Now Completed Doc Savage Series

This series was launched in 2006 when Anthony Tollin's little venture came out with both The Shadow reprints as well as Doc Savage stories. The labor of love seemed to be intended at the very least to get some of the best and most fondly remembered Doc tales back into circulation and later to pair stories which shared some detail of setting or theme. Most volumes contained two Savage stories, and several had three. All were accompanied by painstakingly detailed essays relating the behind-the-scenes stories of how these epics came to be created. Often we were treated to extended stories with the original manuscripts being used to add back previously excised material. 

Debut Issue of Sanctum Books Ongoing Shadow Series.
Over the years the books have continued to roll out, quickly at first and less frequently in later years. But at long last we  have the whole shebang out in handsome volumes which are comfortable to read. The Avenger, The Whisperer, Captain Fury, The Spider, Black Bat, and others have been added to stable as the decade has rolled by but aside from the continued publication of The Shadow the main mission as far as I can tell is complete with Doc Savage finally having been returned to the stands after an all-too-long absence.

It was always a dream of mine to be able to read these stories, but I despaired ever finding all of the paperbacks. Ironically I recently stumbled across a set which had nearly three quarters of the vintage Bantam books but since I owned the stories (and most of the luscious Bama covers) already I let them slide by. Old paperbacks are fun to look at, great to own, but they are the very devil to read without destroying them, something I'm loathe to do.

Having read the tales by Lester Dent and some others for a decade now, I cannot say that they've all been classics. Some are pretty basic adventure yarns with cardboard characters and overly complicated scenarios, but even the weakest has the advantage of a compelling lead who commands the attention of those around him and the reader.


It's neat to finally have this mission accomplished, to have all of the stories here at my fingertips. I've read nearly all of the stories as they have appeared but I have several more to go before I finish. And after those are done, there are the "new" Doc Savage stories from Altus Books under the "Wild Adventures of Doc Savage" banner in which Doug Murray takes uncompleted Dent stories and material and polishes it off. There have also been some great pastiches over there such as the crossover of Doc and King King.

It's going to be a blast to complete this quest, finally read the end of a very savage trail indeed.



On a related and somewhat ironic note, the final volume of the Fu-Manchu reprints from Titan Books also arrived in my mailbox this past week. The Wrath of Fu-Manchu is a collection of the final few Sax Rohmer Fu-Manchu stories along with some other material and wraps up the decades long schemes of the "Devil Doctor" to take over the world. I'm looking forward to getting into this last book in the run. 
 
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6 comments:

  1. R ya gonna cover tha 'Oz' series of novels at all? :) Or the 'Narnia' series? :D plz tellz me, "yes" ;)

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    1. No plans for either. I've never read most of the OZ canon.

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    2. That's a shame :( i've read both repeatedly since i was in school & i'd love to hear another's take on it like urs here :)

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    3. Plus, if nothing else (among *many* other distinctions :D ), 'Oz' features what is recognized as the first use of a fully-functioning robot in the modern terms that we know it as today :) in the form of Tik-Tok, the Royal Guard of the Kingdom of Oz :) ...yes, just him alone as the entire Guard ;) just to see if that's enough to whet your geek sensibilities ;) :)

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  2. I'd particularly love to see a facsimile collection of the Fu Manchu series as it appeared in magazines like Colliers, with the original illustrations. It's the sort of thing that Girasol might do, if the rights can be figured out.

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    1. That would be interesting. Titan reprinted some of the spot illustrations at the front of the their reprints.

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