Recently, I went on a bit of a Pulp buying binge on eBay. Why? I am not exactly sure, but they have always intrigued me and I decided that I just had to have some. It turns out that if you are not looking for high demand books and you are ok with so-so condition, they really won’t set you back all that much. So now, I’ve got a tall stack of pulps to read with next to no free time on my hands. Why do I set myself up like that? Oh, well – it’s not a bad problem to have.
I had a night to myself last week and dove head first into my first pulp – Thrilling Wonder Stories, Summer 1946. Why did I pick this one from my tall stack of pulps? The Gorilla Cover. I can’t argue with Julie Schwartz’ logic – Gorilla Covers are real eye catchers. Pay close attention folks, as we will see some other Schwartz/DC connection later on.
Thrilling Wonder Stories started out life as Hugo Gernsback’s Wonder Stories, but was sold to Thrilling Publications and the title was changed. I don’t know much about the overall hierarchy of pulp magazines, but I’d imagine that Thrilling Wonder Stories is held in pretty high regard, at least for the sci-fi genre. Even if your just do a quick search for the title, you see some truly iconic covers.
The lead story of this issue is “Titan of the Jungle” and look what we’ve got here. An intelligent gorilla setting up a city in the middle of the jungle from which he plans to attack mankind. Does any of that sound familiar? It seems that Julius Schwartz might have borrowed more than just covers from this title. OK, OK – that’s a bit of a conspiracy theory – but some of the elements are there, even the name (anyone remember Titano from Superman).
It’s always fun to draw these kinds of parallels, but the real question here is ‘How do these Apes keep getting so smart?). In this case, it’s matter of a scientist creating two serums – one that enhances intelligence and another than lessens it. When Titan has his intelligence heightened he overpowers the scientist and starts dumbing down the local population. Luckily, friends of the scientist are honeymooning in Ghana (Gold Coast back then), as they must have pissed off their travel agent. After several unsuccessful attempts, they finally manage to take on Titan and his army of intelligent Apes. Of course, most of the credit is given to the sidekick Dog, apparently the only animal in Africa that didn’t have a vendetta against mankind.
I haven’t had the chance to read the rest of this magazine, but if the other stories are half as good as this one – it’s money well spent.