With Independence Day approaching, it’s time to honor Jimmy Christopher. Jimmy was an agent for United States Intelligence, cod-named Operator #5. From 1934 to 1939, Jimmy kept America safe from its enemies as the star of the 10-cent pulp magazine, Secret Service Operator #5. Today, Secret Service Operator #5 is best-remembered for two things: a 13 issue arc in which Jimmy became a freedom fighter after America was conquered by the Purple Empire (a thinly-veiled stand-in for Nazi Germany) and a series of exciting, patriotic covers.
Unless otherwise noted, the covers below are all credited to John Newton Howitt:
New Detective was a pulp magazine that promised its readers “the NEWest” crime fiction available. It started publication in 1941 and it ran until 1953, when it was merged with another magazine and its title was changed first to Fifteen Detective Stories and then to True Adventure. Under the True Adventure name, it ran until 1970.
The fiction of New Detective may have been “new” but it dealt with same subjects as most pulp crime magazines; stories about detectives, guns, and dangerous women. Among the writers published in New Detective were John D. MacDonald, who would later find fame and critical acclaim for his Travis McGee novels.
There were over seventy issues of New Detective. Below are just a few of the more memorable ones:
Who was the Spider?
In the 1930s and the 1940s, The Spider was toughest and most ruthless pulp action hero around. His real name was Richard Wentworth and he was a millionaire who, having served in World War I, was determined to wage war on crime back home. What distinguished the Spider from the other pulp heroes of the day was his brand of justice. He was just as willing to kill as his opponents and a typical issue of The Spider featured thousands of casualties. Though each story may have been different, all ended with Wentworth killing the villain and stamping the body with his “spider mark.”
Published on a monthly basis by Popular Press, The Spider ran for 10 years, from 1933 to 1943. If not for World War II and the resulting paper shortage, his adventures probably could have run for another decade.
The majority of The Spider‘s covers were done by either John Newton Howitt or Rafael DeSoto and they were often as violent as the stories found within. This first group of covers were done by John Newton Howitt:
This next batch of covers were all done by Rafael DeSoto, who brought his own unique style to the Shadow’s violent adventures:
The covers below have never officially been credited to either Howitt or DeSoto. They look like they were done by DeSoto to me but I don’t know for sure:
In the 1970s, Pocket Books reprinted four of The Spider’s adventures. The covers of those paperbacks were done by Robert Maguire and, as you can tell by looking below, they attempted to bring The Spider into the “modern” age. Steve Holland served as the model for Maguire’s version of The Spider:
New Spider novels are still being written to do this day and publishers continue to still occasionally reprint The Spider’s adventures. Meanwhile, original issues are widely-sought after by collectors. The Spider lives on!