David Hines (hradzka) wrote,
David Hines

why fandom would probably like Doc Savage

Doc Savage is a 1930s pulp adventure character. I've been meaning to pimp his adventures more, but y'know, life happens, and now that Yuletide has rolled around I wish I hadn't been so remiss. Because Doc is my Yuletide perennial: my other Yuletide requests rotate, but I ask for Doc every year. It's not like I wish there were a big, active Doc Savage fandom; I just think it'd be neat to see a Doc fic once in a while.

You can read a quick precis of him here. In a very remarkable coincidence of which I am totally ignorant, someone has put a few of the 1930s pulp novels up online for what I feel certain must be a very brief time that probably coincides with Yuletide. The novels are being republished officially and under license, originally by Nostalgia Ventures and now by Sanctum Books, and you can buy the reprints here.

I am aware, however, that fandom likes things different from the things I like. So these are some things that might motivate fandom to write Doc.

Doc Savage himself is an incredibly brilliant polymathic genius whose scientific upbringing left him the smartest person and the most gifted all-around athlete in the world, at the price of leaving him (though his unemotional facade rarely shows it) a great big socially-uncomfortable woobie. He is six foot five or so, incredibly handsome, a gifted scientist, surgeon, and lawyer, astoundingly multilingual, a world traveler, a celebrity of considerable standing, and talking to women makes him nervous because he was raised by a small army of (male) scientists. He has few close friends, and had fewer as a kid, because his dad's idea of a playdate was personal combat training in which Doc would be pitted against four or five bigger and stronger boys at once.

With the financial support of a gold-rich hidden kingdom from ancient Maya, Doc and his five aides (lawyer Ham, chemist Monk, archaeologist Johnny, engineer Renny, and electrical wizard Long Tom), and sometimes Doc's beautiful, thrill-seeking, gun-toting cousin Pat (who owns an exclusive beauty salon/gymnasium and horns in on Doc's adventures at every opportunity), go about Doc's business, which is "righting wrongs and fighting evildoers in the far corners of the earth."

There is adventure, excitement, and character adorableness aplenty. Monk and Ham, for example, bicker constantly and are each other's worst enemy, except when one of them is missing and believed dead, at which point the other confesses how much he loves his buddy. When the miraculously surviving buddy finds out about this, he rags the other mercilessly. Ham is a clotheshorse who is canonically followed down the street by tailors who appreciate clothes being worn properly. Monk, while skinny-dipping in a jungle river, was once mistaken by a primatologist for an unknown species of ape. At one point, on a bet, he walks into Doc's offices stark naked and is mistaken for Ham's pet chimpanzee.

As for Doc, his shirt is invariably ripped to shreds during the course of his adventures, the better to show off his bulging muscles, which look like bundles of piano wire that have been lacquered in bronze. These aesthetics are frequently described lovingly and in detail. The most fanservicey of the novels temporarily available online is probably REPEL. The supervillain is Cadwiller Olden, a brilliant gay dwarf who surrounds himself with good-looking, well-muscled, shirtless henchmen. Doc Savage goes to their epic showdown in a speedboat, while wearing nothing but soaking wet, tightly clinging trousers. What I'm saying is, yeah, *I'm* asking for gen, but there is stuff fandom would like here.

It's a 1930s pulp, so a lot of the attitudes are what you'd expect of the time, but it still has surprising moments (see: gay dwarf supergenius bad guy) and lots of coolness. Lester Dent, Doc's co-creator and primary author, was a great world traveller and kept up to date on the very latest scientific advances. Which means that Doc, in the 1930s, is using things like answering machines and garage-door openers. It's ripping good stuff, and worth a read.

Originally posted on my DW. | comment count unavailable people have commented there. | Do so yourself, if you like.
Tags: doc savage, yuletide
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