Monday, March 3, 2008

Pulp Spotlight: Captain Midnight & the Secret Squadron

Pulp Spotlight
Alan Moore
Hello pulp-friends,

I know, I know, I am a day late but I hope you all will forgive me and will bear with me as I go through one of the busiest period of the year (and I know, the year just started, kinda, but hey, it started pretty busy so let's hope it will lighten up a bit ;))

This month (it's already March, isn't it?) spotlight is dedicated to Captain Midnight and the Secret Squadron. I am hoping to feature some radio episodes too but I still have to find an episode that works as standalone (the shows were serialized so it's like the pulp version of a soap, but way more cool ;))

Captain Midnight began as a radio show in September 1940. The first comic book appeared in July 1941. Captain Midnight was really the aviator Captain Albright, who was to defeat the Nazis. A movie serial was made in 1942 and a comic strip was published for a short time. The comic book Captain Midnight ended his career in 1948. The radio premiums are the prized collector memorabilia today.
I am pretty sure this is not the last time we will see Captain Midnight on this blog, so more good news for Bill ;)


Pulp Spotlight is the monthly feature where I cover other famous characters that have helped to build the Pulp genre not just on the radio but also in the other media.


Cunningham said...

I am fully-fueled and standing by, Francesco...

Having once fueled secret squadron birds (the F-117A stealth fighter), I look forward to seeing your further interpretations of Cap Albright's adventures and aerodynamics.

You are go for takeoff!

DecoderRing said...

Mmmm... a standalone episode... that's pretty tough Francesco. In fact, most of the national run for Ovaltine is pretty choppy, with only a tiny fraction of episodes surviving.

There's a nice continuous run of some 70 or 80 episodes from fall '39 to spring '40 of the earlier regional run in the mid-west for Skelly Oil (including one epsidoe where Captain Midnight and his young pal Chuck Ramsey spend the entire episode discussing the merits of different qualities of gasoline - easily the most shameless bit of hucksterisim in broadcast history)... but they have the same "soapy" problem.

A lot of the serials went down to once a week, half-hour episodes in the late 40's (Superman did the same thing late in the radio show's run), and Captain Midnight did about half a season like that in 1949 (I think) before cancellation. As far as I know, there's only one episode from that era that survives, and they're fighting neither nazis or the vile Ivan Shark and his band... but it is a stand-alone story. Is there somewhere that I could post it that would allow you to make use of it?



Doc Shaner said...

This spotlight series is a great addition to this site Francesco! I love old fighter planes, and these illustrations are great! I especially like how the words are used on the wing.

Skylark- said...

Cool postcard shot - aviation heroes rock - For a suggestion for upcoming features - how about Doc Savage? The good doctor hasn't been heard from in a while...

Ilia said...

i think that both of these postcards are just absolutely stunning. this is one of the best posts you have done Francesco.

I gather Zorro is eating into your free time. You have a great book going with Zorro, so please give it the time and attention it deserves.

Francesco Francavilla said...

Bill: thank you and cool to hear that little trivia about your past :) Thanks for sharing.
Gregg: HA! It's a soap, I tell ya. If you miss an episode you lose the thread ;) If you have a self contained episode, just send me the link and I will try to illustrate it. Or I might just come out with my won strip like a did with Blood on Xmas ;)
Evan: thank you :) The spotlight idea came when I thought that not all the guys I want to post in here had radio shows, so there you go ;) Glad you approve :)
skylark: thanks! :) I love to draw old airplanes: I wish I can do that more often. Doc Savage is definitely on the list: stay tuned ;)
Ilia: Thank you :) Zorro is taking its time but it's not just Zorro. I am working on those book illustrations for Scholastic's Treasure Hunters (which come to mind, now, that is pretty pulp itself - need to share something in here ;)) and some other stuff cooking I can't mention yet :P

It's the same reason why I will probably have to change title of this blog in "Pulp whenever I can" since it seems I am missing a few Sundays later :P


cash_gorman said...

Love the site, especially this pulp corner with the illos, something near and dear to my heart. Would love to see your take on Captain Midnight's superhero costumed look as well.

The good Captain is supposed to be slated for some kind of treatment by Moonstone books and he appears semi-regularly in reprints by Bill Black of AC Comics though he has for some reason been promoted to Major.

Got my own blog and website devoted to comics but with a general focus on the golden-age comics and pulps:

Francesco Francavilla said...

Hey Gorman, cool to see anothr hardcore pulp (and golden age ;)) fan around here :)
I am definitely going to do a Capt Midnight superhero version at a certain point. I just got a full episode (standalone) from Gregg this week so you should expect something soon (even if in his radio version ;))