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  • Lobster Johnson

    Hi everyone,
    Since he's my favorite pulpy champion of justice, I decided I'd make a thread devoted to all things Lobster.
    Here's the place to discuss new Lobster books, Lobster back issues, and anything else related to our hero.

  • #2
    I've got an idea

    Would any of you guys be interested in thorough reviews of each Lobster Johnson story? Something similar to how the excellent Hornet's Nest podcast reviews GH stories.
    If this sounds interesting, let me know.

    Comment


    • #3
      I have a theory relating to the Lobster's origin...

      I think the spirit of the pirate captain Lobster is fated to live time and again, to balance the scales of justice as penance for his sins. Perhaps he even agreed to this bargain in remorse over his misdeeds. In a sense, he is a little like Deadman, in that his spirit takes possession of a human body (perhaps a criminal whose spirit passes on to its final fate, after being dealt justice by a previous incarnation of the Lobster). But he is also like the Spectre, in the sense that he can never rest until his mission is fulfilled (or until he gains enough karma to earn redemption). Unlike those two, however, he must always inhabit a physical body, and possesses no other powers of a mystic or supernatural nature. Later on (present day times) this changes, as seen in various Hellboy stories, and he is a true ghost, but somehow still able to affect the physical world (but only to complete an unfinished mission of justice). Exactly how this situation came about, I don't pretend to know, and I may be way off-base in various details. But "Get The Lobster!" makes it clear that the connection to the pirate captain Lobster is somehow important. Also, the Lobster seems to somehow be able to survive things that should really kill a normal man, if he were a mere mortal being. I also don't know how (or even if) our pretty reporter will be able to discover or deduce these things.

      This theory would at least account for why the Lobster seems to have no life outside of being the Lobster, and why we never see his face (and I get the impression none of his helpers have seen it either). The face and the former life of the body he's currently wearing make no difference. It's just a vehicle for his mission on earth. And knowing Mike Mignola, there has to be a supernatural angle in there somewhere, apart from some of the monsters and mystic menaces the Lobster sometimes encounters in his mission of justice.
      Last edited by pulphero; 07-24-2014, 01:46 PM.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by pulphero View Post
        I have a theory relating to the Lobster's origin...

        I think the spirit of the pirate captain Lobster is fated to live time and again, to balance the scales of justice as penance for his sins. Perhaps he even agreed to this bargain in remorse over his misdeeds. In a sense, he is a little like Deadman, in that his spirit takes possession of a human body (perhaps a criminal whose spirit passes on to its final fate, after being dealt justice by a previous incarnation of the Lobster). But he is also like the Spectre, in the sense that he can never rest until his mission is fulfilled (or until he gains enough karma to earn redemption). Unlike those two, however, he must always inhabit a physical body, and possesses no other powers of a mystic or supernatural nature. Later on (present day times) this changes, as seen in various Hellboy stories, and he is a true ghost, but somehow still able to affect the physical world (but only to complete an unfinished mission of justice). Exactly how this situation came about, I don't pretend to know, and I may be way off-base in various details. But "Get The Lobster!" makes it clear that the connection to the pirate captain Lobster is somehow important. Also, the Lobster seems to somehow be able to survive things that should really kill a normal man, if he were a mere mortal being. I also don't know how (or even if) our pretty reporter will be able to discover or deduce these things.

        This theory would at least account for why the Lobster seems to have no life outside of being the Lobster, and why we never see his face (and I get the impression none of his helpers have seen it either). The face and the former life of the body he's currently wearing make no difference. It's just a vehicle for his mission on earth. And knowing Mike Mignola, there has to be a supernatural angle in there somewhere, apart from some of the monsters and mystic menaces the Lobster sometimes encounters in his mission of justice.
        Fascinating.
        The pirate theme might be an homage to the Phantom. If you have the first Hellboy Library Edition, in the sketchbook section early drawings of the character who would become Lobster seem to be based off of the Phantom.

        Comment


        • #5
          Is it just me, or does Lester look a lot like Jimmy Olsen?
          Speaking of Lobster sidekicks, does anyone know what the guy with the glasses name is? In Get the Lobster #4, Lobster seems to refer to both the guy with the hardhat and the guy with the glasses as "Bill". Are they both named Bill?

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Lobster Johnson View Post
            Fascinating.
            The pirate theme might be an homage to the Phantom. If you have the first Hellboy Library Edition, in the sketchbook section early drawings of the character who would become Lobster seem to be based off of the Phantom.
            If you're right about the Lobster being a Phantom homage (I don't have the book, so I can't judge the early concept drawing for myself), that could puncture my whole theory. The Lobster could be exactly like the Phantom in the sense of being "The Man Who Cannot Die" (i.e. he's merely replaced when he's killed by a younger man prepared to carry on his mission). Nothing supernatural in his origin, just a line of men passing the torch to carry on the identity. Maybe there's some sort of clandestine secret "Brotherhood of the Lobster" or some such? I guess the difference would be that the Lobster is being more covert in not purposely playing up superstition about a legend of an immortal crimefighter -- he is (or rather they are) taking a low-key, under the radar approach to avoid arousing police suspicion. Maybe they even move to a new city after five or ten years to avoid anyone knowing a Lobster in decades past. Now, at this point we have no hint that there were any other Lobsters in the time period between the original pirate captain and the 1930s Lobster that we know, but perhaps that's a connection yet to be unearthed by our investigative reporter.

            But it does raise an interesting question. What if ALL those other Lobsters (the pulp magazine character, the serial hero, the Golden Age comic book hero, the Mexican luchadore enmascarado)-- are all based on different men, a few years apart, playing the role of the Lobster? And aren't so fictionally removed from real events that they supposedly distorted by artistic license?
            Last edited by pulphero; 07-24-2014, 07:24 PM.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Lobster Johnson View Post
              Is it just me, or does Lester look a lot like Jimmy Olsen?
              Lester. Lobster. Hmmm.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by pulphero View Post
                If you're right about the Lobster being a Phantom homage (I don't have the book, so I can't judge the early concept drawing for myself), that could puncture my whole theory. The Lobster could be exactly like the Phantom in the sense of being "The Man Who Cannot Die" (i.e. he's merely replaced when he's killed by a younger man prepared to carry on his mission). Nothing supernatural in his origin, just a line of men passing the torch to carry on the identity. Maybe there's some sort of clandestine secret "Brotherhood of the Lobster" or some such? I guess the difference would be that the Lobster is being more covert in not purposely playing up superstition about a legend of an immortal crimefighter -- he is (or rather they are) taking a low-key, under the radar approach to avoid arousing police suspicion. Maybe they even move to a new city after five or ten years to avoid anyone knowing a Lobster in decades past. Now, at this point we have no hint that there were any other Lobsters in the time period between the original pirate captain and the 1930s Lobster that we know, but perhaps that's a connection yet to be unearthed by our investigative reporter.

                But it does raise an interesting question. What if ALL those other Lobsters (the pulp magazine character, the serial hero, the Golden Age comic book hero, the Mexican luchadore enmascarado)-- are all based on different men, a few years apart, playing the role of the Lobster? And aren't so fictionally removed from real events that they supposedly distorted by artistic license?
                The commentary under the sketches gives me the feeling that the Lobster himself might not be Phantom-inspired, but that sketch (which I think has several costume traits similar to Phantom; striped trunks, etc.) was. So your theory could still be correct.
                Regarding the idea that the Lobster moves from city to city, in the Hellboy Companion, it mentions Lobster sightings in both New York and Chicago. Maybe he moved so as not to attract attention, like you said.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by pulphero View Post
                  Lester. Lobster. Hmmm.
                  What do you mean?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Lobster Johnson View Post
                    What do you mean?
                    The lobster is not an animal high on the list of 'creatures of the night' that strike fear into the hearts of criminals (or anyone, really... hunger, maybe, but not fear).
                    It's hard to imagine a scenario in which a young man sets himself on a mission of justice while pondering the knotty dilemma over dinner in a seafood restaurant.
                    As if in answer, he glances up to see a lobster tank. "That's it! It's a sign. I shall become... a Lobster! And The Lobster's claw shall strike for justice!!"*
                    * from the untitled origin story in Lobster Comics #1, 1942.


                    "Lobster" is an unusual name for a crimefighter. "Lester" is an uncommon male name, but not so uncommon as to seem unusual. But I can't think of any other given name that sounds even remotely like "Lobster".

                    How were the two introduced to each other?

                    "Lester, Lobster. Lobster, Lester."
                    Last edited by pulphero; 07-25-2014, 02:03 AM.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Here's another one to ponder...
                      Thomas E. Sniegoski's novel THE SATAN FACTORY -- 'real' or 'fictional'?

                      "Real", in this context, meaning an accurate record of events occurring to the same character appearing in the Dark Horse Comics series Lobster Johnson (and Hellboy and B.P.R.D.).
                      "Fictional", in this context, meaning exactly what it would appear to be from the cover... a sensationalistic crime paperback published in the late 1950s/early 1960s (and probably originally published under a pseudonym), and just another of many media adaptations of an urban legend, no different than the pulp adventures of the Lobster in WEIRD DETECTIVE.
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                      Last edited by pulphero; 07-25-2014, 06:13 AM.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Lobster Johnson View Post
                        Is it just me, or does Lester look a lot like Jimmy Olsen?
                        I always thought Archie Andrews looked a lot like Jimmy Olsen. Archie already had the red hair, freckles and a bow tie, all he needed was a suit and Superman signal watch. Or maybe he really didn't need the signal watch after all. In moments of dire trouble, Archie was able to transform himself into Pureheart the Powerful. Jimmy Olsen was only able to turn himself into Elastic Lad (on purpose, anyway). Jimmy was somehow occasionally able to survive criminals bent on rubbing out "Superman's Pal", while Archie (in a case of mistaken identity) survived an encounter with The Punisher without resorting to his Pureheart alter ego. For some unfathomable reason, Archie Andrews was also the object of a romantic rivalry between the two hottest girls in Riverdale, Betty and Veronica. Superman (understandably, in his case) had the exact same problem with Lois Lane and Lana Lang, while Jimmy Olsen was constantly getting shot down by Lois' hot blonde sister, Lucy.

                        Come to think of it, Conan O'Brian reminds me of an older Jimmy Olsen too. Strangely enough, in none of the various live-action TV shows or movies has the role of Jimmy Olsen ever been played by a redhead.

                        In all probability, all of these guys are just standard shorthand "gingers". Red hair and freckles, youthful, perhaps a bit of the naive "gosh gee willikers". Nothing more to it than a standard character "type".
                        Last edited by pulphero; 07-25-2014, 06:55 AM.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by pulphero View Post
                          I always thought Archie Andrews looked a lot like Jimmy Olsen. Archie already had the red hair, freckles and a bow tie, all he needed was a suit and Superman signal watch. Or maybe he really didn't need the signal watch after all. In moments of dire trouble, Archie was able to transform himself into Pureheart the Powerful. Jimmy Olsen was only able to turn himself into Elastic Lad (on purpose, anyway). Jimmy was somehow occasionally able to survive criminals bent on rubbing out "Superman's Pal", while Archie (in a case of mistaken identity) survived an encounter with The Punisher without resorting to his Pureheart alter ego. For some unfathomable reason, Archie Andrews was also the object of a romantic rivalry between the two hottest girls in Riverdale, Betty and Veronica. Superman (understandably, in his case) had the exact same problem with Lois Lane and Lana Lang, while Jimmy Olsen was constantly getting shot down by Lois' hot blonde sister, Lucy.
                          Lucy Lane is the most evil comic book character in the history of the world. She's always dumping our hero in favor of someone else she meets.
                          Wait...are we discussing Jimmy Olsen's troubles on a thread about Lobster Johnson?
                          Last edited by Lobster Johnson; 07-25-2014, 11:01 AM.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by pulphero View Post
                            Here's another one to ponder...
                            Thomas E. Sniegoski's novel THE SATAN FACTORY -- 'real' or 'fictional'?

                            "Real", in this context, meaning an accurate record of events occurring to the same character appearing in the Dark Horse Comics series Lobster Johnson (and Hellboy and B.P.R.D.).
                            "Fictional", in this context, meaning exactly what it would appear to be from the cover... a sensationalistic crime paperback published in the late 1950s/early 1960s (and probably originally published under a pseudonym), and just another of many media adaptations of an urban legend, no different than the pulp adventures of the Lobster in WEIRD DETECTIVE.
                            [ATTACH]796[/ATTACH][ATTACH]793[/ATTACH]
                            I don't think the novels in the Mignolaverse are considered in-continuity.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Nearly all the reviews I've seen liked the novel. So, apparently the consensus is that it's a good novel. But that's not the question I'm asking here, nor strictly speaking, whether or not it's "in-continuity". What I'm asking is whether it's meant to be read as another adventure of the character, alongside THE IRON PROMETHEUS, THE BURNING HAND, SATAN SMELLS A RAT, and GET THE LOBSTER, or does it more properly belong to the category of "the fictional worlds of The Lobster", along with the Mexican horror films, Republic serials, Weird Detective pulp novels, and Golden Age Lobster Comics?

                              Points for being 'real':
                              • It doesn't contradict anything from the Hellboy, B.P.R.D, or Lobster Johnson comics published by Dark Horse.
                              • It presents a more "realistic" (less melodramatic, or aimed at young audiences) view of the Lobster than the pulps, movies, or comics.
                              • The above would be consistent with a stylistic shift in pulp fiction writing beginning in the late '40s, that relied more on realistic characterization, and less on idealized heroes and melodramatic situations. That trend in fiction obviously gained in popularity and shifted into paperback fiction in the 1950's.
                              • It's closer to Dark Horse's comics than any of those things above.
                              • It could be the situations happened, but haven't happened yet, from the POV of the comics books still set in the early '30s.


                              Points for being 'fictional':
                              • While it doesn't contradict anything from the DH comics, it doesn't support anything or reveal anything new, either.
                              • It reveals nothing about the Lobster that the author couldn't learn by researching newspapers, police records, or interviewing the rare incarcerated felon claiming to have met the Lobster. The rest could simply be logical conjecture and good fiction writing. It takes place toward the end of the 1930s, but Lobster's support crew is now completely different than the ones seen in the DH comics.
                              • The Lobster (while remaining as enigmatic as he appears in DH comics) isn't even the main character. The story sort of revolves around him, but he isn't central or having the most on-stage time.
                              • None of the characters (except the Lobster) appearing in the novel have appeared (so far) in any of the DH comics.
                              • The cover art style, design, typography, and relative physical dimensions are consistent with paperbacks published by a few companies in the 1950s and early 1960s, the actual book being a reprint of the hypothetical original (now considered highly collectible). The fact that the Lobster isn't mentioned in the title seems to fit for that era as well.
                              Last edited by pulphero; 07-25-2014, 01:07 PM.

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