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Does anyone know Agent G-8?

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  • Does anyone know Agent G-8?

    Hi guys,
    Does anyone here know anything about the pulp character Agent G-8? I saw a picture of him on Francesco Francavilla's blog, and I'm interested. His uniform sorta looks like the Lobster's.
    Hmm... now that I think about it, one of the Hellboy books (Conqueror Worm) that Lobster was in may have been dedicated to G-8. Maybe G-8 was an influence on the Lobster?

  • #2
    All I really know is that it a WW1 (I think) Avaiation series. There a few paperback reprints (G-8 and his Battle Aces) around the same time as the original Doc Savage & Shadow reprints started.
    Always remember, Murphy was an optimist
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    • #3


      • #4
        A young American pilot during the Great War of 1914-18, whose true identity was never revealed, the man codenamed by military intelligence as G-8 was also nicknamed "The Flying Spy". He was feared by the German high command because of his diverse array of talents, a key one of which was his ability to disguise himself, or impersonate anyone perfectly. He was assisted by his wingmen, Bull Martin and Nippy Weston (you can probably envision their physical characteristics, based solely on their nicknames). Probably the longest-running of all the aviation heroes in pulps, G-8 had 110 novels dedicated to his exploits over 11 years, a pretty healthy run for a character by any standards in the pulps.

        A key component characterizing the series was the horror element as exemplified by the many weird menaces that G-8 and his pals came up against. Mad scientists of every stripe, all fanatically devoted to the German cause, turned out an array of giant bats, trained gorillas, vampires, werewolves and skeletons, all of whom were adept pilots (well, except for the giant bats -- but they were very adept at replacing the standard German combat aircraft). Not unlike the earliest issues of Timely's Captain America Comics, horror and super-villainy were melded together in equal measure in G-8's pulp adventures. The series owes a debt of subgenre and tonal color to an earlier pulp series of stories about Philip Strange, nicknamed "The Brain Devil" by the German aviators he flew against in WWI, a similar character fighting similar weird menaces in the war-torn skies above Europe.

        Published by Popular Publications (home of The Spider), G-8 and His Battle Aces fit right in with their line (which also included Dime Detective Magazine, Horror Stories, and Terror Tales, all of which were, at their height, both the "EC Comics" and the 'torture porn' of the late '30s pulps). They had a flavor not unlike the early Timely Comics, wild and disreputable, as opposed to the more refined (for pulps) and conservative Street & Smith (publishers of The Shadow, Doc Savage, and The Avenger), which could be compared to the Golden Age DC (National Comics, at the time). The Comics Code Authority cleaned up the more excessive horrific elements of the early Timely/Atlas comics along with EC, but DC Comics was barely affected by it at all. While there was never a "CCA" for pulp magazines, that doesn't mean that there weren't vociferous complaints from parents, teachers, and religious types. Things tended to get toned down in the pulps in the 1940s, especially once America entered WWII. At that point, the young and unruly medium of comic books (especially companies like Timely and MLJ) became the new enfant terrible, on which parents and educators focused their ire. After a "second wave" of pulp heroes created in the 1939-1941 period mostly failed to recapture readers lost to the new medium of comic books, pulp publishers toned down a lot of the more fantastic aspects of the remaining pulp heroes, in an attempt to appeal to an older readership not interested in comics, and more interested in greater realism, a trend that increased in intensity as the 1940s wore on and pulp sales continued to dwindle from their height of popularity in the mid-1930s. Very few hero pulps survived the end of WWII, The Spider (in 1943) and G-8 (in 1944) being among the casualties of the growing popularity of comics. By the late '40s, even the most popular pulp heroes, The Shadow and Doc Savage, had tried to re-invent themselves as digest magazines appealing to readers of such mystery fare as Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine.

        Until 2001, when Adventure House began a systematic reissuing of reprints of the pulp G-8 and His Battle Aces in a facsimile replica format, which continues to this day, the novels had seen little exposure since the original pulp series ended in 1944. There were two attempts to reprint the series in mass-market paperback, one by Berkeley Books in 1969-1971, which reprinted 8 of the novels (the first 3 of which had superb covers by Steranko), and a later one by a small company called Dimedia, which produced a single reprint paperback in 1985, with a painted cover by Ken Kelly.

        In comic books, the character has had sporadic appearances. A single issue produced by Gold Key in 1966, with a typically nice painted cover by GK mainstay George Wilson.

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        Two halves of two one-shot flip-book comics issued by the same company, calling itself Blazing Comics in 1991, and Argosy/Blazing Adventure in 1993 (both of which had covers by Tim Truman, with the latter G-8 story re-logo'ed as "Time Warrior"). The flip side of both books featured a weird variant of The Spider who was re-dubbed Web-Man, if you can imagine the pulp Spider re-done as a 90s-style superhero. The G-8 stories in both of these books are by classic DC war genre artist Sam J. Glanzman.

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        More recently he appeared in two one-shot graphic novels issued by Moonstone Books: Return of the Originals: Battle for L.A., a crossover teamup of several pulp heroes (Secret Agent X, G-8, Phantom Detective, Domino Lady, and Black Bat) that preceded Dynamite's Masks, and Airboy / G-8 (both were available in hardcover and softcover versions).

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        Last edited by pulphero; 07-18-2014, 07:21 AM.


        • #5
          Interesting. Thanks for the info, guys.


          • #6
            Originally posted by Lobster Johnson View Post
            Interesting. Thanks for the info, guys.

            I would love an anthology similar to Blazing Action to be published by DE. I think Pulp hero analyzed the comparison of the Popular Publications to Timely Comics very accurately. I find greater enjoyment of the fast paced action pulps of the Spider and G-8. Street & Smith characters of the Shadow, Doc Savage, and the Avenger (can't wait for DE's Justice Inc.) were kind of conservative in the action. Why could not DE publish a Blazing Action Comics of their own (using The Spider, G-8 & his Battle Aces, and Ki-Gor among others) to give us readers a wilder pulp appeal along with Justice Inc.?

            I always thought G-8 as a combination of James Bond and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Weird war stories set in the period of WWI written by a former WWI aviator who described flight combat scenes accurately in the stories. Bull Martin was the stereotypical football player character who flew the lucky number 7 plane. Nippy was the Amazing Randy who arrogantly flew the number 13 plane. G-8 was a master of disguise (thanks to his stage-experienced English butler named Battle--predates Alfred for Batman?).

            Thank you DE for the pulp heroes!


            • #7
              Hi Blinky,

              Ki-Gor was, like Martin Goodman's Ka-Zar, a blond knockoff of Tarzan. Ki-Gor was the ongoing hero of a series of novels in Fiction House's Jungle Stories pulp magazine, and probably their best known character. He also appeared in comic books (for some unknown reason, he was there re-named Kaanga) along with his girlfriend Helene, who appeared on both the covers of the pulp Jungle Stories and its comic book counterpart Jungle Comics, where her prominently displayed leopardskin-clad body undoubtedly helped to sell a lot of issues. But where Dynamite now has an official relationship with Edgar Rice Burroughs Inc, I'm not sure it makes much sense for DE to publish yet another derivative jungle hero, and one that very few readers will have heard of, at that, even if the character is in the public domain.

              I do like the idea of an anthology, though. I'm imagining something like Dark Horse Presents, but composed solely of pulp hero strips (a mix of urban crimefighters, and western, SF, jungle or fantasy characters sounds good). My counter-proposal to Ki-Gor would be for DE to license Sheena, Queen of the Jungle (also a Fiction House character), or to revive Frank Cho's Jungle Girl. Perhaps they could incorporate some of the lesser-known ERB characters there, as well.

              I don't know if you could sell a giant-sized $8 comic with all pulp characters, though. If it were practical, I'd be all for it. Maybe it would work if they did just like Dark Horse, and used mini-serials within the anthology to generate later one-shot reprint collections? The other possibility would be a standard-size $4 comic flipbook, with two continuing features (although maybe they could rotate them so one side of the book would change to a new story & character, while the other side was still in the middle of a continued story).