Friday, November 29, 2013


Time was running out last Friday evening for the first day of Wizard World Austin Comic Con. There was about thirty minutes to go before the doors to the convention hall were going to close for the night. My buddy Matt and I were in search of a dealer's booth that he had seen earlier in the day. He swore that this guy had a ton of trade paperbacks, hardcovers and graphic novels, all for half-price.

After much searching and a few stops at some other dealers who also had half-price trades, we finally found the booth we were looking for. Remember the last shot in RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK? This was almost like it as there were at least thirty (possibly more) long boxes full of trade paperbacks and hardcovers, all of them for sale at half the original cover price.

I knew I could get into big trouble mighty quick here. I'd already spent close to the entire amount that I had budgeted for the day and I didn't want to buying stuff like a drunken sailor in a woman's prison with a fistful of pardons (if that even makes any sense). I had paid cash for everything thus far and I didn't want to go the credit card route but geez, did this guy have the goods.

The very first book in the very first box in which I looked was the book you see pictured above. Regular readers of this blog know that I am a huge Doc Savage fan and this item was on my current want list. I knew I had to have this one so I pulled it out of the box and set it aside. And then I found something else I wanted, and something else, and oh, boy, does this look cool and hey, I've been looking for this one and so on and so on. I soon had a small stack of books that, even at half off cover price, were going to amount to more money than I wanted to spend. I slowly put everything back into the boxes where I'd found them and decided that there was only book that I absolutely HAD to have and providence, fate, kismet, destiny, whatever, I decreed which book that was.

I bought DOC SAVAGE: SKULL ISLAND by Will Murray and walked away knowing I had done the right thing. I don't know when I'll get around to reading it but it's on my shelf alongside DOC SAVAGE: THE DESERT DEMONS (which I've read), DOC SAVAGE: HORROR IN GOLD (purchased at Midtown Comics in New York City) and DOC SAVAGE: THE FORGOTTEN REALM (a gift from my sister last Christmas). These are all brand new Doc adventures written by pulp expert Will Murray. The books are based on notes, outlines and other materials left by the late Lester Dent, the creator and chief writer of the original Doc Savage series of pulp novels.

As I said, I've yet to read SKULL ISLAND and other than the fact that it involves Doc and King Kong, I have no idea how the actual story within plays out. I tell you that because in 1979, my buddy Bob Parker and I, had a similar idea. We were going to write our own original Doc Savage novel (I guess you'd call it fanfic nowadays) which would explain where Doc was when Kong was on his rampage in New York and why Doc wasn't involved in such an obvious 1930s New York City set adventure.

We decided to approach the story by declaring that everything that happened in the film, KING KONG (1933) and the early Doc Savage novels, was canonical and really happened exactly as depicted on screen and page. Our job was to fill in the blanks, answer some obvious questions and create an "untold" story of Doc's earliest days as an adventurer and crime fighter.

We decided that all of the equipment that Carl Denham used on his expedition to Skull Island had been purchased from a young Clark Savage Jr. who held the patent on the gas grenades and other gear used in the film. Doc didn't make the voyage to Skull Island because he was involved with two equally pressing matters in New York City: his first major super villain and his first (and to date, only) love interest.

That's right, Doc was going to be in love for the one and only time in his career in our tale. We pictured a young Clark operating entirely on his own without the aid of the Fabulous Five. He had his headquarters on the 86th floor of the Empire State Building and flush with cash from his sale to the Denham expedition, was busy developing new technology to use in his war on crime.

His on-going battle with his first super foe (a villain who had stolen some of Doc's devices) intersected with Clark's love affair with a beautiful young woman. Everything would come to a smashing climax on the night King Kong was on the loose in New York City. While Kong climbed the Empire State building, Doc and his foe were engaged in a literal fight to the death within Doc's headquarters on the 86th floor. In the process, Doc's love was murdered by the villain and Doc was forced to take the bad guy's life (again, for the first and only time in his career).

Devastated by the loss of his one true love, the blood on his hands from the killing of his foe and from his inability to stop the giant ape from wreaking havoc, Doc would shutter his headquarters and retire to his Fortress of Solitude. There he would re-dedicate himself to his campaign against crime, swearing to never again take a human life and to never allow himself to fall in love again. He would also realize that as supremely skilled as he was, Doc couldn't take on his lifelong crusade single handedly. He'd tried that once and failed. And so, he would decide to enlist the aide of his five best friends from the Great War and make them his team-mates in his adventures.

Bob and I were jazzed with what we had come up with. Remember, this was in 1979 and we were both young enough and foolish enough to believe that we could actually write such a book. Our working title was "Apocalypse Night" and we started writing it in a unique way. We decided to alternate chapters, Bob would write one, I'd write the next and so on with the goal of ending each chapter on a cliffhanger that would have to be resolved by whoever wrote the next chapter and that writer would then advance the narrative and end his chapter on another cliffhanger.

That was the plan. The execution was something entirely different. If I recall correctly we wrote a total of two chapters. Bob wrote the first one, I wrote the second (in which I had Ann Darrow working in one of Pat Savage's beauty salons) and that was it. We never wrote another word, collectively or individually.

I'm anxious to see what approach Will Murray takes with his story of Doc and Kong. I'm sure it'll be a good one and I know I'll enjoy reading it. But I can't help but wonder if it will in any way remotely resemble what Bob and I dreamed of doing thirty four years ago.


  1. That's still one hell of a plot. You guys should try to get it in Will's hands and see what he makes of it.

  2. Thanks for the comment Derrick. Maybe I'll drop Will Murray and line and see what he has to say.