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An exhaustively complete guide to the heroes and heroines of comic books' Golden Age, 1935-1949, in print and as a web site.

What's This All About, Then?

In The Encyclopedia of Fantastic Victoriana I wrote about Victorian genre fiction, and in The Encyclopedia of Pulp Heroes I wrote about the heroes of global pulp fiction. That leaves one last area for me to write about: the superheroes of comics' Golden Age, 1935 to 1949.

Writers like Mike Benton and Jeff Rovin described some of these heroes, and I enjoyed their descriptions. But I always knew that there were more heroes than these writers described--a lot more--and I've finally decided to write about them myself. As is my way, I decided not to limit myself to just the major characters, but to research every hero of the Golden Age.

Yes, all of them. There is a fabulous variety of heroes in the hundreds of comic books which appeared in the Golden Age, floating eyeballs and centaurs and robot brains and super rabbits. But only a relative handful of these heroes has been rescued from obscurity by modern comic book writers--not just in modern comics, but in modern reference books like Benton's and Rovin's. For every Superman or Batman who still appear and for every Hangman and Supersnipe who have been written about, there are a dozen ZX-5s and Kay McKays who have been utterly forgotten. I intend to change this, and describe every hero from the comics of the Golden Age.

The end result will be 2000+ entries like this:

Captain Future. "Andrew Bryant seeks to find and develop an ultra-short wave for the transmission of radio and electrical impulses," and when he crosses the "infra-red band with the gamma ray" he is “charged with electrical power!” He gains the ability to fly, to hurl energy bolts from his hands, super-hearing, mind-reading (with his “radio mind”), and superstrength. His enemies vary from German (“Nazonians”) and Japanese agents to Dr. Allirog, a Moreau-like Mad Scientist who creates “fiendish monsters” and who transplanted his brain into the body of a bear with the head, hands, and feet of a gorilla, to Dr. Bio, who creates horse-sized tarantulas with human faces, to kaiju-sized alligators. Captain Future is helped by his girlfriend Grace Adams, of the Agatha Detective Agency. Future appears in stories with titles like "The Lady Detective and the Dope Smugglers" and "Kidnappers and Quicksand."
First Appearance: Startling Comics #1 (Standard), June 1940. Created by Kin Platt and ? Note: the comic book character has nothing in common with Edmond Hamilton’s pulp character of the same name. 

So Why Am I Using Kickstarter?

Because I don't own all the comics of the Golden Age. There's really only one place to do the kind of research necessary for this project, and that's Michigan State University, in East Lansing. I'm estimating that I will need to spend at least two weeks at Michigan State to get all the necessary research done, and that will be expensive. (Air fare, hotel, rental car, incidentals--they all add up, and quickly).

Moreover, I will need to pay for professional web design for the accompanying web site, and that, too, is not cheap.

Stretch Goals/What You Will Get

If I raise $6,000, I will make the entire manuscript free online, as a professionally designed web site, similar to The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction. You'll be able to buy copies of the book as print-on-demand, but it will be permanently available, for free, to the world.

Update, April 9: I've added a new stretch goal: if we hit $12K, I'll give away "Six-Gun Gorilla" for free. Details here.

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  • Pledge $10 or more
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    163 backers

    You'll get a digital copy of the book as well as my sincerest thanks in the acknowledgments section of the book and web site.

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    160 backers

    You'll receive a digital copy of the book, acknowledgments in the book and on the web site, and your choice of one ebook from the following: 3 League of Extraordinary Gentlemen annotations; a collection of my essays and articles, including my essays on pulp characters from INCOGNITO and FATALE; THE PULPS: A HISTORY, my forthcoming history of the pulps; or THE QUEEN'S SERVICE, an entertaining blood-and-thunder dime novel from the 1870s.

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    35 backers

    You'll receive a digital copy of the book, acknowledgments in the book and on the web site, and your choice of two ebooks from my catalog.

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    18 backers

    You'll receive a digital copy of the book, acknowledgments in the book and on the web site, and I will thoroughly research one topic of your choice, using all the print and electronic resources available to me at work. I will write the results up for you and send you the articles I've found.

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    41 backers

    You'll receive a digital copy of the book, acknowledgments in the book and on the web site, a print copy of the book, three ebooks from my catalog, and I will thoroughly research one topic of your choice, complete with a write-up of my findings.

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    13 backers

    You'll receive: a digital copy of the book; a print copy of the book; acknowledgments in the book and on the web site; three ebooks from my catalog; a digital copy of either the Encyclopedia of Golden Age Superheroes, the Encyclopedia of Pulp Heroes, or the Monster Society of Evil; and I will thoroughly research one topic of your choice, complete with a write-up of my findings.

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    You'll receive: a digital copy of the book; a print copy of the book; acknowledgments in the book and on the web site; all the ebooks from my catalog; digital copies of any two of the Encyclopedia of Golden Age Superheroes, the Encyclopedia of Pulp Heroes, and the Monster Society of Evil; and I will thoroughly research one topic of your choice, complete with a write-up of my findings.

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    1 backer All gone!

    All the $250 prizes. I will be on-call for research help for one semester (4 months). 1 set of mad scientist blocks. My wife will knit you a hat. I will write a faux pulp story for you (your choice of subject matter). I will write 1 personalized entry for you in either The Encyclopedia of Pulp Heroes or The Encyclopedia of Golden Age Superheroes.

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    0 backers Limited (1 left of 1)

    All the $500 prizes, plus volumes 1-7 of Phil and Kaja Foglio's Girl Genius, generally going for around $200 on eBay.

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    1 backer All gone!

    All the $500 prizes, plus I will write 2 faux pulp stories for you, and you will receive a mint print copy of my Encyclopedia of Fantastic Victoriana.

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Funding period

- (30 days)