If you haven’t purchased a copy of The Phantom Detective Companion yet, you’re missing out on a great opportunity. Matt Moring has taken an old piece of research and turned it into a gem of a book. I remember vividly reading the Phantom Detective series when we were publishing Echoes, and furiously searching for missing issues at the time. There are probably a hundred stories I could tell just on my frantic search. I’ll never forget borrowing some issues from my friend, Robert Sampson at the time. One of the issues was “Death On Swift Wings”, and I’ll always remember Bob’s letter accompanying the package when it arrived. Evidently he had stored some of these old pulps in his attic, including the afore-mentioned title. As he was retrieving the pulps, that one slipped from his hands, and dropped down the inside of the wall, between the outer wooden frame and the inside sheetrock. Bob could tell a good story, and keep us laughing all the while. It seems he rushed downstairs and busted a hole in the sheetrock at the exact place where the pulp had landed between walls, and he was happy to provide the issue for my research! He was quite a character. And after I bought a copy of that particular issue later, it reminded me of this hilarious incident. I still think of Bob Sampson when I see that issue on my shelf.
Many collectors loaned me vital issues for my research, and that was something great about pulp fandom in the early days. We helped each other, and willingly shared information. So many of the old timers are gone now, and I do miss the old days, and special friends like Bob, Will Murray and Nick Carr remain close, and we go back to those early days. A while back I was looking through Bob’s book on The Spider, and couldn’t find what I was searching for. So I wrote Will, and asked him when Norvel Page brought Gunner McGlone into The Spider. I just couldn’t find any mention of him any where in Bob’s book. Will told me, “Gunner was in the Phantom Detective, not The Spider.” I said sure he was, the safe cracker with thick glasses. Will probably had a good laugh, then told me I was thinking of Blinky McQuade! Well, of course I was. I can only blame old age and failing memory for my confusion in the names. Anyway, when Matt asked me if I would mind for Will Murray to join me in the Phantom Detective Companion, I was thrilled. I think the readers will also be glad that Will is part of this thick book. Matt has gathered a lot of material that wasn’t in the original version of this book, so much of what the reader will find is due to the effort of Matt Moring and Altus Press.
The Thrilling Comics of the Phantom Detective alone is worth the price of the book. I would venture to say that I bet not many have ever read any of these, let alone nearly the whole run. When I first wrote this book all that I included was the synopsis of each story, and possible authors. This edition contains much, much more than the original work. Unfortunately, I will never be able to thank everyone involved, like those many collectors that kindly loaned me their copies to research so long ago. But I can thank Will Murray and Matt Moring, and the names on the cover for making this edition the book that it is.
I was also hoping to have a Review of “Pangaea: Eden’s Children”, but it hasn’t come in yet. Maybe next time. For now, I think the big news is the release of “The Phantom Detective Companion”. I know I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy! Thanks, Matt and Will, and all the contributors who made this edition come true.