Rogues’ Gallery

Erle Stanley Gardner’s Other Series Characters

 

Long before he hit it really big with Perry Mason (and moderately big with Bertha Cool and Donald Lam), the endlessly inventive Erle Stanley Gardner created dozens and dozens of colourful and sometimes downright odd characters for the pulps of the twenties and thirties, before turning towards the more lucrative field of novels. Most of them were the good guys, but I think it’s fair to say that few of them were angels. They were con artists, private eyes, lawyers, flim flam men, cowboys, angle players, career diplomats, and corner cutters, more than willing to bend and twist the law to achieve their goals, whether it was to see justice done or simply to relieving some criminal of his ill-gotten goods. Most of them were at least colourful, some were definitely eccentric and a few of them were just plain weird. And in what was surely a recurring motif, many were quiter wealthy; something that must have appealed to Depression-era readers.

These misfits appeared in all kinds of pulps, not just Black Mask and Argosy, but also Clues, All Detective, Dime Detective, Detective Story, Dime Detective, Detective Action Stories, Double Detective, This Week, Detective Fiction Weekly, not to mention West and some other cowboy pulps. Later, some of them popped up in such slicks such as The Country Gentleman, Cosmopolitan and The Saturday Evening Post. A lot of them have been rounded up in assorted collections and anthologies, but many have — even years later — never been reprinted.

So, if you’re ever prowling around a yard sale or a flea market and spy an old, tattered pulp with a Garner story in it going for pocket change, pick it up. Chances are you won’t be disappointed.

CHARACTER

DESCRIPTION

MOSTLY APPEARED IN

Sheriff Billy Bales A Western series. Clues
Jerry Bane A wealthy “self-appointed detective.”

Similar to Paul Pry.

Argosy
Dave Barker Crime Three Star Magazine
Black Barr
aka “Fate’s Executioner
A Western gunslinger & detective. Black Mask, Rapid Fire Detective
Dred Bart A well-heeled criminologist/psychologist. Clues, Detective Fiction Weekly
Dudley Bell A wealthy dandy who “smoked monogrammed cigarettes and didnt care about money.” All Detective
Dick Bentley Dime Detective
Jax Bowman The “White Ring” series. Argosy
Major Copley Brane A freelance diplomat/spy. Argosy
Perry Burke Shared a mansion with “The Cleaning House of Crime” and supposedly fought “organized crime twenty-four hours a day.” Clues
Terry Clane A San Francisco lawyer/adventurer and Sinophile. Appeared in two novels; one first published in Cosmopolitan
Ken Corning A crusading New York attorney, full of tricks, and an obvious predecessor to Perry Mason. Black Mask
Sheriff Bob Crowder All Detective
Speed Dash The clean-living “Human Fly.” Top-Notch Magazine
Señor Arnaz de Lobo A Mexican adventurer and soldier of fortune. Detective Fiction Weekly
Double Decker Written as Kyle Corning. Detective Story
El Paisano Another scam artist. He can see in the dark. Argosy
Sheriff Bill Eldon The Country Gentleman
Go Get ‘Em Garver Dime Detective
Ben Harper “The Man Who Couldn’t Forget” All Detective, Detective Fiction Weekly
Hard Rock Hogan
Ed Jenkins A con artist/thief; “The Phantom Crook.” Black Mask
Rex Kane An escaped con with plastic surgery problems that forced him to always smile. Detective Action Stories
Jax Keen A movie company troubleshooter. Double Detective
Barney “Want-Ad” Killigen A perpetually struggling lawyer with a knack for cutting corners. Known for his habit of placing numerous ads in the papers to aid in his investigations. Clues
Bob Larkin Adventurer. An amateur juggler, his weapon of choice is a pool cue. Black Mask
Win Layton A girl reporter. This Week
Lester Leith Another of Gardner’s wealthy gentleman thieves. A “jaunty figure of assured indifference.” Detective Fiction Weekly
The Man in the Silver Mask Essentially a costumed crimefighter, thanks to that mask. Detective Fiction Weekly
Mr. Manse His eyes were said to emit “a cold fire of conccentration.” Wealthy. Detective Action Stories
Jerry Marr A private eye. Detective Fiction Weekly
Fish Mouth McGinnis A Western hero. The Smart Set, Complete Stories
Ed Migraine “The Headache,” particularly to those this ex-soldier of fortune encounters. Double Detective
Sam Moraine Written under the pseudonym of Charles Kenny. The American Magazine
Old Walrus West and a few other cowboy pulps
The Patent Leather Kid A confidence man on the side of the angels; has a thing about leather. Detective Fiction Weekly
Paul Pry A wealthy scam artist; aka “The Crime Juggler.”
Peter Quint The Saturday Evening Post
Steve Raney Clues
Buck Riley West, Brief Stories
Snowy Shane An unorthodox P.I. Like, Gardner wrote any other kind?
Dane Skarle A crime-solving carny. Dime Detective
Small, Weston & Burke A law firm specializing in bizarre cases. Or is it “Smith, Weston & Burke”? Dime Detective
Pete Wennick A lawyer who worked as an undercover investigator for his firm. Black Mask
Grandpa Wiggins Appeared in two novels.
Slicker Williams An ex-con who uses “the tricks of crookery” to rescue a damsel in distress.
Yee Dooey Wah Clues, Detective Fiction Weekly
Bob Zane A philosophical middle-aged prospector. The “Whispering Sands” series. Argosy
Sidney Zoom A millionaire adventurer & master of disguise. Had a police dog. Detective Fiction Weekly
Respectfully compiled by Kevin Burton Smith.

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