about Norvell's Great-Niece, your Host

Roots Country and Blues artist Lonesome Liz was dubbed 'The Female Robert Johnson' by 'Southern Fried Magazine'; honoring both her sultry contralto and the Hellhound on her trail. Her performances are heavy with Southern Gothic undertones. A natural storyteller, her words shift to expose the seamy underbelly of the South, which she translates through a mystic veil of mojo; often drawing on history along with Hoodoo and other Folk traditions.

Her performances have included Drive-by Truckers artist Wes Freed, art revolutionary Molly Crabapple, Jesco the Dancing Outlaw and she's shared a stage with Timbuk III's Pat MacDonald, The Goddamn Gallows and the .357 String Band.

Featured in the upcoming Hasil Adkins documentary, 'My Blue Star' by Ron Thomas Smith, she has she has also appeared in and directed dozens of plays as well as in an award-winning independent film, 'Leon's Aspirations'. Also a playwright, she has written and produced adaptations of both 'Faust' and Sartre's 'No Exit'.

A multi-disciplinary artist, she is also a music and fine art journalist, published primarily in 'Outlaw Magazine', 'Fine Art Magazine' and GratefulWeb.net. She was the last writer to interview Mike Seeger before his death and her Levon Helm retrospective received praise from Bob Dylan himself.

She has also been tarot, astrology and mythology editor for BellaOnline.com and Suite101.com. Her writing and photography are featured in the best-selling 'Everything Ghost Hunting Guide'. She began writing in Chicago, when Slam was first emerging and her poetry as well as her lyrics have received praise from Beat Poets Charles Plymell and Robert Brannan.

Her strong, sultry voice and powerful lyrics are captivating. Though unquestionably feminine and alluring, she describes hangings, hauntings, reckonings and shoot-outs in a way that makes you think she was not only there but participated. One of Country's true Outlaw Women, Liz blasted the boundaries of Alt Country. However it's delivered, her sultry Southern vision takes you far from the expected. It's hard to resist the spell Lonesome Liz casts when her mojo's rising...

Submissions, Press, Etc: elizabeth.bissette@gmail.com

Monday, September 6, 2010

Becoming the Spider

Author Unknown

Begin with an event without which Norvell Page would never have become the Spider. It happened in Chicago, one June morning on Michigan Avenue in 1907, when he was three. At that time, the family, the last of a long line of Virginia ladies and gentlemen, lived there for what his father called 'business reasons'. Norvell didn't know what 'business' was, but knew it had something to do with Monsieur Wurlitzer and Mr. Edison, whose 'accounts' (whatever those were) his father handled.

All Norvell knew was that his kindly father, who spoke often in rhyme and told tales of elves and fairies, painted beautiful pictures and made rhymes to go with him that he then gave to Mr. Edison and Monsieur Wurlitzer. Norvell loved to watch his father work and had tried to imitate his skill in painting and rhyming, things that he would, eventually, master as well.

His father was gentle and kind, with haunting large eyes and a face lightly wrinkled from laughing. His mother was as beautiful as a china doll. Young and fashionable, a Gibson Girl with piles and piles of chestnut hair. Father called her 'peaches' because her cheeks were as pink and rosy and the ripest fruit.

Chicago was still young, but the streets bustled. Winds sometimes wafted the unpleasant odor of slaughterhouses, factories spewed black smoke from their ceilings and thin, pinched looking children black with grime from the doorways. Department stores had begun to spring up and theaters were thick in some parts. It was to one of these, for a matinee, that Norvell and his mother were walking that day. Walking unitil she suddenly disappeared.

Edison advertisment, drawn and written by Charles W. Page
Everything went black. She had been walking with her son down Michigan Avenue one minute, falling fast down empty space the next. "Who will call Mr. Edison?" Was her last thought before thought left for good. The last thing she heard was a three year old scream. "Maaaa……." The plainative wail stabbed her ear and then nothing.

Norvell only knew one thing; he was alone. His mother had disappeared. The worst nightmare of all infants – into thin air, never to return he was sure, sure sure of it. Not like the times he felt the same dread – when she went to the store, to a tea party, to call on Monsieur Wurlitzer or Mr. Edison....those times, he felt the sting of total abandonment, yes, but there were kind nurses to comfort him, to assure him she would be back. And she always was. But this time was different. This time she hadn't said goodbye. And there was no one to comfort him.

Instead a sour looking man with breath that reeked of stale tobacco and staler beer leaned down to him, asking why such a fancy looking little boy was on the street all alone. The papers had been splattered with his face for weeks and Norvell instantly recognized him as the scourge of Michigan Avenue, thief and murderer who'd mugged dozens of citizens in less than a month's time.

But he lacked the vocabulary to articulate his recognition and was too shocked and frightened to even scream. He managed to stammer that his mother had disappeared the man's eyes lit on the manhole. He climbed down, the boy thought to fetch her, but returned alone, his hands full of her jewels and holding her bag.

The small boy screamed louder as the man put him far down the ladder that led to the bottom of the manhole. Siezed with terror, he froze, unable to speak or move for at least an hour when his mother, dazed and bleeding, began to wake. The two emerged, an odd, muddy but beautifully dressed pair, as if into thin air onto the hot Chicago sidewalk. He snuggled into her lap when they at last caught a cab. It sped them home, where Father and their friends waited anxiously.

"I've asked over and over, time and again, where oh where you were, now tell, where have you been?" His father anxiously querried as he dashed down the steps.

One would never guess by looking at him that he had odd habits. Speaking in poetry was one of these. An utter bibliophile, he'd even gone so far as to have his middle name changed, officially changed, to Wordsworth and had insisted on passing the title along to his son.

Nearly thirty years later, his son kept the tradition by becoming, among more secret, more illustrious, and, sadly, more forgotten things, the most popular writer of his time. But that's jumping ahead too far.

Neither Norvell nor his mother (whose name was Estlee) ever got over that day. He walked for years with his eyes on the ground, looking for holes. In his young, infant way, he vowed to avenge the injustice of the weasely faced man one day. How he didn't quite know, but he knew he would.

The next time something catastrophic came he would save her. He grew and excelled but always, in the back of his mind, was the fear of an invisible menace, someone lurking under the street ready to reach up and snatch at the ankles of passers by to pull them under into a subterranean lair. At least that's what he saw in his nightmares.

Years went by without incident.

Vaudevillian Tributes to Norvell Page and Ken Carter on the 50th Anniversary of His Death and 75th Anniversary of The Spider

Banjo the Spider Sculpture by James Robertson, from Lonesome Liz's Mojo Sideshow
From Richmond Magazine, Oct., 2009
by Harry Kollatz

Wealthy amateur criminologist Richard Wentworth beat down the bad guys as The Spider. He didn’t sling webs but instead dealt righteous vengeance using his fists and a .45, and along with his gorgeous love and equal, Nita van Sloan, he even battled giant robots.

Richmonder Norvell Wordsworth Page (1904-1961) wrote fast-paced, gunslinging, noir-horror-sci-fi adventures for Wentworth/The Spider in a long series of 1930s magazine stories before giving up pulp for good and going into government service in 1943.
Liz as a modern Faust, from The Mojo Sideshow

Page’s spirit permeates this month during events at Gallery5 and Wonderland featuring his great-niece and -nephew, Elizabeth and Russell Page Bissette, respectively.

Opening on Oct. 2 at Gallery5 in conjunction with the annual Carnival of 5 Fires will be Lonesome Liz’s Mojo Sideshow, produced by Elizabeth Bissette. (Another presentation will be held on Oct. 31.)

Featured performers include J.B. Beverly, frontman for the Wayward Drifters, Richmond musician and filmmaker Ron Smith, and actors Amy Berlin, Kristen Swanson and Jen Meharg. Admission is $5.

On the same day, an art exhibit based on carnival and sideshow characters from the play will also open, featuring contributions by New Yorkers Molly Crabapple, Katelan Foisy and Richmond’s Wes Freed, who’s well known for album art he’s produced for the Drive By-Truckers.

Mask by Wes Freed
Then on Oct. 29, Russell Bissette’s Mr. Grindhouse Presents: Crimson Celluloid Spectacular offers up a live horror show performed alongside a showing of Vincent Price’s The Tingler and featuring burlesquers Deanna Danger and Lilly Vaudeville, at Wonderland, 1727 E. Main St. Admission is $5.

Finally, on Nov. 1, Elizabeth Bissette’s Mojo Ghost Show presents a kind of haunted dinner theater, with a seance and gumbo, for $15 admission. Her great-uncle’s creation, The Spider, is a character in the piece.

A Magician's Assistant Worthy of Carter himself, Deanna Danger
Read the stories of the Ghosts of the Mojo Sideshow, a Vaudevillian collection of the damned ghosts of Sideshow workers based loosely on Norvell's Ken Carter tale, "Satan's Sideshow", recently re-printed by Black Dog Books. For photos and video from the production, which featured a magician, a riot rifle as a rhythm instrument, and all sorts of Spider-like magic, including visual art inspired by Southern Folk magic by his Great-Niece, visit here.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

A Shroud of Thoughts: The Spider Turns 75, by Terry Canote

The first issue of The Spider was dated October, 1933. Since most pulp publishers would get their titles to newsstands about a half a month or only a little less than that before their cover dates, I imagine Popular Publications had The Spider October, 1933 on newsstands by September 13 to 15, although I can't be certain of that. Regardless, this month The Spider has turned 75 years old.

For those of you who have no idea who The Spider is, he is perhaps the third most popular pulp magazine hero after The Shadow and Doc Savage. His adventures were published by Popular Publications, a company that also published G-8 and His Battle Aces, (which also turns 75 this month--it was perhaps Popular's second most popular title) and Operator #5. The Spider would evolve into a character who was practically compelled to fight crime, as well as the most violent pulp hero. It was rare that he did not shoot to kill.

But then, if The Spider was overly violent, it was perhaps because he had to be. He fought such menaces as a madman who drugged all the tobacco, liquor and cotffee in the city, a villain who caused mass suicides across the United States, and a villain who killed with song. No one in pulp magazines faced as outré opponents as The Spider.
The Spider was initially created by Henry "Harry" Steeger, co-founder and publisher of Popular Publications, as competition for rival Street and Smith's The Shadow. To develop the character he hired writer R. T. M. Scott. Scott was most famous for having created Secret Service Smith, the hero of five novels and several stories. Smith was an American detective with a Hindu assistant who was deadly with a knife.

Coincidentally, there is a very strong resemblance between Scott's version of The Spider and Secret Service Smith. For Scott The Spider was little more than a psuedonym adopted by Richard Wentworth as he fought crime as an amateur criminologist. Like Smith, Wentworth was assisted by Ram Singh, a Hindu deadly with a knife.

A big difference between Smith and Wentworth was that Wentworth was a bit more bloodthirsty. While Smith always shot to wound, Wentworth would shoot to kill. Wentworth would also brand his victims with the seal of The Spider using a specially made cigarette lighter.

Scott left The Spider after only two issues, whereupon Norvell Page took over as the magazine's writer. Page was a newspaper writer turned pulp writer, who belonged to one of the First Families of Virginia and a rather famous one.

Those familiar with Virginia's history might recall that there was a John Page who was governor of the state and a U.S. Congressman. Novelist, lawyer, and one time United States Ambassador to Italy, Thomas Nelson Page was also a member of Norvell Page's family.

Page had written the Ken Carter stories for Ten Detective Aces and would later write two sword and sorcery novels featuring Prester John, also known as "Hurricane John" or Wan-Tengri. He  transformed the basic concept of The Spider as created by Steeger and Scott into something entirely different.

In fact, in some respects it is hard to say that Page didn't simply create a whole new character. While The Spider began simply as a nom de guerre for Richard Wentworth under R. T. M. Scott, Norvell Page would soon make The Spider a distinct identity from Richard Wentworth.
In at least one early novel written by Page, Wentworth would go out as The Spider wearing a cloth mask that covered his whole face except for his eyes. It was in the March, 1934 issue that Wentwoth would don the costume that would later be The Spider's look.

In that issue he took the alias of Tito Caliepi, a hunchbacked violinist who wears a cape and a felt hat. It would not be long before Wentworth would stop using the Tito Caliepi alias and adapt Caliepi's for The Spider.

It was in that same issue that the first mention was made of The Spider's ring, (which was offered as a premium in the same issue).
Eventually Wentworth as The Spider would dress in a sallow fright mask complete with fangs, a black felt hat, and a black cape, giving him what was perhaps the most frightening appearance of any pulp hero (curiously, the covers featured The Spider in a simple mask of the sort The Lone Ranger wore--only seven issues published from March through September, 1940 had covers featuring the fanged Spider).

And while Wentworth was a bit bloodthirsty under Scott's tenure as writer, he became even more so when Norvell Page wrote him. As The Spider, Richard Wentworth was wholly obsessed with fighting crime--one might say he was even compelled to do so. And in his war against evil, he showed absolutely no mercy.

Norvell Page changed The Spider in other ways as well. While Ram Singh was originally portrayed as Wentworth's Hindu assistant under Scott, Page made him a Sikh who was not Wentworth's assistant, but his friend and equal. Richard Wentworth's girlfriend Nita Van Sloan played a more prominent role, becoming his partner in fighting crime.

In fact, Nita Van Sloan would even sometimes become The Spider herself! Another change Norvell Page made to The Spider was in the aforementioned nature of the enemies he faced. In the two novels by R. T. M. Scott, (The Spider Strikes and Wheel of Death), Richard Wentworth faced rather ordinary criminal masterminds.

A Shroud of Thoughts: The Spider Turns 75 by Terry Canote

Page drew upon his own aforementioned Ken Carter series, from the magazine Ten Detective Aces, to provide The Spider with a whole new sort of opponent. Carter was a former professional juggler turned detective who fought menaces of an outre nature, such as criminals who use music to kill (Hell's Music) or who transform human beings into statues (Statues of Horror). In the hands of Norvell Page, then, The Spider faced such bizarre menaces ranging from giant robots (Satan's Murder Machines) to a madman who plans to gas and rob the whole city via Zeppelin (Prince of the Red Looters).

Norvell Page would not only make The Spider perhaps the most violent pulp hero of them all, but would also bring emotion to the hero that was rarely seen in other pulp heroes. Richard Wentworth sometimes felt considerable angst over his role as The Spider, worrying over what he had become. He and Nita were devoted to each other with an intensity unseen in other pulp magazines.

They would seriously consider marriage, only to realise that if The Spider was ever unmasked or killed it would make his wife a target for the criminal underworld. Despite this, Wentworth was compelled to fight crime. He simply could not give up fighting against criminals on behalf of the common man, even though he was often injured, beaten, betrayed, and even hounded by the city's police force.

Ultimately, Norvell Page made The Spider entirely his own character. While Steeger and Scott may have created the initial concept and other writers would pen novels for the magazine (including Emile C. Tepperman and Prentice Winchell), there really can't be much argument that The Spider as we know him is largely the creation of Norvell Page.

In the hands of Norvell Page and writers, such as Emile C. Tepperman, who worked much less frequently on the title, The Spider became one of the most successful pulp magazines of the Thirties. Its circulation was large enough that Page would eventually be paid $700 per novel. And The Spider was popular enough that he would be adapted into two movie serials.

The first was The Spider's Web, released in 1938. Warren Hull was cast as Richard Wentworth/The Spider. In the serial Wentworth battled the villainous Octopus, whose plot was to destroy the transportation system of the United States. The Spider's Web was successful enough to warrant a sequel, so that a second serial was released in 1941, The Spider Returns. Warren Hull returned once more as Richard Wentworth/The Spider. This time The Spider battled The Gargoyle, who threatened various national defence projects.

There may have been a Spider radio show as well. There was an ad for a radio show, airing on KMOX in St. Louis in The Spider August 1935. According to the ad, it was to air every Thursday at 6:30 Central Standard Time. Unfortunately, the radio show was never mentioned before or since in the pages of The Spider. Interestingly enough, it is possible that Lee Falk, creator of The Phantom and Mandrake the Magician, could have scripted the show--he was working as a writer at KMOX at the time.

Unfortunately, there seems to be no proof that the show ever aired. It could have been a project that died before it reached the air. At the moment it seems that only a search of St. Louis radio schedules from July and August of 1935 would show if there was ever actually a Spider radio show.

Despite the success of The Spider, it would not survive the Forties. World War II would bring paper shortages, which force pulp magazine publishers to make their titles shorter or cancel them entirely. Worse yet, pulp magazines had new competition from comic books, then in their Golden Age, who lured many young readers away from the pulps. It would be with the June, 1943 issue of The Spider that the title, which had always been monthly, would switch to a bi-monthly schedule. In only another three issues, The Spider would be cancelled. In its entirety, it had run for 118 issues.

While his magazine was cancelled, The Spider would not be forgotten. In 1964 Bantam began reprinting the Doc Savage novels to great success. It was in 1968 that Berkley Books followed suit with reprints of The Spider. Berkley would continue reprinting the novels from November 1969 to March 1970.

It was in 1975 that Pocket Books took the rather odd approach of recasting The Spider as a men's action hero of The Executioner type, rewriting both Death Reign of the Vampire King from The Spider, November, 1935 and three other titles as modern day, men's action novels. Fortunately, the project proved to be a colossal flop. It only lasted briefly in the early part of 1975,  producing a total of four novels.

In 1980 Dimedia would reprint the six of the original pulp novels, complete with the original Spider logo and graphics resembling those of Popular Publications. From 1991 to 1993, Carroll and Graf reprinted eight of the pulp novels. Although the reprints only lasted briefly, it was the Carroll and Graf reprints that would largely create modern day Spider fandom.

More recently, Bold Venture Press and Baen Books have both reprinted the original pulp novels, both companies featuring multiple novels in one book. In 2007 Moonstone Books published The Spider Chronicles, an anthology of stories featuring The Master of Men by such writers as John Jakes and Howard Hopkins.

It was in 1990 that Eclipse Comics adapted the novel Corpse Cargo as a three issue comic book miniseries. It was followed in 1992 by an adaptation of Reign of the Vampire King. The Spider would later appear in the 192 page anthology comic book Titanic Tales published in 1999.

In 2002, Vanguard Productions published Scavengers Of The Slaughtered Sacrifices, an original story featuring The Spider. In 2007 Moonstone Books would publish their comic book Holiday Super Spectacular with a story featuring The Spider. They plan an adaptation of The Devil's Paymaster from The Spider May, 1941 in the near future.

Although The Spider would only last for a little over ten years, it remains one of the best remembered of the pulp magazines. The Spider himself would have an influence on pop culture artefacts in the future. Its most immediate effect may have been upon the comic book character Batman, who resembles The Spider to a large degree. Both are multi-millionaires who fight crime. Both tend to be merciless towards criminals. And both were friends with the city's police commissioner.

The Spider may have influenced the classic Fleischer Superman cartoon The Mechanical  Monsters,which uses the same giant robot motif as Satan's Murder Machines. Later the film Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow would use the same idea.

Among the tales of Spider-Man's creation told by Stan Lee is that The Spider was partially the inspiration for Spider-Man. Although not as famous as either Doc Savage or The Shadow. The Spider has had a lasting influence on pop culture that survives to this day. Indeed, seventy five years after his first appearance, The Spider's novels continue to be reprinted.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Charles M. Schultz on The Spider

Charles M. Schulz.:

 "My greatest reading in those days was the Sports pulps and the Spider magazine. I could hardly stand to live from one month to another when the new Spider novel would come out"

  From "The City Destroyer," January 2001 reprint from Argosy Communications
"As I look back upon my days of reading The Spider, I imagine that it was the action that impressed me. I still remember how he used to leap into a room doing a somersault while his two heavy 45's jumped into his hands. They were great stories. Best regards, Charles M. Schulz April 1, 1999"

Links to L. Ron Hubbard and Norvell

L. Ron Hubbard, Pulp Days
Norvell is referenced in all of the links. The most detailed references are excerpted here. There is a description somewhere on-line, written by Hubbard I believe, about his running into Norvell at the NY Public Library -- I can't find it at the moment but clearly recall reading it. Its' a bit more personal/colorful than those below. When I run across it again, I'll post.

L. Ron Hubbard the Fiction Writer
Hubbard the Screenwriter and "The Spider Returns", with Norvell Page

Joel Frieman told me at one point that he had found a check to Norvell for his work on the film, verifying his part in the first one. I believe Hubbard is directly credited with this second one by Warner Bros.

Hubbard the New York Years

..."following the sale of two high adventures and a mystery, he set out for that mecca which has always beckoned writers, New York City. He arrived in the spring of 1935 to join a fairly legendary circle of authors, including Edgar Rice Burroughs, Lester "Doc Savage" Dent and Norvell "The Spider" Page. Their primary vehicle was the equally legendary pulps. So called for the pulpwood stock on which they were printed and generally appearing monthly, these fiercely competitive magazines were easily the most popular publication of their day.

"As a matter of fact, with some thirty million regular readers — a full quarter of the American population — only television would finally rival the pulps in terms of sheer appeal. But make no mistake about it, if the pulps were unashamedly popular, they were by no means pedestrian."

From "Bare-Faced Messiah"

Hubbard was a member of the American Fiction Guild when Norvell was one of the officers: (Norvell and his wife, Audrey, were also remembered at the Algonquin Round Table, I believe by Nelson Bond, a writer, there at the time.  My Grandmother remembered both Rosoff's and the Algonquin.)
"...Gruber took Ron along to Rosoff's restaurant on 43rd Street, where members of the American Fiction Guild met for lunch every Friday.

Most of the successful pulp writers in New York were members of the Guild and most of them gathered at Rosoff's at lunchtime on Fridays. They were names familiar to millions of pulp readers: Lester Dent, creator of Doc Savage; George Bruce, acknowledged ace of battle-in-the-air yarns; Norvell Page, who was said to earn $500 a month for his stories in the Spider; and Theodore Tinsley, a regular contributor to Black Mask.

"President of the Guild was Arthur J. Burks, who had been dubbed 'King of the Pulps' in a New Yorker profile and quoted as saying that any pulp writer who did not make at least $400 a month was not worth his salt. It was a remark that was to cause him considerable embarrassment, for it was common knowledge in the Guild that Burks never earned that much, despite turning out around two hundred thousand words every month.

"Ron was not the kind of young man to be overawed by such illustrious company and he walked into the Guild lunch at Rosoff's as if he was quite as famous and successful as any man present. He was also a good deal younger than most of the members, but acted as if he had seen and done more than any of them. By the end of the lunch, he was confidently presiding over one end of the table, holding the attention of everyone within earshot with an enthralling blow-by-blow account of his expedition to explore pirate strongholds of the Spanish Main.

"It was accepted, at the American Fiction Guild lunches, that members might be inclined to blur the distinction between fact and fiction. What mattered more than strict adherence to literal truth was that the stories should be entertaining, and on that score young Hubbard could not be faulted. He was a natural story-teller, able to set the scene quickly and evocatively, describe the action in rich detail, recount credible dialogue and interject humour with an acute sense of timing. Arthur Burks was happy to welcome him as a new member of the Guild, after he had paid his $10 membership fee, of course."

Literary correspondence of Hubbard

Spider Radio Drama May Have Pre-Dated Shadow Radio Series

FYI  Lee Falk, who later created Mandrake the Magician and The Phantom, directed most shows at KMOX at this time. The main KMOX actor was baritone-voiced Marvin Mueller, later Miller. He became famous on TV later an THE MILLIONAIRE.

Posted by Yahoo Groups, "Pulp Mags" by Chris Kalb:

I've always questioned whether there was in fact a Spider radio show on KMOX out of St. Louis, as referenced in Jim Harmon's NOSTALGIA CATALOG and Don Hutchinson's THE GREAT PULP HEROES, but now I've seen the ad for myself. It appears on page 127 of the August 1935 issue of The Spider ("Master of the Death-Madness") for anyone interested. (I just got my replica from Girasol.)

No other mention is made in the issue, or in issues immediately before or after. The ad appears to be from the advertiser of the program, Blackstone's Tasty-Lax, and offers a free Spider Ring if you send in the ad's coupon with the direction slip from the 24- piece package of Tasty-Lax.

It says to tune in "every Thursday" at 6:30 CST. This doesn't make it definite that it actually aired, but it gives us times and dates to research. The August issue hit stands in July; The Thursdays in July 1935 were the 4th, 11th, 18th, and 25th. That's a good place to start for anyone near the St. Louis Public Library. Anyone?

If The Spider radio show was a drama, as opposed to someone reading the current issue on the air, am I right in saying that it would have predated The Shadow radio drama?

I like to think it may have been a drama, and scripted by Norvell

Page, as the very last line in Page's biography in Arthur Burk's AMERICAN FICTION GUILD BULLETIN dated December 1, 1935 says "Good radio script writer." There are no (other) radio credits for Page that I know of.

From me: I am certain that I read, or was told that KNOX burned down and the Spider scripts with it, as well as found Norvell wrote them from the same source. I'll try to look it up and/or recall.

Norvell wrote for radio, that is certain. But exactly what, outside of what I've heard re. the above, I don't know. My Grandmother mentioned he'd worked on several things, including the Shadow.

A Critical Look at 'The Citadel of Hell' - Wentworth as Street Musician Tito Caliepi

From "Pulp Era" 68, Nov./Dec. 1967 pp.29-31
March, 1934, Vol. II, No. 4, "Citadel of Hell"
Lead story by Grant Stockbridge, (aka Norvell Page aka N. Wooten Poge)
Interior illustrations by J. Fleming Gould.
Cover illustration by John Howit:

Cast of "Citadel of Hell"

Wentworth, Nita Van Sloan, Kirkpatrick, Ram Singh, Apollo, Prof. Brownlee.

Hanford Tyson: Sugar tycoon - first victim of the Food Destroyers

Janice Hally, an employee at Tyson's Sugar Refinery

Denny, Janice's boy friend - killed by the Food Destroyers

John Glastonbury, New York City DA

Smail Perkins, a member of the Produce Exchnge

J.J. Callhan, head of a meat-packing firm

Xavier Jones, of Amalgamated Can

Timothy Walsh, heroic boy -recipient of the first Spider ring

Dr. Jimpson Hughes, a dentist whose testimony saves Wentworth in court

Tito Caliepi, a Wentworth disguse - forerunner of the Spider

The Story: Wentworth, aware taht sugar king Hanford Tyson has been threatened with death, joins two police cars protecting Tyson's limousine. A Packard breaks through and its pasengers throw an incediary bomb which turns Tyson's car into an inferno, killing the occupant.

Wentworth trails the Packard to Tyson's sugar refinery where he is confronted by Janice Hally, a pretty employee, who holds a gun on him andd says she is going to kill him because of the death of her sweetheart, Denny. As he disarms her, the refinery goes up in flames. Killing a gangster who trys to bar escape, Wentworth affixes the Spider seal. When police appear, Janice yells that Wentworth is the Spider, and he barely escapes.

The next morning Wentworth goes to Kirkptrick's office to advance the theory that recent fires have been aimed at destroying the country's food supply and that leading food executives should be called together. DA Glastonbury appears with a warrant for Wentworth's arrest - having been identified by Jnice Hally, Wentworth is accused of Tyson's murder
Wentworth escapes and, assuming the identity of one of the food brokers, attends a meeting where it is revealed that Xavier Jones of Amalgamated Can has been threatened. Adopting a disguise as Tito Caliepi, crippled, hunchbacked violinist who wears a cape and black felt hat, the Spider goes to Jones' apartment and is confronted by a dope addict, member of the gang.

Putting celluloid points over his own teeth, the Spider is about to obtain valuable information when the leadr of the Food Destroyers - a man in a red mask - appearswith other members of the gang. Wentworth escapes and heads for the scene of the next fire. Unable to prevent the fire, he does save the life of a boy, Timothy Walsh, and his family. Later when Wentworth is overcome by smoke, the boy and a fireman save him.

The police arrest Wentworth as the Spider, but the boy helps him to escape. Wentworth gives him a ring impressed with the Spider seal.

Suffering a severe bullet wound, Wentworth goes to Prof. Browlees' home and is bed ridden for three weeks. There is a severe food shortage, mobs are running wild in the streets. Nita has been jailed by Glastonbury as Wentworth's accomplice. Recoverng, Wentworth captures Xavier Jones and assuming his identity, goes to a meeting of the Red Mask and his gang. The gang attempts to kill Jones-Wentworth but the police arrive.

All but two of the gang escape through a secret exit. Those two lie dead with the Spider seal burned into their foreheads.

Wentworth, again disguised as Tito Caliepi, openly meets Kirkpatrick and identifies himself as the Spider. Desperate, Kirkpatrick makes a pact with the Spider and promises to supply a fleet of radio cars and policemen. Wentworth and Ram Singh, in one car, broadcast messages to other cars and the gang of Food dsetroyers are defeated. Confronted by the Red Mask and Janice Hally, the Spider convinces Janice that the death of Denny was the Red Mask's doing. As Janice and the Red Mask struggle, one of the incendiary capsules is broken and the two are burned to death.

In a unique closing episode, Wentworth and Nita stand trial for the murdre of Tyson but the case is dismissed when a surprise witness is called.

Critical Comment: "Citadel of Hell" is an extremely readable and quite satisfactory "Spider" adventure. Strangely enough, the three-week recuperaton poeriod when Wentworth is disabled adds to the story's strength. It not only gives the reader a chance to catch his breath, bu it enables the situation to worsen, thus making the Spider's reappearance even mroe necessary and his success even more satisfying. Too, the reader is gratified by the open alliance between Kirkpatrick and the Spider which gives each a more heroic proportion - each is willing to do the extraordinary if it means saving people.

General Comment: Of special interest to the "Spider" historian is this preview of the disguise which is to represnt the "Spider" in later issues. Wentworth, disguised as Tito Caliepi, affixes the celluloid fangs only in order to terrify a dope addict. In the story's conclusion, he wishes to draw outthe gang and knows that they will recognize the Spider as teh hunchbacked violinist - thus, he again dons the disguise. It should be emphasized that this is the forerunner of the Spider disguise rather than the birth of it. Stockbridge does not make the switch immediately.

About Dance of the Skeletons, From Weird Menace

From "Weird Menace: Dark Council":

"In an article written for "Writer's Yearbook" in 1935, Norvell Page described how he came to get the assignment for "Dance of the Skeletons".

" 'The history of this particular story began one evening when I climbed three flights to a Greenwich Village attic and invited a writer friend to visit a new speakeasy with me.

"My friend was depressed. He sat before a table on which sheets of manuscript were scattered.

" 'The editor wnats me to cut my 60,000 word novel to 36,000' he said bitterly, 'and get it in by next Monday. I've only written 10,000 and I like the plot as it is.'

"My friend decided he wouldn't cut his story and he couldn't plot and write it in another 7 days.

"Mind if I have a shot at it?" I asked, "I've never written for that editor, but I can give him this (?) 5,000 words in a week, if that's what he wants."

"My friend said morosely, 'Go ahead,' and he said the drinks were on me.

"The story that emerged from this discussion was our lead for this issue of "Weird Menace". "Dance of the Skeletons" was the first of the weird-mystery stories, (quite a distinction). It was published in the first issue of "Dime Mystery" to feature there new slant towards horror and mystery combined in one story. It was the longest of all the weird menace stories and definitely one of the best and a trend setter. We are very pleased to be able to bring it to you in this latest issue of "Weird Menace".

On Norvell and Audrey, Street and Smith Editor John Navoic

From a letter from Street & Smith editor John Nanovic:

"Page didn't do much work for me, actually, but I knew him well. If you knew one guy; you knew them all, because the pulp writers were a close-knit family. Page was close to Ted Tinsley, say, more than others; but everybody knew him; went to his house, he went to theirs. I know I was at his house once--a rather large party--and made some sort of remark about "Gosh, I better not sit in that chair, or it'll fall apart." Little did I know that Page's wife (I forget her name for the moment; but she was a tall, graceful, beautiful girl, tending to wear large hats) thought that was the finest piece of furniture in all of Bayside (I think Page lived there then) and that Norvell had bought this for her Christmas present. It was, as you can guess, a rather expensive antique chair!"

Wentworth Drawings Modeled on Norvell - Interview With Gould

I don't have the exact quote yet, but when gonig through some old tape Will found an interview with Gould where he describes Norvell as trapsing around in an opera cloak, (so add to the flamboyant tendancies already described of dressing as the Spider at cocktail parties, having long hair when it wasn't in fashion, driving a Dahlmier... he definitely identified. That must have been so much fun. Seriously. I mean, you couldn't get away with dressing like, say, Batman today.)

... and he said that Wentworth drawings were  based on none other than Norvell himself.

He def. has his ears, lol. My guess is he meant he drew not this one modeled on Norvell, which I imagine was before he joined the series, (anyone know the answer to that one?) but the later interior drawings.

This one maybe:

New Norvell Page Stories Discovered

‎2 new Norvell Page stories discovered! "The Black Bat's Flame Trail" & "The Black Bat's Summons", both in BLACK BOOK DETECTIVE bylined G. Wayman Jones

G. Wayman Jones Bibliography: http://www.librarything.com/author/jonesgwayman

The Black Bat

So, Norvell's written something Spiderman like, Superman like AND Batman like! Of course he did.

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