Friday, December 23, 2016

"And You Collect Butterflies?"

J. ALLAN DUNN, born in England, was an incredibly prolific fictioneer who churned out reams of American pulp—adventure fiction, Westerns, and detective fiction (but almost no SF), "well over a thousand stories" according to Wikipedia—from before the United States's entanglement in the First World War to just before its involvement in the Second; his Fiction-Mags listing, more than half of them Westerns, runs to seven pages!

Like James Bond vs. Blofeld but continuing a lot longer, Dunn had one hero vs. archvillain series of at least thirty installments going with The Griffin in Detective Fiction Weekly (DFW):
Adventure writer J. Allan Dunn gave us dozens of stories starring The Griffin in DFW. The Griffin was the king of extortionists using a simple threat: Pay me $50,000.00 or you will die on this date and time. The wealthy didn’t get that way by giving their money away. Instead, they hired bodyguards or put their faith in police protection, including being placed in a solitary jail cell. No matter, they all died at the Griffin’s predicted time.
The Griffin had enslaved dozens of people, having learned of their most terrible secrets and blackmailed them into virtual drones. The uneducated ones became assassins who were frequently killed themselves after the murders. Meanwhile his scientists were forced to develop slow-acting but precisely timed poisons. Gordon Manning, who had sworn to get The Griffin, was thrifty, brave, clean, reverent, obedient, cheerful. You get the idea. Time after time, he failed to stop the murders or get the Griffin. Finally, the readers had had enough . . . — Terry Sanford, Mystery*File (HERE)
We couldn't find a Griffin story on the 'Net, but we do have "The Ferret and the Bet," which dates from early in his writing career, and "The Flying Skull," coming towards the end.

"The Ferret and the Bet."
By J. Allan Dunn (1872-1941).
First appearance: Adventure, August 18, 1918.
Short short story (9 pages).
Online at Comic Book Plus (HERE) (select page 28).
A burglar widely known as the Ferret is being released from prison after a five-year stretch; Henderson, the detective responsible for sending the Ferret up, makes a wager with the prison warden: "Once a crook, always a crook! I'll bet you a month's pay he'll be back inside of six months, or, if he isn't, we'll be looking for him." The warden takes the bet, adding: "You know only the seamy side of human nature. There's a right and a wrong side to every man, but you never turn over the goods to have a look at the pattern that was intended to be shown. A crook may be always a crook, but all convicts are not crooks, Henderson."

But earning a living on the outside is another proposition entirely, and getting the money the Ferret needs to start a business looks impossible; so an invitation from his old criminal pals to pull another job proves irresistible. He's just about to do it when he happens to overhear a voice, a voice that ironically leads him away from one crime worth hundreds to another one worth thousands. It's beginning to look as if Henderson just might win that bet after all . . .
~ ~ ~
"The Flying Skull."
By J. Allan Dunn (1872-1941).
First appearance: Popular Detective, September 1935.
Short short short story (4 pages).
Online at PulpGen (HERE).
"Greer, the Swindler, Didn't Know the Grim Hand That Fate Was Dealing Him!"
Cheating somebody is bad enough, but humiliating them is something else. A shady financier who likes to go beyond a simple swindle pushes one man too hard—and gets 
his just deserts. Come to think of it, if only he had indulged in fewer desserts and kept his mouth shut a little more often, then he wouldn't have died writhing on the floor in violent convulsions, a victim of his own arrogance—and another man's hobby.

- Both Wikipedia (HERE) and PulpFlakes (HERE) have more about J. Allan Dunn.
- Our last visit to the dentist (HERE) proved equally fatal.

The bottom line: "Be true to your teeth and they won't be false to you."
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