At one of yesterday’s first Comic-Con panels, Win Eckert (left) was making a game effort to reconcile the story of Doc Savage’s later years as told in the DC Comics series of the late 1980s with the competing biographical details found in an unpublished manuscript by science-fiction writer Philip José Farmer. Both had the adventurer-hero disappearing from public view around 1949, leaving one child behind, but in one version it’s a son and in the other a daughter. How could both be true? The convoluted explanation involved mysterious parcels containing newspaper clippings from reporters who didn’t exist and time-travel loops… “Are you still with me?” Eckert smiled at one point. “Yeah…I didn’t believe it either.”
Just another day at the office for scholar-fans of the Wold Newton universe, Farmer’s metafictional world in which all the great heroes of the pulp era are related. (Savage, for example, is cousins with Tarzan, the Duke of Greystoke.) Eckert was one of several writers getting together to celebrate MonkeyBrains’ Myths for the Modern Age, a collection of essays that extend his ideas into today’s stories—McGuyver, for example, becomes a descendant of Sherlock Holmes. In addition to his work on this anthology, Eckert has also written an introduction for a reissue of Farmer’s Tarzan Alive, the “biography” that got the whole ball rolling, from the University of Nebraska Press. Would they also be interested in bringing back Farmer’s Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life, I wondered? “I really do hope so,” he said, urging the audience to write in if they agreed.