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Background art by Rafael DeSoto
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A Brief History of The Spider VI
Death and The Spider

When Richard Wentworth established a separate identity for The Spider in the sixth issue, "Citadel of Hell," the series had finally found its footing. The 112 stories that follow can be broken down into three distinct periods: 1934 to 1936 is The Spider's classic period, which includes the craziest, best-remembered work by Norvell Page; Then Page disappears for eight months at the end of 1936, and 1937 to mid-1939 is a period of lesser tales by other authors, and Page phoning-it-in; From mid-1939 on, Page recommits himself to The Spider, writing all the novels, creating more polished plots (possibly an editorial reaction to the rise of comic books, instituted by Loring Dowst), fleshing out the supporting characters, and pressing the moral ideals of Dick and Nita.

At the start of 1942, in landmark issue 100, The Spider fights Death himself in an ambiguous and dramatic tale! But Richard Wentworth was about to face worse: changing tastes, and paper shortages.

Yes, Pulp readers' tastes were changing toward the more realistic, and costumed vigilantes were increasingly confined to the pages of the comic books that the Pulp heroes helped inspire. Pulp magazines were soon shrinking due to wartime paper shortages. Whole titles would be cut to make sure the more popular ones could meet their circulation numbers. Eighteen issues later, in the December 1943 issue, The Spider fought his last battle in "When Satan Came To Town."

Norvell Page went into government work, writing for the Office of War Information and later the Atomic Energy Commission's Information Division. He died in 1961. His New York Times obituary says of his Pulp career only that he had written "more than 100 detective novels." By that time, Pulp magazines were only a memory, supplanted by paperback novels and television in the hearts and minds of an entertainment-hungry populace.

Richard Wentworth was gone, but not forgotten...

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