The Great Marvel Series:
A Discursive Bibliography
with an appended bibliography of the related
"Deep Sea Series" a.k.a. "Dave Fearless Series"
Jessica Amanda Salmonson
Volume One: THROUGH THE AIR TO THE NORTH POLE; or, The Wonderful Cruise of the Electric Monarch. 1906.
Written by Howard Garis, best remembered for his "Uncle Wiggeley" books published under his own name, & for having written the majority of the original Tom Swift novels credited to Victor Appleton. For such a prolific writer he was certainly capable of hitting a high general quality. Through the Air to the North Pole has inserted illustration plates by Charles Nuttall, one of the finer illustrators of the period. The frontispiece shows a polar tribe attacking a dirigible. In later printings there is only the frontispiece, whereas the earliest printings have three more inserted plates.
In the tale, two orphaned lads, Mark & Jack, are fostered by Professor Amos Henderson, with help from a the professor's assistant Washington White, plus Andy Sudds, big game hunter. This motherless, homosocial nuclear family is worthy of someone someday composing a psychological thesis on whether boys' series publishers & writers weren't a tad perverse. In their first adventures together Professor Henderson builds a unique boat-dirigible called the Monarch, by which they all visit the North Pole & experience sundry scrapes. It's a pleasant enough outing with hardly a clue as to how extremely fantastical the series was to become.
Volume Two: UNDER THE OCEAN TO THE SOUTH POLE; or, The Strange Cruise of the Submarine Wonder. 1907.
Written by Howard Garis. Illustrated by Charles Nuttall, four inserted plates in early printings, just a frontispiece in later. In this direct sequel to the first volume the crew build a sub-ocean craft, the Dolphin, that runs on sea water mixed with chemicals (didn't some call the Art Bell show claiming to be able to do that?). During their journey they do battle with sea monsters (giant suckerfish, giant octopus), pass through a seabottom graveyard of sunken ships, & discover an opening into the Hollow Earth, but do not enter it until their next adventure.
Volume Three: FIVE THOUSAND MILES UNDERGROUND; or, The Mystery of the Centre of the Earth. 1908.
Written by Howard Garis, who was on a roll. Illustrated by Charles Nuttall, four inserted plates in early printings, just a frontispiece in later. Dismantling the dirigible-ship Monarch & the submarine Porpoise, our crew constructs from the combined parts the Flying Mermaid which is both airship & submarine. They leave their home in Maine & head for a region of the South Polar sea where they previously found an opening into the Hollow Earth & fly right in. Deep below the earth they discover a lost race of giants & experience a tremendous lot of adventures involving a murderous plant, weird animals, & a subterranean temple of treasure.
The first three books taken as a whole form a continuous saga but volume four swings another direction.
Volume Four: THROUGH SPACE TO MARS; or, The Longest Journey on Record. 1910.
Written by Howard Garis. Illustrated by G. M. Kizer, four inserted plates in early printings, just a frontispiece in later. The Great Marvel series takes a dramatic turn when the lads enroll in the Universal Electrical & Chemical College & end up meeting inventor Santell Roumann. Santell has discovered a new fuel source, Etherium. Joining forces to build a rocket ship that requires Etherium, they head for Mars & find it inhabited by a weird race with buggy eyes, big bobbly heads, & enormous ears. They fall into conflict with these Martians who have yet another unknown power source, Cardite. Our earthlings get some of that cool glowy stuff before heading toward home.
Volume Five: LOST ON THE MOON; or, In Quest of the Field of Diamonds. 1911.
Written by Howard Garis. Anonymously illustrated, four inserted plates in early printings, just a frontispiece in later. A direct sequel to Through Space to Mars. From the Martians our crew obtained Cardite to power the "Annihilator," & learned while on Mars that there is a diamond field on the Earth's moon. Everyone heads for the Moon where they discover a petrified city populated by petrified people. They fetch home some of the diamonds besides swiping a petrified man which we can all go see in the museum that is, unless the moon-folks have repatriated their stolen dead by now.
Volume Six: ON A TORN-AWAY WORLD; or, Captives of the Great Earthquake. 1913.
Written by W. Bert Foster, who published under his own name the four-book "Clint Webb" series (Donahue Co., 1913-1914) about a lad in days of the masted ships having wild adventures around the world. On a Torn-away World was illustrated anonymously; four inserted plates in early printings, just a frontispiece in later. The adventures of Jack & Mark take another wild turn with this volume. In spare moments between college classes they've built the Snowbird, an advanced-for-it's-time airship. The influence of Gordon Stables on the author may well have been "secretly confessed" in naming the Snowbird, which is the name of the sailing ship in Stables' splendid sailing fantasy novels The Cruise of the Snowbird (1882) and Wild Adventures Around the Pole (1883).
The two lads use their new-built flying-ship to head for the far North hoping to find a rare plant that grows only in Alaska. But a frightful series of earthquakes cause a huge piece of the earth to be sheered away into outer space taking our flyers along for one heck of a ride. Several adventures follow on this "torn-away world" ending with the little flying island plunging back to earth creating a lovely new Pacific isle, our heroes no worse for wear. Seems to me even the kids of the day would've been asking, "Wouldn't they just've been smashed?" but one has to give the thing credit for really pushing the envelop at a time when most "fantastic flight" novels limited their fantasy to planes that could circle the globe faster than was yet possible.
Volume Seven: THE CITY BEYOND THE CLOUDS; or, Captured by the Red Dwarfs. 1925.
The first six volumes had pretty much been complete, but all these years later another volume was added, with most of its influences taken from On a Torn-Away World the most incredible of the previous tales. The author this time was John Duffield. If any Stratemeyer Syndicate author was as good as Howard Garis (who was the writer behind the first five Great Marvels & the vast majority of the Tom Swifts), then that author was John W. Duffield, who wrote the Bomba the Jungle Boy books. Under his own name he wrote the eight-volume "Bert Wilson Series" of sports & adventure stories published in 1913 & 1914. When using house names, Stratemeyer Syndicate authors were not permitted to reveal they were the writers, & even the Library of Congress was informed that Edward Stratemeyer was personally writing every damned book in sight. Young readers were not supposed to know writers like Roy Rockwood, Victor Appleton, Carolyn Keene & Franklin W. Dixon did not exist. And if, say, some Bomba books were made into movies starring Johnny Sheffield, John Duffield didn't get a penny out of that deal; nor, that we know of, did he get to shake hands with Sheffield. The ghost writers were required to sign contracts agreeing to keep still about their work & understand it was work-for-hire to which they no longer held any rights. So for many years Duffield as the "Roy Rockwood" behind Bomba & behind this one Great Marvel book simply went unheralded, influential though his work had been. Investigation of the Syndicate's pay records has only recently resolved some of these mysteries.
The seventh Great Marvel is illustrated by Ernest Townsend, one of the better series book illustrators of the 'twenties & a good choice to replace the thrilling Charles Nuttall. There are four inserted plates in early printings, just a frontispiece in later. In selecting their best author and their best illustrator for this book, it is evident the publisher hoped to revitalize this series, the sales of which had never equalled those of Tom Swift or Bomba. The result was quite an exciting episode. The types of events that seemed so unlikely in On a Torn-away World became, in Duffield's hands, somewhat close to grandeur. Sadly, sales were not helped by excellence. Despite that the publisher stood behind the series in a fairly big way, it would never be the commercial powerhouse that would've justified a lot more volumes, which also explains the long lapse between #6 and #7.
The young inventors Jack & Mark are now in their early twenties. They learn of the secret city of the Red Dwarfs which is on a near-earth planetoid closer to us than the Moon, but which no one has ever noticed because it is always hidden just above the clouds or because the planetoid moves continuously in Earth's shadow or because of some "queer geological formation" in other words, the author couldn't think of a good reason no one ever noticed it. While saving the kids many adventures happen including volcanic eruptions & a battle with giant grasshoppers, the latter notion borrowed by William Dixon Bell for his s-f juvenile The Moon Colony (1937).
Volume Eight. BY AIR EXPRESS TO VENUS; or, Captives of a Strange People. 1929.
Illustrated by Ed Whittemore, four inserted plates in early printings, just a frontispiece in later. Written by Howard Garis, who'd penned the original six volumes, & it's a good guess he was called back to the series because the publisher was too fond of the series to let it die even though the sales had not justified its furtherance. The plot is not terribly Garis-like, but he was almost certainly working from an outline.
This eighth & penultimate entry into the Great Marvel series continues the tendency to out-do the senior Tom Swift in improbability, though none were so improbable as On A Torn Away World and The City Beyond the Clouds. Venusians crash-land on Earth & need the assistance of our brilliant young inventors Mark & Jack to put the wreckage back together. Lovely Gozona talks the lads into coming to Venus with them, & to bring Professor Hertz, but Venusians turn out to be pretty crummy at returning a good deed. The lads & the professor are now captives to be put on exhibition & grilled for scientific information. Beautiful Gozona at least wasn't just a creepy bitch alien & she helps our heros escape. Before they return home in a Venusian ship, they'll have many cool encounters including with giant spiders & snakes made of glass.
Volume Nine: BY SPACE SHIP TO SATURN; or, Exploring the Ringed Planet. 1935.
It is not known who wrote this one. The frontispiece is by C. Richard Schaare, one of the finer juvenile series illustrators of the 1930s. Another long lapse occurred before this final volume was added to the Great Marvel Series. This lapse indicates the two volumes issued in the 1920s really didn't do that well on the market, accounting for their relative scarcity today. But the continued success of Tom Swift made the Stratemeyer Syndicate dead-set on having a second series of that sort, so Mark & Jack were trundled out for another go.
By now the two boys are no longer boys; they're men of science & education. As professors at the Universal Electric & Chemical College, they have taken under their special tutelage two young scamps, Lucky & Phil, who take over the roles Mark & Jack formerly held vis-a-vis the professors who adopted them or orchestrated their educations when they were young adventuring science wizards.
Phil's Uncle John has built a giant rocket ship with which to make a trip to Saturn, with little Bobby & his pet goat stowing away on board. The goat is one of the finer touches to the story, right out of left field. Another cluster of young scientists have their own space ship so it becomes a race to see who is first to Saturn, where they'll be captured by the Giant Purple People, encounter a dinosaur, flying fishes, & a shrink-gas. They manage to collect some scientific specimens while making good their escape.
The Deep Sea Series:
The Roy Rockwood "Subsidiary Great Marvels" for Completists
THE WIZARD OF THE SEA: or, A Trip Under the Ocean. Rahway, NJ: Mershon, 1900. For some reason Mattson & Davis's A Collector's Guide to Hardcover Boys' Series Books did not know this book was part of the same series, perhaps regarding the Grosset & Dunlap set of four of the initial five titles as "definitive" for the Deep Sea Series per se, though they may not have known of it at all due to its rarity. It very closely resembles the first three volumes of the Great Marvel Series with an encounter with a sea monster & the hardhat divers armed with underwater rifles. This was almost certainly the inspiration for the later "Roy Rockwood" series. James D. Keeline has placed on the net an interesting analysis of Wizard of the Sea as Edward Stratemeyer & Bracebridge Hemyng's Jules Verne plagiarism. The dustwrapper shown at the right was on thes Burt edition.
THE RIVAL OCEAN DIVERS; or, After a Sunken Treasure. Stitt Publishing, 1905; reissued by Mershon, 1906; reissued by Chatterton-Peck, 1908; then by Grosset & Dunlap, 1913? Same as DAVE FEARLESS AFTER A SUNKEN TREASURE; or, The Rival Ocean Divers. George Sully & Co., 1905. Illustration plates by A. Burnham Shute, four in the Stitt & Mershon editions, a frontispiece only in the Sully. Probably written by Edward Stratemeyer.
THE CRUISE OF THE TREASURE SHIP; or, The Castaways of Floatintg Island. Mershon, 1906; reissued by Chatterton-Peck, 1907; then by Grosset & Dunlap, 1913? Same as DAVE FEARLESS ON A FLOATING ISLAND; or, The Cruise of the Treasure Ship. George Sully, 1906. Four illustration plates by Clare Angell, in some printings (i.e., the Sully) just a frontispiece.
ADRIFT ON THE PACIFIC; or, The Secret of the Island Cave. NY: Grosset & Dunlap, 1908. Same as DAVE FEARLESS & THE CAVE OF MYSTERY; or, Adrift on the Pacific. George Sully, 1908. This is the only volume originating with Grosset & Dunlap, issued later than Jack North's Treasure Hunt but taking place earlier. In 1913 G&D reprinted all four books as "The Sea Treasure Series." I am as yet uncertain if the other three were issued in 1908, which is likely; though I may eventually find I have to correct that date to 1913, the year they were packaged as a set of four (still as ever excluding the first one published, Wizard of the Sea.) The G&D edition Adrift on the Pacific precedes the Sully. It is illustrated by Charles Nuttall (four plates), who did good work for the Great Marvel Series as well. The Sully edition has just a frontispiece.
JACK NORTH'S TREASURE HUNT: Daring Adventures in South America. Chatterton-Peck, 1907; reprinted by Grosset & Dunlap, 1908. There are four illustration plates by Charles Nuttall. This volume was reprinted in "The Outdoor Series" under two imprints, Goldsmith, & World, without the illustrations but with a color dustwrapper depicting generic boys' activity scenes. This one did not have a George Sully edition.
Roy Rockwood's "Dave Fearless" Paperbacks
In 1926, George Sully reprinted their previous three hardcover editions of Deep Sea Series titles, now in paperback, & added many newly written volumes. Within the year Sully issued fifteen paperback titles in all, with two more announced but never issued. The paper editions did not carry illustration plates. Now called "The Dave Fearless Series," I don't personally care about them because I don't like paperbacks, & the "marvel" aspect is muted (though being captured by apes or encountering volcanoes of blue fire does qualify them as fantastic-voyage novels). A really obsessive completist would add these paperbacks to an "addendum shelf" of the Great Marvel books:
DAVE FEARLESS AMONG THE ICEBERGS; or, The Secret of the Eskimo Igloo. 1926.
DAVE FEARLESS WRECKED AMONG THE SAVAGES; or, The Captives of the Head Hunters. 1926.
DAVE FEARLESS & HIS BIG RAFT; or, Alone on the Broad Pacific. 1926.
DAVE FEARLESS ON VOLCANO ISLAND; or, The Magic Cave of Blue Fire. 1926.
DAVE FEARLESS CAPTURED BY APES; or, In Gorilla Land. 1926.
DAVE FEARLESS & THE MUTINEERS; or, Prisoners on the Ship of Death. 1926.
DAVE FEARLESS UNDER THE OCEAN; or, The Treasure of the Lost Submarine. 1926.
DAVE FEARLESS IN THE BLACK JUNGLE; or, Lost Among the Cannibals. 1927 (though copyrighted later this is the order of the tales).
DAVE FEARLESS NEAR THE SOUTH POLE; or, The Giant Whales of Snow Island. 1926.
DAVE FEARLESS CAUGHT BY THE MALAY PIRATES; or, The Secret of Bamboo Island. 1926
DAVE FEARLESS ON THE SHP OF MYSTERY; or, The Strange Hermit of Shark Cove. 1927.
DAVE FEARLESS ON THE LOST BRIG; or, Abandoned in the Big Hurricane. 1927.
For the record the two titles announced but never published were DAVE FEARLESS AT WHIRLPOOL POINT; or, The Mystery of the Water Caves; and DAVE FEARLESS AMONG THE CANNIBALS; or, The Defense of the Hut in the Swamp. In the past they have shown up on wantlists & bibliographies. Many such "ghost" editions exist among juvenile series books which commonly announced publications in advance for series that would be discontinued at publisher's whim.
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