However, the science fictional crept into the pulps of other genres, for the most part in Germany, regularly enough to make it debatable whether those pulps were purely detective (or western or adventure) or a combination of detective and science fiction. Numerous Nick Carter and Nat Pinkerton stories (two of the three most popular pulp characters of the era) had large amounts of fantastic material. Roughly half of the stories of the German detective pulp Detektiv John Spurlock (36 issues, 1915) were science fictional; in one story Spurlock discovers the formula responsible for turning Dr. Jekyll into Mister Hyde, and in issues 18 and 19 Spurlock leads the fight against a second invasion of H.G. Wells’ Martians. The anonymously-written Jürgen Peters der Schiffsjunge (#1-448, 1914-1923), about a ship’s boy on a sailing ship in the 1870s and 1880s, encounters everything from the Grampus (from Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket”) to the Curupuri (from A. Conan Doyle’s The Lost World) to kaiju-sized giant pigs.
One popular type of science fiction pulp was the “fantastic machine” pulp, about vehicles similar to Hans Stark’s submersible airship. The most popular of the fantastic machine pulps, and one of the most popular science fiction pulps of the decade, was the anonymously-written Phil Morgan - Der Herr der Welt #1-171 (1920-1922, reprinted in Poland in 1925). The titular adventurer uses the wonder element “morganite” to fuel his “Phaenomen-Apparat” vehicle, which can fly, go underwater and even travel into space. Morgan uses the Phaenomen-Apparat to fight Robur-like sky pirates and Lost Race Inca who wield advanced science. Another pulp in this mode is the anonymously-written Jim Buffalo, Der Mann mit der Teufelsmaschine #1-29 (1922-1923). “Jim Buffalo” is actually Horst Radichow, a German laborer who uses the Testament of Calgiostro to create “Devil Machine,” a black, cylindrical, six-wheeled vehicle which is armored, has a retractable roof, and is covered with paintings of devil faces. The Machine can act not only as automobile, airplane, and submarine, but can even travel in time. Radichow uses the Devil Machine to become “Jim Buffalo,” vigilante adventurer and rescuer of kidnaped maidens. He finds a techno-utopian domed city on the bottom of the ocean, and he travels back in time, helping the Greeks at the Battle of Marathon and solving historical mysteries such as the fate of a lost Egyptian city.
The two most popular superhero pulps were the French Fascinax and the German Sir Ralf Clifford, Der Unsichtbare Mensch. The anonymously-written Fascinax (22 issues, 1921), which was popular enough to be reprinted in Italy in 1924, is about an English doctor who saves a yogi while working in the Philippines and as a reward is given the ability to see the future, to dominate other men with a look and to be alerted to imminent dangers via marks on the body. Leicester decides to use his new powers to fight evil as the mysterious “Fascinax.” He also uses an array of technologically advanced items, including the fascine, a car that can change into an airplane, a seaplane which also operates as a submarine, and a deadly, silent “electrical gun,” Fascinax fights a variety of evils, including a super-hypnotist, a water-breathing female master criminal, a murderous gnome, and a Martian invasion.
Martin Winfried’s Sir Ralf Clifford (192 issues, 1921-1925), which was reprinted in Italy in 1929 and 1930, is about an American who, after instruction from an Indian fakir, is given the mummified head of a cobra. When Clifford presses the cobra head against his breast, he is injected with a poisonous fluid which scars him but also leaves him invisible for seven minutes. If Clifford should be dosed 217 times, he will die. (Fortunately, the series was cancelled before the 217th dose was applied). Clifford takes on secret cults, vampires, subterranean masterminds, werewolves, and living Buddhas.
Of course, this period covers the darkening of the skies and minds across Europe: