1934-01 Brand of the Werewolf

Cover Date: January 1934
Volume 2 # 5
Copyright Date: December 15, 1933
Author: Lester Dent
Editor: John Nanovic
Story Length: 52,180 words
WHMC: The collection contains nine folders for this story, f.122-130.
Working Title: The Crew of Skeletons
Recurring Characters. The entire Iron Crew are all present in this story.


Brand of the Werewolf by Kenneth Robeson
Jungle Gold by George Allan  Moffatt
Blood of Lost Divers by Earl Griffin
Doc Savage Club
– Ideals and Goals
– The Code of Doc Savage

– Thomas McCarthy, Woodside, Long Island
– Jack Warren Bumbiner, Chicago, Illinois
– Roger Kenyon, Stonington, Connecticut

The treasure is valued at millions of dollars and is from the sack of Panama by Henry Morgan in 1670. Doc cites a book by the pirate Esquemeling.  The book titled” The Buccaneers of America” by John Esquemeling was first published in 1678. The author is also known as Alexandre Olivier Exquemelin.

Doc gets a kiss from the pretty senorita and decides it is “entirely delicious.”

Pat Savage is introduced in this story.  When he first sees her Monk remarks that she looks like she could be Doc’s sister.  We learn that Renny is very wealthy as a result of his engineering expertise.  

Doc and his crew travel by rail.  The line heading west is operated by the Canadian Pacific Railway via passenger train.  This was during the golden age of rail service when majestic steam locomotives crossed the continent.  The actual train providing service between Toronto, Ontario and Vancouver, British Columbia during the time of the story was The Dominion.

“Fell’s Guide to Sunken Treasure Ships” records a tale about a ship that sunk in a cave. In May of 1866, the General Grant left from Port Phillip Bay at Melbourne, Australia.  Shortly afterwards Lloyd’s of London listed the ship as missing.  No word was to be heard of the missing ship until after two years had gone by.  In 1868 the Amherst arrived in Melbourne with a passenger who gave a strange account of the General Grant’s fate.

A few days after leaving Port Phillip the General Grant ran into a heavy storm near the Disappointment Islands.  The hapless ship was helpless in the grip of the storm and driven toward the rocky cliffs.  Instead of crashing into the rocky walls, the ship was pushed into a large cavern.  The masts were broken off at the top and the ship became wedged in the cavern.  The ship sank the next morning and most of the passengers drowned.  The survivors were marooned on a nearby island for two years before being rescued.

The Bantam cover for this story seems to have been inspired by the highly successful Wolfman series of movies from the 1940’s.  The first acknowledge werewolf movie was 1913 short film titled “The Werewolf.”  There is also a silent movie from 1925 titled “Wolf Blood” about a lumberjack who receives a blood transfusion from a wolf.  As a result, the man begins to believe he is becoming a wolf.

Readers may wonder if Dent was influenced by some story he read in the pulps or elsewhere.  “The Werewolf of Paris” by Guy Endore was published in March 1933 and became an immensely popular book.  It may be only coincidence, but it is an interesting coincidence.

Another more likely influence on Lester Dent and “Brand of the Werewolf” could come from his days playing at being a prospector and desert rat. An exciting legend exists concerning the Lost Ship of the Desert complete with the fascinating tale of a ship that traveled up the Colorado River and was marooned in the Salton Sea area of the Colorado Desert.  Different versions of the story exist with the lost ship being a Spanish galleon and even a tale of it being an ancient Viking dragon ship.  The pedigree varies from Thomas Cavendish’s ship, the Content, or the ship of Spanish explorer Juan de Iturbe whose ship carried a treasure of jewels and black pearls.  Lester Dent traveled across the southwestern United Sates during the summer of 1932 finally ending up in Death Valley. He may have heard some of these stories during his adventure there.

Daily Columbus Enquirer, Saturday, February 4, 1871

The story has several points that support the idea of a real werewolf.  In the chapter “The Werewolf Cries,” the narrative paints a situation designed to make the reader believe a werewolf is stalking the woodland estate of Alex Savage.  The werewolf’s cries are described as an eerie sound that silenced the birds of the forest. The sound is said to possess an “incoherent horror.”  The supernatural atmosphere is enhanced by the use of the term banshee to describe the strange cries. The term springs from Irish mythology and embodies a spirt that foretold death by a horrible screeching or screaming sound. The term keening is used to describe the traditional wailing sound made by Irish women. Patricia Savage’s servant, Boat Face, is adamant that the sound is a werewolf.  There is no actual werewolf in the story, but the implication is used to create terror and introduce a certain supernatural element into the story’s early parts.

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