1935-02 Red Snow

Cover Date: February 1935
Volume 4 # 4
Copyright Date: January 18, 1935
Author: Lester Dent
Editor: John Nanovic
WHMC: The collection contains nine folders for this story, f.247-255
Recurring Characters. The entire Iron Crew are all present in this story.

Red Snow by Kenneth Robeson
Black Reefs by Wallace M. Bamber
Desert Shadows by Bruce Harley
Fishing Loss
Sahara a Tropical Garden

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In February 1935, the “Red Snow” story pits Doc against agents of a foreign power whose stated goal is to conquer the United States. Who are these foreign agents? They are described in the story as having a black face but not having the racial characteristics.

Obviously, the men feel some need to disguise their nationality. It is only logical to conclude that they are not Caucasians as they could freely pass unnoticed and have no need for disguise. Early on in the story we meet one of the men: His skin was jet, amazingly black, except for the back of one thin hand, where the black had been rubbed away, showing that it was grease paint covering skin of a definitely yellowish hue. Here is the reason for the grease paint. In actuality, Japanese troops invaded Manchuria in 1931. This assault caused a considerable amount of tension amongst the great powers. It is minor exercise in logic to conclude that the men portrayed in the story are oriental and the foreign power in question is the Empire of Japan.

Dent’s story outline says that the power behind all this is an unnamed Eurasian country. Fluency Beech started out as a bad guy. The destructive agent was a “fog” rather than the flakes actually used. As I remember at the moment the title was originally “Red Fog”.

I always thought they were Japanese. That was my impression from the very first time I read the story. The other part of that impression is based on the fact that Japan was the only country to have a navy really capable of doing what Ark claimed. Japan was also very busy in China when this story was written.

“Red Snow” owes some of its literary pedigree to an earlier story Lester Dent wrote. “The Sinister Ray” was published in the March 1932 issue of Detective Dragnet. The story featured Dent’s own character Lynn Lash who was something of a freelance detective. The story involves a blinding ray with a gang of oriental agents who are working for a foreign power. It is easy to see the fundamental idea of two Doc Savage stories here: “Red Snow” and “The All-White Elf.”

Lester Dent tosses in a reference to a local Missouri town. He adds a character named Leslie Thorne, who runs a shoe store in Kirksville, Missouri. Leslie Thorne, it developed, was the head of the secret United States intelligence service.

At the time this story was written, J. Edgar Hoover was the Director of the Bureau of Investigation. This would become the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 1935. In a search for “J. Edgar Hoover” on the Newspapers.com website, there are over 20,000 results just for 1934. The man was incredibly successful in creating publicity for himself. The character of O. Garfew Beech in “Red Snow” appears to be a parody of J. Edgar Hoover. Both character names, Beech and Hoover, were also names of popular vacuum cleaners. This is Lester Dent’s way of letting the reader know that O. G. Beech is really J. Edgar Hoover.

Finance: It comes out that Doc owns several chemical plants. These are all going concerns.

There was a 1930 novel by F. Wright Moxley titled RED SNOW. This story presents a situation in which a strange red snow causes infertility in women. The result is the predicted extinction of the human race.

There is also an algae, Chlamydomonas nivalis, that can cause snow to have a red tint. Red dust in the atmosphere can also give snow a red tint.


The basic idea or gimmick in the story is very similar to the Smoke of Eternity first seen in “The Land of Terror.”

In an undated letter that is marked September 1934 which Lester Dent included with the outline of the story he calls it “Red Snow” or “Red Fog.”
Source: WHMC Folder C3701_f4