1936-11 Resurrection Day

Cover Date: November 1936
Volume 8 #3
Copyright Date: Friday, October 16, 1936
Author: Lester Dent
Editor: John Nanovic
Story Length: 39,562 words
WHMC: The collection contains seven folders for this story, f.390-396
Recurring Characters. The entire Iron Crew are all present in this story.

Resurrection Day by Kenneth Robeson
Mazaruni Madness by Donald S. Matthew
On the Bottom of the Sea by Steve Fisher
Torture Dance by Harold F. Cruickshank
The Doc Savage Method of Self-Development
Doc Savage Club
A Pound of Screams
Flying Reptiles
From Our Members

General Ino is as complete a villain that ever graced the pages of Doc Savage Magazine. Dent introduces the reader to Ino’s ruthless nature immediately. Ino, we learn is responsible for kidnapping the son of a rich Japanese merchant prince. Even though the man paid the ransom, Ino killed the child, disposing of the body by dissolving it in acid.

Bruno Hauptmann was executed on April 3, 1936, for the kidnapping and murder of the Lindbergh baby. Hauptmann’s impending doom was in the papers around the time this story was written.

Freemasonry: This story reflects Dent’s interest in Freemasonry. First, we are led to believe the candidate for resurrection is Thomas Jefferson. The next name mentioned is George Washington. Finally, Thomas A. Edison is mentioned. It is notable that each of these three men was a mason. Finally, Doc announces the committee’s decision: Solomon is the man to be resurrected. Solomon — King Solomon from the bible is the choice for resurrection. King Solomon is a central figure in Masonic lore, and freemasons, unlike most people of the time, would naturally think this a logical choice.

Early on in the story, two of Doc’s aides are arguing: Doc glanced at Monk, and the homely chemist at once declared, “Ham’s a liar, as usual! My conscience is as pure and white as as “. The statement remains unfinished but as pure and white as what one wonders. Perhaps a Lambskin or White Leather apron? In fact, there is a written Masonic lecture about the white apron of which a portion is shown here – “The Lambskin or White Leather apron is itself an emblem of innocence and the Badge of a Mason,… Let its pure and spotless surface be to you an ever-present reminder of “purity of life and rectitude of conduct, a never-ending argument for nobler deeds, for higher thoughts, for greater achievements.” This would seem to fit well with the statement Monk is making.

One of the dignitaries involved with the selection process is a United States Senator by the name of Gustall Moab Funston. The middle name is what got my attention since Moab was the son of Lot and his eldest daughter an imperfect union to say the least. Perhaps by using this name Dent is telling us here that what is happening in the story is not quite legitimate from a moral point of view.

Treasure: Pey-deh-eh-ghan’s treasure is immense as we see in “Resurrection Day.” Monk counts over one hundred diamonds in the cache.

Religion: Monk Mayfair references Jesus of Nazareth while discussing candidates for the revival process. Monk explains that Doc’s help would not be required in that instance.

The “Mad Butcher” Terrorizes Cleveland: In late September of 1935, two men were found decapitated in the Kingsbury Run area of Cleveland, Ohio, which was something of a shantytown. On January 26, 1936, another decapitated body – a woman – was found. The crimes were sensational and very newsworthy.

Lester Dent may have based Proudman Shaster on the Mad Butcher of Cleveland. The head chopping business sounds reminiscent of a villain from a Doc story that was printed in the November 1936 issue. Doc Savage battles General Ino and his gang of international criminals. Proudman Shaster, a New York attorney, is Ino’s lieutenant. Shaster is frequently seized by a strange psychological fit during fights and has the bad habit of chopping off heads while so engaged.

I remember hearing some pooh-poohing on another Doc invention once upon a time. It was the condensed water he carried into the desert in “Resurrection Day.” 

Doc added to the pack flask containing, not water, but the chemical parts of water, minus the unneeded ingredients.

Now this sounds a little hokey at first. Water is comprised of hydrogen and oxygen. It would make no sense for Doc to carry canisters of these elements into the desert in order to make water.

What does make sense would be some type of chemical compound that acted as a desiccant. Something like silicone gel that has enormous absorption properties. You would just lay this out in a pan and allow it to absorb water from the air. Once the compound is saturated you apply a second chemical that causes the water to separate. Now you have drinking water. Heck, if you were smart enough, the absorbent would be some kind of dehydrated food you could simply eat and get both fluids and nourishment from. And you wouldn’t need the second chemical.

In “Resurrection Day” from November 1936, Doc includes some “concentrated” water in his desert equipment. Flash Gordon utilizes something similar in a strip from June 23, 1966.

“Resurrection Day” is one of the bigger-than-life stories involving a gang of extraordinarily vicious criminals, an ancient mummy, and an exotic location. Where does the inspiration for these stories come from?


In this case, the first clue is probably taken from George Wort’s story, “The Return of George Washington,” which was serialized in Argosy starting with the October 15, 1927, issue. The story ran for six consecutive issues as a serial. Will Murry writes about this in the Sanctum edition of “Resurrection Day.”

Could there be other items that piqued Dent’s interest in this subject? During the 1930s, a scientist named Robert Cornish, conducted a series of laboratory experiments on dogs aimed at restoring life to recently deceased animals. Cornish was something of a genius, earning his doctorial degree from the University of California at the age of 22.

There are multiple newspaper accounts of his experiments in the years immediately preceding the writing of “Resurrection Day.” In 1935, a film based on his reanimation experiments was released under the title “Life Returns.” The movie follows Dr. John Kendrick in his attempt to create a revitalizing fluid that will restore life. The climax of the movie shows the reanimation of a dead dog rather than a human.

Finally, we should not forget Hollywood. The movie “Frankenstein” was released in 1931. It was loosely based on Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel of the same name. It was a immensely popular with a sequel titled “The Bride of Frankenstein” coming out in April 1935.

Although not named, the movie is referred to indirectly in the “Resurrection Day” story.

A number of movies, usually the horror type of pictures, had been made in which people or monsters have been brought to life, and Doc’s aids had seen them – even erudite Johnny, who publicly declared movies below his dignity, but occasionally slipped out to see one.

The motion picture resurrections usually consisted of putting a corpse under a bunch of big electrodes, showy glass vacuum tubes, and a bearded scientist pushed a switch, after which there was a blinding, deafening. display of electrical sparks. The favorite gag was to tap the heavens for a lightning bolt. There was always enough electricity in evidence to execute a penitentiary full of convicts.

It is unlikely we will ever know the exact details of Dent’s inspiration for this particular story. But it is interesting to examine the various materials that were available while the story was written.