1937-03 The Mental Wizard

Cover Date: July 1933
Volume 1 # 5
Copyright Date: Friday, June 16, 1933
Author: Lester Dent
Editor: John Nanovic
WHMC: The collection contains eight folders, f. 418-425.

The Mental Wizard by Kenneth Robeson
A Brick Wall at Dawn by Norman A. Daniels
Watch out for Trouble by Jack Storm
Hidden Gold by George Allan Moffatt
The Doc Savage Method of Self-Development

Doc Savage Club
– A Call for Slackers
– Snake Charming
– Real Dragons
– The Ship’s Adjuster

From Our Members


  • Dent’s address is listed as Park Central Hotel, New York City.The outline is fourteen pages long.
  • The outline title is “What Happened Before the Story Opened.”
  • The lost tribe ancestry is listed as possibly Incan, Egyptian, or Atlantean.
  • The treasure is a compound that enhances mental acuity.
  • The tribe’s future god-ruler will arrive from the sky but there will be false idols too. Hence, any aviator landing by the ruins is seized and held prisoner.
  • David Hutton was originally named Dave Hutton.
  • Amber O’Neel was originally named Waterloo O’Neil.
  • Z’s garments were originally decorated with precious jewels.
  • David Hutton’s diary was originally a letter to Doc Savage.
  • There are many prisoners. The outline notes that this is the opportunity to mention famous lost explorers such as Paul Redfern and Fawcett.
  • Aug plans to dispose of Doc Savage and his men in a pit filled with boa constrictors.


  • Lester Dent’s address is listed as % Schooner Albatross, Miami, Florida
    The term “60,000 words” appears at the top of page one. The actual word count is around 42,400.
  • A small reference to birth control was removed from the printed version.
    David Hutton questions a local man at the reception for Doc Savage. After hearing the man’s description of Doc Savage’s physical description Hutton says “I see. Another Sandow.”
  • The published story references a prior story, “Dust of Death.” The manuscript refers to “Death by Dust.”
  • Some comedic background text was edited out in Chapter 3. The two different musical bands end up playing different songs at the same time. It reads like something that would have been in the Doc Savage movie. Other than the above instances, the manuscript and the published version are very similar.

The prologue of this book starts off with an overview of past exploration of the Amazon basin. In particular, Colonel Fawcett is prominently mentioned.

Colonel Percy Harrison Fawcett believed that a lost race inhabited a city deep within the Brazilian jungle — the green hell known as the Matto Grosso.


In 1928, the former military engineer sat off on an expedition to locate this lost city. Accompanying him on this expedition were his son Jack and Raleigh Rimel. They never returned.

Fawcett had researched the topic for years. He was certain he could locate the site of this hidden civilization, a site he dubbed “Z”. Clearly, Lester Dent was tipping his hat to Colonel Fawcett by choosing the same name, “Z” as the mysterious bride of Klantic.


Dent was also been tipping his hat, so to speak, at another famous explorer who was prominently in the news. In 1933, aviator Jimmie Angel discovered a three thousand-foot high waterfall deep within the Venezuelan wilderness. It remains the highest uninterrupted waterfall in the world.

Angel was both an adventurer and aviator and was searching for a lost gold deposit he had first visited a decade earlier. This persona was a rugged stereotype Dent repeatedly used in his adventure stories.


It is notable that this adventure begins in Cartagena, which is in Venezuela, rather than at the mouth of the Amazon River which lies in Brazil.

The real identity of David Hutton comes from an entry in his diary made ten years before the present: “To-day I leave on my attempted flight from Rio de Janeiro to the United States, flying alone.”

In August 1927, aviator Paul Redfern left Georgia headed for Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Redfern was attempting to top Lindberg’s solo flight over the Atlantic in May of the same year. Redfern never arrived and was last sighted a few hundred miles north of Venezuela heading south.


Rumors surfaced for years that Redfern was alive and living with a jungle tribe.


Oddity: There is an anomaly in the story that doesn’t relate to our present topic.
Renny, using binoculars, said, “Monk and his pet ape would sure be at home down there.” 

Chemistry, of course, is Ham’s pet, not Monk’s. What lies behind this mistake – an editor’s goof-up, ghostwriter, or a simple error? Note: this error is present in the original pulp edition.

Amber O’Neel starts out as Waterloo O’Neil in the outline as a dealer in stolen platinum. O’Neel is confident the mental “vitamin” compound is real. Why? Because he mistakenly believes Doc’s mental abilities come from him having taken this same substance.

Mental Telepathy: The subject takes a huge leap forward with the person of “Z” who can not only read minds but also exert a form of mind control over others, including Doc Savage and his men.

Spiritualism: Early on in the story Doc is shot with a poison dart. Doc’s men forget he is wearing a bulletproof vest and take for granted he is killed. They dash off to apprehend his killer. A short time later Doc contacts his men via a special short-wave radio they all carry. Renny responds.

“Holy cow! It can’t-these durned micro-wave radios never have tuned in-a spirit message-we must ‘a’-well, holy cow!”

That’s it. You get a call from someone you thought was dead and your first reaction is that you are communicating with a spirit! The idea that that person was not really dead and you were mistaken about their death never crosses your mind. This is an unconventional though to say the least. But it is a way for the author to introduce an idea to his readers.

The scene where Z rejoins her father is a little strange. “The girl went to him and bestowed upon him a very ardent and quite Americanized kiss.” I’m not sure exactly what’s going on here.

Religion: In “The Mental Wizard” we meet a captive who was a missionary spreading Christianity some twenty years earlier.