|Publisher||Frank A. Munsey
Airship 27 Productions
|First appearance||Double Detective vol. 5, #5 (April 1940)|
|Alter ego||Jethro Dumont|
|Notable aliases||Dr. Charles Pali, Hugh Gilmore|
Super speed and strength
Ability to emit energy beams
The Green Lama was an American pulp magazine hero of the 1940s. In many respects a typical costumed crime-fighter of the period, the Green Lama's most unusual feature was the fact that he was a practicing Buddhist. Slightly different versions of the same character also appeared in comic books and on the radio. The Green Lama character and Double Detective stories are not in the public domain (although the original comics are), as the author "wisely retained all rights to his creation."
- 1 Pulps
- 2 Comic books
- 3 In other media
- 4 Buddhist element
- 5 References
- 6 External links
The Green Lama first appeared in a short novel entitled The Green Lama in the April 1940 issue of Double Detective magazine. The novel was written by Kendell Foster Crossen using the pseudonym of "Richard Foster". Writing in 1976, Crossen recalled that the character was created because the publishers of Double Detective, the Frank Munsey company, wanted a competitor for The Shadow, which was published by their rivals Street & Smith.
The character, partially inspired by explorer Theos "the White Lama" Bernard, was originally conceived as "The Gray Lama" thinking that he could hide in the shadows and sneak around, but tests of the cover art proved to be less than satisfactory so they changed his color to green. The Green Lama proved to be successful (though not as successful as The Shadow), and Crossen continued to produce Green Lama stories for Double Detective regularly up until March 1943, for a total of 14 stories.
Although appearing in a detective fiction magazine, the Green Lama tales can be considered science fiction or supernatural fantasy in that the Green Lama and other characters are possessed of superhuman powers and super-science weapons. The Green Lama is an alias of Jethro Dumont, a rich resident of New York City, born July 25, 1903, to millionaire John Pierre Dumont and Janet Lansing. He received his A.B. from Harvard University, M.A. from Oxford, and Ph.D. from the Sorbonne; he also attended Drepung College in Tibet. He inherited his father’s fortune, estimated at ten million dollars, when his father and mother were both killed in an accident while he was still at Harvard; he then spent ten years in Tibet studying to be a lama (a Buddhist Spiritual Teacher) and learning many mystical secrets in the process. He returned to America intending to spread the basic doctrines of Tibetan Buddhism (remove ignorance and relieve suffering), but realized that he could accomplish more by fighting crime. He never carried a gun, believing that "this would make me no better than those I fight." Dumont was also endowed with superhuman powers acquired through his scientific knowledge of radioactive salts. Dumont has two alter egos: the crime-fighting Green Lama, and the Buddhist priest Dr. Pali. He also had additional alter-egos including the adventurer "Hugh Gilmore."
Among the Green Lama's litany of associates were a Tibetan lama named Tsarong, the college educated reformed gangster Gary Brown, the post-debutant Evangl Stewart (who would go on to marry Gary), radiologist Dr. Harrison Valco, New York City police detective John Caraway, actor Ken Clayton, Montana-born actress Jean Farrell, and magician Theodor Harrin. The Green Lama was also frequently assisted by the mysterious woman known as "Magga", whose true identity was never revealed. Crossen's pseudonym "Richard Foster" was also established as a character and friend of Jethro Dumont.
The first six stories have been reprinted in the pulp reprint fanzine High Adventure. Altus Press has reprinted the entire series in three volumes.
Continuity of Green Lama pulp stories
- Green Lama: Unbound by Adam Lance Garcia - Flashbacks only
- "Shiva Enangered" by Kevin Noel Olson - Green Lama: Volume 1
- "The Green Lama" (or "Case of the Crimson Hand") by Kendell Foster Crossen (as Richard Foster) - Double Detective vol. 5, #5
- "Croesus of Murder" by Kendell Foster Crossen (as Richard Foster) - Double Detective vol. 5, #6
- "Babies for Sale" by Kendell Foster Crossen (as Richard Foster) - Double Detective vol. 6, #1
- "Wave of Death" by Kendell Foster Crossen (as Richard Foster) - Double Detective vol. 6, #2
- "The Man Who Wasn’t There" by Kendell Foster Crossen (as Richard Foster) - Double Detective vol. 6, #3
- "Death’s Head Face" by Kendell Foster Crossen (as Richard Foster) - Double Detective vol. 6, #4
- "Horror in Clay" by Adam Lance Garcia - Green Lama: Volume 1
- "The Case of the Clown Who Laughed" by Kendell Foster Crossen (as Richard Foster) - Double Detective vol. 6, #5
- "The Case of the Invisible Enemy" by Kendell Foster Crossen (as Richard Foster) - Double Detective vol. 6, #6
- "The Case of the Mad Magi" by Kendell Foster Crossen (as Richard Foster) - Double Detective vol. 7, #1
- "The Case of the Vanishing Ships" by Kendell Foster Crossen (as Richard Foster) - Double Detective vol. 7, #2
- "The Studio Specter" by W. Peter Miller - Green Lama: Volume 1
- "The Case of the Fugitive Fingerprints" by Kendell Foster Crossen (as Richard Foster) - Double Detective vol. 7, #3
- "The Case of the Crooked Cane" by Kendell Foster Crossen (as Richard Foster) - Double Detective vol. 7, #4
- "The Case of the Hollywood Ghost" by Kendell Foster Crossen (as Richard Foster) - Double Detective vol. 7, #5
- "The Case of the Beardless Corpse" by Kendell Foster Crossen (as Richard Foster) - Double Detective vol. 7, #6
- "The Case of the Final Column" by Adam Lance Garcia - Green Lama: Volume 3 (Altus Press)
- Green Lama: Unbound by Adam Lance Garcia
- Green Lama: Crimson Circle by Adam Lance Garcia
In 2009, Airship 27 Productions and publisher Cornerstone Book Publishers began releasing a series of new pulp anthologies and novels. These new stories treat the original pulps as a vague history, though they slightly shift the time period from the early 1940s to the late 1930s and portray the Lama as younger and less experienced.
The first new Green Lama anthology was released on August 14, 2009. The anthology, edited by Ron Fortier, featured three new stories, two short stories, and one novella, written by Kevin Noel Olson, W. Peter Miller, and Adam L. Garcia, respectively. Olson's story, "Shiva Enangered", tells one of the Lama's first adventures in Tibet and introduces the McGuffin known as the Jade Tablet, and explains the origins of the Lama's powers. Garcia's novella, "Horror in Clay", is set years later in New York, shortly after Crossen's story "Death's Head Face", and pits the Lama and friends against a golem, as well as continuing the narrative of the Jade Tablet and tying the Green Lama into the Cthulhu mythos. Finally, Miller's short, "The Studio Specter", is set in L.A., soon after the events of "Horror in Clay", and tells the story of a Phantom-like villain terrorizing a film studio.
"Horror in Clay", as well as the cover art by Mike Fyles and Jay Piscopo's interior artwork from this volume, were nominated for 2009 Pulp Factory Awards.
Volume 2: Green Lama: Unbound
The Green Lama's first full-length novel in nearly 70 years, Green Lama: Unbound, was released July 28, 2010. Written by Adam L. Garcia, it displayed interior and cover art by Mike Fyles. The novel takes place roughly six months after "Studio Specter" and shortly after the last original pulp story, "Beardless Corpse." Continuing the Jade Tablet storyline established in "Shiva Enangered" and "Horror in Clay," Unbound pitted the Green Lama against Lovecraft's Great Old Ones and Cthulhu, as well as featured — for the first time ever — details of Dumont's ten years in Tibet.
In 2011, the book, Garcia, and Fyles were nominated for several awards including Best Novel, Best Interior Art, and Best Exterior Art in the Pulp Factory Awards; as well as Best Book, Best Cover Art, Best Interior, Best Pulp Revival, and Best Author in the 2011 Pulp Ark Awards. It won for Best Pulp Revival in the Pulp Ark Awards, and Best Pulp Novel and Best Interior Art in the Pulp Factory Awards.
Volume 3: Green Lama: Crimson Circle
A second novel, currently titled Green Lama: Crimson Circle, also by Garcia and Fyles, is in development. The story will act as a sequel to the very first Green Lama pulp story, "Case of the Crimson Hand", while continuing the plot threads left hanging at the end of Unbound. The upcoming comic short "Green Lama and the Death Dealers" by Garcia and Fyles, will bridge the gap between Unbound and Crimson Circle. A third novel is also planned, currently entitled Green Lama: Redemption.
In addition to reprinting the original pulp stories in 2011 and 2012, Altus Press included a new short story in their third volume, "Green Lama and the Case of the Final Column", by Garcia and Fyles that will tie the original pulps and new pulps stories together. "The Final Column" will be set immediately after "The Case of the Beardless Corpse," shortly before the events of Green Lama: Unbound, and lays the groundwork for several plot points in Unbound and the upcoming Crimson Circle. It also features Crossen's pseudonym "Richard Foster" as a principal character.
Golden Age comics
The Green Lama's first comic book appearance was in Crestwood Publications' issue #7 of Prize Comics (December 1940), where he continued to appear for 27 issues (through 1943). All stories were written by Ken Crossen, with art by Mac Raboy and others. In Prize Comics #24, he teamed up with Black Owl, Dr. Frost, and Yank and Doodle to take down Frankenstein's Monster.
This version of the character bears considerable similarities to his pulp counterpart, most notably his costume design. However, this version was more of a sorcerer with the ability to travel through time, resurrect the dead and often battled Lucifer's minions. There were also minor changes to his supporting cast such as Jean "Parker" and the inclusion of a character known as Tashi Shog (a Tibetan liturgic wish meaning "May prosperity be").
He then moved to his own title, The Green Lama (Spark Publications) which lasted for eight issues from December 1944 to March 1946. This iteration character of the Green Lama was somewhat different from his previous incarnations (for example, having the power of flight and wearing a skin-tight costume) although the scripts were still written by Kendell Foster Crossen who had created the earlier pulp version of the character.
Reprints of the Green Lama stories from his eight-issue Spark series are available in two hardcover archive volumes produced by Dark Horse Comics in 2008.
Over the last 20 years, the publisher AC Comics has been virtually the only source for the original Golden Age material featuring the Green Lama, and intermittently used the character in their long-running, original series Femforce. In 2004, writer/artist James Ritchey III started production on a two-part graphic novella, entitled Green Lama: Man of Strength, revamping the version from the Spark Publications era. Billing the story in interviews as a "Superhero Mystical Murder Mystery involving Reincarnation", Ritchey never completed the art for part two, due to illness — so it was shelved for three years.
Green Lama: Man of Strength #1 shipped through Diamond Distributors on April 5, 2008, after a requested a one-month delay from Diamond, due to their frowning upon smaller independents having two similar titles shipped simultaneously. The second issue came out in 2009.
The Green Lama is currently one of several Golden Age characters appearing in the Dynamite Entertainment comic book series Project Superpowers, by writer Jim Krueger and artist Alex Ross. This version of the Green Lama is vaguely a continuation of his Spark Publications iteration, though his powers have evolved to be more nature-based.
Moonstone Publishers will be releasing new back-up comic stories based on the pulp version of the character under its upcoming "Return of the Originals" banner. These shorts will be written by Mike W. Barr.
The Green Lama will be featured in Airship 27 and Redbud Studio's comic book anthology All Star Pulp Comics. The eight-page comic is entitled Green Lama and the Dealers of Death by Garcia and Fyles, with writing and lettering assistance from Ben Granoff. It will also feature the return of Gary Brown and Evangl Stewart, as well as continue the "Fifth Column" plot from the original pulps.
In other media
Web comics and fiction
Green Lama is one of several Golden Age comic characters to make an appearance in Tales of the Living Legends, a webcomic featuring Golden Age art and rewritten stories.
The Green Lama plays a key role as a supporting character in the fiction blog, Flyover City.
More than three years after the demise of his comic book, the Green Lama was resurrected for a short-lived CBS radio series that ran for 11 episodes from June 5 to August 20, 1949, with the character's voice provided by Paul Frees. This version of the Green Lama was also written by creator Kendell Foster Crossen, along with several co-writers.
CBS Television considered producing a television version of the Green Lama for the 1950 season. The proposal never got the green light.
On January 6, 2012, for the first time ever, the Green Lama came to life in an epic aerial performance at the Rubin Museum of Art as part of their "Hero, Villain, Yeti" exhibit. Written by Adam Lance Garcia, based on his short story "Case of the Final Column" and performed by New York based Cirquetacular.
The Green Lama stories display a sympathetic and relatively knowledgeable portrayal of Buddhism, both in the text of the stories and in numerous footnotes. From Crossen's own comments, in his foreword to Robert Weinberg's 1976 reprint of the first Green Lama story, it is clear that this was not proselytism on his part, but simply because he wanted to create a Tibetan Buddhist character and then read everything he could find on the subject.
The most frequent reference to Buddhism in the stories is the use of the Sanskrit mantra "Om mani padme hum" (roughly "Hail, the jewel on the lotus", though the actual phrase defies exact translation), which would indeed be used by Tibetan monks. However, the majority of other references to Buddhism in the stories, while accurate, relate to the Theravada form of Buddhism rather than the Tibetan form, with frequent use of Pali words such as "Magga", "Nibbana", and "Dhamma", rather than the Sanskrit equivalents "Marga", "Nirvana", and "Dharma" used in Northern Buddhism.
- Will Murray, "Introduction," The Green Lama, vol. 1 (Altus Press, 2011), p. xvii (unpaginated); the copyright is now owned by Kendra Crossen, literary executor of the Kendell Foster Crossen estate, and assigned to Argosy Communications, Inc., which was authorized to control the Green Lama trademark and to license old and new Green Lama stories by a 1975 contract between Kendell Foster Crossen and Joel J. Frieman, president of Argosy Communications.
- Weinberg, Robert (1976). Pulp Classics (Robert Weinberg) (14): 3.
- "The Green Lama, Master of the Mystics Arts". Comic Related.
- "Pulp Factory Awards Announces Nominees". Broken Frontier.
- "A Hero Unbound". Comic Related.
- "All Pulp Newsstand Bulldog Edition". All Pulp. February 2, 2011.
- "Pulp Ark Awards 2011 Nominations". Pulp Machine.
- "Pulp Ark 2011 Award Winners Announced". All Pulp. February 2011.
- "2011 Pulp Factory Awards Given Winners". All Pulp. April 2011.
- "Author Spotlight: Adam L. Garcia". Savage Tales. July 2010.
- "Prize Comics". Digital Comic Museum.
- David-Néel, Alexandra (1967). Magic and Mystery in Tibet. Souvenir Press Ltd. (Originally published as Mystiques et magiciens du Thibet, Plon: Paris, 1929; English translation Claude Kendall, New York, 1932)
- "The Green Lama". Don Markstein's Toonopedia.
- Green Lama: Man of Strength, Part 1 at the Comic Book DB
- Brady, Matt (July 18, 2007). "Ross and Krueger on Superpowers". Newsarama.
- "Pulp's Originals Return at Moonstone". Comic Book Resources.
- "Airship27 Flight Log".
- "Audio Classic Archive: Green Lama".
- "The Definitive Green Lama Radio Article and Log with Paul Frees and Ben Wright".
- "Rubin Museum of Art: Cirquetacular: The Green Lama". Rmanyc.org. 2012-01-06. Retrieved 2013-06-23.
- Harvey, Peter (1990). "A Note on Language and Pronunciation". An Introduction to Buddhism. Cambridge University Press. p. xx.
- Official Green Lama Facebook Page
- A Hero History of the Green Lama
- Double Detective cover scans
- The Green Lama radio programs in the public domain at Archive.org
- Living Legends at Metahuman Press
- Green Lama serial at Tales of the Living Legends
- Green Lama (Jethro Dumont) at the Comic Book DB
- Green Lama (Gordon Dumont) at the Comic Book DB
- Green Lama (Jethro Dumont II) at the Comic Book DB