Nick Carter (literary character)
|Created by||Ormond G. Smith, John R. Coryell|
Nick Carter first appeared in the story paper New York Weekly (Vol. 41 No. 46, September 18, 1886) in a 13-week serial, "The Old Detective's Pupil; or, The Mysterious Crime of Madison Square"; the character was conceived by Ormond G. Smith, the son of one of the founders of Street & Smith, and realized by John R. Coryell. The character proved popular enough to headline its own magazine, Nick Carter Weekly. The serialized stories in Nick Carter Weekly were also reprinted as stand-alone titles under the New Magnet Library imprint. By 1915, Nick Carter Weekly had ceased publication and Street & Smith had replaced it with Detective Story Magazine, which focused on a more varied cast of characters. There was a brief attempt at reviving Carter in 1924–27 in Detective Story Magazine, but it was not successful.
In the 1930s, due to the success of The Shadow and Doc Savage, Street & Smith revived Nick Carter in a pulp magazine (called Nick Carter Detective Magazine) that ran from 1933 to 1936. Since the Doc Savage character had basically been given Nick's background, Nick Carter was now recast as more of a hard-boiled detective. Novels featuring Carter continued to appear through the 1950s, by which time there was also a popular radio show, Nick Carter, Master Detective, which aired on the Mutual Broadcasting System network from 1943 to 1955.
Following the success of the James Bond series in the 1960s, the character was updated for a long-running series of novels featuring the adventures of secret agent Nick Carter, aka the Killmaster. The first book, Run Spy Run, appeared in 1964 and more than 260 Nick Carter-Killmaster adventures were published up until 1990.
(Two additional books have been erroneously listed as Killmaster novels by some sources: Meteor Eject!, a memoir by an RAF pilot named Nick Carter, published in 2000, and a 2005 release entitled Brotherhood, which is actually an autobiography of singer Nick Carter of the Backstreet Boys.)
The 100th Killmaster novel -- Nick Carter 100 -- was accompanied by an essay on the 1890s version, and a short story featuring the character; that marked one of the few times the Killmaster series acknowledged its historical roots.
None of the Nick Carter series of books carried author credits, although it is known that several of the earliest volumes were written by Michael Avallone, and that Valerie Moolman and NYT bestselling author Gayle Lynds wrote others, making this the first series of its kind to be written in significant part by women. Bill Crider is another author identified with Nick Carter.
The works were published under the house pseudonyms "Nicolas Carter" and "Sergeant Ryan". Authors known to have contributed include the following:
- John R. Coryell (1848–1924)
- Frederick W. Davis (1858–1933), who wrote eight Nick Carter stories for The New Nick Carter Weekly in 1910 and 1912, as well as writing extensively under the pen name "Scott Campbell"
- Frederick Van Rensselaer Dey (1861–1922), who took his own life
- Thomas C. Harbaugh (1849–1924), who died penniless in the Miami County Home in Ohio
- George C. Jenks
- Eugene T. Sawyer (1847–1924)
- Charles Westerbrook
- Richard Edward Wormser (1908–1977), who claimed to have written 17 Carter magazine stories published in 1932–33
The character has had a long and varied film history, with three countries producing films based on it.
In 1908, the French film company Éclair engaged Victorin-Hippolyte Jasset to make a serial film based on the Nick Carter novels which were then being published in France by the German publisher Eichler. Nick Carter, le roi des détectives, with Pierre Bressol in the title role, was released in six episodes in late 1908, and enjoyed considerable success. Further adaptations followed with Nouveaux aventures de Nick Carter in 1909, and the character was revived for a confrontation with a master criminal in Zigomar contre Nick Carter in 1912.
American actor Eddie Constantine played the title roles in the French-made spy films Nick Carter va tout casser (1964) and Nick Carter et le trèfle rouge (1965). In one curiously circular and self-referential scene, Constantine (as Carter) enters a house where he finds a large collection of Nick Carter pulp magazines and other Nick Carter memorabilia. Both films are unconnected to the Killmaster book series.
The actor Walter Pidgeon portrayed the detective Nick Carter in a trilogy of films released by the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer company. Though MGM purchased the rights to a large number of Nick Carter stories, the films used original screenplays.
The Czechoslovakian movie Dinner for Adele (1977) is a parody inspired by Nick Carter's pulp magazine adventures. It features "America's most famous detective" visiting Prague at the beginning of the 20th century and solving a case involving a dangerous carnivorous plant (the Adele of the title). The Slovak actor Michal Dočolomanský played Nick Carter.
Nick Carter first came to radio as The Return of Nick Carter. Then Nick Carter, Master Detective, with Lon Clark in the title role, began April 11, 1943, on Mutual, continuing in many different timeslots for well over a decade. Jock MacGregor was the producer-director of scripts by Alfred Bester, Milton J. Kramer, David Kogan and others. Background music was supplied by organists Hank Sylvern, Lew White and George Wright.
Patsy Bowen, Nick's assistant, was portrayed by Helen Choate until mid-1946 and then Charlotte Manson stepped into the role. Nick and Patsy's friend was reporter Scubby Wilson (John Kane). Nick's contact at the police department was Sgt. Mathison (Ed Latimer). The supporting cast included Raymond Edward Johnson, Bill Johnstone and Bryna Raeburn. Michael Fitzmaurice was the program's announcer. The series ended on September 25, 1955.
Chick Carter, Boy Detective was a serial adventure that aired weekday afternoons on Mutual. Chick Carter, the adopted son of Nick Carter, was played by Bill Lipton (1943–44) and Leon Janney (1944–45). The series aired from July 5, 1943 to July 6, 1945.
Nick Carter and Chick Carter appeared in comics published by Street & Smith.
Nick appeared in The Shadow Comics, then moved to Army & Navy Comics and Doc Savage Comics briefly, before moving back to The Shadow Comics. Some of these appearances were in text stories.
Chick appeared in The Shadow Comics, some of which were in text stories.
There was also Nick Carter, a 1972 Italian comic strip featuring detective Nick Carter.
- Elliott-Upton, Deborah (2008-07-24). "In the Nick of Time". Nick Carter. Criminal Brief.
- Bedore, Pamela. Dime Novels and the Roots of American Detective Fiction. Basingstoke : Palgrave Macmillan, 2013.
- Elliott-Upton, Deborah (2010-03-11). "Branding". Nick Carter. Criminal Brief.
- Elliott-Upton, Deborah (2010-04-22). "American Idol". Nick Carter. Criminal Brief.
- Joseph F. Clarke (1977). Pseudonyms. BCA. p. 34.
- Joseph F. Clarke (1977). Pseudonyms. BCA. p. 32.
- Time magazine; Thomas Harbaugh, 75, one of the authors of the Nick Carter Detective Stories and other dime novels; penniless in the Miami County Home, Ohio. He wrote from 300 to 600 thrillers, at the rate of one a week, with pen; later, in the days of the typewriter, he sometimes bettered his speed.
- Time magazine; Eugene T. Sawyer, 77, one of the authors of the Diamond Dick, the Nick Carter Detective Stories; in San Jose, California
- p.139 Wild Cat Books The Pulp Hero: Deluxe Edition 2008 Lulu
- Richard Abel. The Ciné Goes to Town. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998. pp.195–199,359–361.
- Thrilling Detective
- Nick Carter pulp magazines
- Nick Carter Fantastic Fiction – Bibliography
- Full-text issues of New Nick Carter Weekly at Northern Illinois University
- Nick Carter New Magnet Library Collection at the George Peabody Library