Frisco Beat: A Century of Fantômas

Okay, I don’t know how this one got put on the calendar, other than via the interest and tireless efforts of Peter Maravelis, teamed up with a horde of local Fantômas fans and no less than the French Embassy — but we’ve got our own four-day blowout celebration of the mysterious crime fighter reaching one hundred years on the mean streets and mean rooftops and mean subterranean haunts. Show up in City Lights this Wednesday for the kickoff and you may ask for directions to the affair on Friday in one of the secret locales Peter constantly scouts out, to add that extra oomph to the proceedings.

Fantômas is early in the long line of avengers-by-night — The Shadow, Batman, Doctor Sax, and many more — black-clad eluders of amazing death-traps, half-dreamt, hovering over fantastic cityscapes of the imagination. The Shadow is my favorite iteration of this concept — PulpFest this year will be celebrating his debut eighty years ago as Walter Gibson, writing under the name Maxwell Grant, created a character whose exploits would run for years in the wood pulps. And while the pulp guys seem to think that The Shadow is the first such hero, Fantômas does have a twenty-year edge on the cliff-hanging action.

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