Rediscovered: Fantômas, the Serials

My pal John D. Squires, current honcho of the cult for M. P. Shiel, saw the blurb for Fantômas the other day and popped me the ad above, which tries to hook movie theatres in 1916 into running a film serial tied-in with newspaper serializations of stories or novels. Last time I saw JDS at PulpFest he told me about research he’s been doing into this commercial enterprise during the silent era, centered on Shiel’s occasional collaborator Louis Tracy, where Tracy had one novel after another appearing in newsprint, in conjunction with local showings of some film based on the novel. Enough different towns and textual variations and cool illustrations to give JDS material for a whole book just on Tracy.

To the best of my memory, I had never heard of this idea before — that’s why I like guys like JDS, always digging around and coming up with something I’ve never heard of. Yeah, yeah, I know about the later Photoplay editions and still ongoing novelizations of various films, but this angle was news to me. John says the critical and academic community doesn’t seem to be aware of this early cross-pollination between books and newspapers and films, either.

I’ll give a shout out when the book on Tracy appears, and meanwhile cut another notch on the extensive appearances of Fantômas.

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