Sunday, February 22, 2009
THE AVENGER Returns!
I was about fourteen years old when I first encountered Richard Henry Benson, The Avenger.
Appropriately, I met the character through the same boyhood friend who had so gloriously introduced me to Doc Savage a couple years before. I remember being fascinated with the moody cover of my friend's copy of River of Ice, which depicted a dead-faced man with piercing eyes dressed in some kind of grey uniform and brandishing a vicious thin-bladed knife. I'd immediately focused on the astonishing, emblazoned blurb "By the Creator of Doc Savage".
Wha--? Kenneth Robeson had invented another fantastic adventure hero? Where had I been? What fantastic news! Within a few days I plunked down my hard-earned seventy-five cents, which I was very lucky to have, and took the book home with me. I still remember how excited I was, studying that terrific cover and rereading the story synopsis on the back at least a half dozen times before rolling up in the driveway with my dad. I couldn't wait to escape into my sanctum and start turning those pages.
The book didn't disappoint, and suddenly I was seeking out the others in the series wherever I could find them. Before long I had quite a growing collection to lose myself in, helping me through some very difficult times in my junior high school years. The Avenger novels felt somehow a bit more grown up than the Doc Savage adventures I'd become accustomed to. I liked that. Benson and his supporting cast possessed stronger motives and richer characterization, with more fully realized personalities. Scrutinizing the books today, I think they are arguably among the best written of the heroic pulps of the 1940s, often even better than Doc Savage, The Shadow, and The Spider.
You can easily imagine now, I suspect, how entirely thrilled I was when Joe Gentile, the publisher of Moonstone Books, obtained the license and invited me to write a new Avenger story of my own! Suddenly, through Joe's generosity, I achieved a childhood dream I'd never ever believed possible. I became Kenneth Robeson!
Recently, the hardcover edition of The Avenger Chronicles was published. It is a class act in its design, positively elegant. The brand new adventures contained within are fueled with passion and purpose. I'm honored to have been a part of this book. It was a special, very sentimental experience and I hope that is reflected in my own story.