The Doc Savage Brotherhood of Bronze

Late in 1975 I was seventeen years old, living in a beach town in Delaware. I’d gotten early acceptance to college, and was already pursuing my writing career, doing short science fiction and fantasy stories (I have an impressive collection of rejections from some of the legendary editors in the field). At college my major was in the humanities: literature, art and philosophy. It’s likely I was not representative of the target audience for the Doc Savage series…but along with classical books, writing and sex (some things never change, as I would ultimately combine all three in the Doc Talos pastiche stories), Doc was one of my obsessions.

Here is the evidence:

That signature under the Doc Savage oath and next to the intriguing calligraphy for Clark Savage Jr, is me. Code number 837, Brotherhood of Bronze.

Back in late ’75, Artist, writer, publisher and auter Jim Steranko had started a club for Doc Savage fans (there was one for The Shadow as well, called the Shadow Secret Society, but I only joined the Brotherhood). I learned about it while reading the letters page of Marvel’s Doc Savage Magazine #3. Near the bottom of the letter column, was this little announcement, which got me quite excited.

It’s a little small to read, so here is the announcement itself, enlarged.

For two bucks, plus 50 cents postage, sent along to Wyomissing, PA, membership in the “Brotherhood of Bronze” could be had. Needless to say, I did not hesitate. I went down to the post office, got a money order for the $2.50, and sent it off.

A few weeks later, in January of 1976, this came in the mail.

As you can see from the address, I was living in a town called Bethany Beach. Much later, I learned what an amazing coincidence that was — the poet May Swenson, who wrote Evolution (the poem from which Philip José Farmer got the title for A Feast Unknown) was also living in Bethany Beach at the same time. If only I had known at the time! But she passed away shortly afterward, and I never got to meet her.

In any case, the envelope with the great Steranko art yielded a bounty of treasure. In addition to the bronze membership card, there was a newsletter with all sorts of interesting Doc announcements.

Further, there was a handy pamphlet-style checklist of all the then-known Doc Savage novels (In Hell Madonna/The Red Spider had yet to be discovered in `1975). I diligently placed a dot next to each title I acquired for my collection (as you can see by the many dots, I used the checklist as my go-to reference for many, many years).

The last item in my Brotherhood package was this nifty pin:

I envisioned wearing it at Brotherhood gatherings which would surely be organized soon.

But alas, the Doc Savage movie bombed, the Marvel magazine went on for only eight issues in total, and the Bantam paperbacks, though they continued until the whole pulp run was completed, slowed down and sometimes came close to being discontinued. The Brotherhood of Bronze faded away.

Only now, after 45 years, have I begun to find fellow Brothers from that time (brought together through the various online groups and gatherings of Doc fans). Maybe it’s time to start carrying my membership card in my wallet again…and maybe I will finally get a chance to wear that pin.

2 thoughts on “The Doc Savage Brotherhood of Bronze

  1. Interesting. You really mirror much my obsession. I was in Dover! I didn’t have the complete list at that time oh, so I was using the list of Doc Savage novels that appeared inside the front cover to keep up with my collection. I was a big Steranko fan, but I don’t think I knew of his Doc Savage connection at that time. Wish I had.

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    1. Dover! So we were both Delaware residents at that long-ago time. Bethany Beach is right at the bottom of the state of course, and that lower region had the somewhat unflattering nickname of “Slower Delaware”. Of course I knew that there must be other Doc fans around, but in those days the connections afforded by the internet were far, far off in the future. I’m sure I would have also missed the Steranko Doc Savage Brotherhood had I not spotted that ad in the Marvel magazine. In any case, even if the Steranko-organized club faded away, I think of my membership in it with very great fondness.

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