Thubway Tham

Last updated

Thubway Tham is a pulp fiction character created by Johnston McCulley, who was also the creator of Zorro. He is described as a small, short tempered gnome of a man of almost forty (Thubway Tham's Holdup) and he first appeared in Detective Story Magazine on June 4, 1918, and he appeared in over one hundred and eighty short stories in several pulp fiction publications from the 1910s to the 1960s. Thubway Tham, as described by McCulley, is "a clever pickpocket, one of the cleverest in the business, and [he works] only in the subway during rush hours." [1] His friends had called him "Subway Sam," but, due to his lisp, his nickname soon became "Thubway Tham."

Pulp magazine magazine printed on cheap, wood-pulp paper

Pulp magazines were inexpensive fiction magazines that were published from 1896 to the 1950s. The term pulp derives from the cheap wood pulp paper on which the magazines were printed. In contrast, magazines printed on higher-quality paper were called "glossies" or "slicks". The typical pulp magazine had 128 pages; it was 7 inches (18 cm) wide by 10 inches (25 cm) high, and 0.5 inches (1.3 cm) thick, with ragged, untrimmed edges.

Johnston McCulley American writer

Johnston McCulley was the author of hundreds of stories, fifty novels, numerous screenplays for film and television, and the creator of the character Zorro.

Zorro fictional character

Zorro is a fictional character created in 1919 by American pulp writer Johnston McCulley, and appearing in works set in the Pueblo of Los Angeles during the era of Spanish California (1769–1821). He is typically portrayed as a dashing masked vigilante who defends the commoners and indigenous peoples of California against corrupt and tyrannical officials and other villains. His signature all-black costume includes a cape, a hat known as a sombrero cordobés, and a mask covering the upper half of his face.

A typical Thubway Tham story features the pickpocket committing some sort of crime. He is closely pursued by Detective Craddock, but due to Tham being smarter than the cop always on his tail, Thubway Tham always gets away. There are times when he and Tham hate each other, when he follows Tham all day so he can pick no pockets, and Craddock when he knows Tham has got one over on him. He served a three year sentence as a youth and never wants to go back to jail. Some of the people who Tham robs are deserving of the theft but generally he will go after anyone with a wallet (called a leather) full of money, usually around a hundred dollars. He also sometimes antagonizes bigger criminals to teach them a lesson. Tham is superstitious and acts on hunches, one of which saves him jail time when a police officer tries to frame him for theft (Thubway Tham's Hoodoo Roll).

In 2005, Wildside Press released a collection of Thubway Tham stories entitled Tales of Thubway Tham. In 2015, they issued the Thubway Tham Megapack, containing 22 short stories, costing just under a dollar for Amazon Kindle.

Wildside Press is an independent publishing company in Cabin John, Maryland, United States. It was founded in 1989 by John Betancourt and Kim Betancourt. While the press was originally conceived as a publisher of speculative fiction in both trade and limited editions, its focus has broadened since then, both in content and format.

Related Research Articles

Doc Savage fictional character

Doc Savage is a fictional character originally published in American pulp magazines during the 1930s and 1940s. He was created by publisher Henry W. Ralston and editor John L. Nanovic at Street & Smith Publications, with additional material contributed by the series' main writer, Lester Dent. The illustrations were by Walter Baumhofer, Paul Orban, Emery Clarke, Modest Stein, and Robert G. Harris.

<i>The Shadow</i> fictional character

The Shadow is the name of a collection of serialized dramas, originally in 1930s pulp novels, and then in a wide variety of Shadow media. One of the most famous adventure heroes of 20th century North America, the Shadow has been featured on the radio, in a long-running pulp magazine series, in American comic books, comic strips, television, serials, video games, and at least five feature films. The radio drama included episodes voiced by Orson Welles.

Swashbuckler stock character; a term that emerged in the 16th century and has been used as a term for pirates and swordsmen ever since

A swashbuckler is a heroic archetype in European adventure literature that is typified by the use of a sword, acrobatics and chivalric ideals. The archetype also became common as a film genre.

Argosy, later titled The Argosy and Argosy All-Story Weekly, was an American pulp magazine from 1882 through 1978, published by Frank Munsey. It is the first American pulp magazine. The magazine began as a children's weekly story–paper entitled The Golden Argosy.

Spider (pulp fiction) pulp magazine character

The Spider is an American pulp-magazine hero of the 1930s and 1940s.

<i>The Mark of Zorro</i> (1940 film) 1940 American adventure film directed by Rouben Mamoulian

The Mark of Zorro is a 1940 American black-and-white swashbuckling adventure film from 20th Century Fox, produced by Darryl F. Zanuck, directed by Rouben Mamoulian, that stars Tyrone Power, Linda Darnell, and Basil Rathbone.

Thrilling Publications

Thrilling Publications, also known as Beacon Magazines (1936–37), Better Publications (1937–43) and Standard Magazines (1943–55), was a pulp magazine publisher run by Ned Pines, publishing such titles as Startling Stories and Thrilling Wonder Stories.

Popular Publications was one of the largest publishers of pulp magazines during its existence, at one point publishing 42 different titles per month. Company titles included detective, adventure, romance, and Western fiction. They were also known for the several 'weird menace' titles. They also published several pulp hero or character pulps.

<i>The Curse of Capistrano</i> book

The Curse of Capistrano is a 1919 serialized novel by Johnston McCulley and the first work to feature the fictional Californio character Zorro. It would be later published as a book in 1924 under the title The Mark of Zorro.

William Murray is an American novelist, journalist, and short-story and comic-book writer. Much of his fiction has been published under pseudonyms. With artist Steve Ditko he co-created the superhero Squirrel Girl.

<i>Doctor Death</i> (magazine) US pulp science fiction magazine

Doctor Death was the title of a short-lived pulp science fiction magazine published by Dell Magazines in 1935, as well as the name of the main character featured in that magazine. An earlier, somewhat different, version of Doctor Death appeared in the magazine's predecessor All Detective Magazine.

<i>Detective Story Magazine</i>

Detective Story Magazine was an American magazine published by Street & Smith from October 15, 1915 to Summer, 1949. It was one of the first pulp magazines devoted to detective fiction and consisted of short stories and serials. While the publication was the publishing house's first detective-fiction pulp magazine in a format resembling a modern paperback, Street & Smith had only recently ceased publication of the dime-novel series Nick Carter Weekly, which concerned the adventures of a young detective.

Green Lama

The Green Lama is a fictional pulp magazine hero of the 1940s. He is commonly portrayed as a powerful Buddhist Lama, dressing in green robes with a red scarf and using his powerful skill set to fight crime. Slightly different versions of the same character also appeared in comic books and on the radio. The Green Lama character is not in the public domain, as the author "wisely retained all rights to his creation."

Masked Mystery Villain character type

A Masked Mystery Villain is a stock character in genre fiction. The Masked Mystery Villain was frequently used in the adventure stories of Pulp magazines and Movie Serials in the early twentieth century. They can also appear in Crime fiction to add to the atmosphere of suspense and suspicion. The "Mask" need not be literal, referring more to the subterfuge involved.

<i>The New Adventures of Zorro</i> (1981 TV series) American animated television series

The New Adventures of Zorro is an American animated television series produced by Filmation in 1981. The series, which has 13 episodes, is based on the fictional character created by Johnston McCulley. It aired as part of The Tarzan/Lone Ranger/Zorro Adventure Hour.

The following is a list of works by Johnston McCulley (1883–1958). Stories featuring his more popular pulp fiction characters, including Zorro, have been allotted independent lists. These lists are presented chronologically. The list of his other works is presented alphabetically.

<i>The Bold Caballero</i> 1936 film by Wells Root

The Bold Caballero is a 1936 adventure film written and directed by Wells Root. It is based on the character Zorro, created by Johnston McCulley. The characters Don Alejandro Vega and Bernardo are notably absent. Native American stars include Chief Thundercloud as Don Diego Vega/Zorro's aide and Charles Stevens as Captain Vargas. John Merton appears uncredited in this film as a First Sergeant. Merton also appears in Zorro's Fighting Legion as Manuel and Zorro's Black Whip as Harris. The film is notable for being the first "talking Zorro movie", as the first two Zorro movies were silent films, and the first in color (Magnacolor). It was shot in Chatsworth, Los Angeles. The film was released on December 1, 1936, by Republic Pictures.

Norman Arthur Danberg, better known as Norman A. Daniels and other pen names, was an American writer working in pulp magazines, radio, and television. He created the pulp hero the Black Bat and wrote for such series as The Phantom Detective and The Shadow.


  1. McCulley, Johnston, Thubway Tham's Inthane Moment, Detective Story, Nov 19 1918, p. 1