Ken O’Hara

Created by H.H. Stinson

KEN O’HARA was a hard-boiled reporter for the Los Angeles Tribune (and later in the series, a  rather reluctant hotel press agent) who appeared regularly in stories in that most venerable of pulps, Black Mask. He fought his way through fourteen stories, usually accompanied by his buddy Eddie, a frequently intoxicated photographer, and the stories benefitted greatly from their gritty authenticity — a result, no doubt, of the author’s own background as a journalist.

He must have been popular — Stinson’s name was often featured prominently on the covers. In fact, the pulp’s legendary editor Joseph T. Shaw thought highly of Stinson, particularly for his story “Nothing Personal” in the July  1936 issue, noting that one “careful reader” compared him favorably to Dashiell Hammett.

“The fact that Mr. Stinson is himself a newspaper man, a police reporter on one of the big Los Angeles papers, may have contributed to the sense of reality which he has infused into the story. But it isn’t every newspaperman who can make a story live and throb like this one. If it were, editors would have an easier time.”

Shaw chose another O’Hara story, “Give the Man Rope” from the April 1933 issue, for inclusion in his landmark The Hard-Boiled Omnibus (1946), although it was eventually dropped by the editor at Simon & Schuster.

Born in Illinois, Herbert Hunter Stinson was a Los Angeles police reporter and playwright, as well writing for the pulps. He was one of the original “Black Mask Boys” (he’s actually one of the writers in the legendary 1936 photo), as well as one of the members of The Fictioneers.  Besides writing the O’Hara stories for Black Mask, Stinson wrote another series series for Dime Detective, featuring private dick Pete Rousseau.


  • “Give the Man Rope” (April 1933, Black Mask)
  • “Trivial, Like Murder” (December 1934, Black Mask)
  • “Nothing Personal” (July 1936, Black Mask)
  • “Lay Off, O’Hara” (February 1937, Black Mask)
  • “My Dough Says Murder” (October 1937, Black Mask)
  • “Ol’ Devil O’Hara” (September 1938, Black Mask)
  • “All-American Menace” (January 1939, Black Mask)
  • “Murder Sweepstakes” (July 1939, Black Mask)
  • “Clamp Down” (June 1940, Black Mask)
  • “North of the Border” (December 1940, Black Mask)
  • “Calling All Hearses” (July 1941, Black Mask)
  • “Get Your Own Corpse” (March 1945, Black Mask)
  • “Your Corpses Are Showing” (November 1945, Black Mask)
  • “Murder’s No Libel” (July 1947, Black Mask)
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

Leave a Reply