Created by Benton Braden
JOHNNY PIKE only appeared in four stories in the Clues pulp in 1939, and I wasn’t quite sure if he was a private eye, a reporter or somewhere in between. In the only story I’ve managed to hunt down, “The Black Widow Murders,” Johnny (and his red-haired girlfriend Penny McGee) are asked by their pal, “dynamic little columnist” Harry Anson, to help him look into the mysterious suicide of a wealthy business man. When questioned by the man’s widow about whether he was a reporter, Johnny answers “Not exactly.”
It turns out “not exactly” means that Johnny is indeed a private eye, but he only has one client–Harry Anson himself, who describes Johnny as “that relentless and indomitable investigator whose services are devoted exclusively to this column. The peerless and fearless–Johnny “Eight-ball Pike!”
Not sure how he got the Eight-ball nickname, though. Maybe in one of the other stories?
Johnny’s creator was Benton Braden, who published well over a hundred stories in the pulps from the thirties to the fifties. He got his start in 1933 by placing a story in Street & Smith’s Clues All Star Detective Stories, and soon moved over to the Standard line, which included Thrilling Detective and Popular Detective. Braden had several series going, included the Mr. Finnis series, about John Kent, a wealthy young swell who secretly battled crime. Another featured Andrew Dart, the “Percentage Kid,” while yet another that followed peanut-loving private eye Willie Brann.
- “Baby Cheaters” (May 1939, Clues Detective Stories)
- “Death Behind the Eight Ball” (July 1939, Clues Detective Stories)
- “The Black Widow Murders” (September 1939, Clues Detective Stories)
- “The Missing Mermaid” (November 1939, Clues Detective Stories)