Created by Hugh Lessig
PICASSO SMITH, hard-boiled scribbler for The Frisco Foil tabloid (“Boldly Printing the Truth and Mayhem”), circa 1931-58, is the star of a string of on-line short stories and vignettes by Hugn Lessig that harken back to the days of the pulps.
Picasso’s a general assignment reporter, with no time for guff or, evidently, cleaning his spitoon. According to his online bio, his favorite story story about The Foil is this one:
“It’s my first day on the job. I walk into the newsroom and my editor hands me a gun. He says, “there’s a guy in the conference room who wants to talk to you. Go in there.” And I say, “What’s the gun for?” And my editor says, “You may need it. He claims he killed a guy.” So I walk in the room and there’s this sniveling snip of a guy. He looks at me and says, “What’s that gun for?” And I say, “If you don’t talk, I’ll have to shoot you. That’s the way it is around here.”
The guy sang like a bird and I got a great story. The cops read the confession in the paper and locked him up. Afterwards, my editor said: “Smith, you were kind of soft on that guy. Next time, wing’em in the shoulder with that heater. We’ve got a reputation here.”
And that’s the kinda guy Picasso is. And, in true pulp fashion, he’s surrounded by some great supporting characters, such as Foil editor Lazurus Flint, photographer Bulbs Moore, and private detective Blanche Henrico.
And, from the look of things, it turns out there’s a chip off the old block. Lately, stories featuring Picasso Smith, Jr., who’s moved east to sling words for The River City Blade, have been popping up.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Hugh Lessig, besides being a contributor to this site, is a newspaper reporter himself in the Richmond, Virginia area. He writes fiction in his spare time — mostly to blow off steam. His stories honor the spirit of the hard-boiled newspaperman, including his hero Kennedy of the Free Press, the hard-drinking reporter created by Frederick Nebel, but add Lessig’s own quirky sense of humour. Besides Picasso et fils, he writes about another Foil newshawk, Alamo Barnes, whose adventures take place right about now. Great stories, all. Now if only you could find ‘em… sadly, many of them appeared originally online, and are no longer available. Anywhere. Hugh?
- “The First Time I Met Blanche” (1998, The Pulp Foil)
- “The Hacksaw Interview” (1998, The Pulp Foil)
- “Death Drawer” (1998, The Pulp Foil)
- “Showdown in Podsville” (1998, The Pulp Foil)
- “Bargain Basement Murder” (1998, The Pulp Foil)
- “The Gift of Wallace Random” (January 1999, Thrilling Detective Web Site)
- “The Taking of Tiffany” (1999, The Pulp Foil)
- “What I Did For Madge” (1999, The Pulp Foil)
- “Death Tax!” (1999, The Pulp Foil)
- “The Big Knockout” (1999, The Pulp Foil)
- “The Jigsaw Killer” (1999, The Pulp Foil)
- “Ready For Retirement” (Fall 1999, Plots With Guns)
- “The Listener” (February/March 2000, Plots With Guns)
- “Black Book, White Deaths” (July 2000, HandHeldCrime)
- “Death on Page 3” (August 2000, HandHeldCrime)
- “The Big Knockout” (June 2001, HandHeldCrime)
- The Pulp Foil: Tales of Hardboiled Newsmen
Sadly defunct, this was the home of The Frisco Foil, a newspaper that was dedicated to “Truth and Mayhem–and not always in that order.” Here were all of Picasso Smith‘s adventures, as well as those of Hugh Lessig’s other fictional reporters, including Alamo Barnes and Picasso Smith, Jr. A well-done, affectionate tribute to the hard-boiled newshawks of the pulps. Too bad it’s gone.
THE DICK OF THE DAY
- July 28, 2023
The Bottom Line: Got pulp? This hard-boiled scribbler pounded out copy for The Frisco Foil (“Boldly Printing the Truth and Mayhem”), from the 30s-50s, in a series of kickass stories.
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith. (I know, I know. A lot of those story links are dead).