The First Superhero — Jimmie Dale, the Gray Seal?

As readers of this blog know, among my varied interests are superheroes and pulp fiction, as well as Canadian pop culture. Interests that converge in the character of Jimmie Dale, created by early 20th Century Canadian writer Frank L. Packard.

Jimmie Dale — The Gray Seal! — is widely considered the prototype of the masked mystery man hero…and by extension, the superhero archetype. And I have an essay about the character on-line at the Rage Machine Books blog (it was initially on Dark Worlds Quarterly, the webzine/e-zine about SF, fantasy, pulp fiction put out by Rage Machine, but has been moved so I’ve up-dated the link!) If you’ve never heard of Jimmie Dale/The Gray Seal you should check out my piece — I think you’ll find it fascinating and eye-opening. And even if you have, I think I offer a few observations and inferences you might find intriguing (as I consider both how the character is like later characters in the genre…but also unlike them).

Dark Worlds Quarterly (and the Rage Machine blog) also has other nifty pieces (including recent postings about SF writer Edmond Hamilton and a piece looking at an early Batman comic co-written by a couple of well known SF writers!). My relationship with DWQ is kind of through the back door as I was initially interviewed by them for a piece, but subsequently they’ve accepted a couple of essays by me (including an essay considering the possible racial metaphors in Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Martian books).

Anyway, if you’re interested in Jimmie Dale, superheroes, pulp fiction, or Canadian roots of western pop culture check out my piece.

(Oh, and shameless plug: I’ve also written my own available fiction, including some story collections about Canadian superheroes).

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2 Responses to The First Superhero — Jimmie Dale, the Gray Seal?

  1. J. Richard Wright says:

    I created and wrote a series in the early 2000’s, called: “The Investigations of Quentin Nickles.” It was produced and directed by the late Barry Morgan, and Executive Producer Bill Howell, for CBC Radio. While we recorded 20 episodes, only 17 were aired since it was during this time that Nickle’s venue – The Mystery Project – was killed. According to Barry, we were receiving a goodly amount of comments/mail that was very complimentary. In fact, the series ran across Canada with several repeats – Richardson’s Roundup in BC for instance. While finishing up writing Nickles, I was commissioned to create and write a second Radio Drama series which I called “Wings Over Labrador.” After writing and being paid for the initial three script by Producer James Roy, this was also halted since it’s venue was to be The Mystery Project and this was summarily canned for whatever reason. As a writer I was not made aware of why this happened. Bill left the CBC shortly after this. If anyone can enlighten me as to why, I would welcome same at or NOTLWRIGHTER@GMAIL.COM Thanks so much J. Richard Wright

    • Administrator says:

      For any readers confused by the above comment’s relevance to my Jimmie Dale piece…this was posted (I suspect) in regards to some of my radio drama posts (like this one). But comments seem to get closed off on older posts after a while, leaving little option for a reader except to leave a comment below a newer post (not my doing, though maybe if I wasn’t such a Luddite there’s a way to correct that). Anyway, for those curious about what J. Richard Wright is referring to, I believe you can actually find a few episodes of The Investigations of Quentin Nickles (about a Victorian-era Canadian police detective, ala Murdoch Mysteries or The Great Detective) floating about the internet for streaming if you Google (probably not strictly legal, but if the CBC won’t make available or re-broadcast old programs, in the name of preserving Canadian pop culture, it’s probably good someone is).
      (PS. I did a quick dive into the settings and think I corrected that time-limit hiccup for the future).