Rogues' Gallery

Erle Stanley Gardner's Other Series Characters

Long before he hit it really big with Perry Mason, Erle Stanley Gardner created dozens and dozens of colourful and sometimes downright odd characters for the pulps of the twenties and thirties, before turning towards the more lucrative field of novels. Most of them were the good guys, but I think it's fair to say that few of them were angels. They were con artists, private eyes, lawyers, flim flam men, cowboys, angle players, career diplomats, and corner cutters, more than willing to bend and twist the law to achieve their goals, whether it was to see justice done or simply to relieving some criminal of his ill-gotten goods. Most of them were at least colourful, some were definitely eccentric and a few of them were just plain weird. And in what was surely a recurring motif, many were quiter wealthy; something that must have appealed to Depression-era readers.

These misfits appeared in all kinds of pulps, not just Black Mask and Argosy, but also Clues, All Detective, Dime Detective, Detective Story, Dime Detective, Detective Action Stories, Double Detective, This Week, Detective Fiction Weekly, West and some other cowboy pulps). Later, some of them popped up in such slicks such as The Country Gentleman, Cosmopolitan and The Saturday Evening Post. A lot of them have been rounded up in assorted collections and anthologies, but many have -- even years later -- never been reprinted.

So, if you're ever prowling around a yard sale or a flea market and spy an old, tattered pulp with a Garner story in it going for pocket change, pick it up. chances are you won't be disappointed.




Sheriff Billy Bales


Jerry Bane

A wealthy, "self-appointed detective." Similar to Paul Pry.


Dave Barker

Three Star Magazine

Black Barr
aka "Fate's Executioner

A Western gunslinger & detective.

Black Mask, Rapid Fire Detective

Dred Bart

A well-heeled criminologist/psychologist.

Clues, Detective Fiction Weekly

Dudley Bell

A wealthy dandy who "smoked monogrammed cigarettes and didnt care about money."

All Detective

Dick Bentley

Dime Detective

Jax Bowman

The "White Ring" series.


Major Copley Brane

A freelance diplomat/spy.


Perry Burke

Shared a mansion with "The Cleaning House of Crime" and supposedly fought "organized crime twenty-four hours a day."


Terry Clane

Cosmopolitan; appeared in two novels.

Ken Corning

A crusading New York attorney, full of tricks, and an obvious predecessor to Perry Mason.

Black Mask

Sheriff Bob Crowder

All Detective

Speed Dash

The clean-living "Human Fly."

Top-Notch Magazine

Señor Arnaz de Lobo

A Mexican adventurer and soldier of fortune.

Detective Fiction Weekly

Double Decker

Written as Kyle Corning.

Detective Story

El Paisano

Another scam artist. He can see in the dark.


Sheriff Bill Eldon

The Country Gentleman

Go Get 'Em Garver

Dime Detective

Ben Harper

"The Man Who Couldn't Forget"

All Detective, Detective Fiction Weekly

Hard Rock Hogan

Ed Jenkins

A con artist/thief; "The Phantom Crook."

Black Mask

Rex Kane

An escaped con with plastic surgery problems that forced him to always smile.

Detective Action Stories

Jax Keen

A movie company troubleshooter.

Double Detective

Barney "Want-Ad" Killigen

A perpetually struggling lawyer with a knack for cutting corners. Known for his habit of placing numerous ads in the papers to aid in his investigations.


Bob Larkin

Adventurer. An amateur juggler, his weapon of choice is a pool cue.

Black Mask

Win Layton

A girl reporter.

This Week

Lester Leith

Another of Gardner's wealthy gentleman thieves. A "jaunty figure of assured indifference."

Detective Fiction Weekly

The Man in the Silver Mask

Essentially a costumed crimefighter, thanks to that mask.

Detective Fiction Weekly

Mr. Manse

His eyes were said to emit "a cold fire of conccentration." Wealthy.

Detective Action Stories

Jerry Marr

Detective Fiction Weekly

Fish Mouth McGinnis

A Western hero.

The Smart Set, Complete Stories

Ed Migraine

"The Headache," particularly to those this ex-soldier of fortune encounters.

Double Detective

Sam Moraine

Written under the pseudonym of Charles Kenny.

The American Magazine

Old Walrus

West and a few other cowboy pulps

The Patent Leather Kid

A confidence man on the side of the angels; has a thing about leather.

Detective Fiction Weekly

Paul Pry

A wealthy scam artist; aka "The Crime Juggler."

Peter Quint

The Saturday Evening Post

Steve Raney


Buck Riley

West, Brief Stories

Snowy Shane

An unorthodox P.I. Like, Gardner wrote any other kind?

Dane Skarle

A crime-solving carny.

Dime Detective

Small, Weston & Burke

A law firm specializing in bizarre cases. Or is it "Smith, Weston & Burke"?

Dime Detective

Pete Wennick

A lawyer who worked as an undercover investigator for his firm.

Black Mask

Grandpa Wiggins

Appeared in two novels.

Slicker Williams

An ex-con who uses "the tricks of crookery" to rescue a damsel in distress.

Yee Dooey Wah

Clues, Detective Fiction Weekly

Bob Zane

A philosophical middle-aged prospector. The "Whispering Sands" series.


Sidney Zoom

A millionaire adventurer & master of disguise. Had a police dog.

Detective Fiction Weekly

Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith. A large part of this table was originally based on a post by pulp expert John Woolley on Rara-Avis way back in 1999, with further info gleaned from Secrets of the World's Best-Selling Writer (1980) by Francis L. and Roberta B. Fugate.

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