Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Today is the celebration of Wold Newton Day, the anniversary of the cosmic event which spawned many of the great heroes in fiction.

Here's a quick rundown on the details from Wikipedia:
The Wold Newton family is a literary concept derived from a form of crossover fiction developed by the science fiction writer Philip José Farmer. Farmer suggested in two "biographies" of fictional characters ("Tarzan Alive" and "Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life"), that the (real) meteorite which fell in Wold Newton, Yorkshire, England, on December 13, 1795, was radioactive and caused genetic mutations in the occupants of a passing coach. Many of their descendants were thus endowed with extremely high intelligence and strength, as well as an exceptional capacity and drive to perform good, or, as the case may be, evil deeds. The progeny of these travelers were purported to have been the real-life originals of fictionalized characters, both heroic and villainous, over the last few hundred years, such as Sherlock Holmes, Tarzan, Doc Savage, and Lord Peter Wimsey.

Other popular characters included by Farmer as members of the Wold Newton family are: Solomon Kane; Captain Blood; The Scarlet Pimpernel; Sherlock Holmes's nemesis Professor Moriarty; Phileas Fogg; The Time Traveller (main character of "The Time Machine" by H. G. Wells); Allan Quatermain; A.J. Raffles; Professor Challenger; Richard Hannay; Bulldog Drummond; the evil Fu Manchu and his adversary, Sir Denis Nayland Smith; G-8; The Shadow; Sam Spade; Doc Savage's cousin Patricia Savage, and one of his five assistants, Monk Mayfair; The Spider; Nero Wolfe; Mr. Moto; The Avenger; Philip Marlowe; James Bond; Lew Archer; Travis McGee; Monsieur Lecoq; and Arsène Lupin.

The Toobworld Dynamic is not the Wold Newton Universe, even though many of those characters mentioned above do reside in the TV Universe as well. But their televersions are often far afield of their literary counterparts in their original sources which the WNU adheres to even as they create new adventures and connections between those characters.

I wrote about Wold Newton Day last year......

This year, rather than rehash the same old story about the differences and similarities between the TwD and my worthy allies of the WNU, I thought I'd mark Wold Newton Day by focusing on one particular member of the Wold Newton Family. And this year, I've chosen Arsène Lupin.

Who's he, you may ask? Then you've never heard of the gentleman thief who held the same popularity as Sherlock Holmes, but in France.

Again, here's from Wikipedia:
Arsène Lupin is a fictional character who appears in a book series of detective fiction / crime fiction novels written by French writer Maurice Leblanc, as well as a number of non-canonical sequels and numerous film, television such as "Night Hood", stage play and comic book adaptations.

Arsène Lupin is a literary descendant of Pierre Alexis Ponson du Terrail's Rocambole. Like him, [the gentleman thief] is often a force for good, while operating on the wrong side of the law. Those whom Lupin defeats, always with his characteristic Gallic style and panache, are worse villains than he. Lupin is somewhat similar to A. J. Raffles and anticipates characters such as The Saint.

For the WNU, the literary stories hold more weight, but they also include any new adventures that might have been created for the movies and television, so long as they don't contradict the established narrative. With the Toobworld Dynamic, we can only use the TV plots and even then only from the first version of Arsène Lupin's adventures to be broadcast. All other "televersions" must be relegated to alternate TV dimensions.
Therefore, it is the Lupin who was seen on French TV back in the early 1970's, as played by Georges Descrières, must be considered THE Arsène Lupin of Toobworld. There were 26 episodes in all, which in America would have been considered a single season for the series, but which were spread out over several years in France:

Le bouchon de cristal (18 March 1971)

Victor de la brigade mondaine (25 March 1971)

Arsène Lupin contre Herlock Sholmes (1 April 1971)

L'arrestation d'Arsène Lupin (8 April 1971)

L'agence Barnett (15 April 1971)

La fille aux yeux verts (22 April 1971)

La chaîne brisée (29 April 1971)

La femme aux deux sourires (6 May 1971)

La chimère du calife (13 May 1971)

Une femme contre Arsène Lupin (20 May 1971)

Les anneaux de Cagliostro (27 May 1971)

Les tableaux de Tornbull (3 June 1971)

Le sept de coeur (10 June 1971)

Herlock Sholmes lance un défi (18 December 1973)

Arsène Lupin prend des vacances (20 December 1973)

Le mystère de Gesvres (22 December 1973)

Le secret de l'aiguille (25 December 1973)

L'homme au chapeau noir (27 December 1973)

L'écharpe rouge (29 December 1973)

La demeure mystérieuse (5 January 1974)

Les huit coups de l'horloge (12 January 1974)

La dame au chapeau à plumes (19 January 1974)

La danseuse de Rottenburg (26 January 1974)

Le film révélateur (2 February 1974)

Double jeu (9 February 1974)

Le coffre-fort de madame Imbert (16 February 1974)

(You'll notice there were a couple of episodes in which Lupin encountered someone named "Herlock Sholmes". O'Bviously he was an impostor of Sherlock Holmes, since it couldn't have been Jeremy Brett playing the role. Holmes had many imitators in Toobworld, trying to cash in on his celebrated deduction skills.)

Having never seen the series, I can't say how faithful it was to the original source material of the stories by Maurice LeBlanc. But at least from the pictures I've seen of Descrières in the role, I think it's safe to assume that he was in the correct time period - unlike the official TV portrayal of Tarzan of the Apes.

I'm working on an Inner Toob post about Ed Asner and 'Hawaii Five-O' and that's what triggered the idea to focus on Arsène Lupin today. When Asner was in the 'Five-O' episode "Model Of A Wooden Rat", there was a character named Gustave Lupin (played by Richard McKenzie.)

Gustave Lupin was the curator for a small museum in Hawaii, but he was of European birth. Because of his very expensive heroin habit, Lupin ran afoul of a ruthless smuggler who blackmailed him into doing his bidding in exchange for the money needed to support his habit. But when Lupin finally rebelled at being involved any longer back in 1975, the smuggler had him killed and made it look like he hanged himself.

So it's going to be the Toobworld Central's "theory of relateeveety" that Gustave Lupin was the grandson of Arsène Lupin.

If you want to learn more about the concept of the Wold Newton Universe, I can't recommend highly enough a visit to the site maintained by Win Scott Eckert. But I should warn you - once you enter, you may be lost in there for hours!

Enjoy. And happy Wold Newton Day!


No comments: