FROM AMERICAN VIKING TO ZANE:
A Brace Godfrey Chrestomathy
With commentary by Johnny Shaw
In the summer of 1998, I was fortunate enough to sit down with the immortal “King of the Three-Shots,” Brace Godfrey, and talk to him about his life’s work: over six hundred novels published between 1969 and 1988 that comprised more than two hundred individual adventure series. There is no complete bibliography for Godfrey’s work, but I asked him to pick his favorite “Three-Shots.”
He presented me with 26 series, using the alphabet as his limitation. “Wrote so damn many, forgot more than I remember,” Godfrey told me, “And I ain’t got the time to dick around with this kind of bullshit.”**
I, personally, may have included such fan favorites as Mafia Berserker, The Expunger, and Blonde Squad, but I think this list makes a strong case for the wealth of Mr. Godfrey’s imagination.
- AMERICAN VIKING – Erik Leifson’s family has lived in the United States since before the country existed, the descendants of a Viking expedition in 700 AD. For hundreds of years in rural Maine, Erik’s people remained isolated from the rest of the world. The last of the line, Erik must find a new path, leading him to the chaos of New York City. Ragnarok & Ragnaroll, Midtown in Midgaard, Norse Force.
- THE BRAIN – After his release from prison for a crime he didn’t commit, super-scientist Quentin Maxwell uses his genius to develop a pair of high-tech boxing gloves. Taking to the streets, he uses his brain to punch the lights out of the criminal organization that framed him. Cerebrawl, A Present for Mandy, The Brain vs. The Brain.
- CODENAME: BLACK BELT – Ex-stuntman and martial artist Lance Horner is recruited by the CIA to help battle the rise of N.I.N.J.A., an evil cabal hellbent on reclaiming Asian treasures from the American museums that are now their rightful owners. Dojo of Death, Karate Chop Chop Shop, Lady N.I.N.J.A.
- DINGO (written as Linden Miles) – Some claim that Australian Aborigine Hozzle Adlinga is part dingo. That’s only a legend, but what is true is that he is the best tracker alive, and his often mysterious powers are sought after worldwide. Fair Dinkum, The Boomerang Brigand, Didgeridon’t.
- THE EXORCISMIST – The Vatican has entrusted Father John “Mac” MacNeish with one vital job: to cast out demons wherever they surface. But the real question is, is he possessed himself? Second to Nun, Satanarchy, A Child’s Garden of Pit Fiends.
- FIFTEEN WARRIORS – Fighting throughout Europe during World War II, they were known by their fellow soldiers as “The Fifteen Warriors.” The Nazis only knew them by one name: Certain Death! Join Sgt. Stone Steel and his men, Rocco Angelino, Mickey O’Herlihy, Olaf Swedenson, Max Dumkowsy, Ivan Crushski, Ching Chang, Cholo Garcia, Abraham Goldbergstein, Chief Flying Bear, Pierre Fageux, Jethro Hickson, Nappy Roosevelt, “Fancy Tommy” Sparkles, and their trained gorilla, Private Gorilla. 500 Divided by 15 Equals Death, The Nazi Princess, Hitler Island.
- GHETTO FORCE (written as Fillmore Cleveland) – They grew up fighting for survival on the mean streets of Harlem. Now they are the deadliest mercenaries-for-hire in the world. Maldives Jive; A Turkey from Turkey; Phuket, It’s Thailand.
- HAWKSHAW – When not nursing Old-Fashioneds at his local watering hole, private eye Cain Hawkshaw is usually peeping in windows and following soon-to-be divorcees. But one thing is sure: when Hawkshaw is around, trouble can’t be too far behind. The Delivery Man Usually Knocks Four Times, Triple Indemnity, Body in the Urinal.
- I, CAVEMAN – Oong feels different than the rest of the cavemen in his tribe. He is smarter and his posture is more upright. His thumbs are fully opposable. He feels like there is some kind of link missing between him and his people. But that’s the kind of thing that takes backseat when saber-tooth tigers and rival tribes threaten. Valley of the Cannibals, Fire of the Dinosaur God, Insectosaurs from the Chasm.
- JUDGE HAYMAKER – Tired of liberal do-gooder lawyers and seeing guilty men walk, former judge William Haymaker turns his back on the law and fights for justice. God help the criminal who feels the wooden sting of Judge Haymaker’s gavel. Lest Ye Be Judged; The Court of Hard Knocks; All Rise, All Die.
- KNOCKERS O’MALLEY: LADY COP (written as Lizzy C. Stanton) – Walking a beat in the toughest neighborhood of Chicago, Bernadette “Knockers” O’Malley is just as adept with her revolver as she is with her lipstick. “The hard-nosed, tough-as-nails cop who also has enormous tits!” Busted, Booby Traps, The Cantaloupe Caper.
- THE LAST OF THE MONSTERNAUTS – Damon Valescu is the last of his kind—a now-dead breed of men that ride monsters and secretly protect the Earth at the gates of the Tri-Dimensional Rift. Riding his faithful monster steed Cthloggoth, Damon will be tested by the horrors of the Plagueworld army. The Tentacled Terror of Taojoka, The Horned Horror of Heklaba, The Anal-Scent-Glanded Abomination of Aviozca.
- THE MEXICUTIONER (becomes CHINGÓN: THE WORLD’S DEADLIEST MEXICAN) – With his bullwhip Marta and a bandolier full of grenades, Chingón makes his own rules in a world where rules were meant to be exploded. Oaxacalypse, Blood and Tacos, Chihuahua Brouhaha.
- NUNCHAKU WARRIOR (written as Wang Fang) – subtitled “The Oriental Tornado,” this series features the adventures of Ch’ing Ki’an and his efforts to protect his extended family from the seemingly endless gangs that riddle the streets of Hong Kong. The Two Sticks and Connecting Chain of Death, Shrimp Fried Murder, Confucius Say Die.
- OPERATION: KILLZONE – Mercenary Brand Macklin has traveled the world’s worst hotspots killing those that hate democracy. Now, tired of all the bloodshed, he has retired to the island nation of Bimbatu. Unfortunately, his past won’t let him retire, and neither will the bullets and mortar fire of his enemies. Kill Blood, Dead Kill, Blood Dead.
- PILE DRIVER – Zeke Heffernan tours the wasteland of the post-apocalyptic Desert Southwest (now known as “The Zone”) in his tricked-out dump truck looking for survivors and keeping the banditos of the Raza Uprising at bay. Phoenix Descending; Highway to Purgatory; Break Her, Break Her.
- THE QUARTERBACK – On Sundays and occasional Mondays, Marl Brock stands behind center, throwing touchdowns for the Iron City Mastodons. But the rest of the time, he’s on the street fighting a one-man war against the Mob and meting out his own brand of vigilante justice. Roughing the Passer, The Hail Mary Killer, The Night of the Male Cheerleader.
- RAPIER – Killer of men and an all-around ladykiller, “The Private Privateer” pirates his way throughout the seven seas, leaving men scarred and women satisfied in his search for treasure of both the gold and sensual kind. The Tight Fit of Her Scabbard; Mansword of the Swordsman; Rapier, Rapiest.
- THE SNIPER DOSSIER – Otis Gangley spent his childhood hunting varmint in the Badlands of Oklahoma. Killing and a dead aim are in his blood. But now that he is a proud member of the US Marines, he no longer hunts game, he hunts man. Which is in its own way a game—a game of death. Death at 700 Yards, Death at 800 Yards, Death at 900 Yards.
- TANK HOWITZER – After a freak accident almost kills ex-astronaut Tank Howitzer, he is rebuilt with a mechanical body on treads and a transistor for a brain. Outfitted with an array of deadly explosive devices that shoot from his fingers and eyes, he rolls from town to town wherever he is needed. Assignment: Helsinki, Assignment: Perth, Assignment: Wisconsin.
- ULTRAGEDDON – World War V has decimated the world. A ragtag group of survivors tries to rebuild a society in the remnants of Cuyahoga Falls, forced to repel roving gangs of Mutantneers and the constant attacks of the Infected. The End Is the Beginning, The Beginning Is the Middle, Rowdy Dangle for President.
- VISIGOTH CHRONICLES – The barbarian army of the Visigoths tears a swath of violence through Europe. Punished by the gods for their deeds, the predators become the prey when the Visigoths are haunted by the ghosts of the men they killed and the women they raped, who presumably died afterward. Soon, it is an all-out war with an army of the undead. Death Spirits of the Ostrogoths, Blood Ghosts of Gaul, Corpse Centurions of Colonia.
- W.E.R.E.W.O.L.F. SQUADRON – What does W.E.R.E.W.O.L.F. stand for? Werewolf Elite Recon Extrahuman Weapons of Lycanthropic Force. Need I say more? Hell, no. Never Cry Monster, The Moon and Six Deaths, V.A.M.P.I.R.E. Strikes Back.
- X-PATRIOT – Mack Flagg isn’t going to let something as ordinary as death stop him from fighting for the United States of America. Brought back to life through a Native American ritual, Flagg gets a second chance. With his bald eagle spirit guide, he battles the decay of both his body and Western civilization. Love It or Leave It, The Eaglewind Cycle, Marine Corpse.
- YO-YO ASSASSIN – Written as promotional paperbacks for the Duncan Toys Company (although the shockingly brutal violence doomed the series). Duncan Carrington lived the life of leisure, yachts, and wealth. But when his family is murdered by an international terrorist organization, he uses his money and his only skill to exact revenge one trick at a time. Walking the Death Dog, The Big Sleeper, The Yo-Yo Assassin Meets Tommy Smothers.
- ZANE – Cast out by his brethren in The Council of Nine, rogue wizard Zane must find his way by working as a celebrity bodyguard in the hustle and bustle of Hollywood. With only his magic gun and magic bullets to protect him, can he survive not just his fans, but his clients? Which Witch?; Abra Cadaver; Presto, Slay-O.
**Considering that Mr. Godfrey was drunk and getting drunker in the back booth of a bar called The Spittoon in Stockton, California, I am positive that he did have time to dick around with my bullshit. He was just being an asshole.
Along with his role as editor of Blood & Tacos, Johnny Shaw is a screenwriter, playwright, and the author of the novel Dove Season: A Jimmy Veeder Fiasco. For the last dozen years, Johnny has taught writing, lecturing at both Santa Barbara City College and UC Santa Barbara.