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First issue cover
|In story information|
|Publication date||February – June 1935|
|Number of issues||3|
Doctor Death was the title of a short-lived pulp science fiction magazine published by Dell Magazines in 1935, as well as the name of the main character featured in that magazine. An earlier, somewhat different, version of Doctor Death appeared in the magazine's predecessor All Detective Magazine.
The character of Doctor Death first appeared in a short story "Doctor Death" in the July 1934 issue of All Detective. That first story was written by Edward P. Norris, who went on to produce three more Doctor Death stories: "Cargo of Death", "Death's I.O.U." and "Thirteen Pearls", which appeared in the September 1934, October 1934 and January 1935 issues of All Detective respectively. In these stories, the hero is Nibs Holloway, who works for a jewelry company. Nibs appeared in 2 stories without Doctor Death: "The Death Gambler" (Rapid-Fire Detective Stories, 5/33, published by Rapid-Fire Pubs) and "A Deal in Phonies" (All Detective, 8/34, Dell). Obviously, Doctor Death was meant to only appear in the second Nibs story, but was instead brought back in the fourth and subsequent stories. At the end of each story, he was seemingly killed off, only to reappear in the next story.
In these stories, Doctor Death is a dangerous mastermind of a foreign crime syndicate. No information is given as to his real identity or motives.
In February 1935 All Detective was replaced by a new magazine entitled Doctor Death, which featured a new, somewhat different version of the character. While the original Doctor Death had been a straightforward criminal mastermind, the new one was an archetypal mad scientist. These new stories were written by Harold Ward under the pseudonym of "Zorro". Although an apparent change of author, Robert Weinberg has stated that "Edward P. Norris" was also a pseudonym of Harold Ward. Since Weinberg's claim, Ward's work has been more thoroughly examined, and it was determined Ward did not write those early stories.
Only three issues of Doctor Death were published, in February, March and April 1935. Each of these issues contained a complete Doctor Death novel under the byline of Zorro. In chronological order, the three novels are:
In addition, there are two additional stories, which were unpublished at the time:
In these novels, Doctor Death is Dr. Rance Mandarin, formerly a professor at Yale University and now a master of the occult with an insane hatred of scientific progress and industrialization. He believes it is his mission to return the world to a blissful primitive state, which he attempts to do with the aid of zombies, elementals, dissolution rays and communist heavies. He hopes to reduce the human population, and return us to the stone age. Opposing Doctor Death is an organization known as the Secret Twelve, led by supernatural detective Jimmy Holm, with the President of the United States himself as its figurehead.
In the 1960s, Corinth Books reprinted the 3 Doctor Death novels, plus a fourth book reprinted the short stories from the 3 issues.
Two unpublished novels, Waves of Madness and The Red Mist of Death were reprinted in the pulp fanzines Nemesis, Inc #28-30 and Pulp Vault #5-6 respectively.
In 2008, Altus Press reprinted the four early Doctor Death stories from All-Detective: "Doctor Death", "Cargo of Death", "Death's I.O.U." and "Thirteen Pearls."  In 2009, Altus reprinted the five Harold Ward Doctor Death stories in two volumes.