Sunday, March 11, 2012

Drury D. Sharp (1886-1960)

Aka D.D. Sharp
Writer, Farmer
Born November 10, 1886, Queen City, Texas
Died August 1960, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Drury Dubose Sharp was born on November 10, 1886, in Queen City, a community squeezed into the northeast corner of Texas. (1) From there it was ever westward. In 1900: Sherman, Texas; in 1918: Fort Worth; in 1920 and 1930: San Antonio, New Mexico, where Sharp finally reached what must have been his dream: to be a writer. (2) His first published story was for Weird Tales. It was called "The Goddess of the Painted Priests," and it appeared in the April 1929 issue. Sharp followed that with his second and last story for "The Unique Magazine," "In the Toils of the Black Kiva" from October 1929. Between those two dates, Science Wonder Stories published Sharp's most famous and enduring tale, "The Eternal Man," a melancholy if not despairing meditation on human existence (Aug. 1929). "The Eternal Man" has been reprinted again and again, about once every decade since its first appearance. Its protagonist, Herbert Zulerich, returned in a sequel, "The Eternal Man Revives," in Wonder Stories Quarterly in the summer of 1930.

After his initial success, D.D. Sharp submitted stories to a number of pulp magazines, mostly in the genre of science fiction. Between 1930 and 1944, his work was published in Startling Stories, Astounding Stories, Marvel Science Stories, Astonishing Stories, Marvel Stories, Thrilling Wonder Stories, Captain Future, and finally Jungle Stories. Sharp also shared a spot with Clyde Farrar in volume 12 of Hugo Gernsback's Science Fiction Series, a collection of eighteen pamphlets published from 1929 to 1932.

During the 1930s, Drury Sharp worked for the Federal Writers' Project under the WPA. He wrote about the history and people of his adopted home state of New Mexico. The last credit I can find for him in his own lifetime is a bit of non-fiction called "Prayer Stick Vengeance," published in The Desert Magazine in August 1957. The story of a curse, it combines the author's interests in the strange and fantastic with his native land.

Drury D. Sharp died in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in August 1960. A dozen years later, Eerie Publications adapted one of his stories to its comic book title, Terror Tales (Vol. 4, No. 6).

(1) Sources on the Internet give Sharp's birth year as 1880. Census records and his World War I draft card agree on a birth year of 1886.
(2) Science fiction author Jack Williamson (1908-2006) arrived in New Mexico in 1915 with his family. Though a generation younger than Sharp, Williamson may have crossed paths with him in the small world of 1930s science fiction. Unfortunately, I don't have a biography of Williamson to consult.

Drury D. Sharp's Stories in Weird Tales
"The Goddess of the Painted Priests" (Apr. 1929)
"In the Toils of the Black Kiva" (Oct. 1929)

Further Reading
You can read a reprint of "The Eternal Man" in a number of editions, including The History of the Science Fiction Magazine, Volume 1: 1926-1935, edited by Mike Ashley (Henry Regnery, 1974).

D.D. Sharp's byline appeared on the cover of his last known pulp magazine credit, "The Eternal Man" combined with "The Eternal Man Returns," in the first issue of Wonder Story Annual in 1950. The name of the cover artist is unknown.
Sharp and his story again made the cover of the digest-sized Famous Science Fiction in its Fall issue, 1968.  The art on the cover, almost certainly a reprint, was by Wesso.
Sharp's work was adapted to comics in Terror Tales, October 1972. I don't know the name of the cover artist.
Text and captions copyright 2012 Terence E. Hanley

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