I was browsing about at random last night and I came across a mention of the fictional character of John Sinclair. For those of you who don’t know – probably most, especially if you don’t live in Germany – John Sinclair is a “ghost hunter” character of a German horror pulp magazine series.
I remembered the series from when I was a kid. I never read any of it myself, but I do remember the cover, the “John Sinclair” logo, and I think some kids in my school read it. So, it being a boring time of the year, I decided to launch the good old peer to peer clients, and see if I can find a sample issue. And lo and behold, I was surprisingly successful. The download didn’t even take very long, I guess not many people are queuing up.
I read a few pages, and the quality of the writing is what you expect – pretty horrible (no pun intended). But what amazed me was how many of the works were available. I quickly did a search on Google, and came up with some very interesting information.
John Sinclair is written by one “Jason Dark”, a pen name of Helmut Rellergerd. Supposedly, he has written most of the John Sinclair books himself, with some exceptions especially during the early days when the editors did not believe that he could keep up with a weekly publishing schedule.
What’s so amazing is that since the first John Sinclair book, over 1400 books have been published. The common format is a 90-100 pages weekly magazine, but there are also longer novels (which may or may not be included in the 1400 books figure, I think they are). Rellergerds schedule is to write 30 pages per day, on an old mechanical typewriter. He has never visited any of the locations his stories are set at, and he gets most of his inspiration from various books dealing with the occult.
I am pretty convinced I could create stories of the same “quality”, the big question is, would I want to? The articles I found quoted Rellergerd as being paid 2500 DM (1250 Euro) per book in 1998, which adds up for a decent monthly salary, although the frantic pace is probably a killer.
The motivation cannot be artistic in nature either, although the books do sell (a quote of 200 million copies sold in the past 25 years), and there is some strange fascination of such huge series.
At any rate, I found these numbers quite impressive. And who knows, maybe some day I will lock myself away for a vacation and see if I can manage 30 pages a day, and if so, how horrible (again, no pun intended) my results will be.