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Nevins, Jess

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author, Critic.

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Working name of US reference librarian and author John J Nevins (1966-    ), most of whose work to date has been nonfiction, with an emphasis on Fantastika, initially focusing on the study and annotation of Superhero Comics; he began to publish fiction with "A Jest, to Pass the Time" in Gentlemen of the Night, anth 2006, edited by Jean-Marc Lofficier and Randy Lofficier. His first novel, The Datong Incident (2016), is an Alternate History set in early twentieth-century China, the Jonbar Point being the occupation of China after the "Boxer War". The Road to Prester John (2016) confabulates the story of the semi-historical quasi-messiah. Stagecoach Mary (coll 2016) interestingly sets into an Alternate World Montana episodes from the life of the historical Mary Fields (1832-1914), an African-American woman who worked as a mail carrier.

Much of Nevins's nonfiction work has been online, and is findable at his website [see under links below]; his extensive examination of Alan Moore's The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (1999-current) is also available as Heroes & Monsters: The Unofficial Companion to the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003; vt Heroes & Monsters 2006), A Blazing World: The Unofficial Companion to the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2004; vt A Blazing World 2006) and Impossible Territories: An Unofficial Companion to the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen The Black Dossier (2008).

Of more comprehensive interest, however, is The Encyclopedia of Fantastic Victoriana (2005), which comprises a set of extensive entries on characters featured in the fantastic literature of the nineteenth century, focusing on Heroes and heroines and Villains who appear in tales of the fantastic as defined in this encyclopedia, but including protagonists of other genres as well: thrillers, swashbucklers, adventures stories of every sort. Some general entries are also included, but more importantly Nevins's detailed examination of individual characters, whose adventures often continue through several volumes, provides a uniquely intense portrait of the first age of Pulp, when these enactors of the half-secret wish-fulfilling dreamworld of the West in recent centuries were first created. The lack of an index, or of cross-reference entries in the actual text, can sometimes impair easy access – Nevins's informed discussion of Alexander Dumas's The Count of Monte Cristo (1844-1845) is only findable, for instance, under a single headword, Dantés, Edmond. But as a whole The Encyclopedia of Fantastic Victoriana remains irreplaceable.

Nevins's second work of comprehensive significance – The Encyclopedia of Pulp Heroes (2017 ebook) [for spinoff volumes see Checklist below] – follows directly upon The Encyclopedia of Fantastic Victoriana, covering the first forty-five years of the twentieth century, applying the same criteria with the same intensity of coverage, attempting to encompass all categories of the pulp hero, including cowboys, detectives, Superheroes, and adventurers in general. Also of interest is Horror Needs No Passport: 20th Century Horror Fiction Outside the United States and Great Britain (2018), whose full title is self-explanatory.

Nevins is the latest of a distinguished line of bibliographic scholars and annotators whose work in the regions of Fantastika has been essential, and which includes figures like Mike Ashley, E F Bleiler, William G Contento, George Locke, Robert Reginald, Phil Stephensen-Payne and Donald H Tuck. Their labours have subtended (sometimes to a greater degree than generally realized) the work of academic scholars. [JC]

see also: Apes as Human; Gregory Casparian.

John J Nevins

born Boston, Massachusetts: 30 July 1966

works (selected)

collections and stories

  • Stagecoach Mary (Scotts Valley, California: CreateSpace, 2016) [coll: pb/]



League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

individual titles

works as editor


previous versions of this entry

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