It was quite interesting to enter “John Sinclair” into the English Wikipedia. To me, John Sinclair is first and foremost the main (and title) character of the longest-running German horror pulp magazine. In the Wikipedia it’s just one of various entries.
When I was a teenager, I used to read the magazine for several years and was some sort of specialist for the story, the characters and so on. Then I moved on to other magazines (one with unrelated stories, to be more precise) and left Inspector Sinclair behind me.
As I write this, the story is still running and the Inspector is still hunting demons for a living. But I haven’t read a new story for at least a decade. So why am I writing about him now?
Well, sometime in the nineties (don’t ask me when), the German station RTL produced and aired a TV series based on the stories. They even did a TV movie (which was way better than the series, if I may say so). The series wasn’t very successful and thus quite sort (9 episodes, the last of which was never aired) and RTL didn’t even do many reruns of the whole thing.
By now, the complete series (plus movie) is out on DVD and I bought and watched it. Apart from the fact that they changed quite a lot (including the main characters hair colour … look at the cover beside the first paragraph of this post, Mr. Sinclair is the only guy who is no statue and he’s blond … he’s been described as blond in every issue I’ve ever read, too), the series, seen with modern eyes, lacks quite a bit in the SFX department, too. The movie is a little bit better, but then, it’s longer than an episode (90 minutes as opposed to 45 minutes) and was made with a higher budget.
The series still is watchable, even though it will not scare anybody. Some of the stories, though, are quite strange. The last episode (the unaired one) leaves that many loose threads, you could knit a pullover out of them. If I am, on whatever level, aware that the series is about to die, why change everything in the last episode and exchange the ‘episode closed, case closed’ principle of the other eight episodes for the ‘I hint something but never really get back to it’ principle of the last one? In every episode before the last one, everything is basically cleaned up before the end. The bad guy dies (he does so in episode 9, too) and whatever else happened, is explained at least to a certain degree. Whatever this jail (where people die and turn to ice) is, it seems to be more than just your average jail. Is the warden mad and sees the inmates as demons or are the inmates demons and the warden is at least partially sane? I still don’t get it.
“John Sinclair” was one of my first run-ins with horror. Later on I moved on to Stephen King, Bram Stoker and loads and loads of other writers. I moved on to another pulp magazine (“Dämonenland”) with unrelated stories. That meant all the main characters of a story could die in the end, because they would not return anyway. Then I moved away from pulp magazines altogether (after “Dämonenland” died and “Vampires” was staked just as the readers were about to learn more about the main character’s background).
Inspector Sinclair is still out there somewhere, hunting for demons. And I’m sure he will be out there a bit longer. But some day, I get the feeling, Hell will win. He is mortal, thus his time on earth is short. Lucifer and his colleagues can wait him out.