John Raffles

Real Name: Lord Edward Lister

Identity/Class: Human technology user

Occupation: Thief, gentleman, medical doctor

Affiliations: Charles Brand (a somewhat feminine looking sureshot, secretary, sidekick), James Henderson (driver-butler like servant, large strongman).

Enemies: Inspector Baxter of Scotland Yard, the Society of the Golden Key (including the KKK), the Gang of the Evil Eye, Arthur Lupin, gangsters, rich buffoons.

Known Relatives: Arthur Lister (father, deceased), unidentified mother (deceased), Lord Gerald Lister (grandfather, deceased), unidentified cousin. Raffles is the last of the Listers, but there is a distant cousin entitled to the “female” heirlooms of the Listers.

Aliases: John Raffles (Nom de Guerre), Lord William Aberdeen (the default false public identity, the title may well be genuine, the name is certainly not), John C. Sinclair (in French translations mostly/only?), the Master Thief, the Great Unknown, Lord Eastborn, Lord Westborn (in Paris), Count (or Earl ?) Palmhurst, Lord Panhurst, Lord Winston, Lord Duncan, Lord Devenport, count Sven Hagstrom, and many, many others.

Base of Operations: House of Lord Aberdeen, London, England

First Appearance: Lord Lister, genannt Raffles #1, 1908 (Germany)

Powers/Abilities: Raffles is a medical doctor, a chemist, an engineer and an inventor. That combination results in his most remarkable ability: Raffles occupies the No Man’s land in between the Masters-of-Disguise and the Shape Shifters. Raffles can by means of his medical knowledge really change the colour and texture of his hair and his skin and the colour of his eyes. He could change the skin of a century old sailor to that of a fifteen year old schoolgirl, but is using this ability almost exclusively for his own disguises, combined with normal master of disguise tricks. As very handsome and well shaped man he cannot disguise himself as a female person convincingly, unlike his companions, be it that Henderson seems always a remarkably tall and muscular lady.

Raffles cannot be hypnotised, but can hypnotise people himself. Raffles speaks several languages, including Dutch, French, Russian and Hungarian. Considering less exceptional abilities, they can be simply summarized by stating that, but for eating with chopsticks, Raffles can do everything. Lord Lister is very rich, how much of his richness are the result of his activities as Raffles is unclear. He owns several houses, a plane and a submarine.

History: Raffles is a mythic and mysterious hero, with no less than five mostly incompatible origin stories. Initially he claimed that he became Raffles out of sheer boredom, just for the sport of it, but he also claims he became Raffles because his deceased parents were robbed by some business man in London, causing his sire to commit suicide, owning a castle in Scotland. An important development in this story is that it is revealed to Scotland Yard that the notorious criminal John Raffles is Lord Lister, this becomes common knowledge, and forces Raffles to live as Lord Aberdeen (German version).

(Lord Lister #10) We learn that the ancestral home of the Listers was Castle Canaroon in Ireland, in Cromwell’s time the Listers acquired by marriage the title of Lord Aberdeen, which would make Lord Aberdeen, a real title of Lister. John Raffles was the grandson of Lord Gerald Lister, born 1801, viceroy of India, married to an Indian princess, their son Arthur married in India the daughter of a high and white official. An evil cousin stole the title and the possessions, and forced Edward Lister to take another identity, because people did not believe he was really Lord Lister (German).

(Lord Lister #25) Gives an origin with Lord Lister used as scapegoat for a huge fraud (German).

(Lord Lister # 253) Lord Lister studied in Aberdeen and in Utrecht in the Netherlands to become a medical doctor. He donated that much money to charity that he had to steal to give away much more. To do so he took the name of the fictional Raffles created by Ernest William Hornung, be it that in Lord Lister’s reality the first name of A.J. Raffles was John. (Dutch).

(Lord Lister # 256) Provides a flashback an origin with a sad childhood, with wanderings in the dark parts of London, a growing sympathy for the oppressed and hate for the oppressors. No factual statements about the financial situation (Dutch).

Raffles has as a really long running pulp hero no real history, he is always rich, he is always known as John Raffles, whose true identity as Lord Lister is public knowledge, with Lord Aberdeen as his secret identity. His age is thanks to his special skills always hard to guess.

Comments: Lord Lister AKA John Raffles is a truly international hero. His history started with his creation in 1908 by Kurt Matull and Theo Blankensee in Germany, as an imitation of A.J. Raffles. After a mere 110 issues the hero married, and the series ended. The stories were translated and quite a success and continued by local writers for some time. In Denmark hundreds of new stories were added. In Spain, Portugal and Italy the Lord Lister adventures continued as well. France seemed to have enough on the original stories, but changed the “true name” of the character to John C. Sinclair, for copyright reasons. it seems. Poland, Sweden, Russia, Turkey, Indonesia, Brazil and Argentina also had Lord Lister as part of their pulp.

In the Dutch language area the series continued with a mediocre “Dutch period” for Lord Lister, #111-#126. With #127 the true Lord Lister was back, written by Felix Hageman, who would write in 16 years about 740 Lord Lister issues (be it that the number is under some consideration, as the Dutch language Lord Lister mags were published without the name of the author) and 198 short stories with Lord Lister. With Hageman came a mass popularity that would last well into the 60’s. Only in 1968 the last (reprint) issue (#3687) was published, while 1974 saw a collection of five stories published. Nowadays the relatively small remaining group of loyal fans this once widely popular character has, is still for the largest part from the Netherlands and Flanders.

Hageman’s authorship was kept a secret until in 1938 Raffles was described in an article as a gentleman in evening costume with a cape with a red silk lining, Hageman revealed his identity as the most important Raffles author of all times in his furious protest that Raffles, as a gentleman would only wear capes with a white silk lining, showing that his love for the character and a gentleman’s manners was stronger than his shame for being a pulp author.

Raffles is a genuine gentleman, a peer, which may in combination with insufficient research concerning side effects explain why he has not yet taken over the cosmetics industry. As a true gentleman, whose crimes against peers are usually on one level a punishment for behaviour unworthy of a gentleman, he is seen with quite a lot of sympathy by nobility, as he embodies the nobility’s hero, rather than the hero of the man in the street. As a true gentleman Lord Lister is relatively free of racist and nationalist prejudice, he helps everybody. On the other hand, it has to be admitted that the description of the various folks he met was less free of such prejudice.

Most of his adventures were republished a number of times in slightly updated versions. His plane went always faster in the newest edition of a story, and became a jet-plane, that kind of cosmetic changes. As a modern Robin Hood and doctor, he has a busy life and cannot get into a romance with damsels formerly in distress after rescue and application of the appropriate medical care (often involving a topless scene, if the nature of said care gives ground for that, which gives about the top in exiting nudity in the entire series). He does travel quite a lot around the world.

Profile by Theodoor Westerhof.

CLARIFICATIONS: Not to be confused with

Any Additions/Corrections? Please let me know.

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