Almost forgotten today, his name having been co-opted by the member of a boy band, Nick Carter, “Master Detective,” was at one time the most famous mystery fiction character in America.
First appearing on September 18th, 1886 in the pages of a Street & Smith serial chapter novel (what they had before pulps), a year before the first Sherlock Holmes story.
Nick Carter was young, strong, somewhat short, only 5 foot 4, dedicated to clean living, confident, a master of disguise, true, loyal, steadfast, and the possessor of the sharpest mind in New York.
After that first appearance the character would appear in over 1,500 dime novels (which for the record only cost a nickel) between 1886, and 1922.
After that Carter was later revived, and toughened up for the Pulp magazines of the 30’s, stared in an early film, got a radio show, and naturally in the 1940s became a comic book character.
Appearing first in Street & Smith’s Army & Navy Comics, he was then transferred to the comic of fellow S & S detective The Shadow where he appeared until S & S left the comics business in the early 1950s.
Nick appeared a few more times after that on television, and as a “master spy” in paperback originals that started in 1966 and ran until 1990 with 261 novels, however he has yet to make it back into comic book form.