Thursday, October 20, 2016
Three heavy hitters highlight this 1924 Adventure. W. C. Tuttle stars with a full-length (73 pages) Hashknife Hartley novel The Dead-Line. Talbot Mundy publishes the second installment of his latest Jimgrim serial, Om. Georges Surdez only has a short story, but "The Mountaineer" may well be the highlight of the issue, as Surdez may well be Adventure's best writer. Along with these there are short stories by John Dornan, Charles Victor Fischer, Bruce Johns, Alanson Skinner and Leo Walmsley. Whether this issue is worth your while depends on how much you like Tuttle. The Hashknife stories I've read maintain a better balance between comedy and serious matter than later stuff like the Sheriff Henry series. Having Surdez and Mundy in this number makes me more willing to take a chance on Tuttle.
Wednesday, October 19, 2016
A reminder is in order that Wild West Weekly is the more kiddie-oriented of Street & Smith's western pulps. Maybe that's why cover artist Lawrence Toney shows us this gruesome victim from behind, and not face-forward as Kid Wolf sees it. As usual, Kid Wolf author Ward M. Stevens is actually Paul S. Powers. The rest of this 1940 issue may be relatively tame, but we do get an adventure of C. William Harrison's "Devil's Deputy" -- his fifth and last appearance, and "Death By a Nose" by Mojave Lloyd. Future western editor Robert O. Erisman contributes the novelette "Gunman's Colt Reprieve," Allan R. Bosworth and Gunnison Steele add short stories, and Chuck Martin concludes the serial Texas Law. That cover is definitely above and beyond the norm for Wild West, if not most western pulps of the period, but a sort of shudder probably is appropriate for the season.
Tuesday, October 18, 2016
Do you find clowns scary? Many do, and perhaps Delton Prouse thought his red pagliacco suit and whiteface would strike terror into superstitious, cowardly criminals. Somehow it worked, and the mere idea of the Crimson Clown thrilled or at least amused Detective Story readers. Still, Johnston McCulley had neglected him long enough for his first new story since May 1929 to be heralded as "The Crimson Clown's Return" in October 1930. Notice how the hero needs no introduction, apart from the letter he presents on the cover. Prouse would make three more appearances in the next year and then go dormant again, finally getting another "Return" in Popular Detective in 1944. The Clown aside, this issue has an unusual number of continued stories, though one of the three is only the conclusion of a two-parter. There are also four standalone stories, all by names mostly forgotten now. One of the stories is "His Last Grin," which might make some clowns laugh.
Monday, October 17, 2016
This looks like a pretty good but probably expensive 1936 Argosy. It's most likely made expensive for the collector by Robert E. Howard's western comedy "Gents on the Lynch" and L. Ron Hubbard's "Test Pilot." These may already make the issue a good one for some readers, but if they weren't enough Eustace L. Adams starts a three-part serial, Red Chaos By Night, and Donald Barr Chidsey contributes an Nick Fisher-Eddie Savoy novelette, "Razzberries, Mex." Then there's the cover novelette by Allan Vaughan Ellston, serial installments from H. Bedford-Jones and western writer Edgar L. Cooper, and a short story by John Forbes, apparently the author's only appearance in Argosy. Whether you're a collector or a fan, it looks like you'd get good value from this issue.
Sunday, October 16, 2016
The "Law of the Solomons," according to Ralph R. Perry, is that "any native who enters the clearing of a white man unclothed, or carrying a weapon, may be shot." A lone female anthropologist is attempting to enforce this law against a "native orgy" virtually on her doorstep when Bellow Bill Williams arrives on the island of Rumakotu. Out pearling by himself, Bill got a booboo while trolling and soon realized that he has to see a doctor to escape blood poisoning. "To play a lone hand exacts its penalties," Perry notes. Rather than take a long run to Tahiti, Bellow Bill recalls that a trader on Rumakotu used to be a doctor and probably still knows enough to fix Bill's trouble. Instead of the doctor Bill finds the anthropologist besieged in her bungalow, and at least one native armed with an automatic rifle, when they're not supposed to have firearms of any sort. After fighting his way to the girl, Bill learns that the doctor has disappeared after attempting to calm the whipped-up natives, while a third white man has been lost at sea. Something about the story doesn't sound right to Bill, who's convinced by the native with the rifle that yet another white man, and a malevolent one, must be on the island. In short, there's a mystery for Bellow Bill to solve while safeguarding the plucky girl scientist against the natives. "Blood Payment" is one of the more indefensibly racist of Perry's stories, and while Bill is more physically handicapped than normal by his illness -- he never can shoot well, anyway -- the story isn't that much of a mystery since Bill's every hunch proves right, making him more infallible than he usually is in this series. This is still good, suspenseful pulp action from one of Argosy's more popular series of the early 1930s. You can read it for yourself by following the link below.
Detective Fiction Weekly was a little dodgy sometimes about crediting the authors of their cover stories. It makes for neater covers from an artistic standpoint but it wasn't really fair to the writers. The author of "If I Should Die" was Edward S. Williams, who wasn't exactly a nobody in the business. After an apparent false start with a 1931 western, Williams returned in 1934 as a detective writer and stuck. He'd been publishing in DFW since 1935, but it looks like he hadn't succeeded yet by this 1937 issue at creating a successful series character for the Munsey mag. He'd do better later with Dennis O'Ryley, aka The Voice, who became a regular feature in Popular Publications' Ace G-Man Stories in the early 1940s. Richard Sale, who had better luck with series characters, has a Daffy Dill story this week, while Edgar Franklin has a novelette about a relatively short-lived series character, George Batey. There are also novelettes by Maurice Beam and Joseph Millard, stories by Bert Collier, William T. Bannon, Vincent Hall and Carl Rathjen, and a serial chapter from Fred MacIsaac. Plenty of variety, at least.
Saturday, October 15, 2016
I own a copy of this 1930 Adventure but both covers have been scribbled on so you're better off with this relatively clean image. There's a strong lineup of fiction writers, with pride of place in my book going to Robert Carse's prison-ship story "Storm," but the hype went to the memoir of Emmett Dalton, the onetime wild west outlaw. Dalton's collaborator was veteran journalist and sometime screenwriter Jack Jungmeyer. Presumably Jungmeyer is responsible for the purple, melodramatic tone of the memoir, which doesn't read much like the reminiscences of a bandit. On the other hand, this was Dalton's second memoir, having written Beyond the Law, apparently on his own, back in 1918. That earlier effort was made into a movie in which Dalton himself appeared, while the Dalton-Jungmeyer memoir, published in book form as When the Daltons Rode, was made into a 1940 film starring Randolph Scott, with Frank Albertson as Emmett. There are also strong stories by Georges Surdez and Ralph R. Perry, a horse racing story by Thomson Burtis, a serial chapter from Hugh Pendexter, another slice of memoir from globetrotting mercenary Rafael de Nogales, and a T.S. Stribling mystery starring his psychologist detective Henry Poggioli, which I haven't read yet. I've liked what I have read overall.