Friday, April 1, 2016


Here's another title we haven't looked at before on the Calendar, though you have seen it on this blog. Dime Western was the flagship of Popular Publication's western line, founded at the end of 1932. Dime was a monthly for most of its existence, but flush with success Popular promoted the title to twice-a-month in September 1934 -- the same time it restored its recent prize acquisition, Adventure, to twice-monthly status. Popular's Dime Detective had been going the same pace since early 1933. Dime Western kept it up for not quite a year and a half, reverting to monthly in December 1935.  The yellow cover background was a Dime Western constant, in contrast to sister pulp Star Western's red background. This issue sports a characteristic Walter M. Baumhofer cover featuring a badass female. Women on Dime Western covers in this period seem either to be shooting people or freeing their men from captivity. This was, in fact, a longstanding feature of pulp westerns and no doubt one of the keys to the success of the last pulp standing, Ranch Romances, the covers for which, especially in the 1950s, often weren't what you'd expect from such a title. Getting back to Dime Western, this April 1 issue is typical if not generic by virtue of the participation of Walt Coburn, Harry F. Olmstead and Bart Cassidy -- the last of whom much of the time was Olmstead. John G. Pearsol was nearly as constant a presence; looking at the page on the Fiction Mags Index where I got this cover image, I see that he gets published in three of the next four issues. Oliver King was just getting started in pulps, having been the main writer, as Kent Thorn, for Popular's short-lived hero-team western mag, Mavericks. As King and Stone Cody, the author known in real life as Thomas Ernest Mount would be a popular mainstay for a generation. E. B. Mann wrote this issue's only series character, The Whistler, who wasn't the busiest gun-dummy out there. "The Whistler's Gallows-Trap" was only his fifth appearance since April 1933, and there'd be only one more. George Armin Shaftel published his first Dime Western story on New Year's Day; "Meat for the Vigilantes!" was his fourth of the year, but by the end of 1935 he would develop into more of a detective and crime story man. I've only read issues of Dime from the Forties forward, and I've liked them all. I remain tentative about Thirties westerns because I don't really care for the "yuhs" and "tuhs" and the more old-timey writing, but I do know that early Coburn is better Coburn and editor Rogers Terrill has a high reputation among pulp western helmsmen, so I'd probably trust a Dime Western, if not any Popular western from this period, more than others in the genre.

1 comment:

  1. I love Baumhofer's Western covers and agree with you about those RANCH ROMANCES covers from the Fifties, many of them by Sam Cherry. Wonderful stuff. I could write stories based on most of them, if I had the time. As for the dialect in the earlier Western pulps, a little of it indeed goes a long way. I sometimes refer to it as "yuh mangy polecat" dialogue. I can put up with it since it seems to be a feature of that era, but I get tired of it. Most of the better writers began toning it down during the Thirties and it's almost gone by the Forties, thank goodness.