Thursday, March 31, 2016


For slightly less than a year Street & Smith went head to head with Argosy by publishing a general-interest weekly pulp to go with its western, detective and romance weeklies. The Popular actually had been around since 1903, starting as a monthly before going twice-a-month in the fall of 1909. In the fall of 1927 Street & Smith made The Popular a weekly, starting with the October 1 issue. The experiment lasted until the end of June 1928. It reverted to twice-a-month until early 1931, when it became monthly. It merged with the company's twice-a-month Complete Stories later that year. It would be odd if Jerome Rozen's  cover illustrated Edison Marshall's serial Og the Dawn Man because that story actually started in the previous week's issue. Marshall's the only author this issue that I've heard of, and I know him mainly because the 1958 movie The Vikings is based on one of his books. I also see an occasional copy of one of his novels among the vintage paperbacks in local bookstores. My ignorance of one of the authors, William Hemmingway, is excused by the discovery that, with one exception, he wrote exclusively for The Popular. You got two serials per issue with The Popular, the second this time being the conclusion of W. B. M. Ferguson's The Reckoning, which could have been about anything with that title. There's a series character in Howard Fitzalan's Leguerre of the Lost Division, who was appearing on an almost weekly basis despite the author (real name George Bronson-Howard according to the Fiction Mags Index) being dead since 1922. Roy W. Hinds, James Anthony Murphy and William Slavens McNutt round out the lineup. I leave it to those with experience to say whether any of them was any good.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016


The 30th of the month brings us back to Adventure in the first half of the 1920s, when the magazine was coming out thrice monthly.The stars of this 1924 issue are W. C. Tuttle, who contributes another tale of his fan-favorite mystery-solving cowboy Hashknife Hartley, and Arthur O. Friel, who continues his epic serial The King of No Man's Land. I've read the next installment in the April 10 issue and it is mighty storytelling.
Two authors  I like a lot, Sidney Herschel Small and Leonard H. Nason, have stories this number. Nason's specialties, based on what I've read of him, were hardboiled World War I stories and cynical historical tales. His 1925 serial The Bold Dragoon is a classic picaresque adventure I highly recommend. Frequent contributor Gordon MacCreagh has a non-fiction piece in this one, while George E. Holt, Frederick J. Jackson, Harry Simon, Raymond S. Spears and F. St. Mars round out the fiction contingent. There are some decent writers here, obviously, but this issue is really just an appetizer for the April 10, 1924 issue, which may be the best single issue of a pulp I've ever read. Mark your calendar for that.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016


If Murray Leinster is remembered today it's for being an early and long-enduring science fiction writer. But like any good pulpster he kept himself busy in all genres, sometimes under alternate names and sometimes under his real identity of Will F. Jenkins. He has the lead story in this 1930 issue of Detective Fiction Weekly, but the title, "Murder Island," could hardly be more generic. The Fiction Mags Index lists seven stories with that title, not counting a "Murder Isle." If you want a more creative title, how about Edward Parrish Ware's "Monkey Doodle Sticks?" No idea what that was about, but that title gets your attention. Less generic than perfectly vague is Robert H. Rohde's "Ace in the Hole," while Erle Stanley Gardner's "Willie the Weeper" sounds as if it will probe the eternal mystery of the sad clown. Calvin Ball's "The Slanting Gaze" may describe a way of seeing things, but offers little clue of what sort of story Ball tells. Since you can't have enough murder in DFW, Fred MacIsaac continues his serial Heirs of Murder. Notice on the cover that Gardner, almost certainly the best-known name today among this issue's authors, ranks below Ware, if we can interpret that list of writers as a pecking order. Gardner had been publishing in the pulps regularly since 1924, but he still had a couple of years of dues-paying left before Perry Mason put him in another league entirely.

Monday, March 28, 2016


This is a 1964 third printing of a 1955 novel by an author whose name is almost too good to be true. It actually isn't true, but it's a composite incorporating a man who was named John Roscoe and who, along with writing partner Mike Ruso, worked as private detectives in Kansas City, where their fictional detective Johnny April would work as well. One Tear For My Grave is the fourth of five Johnny April novels that clearly have some continuity, as Johnny is several times over reminded of a beloved who died in an earlier story. "Mike Roscoe" writes in a staccato style of one-sentence paragraphs that I'd normally dismiss as "thrillerese" except that with these writer's it's clearly a stylistic decision -- or else one that helps this novel reach 141 pages. One Tear reads like a modern story in at least one respect. It opens with "The 23rd Hour" of the story, and then flashes back to the beginning before wrapping up with "The 24th Hour." The story proper begins with Johnny April being asked by a bookie to help him dispose of a body that's been dumped in his car. The bookie himself and his tough-cookie moll seem to be innocent but don't help their case by beating a hasty retreat when the police arrive. The corpse is a wealthy wastrel, engaged to the daughter of one of the city's elite families, who owed money to all Kansas City's biggest bookies, who themselves begin to get killed. Is April's bookie buddy Eddie Norris behind the murder wave, or is it Angelo Carbone, the richest and toughest of the bookies? Or is it a new mob muscling in? Under pressure from the cops, April calls in favors from the Chicago mob to get ahead of the conspiracy while getting possibly too close to Carbone's kept woman, described thusly on the back cover:

An interesting aspect of One Tear is the number of strong female characters in play. Eddie Norris's girl Nicky is a cool, resourceful customer, while Lola, Angie Carbone's mistress, is described on the teaser page as an "amorous amazon." The authors elaborate deeper inside:

A tall bimbo, black hair and skin as white as fresh milk, plenty of it showing and I wasn't missing an inch. This babe had more curves than a coke bottle and the way she was lying all sprawled out was enough to make any man hotter than a short-handle frying pan. 

Lola's willing to go toe-to-toe with anyone, and if she can't outmuscle Johnny April she can outwit him with her body. Already subdued twice over, she gets the upper hand by flicking a lit cigarette into April's face and snatching his gun out of his holster. It's just about love at first sight. Mike Roscoe acknowledges, or believes, that underworld women have to be tough, but he also invests the bereaved fiancee of the initial murder victim with a steel will at the climax, when she seeks to be the killer's judge, jury and executioner.

The storylines of the female characters end up connected in important ways, and the mystery isn't resolved neatly. In fact, there's some hokey business with the heiress's stereotypically loyal Chinese servant (who knows "judo") that complicates things toward the end, and a denouement that doesn't come off as tragic as the authors want because the tragic character hasn't really been developed enough. But One Tear is an entertaining read and Roscoe's empathetic first-person style grows on you despite the genre cliches. You feel like you're getting to know Johnny April and by the time you're done you probably won't mind reading another of his adventures.


Robert Carse tries his hand at an American crime story in this 1931 Argosy, with Death pointing the way. Carse established his hard-boiled credentials writing Foreign Legion and Devil's Island type stories, so I'd guess he could pull off a gangster story with little trouble, while Paul Stahr's cover adds the appropriate atmosphere of doom. Meanwhile, I'm guessing W. Wirt's novelette "Jades and Afghans" is a Jimmie Cordie story, but as the Fiction Mags Index doesn't list it as such I can't be 100% certain. Along with Carse's two-part Mob, the serials this issue are Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson's Battle of the Silent Men, which deals, according to last week's cover, with "War-Time Spies in a Grim Old French Chateau;" J. E. Grinstead's Barons of the Border; and the conclusion of Fred MacIsaac's fantastic The Hothouse World. William E. Barrett, C. A. Freeman and Herbert L. McNary contribute short stories. Apropos of Mob, a non-fiction filler describes "The First Racketeer," whoever that may have been.

Sunday, March 27, 2016


W.C. Tuttle never rested on his laurels. By 1937 he'd already created a bunch of enduring characters, from Hashknife Hartley, who went back to 1920, to his Argosy phenom "Hilarious" Henry, of 1935 vintage. It never hurt a pulp writer to have another character you could depend on seeing published, so for Western Story he created Peaceful Peters in a short story named for the character. Peters was one of Tuttle's less-successful efforts, or else one he tired of relatively quickly. Peaceful appeared in only five stories between this issue and July 1938.In that same period Tuttle published three Henry serials in Argosy, so you know where his real efforts were going. The only other series character in this issue is Guthrie Brown's Lefty Pearl, who got his start in 1935 and was almost done by the time "Lefty is Right" appeared. Only two more stories are reported in the Fiction Mags Index. John Dudley Phelps gets the novelette, "Blue Barrier," while Luke Short continues one of his early serials, Silver Horn Breaks. Eugene R. Dutcher and H. C. Wire contribute the rest of the stories, while six columnists, a poet and a letters section fill out the rest of this weekly's 144 pages. The covers aren't as starkly elegant as they'd be in 1939 but with Tuttle and Short in the forefront this was probably a halfway-decent issue.

Saturday, March 26, 2016


Cover artist Lejaren Hiller does Johnston McCulley no favors in this 1932 issue of Detective Fiction Weekly. McCulley was trying to put over a new series character, and it's not a bad hook; his hero is The Mongoose because he hunts human snakes. So Hiller gives us a real snake and a tiny animal avatar of our new hero in the lower left hand corner. McCulley was persistent, however. The Mongoose had eight more adventures between now and May 1933, but he never got a crack at the cover again. Meanwhile, Erle Stanley Gardner plugs on with one of his series characters in a "Smashing" novelette. He'd created Senor Arnaz de Lobo in July 1930. "Barking Dogs" was the character's tenth appearance in DFW; he'd appear thirteen more times until Gardner gave up in October 1934. Garnett Radcliffe continues a serial, "The Prisoners in the Wall," which from the cover of its debut issue appears to have something to do with an ape. William Corcoran and Robert E. Pinkerton contribute short stories. McCulley and Gardner were prolific pulpsters remembered today entirely for one character apiece of the multitudes they created. Searching for Calendar entries reminds me how diversely prolific both men were.

Friday, March 25, 2016


There's nothing special about this 1932 Short Stories cover except for the number in the top corners, which represents a daring move during the Great Depression. Since the magazine went twice-a-month in 1921, its size had held steady at 176 pages. With this issue Short Stories took a monster 48 page jump to 224 pages, with no increase in price. The Doubleday pulp was now 32 pages thicker than its principal twice-a-month rival, Adventure. I don't know whether pulp people had a notion that Adventure and its publisher were in trouble that year, but five months after this challenge from Short Stories there was no doubt.In September the Doubleday pulp reverted to 176 pages and continued as before. Simultaneously, Adventure cut its page count by half and slashed its price from twenty-five to ten cents. Within another year it shrunk from twice-a-month to monthly while Short Stories chugged along on its normal schedule, which it would keep until 1949.

Taking no chances, this D-Day issue of Short Stories boasts two of its most popular recurring features: the Major by L. Patrick Greene's and James B. Hendryx's Black John of Halfaday Creek. William McLeod Raine continues his western serial Gone Bad, while Bertrand W. Sinclair throws in a novelette. Bill Adams, Courtney Ryley Cooper, Houston Day, Cliff Farrell, Meigs O. Frost, Paul Hosmer, John Mersereau and Walter Snow contribute the actual short stories this issue. Of those, I'm only familiar with Farrell, though I've read at least one story by Day. Man for man the typical Short Stories lineup might not match Adventure, but with heavyweights like H. Bedford-Jones, W. C. Tuttle, and J. D. Newsom -- all of whom wrote for both pulps --  weighing in through the spring and summer Short Stories could make the case for quantity and quality, and it must have been fairly convincing.

Thursday, March 24, 2016


Here's another Argosy that's available at I don't know if The Gold Coffin is, indeed, Gillian Hazeltine's strangest case, but having read one installment I'll concede that it is strange. The high concept is that a popular Hollywood actor, someone in the James Cagney-Clark Gable "caveman" mold -- he pushed an actress's face into a half-watermelon in one picture -- who made such a big hit playing a lawyer in another picture that he was admitted to the bar, asks to be hired by Hazeltine, for the moment still the nation's best known defense attorney -- the clock is ticking, though, for the first Perry Mason novel had been published recently -- as a publicity stunt designed to intimidate the studio that had been ripping him off to offer him a new contract appropriate to his studio-saving popularity. This guy is a regular Lon Chaney, as actors in pulp fiction usually are, making his entrance in weird old man disguise for no good reason. While Hazeltine can't figure out this (superficially) thuggish thespian's appeal to women -- both his wife and his secretary are smitten -- his own sensationalist impulses lead him to take the lad on. Then the story proper begins, which has something to do with a mean old miser who's hoarding gold in spite of FDR's order and hurting the already damaged U.S. economy. Unz doesn't have the other two installments, but I have the conclusion in my own collection, so maybe I'll let you know how it all turns out. For me the highlight of the issue is the ill-described "Air" novelette, Eustace L. Adams's "Hideaway Island." It has a scene in which characters in the story travel by airplane, but in fact it's a vigilante story of the sort then in vogue, in which a quartet of war veterans, the wealthiest of whom had received a kidnap threat, turn the tables on gangsters by kidnapping them and imprisoning them at the title location. For extra measure Adams hits the island with a hurricane. It's an okay story but really has too many heroes, with not enough personality, for its own good. Meanwhile, the rival kings of pulp, Max Brand and H. Bedford-Jones, each continue serials, Brand's Brother of the Cheyennes and HBJ's Jungle Girl, the latter really more about the man who finds the jungle girl and thus disappointing for anyone expecting a precursor to Sheena, Queen of the Jungle. The "Sports" novelette is Richard Howells Watkins's racing story "Dirty Driving," but since it's a sports story I skipped it. Wrapping up the lineup is William Merriam Rouses's story of the 19th century Adirondack wilderness, "The Witch of Silverwood," and another of John H. Thompson's series of shorts about his two tramps, Bill and Jim. From "Cappers" I learned that a capper is something like a shill, someone who pretends to win a big prize in a carnival game to entice others to play and lose. It's not a bad racket but Bill and Jim tend to screw up any racket they get involved in. Their misadventures are brief enough to amuse without growing annoying. This is a relatively weak issue from a peak Argosy year but when it's free reading you can find some things worth your while. Check it out through the link below to judge for yourselves:

Wednesday, March 23, 2016


This deliberately vague 1935 cover suggests that the people at Argosy weren't sure yet of how to promote W. C. Tuttle's new character. Henry Harrison Conroy, who had made his debut one month earlier, would not cut an imposing figure on a pulp cover by normal standards. Conroy, as readers may recall from the Feb. 23 Calendar entry, was a middle-aged vaudevillian turned Arizona rancher whose most prominent feature was a red, bulbous nose -- in short, W. C. Fields as reimagined by W. C. Tuttle as one of his comical mystery-solving cowboys, though neither of the figures on this cover really matches that description. It wouldn't be until after Henry had appeared in two more stories after this issue's "With the Help of Henry" that Argosy dared put him on a cover. By then -- specifically the September 14 issue -- Tuttle's creation had proved so popular that he'd get the cover whenever one of his serials premiered. Even if they were coy about Henry, Tuttle still outranked Fred MacIsaac, no slouch with Argosy readers, whose new serial, The Wild Man of Cape Cod, probably should have gotten the cover. Elsewhere this issue, Singapore Sammy reaches the penultimate installment of George F. Worts's serial, The Monster of the Lagoon, while spy story specialist Ared White delivers a novelette, "Baited Cipher," and Donald Barr Chidsey, C.C. Rice and William Merriam Rouse contribute short stories. It isn't the most formidable lineup, but just about any 1935 Argosy will have plenty worth reading in it.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016


Jail break, eh? I don't know, but I just don't like this guy's chances. I see what he's trying to do but by modern standards Lejaren Hiller's convict just doesn't look formidable or badass enough. However, I like the chances of Robert Carse's cover story being good stuff, since Carse was a badass writer who did "revolt and riot" pretty well.  The only series character this issue is Robert H. Rohde's Reggie Chivers, the "Red Duke," who made his debut the year before. "Out From Under" was the 11th Chivers story in less than a year, but the character wouldn't appear again until August 1931, if the Fiction Mags Index can be relied on. The only other author I know from this week is Fred MacIsaac, who continues his serial Heirs of Murder. Edwin C. Stengelsen's sole pulp credit, the story "The Rowboat Pilot," appears in this issue, but a onetime author could just as easily be one of this issue's established contributors using a pseudonym for a second story. As a reminder to watch out when initials substitute for names, M.E. Chase, author of "Condemned by the Text," is Mary Ellen Chase, an English professor at Smith College making her only Detective Fiction Weekly appearance after a run of Argosy stories in 1927. Of Maxwell Smith, author of "Cold," I have nothing to say except that he was a busy detective story writer of the period. And in the end, I guess I wish that poor con with his paper hat and his torn shirt and his pipe or rod a litlle luck crashing out.

Monday, March 21, 2016


After Street & Smith's venerable Western Story pulp folded in 1949, Popular Publications eventually acquired the rights to the title and revived it at the tail-end of the pulp era. Before that, Popular tried out a slightly different title, Western Story Roundup, for three issues in 1951. Picking up the numbering from All Story Western -- this third and final issue is technically Volume 4, No. 2 -- Roundup was one of several titles, including Adventure and Black Mask, with which Popular tried a new format that was smaller than the standard pulp but larger than the increasingly popular digests that would inherit pulp's kingdom. Popular went ad-free on these titles and kept interior illustration to the barest minimum. The final issue of Roundup was the most reprint-heavy of the three; six of its nine stories had appeared before, though the cover story by top-hand author Steve Frazee was an original. While Roundup didn't survive, the other titles reverted to full-scale pulp for the time they had left, while the last of all pulps, the Thrilling group's Ranch Romances, would adopt this format in its sad last years. Popular would revive Western Story Roundup in 1955 during its last-gasp attempt to maintain a line of fiction mags in the more conventional magazine format Adventure had adopted in 1953. Taking over the numbering of Rangeland Romances, Roundup and  Fifteen Western Tales ended with the year 1955, marking the end of Popular's once-mighty western magazine line. As for this issue, the Frazee story is good and I'll leave the rest for you to judge for yourselves. The complete issue is available in scanned form for download from the link below.


This 1936 Argosy comes from my personal collection. I acquired it because the Ralph R. Perry story advertised on the cover, "Shark Trail," is the last appearance of his tattooed pearler Bellow Bill Williams. I acquired this issue recently and haven't read the story yet. My habit is to read my pulps in chronological order, which means I have a way to go before I get to 1936, though I may jump ahead for the sake of Bellow Bill. This is a milestone issue for another reason: the cover story is the final appearance of George F. Worts' mystery-solving defense attorney Gillian Hazeltine, a Perry Mason precursor who'd been an Argosy star since 1929. I've read some Hazeltines and you can see why Mason, not he, became pop fiction's iconic lawyer. The Hazeltine stories I've read, which have a running subplot of his rivalry with a corrupt district attorney, are actually pretty dumb and not on the same level as Worts's Singapore Sammy stories. Worts was phasing himself out of Argosy in 1936. Having retired Peter the Brazen and his own Loring Brent alter ego the year before, Worts would follow Mr. Hazeltine -- Murderer with one more Singapore Sammy serial, and then it was on to the slicks. The other serials this week are Eustace L. Adams's Death Rides the Wind, which should be good stuff, Traitor's Shadow, a Revolutionary War story by John Wilstach, whose other specialty was circus stories, and Ted Copp's The Wildcatter. Wilstach and Copp are authors I haven't read yet but I have some of Wilstach's stuff in my 1935 pile, so I should have an opinion of him soon. Serials of a sort are Judson P. Philips's series of sports stories set at Madison Square Garden and George O. Norville's White Adventure, a longform non-fiction account of an Antarctic expedition co-written with up-and-coming pulpster T.C. McClary. Perry's novelette is the only real stand-alone story in the entire issue, but it was reason enough for me to get it. The extra serials (there were only two at a time a year earlier) make 1936 Argosies more of a chore to collect but with the magazine still arguably at its peak they're probably worth the trouble. This particular issue is sponsored by:

Sunday, March 20, 2016


The 20th of the month brings us back to Adventure in its peak thrice-monthly years. This one's from 1923 and sports a nice James C. McKell cover. The star this issue is Talbot Mundy, premiering his latest Jimgrim serial, The Nine Unknown. I've read the first two Jimgrim stories and found them quite entertaining, not least for their somewhat cynical view of the post-WW1 Middle East. A couple of major Adventure writers I've not mentioned before put in appearances here. Arthur Gilchrist Brodeur wrote pulp stories on the side while teaching medieval languages and literature at Berkeley. That presumably assured a certain authenticity to his adventure stories. Similarly, George E. Holt was an American journalist and diplomat whose extensive experience in North Africa no doubt informed his series of stories about Muslim hero Mohamed Ali. One of my favorites, J. D. Newsom, has what sounds like an African story, "The Witch of Ombakura," while another Adventure favorite, Hugh Pendexter, wraps up his latest frontier serial, Long Rifles. My impression is that Adventure rarely had more than one serial running at the same time, but you'd definitely make room for Mundy and Pendexter. Less familiar authors include Max Bonter, Arthur M. Harris, Frederick J. Jackson and I.M. Nichols. Looks like a nice exotic mix typical of this magazine at its best.

Saturday, March 19, 2016


You'd think that Paul S. Powers's King Kolt was one of the regular stars of Wild West Weekly given how this 1938 cover hypes him, but according to the Fiction Mags Index this was only the character's second appearance, and the first was in November 1935. This cover may have been an attempt to turn Kolt into a major character, for he would return just one month later. But then he wouldn't show up again until the summer of 1939, and after that not again until 1942. That proved to be Kolt's busiest year, with four stories in the weekly, followed by one more after it had gone biweekly in 1943. Kolt was a rare character that Powers got to take credit for under his own name, as he spent most of his time for Wild West Weekly writing the adventures of Sonny Tabor and Kid Wolf under the house name of Ward M. Stevens. Other familiar characters this issue include, in order of seniority, Billy West of the Circle J, The Whistlin' Kid and Shorty Masters, while a six-part Reckless Blaine series continues, as does a 20-past comics series about Maverick Wade. Frank Carl Young gets to write a stand-alone story, "Outlaw's Hand." I still haven't read a Wild West Weekly, so I'll leave any appraisal to those who have.

Friday, March 18, 2016


West was published originally by the same people who put out Short Stories, Doubleday, Page & Co., and like Short Stories it came out twice a month at first. West must have been a hit, because after about a year and a half it was promoted to weekly in the summer of 1927, putting it in direct competition with Street & Smith's Western Story. It only stayed weekly for little more than a year, reverting to twice a month in November 1928. It slowed to once a month late in 1932. Doubleday sold West in 1935, and in 1938 it ended up with Ned Pines' Thrilling group, where it continued until on a bimonthly schedule until most of the Thrilling westerns were cancelled at the end of 1953. This is a 1931 issue sporting West's snazzy setting-sun cover device, its answer to Short Stories' red sun motif until West revamped its cover design in 1932. Bellow Bill Williams creator Ralph R. Perry has the lead novelette this issue. He'd been a regular contributor to West in its early days, but this was his first story for them since the fall of 1928. Perry finished his pulp career writing westerns, his last appearing in the last issue of Thrilling's Popular Western for November 1953. Also in this issue, W. C. Tuttle introduces what I presume to be another comic mystery solving team, but Terry McCune and Howdy Hepburn must not have gone over. Tuttle published four stories in three years, then revived the characters once more for a single outing in 1944. Murray Leinster, best known today for his science fiction, continues the serial Dead Man's Shoes while Bennett Foster, a decent writer, places a short story, "The Jurisdiction of Colonel Colt." The other contributors are unknown to me, but it looks like West as a rule published the "top hand" western writers of the day, with the conspicuous exception of Max Brand. I've never read an issue of West from its glory days, but I'd guess it would be good reading.

Thursday, March 17, 2016


There's nothing Irish to offer this St. Patrick's Day, because what was a pulp going to do? Put a leprechaun on the cover? I suppose I am surprised that there seems to be no Irish content at all in this 1934 Argosy. Instead, we have two Frederick Faust serials, the new one being our cover feature, written under Faust's more familiar "Max Brand" handle, while the "George Challis" swashbuckler The Naked Blade wraps up. H. Bedford-Jones could go nuts with the pseudonyms, too, but over at Argosy he usually restricted himself, or was restricted, to one story, under his own name, per issue. This issue's contribution is the second installment of his serial Jungle Girl. But from her cowering appearance on the previous issue's cover, Sheena this probably ain't. Erle Stanley Gardner resumes a desultory series about a character named Major Brane: "The Ivory Casket" is the last of seven stories over a roughly three-year period, most of them appearing in 1932. Theodore Roscoe's novelette, "Article 246," has something to do with the military, I guess. Tom Curry, a good writer, contributes a short story, "Bum Steer," while Foster-Harris and Thomas Thursday, from the titles of their stories, probably were attempting humor of some kind. This issue seems to be unusual in that cartoonist Stookie Allen got to do two of his "Men of Daring" features, though one of them, as was sometimes the case, is a "Woman of Daring." Just another week from one of Argosy's peak years.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016


Having just ranted a bit about Arthur Leo Zagat and his racist Tomorrow series, I'm looking back to 1940, where see Dikar, the leader of Zagat's mountain-grown Bunch, in action against an Asafric oppressor. I'm going to refer you to a post I wrote about Zagat's "Thunder Tomorrow" last year, when this blog was still a flickering thought on my Mondo 70 movie blog. The other headline story this week is the first installment of Johnston McCulley's latest "Zorro-land" serial, The Devil's Doubloons. Borden Chase's entertaining Smooth Kyle vs. Nazis serial The Sun Sets at Five continues, while Robert Griffith and Devery Freeman contribute short stories I must confess to not remembering after one year. Pulp often is ephemeral, after all.  We remember the very good and sometimes the very bad, but the mediocre majority disintegrates in our memories faster than pulp paper itself.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

75 YEARS AGO IN THE ARGOSY: March 15, 1941

The Munsey company tried to tell people that they made changes to Argosy, less than two months after their big revamp, in response to an enthusiastic fan reaction. To recap, in January Argosy had changed from pulp to "bedsheet," larger in height and width but thinner in page count, each story page a triple-columned wall of tiny type. As of this week, the rotten cover collage is still the same, but inside are 66 double-columned story pages. The foremost of the "other improvements" announced on the cover, which somehow looks more than ever like a box of cereal or laundry detergent, is that stories will no longer jump to the back of the book, as they had since the January revamp. It must have surprised the Munsey people that readers didn't like that innovation. After all, the slicks did that all the time, and wasn't Argosy virtually a slick now? Alas, in 1941 the Argosy crew seemed anything but slick operators, and the year still has a couple more revamps to go.

This re-revamped issue has three serials, two short stories and a "short novel" by Theodore Roscoe. The new serial is Murder Goes to Sea by Allan R. Bosworth, who mostly worked for Street & Smith's westerns but had recently published a serial in the Saturday Evening Post. It's a murder mystery on board a Navy hospital ship, one of the protagonists being a Navy brat who, being female, can only carry on her family's tradition by serving as a nurse. But it looks like her boyfriend will be doing the detective work after a sailor who could have incriminated his commanding officer gets his skull smashed in his hospital bed. I don't read pulp for whodunits so this one, not awful, still left me cold. The first installments of Jack Byrne's Gunswift appeared in issues I haven't read, so I can't really comment on it. I definitely can comment on Long Road to Tomorrow, the return of Arthur Leo Zagat's Dikar and the Bunch. Zagat's Tomorrow series, starting in 1939, imagined the conquest of the U.S. by the "Asafrics," the Yellow Peril teamed up with mostly foreign black soldiers. The series was criticized as racist by at least one "Argonotes" letter writer -- the Bunch, a group of child refugees who've grown up as noble savages on an inaccessible mountain since the conquest, are all whites -- and Zagat tried to cover himself by introducing a heroic black character, a spy for the American resistance who's infiltrated a prison camp -- in a 1940 story. With Long Road we're back to pure race war, though to be fair Zagat never has the Bunch or the resistance claim to be fighting for the white race. It's just telling that at a time when the Nazis were on the rampage, Zagat imagines a nonwhite invasion reducing the U.S. to slavery. You choice of doomsday scenarios says something about you, I suspect. In any event, Zagat introduces a new wrinkle this time by giving us excerpts from an after-the-fact History of the Asiatic-African World Hegemony by one Zafir Uscudan, published in Bombay and Singapore, apparently an admiring account from a non-white perspective of Dikar's exploits. But as Dikar has been introduced to modern weapons and strategies, the story has lost much of its postapocalyptic noble-savage vibe and becomes a guerilla warfare tale with slightly peculiar dialogue from the still somewhat childish members of the Bunch.

Roscoe's "His Honor is Missing" might have taken place in his mythical town of Five Corners, but claims to be based on Binghamton NY history. It's basically a "ghost breaker" sort of story, or Scooby-Doo for grown-ups, though Roscoe ends his haunted house adventure on an ambiguous note, theoretically offering rational explanations for all the frights while leaving the possibility of supernatural truth open. Paul Ernst's "Patrioteer" is a short-short story about a hero who refuses to kiss the flag when local bullies try to compel him, but keeps a true patriotic relic in his car. Perhaps atypically for a pulp story, it ends with the beaten-down hero resisting temptation to avenge himself on the bullies, out of reverence for what his own flag stands for. Richard Sale's "Bait for the Big Hook" is a silly story about a fisherman who literally reels a Nazi out of the ocean.

This issue definitely was easier to read, especially on my e-reader, but there wasn't really anything outstanding to read. That problem was becoming all too common for Argosy in 1941, though on previous occasions I've found at least one proper pulp story to commend. Zagat's reprehensible fantasy might at least be expected to be a wild read, but it only feels tired. Maybe that was more common in pulps that year than I realize, but Argosy often seemed more tired than the others.


Dominic Cammerota did this menacing cover for a 1928 issue of Adventure. Hugh Pendexter, the cover author, mainly wrote westerns and earlier historical tales. He's probably the biggest Adventure star in this particular issue, though F. R. Buckley was a more enduring writer for the magazine. Buckely began his series about the Rensaissance adventurer Luigi Caradosso in 1924 and continued it almost to the end of Adventure's existence as a pulp, publishing the last story in the series in March 1953. Among western writers Alan LeMay is a bigger name than Pendexter's today thanks to his authorship of The Searchers, but this issue finds him in humorous mode, continuing a series of stories about his comic hero Bug-Eye. Frank Richardson Pierce, Tom Curry, Charles Tenney Jackson and Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson are all solid writers with stories in this issue, while William McCleod Raine (continuing a serial) and Raymond S. Spears were revered western writers. I haven't read enough from William Corcoran or Edward L. McKenna to form opinions on them. For an issue without the real heavy hitters of Adventure (Lamb, Mundy, Surdez, etc.) it's actually a fairly impressive lineup and that cover practically sells the issue itself.

Monday, March 14, 2016


Here's another mystery issue of Argosy, this time from 1931. What we can tell for certain is that Barons of the Border is a five-part serial by an old-timer and apparent latecomer to pulp. Grimstead was born in 1866, according to Fiction Mags Index, and didn't publish his first story until 1918. Wikipedia reveals that he was a journalist and politician before then, and took up fiction after retiring from public life.  We also know about this issue that it contains the second installment, of three, of F. V. W. Mason's serial The Tiger of Phnom Ka, and the fifth installment, of six, of Fred MacIsaac's The Hothouse World, which on the evidence of the February 21 issue which heralded its debut has something to do with homunculi or shrinking people. What we can guess easily enough is that "The Black Tide," a Ralph R. Perry story about "A South Seas Pearler," is an adventure of our old friend Bellow Bill Williams which I will add to the preliminary checklist of a few weeks ago. In addition to this data, a bookseller offering this issue in Rhode Island lists the following stories: "Parole" by Jack Allman;  "Red Death" by Norman H. White Jr.; "Ray Martin, Oyster Pirate" by Bertrand L. Shurtleff; as well as contributors William Merriam Rouse, Allan K. Echols, John H. Spicer, E. R. McCarthy and Addie Gates. Some of these probably contributed the little non-fiction fillers on the last pages of stories.  On top of that, I like the cover gimmick Paul Stahr came up with; it catches your eye while obscuring your view. Nice work.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

PULP READING: Frank Richardson Pierce, "SNATCHERS" (Short Stories, March 10, 1935)

Back on March 10 when I put a 1935 issue of Short Stories on the Pulp Calendar, I remarked that Frank Richardson Pierce's "Snatchers" was one of the few stories from that issue, readily available at, that I hadn't read. I've now rectified that omission. "Snatchers" was one in a series Pierce did for Short Stories about the heroic film actor Stan Dvorak. The Fiction Mags Index lists only "Snatchers" and a two-part serial from the following month as Dvorak stories, but Short Stories itself indicates that there were stories before "Snatchers." Perhaps inspired by The Spider, Pierce conceived Dvorak pretty much as Lon Chaney, Detective, with the added gimmick that Dvorak was only the nom de film of bland, handsome socialite John Stanley. Because his employer, the Para-Art studio, made sure that no photos existed of "Dvorak" out of makeup, Stanley could move freely in public and use his quick-change makeup skills, which extend in Chaney style to physical contortion, to solve mysteries and fight crime.

The movie milieu might seem a change of pace for Pierce, who's best know to me, at least, for westerns and northwesterns. But I recall that one of his most popular creations, the Yukon sourdough No-Shirt McGee, acted as a technical advisor for a movie production in one of his earliest appearances (the Arogsy two-part serial Sable, 1937), and subsequently spent a lot of time in the neighborhood of Hollywood. Anyway, "Snatchers" is a topical tale of kidnappers, that kind of crime having become more notorious if not more common in the early 1930s thanks to the kidnapping and killing of the Lindbergh baby, the exploits of Machine-Gun Kelly, etc. In the story, "Snatchers" is the title of a Para-Art production about a kidnapping carried out by the Yellow Peril menace Foo Yung, played by Stan Dvorak, who presumably brings a degree of authenticity to his performance thanks to a previous exploit involving a local tong. As a celebrity, Dvorak himself is a target for kidnapping, and in fact a gangster has infiltrated the Para-Art lot, disguised as a small-town theater-chain owner, looking for opportunities to snatch Dvorak. The gangster is given a copy of the "Snatchers" script, which gives him an idea for stashing or disposing of a victim. Seeing no prospect of snatching Dvorak, the gangster and his crew take the next best target, Dvorak's co-star Gladys Gale, by muscling in on a team of stunt drivers as a scene is filmed in which Gale's character is, in fact, kidnapped. As John Stanley, Dvorak has the studio publicize that he's Gladys's boyfriend so he can negotiate her release. The gangsters get their money and release Gale, only to take Stanley, assuming such a young swell should be worth some money himself. Now the gangsters' reliance on the "Snatchers" script works against them, since they don't realize that Stanley is Dvorak and knows exactly what they plan to do and how they plan to do it. Our hero prevails, inevitably, on the author's assumption that he keeps enough makeup stashed in a secret compartment in his show to turn himself into one of the gangsters at a crucial moment.

"Snatchers" left me unclear about whether Stan Dvorak or John Stanley was the real person, but earlier stories probably made that as clear as it would ever get. The hero doesn't really have much personality in either guise, while his boss at Para-Art is a mild Jewish stereotype. Pierce has an overconfidence typical of all pulp media in the power and efficiency of makeup that no one, I think, shares today, but this particular story amuses on a meta level as crime imitates art, only to find the truth about John Stanley stranger than fiction. I suspect the Dvorak stories were throwaway stuff compared to the No-Shirt McGee, or maybe even the Panhandle Series Pierce had started in Short Stories earlier in 1935. But Pierce is competent enough to ensure that "Snatchers" is a mildly entertaining page turner. For those who want to prove that to themselves, follow the link below.


If that's Bulldog Drummond on the cover of this 1937 Detective Fiction Weekly, he's a lot more handsome than his creator, H.C. "Sapper" McNeile described him. But so were Ray Milland and John Howard, the actors who played Drummond in a series of Paramount B-movies at the time this issue was published.  DFW had last published a Bulldog Drummond serial in 1929, perhaps to exploit the Ronald Colman movie of that year. After McNeile's death later this year, DFW would publish three Drummond short stories, followed by Gerard Fairlie's continuation of the series the following year. On the evidence of this first installment you probably won't get the kind of exuberant outrageousness I recall from the original Drummond novel. While the Drummond serial clearly was meant to be this number's highlight, for me the highlight was -- was since this issue has been scanned and is available online --  the Foreign Legion mystery by the dependable Robert Carse. Nothing else really impressed me, though fans of Ray Cummings, Frederick C. Davis and Fred MacIsaac may want to download this issue.

Saturday, March 12, 2016


This 1932 Argosy marked Tarzan's return to the venerable weekly after eight years. Argosy, of course, was the sister publication and heir to the All-Story where the Ape Man made his very first appearance in 1912. For most of his history, Tarzan swung back and forth between the Munsey pulps (All-Story and Argosy) and the McCall story magazines, Blue Book and Red Book. Edgar Rice Burroughs presumably went with the highest bidder each time; he'd take Tarzan back to Blue Book later in 1932, and in 1933 the Ape Man would finally appear in a slick, that being Liberty. Tarzan would return to Argosy in 1936, 1938 and 1941. Burroughs placed a lot of other stories in the weekly in between.

I'm at a bit of a loss with the rest of the issue because the Fiction Mags Index doesn't know what's in it, and no one seems to be selling a copy with an interest in listing the contents. We can at least figure out the other serials by looking at the previous and subsequent issues. This number features part two of Thomson Burtis's Texas air serial, Soldiers of the Storm, and part four of F. V. W. Mason's Captain Renegade. A quick flurry of research revealed that sci-fi pioneer Murray Leinster has a story this week called "Nemesis." Beyond that, we have a "Camel Corps" novelette and a "South Seas" novelette. "Camel Corps" may mean Foreign Legion, and that may mean Robert Carse or J. D. Newsom, though if it were Georges Surdez I think they'd mention him on the cover. "South Seas" could well mean my man Bellow Bill Williams, but there were a lot of South Seas specialists. For now,the only way to find out may be to buy a copy, but with Tarzan on the cover it would definitely cost you.

Friday, March 11, 2016


There's something cool, in some sense of the word, to Street & Smith's 1939 pulp covers, something at odds with the circus-poster quality of some pulps. Norman Saunders's cover for this Wild West Weekly isn't exactly cool in the minimalist manner of many '39 covers, but it's vividly striking in its own way, and once again keeping the cover copy to a minimum only helps the art do its work. Regular readers of this more junior mag (compared to Western Story) would find mostly familiar faces, though Walker Tompkins' Firebrand (no relation to George Challis's Tizzo) was a new character. He'd appear in the next five issues, but the Fiction Mags Index doesn't consider the Firebrand saga a serial. The only non-series character story this issue is Ralph Yergen's "Pardner of the Wild Trails," but the recurring characters presumably were Wild West's calling card. Other western pulps had series characters -- what author wouldn't want that sort of meal ticket? -- but they defined Wild West Weekly more than any other.

Thursday, March 10, 2016


This 1935 issue of Short Stories is available at, which means I've actually read a good amount of it. Unfortunately I read what I did of this issue long enough ago that I don't remember anything that vividly. The highlight, of course, is L. Patrick Greene's "Decoy," the latest adventure of Aubrey St. John Major and Jim the Hottentot in Africa. I've read some of the earliest Major stories but the later ones from this period are better because the Major doesn't lay the fake-fop act on so thick so often and Jim has developed more of a heroic personality in his own right. This particular issue has what are arguably the magazine's two most popular series in it: not only the Major but James B. Hendryx's series about the denizens of Halfaday Creek in the Yukon, where outlaws can find a safe haven if they behave themselves but the really bad people find themselves outwitted and cleaned out by Black John. As the cover advertises, Eustace L. Adams has a novelette in this issue, but as I recall, "The Jaguar's Cub," about a father-son reunion in the middle of a Central American uprising, isn't on the level of the stuff Adams was selling to Argosy at this time. Another writer I like, Frank Richardson Pierce, has a short story in this number, but I must confess that the .pdf of "Snatchers" sits on my e-reader unread to date, though now that I've let this date go by I'll rectify the error as soon as possible. Berton E. Cook contributes a decent sea story while Carl N. Taylor, whose career ended abruptly with his murder in 1936 -- the cult film Lash of the Penitentes was inspired by the case -- writes a premonitory tale of Japanese up to mischief in the Philippines. There's also a dangerous-job story by Carmony Grove, a comic western by Ellis Parker Butler, and a serial chapter by a real old timer, septuagenarian Frank H. Spearman. While the Adams story is a disappointment, this issue is a pretty good sampler of the kind of settings and subject matter Short Stories could offer. You can download individual stories from the issue by following this link.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016


Judging by the hand, that's a big vault of death Erle Stanley Gardner's writing about in this 1935 issue of Detective Fiction Weekly. Gardner gets the cover story, but that ugly little strip on top of the cover suggests that Eugene Thomas's Vivian LeGrand was fast becoming a star of the magazine. "The Episode of the Levantine Monster" was the Lady From Hell's sixth appearance already in 1935. Meanwhile, "The Mute One" is the fourth appearance of Richard Sale's Daffy Dill. This issue continues a memoir of "15 Years in the Underworld" by one Frisco Jimmy Harrington, and wraps up the "Donald Ross" (aka Fred MacIsaac) serial Bring Him Back Alive!  Edmond duPerrier and sci-fi specialist Ray Cummings contribute short stories. Frisco Jimmy and Vivian LeGrand would be back the following week.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016


That's a cute cover by Victor Kalin. The back cover copy tops it. I don't think they write them like that anymore.

George Bagby was one of the several pseudonyms used by Aaron Marc Stein (1906-1985). Bagby was his most prolific alias and a character in his own stories, the narrator of the exploits of his friend "Schmitty," or Inspector Schmidt of the NYPD. Give the Little Corpse a Great Big Hand is the first Bagby/Schmidt book I've read and it was quite enjoyable in an easy, undemanding way. In this one, Schmitty has two mysteries to solve: the smothering of the stripper and a burglary spree coincidental with the opening of the nightclub where the stripper is smothered. We're dealing with that old crime chestnut where a gangster attracts high society to some big event so his boys can rob their homes while they're out. You may ask why high society has come out to see a stripper, but the gangster has hired a singer -- a policeman's daughter, even, and with real talent -- to give the occasion class. Since the nightclub's new proprietor is a known gangster, there's little mystery to the burglaries. The overriding mystery is whether the killing of the stripper has anything to do with the burglary plot. Schmidt doesn't think so; the gangster's response to the stripper's sudden death is too spontaneous, too panicked, to be part of a planned alibi. The murder investigation brings out a high-society rivalry for the singer's affections and the stripper's dysfunctional relationship with her alky mom, now her daughter's maid and dresser. The old lady seems to be one step ahead of everyone else until she gets killed, too. Her death keeps the mystery plot fresh, but the writing is good enough to make this an entertaining page-turner. There's a certain ruefulness to Bagby's descriptions that retains enough sentiment not to be world-weary or cynical, and on this first evidence for me he can write quite the opening paragraph. This one describes the venue for the story:

If you ask around in Time Square, at Lindy's and at Sardi's and around the Astor lobby, you'll turn up people who may remember it when it was the Limehouse Club. It's been so many things since then, the Lotus Bud and the Northern Lights and the Foreign Legion. The Broadway boys will tell you it's a bad-luck spot. The location and the layout are beautiful, but the history is bad. It goes all the way back to early Prohibition days and there's always been one night club or another there, but none of them has lasted. Whatever the name under which it operates, it is always the place where the angels go to have their wings clipped, but mysteriously there are always fresh angels. Each failure, each shutdown, each collapse is invariably followed by another hopeful venture. A change of name, a change of management, a change of decor, but never any basic change in the same old gilded dump.

The whole first chapter is great, from its efficient introduction of the cast to Bagby's descriptions of a glorified burlesque show playing to a too-hip crowd that finds the gross comic ironically and thus unintentionally funny. "It takes a special sort of mind to be amused by a confusion between Pharaoh and fairy," narrator Bagby observes, and while the audience isn't that special they find the climactic striptease -- the stripper makes it through the first performance -- hilarious in an obviously camp way. I appreciate that kind of sociocultural observation just about as much as the mysteries in such books. Since the other Bagby book in my collection, The Real Gone Goose, deals with beatniks, I look forward to enjoying it, whether the humor is intentional or not.


I'm cheating today. No March 8 pulps looked that good to me, so here's a slick -- wider, taller and glossier, though not thicker -- from 1930. But as you can see from Collier's choice of cover story, the line separating pulp fiction from slick fiction grows blurry at times. "The National Weekly" had been Dr. Fu Manchu's American home since 1913, and with very rare deviations he kept Collier's as his base of operations until 1948. Sax Rohmer's fiction probably strikes folks as "pulp" but he was too popular to be relegated to the rough-paper press. As I've mentioned a few times, Collier's, along with The Saturday Evening Post, Liberty and a few others, was where pulp authors aspired to be published. In this particular issue you'll find a short story by Alan LeMay, the future author of The Searchers, who had established himself in Adventure before cracking Collier's back in 1929. Another noteworthy author in this number is Richard Connell, best known as the founder of an entire subgenre of adventure story as the writer of "The Most Dangerous Game." There's also plenty of fiction bearing little resemblance to pulp, though by modernist literary standards slick-magazine fiction was barely more respectable and probably less entertaining than pulp. Pulp writers didn't necessarily improve when they graduated to slicks like Collier's. Some authors -- Harold Lamb, Ernest Haycox, Albert Richard Wetjen and Sidney Herschel Small are a few -- produced good short stories for the National Weekly, while others -- Max Brand, Frederick Nebel, George F. Worts, etc. -- produced relatively lifeless work. Collier's didn't quite outlive the pulps. It went biweekly in 1953 and folded at the end of 1956 in the middle of a Luke Short serial. You can take a look at this particular issue, albeit with all the color illustrations and ads greyscaled, at

Monday, March 7, 2016


We're getting a little ahead of ourselves in charting the decline and fall of Argosy as a Munsey publication. There are two cover format changes to come between the hideous collage design circa February 1941 and this redesign from 1942. By this point the venerable weekly was no longer weekly; it had gone twice-a-month the previous October, and would decline to monthly by May of this year. Photo covers weren't standard; there had been four since the latest redesign. Since these movie-star photos -- Dorothy Lamour had been preceded by Henry Fonda, Sabu and Fay McKenzie -- have nothing to do with the contents inside, I wonder whether they were paid advertising from these actors' respective studios. The "Argosy" on the cover is in a new, more streamlined font, with a plane replacing the ship that had been part of the cover design since the magazine gave up on cover paintings in 1940. Since the switch to twice-monthly Argosy had put more emphasis on its non-fiction lead story; this issue's Gestapo expose outranks the Arthur Lawson novelette, for instance. The majority of the magazine was still fiction, including serials by Charles Marquis Warren and Louis C. Goldsmith. George Michener contributes a sci-fi story, "Last Stop - Earth," while Don Tracy delivers a short story. Lawson's an okay western writer and Goldsmith is pretty good, and if Warren's serial is on the level of his Bugles Are For Soldiers then even this product of Argosy's decrepitude probably is still worth having.

Sunday, March 6, 2016


Emmett Watson's cover promises an action-packed 1937 Argosy, headlined by a new Eustace L. Adams serial. Some of you may have sampled Adams's work when I uploaded his 1935 Anywhere But Here. I haven't read Skyway to Peril yet but it looks like characteristic Adams product of the period. 1937 was a busy year for him. It started with him wrapping one serial. He completed four more during they year, ranging from three to six installments, and was in the middle of yet another by year's end. Adams is overshadowed for posterity by the penultimate installment of Theodore Roscoe's seminal Z is for Zombie, recently reprinted in the Black Lizard Zombies! Zombies! Zombies! anthology. The "big novel" by Frederick "George Challis" Faust actually started in the previous issue; The American is an adventure set in Revolutionary France. While Patrick Lee's The Redcoat Renegade might be presumed to take place in Revolutionary America, a check of the February 13 cover heralding its launch shows it to be a Canadian Mountie serial. The name above the title, Edmund Littell -- a onetime collaborator with Borden Chase -- specialized in tales of "sandhogs," urban tunnel diggers known for superhuman endurance and tremendously dangerous work. This was so popular a genre that Chase would write a serial simply called Sandhog later this year. John K. Butler, James Stevens and Samuel Taylor round out the lineup for an impressive-looking issue that probably would have you shopping for prior and subsequent issues to complete all the serials. Doing that is more of a chore the more serials are running. 1935 is my favorite Argosy year for collecting in part because the venerable weekly only ran two serials at a time back then.

Saturday, March 5, 2016


Detective Fiction Weekly seems to have reached its aesthetic peak of cover design around 1938. Here's an eye-catcher with an admirable minimum of cover copy. Richard Sale's "Die, Hamlet!" is one of his Daffy Dill stories; the other series character in this issue is Edgar Franklin's George Batey, who first appeared in 1931 but didn't return until nearly five years later. Seven more Batey stories appeared over the next two years, the last in December 1938. Regulars Cleve F. Adams, Dale Clark, Frederick C. Davis, and Samuel Taylor put in appearances as well. If it had Judson Philips it would have been as nearly generic an issue of DFW as you could ask for, but that cover on a newstand would look pretty tempting.

Friday, March 4, 2016


You can hardly go wrong with a 1939 Western Story cover. This one by H. W. Scott succinctly symbolizes the cover story by Bennett Foster, whom I consider a pretty good western writer for this period. Better still is Luke Short, whose serial Bounty Guns, beginning this issue, I've read in novel form. It's very good, though the novel may be an enhanced form of the serial. Also inside is C. K. Shaw, short for Chloe Kathleen, one of the rare woman pulpsters outside the romance genre. It's said that authors who went by initials often were women (see also C. L. Moore), which is why I still wonder about Jimmie Cordie chronicler W. Wirt. In addition to these authors, Jackson Gregory wraps up a serial while John G. Pearsol and Kenneth Gilbert -- an animal story specialist, I believe -- complete the fiction roster. With Short and Foster in the lead this could be a better-than-average issue of the Street & Smith weekly.

Thursday, March 3, 2016


Here's a 1934 Argosy that I'll soon own, since the "South Seas Novelette" mentioned in the lower left corner of the cover is a Bellow Bill Williams story. Bill is outranked this issue by Hulbert Footner's Mme. Rosika Storey, who'd been solving mysteries in Argosy since 1924 and here gets the cover spotlight poor Bill never received. By this point Storey was dividing her time between Argosy and that rarity of rarities, a slick genre magazine called Mystery. Footner ended her series in that magazine in May 1934 with "The Last Adventure With Madame Storey," but returned to work for Argosy that November. On the serial front, sci-fi pioneer Murray Leinster concludes the two-part War of the Purple Gas, while W. C. Tuttle continues Buckshot and Frederick "George Challis" Faust continues  his swashbuckling The Naked Blade. The hero's name is Ivor Kildare, and Faust clearly liked the sound of the last name, later giving it to "Max Brand's" young doctor who, for a while, was his most famous creation. Short stories by Joseph Creamer, James Stevens and John H. Thompson round out an issue I expect to enjoy.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016


Rudolph Belarski gives this 1940 Argosy a cover perhaps more suited for the pulps' new competition, superhero comics, as a colossal Smooth Kyle slugs a symbolic Bundist -- a member of the German-American Bund --in the heart of an American metropolis. That poor Kraut is going to impale himself on that skyscraper if he isn't careful. The Sun Sets at 5 was Borden Chase's revival of his cabby-turned-government agent after nearly three years dormant. The first of two Smooth Kyle serials that year -- his last appearances, I believe -- they mark his transformation from crimefighter to Axis-fighter, in keeping with the mood of the moment. The other highlight of this issue, which is available at, is Cornell Woolrich's novelette "All At Once, No Alice." The other serials this week are Frank Richardson Pierce's The White Oomailik and Eric North's The Green Flame, the latter reportedly a reprint from 1924. Richard Sale, Robert W. Cochran and John Ames York round out the fiction contents. I've read The Sun Sets at 5 in full and like the other Smooth Kyle adventures it's pretty entertaining, particularly when Smooth is bantering with his hard-boiled girlfriend Gilda. It's definitely more entertaining than the propagandistic cover copy might lead you to believe.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016


This guy might pass for Bellow Bill Williams except that Bill is more completely tattooed on his upper body and favors fine-cut chewing tobacco over cigars. Our cover boy for this 1932 Adventure is the creation of Gerard C. Delano. Take him as the generic brawny South Sea sailorman. The big stars this issue are Talbot Mundy, who offers a story about the Indian con man Chullunder Ghose, and J. D. Newsom, whose work I'll take on faith. Also on hand are L. G. Blochman, who could do some good exotic adventures, Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson, a founding father of DC Comics, and A. E. Dingle, better known to pulp readers by his rank of Captain, as well as the industrious but not very distinguished Allan Vaughan Elston. Throw in Searchers author Alan LeMay co-writing a non-fiction piece and this is a pretty decent if not overpowering lineup to start off a new month.