Saturday, May 14, 2016


Hashknife Hartley and his sidekick Sleepy Stevens were two of the longest lived and most beloved western characters in pulp fiction, yet on this 1938 Argosy cover, apparently advertising one of W. C. Tuttle's stories about them, they're upstaged by a pretty girl. I sort of get this. It's one thing if Tuttle's doing one of his Henry Harrison Conroy stories; Henry is instantly recognizable as a misplaced W. C. Fields type, only more chubby, in the still-wild west. I don't know if Hashknife of Sleepy was as recognizable.  I've seen several Hashknife covers (including the Dec. 15, 1934 Argosy) and the man looks fairly nondescript. Jumping from Adventure to Argosy to Short Stories, I don't know if readers would recognize all the covers as portraying the same man. Meanwhile, a girl with a gun is almost always a pulp winner, and for all I know such a girl actually figures in Tuttle's "Short Rope For Rustlers." As for the rest of the issue, C. S. Forester was Argosy's new star of 1938, the venerable weekly having introduced Horatio Hornblower to American readers earlier in the year. They wouldn't have him for long, as Forester was destined for the slicks, but along with three Hornblower serials Argosy ran the short story, "The Brand of Eve," which had premiered in England less than two months earlier. Max Brand and Borden Chase continue their serials, The Living Ghost and I'd Climb the Highest Mountain, as does Walter Ripperger (This Doll Must Die) while the usually dependable Frederick C. Painton throws in a short piece, "Old Gent With Whiskers." Ol' Hashknife may have been the main selling point, but there's something to be said for sex appeal, too.


  1. I had no idea Hornblower started in the pulps. I was quite the Hornblower fan when I was a young 'un.

  2. Hornblower is first published in novel form in the UK with Beat to Quarters in 1937. Argosy serialized the second novel, Ship of the Line in advance of its book publication in both the UK and US, the first installment appearing on Feb. 26, 1938, the novel appearing in the U.S. the following month and in the UK in April. Argosy then went backward and serialized Beat to Quarters, the first American edition of which had come out in April 1937, in September 1938. The third novel, Flying Colours, was published in the UK in November 1938 and was serialized in Argosy beginning December 3. Argosy's final Hornblower story was the first publication anywhere of the story "The Bad Samaritan" in January 1941. It appeared in the UK Argosy that May as "Hornblower's Charitable Offering."