Saturday, October 22, 2016


Those cool, sometimes nearly abstract Street & Smith western covers I identify with 1939 actually started a few months earlier. Wild West Weekly altered its cover design in the fall of 1938, removing former traces of a banner and opting more often for full-color backgrounds instead of the once-typical white. This is an early success of the new regime, painted with newly-characteristic symbolism by ace artist H. W. Scott. It heralds a Silver Jack Steele story by William F. Bragg, one of the few authors who got to do a series under his own name. Walker A. Tompkins was another, as this week's Tommy Rockford story shows. On the other hand, such an established name as J. Allen Dunn wrote the Whistlin' Kid stories as Emery Jackson -- which was only fair, I suppose, since Guy L. Maynard did so as well on other occasions. Lee Bond wrote the Jim Tate series (a miniseries of six novelettes in consecutive issues) as one of many incarnations of house name Andrew A. Griffin. Ben Conlon and Frank Carl Young contribute standalone short stories, while Warren Elliot Carleton presents the penultimate installment of an 18-part comic strip series about Sailor Anson. I'd like to think that the higher quality covers had a positive impact on sales, but I don't know one way or another and I suspect otherwise, since cover design turned more conservative again about a year later.

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