Monday, January 9, 2017
THIS DAY IN COLLIER'S WEEKLY: January 9, 1937
It was probably a rare issue of Collier's that did not have any graduate of the pulps contributing fiction to it. This particular issue features one of the magazine's most popular pulp graduates, Ernest Haycox, continuing his serial Deep West, which would be published in hardcover later in 1937. Other erstwhile pulpsters include Edmund Ware and William MacHarg, the latter continuing his amusing series about the laconic big-city police detective O'Malley. My focus is on Sidney Herschel Small's "The Starry Flag." Small had gotten a story published in The Saturday Evening Post back in 1928 but did not break into Collier's until 1932. The National Weekly soon became his main market. For the next few years he continued to publish in pulps regularly, mostly in Adventure and Detective Fiction Weekly, the latter featuring his Jimmy Wentworth series of Chinatown detective stories. His last Wentworth story appeared in a May 1936 issue of DFW. From then until the outbreak of World War II he stuck with the slicks except for an occasional sale to Blue Book. "The Starry Flag" (the title is taken from the marching song, "Underneath the Starry Flag/Civilize them with a Krag") wraps up a cycle of Collier's stories about several generations of the Bartlett family, missionaries, merchants and engineers in China. Each male Bartlett is destined to marry a "strange woman," and Richard Bartlett finds his in a besieged compound during the Boxer Rebellion, when the protagonists sees the work of family across the generations destroyed. A last-minute rescue by an international army doesn't really dispel a tone of despairing resignation to the fact that China never wanted foreigners, but love inspires our hero to persevere. Small specialized in East-meets-West stories like these, inevitably stereotypical but rarely in a blatant yellow-peril way. "Starry Flag" is probably the pulpiest piece in this particular issue, and Small eventually would return to pulps in a big way with his Koropak series in Adventure about an American spy in wartime Japan. After the war he was mainly a Post man until his death in 1958. You can browse the entire issue at unz.org.