I love this cover. Don't know if it's based on one of the stories inside--or if one of the stories might be based on it--or if it's just goofy brilliance. But I think it's a dandy, no matter what. And speaking of the stories, they're by Frederick C. Davis, Norbert Davis (a Bail Bond Dodd yarn), Hugh B. Cave, Leslie T. White, Dale Clark, and William Edward Hayes. That's a mighty strong line-up. DIME DETECTIVE was a great pulp.
We're right in the middle of a saloon gunfight on the cover of this issue of FAMOUS WESTERN. Looks like the work of H.W. Scott to me, but I could be wrong about that. Inside are stories by Chuck Martin, Archie Joscelyn, Lee Floren (twice, once under his name and once as Cliff Campbell), and Fred Gipson, the author of OLD YELLER his own self, among other, lesser-known scribblers. Edited by Robert W. Lowndes, of course.
Years ago I came across a mention of a series of stories by
Eugene Cunningham about a former Texas Ranger forced to turn outlaw when he’s
framed for murder. These appeared in FRONTIER STORIES and ACTION STORIES. I
thought at the time they sounded like a prime candidate for reprinting, and as
it turns out, some of them were, in somewhat different form. At least I think
Cunningham’s novel PISTOL PASSPORT was published in 1936. It opens with a
former Texas Ranger named Steve Drago being convicted of murder for what was
really a fair fight with a member of the opposing clan in one of those famous
Texas feuds. Drago escapes from custody and tries to make it across the border
into Mexico, but he winds up being sidetracked to the Taunton Basin in West
Texas where there’s a range war going on between two factions, both of which
are pretty bad. All the other ranchers in the basin are caught in the middle of
this violent clash, including a beautiful young blonde who’s trying to run the
family ranch with the dubious help of her ne’er-do-well brother. Drago, being a
former lawman and a deadly gunfighter, naturally sides with the underdogs and
pulls a RED HARVEST by playing the two bunches of bad guys against each other.
This results in a fine Western novel. Cunningham wrote great action scenes that
are more graphic and hardboiled than most of what appeared in the Western pulps
during the Twenties and Thirties. Having been a Texas cowboy himself, his
descriptions of the range and of ranch life have the unmistakable ring of
authenticity. The action may be over the top, but at least it’s grounded in
reality. He also has a tin ear for dialogue at times, but mostly it’s very
good. His style is just offbeat enough that I used to find it a little
distracting, but once you get into the flow of his writing, it really sweeps
Now, as for the connection between this novel and the Gip Drago pulp stories .
. . In the December 1931 of FRONTIER STORIES, Cunningham published a novella
entitled “Pistol Passport”. In the next three issues, more Cunningham novellas
appeared. I don’t have a scan of the cover for December '31, but the cover of
the next one features Cunningham’s novella “High Stakes” and clearly calls it
“Another Gip Drago Novel of the Range”, meaning that it wasn’t the
first in the series. I think “Pistol Passport” was, and that the next two
stories, “The Leather Slapper” and “Riding Gun” were also part of the series.
Then, according to the Fictionmags Index, the Gip Drago series ends until 1935,
when it resumes in the pages of ACTION STORIES.
Now, having read the novel PISTOL PASSPORT, it’s a fairly seamless narrative,
but the plot is just episodic enough to make me believe that Cunninghan rewrote
those first four Gip Drago novellas into this novel featuring the renamed
protagonist Steve Drago. (Sort of the way Hammett did with RED HARVEST, to go
back to that.) If that’s actually the case, it makes me wonder about those
later Gip Drago stories, since the ending of the novel wraps things up pretty
neatly and doesn’t leave much room for a sequel. But of course, being an
inventive pulp writer, Cunningham could find a way. I still hope somebody will
reprint those later stories. I really enjoyed PISTOL PASSPORT and give it a
high recommendation for fans of the Western pulps and hardboiled, traditional
All J.D. Blaze wanted to do was celebrate his wife Kate’s birthday, but when you’re the Old West’s only pair of husband-and-wife gunfighters, trouble is never far away. A savage attack and a dangerous injury not only threaten Kate Blaze’s life, she also finds herself a captive of twisted killers and unsure of her own identity. But J.D. will battle with his wits, a pair of rock-hard fists, and a blazing .45 to find Kate and free her before it’s too late! Acclaimed author John Hegenberger joins the BLAZE! team with a scorching tale of hate and revenge that leads to an apocalyptic showdown. Read BLOODY WYOMING and see why BLAZE! is today’s bestselling Adult Western series.
Interviews • Art Taylor (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine) • Editors: Alec Cizak (Pulp Modern), Jennifer Landels (Pulp Literature), John Kenyon (Grift Magazine), Kristen Valentine (Betty Fedora) and Sheri White (Morpheus Tales) on the new generation of digital digests.
Articles • Suspense Magazine and Suspense Novels by Richard Krauss • Galaxy Novels by Steve Carper • Galaxy Magabooks by Gary Lovisi • Criswell Predicts: Fate & Spaceway by Tom Brinkmann • Shock Mystery Tales by Peter Enfantino • Pocket Pin-Ups trading cards by Richard Krauss
Reviews by Joe Wehrle, Jr. and Richard Krauss • H.G. Wells Society Newsletter • Bulldog Drummond by Sapper • Mystery, Detective, and Espionage Magazines by Michael L. Cook
Fiction • “The Hideout” by Ron Fortier, art by Rob Davis • “A Rat Must Chew” by Gary Lovisi, art by Sean Azzopardi • “Strangers in Need” story and art by Joe Wehrle, Jr. • “Wounded Wizard” by John Kuharik, art by Michael Neno Includes explicit language.
Cartoons • Brad Foster • Bob Vojtko
Also includes • Editor's Notes • Suspense Magazine contents and reprint sources • Social media round-up • Opening Lines
Includes nearly 100 cover images.
THE DIGEST ENTHUSIAST continues to be one of the very best publications out there. I mean, look at that line-up. Highlights for me are the in-depth looks at SUSPENSE MAGAZINE, SHOCK MYSTERY TALES, and the Galaxy novels, plus some great fiction including a Brother Bones story by Ron Fortier. The Bulldog Drummond review also sparked considerable interest on my part, since I've read one of the books in that series and have been wanting to get around to the others for a long time. If you have any interest in digest magazines, you really need to be reading THE DIGEST ENTHUSIAST.
Our daughters have been recommending this movie to us for several years, and we finally got around to watching it. Any movie with both Jackie Chan and Jet Li has to be a certain amount of fun, I think, and this one is. The plot has a young American fan of martial arts movies being magically transported to another realm (the Forbidden Kingdom of the title), so he can restore a fighting staff to the Monkey King, who's been encased in stone by a bad guy. Lots of stuff happens, usually involving elaborately staged fights. Chan is a drunken immortal, Li a bad-ass monk, and I'd never really heard of anybody else in the film. But it looks great and is quite entertaining. I'm glad we finally managed to watch it.
New Hampshire State Police detective Paul Talbot returns for another spine-tingling murder mystery. Someone is killing many of the top dressage riders on the horse show circuit. This time, though, the murders hit too close to home when his wife Jacquie’s riding instructor, Horst Wilhelm, is murdered and the body hung from the covered bridge near the Talbots’ farm. Paul becomes the prime suspect in Wilhelm’s murder and is taken off the investigation just when it appears Jacquie may be the murderer’s next target. Sprinkled throughout with welcome, offbeat bits of humor, DEATH BY DRESSAGE will keep you on the edge of your saddle until the shocking conclusion is reached. James J. Griffin is an acclaimed novelist of historical fiction, featuring stories of the famed lawmen from the Lone Star State, the Texas Rangers. His books are always full of action, suspense, and, just when needed, Jim’s off-beat sense of humor. As a native New Englander, he knows almost every foot of his adopted home state of New Hampshire. Jim is also a life-long horseman, and horses always play a prominent role in his novels and short stories. DEATH BY DRESSAGE is his second Paul Talbot mystery novel.
This scan comes from David Lee Smith. TOP-NOTCH published some good fiction, although I've never considered it one of the top tier of pulps (despite its name). I don't recognize the names of any of the authors in this issue except Eugene Cunningham, but I'm sure most of the stories are pretty good. And that's a nice, action-packed cover. No idea who the artist was.
This looks like a fine issue of WESTERN TRAILS! The cover is by Delos Palmer Jr., and inside are a Duke Buckland novella by Frederick C. Davis and a Bert Little novella by Clyde A. Warden. I've read one story in each of these series and liked them quite a bit. There are also stories by Francis P. Verzani (a prolific WESTERN TRAILS author), Richard Sale, and Joe Archibald. I'm sure I would enjoy this one if I had a copy of it. The scan this week comes from David Lee Smith. Thanks, David!
Since I wrote about William S. Hart's final film, TUMBLEWEEDS, a couple of weeks ago for Tuesday's Overlooked Movie, that got me interested in reading more about his life and career. There really hasn't been a lot written about him and his films, but I found a copy of this book and enjoyed it. THE COMPLETE FILMS OF WILLIAM S. HART is just what it says it is, a listing of Hart's films including a synopsis of each one, contemporary reviews of them, and several photographs from each. This must have taken a lot of work, since many of Hart's films are pretty obscure. Diane Kaiser Koszarski also contributes a long biographical introduction about Hart's life, including some behind-the-scenes pictures. I would have liked a little more critical analysis of some of the important pictures from Hart's career, like THE RETURN OF DRAW EGAN and HELL'S HINGES, not to mention TUMBLEWEEDS itself. But even so, this is an entertaining book and a worthwhile look at a towering figure in the early movie business. It's made me want to watch more of Hart's films, so with any luck I'll get to that soon.