This is another pulp I own and read recently, the only issue of TRIPLE WESTERN that I've ever read, as far as I recall. I'm not really fond of the cover style with the three little vignettes, which I think are too small to be effective. But that was the standard cover layout on TRIPLE WESTERN and it lasted for more than ten years, so what do I know?
Moving on to the contents . . . I'm very fond of the novella length, as both a reader and a writer. A pulp with three novellas is just my speed. The first one, "Gall and Gunsmoke", is by J.M. Decker, a writer I don't know anything about. He published a few stories in various Western pulps during the Fifties, and that appears to be it. This one is a "save the ranch" story, and the utter predictability of the plot is relieved somewhat by bursts of good writing and some interesting characters.
Here's what really jumped out at me about this story, though. Check out this description of an evil banker: "The man had been handsome in his youth, but that had been long ago, and time had not been kind to him. Hair that had once been luxuriant was now a thin gray fringe, left long and combed across in an attempt to cover the nakedness on top. The loss of teeth had brought the chin upward and inward, and what had been a bold, masculine nose was now a hooked beak pointing downward at the receding chin."
That's right, one of the villains in this story is almost a dead ringer for Montgomery Burns. If I didn't know better, I'd say that Matt Groening, or whoever designed the character, had read "Gall and Gunsmoke". I think the likelihood of that is pretty small, though.
The second novella in the issue, "Boothill Blonde", has the best title. The author, W.J. Reynolds, was quite prolific in the pulps during the Fifties but again seems to have done nothing beyond that. No matter, this is the sort of yarn I really enjoy, a good hardboiled Western with a touch of noir. As back-story, Tom Bolling is framed for murder and stagecoach robbery by the blonde of the title, and although he isn't convicted it costs him his ranch to get free. He catches up to the blonde in Arizona, where she has used her ill-gotten gains to take over most of a town. With the help of a crooked sheriff, a brutal manager, and a hired gunman, she runs things to suit herself, but then Tom shows up, and the inevitable hell breaks loose. Plenty of action in this one, along with a couple of strong female characters, something you didn't always find in the Western pulps.
"The Wildcatter" by Joseph Chadwick is a reprint from the second February 1951 number of RANCH ROMANCES. (Those of you familiar with RANCH ROMANCES know that's how the magazine always referred to its issues.) I'm not really a fan of Chadwick's work, but I'm a sucker for oil field stories, as I've probably mentioned before. This is a fine one, good enough to maybe make me rethink my opinion of Chadwick. The protagonist, Rowdy Jim Kane, would have been a perfect part for John Wayne to play in the late Forties or early Fifties. There's a "save the ranch" element to the plot in this one, too, but with the nice twist of having to bring in a wildcat well in order to do so.
This issue is rounded out by a good short story by Warren Kuhn, "Last Gun, Last Bullet", about a deadly encounter between an old gunfighter and an old bounty hunter, as well as an article about Wyatt Earp and a short poem by the ubiquitous S. Omar Barker. Overall I really enjoyed this pulp and plan to read more issues of TRIPLE WESTERN.