Sunday, April 09, 2006
I got a comment on an earlier post that I thought was worth discussing here:
Larry and Stretch, Marshall Grover, Marshall McCoy...what a profusion of names and confusing for me. I am trying to find out how many Aussie westerns made it over to the US...can anyone help me with when these books started to appear and what their covers are like. I'm curious to see if they were completely revamped or given a new cover. Anyway please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org with anything you might think would interest someone who's trying to get an idea of how US audiences 'read' Aussie stuff, did you even know it was Aussie? What did the blurbs say?
I first became aware that there were Australian Westerns in 1968, when I bought the first of the Larry and Streak series, GUN GLORY FOR TEXANS (pictured above). This was a thin (less than 100 pages) paperback published by Bantam, a publisher with whom I was very familiar because they also published the Doc Savage and Louis L'Amour novels, books I read religiously back then. Right away I noticed that the Larry and Streak book was copyrighted by Horwitz, an Australian publisher whose name I recognized because I was also reading the Carter Brown books, hardboiled mysteries originally published in Australia by Horwitz and reprinted in the U.S. by Signet. I had no idea who Marshall McCoy was, but I liked the book a lot and started buying all the others I could find by him, which included another series known as Nevada Jim. In '68 and '69 there were sixteen books published by Bantam in each series, and then Marshall McCoy seemed to disappear.
Skip ahead a bunch of years, and along the way I discovered that Marshall McCoy was really an Australian author named Leonard Meares, and that under the name Marshall Grover he published literally hundreds of Westerns. I even corresponded with Len for several years before his untimely death in the early Nineties.
To answer the questions posed in the comment above: yes, the books were rewritten somewhat, and the covers were completely different. Larry Valentine and Stretch Emerson became Larry Vance and Streak Everett in the American editions. Don't ask me why; the original names sound just as good to me. Big Jim (see cover above) was turned into Nevada Jim, and the humorous Mexican sidekick he had in some of the Australian editions was written completely out of the Bantam versions. I believe that at first the American editions were rewritten to make them shorter, too, although the page count in both series increased in the later Bantams.
In addition, in 1969, the American publisher Leisure Books released a reprint of the Larry and Stretch novel FEUD AT MENDOZA, this time with the character names and the Marshall Grover by-line intact.. This may have been a pirated edition. It was the only Larry and Stretch novel Leisure published. They did publish a couple of double volumes reprinting some Benedict & Brazos novels by E. Jefferson Clay (actually Paul Wheelahan), and a few other double volumes reprinting various Australian Westerns under different pseudonyms (none of which I remember at the moment). Other than the copyright notices that mention Horwitz, I don't think there was any indication on any of these books that they originated in Australia.
Anyone with more information or comments about these books, I'd be glad to hear from you, as I'm sure T. Johnson-Woods will be.