This isn't actually a Western pulp. SMASHING NOVELS published a variety of adventure fiction. But since this weekend is the annual Robert E. Howard Days get-together in Cross Plains, it seemed fitting to me to spotlight my favorite Western yarn by Howard. "Vultures of Whapeton" is a truly visionary story, foreshadowing the trend toward darker, more hardboiled Westerns that really bloomed in the Forties and Fifties. I've read it several times and always enjoy it. It's also an unusual story in that Howard wrote two alternate endings for it, and SMASHING NOVELS ran both of them. I prefer the more downbeat version and think of it as the "real" ending.
The rest of this issue looks pretty good, too. The lead novel is by Will Jenkins, better known as the science fiction writer Murray Leinster even though Jenkins was his real name. Old-timer Peter B. Kyne is on hand, too, as is an author I'm not familiar with, Foster Drake.
As I write and schedule this post, I don't know if I'm going to Cross Plains this year or not. It looks more than likely that I won't be there. But I'll be thinking about REH. Maybe I'll pull out a copy of "Vultures of Whapeton" in one of its various paperback reprintings and read it again.
A (Black) Gat in the Hand: Back Deck Pulp #1
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