Saturday, April 26, 2014
Saturday Morning Western Pulp: The Masked Rider Western Magazine, April 1934
This is the first issue of the pulp featuring The Masked Rider, a character pretty obviously inspired by The Lone Ranger. Or was he? I seem to recall reading speculation that Oscar Schisgall's novel THE BLACK CABALLERO was written as a stand-alone and quickly turned into a series after the success of the Lone Ranger radio program. I don't know, but I believe this is the only Masked Rider novel by Schisgall, which makes me think it's possible he didn't intend to write any sequels and the publisher bought the rights to the characters from him.
At any rate, the series ran for 13 issues from its original publisher, Ranger Publications (Ranger...hmmm), then went away for a few months before returning from Better Publications, one of the imprints of Ned Pines' Thrilling Group. It had a good long run there, lasting until 1953. Quite a few of the novels were reprinted in paperback by Curtis Books during the Seventies. I've read a number of them and enjoyed most of them.
The early Masked Rider stories from Ranger Publications, although featuring the same characters, Wayne Morgan (aka The Masked Rider) and his Yaqui sidekick Blue Hawk, are somewhat different in tone from the later ones, based on the one or two I've read. In those stories, The Masked Rider is more of a Shadow-like character, often manipulating the action from behind the scenes.
The first three novels in the series have been reprinted by Altus Press. I hope to have a chance to read them soon.