Sunday, July 31, 2022

Sunday Morning Bonus Pulp: Spicy Detective Stories, December 1942

There's a lot going on in this cover by Allen Anderson, including a Clark Gable lookalike who's about to get brained by a feisty redhead. Oddly enough, the cover story in this issue is by Alan Anderson, a totally different guy, as far as I know. There's also a Dan Turner story by Robert Leslie Bellem, and the rest are all retitled reprints from earlier issues of SPICY DETECTIVE STORIES published under house-names. The real authors behind them include Arthur Warren and William G. Bogart. The others? Who knows? This is actually the final issue of SPICY DETECTIVE STORIES. The next month the magazine continued under the name SPEED DETECTIVE STORIES, with (supposedly) slightly toned down content.

Saturday, July 30, 2022

Saturday Morning Western Pulp: Western Story, July 25, 1942

Those who have read much of my work have probably figured out that I love fights and shootouts that take place on top of moving trains. Here's a good example of such a scene, courtesy of H.W. Scott, the regular cover artist on WESTERN STORY during this era. In addition to that nice cover, there's a fine group of writers in this issue, including Walt Coburn, Ray Nafziger, Bennett Foster, and Philip Ketchum. 

Friday, July 29, 2022

Carny Girl - John Dexter

Almost everyone who wrote softcore novels for the operation set up by publisher William Hamling and agent Scott Meredith had books published under the name John Dexter at one time or another. It was a true house-name. The actual authors have been identified on some of them, but at this point we have no idea who wrote CARNY GIRL, published as part of the Pillar Books imprint in 1964.

It starts off with a nude, beautiful young woman who finds herself on a beach with amnesia. She has no idea who she is or what she’s doing there. All she knows is that she’s mortally terrified of something and has to get away. As luck would have it, a traveling carnival is stopped on a road nearby because one of the trucks has a flat tire, so, since it’s the middle of the night, our heroine is able to sneak onto the merry-go-round and hide. Of course, she’s discovered in the morning and winds up joining the carnival, working as a shill for some of the games and in the girlie show. She also falls for the handsome but down on his luck owner of the carnival and battles against an inexplicable (amnesia, remember?) nymphomania that makes her go to bed with most of the men she encounters. Eventually she comes to be haunted by the mystery of her past, especially when she finds out the authorities are looking for a girl who matches her description. And then a hurricane blows in on the Gulf Coast where the carnival is set up . . .

Like most of these books, CARNY GIRL reads quickly and is entertaining. I like carny novels in general, and this one focuses quite a bit on that colorful background, although the nymphomania is the main plot element, of course. But it’s also frustrating (also common for these books) because with that set-up and if the sex had been toned down some, this could have been an excellent hardboiled novel published by Gold Medal or as half of an Ace Double. Whoever this John Dexter was, his prose is pretty smooth and there’s some good dialogue.

But there’s no point in lamenting what might have been, and anyway, who am I to judge? The author got paid a quick thousand or twelve hundred bucks (significant money in 1964), did his job in a professional manner, and I assume was happy to cash the check. I’m sure the thought that somebody would be reviewing this novel nearly 60 years later never crossed his mind. CARNY GIRL is no lost classic, but I enjoyed reading it and for me, that counts more than anything else.

Sunday, July 24, 2022

Sunday Morning Bonus Pulp: Detective Fiction Weekly, July 20, 1940

Foreign Legion covers showed up frequently on ARGOSY and ADVENTURE, but I don't recall seeing any on DETECTIVE FICTION WEEKLY until I came across this issue on the Fictionmags Index. I don't know who did the cover, but I think it's a pretty good one. It illustrates a story by Robert Carse, who did plenty of good Foreign Legion stories for ARGOSY. Since ARGOSY and DETECTIVE FICTION WEEKLY were both published by the Frank A. Munsey Company, it's possible Carse wrote this, sent it to ARGOSY, and somebody at Munsey decided to run it in DETECTIVE FICTION WEEKLY because of its title. Not that it matters, but I find speculation like that interesting. Also on hand in this issue are Hugh B. Cave, Lawrence Treat, David Goodis, Edward S. Aarons (writing as Edward Ronns), and Edwin Truett Long (writing as Edwin Truett). That's a really nice group of authors, and for a change, no serials! (Serials being the bane of a collector's existence, of course, and Munsey ran a ton of them.)

Saturday, July 23, 2022

Saturday Morning Western Pulp: Ranch Romances, Second March Number, 1953

Kirk Wilson did only a handful of covers for RANCH ROMANCES, but the ones he did are all excellent, like this one. This appears to be a pretty good issue as far as the authors with stories in it, too: Dean Owen, Wayne D. Overholser, Frank Castle, Robert Aldrich (not the movie director), Harrison Colt, Cy Kees, Robert Moore Williams, and Clark Gray. The others could be hit and miss, but Owen, Overholser, and Castle are enough to make an issue like this worth reading.

Friday, July 22, 2022

Men's Adventure Quarterly #5: The Dirty Mission Issue - Robert Deis and Bill Cunningham, eds.

MEN’S ADVENTURE QUARTERLY moves into its second year of publication with issue #5, the Dirty Mission Issue. And I’m happy to report that this latest offering more than lives up to the very high standards set by the previous issues. The men’s adventure magazines probably published more stories about World War II than any other subject, and as you can tell from that great cover by Bruce Minney, this issue concentrates on stories about daring raids carried out by commando forces made up of criminals, prostitutes, and rugged American G.I.s.

The prototype for that plot, of course, is THE DIRTY DOZEN, the bestselling novel by E.M. Nathanson and the famous movie made from it. Or is it? Turns out the inspiration for that novel was a real-life group of commandos known as the Filthy Thirteen, and old pulpster Arch Whitehouse contributes an article about them from the October 1944 issue of the men’s magazine TRUE. That tale kicks off the line-up of stories reprinted in this issue of MAQ, the rest of which are completely fictional, by the way.

The only other author in this bunch whose by-line can be identified as his real name and not a pseudonym is Donald Honig, who has the longest story in the book with “Savage Comrades”, from the September 1969 issue of MALE. There’s been a Honig story in every issue of MAQ so far, because he was a fine writer, and he doesn’t disappoint here. In “Savage Comrades”, he comes up with a neat twist on the criminals-turned-commandos plot by making them German POWs who, because of their criminal history before the war, don’t want the Nazis to win. Along with a couple of American GIs to run the mission, they’re sent in to blow up a vital jet fuel refinery.

The term “Lace Panty Commandos” has become sort of a running joke among men’s adventure magazine fans. The story that coined the term, “The Wild Raid of Gibbon’s Lace Panty Commandos” (MAN’S BOOK, June 1963) is included here, are are “The Desperate Raid of Wilson’s Lace Panty Guerrillas” (WORLD OF MEN, March 1963), “Free the Girls of Love Captive Stalag” (MEN, December 1967), “Death Doll Platoon” (MAN’S STORY, February 1972), “The 5 Wild Missions of O’Brien’s Submarine Commandos” (STAG, November 1973), and “G.I. River Rats Who Blasted the Nazis’ Sex Circus Villa” (STAG, November 1973). That last story has a great bit of copy on its first page: “The guests were top Nazi officers—perhaps even Rommel—and the wild assassination scheme included a mute wrestler, a bear, and a team of underwater daredevils . . .” If you can read that and not want to read the story that goes with it, well, you have more will power than I do. I found all these stories to be very entertaining.

The great fanzine publisher Justin Marriott contributes an article about Dirty Missions in British comics, featuring a couple of my favorite series, the Rat Pack and the Convict Commandos, both written by Alan Hebden, along with covering a number of other series that sound intriguing. Blogger/author Joe Kenney provides an essay about his introduction to the men’s adventure magazines, and like everything he writes, it’s enjoyable and informative. I mentioned Bruce Minney, but there are also dozens of reproductions of great covers and interior art by Minney, Norm Eastman, Gil Cohen, Frank McCarthy, Al Rossi, Walter Popp, and Franklin Wittmack, as well as others I’ve probably overlooked or forgotten. And that doesn’t even include the features on beautiful models Eva Lynd and Mala Mastroberte. For great art and production, you just can’t beat MEN’S ADVENTURE QUARTERLY.

The Dirty Mission Issue gets the same very high recommendation from me that the previous issues have. You can buy it directly from the publisher via his eBay page. And coming up next time around, as previewed in this one: the Heist Issue! Something tells me it’ll be a good one.

Sunday, July 17, 2022

Sunday Morning Bonus Pulp: Startling Stories, May 1948

Earle Bergey, of course. And behind his cover in this issue of STARTLING STORIES: Henry Kuttner, Ray Cummings, Frank Belknap Long, Arthur Leo Zagat, Robert Moore Williams, Paul Ernst (a reprint from THRILLING WONDER STORIES twelve years earlier), George O. Smith, and John Russell Fearn. Not all of those are favorites of mine, but it's still a lineup of solid, prolific, well-respected science fiction authors.

Saturday, July 16, 2022

Saturday Morning Western Pulp: Dime Western Magazine, December 15, 1934

Replace one of the Stalwart Heroes (probably the guy in the red shirt) with a Wounded Old Geezer, and you'd have another instance of the trio that shows up on so many Western pulp covers. We've certainly got the Angry, Gun-Totin' Redhead, although I question her aim a little bit. I think this cover is by either Walter Baumhofer or Tom Lovell, but as always, I could certainly be wrong about that. As usual, DIME WESTERN has some great authors in its pages: Walt Coburn, W.C. Tuttle, Harry F. Olmsted writing as Bart Cassidy with one of his Tensleep Maxon stories, Ray Nafziger, Robert E. Mahaffey, and C.K. Shaw. The C.K. stands for Chloe Kathleen, by the way. Shaw was one of the relatively few female authors to contribute prolifically to the Western pulps. My impression is that Tuttle didn't appear very often in Popular Publications pulps, but I could be wrong about that, too. At any rate, this appears to be a fine issue. 

Friday, July 15, 2022

From the Files of . . . Mike Hammer - Mickey Spillane and Ed Robbins

As a Mickey Spillane and Mike Hammer fan for more than fifty years, I was surprised that I didn’t even know this book existed until recently. Published by Hermes Press in 2013, FROM THE FILES OF . . . MIKE HAMMER reprints the Mike Hammer comic strip that ran for less than two years in 1952 and ’53 and is still available in both print and digital editions.

Editor Max Allan Collins provides the usual fine introduction, covering the background for the strip and information on who did what. The art is by Ed Robbins, an artist I’m not really familiar with, but he does a great job all the way through, with superb storytelling and a version of Hammer that just looks right. Mickey Spillane provided plots and contributed to some of the scripts, and Robbins handled much of the writing as well as the art. Veteran comics scripter Joe Gill worked on the strip early on but didn’t last long.

Although the strips ran in the usual daily and Sunday form, with different storylines in each format, this volume collects them in different sequences. In the first daily continuity, “Half-Blonde”, Mike Hammer, always the champion of the underdog, investigates the murder of a bum. Not surprisingly, the case turns out to have a much larger scope than that. While in the hospital recuperating from injuries suffered during that case, Mike finds himself involved in the mystery of “The Bandaged Lady”. In “The Child”, he’s hired to rescue the kidnapped child of a mob boss.

The title of the next daily continuity, “Another Lonely Night”, harkens back to what many, including myself, consider Spillane’s best novel, ONE LONELY NIGHT. In this one, Mike is targeted for death by mob killers after he witnesses a gangland execution. “Christmas Story” is a minor but predictably heart-warming tale in which Mike, feeling like Scrooge, corrals a shoplifter dressed as Santa Claus. Finally, in “Adam and Kane”, Mike has an actual client for once, an elderly criminal who hires him to locate his long-estranged son.

The title of the first Sunday storyline is “Comes Murder”, which, as Collins explains in his introduction, is designed to fit with the strip’s overall title: “From the Files of Mike Hammer . . . Comes Murder”. It’s likely that Spillane scripted this story himself. It certainly reads like his work. Mike protects a young couple from a vindictive gambling kingpin, but there’s more to it than a bad debt. He gets a hand in this case from a beautiful blond Amazon who may or may not be trustworthy.

Another beautiful blonde figures prominently in the plot of “The Sudden Trap”. Mike is passing through a small town when he spots a Hollywood starlet who’s out of place there . . . especially since she was believed to have been killed in a car wreck two years earlier. Mike’s curiosity won’t allow him to move on until he’s solved the mystery of her true identity.

The third and final Sunday continuity is the aptly named “Dark City”, in which Mike gets mixed up in the dangerous affairs of a beautiful redhead and her shell-shocked Korean War vet brother. Several panels in this story are considerably more suggestive than most comic strips were in those days, and it’s thought that may have contributed to the strip’s cancellation. I’m just glad Spillane and Robbins were able to finish the storyline. It wraps everything up in a downbeat but effective manner.

I really had a fine time reading this book. It brought back a lot of memories of racing through Mike Hammer novels in study hall at school, on my parents’ front porch, and at my sister’s house. The art is good, the scripts are top-notch, and I can’t imagine any Spillane fan not enjoying this collection. FROM THE FILES OF . . . MIKE HAMMER gets a very high recommendation from me.

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

The Hardy Boys Mysteries, 1927-1979: A Cultural and Literary History - Mark Connelly

After reading and enjoying Leslie McFarlane’s memoir, GHOST OF THE HARDY BOYS, recently, I decided to read more about the Hardy Boys series. Mark Connelly’s THE HARDY BOYS MYSTERIES, 1927-1979: A CULTURAL AND LITERARY HISTORY, was published by 
McFarland & Company in 2008 and is still available from Amazon. It covers some of the same ground as Leslie McFarlane’s book but goes into much more detail about Edward Stratemeyer and the syndicate he founded to mass-produce children’s and juvenile series books, as well as everything that happened after McFarlane left the series for good in 1947.  (Earlier, McFarlane had taken a hiatus from the series from 1938 to 1941, resulting in five Hardy Boys novels written by John Button.) I haven’t actually read a Hardy Boys book for at least 55 years, but during the time I was a fan, I read books from all different eras of the series, so I found Connelly’s book informative and enjoyable.

Connelly’s style isn’t as breezy and fast-moving as McFarlane’s, of course. McFarlane was a fictioneer while Connelly is an academic. And that also means there are entire chapters on race, gender, and class in the series, but those subjects get a pretty even-handed treatment from the author and Connelly doesn’t get bogged down in lecturing. It’s interesting to see how attitudes evolved and publishing practices changed in response. (I still think the early books were much better before they were rewritten, though.) He also covers the various TV series based on the series. I remember the Hardy Boys serial that ran on THE MICKEY MOUSE CLUB and liked it at the time, although to be honest I was more of a Spin and Marty fan.

McFarlane’s memory played one pretty good trick on him in the writing of his memoir, and Connelly repeats that mistake from GHOST OF THE HARDY BOYS. When McFarlane went to work for the Stratemeyer Syndicate in 1926, his first assignment was to write a book in the Dave Fearless series, which was published under the house-name Roy Rockwood. McFarlane writes at length in his memoir about how thrilled he was to be Roy Rockwood, because when he was a boy he read all the Bomba, the Jungle Boy books by Roy Rockwood. That’s not possible because the first Bomba book wasn’t published until 1926, the same year McFarlane went to work for Stratemeyer. However, Stratemeyer used the name as early as 1905, so McFarlane certainly could have read books with that pseudonym on them. Just not Bomba. (By the way, I can certainly understand how he felt. I was thrilled to be Brett Halliday.)

I’ve digressed here. THE HARDY BOYS MYSTERIES, 1927-1979 is a fine book and I enjoyed reading it. If you’re a fan of the series, or just of boy’s adventure books in general, I recommend it and think it’s well worth your time. And I’m now in the odd position of having read more about the Hardy Boys in the past half-century than I have of their actual exploits. 

Monday, July 11, 2022

Tarzan and the Forest of Stone - Jeffrey J. Mariotte

I always enjoy Jeff Mariotte’s work, and of course I’ve been a Tarzan fan for more than sixty years, so it’s not at all surprising that I had a fine time reading Mariotte’s new novel TARZAN AND THE FOREST OF STONE. This is part of a series authorized by the Edgar Rice Burroughs estate, which means the books are set in the continuity and canon established by Burroughs in the original novels.

In this case, that’s important because TARZAN AND THE FOREST OF STONE is a direct sequel to TARZAN AND THE LION MAN, which is my favorite book of the entire series despite the fact that some ERB fans don’t care for it. The action in FOREST OF STONE picks up very shortly after LION MAN ends and includes John Clayton paying a visit to Edgar Rice Burroughs himself. This is a charming scene. After that, however, it’s almost non-stop adventure, including a train derailed and wrecked, big city gangsters dressed as cowboys, a ruthless professional hitman, murder, kidnapping, an ancient artifact, a mysterious Indian, a magnificent stallion, a little mysticism, and Tarzan going after the bad guys in the Petrified Forest, a very different kind of jungle that what he’s used to back in Africa.

Mariotte makes excellent use of Burroughs’ parallel storylines technique, which keeps the novel moving along at a very satisfying pace. The young woman he introduces as the heroine of this tale is a good character, given more to action than weeping and wailing. The remorseless hitman is downright chilling. Most importantly, Mariotte’s Tarzan acts and talks like Tarzan should. I never had any trouble accepting that this was the same character as the one Burroughs created.

One piece of the storyline is left unresolved, and I can’t help but think that an old pro like Mariotte did that to indicate that he still has more Tarzan stories to tell. I hope so, because I really enjoyed reading this one. It’s definitely a Front Porch Book, and it's available in hardback, paperback, and e-book editions.

Sunday, July 10, 2022

Sunday Morning Bonus Pulp: Ten Detective Aces, November 1936

That's a nice dramatic cover by an artist I'm not familiar with, William E. Luberoff. TEN DETECTIVE ACES was a solid pulp, although it never reached the heights of BLACK MASK or DIME DETECTIVE. The contents of this issue include stories by top-notch pulpsters such as Frederick C. Davis (a Moon Man story), Philip Ketchum writing as Carl McK. Saunders (a Captain John Murdock story), Roger Torrey, Joe Archibald, and Phil Richards, who I remember from writing the great Kid Calvert series over in WESTERN ACES. Also on hand are the more obscure Robert S. Fenton, Albert Barry, Marion Gailor Squire, and Harry Adler. Albert Barry has only one story in the FMI, and when I see that I always wonder if it was a one-shot house-name, but I'm sure there were plenty of writers who managed one or two sales in their career and that was it.

Saturday, July 09, 2022

Saturday Morning Western Pulp: All Western Magazine, December 1941

I certainly could be wrong, but the cover on this issue of ALL WESTERN MAGAZINE looks like Sam Cherry's work. If it is by Cherry, it's one of his earliest pulp covers. ALL WESTERN tends to get overlooked in lists of the top Western pulps, but Dell kept it going for a long time, with decent covers and plenty of stories by top-notch authors. This issue includes stories by L.P. Holmes, Norman A. Fox, Claude Rister, Rolland Lynch, Frank Carl Young, and a couple of writers I haven't heard of, Mart Walsh and Gan Rork. Rork has only two stories listed in the Fictionmags Index and Walsh only one, so those might be real names or might not be.

Friday, July 08, 2022

The Hawk Rides Back From Death - Stone Cody (Thomas E. Mount)

A while back, I read GUNS OF THE DAMNED, the first novel by Stone Cody (Thomas E. Mount) featuring Silver Trent, known variously as El Halcon de la Sierras and the Rio Robin Hood. Trent, you may recall, is a good-guy outlaw operating mostly in northern Mexico, where he and his band of noble owlhoots battle their arch-nemesis Esteban Varro, also known as El Diablo. I really liked that first yarn. It was over the top, sure, but it was full of blood and thunder and stirring prose and great action scenes.

Now I’ve read THE HAWK RIDES BACK FROM DEATH, the second novel in the series, which appeared in the Popular Publications Western pulp THE WESTERN RAIDER (October/November 1938).  Trent and his men—old codger Magpie Myers, giant Lars Johannson, two-fisted priest Padre Pete, alcoholic sawbones Doc Brimstone, gambler Beau Buchanan, and an assortment of others—are still battling Esteban Varro, who has gotten ambitious enough to raise an army and try to overthrow the Mexican government. Trent vows to stop him, but the campaign is complicated by the presence of the girl he loves, beautiful young Gracia Cary.

That’s all the plot there is to speak of in this novel. It’s just a framework on which to hang 40,000 or so words of action scenes, a series of ambushes, captures, escapes, running battles, and a final epic showdown. Trent and his men are shot to pieces and take enough punishment to kill a normal man . . . but, ah, Silver Trent and his Hell Hawks are not normal men. In Mount’s hands, they’re the stuff of myth and legend, much like their models, Robin Hood and His Merry Men.

I thoroughly enjoyed THE HAWK RIDES BACK FROM DEATH. The action scenes are just great, the characters are good, and Gracia, bless her heart, is no pale flower to be rescued but instead fights right alongside Trent just like Helene does with Ki-Gor. But the thinness of the story bothered me a little this time around. I’m kind of ready for Silver to settle things once and for all with Esteban Varro. Maybe he will in the next book, which I hope to get around to more quickly than I did this one. All of the Silver Trent stories are available in very nice trade paperback reprint editions from Steeger Books.

Thursday, July 07, 2022

Cannibal Isle - Albert Richard Wetjen

“Cannibal Isle” (ACTION STORIES, June 1941) is the sixth and apparently final story in the Stinger Seave series, and oddly enough, it takes place earlier in the Stinger’s career than any of the others. The story begins by filling in the history of Seave’s first meeting with Big Bill Gunther, who becomes his best friend and occasional first mate despite captaining a South Seas trading ship of his own at times. This part of the story is an action-packed account of the mutiny that brought Seave and Gunther together for the first time.

The remainder of the tale focuses on Seave’s attempt to rescue Gunther when the man is taken prisoner on an island full of cannibals. There’s some action in this part, as well, but for the most part it’s more a matter of author Albert Richard Wetjen building suspense very effectively.

This is a very good story, but it’s kind of a letdown, anyway, since it’s the last one and Wetjen leaves so many of the tales he hinted at in the course of the series untold. There’s an epic adventure novel to be written about Stinger Seave. Unfortunately, we won’t get to read it. Wetjen continued to write for ACTION STORIES for a couple of years after this, so I have to wonder if the editor, Malcolm Reiss, told him to lay off with the Stinger stories or if he was just tired of writing about the character. I suspect we’ll never know the answer to that. Ultimately, the Stinger Seave series promises more than it delivers, but I enjoyed reading the stories and think it was time well-spent, especially since they can all be found on-line.

Tuesday, July 05, 2022

Atoll of Death - Albert Richard Wetjen

“Atoll of Death”, from the April 1941 issue of ACTION STORIES, is the shortest yarn in the series, a simple tale of Stinger Seave venturing to an isolated island to track down a brutal trader who owes him a small debt, less than five pounds, for some supplies he took but refused to pay for. Oh, and the guy shot the Stinger’s clerk in the arm when pressed for the money. That was a mistake.

The first half of this story reads almost like an undeveloped outline, with Wetjen doing a lot of telling rather than showing, but it picks up considerable steam once Seave reaches the island where his quarry has gone hunting a gold mine and gotten in trouble with the natives. (Again with the gold mine! I had no idea those South Seas islands had so much gold on them.) The ending is pretty satisfying.

This is definitely the most minor entry in the series so far, though. None of the supporting characters appear (Big Bill Gunther is mentioned once), and there are few, if any, hints of the bigger storylines that Wetjen evidently never got around to writing. But there’s some nice action, the setting is vividly drawn, as usual, and it’s worth reading because the Stinger is such a good protagonist. There’s only one more story in the series, and I’ll be getting to it soon.

Sunday, July 03, 2022

18 Years Ago Today

On July 3, 2004, in the first ever post on this blog, I wrote:

Following the example of my friends Bill Crider and Ed Gorman, I've decided to start a blog. I may not post every day, and what gets posted here may be pretty haphazard sometimes, but I intend to talk mostly about what I'm reading and sometimes writing, as well as the events in my life I don't deem too boring. (Whether the readers find it too boring is, of course, up to them.) Don't expect anything about politics or religion.

Well, Bill and Ed are gone, and I miss them and always will. The rest of that paragraph has aged fairly well, I think. I've posted haphazardly about reading and writing and the occasional bit of personal news, good and bad. Still nothing about politics or religion, and there won't be.

Later in that post, after some of that personal stuff, I wrote:

For those of you who don't know, I'm a professional writer and have been since 1976. Yesterday I finished my 165th novel, so I'm sort of between projects at the moment. I have to do some research and come up with a proposal for a historical novel, and then the next thing on the schedule is a house-name Western novel. I have work lined up through the spring of '05, which in the world of freelance fiction writing is considered pretty good job security. Of course, it could all come to a crashing halt after that.

Clearly, the writing career didn't come to a crashing halt, since I've more than doubled the number of novels I've written since then. And I still have work lined up, the only question being whether I can find the time and mental capability to do it. (I probably will, but these days I'm less sure than I used to be.)

I should have waited until the 20th anniversary of the blog to post this, but I'm learning not to take too many things for granted. When I started the thing, 'way back in 2004, I gave no thought to how long I'd keep doing it. I wouldn't have guessed that I'd still be at it 18 years later, though. I've had a wonderful time writing the blog, though. Every couple of weeks, I get overwhelmed and say, "That's it, something's gotta go, and it's going to have to be the blog." And then I start hunting for pulp covers to post, or read something I like and want to recommend, and somehow it keeps going. I hope it will for a while yet.

Thank you to all of you who have stuck with me. Blogs are prehistoric now, we all know that. But I've always felt a little more comfortable in the past, and I hope you enjoy visiting it with me.

Sunday Morning Bonus Pulp: Popular Detective, March 1937

Look behind you, lady! (That's actually the title of a mystery novel by A.S. Fleischman that has absolutely nothing to do with this post, but it's an exclamation that's appropriate here, too, I think.) At any rate, I like the bright colors on this cover. POPULAR DETECTIVE was no BLACK MASK or DIME DETECTIVE, but there are some very good authors in this issue, including Frank Gruber, G.T. Fleming-Roberts, Lawrence Blochman, Frederick C. Painton, and Ray Cummings.

Saturday, July 02, 2022

Saturday Morning Western Pulp: 10 Story Western Magazine, June 1942

The cover on this issue of 10 STORY WESTERN MAGAZINE has an unusual but very effective perspective. I don't know the artist. 10 STORY WESTERN was considered a second-string Western pulp from Popular Publications, but I've always thought it was consistently good to very good, with a lot of excellent authors appearing in its pages. In this issue, for example, are stories by Tom W. Blackburn, L.L. Foreman, Philip Ketchum, Tom Roan, Robert E. Mahaffey, John G. Pearsol, M. Howard Lane, Rolland Lynch, and George Armin Shaftel. Some of those are better remembered than others, but they were all prolific, well-regarded pulpsters.

Friday, July 01, 2022

The Devil's Sink Hole - Albert Richard Wetjen

The novelette "The Devil's Sink Hole", published in the December 1940 issue of ACTION STORIES, is the longest of the Stinger Seave stories by Albert Richard Wetjen. It's set late in Seave's career as a somewhat shady trading ship captain in the South Seas. Tired of pursuing Seave for his criminous past, the governor of New Guinea decides to try a new tack: he recruits Seave to be a magistrate and sweetens the deal by offering to assign Seave to the job of cleaning up the most lawless island in the Pacific. There's no way the Stinger can turn down the promise of that much action, so he reluctantly becomes a force for law and order.

The fact that his old nemesis, Larsen of Singapore, is behind most of the trouble on the island is an added bonus. Maybe this will be the final showdown between these two old enemies!

You'll have to read the story to find out, though, which you can because the issue of ACTION STORIES in which it appears is available on the Internet Archive. I continue to enjoy this series a lot. Wetjen does a great job of capturing the tropic setting, and the overall tone is very hardboiled. There are two stories to go, and I expect I'll be getting to them soon.