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Articles on this Page
- 07/24/18--05:00: _Jerry Siegel and Al...
- 07/25/18--05:00: _VIRGIL FINLAY in Co...
- 07/26/18--05:00: _Sherlock Socks
- 07/27/18--03:00: _Forgotten Books: HA...
- 07/28/18--05:00: _Saunders Saturday: ...
- 07/29/18--05:00: _Western Films You M...
- 07/30/18--05:00: _Pulp Gallery: FIGHT...
- 07/31/18--05:00: _Basil Wolverton's S...
- 08/01/18--05:00: _The Art of Frank Ha...
- 08/03/18--03:00: _Forgotten Books: TH...
- 08/04/18--05:00: _Roy Rogers, King of...
- 08/05/18--05:00: _Movie Posters of 19...
- 08/06/18--05:00: _Pulp Gallery: ORIEN...
- 08/07/18--05:00: _Al Williamson! Fran...
- 08/08/18--05:00: _Coming Soon! THE CR...
- 08/09/18--05:00: _Comic Gallery: THE ...
- 08/10/18--03:00: _Forgotten Books: TH...
- 08/11/18--05:00: _BASIL WOLVERTON OUT...
- 08/12/18--05:00: _Movie Posters of 19...
- 08/13/18--05:00: _Pulp Gallery: CRACK...
- 08/14/18--05:00: _Graham Ingels does ...
- 08/15/18--05:00: _Moments in Paperbac...
- 08/16/18--05:00: _Weird Planets of VI...
- 08/17/18--03:00: _Forgotten Books: CO...
- 08/18/18--05:00: _HARVEY KURTZMAN'S P...
- 07/25/18--05:00: VIRGIL FINLAY in Color (Part 1)
- 07/26/18--05:00: Sherlock Socks
- 07/27/18--03:00: Forgotten Books: HANGROPE TOWN by Harry Whittington (1964)
- 07/28/18--05:00: Saunders Saturday: G.I. JOE (1951-52)
- 07/29/18--05:00: Western Films You MAY Have Missed (1919 Part 1)
- 07/30/18--05:00: Pulp Gallery: FIGHT STORIES (1929)
- 07/31/18--05:00: Basil Wolverton's SPACE PATROL (1939)
- 08/01/18--05:00: The Art of Frank Hamilton (Part 6)
- 08/04/18--05:00: Roy Rogers, King of the Comic Book Ads
- 08/05/18--05:00: Movie Posters of 1919 (Part 2)
- 08/06/18--05:00: Pulp Gallery: ORIENTAL STORIES 7,8,9 (1932)
- 08/08/18--05:00: Coming Soon! THE CRUMB COMPENDIUM by Carl Richter
- 08/09/18--05:00: Comic Gallery: THE BLACK KNIGHT
- 08/11/18--05:00: BASIL WOLVERTON OUT WEST: Bingbang Buster and his Horse Hedy (1950)
- 08/12/18--05:00: Movie Posters of 1918 (Part 1)
- 08/13/18--05:00: Pulp Gallery: CRACK DETECTIVE
- 08/14/18--05:00: Graham Ingels does LANCE LEWIS, SPACE DETECTIVE (1947)
- 08/15/18--05:00: Moments in Paperback History: LANCECON '87
- 08/16/18--05:00: Weird Planets of VIRGIL FINLAY
- 08/17/18--03:00: Forgotten Books: CONAN THE DEFENDER by Robert Jordan (1982)
- 08/18/18--05:00: HARVEY KURTZMAN'S Pot-Shot Pete meets the McYetnit Boys (1952)
I've been itching for a look at some Harry Whittington westerns, and finally picked up three on a recent roadtrip. This one got the nod as my first because it has the coolest title. The edition I got (pictured below, not above) is a bit odd. The copyright page says it was:
Familiar only with Whittington's Gold Medalish suspense novels, I sort of expected to meet a western ne'er-do-well obsessed with an oversexed western babe who drives him to his doom. But this wasn't that. At least, not exactly.
The first half of the book, though, is damn good. Our hero is a forty-dollars-a-month marshal named Curt Brannon, appointed by the feds because the two-bit town of Sage Wells needs law, and is apparently too cheap to hire their own sheriff. And right away, he has a damn big problem: The town is quaking in its boots because a really bad dude just released from prison is coming to exact his revenge on the folks who sent him up.
As a teenager, the really bad dude, who happens to be a half-breed, terrorized the town before killing the no-account son of the richest rancher. In the years since, he's been sending threatening letters to members of the jury and everyone else involved. Now the rancher is trying to turn the citizenry into a lynch mob. Marshal Brannon, a noble and stubbon soul, insists they can't touch the guy until he commits a crime.
Whittington ratchets up the tension as Brannon pisses off the whole town while awaiting the bad dude's arrival. When he finally arrives, halfway through the book, he's every bit as nasty as advertised, but he's not packing heat, so Brannon is powerless to arrest him.
After that build-up, I expected a high-octane finish. Instead, the story sort of fizzles. Brannon suffers a lot of anguish, as does the rich rancher, both primarily due to the idiocy of the rancher's daughter. Another no-account is murdered, and there's a lot of worrying about whodunnit, but if that's ever definitely resolved, I didn't notice. After more diddyling around, things come to a head, and Brannon and the bad dude come to conclusions, but I had the feeling Whittington had lost interest in the proceedings, and was trying to get it over with.
That said, the prose is consistently tight and tough, and the book is short. So while the second half did not meet expectations, it wasn't long enough to be boring. I'm hoping the other two I picked up, Desert Stake-Out and Charro!, will be better.
For you fans (like me) of "The Brain-Bats of Venus" (HERE), here's another classic from Mr.Wolverton. This first adventure of the Space Patrol appeared in Amazing Mystery Funnies Vol. 2 #12, for Sept. 1939. I found it on comicbookplus.
Talk about an all-star cast! This tale (found on comicbookplus, 'natch) is said to be a collaboration by these four gents, along with Angelo Torres. I'd be surprised if there isn't a panel-by-panel analysis somewhere positing who did what, but if there's such a thing, I failed to find it online.
This book has been a long time coming. Way back in 1995, Mr. Carl Richter, in collaboration with Robert Crumb himself, produced Crumb-Ology: The Works of Robert Crumb 1981-1994, an 81-page hardcover published by Water Row Press. Four years later, he followed up with a supplement covering another four years.
Richter’s research is impeccable — he has been a valued consultant on The Complete Crumb Comics library since its inception — and virtually all listed items were examined first hand without relying on the research of others. Most of the material is from the author’s own collection; other items were examined in private collections and university archives. In a few cases photostats or scans from other collections and institutions were acquired, and Crumb himself served as a consultant to ensure the most accurate information.
The Crumb Compendium will be heavily illustrated with rare pieces from Crumb’s career, making this an essential text for all Crumb collectors and scholars. 320 pages of black-and-white comics and illustrations.
The Crumb Compendium lists and organizes all of Crumb's published work to date and serves as the definitive guide to the work of greatest cartoonist of all time. Comics, periodicals, books, catalogs, posters, juvenilia, cards and all other printed ephemera are included along with records and CD's, buttons, statues and shirts plus listings of articles and interviews. It will be heavily illustrated, making this an essential text for all Crumb collectors and scholars and having had Crumb himself serve as a consultant ensured the most accurate information.
It's a mystery, of course. You can tell that by the Crime Club logo on the cover. But the real mystery is - why did Latimer write this thing?
As a mystery novel written by a nonentity like "Peter Coffin," it's okay. Far from "The Season's Most Startling and Diverting Mystery Story," as claimed on the cover and title page, but okay. But as a book written by Jonathan Latimer - a fact they took no great pains to disguise - it's a snoozer.
How do we know it's Latimer? Well, you can read the big fat clue on the inside flap of the dust jacket, which I've provided here. But the clincher is that halfway into the book, the protagonist gets a phone call from Colonel Black, the head of a large detective agency, announcing that Black will be joining the cast of the story. This same Colonel Black, as anyone who's read the Bill Crane series knows, is the head of the agency Crane works (between drinks) for.
I can't recall if the Colonel ever appears on stage in the Crane novels, or if he's just a presence in the background and a voice on the phone. But we meet him here, and he's the most insteresting thing about the book. More about him later.
"Peter Coffin," we learn on page 2, is the narrator and lead character of the novel. His uncle Tobias Coffin has just summoned him, and the rest of the clan, to his secluded manor house somewhere in the wilds of Michigan. After a creepy and atmospheric trudge through the forest, he arrives at the estate, where he finds a bunch of relatives he's never met pointing guns at him. It's all pretty much downhill from there.
Some of these relatives are mildly quirky, and others mildly unpleasant, but nothing rising to previous Latimer standards. Nothing much interesting happens except that his uncle's gets chopped off, and, as you know from the title, goes missing.
Peter Coffin is not a detective, and makes no effort to act like one. He's a California college professor specializing in the Restoration period of English history. He spends most of his time being bewildered and worrying about the others thinking him a coward. As the story progresses, that wondering focusses on a certain nice looking Miss Leslie, to whom he is apparently not related by blood. Yes, there's a sniff of romance in the air.
So what we have here is your basic Classic English-style Manor House mystery, with a bunch of not-especially-interesting people shut up with a murderer, wondering whodunnit and waiting for the next inevitable killing. The main thing that sets this one apart is the fact that the killer lops off heads with a meat cleaver rather than employing a rare poison. The minor thing that sets it apart is that there's no compelling reason all these people to stick around, except to offer their necks to the killer.
So what possessed Latimer to write such a thing? The dust jacket calls it "utterly foreign to his usual work," and that's an understatement. There is no humor. No banter. No carousing. No drunkeness. No fun. I'm guessing he did it on a bet or a dare. Someone told him he couldn't write a Manor House mystery, and he proved them wrong. But so what? He merely proved that he could be ordinary.
Lopping off heads just wasn't enough. He should have gone the whole hog and done a proper send-up of the sub-genre, with his usual recipe of humor, banter, carousing, drunkeness and fun. He had a chance to hit a home run, and bunted instead.
As for Colonel Black, it was nice to see him fleshed out, but he was still only mildly engaging. As a Classic detective, he's an expert in every subject that comes up, including Elizabethan dramatists, fine brandy, flowers, bees and cows. The silliest thing he says is "I try to catch you in a lie, because one of the primary principles of detection is that no one ever lies but the criminal." Jeez, what fictional world is he living in? It can't be the same one inhabited by Bill Crane and Doc Williams.
I jabbered about the first novel, Conan the Invincible, a couple of years ago (HERE), so it's now time to say a few words about the second.
Conan, a thief in the fist book, has graduated to mercenary, and has set his sites on forming his own Free Company (which is a whole band of mercenaries). He's left Shadizar behind, and now has just arrived in Belverus, capital of Nemedia. As usual, there are several nubile maidens on hand, and the obligatory evil sorceror dabbling with forces beyond his control. Of greater interest, there's a plot to usurp the throne of Nemedia from an unpopular king.
Strange to say, parts of this story seem somewhat dated, a problem I never encountered in the Howard stories published sixty years earlier. How did this happen? Well, as part of the plot to overthrow the king, the conspirators stir up unrest among the city's artists, poets and free-thinkers. This little band of radicals believes in the power of peace and love, and hopes to bring about politcal change without tarnishing their ideals with violence. How quaint. That may have reflected the climate when this book was published in 1982, but if it were written today the protestors would be wearing masks and helmets, and throwing bottles at the City Guard.