Wednesday, 29 July 2015

In honor of International Tiger Day

Short Stories April 10, 1946
Short Stories April 10, 1946

A wonderful cover by A. R. Tilburne, and stories from Dan Cushman, Caddo Cameron and Wilbur S. Peacock - all great authors. This is one I have.

Some more tigers from the same artist and same magazine:

Short Stories, November 10, 1938
Short Stories, November 10, 1938

Short Stories, April 10th, 1939
Short Stories, April 10th, 1939
Short Stories, September 10, 1944
Short Stories, September 10, 1944
Adventure, October 3, 1918
Adventure, October 3, 1918

Adventure, June 10th, 1922
Adventure, June 10th, 1922

Adventure, June 1946
Adventure, June 1946
Adventure, December 15, 1932
Adventure, December 15, 1932 
Adventure, June 15th, 1932
Adventure, June 15th, 1932
The most unlikely one:
Adventure, November 1933
Adventure, November 1933
And to round it all off, another tiger cover from A.R. Tilburne:
Adventure, September 1941
Adventure, September 1941
Pick your favorite and tell us why in the comments,
or share your personal favorite tiger cover.
Bonus: The prize winner
Weird Tales, April 1933
Weird Tales, April 1933

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Issue Review: Argosy, 12 November 1932

Argosy November 12, 1932
Argosy November 12, 1932

I recently acquired a good run of Argosy in the 1930s, and plan to work through them over time. I'll post my notes here as I work through individual issues. I only plan to post reviews of serials that begin in the issue. It's difficult to review a serial instalment on its own, and most of the time you only need to decide if the serial is worth reading or not, so I'll review the complete serial in the issue it begins in.

If you have read this issue, let me know what you think.

The Devil's Tattoo
W. Wirt
A Jimmy Cordie novelette where Cordie and his mercenary band aid a Manchu noble to defend a city against a Chinese warlord. Nothing out of the ordinary.
Crocodile [2 part serial begins in this issue]
Theodore Roscoe
I usually like Theodore Roscoe, but felt this dragged on too long. It’s supposed to be a mystery, but I think the conclusion is obvious from the beginning.
Zorro saves a friend
Johnston McCulley
The prize of this issue. Written 25 years before the Disney TV series, it reads like a script for an episode of the serial. I could almost see the scenes and hear the music in my head. Well done swashbuckling adventure.
The Icy Drift
Lowell Thomas
Carbon monoxide poisoning in an igloo is an interesting experience.
A Gamble on Goldberg
Richard Howells Watkins
A good story of a beat cop who uses his brains and his guts to good effect against a gang.
Cat Hair
William E. Barrett
A surprisingly good story of a South Seas trader using his wits to send off a brutish supervisor without damaging “the prestige of the white man”.

The concept is racist but the hero of the story is a man who believes in treating his native workers well. The author of this story later on went to write the story that was made into the movie "Lilies of the Field".

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Pulp author with a website of his own - James P. Webb

When I started reading the pulps, I was amazed that any of the magazines had survived this far. They were meant to be read and discarded. The authors and their stories had been forgotten by most people. Who'd have thought that a pulp author would have a website or could publish an ebook?

But here we are, and last week, I reviewed a collection of stories by Neil Martin, and I recently came across a website for the pulp western author James P. Webb, created by his son Sid Webb.

He's posted a story by his father from Wild West Weekly. More interestingly, he's posted the publication record of his work from 1939-1942. It shows his career as an author, which I plan to dive into greater detail later, once I've done some analysis on it.


Saturday, 11 July 2015

Pulp Reprints: Collected Stories of the Sea by Neil Martin

Neil Martin (1885-1963) was brought up in Laredo, Texas. The Galveston hurricane of 1900 devastated his family and caused him to take up life as a sailor, before an accident made him leave the sea. By the late 1920s, he was out of work and looking for a way to earn a living. At the time of the Great Depression, there wasn't much work for him to do. Luckily for him, he was a good storyteller and had sold a couple of stories to Top Notch (published by Street and Smithand Danger Trails (published by William Clayton).

He started off on a writing career then, writing sea stories and westerns for magazines like Sea Stories and Five Novels Monthly. This phase of his career lasted till the early 1940s, when he shifted markets to Short Stories magazine, edited by Dorothy McIlwraith. He started writing exclusively for Short Stories, and his series of stories about Henry Pou, a Cajun lawman in Louisiana, was a hit with readers.

Three of his stories were given cover illustrations as well.

His pulp writing career ended when the pulps declined in the 1950s. He passed away in 1963.

Coming back to the book under review:

This collection features four pieces from the magazine, Five Novels Monthly and one from Short Stories. It seems to have been put together by a descendant, William Neil Martin (possibly a grandson). It has an introduction with some biographical information, but no photo of the author.

The four pieces from Five Novels Monthly are:  Forbidden Seas from December 1931, Eastward Passage from September 1933, Thunder Over the Mast from March 1938 and Shanghaied! from January 1939. I enjoyed them all, though the romantic element felt a little out of place and formulaic. In each, the hero falls in love with the heroine whom he rescues, but hardly any words are exchanged between them. I have not read any other stories from Five Novels Monthly, so I don't know if this was a general feature of all stories in that magazine.

Forbidden Seas is a long story of a quest for a fortune in mammoth ivory hidden on a Russian island before the Russian Revolution. Three people are after the ivory, a rogue trader who has managed to suborn a Russian gunboat commander to give him exclusive trading rights, our hero and the heroine who is the daughter of the man who cached the ivory.

Eastward Passage is the story of a couple of thieves after a pair of legendary pearls called the Twin Moons, being carried by a trader. They pursue them through a shipwreck and a mutiny.

Shanghaied! starts with the hero waking up on a whaling ship with a blinding headache and no memory of how he got there. He has to get back to shore by a certain date to claim an inheritance and there seems to be no way for him to do that. To complicate matters, the heroine shows up

Thunder before the mast starts with a sick man being brought aboard a cargo ship by his sister. Before she can get back, the crew, led by a pair of thieves, mutinies in an attempt to steal the cargo of gold that the ship is carrying. The mutineers need the captain to sail the ship, and uses the heroine to blackmail him. There's a storm on the way, and the captain uses that to his advantage.

First Command, (Short Stories, 25 May 1940), has the hero against two adversaries, an unknown person sabotaging the ship he's sailing on, and the captain of the ship, who is trying to sabotage his career and his love life.

An enjoyable read overall. The stories are well written, and the heroes think instead of merely punching or shooting their way out. You can get the paperback or the ebook.

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Happy Pulpy Independence Day, USA

Some pulp and other magazine covers to celebrate the 4th of July. Happy Independence Day to our American readers.

These magazine covers featuring the American flag are from World War 2, in July 1942. Seven months after the attack on Pearl Harbor, morale was low, war bond sales (funding the war effort) were low, and the fear of rationing paper was high. Publishers and the US government got together in an effort to boost morale and increase war bond sales, indirectly proving the value of magazines in keeping morale high. More about that in this wonderful website from the Smithsonian institute here.

The Adventure cover is missing from their list, though. Street and Smith had the same cover for all their magazines. The covers that stand out for me are Flying Aces, Short Stories, RedBook and McCall's. It must have been great to see all these covers on a newsstand.

What are your favorite pulp covers showing the American flag?