Sunday, January 31, 2010

Flash Casey comic book story: The Monkey Murder Mystery

This thrilling tale is from Casey, Crime Photogapher No. 1, Aug. 1949. The artwork on this, and most other stories during the mag's 4-issue run, is believed to be by Vernon Henkel. Henkel entered the comic book field in the late 30s, working for Quality and other publishers. In the late 40s and early 50s he most of his work for Atlas and Marvel, mainly on crime and war comics, but  also occasionally popped up in such mags as Strange Tales and Kid Colt, Outlaw

Yesterday we featured an episode of the radio drama, Casey, Crime Photographer. And on Friday we reviewed the collection of Black Mask stories, Flash Casey - Detective.

You may click on each page to SUPERSIZE it.


Saturday, January 30, 2010

Casey, Crime Photographer: Too Many Angels


Sam Spade is off this week, but will be back in action next Saturday. Filling in is the Black Mask-born creation of George Harmon Coxe, Flashgun Casey.  The story collection Flash Casey - Detective (and the character in general) was the subject of yesterday's Forgotten Books post, and can be reviewed right HERE.

The radio show, with several variations in title, ran from 1943 to 1950, then returned for a final season in '51-52. For most of the run, including this episode from Nov. 13, 1947, Casey was played by Staats Cotsworth. That's Staats on the cover of the comic book below, from Feb. 1950.

Too Many Angels Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Come back tomorrow for a complete 9-page Flash Casey comic book adventure called "The Monkey Murder Mystery".

Friday, January 29, 2010

Black Horse Westerns Weekend Extravaganza


The intrepid Gary Dobbs has promised at least 100 posts devoted to Black Horse Westerns this weekend on THE TAINTED ARCHIVE, and he's already halfway there. There are interviews and reviews and articles and guest posts up the wazoo - so many it's tough to single out only a few. But since my fingers are too tired to list them all, here are some I particularly enjoyed:

Charlie Whipple (Chuck Tyrell) gives us the lowdown on his native Arizona.
A two-part interview with Howard Hopkins (Lance Howard). Part 1 is HERE.
Nik Morton (Ross Morton) offers advice on researching the Old West.
An interview with Ed Ferguson (Lee Walker).
An interview with Mathew P. Mayo.
David Whitehead discusses the future of the genre.
Gary reveals what really happened at the OK Corral.

These are all great starting points, but don't stop there. You should have a look at everything, because there's plenty more coming tomorrow!

Forgotten Books: Flash Casey - Detective by George Harmon Coxe

Flash Casey wasn't really a detective, of course. He was a newspaper photographer who acted like a detective.  But I suppose Avon Books can be excused, because one of the stories in this collection is actually titled "Casey - Detective".

George Harmon Coxe was one of "Cap" Shaw's second tier of stalwarts during the glory days of Black Mask. Shaw made no bones about the fact he wanted his writers to emulate Hammett's style, and Coxe does a creditable job. You can enlarge the title spread (below) from "Women are Trouble" and see what I mean.

Three of the tales in this collection, first published in 1946 as an Avon digest, were from the Shaw years. The fourth also appeared in Black Mask, but not until 1941, five years after Shaw's departure. Coxe sold Flash Casey stories to the magazine until 1943, among them two serialized novels later published in book form as Silent Are the Dead (1942) and Murder For Two (1943).

Coxe devoted most of his time (21 novels) to another photographer hero named Kent Murdock. Since Casey made his debut in 1934, and the first Murdock book was published in 1935, I have to wonder which character Coxe created first. Was Murdock a cleaned-up, married and respectable version of Casey, or was Casey a rough-and-tumble version of Murdock? Any Coxe scholars out there?

Meanwhile, Casey carried on a life of his own in the radio series Casey, Crime Photographer, got his own Marvel comic book, and appeared in two movies. There was also a TV series on CBS in 1951-52. Richard Carlyle began in the leading role, which passed to Darren McGavin and then two others before all 40 live episodes had aired.

Coxe returned to the character in the 60s, writing three more novels, the last published in 1964. This span of 31 years means Flash Casey may have had the second longest literary life of any of Shaw's Black Mask characters, just ahead of W.T. Ballard's Bill Lennox, who debuted in 1934 and appeared in his last novel in 1960. The champ is Carroll John Daly's Race Williams, whose career stretched from 1923 to 1955.

"Women Are Trouble" is the first (and longest) story in this collection. My copy of the April 1935 Black Mask featuring that story is the rattiest mag I own that still has the cover somewhat attached. (Be interesting to know how it got this scuffed up and remained intact.) The story was also the basis of the first Flash Casey film (still another movie I've never seen), a 1936 MGM production starring Stuart Erwin.

(click to enlarge)

Since this piece got me into a Flash Casey mood, I'm giving Sam Spade the day off tomorrow. Instead of our regular weekly radio broadcast of The Adventures of Sam Spade, we'll feature a special presentation of Casey, Crime Photographer. And on Sunday, just for kicks, we'll present a complete Flash Casey comic book story.

NOTE: All items pictured and discussed in this post are absolutely genuine and in my possession. No foolin'.
Visit Patti Abbott's pattinase for more of today's Forgotten Books.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

And Stay Off His Lawn! - THE BOOK by Bill Crider!

Kudos to Fred Blosser and Ivan Shreve, who accurately predicted the subject of this proposed third volume in the Blog-o-Books series. Either they're really good guessers, or they, too, have inside sources at Macavity Press. Cormac Brown suggested a Gator book, another great idea, and a strong candidate for book four.

It now appears, however, that the future of the series itself is in doubt. In an astonishing development, it has come to light that Macavity Press failed to consult either Mr. Crider or his agent in the preparation of this series. In light of the groundswell of publicity received in the past few days, the series is now seen as an extremely hot property, and Macavity execs have elected to bow out of the project, considering it too rich for their blood. This is surely a golden opportunity for another enterprising publisher to step in and reap the rewards.

In the meantime, Macavity Press is rumored to be looking at other potential Blog-o-Books. Frontrunners include Friday's Forgotten Books - a collection of reviews edited by Patti Abbott, Hamburger Heaven - a wide-ranging discussion of food, drink, books, blogs and life by Laurie Powers, and It's a Tainted, Tainted, Tainted, Tainted World - a compendium of Gary Dobbs' greatest hits (so far).  We at the Archive look forward to reading them all.

Click HERE to see all three books in this proposed Bill Crider series

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Will the Persecution Never End? - THE BOOK by Bill Crider!

Here's the second of the new Blog-o-Books now in the planning stage from Macavity Press. Fans of Bill Crider's Pop Culture Magazine will know who's being persecuted - and why - along with every titillating detail of her never-ending drama. And once this book is released, the rest of the world will too. Rumor has it a special 100-copy slipcased edition (cased in fabric from real slips) will be signed by both the author and the object of his obsession. Cool, you say? You life is now complete? Well, hang on one more day, because tomorrow we'll have one last treat for hardcore Criderophiles.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way - THE BOOK by Bill Crider!

Here's the news you've been waiting for! Award-winning publisher Macavity Press soon plans to unveil a new line of Blog-o-Books, the first of which will be Once Again, Texas Leads the Way, a collection of insightful anecdotes culled from the long-running series on Bill Crider's Pop Culture Magazine. According to our sources, price and publication date have yet to be set, but the Almanack has managed to obtain scans of both front and back covers of this groundbreaking work. That not exciting enough for you? Then come back tomorrow as we rock the world with still another stunning scoop!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Coming Tomorrow: Big, Big, REALLY BIG News for Bill Crider Fans!

What is it?
It's a major announcement of stupendous importance.
All I'm permitted to say right now is, It's . . .

Newer than "New" Coke.
Cooler than Quadrophonics.
Exciting as the Edsel.
Momentous as the Millenium Bug.
Wackier than Windows Vista.
Vexing as the vault of Al Capone.
And catastrophic as the comet Kohoutek.

Tune in tomorrow for this earth-shattering revelation!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Dan Turner, Hollywood Detective on film: BLACKMAIL

Dan Turner's first trip to the big screen came in this 1947 flick, Blackmail. I've never seen it, but it sounds mighty interesting.

To begin with, it's a Republic Picture. Most of their films were mere "B"s, of course, but I've yet to see a total turkey.

Dan is played by William Marshall, a cipher to me. The only film I know I've seen him in is Santa Fe Trail, in which he played George Pickett (and if I recall correctly, got about 10 seconds of screen time).

What makes this intriguing is the supporting cast. Adele Mara (as Sylvia Duane) appeared in dozens of movies and many of the western and mystery TV series I watched as a kid. Ricardo Cortez (see photo in yesterday's post) starred in the first film version of The Maltese Falcon. Grant Withers (Detective Dave Donaldson) was another familiar TV face. Roy Barcroft was one of the busiest western actors of all time. And George J. Lewis, along with being a staple in Republic serials, played the Disney Zorro's dad.

According to the Thrilling Detective site, the original story appeared in Speed Detective for July 1944, an issue I do not appear to possess. I'm curious how much of the wacky narration/dialogue made it into the screenplay.


Saturday, January 23, 2010

Friday, January 22, 2010

Forgotten Music: The "Silver" Beatles

You've heard the story, but have you heard the music? On January 1, 1962, John, Paul, George and Pete Best recorded 15 songs in an audition for Decca Records. Decca passed on them, signing a band called "Brian Poole and the Tremeloes" instead.

The "Silver Beatles" name is complicated. Quick Version: For a period of a few months in 1960 (when the drummer was an older guy named Tommy Moore), one of the names they used was The Silver Beetles (or Beatles). Right around the time Pete Best joined up (in August of that year), they dropped the "Silver" and became simply The Beatles. So the group recording at Decca was actually called The Beatles. But, in the years since, these early recordings have sometimes been attributed to The Silver Beatles as a way of differentiating them from the band we know.

Six of the tracks from that Decca session appeared on the official release Anthology 1 in 1995. Those songs are Searchin', Three Cool Cats, Besame Mucho, Sheik of Araby, Hello Little Girl and Like Dreamers Do. Three others were later recorded (much better) by Ringo and the gang and are quite familiar: Money, Memphis and Til There Was You.

That leaves six songs that are harder to come by, and those are presented here. I was going to put up audio-only versions from my own vinyl collection, but found these on YouTube (from a later remastered CD) to be of better sound quality. The nine tracks mentioned above are on YouTube too.

Three of these tunes were later recorded live at the BBC and appeared on the album of that name. The others, as far as I know, have never appeared on any "official" Beatles release.

John sings lead on Sure to Fall and To Know Her is to Love Her. George does Crying, Waiting, Hoping and Take Good Care of My Baby. That's Paul on September in the Rain and Love of the Loved (a Lennon/McCartney original).

P.S. Pete Best still performs with his own band, and released a CD as recently as 2008. Visit his website HERE.

For more Forgotten Music (and Forgotten Books) visit Patti Abbott's pattinase.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

LEGEND 1: Dead Man Talking by Derek Rutherford

Jared is in prison, scheduled to hang. Everyone already considers him a dead man, including his cell mate, Mitchell.

“Most people say how they shouldn’t be here,” Mitchell said. As if to reinforce the point, someone started shouting further down the cellblock, the words deadened by the stone walls.

“Uh huh.”

“Yet you admit to killing four men.”

“I’d have killed five if they hadn’t stopped me.”

Jared, you see, feels no remorse. His only regret is that he didn’t get the fifth man. What brought him to this? Mitchell finds out as Jared reveals his history. Then the story dives back into the present for a gripping climax no one (including Jared) sees coming.

Derek Rutherford tells a tight, gritty tale. You won’t be disappointed. This is no surprise, of course, because he’s already the author of two Black Horse Western novels, Vengeance at Tyburn Ridge and Yellow Town, with a third, The Bone Picker, coming soon.

“Dead Man Talking” is the first of 21 stories in the new Express Westerns anthology, A Fistful of Legends. LEGEND 19: Cash Laramie and the Masked Devil by Edward A. Grainger (aka Beat to a Pulp editor David Cranmer) has already been reviewed.

A Fistful of Legends is now available (sooner than expected) from Amazon.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Is that CONAN??

Who's this clean cut dude? Looks like he just stepped out of a Biblical epic of the 50s. Yes, that's our man from Cimmeria, on this cover from 1949. Interesting what artists could get away with in those days before Frank Frazetta and Barry Smith got ahold of him.

CORRECTION: After I wrote the above, Fred Blosser advised me in a comment that this is not Conan after all, but another character in the tale. Thanks, Fred. Pretty sad when Conan doesn't even merit the cover on his own story.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Art of Sherlock Holmes: The Pearl of Death

This ninth entry in the Rathbone-Bruce series (from 1944)  is notable mainly for the appearance of Rondo Hatton as The Creeper. Hatton's facial deformity was the real thing. He was gassed while fighting in WWI and contracted a disease that messed up his pituitary gland. A bit player until landing his role in this film, he made two more movies as The Creeper (a different character) and had a major part in The Spider Woman Strikes Back. He died in 1946.

The Pearl of Death was loosely based on the Conan Doyle story "The Six Napoleons". The 1-sheet (above) is notable mainly Holmes and Watson appearing to be two heads on the same body.

More Sherlock Holmes posters HERE.

Monday, January 18, 2010

New Story on SNIPLITS: The Blesser

Because you're reading this blog, I know you to be a person of distinguished taste and fine judgment. That's why I know you'll enjoy "The Blesser," the latest story from the pen of Kassandra Kelly. And you can enjoy this one with your eyes closed, because it's a new downloadable audio short from

The site describes it like so...
As if living with the ghosts of her addictions and her boyfriend's suicide aren't enough for realtor Ronnie to cope with, now she's got a House Blesser who keeps discovering ghosts in the houses she's trying to sell....

But hey, you don't have to believe them. Check out these reviews from real-life listener-readers:

This story slides in smoothly under the radar and before you know it you're ready to check the yellow pages for someone to bless your house.  - rkelstrom

This one's a triple threat - a treat for the ear, the brain and the heart. Kassandra Kelly deftly draws us into a world where evil spirits are every bit as real as evil habits. And just when we begin to get comfortable, she shifts reality yet again. When is her next story appearing? - defunct

It's 34 minutes and 54 seconds of audio bliss, all for the bargain price of $1.08. Check it out here: The Blesser.

And when you're done, you'll no doubt wish to explore more of Kassandra Kelly's work. (You can listen to "The Cat", but you'll need your eyeballs for the others):

The Moon Dreams of Water
Nine- or Ten-Foot Angels
The Cat, The Desert and Lucky .003

She'll also have a story in the forthcoming issue of Spinetingler.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Alamo Bookshelf 5: 13 Days to Glory, Bowie's Lost Mine & A Narrative of the Life of David Crockett

13 DAYS TO GLORY - Lon Tinkle (1958)
This second book-length work devoted to the Alamo is an even better read than the first (see Alamo Bookshelf 3) by John Myers Myers. Tinkle adds new details and new anecdotes, and puts faces on more of the characters in this real-life drama. This book was the basis of the not-so-hot 1987 TV movie featuring James Arness as Jim Bowie, Brian Keith as Crockett (yech!) and Alec Baldwin as William Barrett Travis. An early mass-market paperback edition was titled simply The Alamo.

This 1987 Bison paperback is one of many editions of this work. Whichever you happen to pick up, you really can’t go wrong. The plain-speaking narration was unusual for its day (except perhaps to readers of Ben Franklin), and for colloquial humor it was something of a precursor to the work of Mark Twain. Had there been a NY Times Bestseller list in 1834, it would have been near the top. Though this truly is Davy’s own story, it was edited and corrected by a friend.

BOWIE’S LOST MINE - Dr. M. E. Francis (1954)
This slim volume was the first of several books recounting Jim Bowie’s hunt for the abandoned San Saba silver mine, once operated by the Spanish in the Texas hill country. According to legend, Bowie lived among the Lipan Apaches for a time and eventually learned the secret of its location. He then led an expedition to find the mine, but his party of ten was trapped in a day-long battle with a force of 164 Indians. The battle was real, but the rest is still a matter of debate.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Forgotten Books: Lady Afraid by Lester Dent

Lady Afraid is not Lester Dent’s best novel, but it may the one with the most Lester Dent in it.

The protagonist of this one is woman. No Dent there. But as a yacht designer, Sarah Lineyack comes in contact with the most Dent-like character I’ve yet to meet: A man called Captain Most.

Reading the book, I came to feel that Most was an idealized version of Dent himself. Not Dent the writer, but Dent the seaman, with salt water running through his veins. Most lives on a bugeye schooner, as did Dent when he wintered in Miami, away from his LaPlata, Missouri home. The schooner, here named the Albatross, is remarkably similar to the ship owned by detective Oscar Sail in Dent’s two Black Mask stories published a dozen years earlier. The Albatross is all black, from the sails on down to the hull. Dent describes her like this:

A genuine five-log bugeye, about thirty-six feet on the water line, schooner-rigged with the typical raked-back masts. A one-man ship, this bugeye was rigged for single-handling. All sheet lines, even the halliards and anchor lines, were brought back to the cockpit so that one man could sail her.

Captain Most himself is… an enigmatic man. He did not rush forward with emotions, reactions, plans that were half-baked. He was no voluble extrovert. Probably in him there was little need freely to communicate his feelings and ideas or the effect of events upon him.

Most smokes a pipe and drives a station wagon. I don’t know about the station wagon, but in some of Dent’s photos he’s seen with a pipe. His face had a homely angularity, not unpleasant. It, like his hair, had been out in the sun a lot. Dent again.

Lady Afraid was Dent’s third hardcover novel, published in 1948 by Crime Club. I can only assume it sold poorly. Unlike the first two books, Dead at the Take-Off and Lady to Kill, this one is extremely difficult to come by. I couldn’t find a Crime Club edition offered anywhere for less than $75.

As that’s too rich for me, I borrowed a copy through InterLibrary Loan. Only later did I discover I own a copy of the abridged Besteller Mystery version. While I normally can't abide abridgements, this is one I'd recommend. Unlike Dent’s other books, this one might benefit from a little tightening.

This is not the stuff of world-beating adventure. Sarah Lineyack’s baby son was semi-legally stolen away by the wealthy parents of her late husband, and she wants the kid back. In trying, she’s thrown into a web of intrigue and secret agendas, and turns for help to the most reliable man she knows, Captain Most.

Dent seems to handle the female point of view pretty well, but for my book-buying dollar, there’s more than enough worrying about the kid’s health, and yearning for the sound of his voice and smell of his hair, and other such motherly stuff. Sarah at one point reflects that only another mother could possibly understand how strongly she feels. Can't argue with that, but it begs the question… how did Dent know?

As a mystery, this is still a good read. My attention never flagged. Had Captain Most been absent, I still would have enjoyed it. But with Most on stage for roughly half the action, it's a must-read for any true Dent enthusiast. This is the closest we’re likely to get to reading about him.

Links to more Forgotten Books on Patti Abbot's pattinase.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Alamo Bookshelf 4: Texans in Revolt, After the Alamo & James Bowie, The Life of a Bravo

TEXANS IN REVOLT - Alwyn Barr (1990)
The Alamo battle of 1836 is so famous it overshadows the battle of 1835, known as the Battle of San Antonio, when Texians fought street-by-street through the town, ousted a force of Mexican soldiers from the Alamo and sent them packing. The embarrassed Mexican commander, General Cos, was Santa Anna’s brother-in-law, which went a long way towards motivating Santa Anna to lead his army north to crush the upstart rebels. Also covers the Battle of Conception, where Jim Bowie was in co-command.

AFTER THE ALAMO - Robert Scott (2000)
After reading the book above and finding what happened before the Alamo, you’ll be ready for the rest of the story. Among other stories, this tells of Col. James Walker Fannin and the 300-odd men in the mission of Goliad (90 miles from the Alamo) who retreated, surrendered and were foully executed by one of Santa Anna's generals. The happy ending winds up at the Battle of San Jacinto (pictured on cover), where Sam Houston’s rag-tag army whips the Mexicans, captures Santa Anna and wins independence for Texas.

JAMES BOWIE, THE LIFE OF A BRAVO -  C. L. Douglas (1944)
Hard facts about Big Jim Bowie are hard to come by, and this was the first attempt at a biography. Much of the book is admittedly based on legends, but is plenty danged entertaining anyway. Far as I know, this is the first and only edition of this book. 65 years later, there has still been only one other adult Bowie biography, and the only really authoritative book on his life is technically a juvenile.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Wisdom of Charlie Chan: The Black Camel

This 1931 movie was the second in the Warner Oland series, and is the oldest to have survived. The first, Charlie Chan Carries On, along with the 3rd, 4th and 5th in the series, are lost films.

I haven't read the book, so don't know how much of Charlie's fortune-cookie wisdom was supplied by the author and how much by the screenwriters, but this film offers some great lines.

Death is a black camel that kneels unbidden at every gate.

Wages of stupidity is hunt for new job.

Mouse cannot cast shadow like elephant.

All foxes come at last to furrier's door.

Sometimes very difficult to pick up pumpkin with one finger.

Alibi have habit of disappearing like hole in water.

Even bagpipe will not speak when stomach is empty.

Way to find rabbit's residence is to turn rabbit loose and watch.

When conscience tries to speak, telephone out of order.

Even wisest man sometimes mistake bumblebee for blackberry.

Soap and water never can change perfume of billygoat.

Only very clever man can bite pie without breaking crust.

Can cut off monkey's tail, but he is still monkey.

A long life is only extra time for more troubles.

And finally my favorite . . .

Never boast about egg until after egg's birthday.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Art of Sherlock Holmes: The Scarlet Claw

This 1944 film, 8th in the Rathbone-Bruce series, is considered one of the best. And thanks to the title, it lends itself to some of the best graphics. The 1-sheet (above) and 3-sheet (below) make it look more like a horror movie than a detective mystery. The 3-sheet's claw, reaching into the screen like a bad 3-D movie ad, is pretty hokey, I admit, but the finely rendered creepy people at the bottom make up for it.

The title card below, despite the Kong-sized claw at center, makes the real claw look like a tool for weeding a flowerbed. 

Meanwhile, down under, the Australians refuse to let such trifles as scarlet claws spoil their sunny dispositions.

Click HERE to enter the Rathbone-Bruce Art Gallery.