Friday, October 31, 2014

Forgotten Books: WYATT EARP Big Little Book (1958)

Whoooo-eeeeee. This one has everything.

It starts in Dodge City, with trouble between cattlemen and nesters. and escalates into a cowman throwing a knife into his boss's back. Wyatt hits the trail in pursuit, and his troubles multiply.

The bad guy shoots a trooper, stealing his horse - and the trooper just happens to be on his way to warn Fort Dodge the Kiowas are on the warpath. Wyatt stampedes a herd of buffalo to stop a train, so the train can deliver the message while he chases the villain. But he's sidetracked when a town kid comes to help, getting himself thrown from his horse and hurt. After rescuing the kid's horse from quicksand, Wyatt has a run-in with a rattlesnake. Tsk, tsk.

And the action never stops. The Kiowas, led by the war chief Tall Bear, ride rings around the bad guy, forcing Wyatt to try and save him. Like all TV cowboys, Wyatt is such a good shot (with his Buntline Special, natch) that he can shoot to wound rather than kill. When a young warrior charges him, hoping to count coup, Wyatt even manages to crease the guy's pony, unseating him in a friendly way. Luckily, Wyatt (like all TV cowboys) has one of those special relationships with the Indians (they call him "Brother-of-the-Eagle"), and Tall Bear is none too bright, falling for the old I-hear-a-bugle-so-the-cavalry-must-be-coming trick.

The bad guy, of course, repays Wyatt for saving his skin by attacking the kid and stealing his horse, and when Wyatt finally catches him, he rides back into Dodge just in time to save the guy from a lynch mob. For old Wyatt, it's all in a day's work. Lest we forget this is a kid's book, Wyatt takes pains to keep reminding us of the moral (surprise - it's the Golden Rule) and at the end he even recites it, so the adults of Dodge City get a little education too. Yep, the whole adventure could have been avoided if the bad guy had treated the nester right. The nester, you'll be pleased to learn, had some medical training and helped Doc Holiday save the life of the cattle boss, so it was a happy ending for dang near everybody.

The prose in this one, by Davis Lott, is undistinquished, but not at all bad. It's up to average pulp western standards, and perfectly acceptable for a children's book. The cover painting, signed Bill Edwards, is pretty dang good. And the interior illos, by John Ushler, are generally OK. This being a Big Little Book, there's one every other page, totaling about 135. Some look a bit like Hugh O'Brian and some don't. A few of the more interesting pics are presented here, including two good views of the Buntline Special.

My main complaint is that Bat Masterson (at the bottom, where he and Wyatt are standing off the lynch mob) looks nothing like the Bat of the Earp TV show. On the show, he looked like Wyatt's little brother. Here he look's like Wyatt's uncle. I'm guessing Whitman didn't have the rights to the kid's face.

More Forgotten Books (with fewer pictures) at Sweet Freedom.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

ART SCOTT STRIKES AGAIN: The Art of Robert E. McGinnis

Back in 2001, Mr. Art Scott became the celebrated author of the still-celebrated book The Paperback Art of Robert McGinnis. Well, he's at it again, with the soon-to-be-released volume pictured here.

To mark the occasion, Mr. J. Kingston Pierce penned a fine piece for the Kirkus website (HERE), and a much, much longer, amazingly indepth interview with Art on The Rap Sheet (HERE). I consider both to be required reading, so I expect you to scoot to one or the other right after perusing this post.

The Rap Sheet article offers tantalizing glimpses of a good many samples of McGinnis covers and movie posters, and also features a sketch Mr. McG did of Art himself. But there are no photos of Mr. Scott, and a quick search of Google Images turned up squat. The truth is, surprisingly few photos exist, because Art has always been the man behind the camera, snapping pics of everyone else while escaping the lens himself.

Thankfully, the Almanack has obtained several rare images of Art in the flesh, and we present them here for posterity. On seeing these, he'll probably wish he'd chosen to be photographed in better company, but it's way too late for regrets. These photos are from Mr. Scott's own collection, and were likely taken with his own camera. While it seems unlikely he took them himself, he is an extremely enterprising fellow, and I wouldn't put it past him. 

With yours truly (left) and Cap'n Bob Napier, 1982

And yeah, we were all Rex Stout fans.


With fellow Bay Area Icon Bruce Taylor, 1995


With Lance Casebeer, The King of Paperbacks, 1996

With unidentified friend, 2003

There you have it. I suggest you book on over to The Rap Sheet and read that interview NOW!
And I'm sure you'll want to pre-order The Art of Robert E. McGinnis HERE.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Cap Gun Monday: MARX Miniature Detective Pistol

This little booger, from the late '50s and early '60s, is only 2 1/8" long - one of the smallest guns in the Marx Miniatures line. Great for carrying in your watch pocket and defending yourself from rampaging grasshoppers. Round "Magic Marxie" Atomcaps were recommended, but other round caps worked too.  

More (and bigger) Cap Guns HERE.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Comic Gallery: Topps ZORRO (1994)

 Keith Giffen & Joe Sinnott

Mike Mignola

Paul Gulacy

George Perez

Earlier Topp's Zorro HERE.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Toy Soldier Saturday: Marx SUPER CIRCUS (Part 1)

In the early '50s, Marx introduced this elaborate playset that included a tin litho big top, plastic accessories, animals, performers, laborers and even attendees. I don't have the set, but somewhere along my collecting journey I acquired most of the figures and a few odds and ends. This is the first of several posts featuring these figures. 

More Toy Soldiery guys HERE.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Forgotten Books: SATAN'S VENGEANCE by Carroll John Daly (1936)

Here's a book so forgotten it's never actually been a book. Seventy-five years after its pulp appearance, "Satan's Vengeance" did finally appear in a book, but only as part of the complete (or Compleat) saga of Satan Hall.

Sporting the fine cover above, "Satan's Vengeance" began its eight-part run in the March 7, 1936 issue of Detective Fiction Weekly. It was the last of three novel-length Satan adventures, the others being The Mystery of the Smoking Gun (reviewed HERE) and Ready to Burn (HERE). Why this one was not promptly issued in hardcover remains a mystery. Story-wise, it's not up to the high standard of Smoking Gun (one of my favorite Daly novels) but is at least as good as Burn.

As usual, New York City is dang near under the thumb of a dang near invincible crime boss, and the only thing standing in this master villain's way is Detective Frank "Satan" Hall. While the rest of the police department is hamstrung by politics, Satan has a free hand. He reports directly to the incorruptible commissioner. It's the next best thing to having a license to kill.

Daly's evil masterminds are fond of melodramatic names such as The Hidden Hand or The Head Tag, and this one calls himself The Other Man. The secret of his success is that he's somehow privy to all the dirt on folks in respectable society, and is able to blackmail them into providing alibis for his hired killers. As you might expect, Satan Hall - the Dirty Harry of his time - is not happy with the situation.

When one of The Other Man's minions threatens to tell tales to the cops, he's slated for a rub-out. Luckily for him, Satan knocks him cold and takes his place (above). When the two gunsels close in, Satan fires both guns through his overcoat and renders them defunct. 

Dan Gargan, one of the city's most vicious killers (on his last job, he aced two children as collateral damage), is The Other Man's head stooge until Satan takes a hand.

So Gargan lures Satan into a trap, where a coldblooded tommy-gun expert waits to take him out. Guess who gets taken out?

Part of The Other Man's racket is selling protection to delicatessen owners. Satan goes undercover long enough to send three more bodies to the undertaker.

Pillar of society Glenn E. Nostrom is providing alibis for The Other Man's killers, so Satan drops in to ask him why. 

Most of Daly's early stories feature a convenient set of curtains for good guys or bad guys to hide behind. In this case, Satan does the hiding, and gets the scoop. The Other Man is holding Nostrom's daughter hostage. 

And as if holding her hostage isn't bad enough, they lay her at the bottom of the grave and begin filling it with dirt, letting her breathe through a tube. In this scene The Other Man finally makes an appearance, and we discover he shares a tailor with The Shadow. 

Satan has practically made a career out of walking into traps and coming out shooting. This time he wears his Doc Savage shirt, but the result is the same. The Other Man, though he doesn't yet know it, is having his last laugh. 

"Satan's Vengeance" occupies about 80 of the 530 king-size pages in The Satan Hall Omnibus (aka The Compleat Adventures of Satan Hall) published in 2011 by The Battered Silicon Dispatch Box. Copies run about a hundred bucks, and are well worth it (I reviewed that HERE). You may direct inquiries to George A. Vanderburgh at