Friday, May 31, 2019

Forgotten Books: WILD TIMES by Brian Garfield (1979)

In case you haven't noticed, I'm a big honkin' fan of Brian Garfield. The Marshal Jeremy Six novels I've yapped about as Forgotten Books are my favorites, and those reviews recount my second trip through the series. I've also read and enjoyed dang near all of his other westerns (and there were a lot of them) plus Death Wish, Death Sentence and few other thrillers. But none of that prepared me for this epic titled Wild Times.

It's hard to even compare this book with his earlier efforts, but I'll try: If those earlier books were gourmet popcorn, Wild Times is a fat, juicy steak, with all the trimmings. 

Wild Times purports to be The True and Authentic Life of Col. Hugh Cardiff, though the pretence is only skin deep. An Afterword admits that the book's major characters, including Colonel Cardiff, are purely fictional. Still, if I didn't that, I'd have been googling the name to get the real skinny on the guy.

Cardiff's career has much in common with that of Buffalo Bill Cody, but he's clearly no stand-in for Buffalo Bill, because Bill makes one two appearances in the book also, and is frequently mentioned.

As the book begins, Cardiff is at the end of his career, relating a memoir to debunk all nonsense that's been written about him in dime novels and the newspapers. His goal in life, from a young age until his seventies, when the narration ends, is to be the world's best rifle shooter. In following that pursuit, he comes to the attention of dime novelist Bob Halburton, a fictional competitor to Ned Buntline, who first makes him famous with outrageous heroics, then takes him on tour in an Eastern stage-play, a year or so before Buntline does the same with Cody and Hickok.

After much more adventuring, bringing him into contact or near-contact with such folk as Al Sieber, Doc Holliday and Wyatt Earp, and several years in exile while married to an Apache, Cardiff returns to the public eye to launch the world's first Wild West Show (again before Buffalo Bill), which he keeps going for another thirty years.

All the while, there's a whole lot of history going on around him, and the book's 476 pages are brimming with authentic Western life and lore. It's a real feast. As I finished it (and it took me almost two weeks) I was tempted to read it again.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

GREEN HORNET U-Solve-It Crime Cases (1948)

These cases challenged readers in The Green Hornet #s 40 and 41 from 1948. So how about it, can U-Solve-Em without reading upside down?

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

COLORAMA by Bob Powell & Howard Nostrand (1953)

Back in '53, with the 3-D craze in full swing, comics found various ways to cash in. This tale from Black Cat #45, dated August 1953, is a case in point. As with many stories from later issues of this mag, pencils were by Bob Powell and inks by Howard Nostrand. Nice stuff. Thanks to Poztron/josemas for uploading it to Comic Book Plus and Digital Comic Museum.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

THE SHADOW Dailies: "The Riddle of the Sealed Box" Week 6

Previously on The Shadow: Just before his death, the mayor sends a box of dirt on the local graft ring to retired businessman Richard Whilton. Whilton, of course, is promptly bumped off, and the box stolen. The Shadow makes the scene, finding a coin dropped by the killer, but the cops burst in and he has to fight his way out. On the way, he promises Whilton’s daughter Eunice to set things right. 

Lamont Cranston then paid a visit to community reformer James Belver, who suspects the dead guy’s attorney, Rufus Voggle. Voggle enters and casts suspicion on Eunice’s out-of-town fiance, Larry Sherrin. Spotting an ad for the coin in the Lost and Found, The Shadow flits over to the address in search of the killer. Instead, he finds the sealed box. Picking it up triggers an alarm, and the cops chase him to the roof, where he falls through a skylight to certain doom. 

When his fall is broken by a rising elevator car, he thrusts the sealed box into the hands of the man inside. He thinks this guy is the killer, and wants him caught with the evidence, but blundering cops allow the the guy to escape. Cranston then has another encounter with suspects Voggle and Sherrin, and reformer Belver. He gets good news: The police chief tells him he'll start working with the Shadow on the case. And bad: He gets a note addressed to the Shadow, telling him to get out of town. Is his identity blown? He asks Eunice to open is briefcase, where she finds his Shadow duds. Donning them, she distracts a would-be assassin and throws him off the scent. 

New developments: The Shadow learns that Eunice's father left Larry Sherrin 50 Grand in his will. Lawyer Voggle enlists Larry's snaky ex-girlfriend Theda Morenz and her shady pal Nick Kromer to brace Larry and find out if he has the sealed box, but Eunice and the Shadow bust in to spoil their play.

Larry escapes the trap, but Voggle sends Theda to try again at Larry's apartment. There he finds the box, which he's never seen before. As the cops bust in, he tosses it to the Shadow, who plunges out the window and falls to earth, where he's almost senseless, and at the mercy of Theda and Nick . . . 

Two weeks to go!

Friday, May 24, 2019

Forgotten Stories: JON JARL of the Space Patrol by Eando Binder (1946)

Back in 1946, Otto Binder began this series of text shorts that appeared in 83 straight issues of Captain Marvel Adventures. The first, you'll note, appeared under his own name, while the rest bore the "E-and-O" byline honoring his brother and former writing partner Earl. Binder is probably best known for the Adam Link robot series (including the story "I, Robot") than ran in Amazing Stories between 1939 and 1942. He also scripted a ton of comic book stories featuring various members of the Captain Marvel and Superman families. 

We present here the first three spacey adventures of John Jarl, from Captain Marvel #s 66 through 68.