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Monday, October 12, 2020

WESTERN PULPS—3-BOOK WESTERN AND POSSE

WESTERN PULPS
3-BOOK WESTERN AND POSSE
Western Magazine and 3-Book Western were pulp digests produced by magazine and comic book publisher Martin Goodman who would go on just a few years later to create Marvel Comics. In The Digest Enthusiast No. 8, Peter Enfantino says Goodman was not only responsible for at least four pulp magazines (Best Western Novels, Western Supernovel, Wild West Novels and Cowboy Action Novels) but for paperbacks like Steve Frazee’s Pistolman, H.A. DeRosso’s .44 and Burt Arthur’s Killer’s Cross, all published under the Lion imprint. At the same time, he was publishing comics like Black Rider, Kid Colt and Two Gun Kid under the Timely/Atlas imprint. In the spring of 1957, he entered the field of digest publications with three titles. The firsts called Justice. The second and third, identical in format, were Westerns.
 
Western Magazine ran for eleven issues and its companion, 3-Book Western for two. In 1955, Zane Grey’s Western Magazine and Western Story Magazine had been discontinued, and Goodman’s modest launch tried a different format with fewer stories with higher word counts. Harry Widmer edited the issues with stories by L. L. Foreman, Gardner F. Fox, Richard Matheson and Elmore Leonard. Foreman had been prolific in pulps from the 30s, and his character Preacher Devlin appeared in 45 stories between 1935 and 1949. He is also credited with a couple episodes of the Cheyenne TV show and some additional B-movies. Philip Ketchum, another pulp stalwart represented in these issues is best known for the Whitman Wyatt Earp TV tie-in. Pencil sketches inside the pulp issues were by comics stalwarts Carl Burgos (who created the Human Torch), Joe Maneely and Matt Baker. The 3-Book Western run is dated February and May, 1957.
 
I found the second copy of 3-Book Western, which—as the cover suggests—offers three, new long short stories, routinely called novellas or novelettes in the pulps. Two of the stories are from seasoned veterans I know well—comics and sci-fi pulp legend Gardner F. Fox as well as H.A. DeRosso. A third piece by L. L. Foreman and a short story bonus by Jim Bosworth rounds out the package. The tales are typical pulp fare from the time, but the DeRosso tale is especially compelling, featuring a bounty hunter who is tricked by his enemies into killing his own son.
 
At the same time, I picked up the March 1957, issue of Posse, one of another two issue run. This title was produced by Britain’s P & W publishing, who also published a men’s adventure/war digest called Salvo. Posse cover blurb declares the contents as, violence, lust, and death—virile stories of the old West, all complemented by a spicy cover illustration with a whip and a ripped bodice. The contents reveals only one writer I’m familiar with Talmage Powell—known more for his crime stories than westerns—and here, more than in the typical western pulp story, there is indeed an underlying current of romance to the tales, but nothing akin to the promise of the cover.

I hope to complete the short run of Posse, 3-Book Western, and Western Magazine as time and fortune allows—the books with Matheson and Leonard can be hard to come by apparently—and I’ll keep you posted.

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