Thursday, August 22, 2013

Western Heresy

pulp fictionPulp fictionpulp fiction

As a kid I was not a big fan of Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, or The Lone Ranger. Sure, I watched them, but they never had the pull of Josh Randall or Paladin. Even as a youngster, I preferred tarnished heroes. The protagonists in Wanted Dead or Alive and Have Gun Will Travel were grittier than the signing cowboys or a masked man that always shot the gun out of the villain’s hand. I liked that Paladin wore all black and Josh Randall never apologized for tracking down men for money. These were hard men with a strict code of honor. They might kill, but never without just cause.

steve dancy tales by james d. best
Wordslingers: An Epitaph for the Western
A new book brought these thoughts to mind. Wordslingers: An Epitaph for the Western by Will Murray is a comprehensive history of Western pulp fiction. I’m not a fan of Western pulps, but I’m a huge fan of Western pulp cover art. I collect pulp fiction Western books and magazines, and love to rummage around used bookstores so I can add to my collection. I’ve never read an entire pulp Western because the stories never seemed to live up to the promise of the cover art. I’ve probably missed something, so I’m going to ask for Murray’s book for Christmas. With back cover art like this, how can I resist?