Friday, August 31, 2012

Showdown at Snakebite Creek by Thomas McNulty

Now available in large print paperback!

Cole Tibbs' father was murdered alongside Snakebite Creek seven years ago. Now Cole returns to Raven Flats wanting justice. But he's soon in confrontation with greedy landowner Carleton Usher, his ruthless sons and a group of killers. The arrival of the enigmatic US Marshal Maxfield Knight raises the stakes in a deadly game of survival. Cole's desire to settle the old grudge has only two things in his favour - his ruthless determination and his ability with a gun.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Tomahawk Comics – The Original Weird Western

A brief look at Tomahawk Comics….

The character of Tom Hawk, who later starred in Tomahawk Comics, originally appeared in Star Spangled Comics in the late 40s. He was dubbed “America’s Favorite Frontier Hero.” Tomahawk was created by writer Joe Samachson and artist Edmund Good. Tomahawk lasted 140 issues, from 1950 through 1972. I encountered the series in the mid 1960s. Shown here is issue 67 from March/April 1960. I don’t think this was the first time Tomahawk encountered a dinosaur. The series often mixed elements of fantasy, mythology and science fiction. 
The science fiction boon of the late 50s was undoubtedly responsible for the plethora of aliens, dinosaurs and strange monsters that began appearing in the pages of Tomahawk and other DC titles. This was wild but fun material. I understand most of the weird issues I recall such as this one were written by France Herron and drawn by Fred Ray.
Weird westerns are not always this entertaining. Looking back at these issues I think they worked because of their simplicity and raw imagination. Tomahawk Comics were unpretentious fun during a period of cultural upheaval. Maybe that’s why I liked them. They helped me forget the world’s grim problems for a little while. They certainly made an impression on my active imagination.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Three Pulp Classics by L. Ron Hubbard

I began reading and reviewing the pulp fiction reprints from Galaxy Press a few years ago and I’ll be continuing that on this blog. These are the three latest releases from Galaxy Press.

Air adventure stories may be a thing of the past but they are finding a new audience with reprints such as The Battling Pilot by L. Ron Hubbard. This 1937 gem from the pages of Five Novels Monthly is about a jaded pilot named Pete England. His job shuttling passengers between Washington and New York changes dramatically when a lovely blonde takes over one of his flights. The babe turns out to be a princess on a crucial mission that can end either in war or peace. Hubbard was a master of setting up a brisk tale with romantic elements. But before the last page there’s always plenty of suspense coupled with All-American charm, grit and 1930s style oomph! The Battling Pilot is a lighthearted and entertaining adventure perhaps typical of the era. These short novels were a mainstay of the pulp market and I’ve found that Hubbard’s air adventure stories always have that aura of authenticity, a fact attributable to both Hubbard’s writing talent and his own experiences as a barnstorming pilot. With chapter titles like “Bullets Rip Through Wings” you know how it will all play out in the end. This one has it all – action, thrills and romance!
Beyond All Weapons is a real treat because it features three classic science fiction tales from the golden age. The title story, Beyond All Weapons, tells the tale of Firstin Guide, a tough rebel who leads a group of colonists off earth to escape the tyrannical government. What follows is a suspenseful and often grim tale of survival amidst the hope of one day returning to earth to rescue their families and destroy the Polar regime. Long time fans of Hubbard's work will recognize elements in the story similar to those found in his classic novel To the Stars. But Beyond All Weapons is still a wholly unique and thrilling story. I think if he hadn't written To the Stars then Beyond All Weapons might have been remembered as a classic of space travel after its appearance in the January 1950 issue of Super Science Stories. The second story, Strain, is a compelling and taut thriller that would have made a great episode on the old Outer Limits television show. A study of men under duress and holding dear to their patriotic duty, the ending was a surprise and initially seemed perfunctory. So I read the story again and savored it at a slower pace and I now realize how expertly Hubbard set up the plot. Strain is a classic. The final entry, The Invaders, offers a lighter tone, but still features some wonderful hard-boiled writing by Hubbard. Gedso Ion Brown, a technician from the Extra Territorial Scienticorps, has been sent to offer assistance in the alien attacks being suffered at the Crystal Mines. To say more would give away the twist ending. You'll just have to read it to find out what happens. All in all, these are three great stories from the glorious golden age of science fiction pulps
Although he’s best known as a science fiction writer, L. Ron Hubbard contributed a substantial word count to pulp western stories. As you may have guessed I have taken to his style like a duck to water. His westerns are great and The Toughest Ranger is a sleek, polished and exciting tale. Cowboy Petey McGuire has had a difficult time. He’s forlorn and disgusted with his lot in life.  All of that changes when quite by accident he stumbles into the Arizona Ranger’s office and joins up. With a new bold attitude McGuire suddenly discovers a new side of himself – a self-confident almost boisterous side that may get him killed. My favorite line in the story is: “The fellow was hung together so loosely that he looked like a rattlesnake wearing boots.” (p.24) L. Ron Hubbard’s pulp fiction is always a delight and his westerns are nothing less than spur-rattling fun. The bonus stories included are Silent Pards and The Ranch That No One Would Buy. Highly recommended!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Indian Mummy Mystery by Troy Nesbit

The Indian Mummy Mystery was my first Troy Nesbit book. I read it sometime in 1967 on a cross-country trip to the Grand Canyon. We also stopped at the Mesa Verde dwellings in Colorado which is the setting for this story. I have been hooked on western legends and locations ever since. Originally published in 1954, this is the now highly sought after Whitman Publishing reprint from 1965. Troy Nesbit was a pseudonym for Franklin Folsom who wrote many fine adventure novels for young readers. Essentially a story about Joe Cutler and Denny Grogan one summer as they encounter legends of lost gold, old mummies and Indian cliff dwellings. Nesbit’s characters are usually young men on the cusp of manhood, about sixteen years old, enthusiastic and eager to explore the world. The Indian Mummy Mystery is a lighthearted coming-of-age story but lacking any overt moral preaching. Another element you’ll find in a Troy Nesbit novel is the positive influence of National Park Rangers who often play secondary roles. It’s important to remember that during the 50s and 60s when Nesbit was popular such magazines as Boys Life were found in most households and the cynicism of the counter-culture movement hadn’t yet seeped into young adult books published by Whitman or Scholastic. This is a typical, wholesome and satisfying adventure. I’ll be including additional Troy Nesbit books on this blog in the future. I have never found a photograph of Franklin Folsom AKA Troy Nesbit and if anyone reading this post knows of one please feel free to contact me, thanks!

Cover of the 1954 edition

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Northwoods Photography by Thomas McNulty

I just returned from our cabin in the northwoods of Wisconsin. 
Here are some photos I took for those interested in this great American landscape.
 The McNulty Cabin
View from the front porch built by my father and uncles
CLICK on any image to see a larger view
All photographs copyright © 2012 by Thomas McNulty

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Superman! The World’s Best-Selling Comics Magazine!

The blurb on the cover said it all. During the 50s and through the mid 70s Superman Comics were indeed special. Curt Swan was the undisputed king of the Superman drawing board and under editor Julius Schwartz the best writers worked on the title. Guys like Edmond Hamilton, Elliott Maggin, Cary Bates, Bill Finger, Jim Shooter, Martin Pasko, Otto Binder and so many more wrote imaginative and sometimes thought-provoking tales. Artists such as Al Plastino, Wayne Boring, Kurt Schaffenberger, Win Mortimer, and Neal Adams helped define the iconic image of the man of Steel that we know so well today. I have always considered Superman the greatest pulp hero of all time. These days Batman gets a lot of attention, but if you scroll through these covers from my collection you’ll experience an imaginative world unlike anything you’ve seen before or since. 

Take a moment and visit again those thrilling days of yesteryear….
 And the back covers often offered some really cool toys! I had this 
Revolutionary War toy set and wish I still had it today!