Sunday, 30 November 2008
I understand that one of the biggest UK comedy hits in recent years, Little Britain has flopped horribly in the US.
I'm not surpised as its humour was often silly and near to the knuckle. I think it's massive success in the UK was not so much down to the jokes but because it went totally against the politically correct bunch and made a refreshing change. And some of the grotesque characters were brilliant piss takes of certain elements in UK society.
I'd be interested to get an American persepective on the series. Why did it fail? Is American and British humour really that different?
Friday, 28 November 2008
Filmed three times, most famously as Get Carter in 1971 with Michael Caine in his all time signature role, the novel was based on the real life one armed bandit murders.
The novel centres on small time hustler Jack Carter returning home to Doncaster to investigate the death of his brother whom he hasn't seen in a great many years. Carter finds himself entering a twilight world of prostitution, gambling dens, psychotic gangsters and underworld enforcers.
The crime bosses worry that Jack's snooping into his brother's death will upset their delicate operations and soon the contract it out - Get Carter.
It's a shame this book has been largely forgotten because of the great success of the original film based on it. It really is British Noir done well - that narrative is as tough as old nails and the world of the American Gangster novel is successfully transplanted to suburban Britain.
Tuesday, 25 November 2008
The US publisher called the Edge series, "The most violent westerns in the world."
And they were but it was stylised violence, Grand-Guignol violence, written by an author who didn't much like violence but managed to tune into what the western reading public wanted.
"I was worried about the amount of graphic violence I was asked to put in the Gilman books and it was a cold blooded decision (pun intended) by me to counter-balence this with humour. Fortunately my publishers and later the reading public didn't seem to mind even though some of the jokes were very anachronistic that tended to ruin whatever degree of realism I had manged to convey in the narrative."
The humour certainly became a big part of the series. And perhaps that's what made them stand out from the other Oater-Nasties in the bookshops, maybe it was this often surreal humor that makes the series so evergreen. The series ended in 1989 and the books are not in print but there is still an huge demand. At the time of writing there is a copy of Edge no 60 on Ebay and it's currently been bid upto £31. Not bad for a cheap paperback.
Besides the Edge books George G. Gilman, real name Terry Harknett, created Adam Steele (there are 49 books featuring this character) as well as other lesser series characters and was responsible for the Fistful of Dollars novelisation under the name Frank Chandler. As well as several other original dollar westerns he also penned a number of mysteries but it is Edge which is his signature series.
"My first published books were hardback mysteries for Robert Hale featuring a London private eye called Stephen Wayne. And later I wrote several crime novels for a handful of paperback and hardback publishers. But it was Edge that eventually allowed me to become a full time writer."
Terry was born in Essex in 1936 to a working class background. He went to a secondary modern school and was a very practical boy, developing an interest in mechanics.
"After my initial boyhood ambition to become a motor mechanic was dashed by a school career visit to the Ford Motor Company factory in Dagenham - I was born only a few miles away. I decided I wanted to be a mystery writer instead."
Motor mechanics to mystery hack is quite a radical turn around. Can't quite see the connection there somehow but for Terry it made perfect sense. The motor industry's loss is the reading publics gain.
"I was always painfully shy as a kid, still am in many ways. In fact I still have a phobia about being the centre of attention. I wanted to be rich and, as a fifteen year old, it seemed to me that only those born with a silver spoon in their mouths or famous people in the public eye got to be rich. There was once exception - writers, who could beaver away in their lonely studies writing books that would bring them wealth - some of them, anyway. And since my favourite reading matter was American hard boiled crime fiction this was the genre I would make my fortune working in."
Only in life, as I'm sure Edge pointed out somewhere in his laconic drawl, things never quite work out as planned. Terry's first job was as a copy boy with The Reuters News Agency. He stuck at this for nine months and then he went across to Fleet Street and got a post in a features syndicate agency. Here his duties was buying articles, crossword and strip cartoons and then flogging them onto various markets. It was here that Terry started writing short stories and he saw several syndicated via Newspaper Services.
National Service came next and saw Terry serve with the RAF. He chose to be a typist which gave him access to a typewriter and a good amount of free time. He started writing books, actually writing two unpublished novels on RAF headed notepaper. Terry says that these books were basically Raymond Chandler copies but not anywhere near as good as the master who was his favourite author.
After finishing his duty to his country Terry went back to Reuters but soon he left and got a job at the Twentieth Century Fox publicity department. He was based in Soho Square and not Hollywood which rankled somewhat. Eventually Terry went back to work for Newspaper Features again but the company was in trouble and would soon go down the pan. Eventually Terry came into contact with the late Peter Haining when he went up before a board for a job with The National Newsagents Society.
Someone there thought Terry was unsuitable for the job but meeting Peter Haining was the start towards becoming a bestselling writer. By this time Terry was churning out Chandleresque crime novels for Robert Hale, present day publishers of the Black Horse Western series. Terry was a Chandler buff and read everything the great man published but he felt he could never aspire to his greatness. Didn't stop him trying, though.
Eventually Terry ended up with New English Library where Peter Haining was in charge of the paperback division. Terry's first novel for the imprint was The Weekend Game and he followed that up with W.I.T.C.H. The latter book, about militant bra burning feminists, was written under the name Jane Harman which was Terry's wife's maiden name. The title stood for - we intend to create havoc.
Terry took whatever commission he could find (although he did turn down an offer of £1000 a book for writing hard core porn) and this led to him penning the novelisation of the Clint Eastwood movie, A Fistful of Dollars and then several other spaghetti western based novels. He was asked to create a new western series for New English Library - all action, violent in the style of the Italian westerns which were taking so much money at the box office and Edge came from that.
"I had never read a western novel when I did my first and I consider that fact was a cornerstone to the success of George G Gilman.. For Edge had to be an original concept since having no idea what a western book should be like I had to create the series almost out of thin air. Of course I was aware of Hollywood's version of the Western locale and what the stock characters that peopled it looked like since I grew up in an era when the cinema and television were awash with oaters."
Gilman's Edge was a hit - not initially but it gradually gained a large audience which continued to expand, making the Edge series the benchmark by which all other westerns of the period were judged.
In total the series went on for 61 books, spawned a series of Italian comic book adaptions and the pen name George G. Gilman even had his own fan club.
" I think a good western needs a fast moving story, believable characters and some violent action with a seasoning of gallows humour."
The Edge character certainly delivered those ingredients in spades. Edge would always emerge from seemingly desperate situations, often cheat almost certain death. In many ways the character was a superhero - where Batman had his utility belt, Edge had his cut-throat razor. Where Superman had his cape, Edge had his Winchester. The Edge books provided sheer enjoyable escapist fiction, never taking itself too seriously so that although westerns, the books seem to be lodged in a sub-genre of their own.
I wondered if Terry had ever been to the American West.
"Jane (my wife) and I took one of those bus tours of the South-western US many years ago - Los Angeles-Grand Canyon-Las Vegas-San Francisco and many points between. All this really gave me in terms of research for the Gilman books was a sense of "the big sky" and vast distances spread out beneath it. And I must admit the most significant part of the trip for me was walking the streets of downtown Los Angeles where my all-time favourite fictional hero Philip Marlowe plied his trade."
And so I've spoken to a literary hero of mine and I'm as excited as the kid I was when I first read the Edge novels. To my mind the Edge series is the perfect example of the British pulp tradition and the books, although very violent, are never downbeat and the narrative is so slick your eyes slide smoothly from page to page. Pick one up and before you know it your hooked which is part of the reason the books fetch so much on Ebay. Terry though, forever modest, has a theory on that.
"It never ceases to amaze me that that my ancient scribblings continue to interest readers. Although I take little notice of how they come and go on e-bay. For I think most people who acquire them in this area are collectors hopeful of making a bob or two profit in the future, rather than readers seeking to enjoy my deathless prose!"
We'll have to agree to disagree on that point as I know many people who love the Edge series as well as a lot of Terry's other Gilman stuff. Adam Steele is always worth a read but Edge is something special - these are great books that I believe will one day see a resurgence. All it takes is an enterprising publisher to start issuing the classic westerns, much in the way Hard Case Crime are doing for mysteries and a new legion of fans will be found.
Terry's top ten western movies
In no particular order:
Leon's Eastwood Dollar Trilogy
Once upon a time in the west
Terror in a Texas Town
George G. Gilman on the web:
A man called George G. Gilman
George G Gilman, Adam Hardy (with Kenneth Bulmer), Jane Harmon, Joseph Hedges, William M James (with John Harvey and Laurence James), Charles R Pike (with Kenneth Bulmer and Angus Wells), William Pine, Thomas H Stone, William Terry
Tomorrow I'll be posting an interview with Terry Harknett AKA George G. Gilman.
The legendary author of Piccadilly cowboy fame told me, very kindly, that he reads The Tainted Archive every day. I first got hooked on the Edge books during the seventies when the books could be found in every bookshop in the UK, in fact during those days Gilman's books even outsold Louis L'amour. And today they still have such a following that the books, particularly the later ones, go on Ebay for double figures, sometime unbelievably even more if a book is particularly sought after.
Over the years I must have spent hours upon hours in the company of Mr Gilman's enigmatic characters and to find out the author is reading my blog is a real kick to me. I am particularly honoured to do this interview and will be working all evening on getting it in shape.
Man, I love this writer.
The Tainted Archive as read by George G. Gilman - tee hee!
Monday, 24 November 2008
Lately this blog's been all over the place. covering such eclectic subjects as music, political correctness and comic books. These are all subjects that I will return to from time to time but normal service is resumed with this review of a vintage western paperback.
Edge: California Killing
Book 7 in the series
First published by NEL in 1973
My copy is from a December 1977 printing
Author - George G. Gilman
Original cover price: UK 60p Canada $1.85 New Zealand $2.00
I would have read this before, many years ago. As a kid I loved these adult westerns and would often swap dog eared copies around the school playground. As an adult I've been trying to get a full set and I have n0 1 - 40 complete and also No-43 - 46.
I'm reading through them all in order but not straight through and it's been some months since I read the previous book in the series. However, I fancied a nice fun easy read and so I pulled Edge no 7 down from the shelves.
As soon as I started reading I recalled the joke running through the story and it was still good for a chuckle. The novel opens up with a brutal stagecoach robbery by the vicious Hood gang. Edge is among the victims and he is forced to stand by as the bandits rob all the passengers. the gang then ride off and come upon another two weary victims - they beat a man close to death and viciously gangrape his wife.
Later Edge turns up in The Town With No Name with the rest of the stagecoach passengers and learns that the Hood gang have long been terrorising the area and that the town sheriff is a coward who has failed to do anything about it. Soon Edge is facing off against tough ranchers and well as going in pursuit of the bandits.
The town with no name is in California - the Paramount Hotel is owned by the Warner Brothers, there's a new photographer in town called Wood and he's set up shop next to the theatre owned by Rodney Holly. We have the origins of tinsel town here.
"He jerked up the gun and squeezed both triggers simultaneously. Both loads of buckshot smashed into Mayer's left shoulder. The man emitted a terrified scream as he was flung backwards and watched his severed arm spin away from him, spraying blood from the meaty wound.
Edge let the shotgun drop to the floor and clawed the Walker-Colt from its holster. 'Get him out of here.' He ordered. 'All of him.' "
Readers of the Edge series will know what to expect in the all action, extremely violent but good humoured series. Some may find the extreme violence a little much but it's not for no reason that these books have a cult following.
An excellent black comedy.
I'm a Beatle nut - one of those extreme fans who get anything Beatle related, collecting all the fab four's solo albums regardless of quality. Paul McCartney, always the most prolific of the ex fabs, has been on something of a roll in recent years, with his last few albums being great, often brilliant, but no one expected this late masterpiece from him. Particularly as part of his Fireman guise. At last the ghost of the Frog Song and Ebony and Ivory have been laid to rest.
This is the third Fireman album, the previous two were made up of strange techno, ambient vibes. I bought them, even if they were not my cup of tea, but this latest effort, the first Fireman album in 10 years, is up there with his best work - equal to Chaos and Creation and Ram, better than Band on the Run and Flaming Pie. And probably the most creative thing the ex-fab and Angela Lansbury lookalike has done since the early 70's.
Every track is amazing - the soundscape travels around you, the melodies get into your soul, and this curious rock, avant garde mix gives you a feeling of great joy. It gets you singing alone in the way The Beatles used to. In fact we could say, we love this, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Track by track
1 - nothing too much just out of sight - A great anthemic rocker to start the set. Macca's voice sounds suitably raw.
2-Two Magpies - a lovely rocky tune. Anyone ever noticed how many of Macca's softer songs are bird related - Two Magpies, Blackbird, Bluebird, Flying to my home. And then again he named his vanity group, Wings. This track certainly flies but then the whole album rocks.
3-Sing the changes - again excellent rock and anthemic
4-Travelling Light - starts off with a curious sounding MACCA vocal before building to a cresendo and then going absolutely bonkers. Oh and Macca mentions a bluebird in the lyrics.
5 - Highway - there she goes, looking like a wreck, got too many highlights and a lovebite on her neck - Macca does Chav in this standout rocker.
6 - Light from your lighthouse - my particular favourite. The chorus is so catchy.
7 - Sun is shining - in a word - awesome
8 - Dance till we're High - this one goes everywhere and it's entire journey is first class
9 - Lifelong Passion - a fitting song given that Macca's music is a lifelong passsion for many people.
10 - Is this Love - Starts off with an African rhythm and then becomes a lovely dreamy ode to true love
11-Lovers in a dream - the most techno oriented track on the album. It sounds strange on first listen but grows and gets under your skin.
12-Universal here, everlasting love - A syrupy piano kicks the track off before being drowned out by ambient sounds - many are familiar - is that the alarm clock from A Day in the Life? The dog's barking were definataly used on Broad Street's Eleanor's Dream classical piece and the bird sounds could be the ones used in the Sun King
13 - Don't stop running- rounds off the album and proves that Macca hasn't stopped running nor rocking.
Every track rocks , it all gells nicely and this album is brilliant but don't take my word for it.
From The Sunday Times
Paul McCartney seems intent on trying to convince us all that he was the most experimental Beatle, always ready with a tape loop, but this agenda misses the point that the core of the Beatles’ work — the singles, not Revolution 9 — was far more experimental and important than anything by Stockhausen or Varèse. The forms of music the Beatles developed didn’t exist before, and now they’re everywhere. So, McCartney is at his best when he applies his experimental leanings to pop, when he takes a conventional song and hurls his talent at it without worrying about the consequences. That’s what happens on Electric Arguments, where his co-Fireman, Youth, establishes himself as the man’s best creative partner since you-know-who, and the result is the most exciting McCartney album since Band on the Run.
From Rolling Stone:
fter a decade-plus hiatus, Sir Paul revives his low-profile, weed-scented collaboration with superproducer Youth (U2, the Orb), retrofitting their abstract electronica with good ol' psychedelic rock for the ex-Beatle's headiest music in years. "Nothing Too Much Just Out of Sight" throws "Helter Skelter" hollering over electric blues. "Two Magpies" joins "Blackbird" in McCartney's folksy aviary; "Sing the Changes" is catchy, woozy pop. The set peaks with "Travelling Light," a magical mystery tour of reverbed chants, slide-guitar swoops, kalimbas and chimes. It's freak folk by a forefather.
From the BBC
by Chris Jones
14 November 2008
Ten years after Paul McCartney and Martin 'Youth' Glover (ex Killing Joke) released their last collaborative 'mystery disc' under the Fireman moniker (the dancey Rushes) they return. Any right-thinking musicologist may balk at the the wisdom of two bassists working together, but the pair's efforts have always borne interesting fruit. However, anyone expecting Electric Arguments to fit under the same 'experimental' or 'electronic' bracket as previous work may be surprised. Only Universal Here, Everlasting Now's collages are really mind-melting. Much like Eno and Byrne's recent reunion, this album defies expectations by featuring not only vocals and lyrics but, gasp, songs! In fact Electric Arguments is nothing less than a rather fine McCartney solo album, perhaps shoved out under the alias to show a certain label who's really boss. Whatever, it's a spry 13-track (and one hidden track) jaunt through styles a-plenty; from psychedelic folk to blues grit.
If there's any argument for calling this truly 'experimental' it's because the duo leave the endings rough as a badger's bottom and have a tendency to throw in some Mellotron, a touch of flanging to the voice, or play stuff...backwards. Wow. But this is Macca and he's on form, seemingly using the freedom of relative anonymity to stretch out, relax, turn on, tune in, drop out and make like a kid in a sonic sandbox, mixing it up and throwing some curveballs. Opener, Nothing Too Much Just Out Of Sight comes on like Zep meeting Beefheart, full of mealy-mouthed blues harp and Helter Skelter raging. Light From Your Lighthouse comes direct from Dylan and the Band's rootsy basement and Lifelong Passion's raga and synth mix may well be Paul's tribute to George Harrison.
Not everything convinces. Is This Love? meanders dangerously like a b-side. Sun Is Shining drones with buccolic good naturedness but goes nowhere: Paul gets up sees the sun shining down etc. etc. Lovers In A Dream ("...warmer than the sun" repeated over a trance burble) falls down a somewhat featureless hole between early Primal Scream and the Orb, while Dance 'Til We're High misses being Paul Oakenfold and instead ends up like Phil Spector.
No matter, this is a rather tasty little album that reminds us again who was the adventurous one in the Moptops. Thumbs aloft, indeed.
CHECK OUT THE YOU TUBE TRAILER BELOW FOR A TASTER AND THEN GO GET IT.
Sunday, 23 November 2008
I want to talk a little about the insidious spread of political correctness that is threatening to turn us all into bland Mr Smiths, all thinking the same thing, dressing the same, looking the same, happy because we are told we're happy.
Political correctness destroys individualism and rewrites our linguistic heritage.
In recent years political correctness had resulted in certain councils renaming Christmas the Winter Celebrations, the famous gollywog emblem being removed from Jam jars, cartoon characters being removed from children's breakfast cerials, the cigarette in Paul McCartney's hand on the Abbey Road album being airbrushed over.
At the end of the day political correctness is social tyranny and censorship dressed up under a new name.
The following quote comes from The Political correctness website
Why do the PC Brigade seem obsessed with rewriting our history and not teaching it to our schoolchildren? Schoolchildren leaving school are now almost completely ignorant of British history. Is it in a mistaken attempt to portray a harmonious Europe or as a way of forgetting our colonial past? Is it in a misguided attempt not to offend the losers? Changing history is a dangerous thing to do as it is only by learning the lessons of history that we may manage not to repeat them!
In the pages of a history book, however, most of us would expect Britain’s role in the years 1914-1918 and 1939-1945 to at least warrant a mention. But in a work for schools produced by Brussels, there is no reference to World War I or World War II in the section on Britain. The glaring omission consigns key events such as the Battle of Britain, the Blitz, Dunkirk and D-Day to the dustbin. And, in a move seen as rewriting history for the sake of Euro-friendliness, it erases the pivotal role Britain played in shaping the future of Europe. Nothing of note is recorded as happening in Britain early in the 20th century, with the Great War conspicuous by its absence. Again, nothing significant is marked between 1931, when the author notes the Commonwealth was created, and 1947, when Britain pulled out of India. World War II is not mentioned – although it does feature in sections on many other countries in the book. In the section on Germany, meanwhile, the word Nazi is not mentioned. Instead, it is merely noted that 1929 saw ‘a surge in extremist movements’ and that in 1933 Hitler became chancellor. The book Histoires de l’Europe Volume 1 was produced by the European parliament’s Office of Information. About 10,000 copies have been distributed to Belgian children aged 16 to 18.
There was incredulity at its omissions. Historian Dr David Starkey said: ‘The jaw drops. Only one country resisted Germany in 1939-40 and it is important that country is mentioned. And World War I is one of the central events in British domestic history.‘What this must seem to suggest is that Britain decided not to take part in either of the two European conflicts of the 20th century, in which case the outcome of those conflicts would have been somewhat different, to put it mildly.’ The book allocates four pages to each of the 28 members and prospective members of the EU. But Dr Starkey said: ‘It’s ludicrous that we should get the same as somewhere like Estonia. The whole history of Scotland warrants only one and-a-half lines.‘This tidying up of history is an indication of a move towards greater European unity. It’s airbrushing.’
Chris Heaton-Harris, Tory MEP for the East Midlands, said: ‘For World War I and II not to get a mention is bizarre. I think it’s part of an agenda within Belgian society nowadays to have as little as possible to do with the Brits or the Americans. It’s sad, because if it were not for those two groups of people it would have been a very different picture on the Continent for the last 60 years.’ Robert Whelan, of think tank Civitas, said omitting World War I made any claim that the book is a history of Britain ‘ridiculous’. A spokesman for the Belgian section of the European parliament’s Office of Information, said: ‘Everyone knows about World War II so we didn’t think it was necessary to put it in.’
There can be little doubt that if you were German you’d want to rewrite your history. After all, the responsibility for two world wars, the murder of six million people in concentration camps and another 15 million outside them — all within living memory — are acts with which only a masochist or a psychopath would want to associate himself. However that was then and does not reflect on Germans of today. In recent days, though, the campaign to airbrush the evil out of the Teutonic past has assumed a new vitality. Last week Joschka Fischer, the Fourth Reich’s foreign minister, complained on a visit here that the British view of Germany was an obsession with ‘goose-stepping Prussians’, whereas his country was now peopled by ‘real democrats’. Then it was revealed that a new European Union-sponsored history makes no mention of the apparently minor events of both world wars, or of Winston Churchill and Britain’s heroic, lone resistance to Fascism in 1940. Brief mention is made of Hitler, none at all of the Nazis. Yesterday, it was reported that a group of British history teachers are spending their half-term in Germany, being persuaded (at the German taxpayers’ expense) to take a more benign view of the country and its past.
The organisers of celebrations to mark the 200th anniversary of Lord Nelson’s triumph and heroic death at the Battle of Trafalgar have been told that the celebrations must not offend the French. Instead, they must focus on the hardships of ordinary seamen on both sides. The aim is not to celebrate his victory over the French. Portsmouth, home to Nelson’s flagship, HMS Victory is preparing politically correct education packs for schools. They will include information about the diets of 19th Century sailors and recipes for ships’ biscuits but there are likely to be few mentions of the glory of the 1805 victory off the coast of Spain.
History is history -only from the study of it, warts and all, can we learn of our mistakes and try not to make then again. And make no bones about PC is one big mistake and enough is enough for tomorrow will be too late.........
Saturday, 22 November 2008
When you start collecting pulps and paperbacks it soon becomes an addiction. It's often fun to track down details of the authors, follow the trail of pen names to discover that the writer you imagined to be a six foot three, ruggedly handsome outdoors man is actually a silver haired old lady with bunions from Croydon, or that the chap who pens tales of the American West is actually a part time traffic warden and stamp collector. Anyone taking up the hobby will have to prepare for long hours looking around second hand shops or at jumble sales looking for that elusive yellow jacket or that western to complete your collection.
But one of the most stimulating things about the hobby is looking at all those lurid covers.
There are many styles of cover art but all served the same purpose - to entice the reader with their lurid, sensational images that hinted at the content inside the cheap covers.
Quite often the cover art would be far more lurid than the events detailed in the pages, but more often than not the covers were spot on which was probably because the pulps delivered certain ingredient that were contained in every book. Fast paced action, an appealing and Beautiful heroine or femme fatale, a rugged square jawed hero and usually a major action scene by page three.
Titles like Dykes On A Bike or He Killed for Love could only be interpreted one way by the busy artists who were quite often working on several titles at the same time.
These days I often buy old books as much for the cover image as for the author or subject matter. In fact some times it will be the cover image solely that tempts me to part with my cash.
An interesting web site for looking at old paperback covers is BOOKSCANS which provided many of the images seen here.
Quote - The goal of the Bookscans Project is to provide a visual catalog of ALL vintage American paperbacks (for my purposes, this is roughly the first 20 years of paperback-sized books; especially those printed before 1960 and/or having a 25¢ or 35¢ cover price). Collectors will probably declare this goal so lofty as to be impossible. They're right, of course, but even at its conception, Bookscans is the largest site of its type in the world. With the help of others, we just might come close to making it complete; and it'll be totally within the public domain (i.e., its free). - end quote.
The web site also contains links to come interesting articles on the hobby in general. So what are you waiting for, leave a comment on this blog and then head on over there and check out the hundreds and hundreds of lurid cover scans.
Dick Hammer is an online daily comic that I've only just discovered whilst browsing the web. Thankfully the entire series is available on the website and I read it as one would a graphic novel - I also enjoyed it more than a few graphic novels that I've paid big bucks for.
Ultra hard-boiled comic book noir in daily bite sized servings - just like the newspaper dailies used to be.
Friday, 21 November 2008
The town of Deadwood was determined to thrive from the start, despite the fact that initially it had no legal standing, being situated in the Black Hills which was protected for the Indians by treaty.
The growth of the town was rapid. Check out the first three pictures.
The first is from 1876 and the second is just twelve years later. Whilst the third is the historic town as viewed today.
Deadwood, a wild cesspit of smallpox,whores,violence,treachery,cussing,murder - and that's not from the TV show or the series of novels by Mike (James Reasoner) Jameson.
No, that's very much from the reality of the situation - Tombstone may have been the town too tough to die, but Deadwood was the town with its foundations in hell.
Deadwood came about after George Armstrong Custer and a band of cavalrymen discovered traces of gold in the hills. Custer encouraged exploration of the area even though it was part of the Sioux reservation and out of bounds to white men. The government could do little to stop the rapid influx and by 1877 some 20,000 gold hungry men had made the trip to Deadwood Gulch.
The place got its name after a wild fire burnt a lot of the trees in the area leaving a landscape of charred, twisted, limbs. In its earliest days it was little more than a rough mining camp - because it was on Indian ground no law existed. The towns residents would let off steam in the many brothels and saloons that sprung up on seemingly every vacant spot of land.
Wild Bill Hickok was killed here in the No. 10 Saloon - shot in the head, while playing cards. His hand, Aces over Eights, will forever be known as, "Deadman's Hand". The event took place on August 2nd 1876 when Jack McCall shot the gambler and gunfighter in the back of the head.
Hickock was buried at Ingleside Cemetery but he was later moved to Mount Moriah which is where he rests today.
In the TV show Seth Bullock is a good friend to the gunfighter but in reality Bullock, a Canadian from Ontario, didn't arrive in the town until August 1st, a day before the gunfighter died. Bullock didn't know Hickock but he would later become a confident of Theodore Roosevelt.
Bullock arrived in town with his long time friend and business partner, Sol Star ( the pair are pictured on left) - it had been an arduous wagon ride to get to Deadwood but the pair immediately set about setting up a business. They peddled pans, pots, cigars and chamber pots from a premises they constructed at the corner of Main Street and Wall Street.
Less than a month after arriving in town Bullock had become de-facto sheriff and then when Lawrance County was formed in 1877 Bullock became its first sherrif appointed by Governor John Pennington.
Martha Jane Cannery, also known as Calamity Jane was also a prominent figure in early Deadwood. She settled in Deadwood in 1876 and at various points claimed to have married Wild Bill Hickock but this was later disproved. She would nurse many people suffering from smallpox in the town and became an important and much loved figure even if she had often served as a prostitute from time to time in many of the town's brothels. In her later years she travelled with Buffalo Bill's Wild West Circus and when she died she was buried alongside Wild Bill in the Mount Moriah Cemetery.
In April 1877 Ellis Alfred Swearengen opened his Gem Theatre in the town. Swearengen enlisted young women to work as dancers but soon forced them into a life of prostitution. Women who worked for him were routinely beaten if they got out of hand. He turned them all into Laudanum so that he would have an hold over them.
The Gem was a massive success and claimed to gross over $5,000 a night during those early years. Swearengen was arrested by Sheriff Bullock many times for assualt, disturbing the peace and non payment of taxes. In 1878 the sheriff had the Gem closed an auctioned to pay off debts. But no one had the guts to bid and so Swearengen kept the place and continued trading.
There is no clear photograph of Swearengen but it is thought that the man in the stage at the far left of the Gem in the photograph below is him.
All the wildness seen on the TV and in the books was there in the real Deadwood and then some....
Thursday, 20 November 2008
I don't think I would have read this book were it not for Pattie's forgotten book feature. I bought it along with another Autry book, both in superb condition, for my collection of western related books. But I thought it would be an unusual choice for a Forgotten Friday tome and so I decided I'd read it and I'm glad I did actually.
Once I got used to the prose style the story zinged along and gave me everything I should expect from a western - wagon trains, indians, shoot outs, romance - this book has it all in spades.
It's billed as Gene Autry and the Badmen of Broken Bow -an original story featuring Gene Autry, famous motion picture star as the hero by Snowden Miller with illustrations by Peter Alvarado. A quick Google search on the author revealed that he also penned Roy Rogers novels but gave me very little else - ditto, the artist.
The book was published in 1951 and the copyright is assigned to Gene Autry. It was made and printed by Purnell and Sons of Somerset under licence from Western Printing in Winconsin.
It's a great read that makes you feel like a kid again.......
These two books are set during the Great War, as are all the others released by Commando this month, as a tribute to the brave men and women who served in the war to end all wars. Visit their website for some interesting features on the Great War that will add to the enjoyment of the books.
The first Mongrel Squadron is a story of those early fighter pilots whose planes were sometimes as hazardous to them as the enemy.
The second title is Battlefield Bike which tells a thrilling story set in the early days of the war.
Other World War One books released are Valley of Death, Barging into Battle,Roar of the Guns,Fathers and Sons,Desert Dogfight and Stormtrooper.
In a related point a week ago last Sunday I was in a supermarket when the clock sounded eleven am and the traditional two minutes of silence started. I'm always amazed how well this is observed, particularly with the teenagers who you'd think wouldn't give the great sacrifices made so long ago a second thought. The entire store fell quiet, all movement stopped in the car park outside as we all thought about those grim times so long ago.
I always find this touching and will always wear my poppy with pride.
Wednesday, 19 November 2008
It's that time of year again when the Annuals are hitting the book shops.
So what does the Tainted Archive do?
Simple we look at an annual that was on sale in 1958 and based around the legendary John Wayne.
The book was published by World Distributors of Manchester England. I'm not sure if it contains material created especially for the British market or if it is reprints of American material? Was there a John Wayne annual in the States? Was there a comic book for that matter?
There are eight stories, six of them containing John Wayne as a character.
"John Wayne turned up the collar of his coat against an icy wind off the Thames as he and Superintendent Boyd Turned into Whitehall." -From John Wayne at Scotland Yard
Isn't that just wonderful.
I got this book of Ebay and only ended up paying £5 which I thought was a bargain. It makes for a curious addition to the archive.
I can't help feeling that Children were so much luckier in years gone bye. OK - they didn't have Playstations or Ipods or mobile phones. They didn't have the internet to help with their homework, nor did they have 24 hour television. But what they did have was rickets, small-pox and lovely books like these.
This comic, billed as the Lone Ranger Companion is a good example of the quality artwork and storytelling that made the Dell name a giant with early comic book collectors.
The publishers details on the inside cover tells us that this is Tonto no 17 Nov-Jan 1955. It is published quarterly by Dell Publishing Co. Subscriptions are 40C a year domestic and 70C a year foreign.
I have reproduced the first strip here - the strip on the back cover is the finale of the second strip. The comic contained two full length stories.