Saturday 31 October 2009



Dracula Lives

DRACULA is, according to the film archive, the second most filmed fictional character in the world. The vampire comes out just behind Sherlock Holmes. Bram Stoker didn't known how correct he was when he said Dracula was immortal. Out of all the actors who have played the bloodsucking Count perhaps the best known are Bela Lugosi and Christopher Lee.

The character though is bigger than them all and has in one way or another appeared in most mediums - film, television, comic books, novels, computer games. The image has been used on clothing, toys and just about anything else at one time or another. The character has been used to sell toothpaste as well as ice lollies.

The original novel was first published in 1897 - the Victorians loved Gothic melodrama and the book was an immediate sensation - it's never been out of print and today the book is in the public domain and can be downloaded as an Ebook from Project Gutenberg. The book, although ponderous in places, still reads rather well today. It's made up mostly of a series of journal entries and newspaper cuttings and although the language can be over formal to the modern eye it does captivate. I read it on my Elonex and I enjoyed it. It's one of those classics I've always meant to read but never gotten around to it until I got an Ereader. The easy and free availability of these public domain classics has given me the push I needed to start exploring the wonderful worlds of literature past. The novel recently got an official sequel with Dracula The Undead which was written from Stoker's own notes by Dacre Stoker, who is a descendant of Stoker himself.

It's influence is never ending and vampires, all much in the Dracula mould, are big business - The Twilight series, although on the face of it a million miles away from the Gothic melodrama, owes much to the old pain in the neck.

Dracula Lives...he does indeed.


When I was a kid Halloween wasn't such a big deal as is it today. We'd often have some fun and games like ducking for apples while blindfolded but that was pretty much it - all that trick or treating was an American thing and although the origins of Halloween are Celtic and seem to have originally come from the British Isles, it was the Americans who were making the big fuss. It's still a massive event Stateside but we have caught up and these days the shops are decorated with plastic skeletons, pumpkins and spiderwebs weeks before the big day.

From the WIKI: The celebration has some elements of a festival of the dead. The ancient Celts believed that the border between this world and the Otherworld became thin on Samhain, allowing spirits (both harmless and harmful) to pass through. The family's ancestors were honoured and invited home whilst harmful spirits were warded off. It is believed that the need to ward off harmful spirits led to the wearing of costumes and masks. Their purpose was to disguise oneself as a harmful spirit and thus avoid harm. In Scotland the spirits were impersonated by young men dressed in white with masked, veiled or blackened faces.

Halloween in the UK today is a reason to go wild - and it is causing some problems with gangs of youths throwing eggs and flour at people - I've, in the past, had some dim witted chav throw an egg at my car as I drove past. They leave a bloody mark in the paintwork, you know. But for the most part it's a fun event with gangs of young kids going around in costume, special events and horror film marathons on the TV.

Ahh well,Christmas will be next.

NEXT ON THE ARCHIVE - DRACULA...make sure you come back, you'll be fangful you did.


It might be fitting to point you towards the Archive's SHAUN HUTSON INTERVIEW

Friday 30 October 2009


Hammer Film Production was originally started up by British Theatre Chain owner, Enrique Carreras and comedian William (Hammer) Hinds. The company was set up to produce a small amount of films for British domestic release by Exclusive. Eventually the company branched out and by obtaining a US partner they were able to get their films into the lucrative American markets.

Hammer were clever in their initial choice of films - carefully selecting popular UK radio shows and theatre hits to film which ensured a ready made audience. These film boasted an almost exclusively British cast but there was always a token American to soften the affect of all those British accents for other markets.

Hammer's first major success was a movie adaptation of the popular BBC series, The Quatermass Experiment . The film was huge in the UK but had an even greater success when it was released in the US in 1956. The film was retitled The Quatermass Xperiment for the US release which referred to its X certificate which was much the same as an 18 certificate today.

It was clear to the film company that horror and SF was going to be a big part of its future - the first films into production were a sequel to Quatermass and a remake of Frankenstein. Originally the Curse of Frankenstein was to be shot in black and white but at director, Terence Fisher's urging they decided to go with a colour version.

When the film was in the can Hammer sold the US distribution to Warner Brothers and it opened in the US to terrible reviews and even worse ones in the UK. The Observer's film critic said, it is one of the most repulsive films I have ever seen. And whilst the film may seem tame by today's standards, it did show a bit more gore, not to mention cleavage than was the norm for the period.

The film, critical flop, was a huge commercial hit, taking £5 million and it made the company a hot property and now American distributors were knocking on their door. It is worth noting that the gore, severed hands, gouged eyeballs and basic mayhem which shocked audiences set the benchmark for horror cinema.

Hammer would now become synonymous with horror as they began a cycle of movies that would see them tackle most of the familiar ghouls and ghosties - Dracula, The Wolfman, The Mummy, Zombies, Graverobbers and even Jack the Ripper. And although the company would continue in other genres, British comedy especially, it was for their horror films that they are best remembered. Indeed the company still exists today and recently released an all new movie,their first for many a year, Beyond the Rave onto the web and this can now be purchased on DVD. Check them out HERE

Frankenstein was followed up in 1958 with The Horror of Dracula which was an even bigger success. And Christopher Lee made an even better Dracula than Bela Lugosi who had so memorably played the character in Universal's version of the story. Again the critics were unkind but these days the film has become to be regarded as an all time classic - some critics have even placed it in the top 5 British movies ever made.

The Quatermass Experiment (1956) - dated but still tingles with tension.

The Curse of Frankenstein (1957) - Ushers in a new age of gruesome horror

Horror of Dracula (1958) - Hammer's best film. Christopher Lee makes a great and sinister vampire and the sexual aspect, previously hidden away in the subtext, was brought to the fore.

The Revenge of Frankenstein (1958)-The films starts up a second after the first movie ended and sees Baron Frankenstein escape the guillotine.

The Mummy(1959) - superior in every way to the Boris Karloff version

The Curse of the Werewolf (1960) - Oliver Reed is superb in this Gothic version of the ancient folk tale. He doesn't make such a tragic figure as Lon Chaney Jnr in the Universal Wolf-man, but the film is well acted and the set pieces are brilliantly staged.

The Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires (1974) - This mesh-up of martial arts and vampires is good trashy fun.

As the films went on and the audiences dwindled the company upped the gore and the sexual content with mixed results. Of their later output The Karnstein trilogy which was loosely based on Camilla is well worth seeing - starting off with The Vampire Lovers (1970) and continuing with Lust for a Vampire(1971) and Twins of Evil (1972). The trailer for Vampire Lovers is embedded below.


AD 1972 - The vampire in Swinging modern day London. Fab as well as scary.

Plague of the Zombie (1965) - although this drags in places it is effective in delivering chills but only if you can stay awake. Though many do rate this film highly.

To the Devil a Daughter (1966) - A flop at the time but this version of the Dennis Wheatley novel has stood the test of time.

Dracula Has Risen from the Grave (1968) - Christopher Lee back as Dracula. Nuff said.

During the 70's Hammer found that their brand of gothic horror was becoming old fashioned next to films like The Excorsist and Rosemary's Baby and George Romero had set a new benchmark for gore with Night of the Living Dead. The studio, although still making the odd horror movie, devoted most of its energies to big screen versions of popular British TV sitcoms such as On The Buses and Man About the House. The last film of the original Hammer was 1979's remake of the Hitchcock classic The Lady Vanishes with Elliot Gould in the starring role. It was hoped this film would rekindle the ailing studio's fortunes but the film flopped and the studio went to the wall. Film production ended and the company produced several successful TV series but these were Hammer productions in name only and the exuberance of past films had vanished forever.

These days I don't much like horror films - the genre has become largely teen and slasher obsessed but from time to time there is an old Hammer movie on TV and I'll watch it. They have the look of a costume drama and the landscape is lensed in a Gothic fashion - the skies are always dark and foreboding, the moon always full, the wind always howls and any blood spilt is impossibly red. And of course there is always that cleavage as buxom wenches once again fall victim of the suave vampire. They sure don't make em like they used to.

Hammer have been revived in recent years and there is talk of a big budget horror movie from the studio. Maybe it will work - maybe the horror genre has gone as far as it can with splatter and effects and maybe now is the time for the return of Gothic horror. Maybe one day we will see the Hammer name up in lights would be nice to think so.

Confessions of a Horror Fan

For a period in my early Twenties I was a horror nut - my viewing and reading had to be in the scary genre, I voraciously read the works of Stephen King, James Herbert, Clive Barker, Guy N. Smith, Shaun Hutson, I became friends with horror author, Steve Harris after interviewing him for a magazine, I would stay up until stupid-O'clock if anything even vaguely horror related was on the TV. For several years back then I used to write for magazines like Samhain, Skeleton Crew, Interzone, Peeping Tom and even selling a spooky little story to the radio. Alas, this one was never broadcast and seemed to vanish with the change of producers. I wrote many stories for the small press horror mags, all the while wishing I could be as prolific as D. F. Lewis who seemed to pop up everywhere - anyone remember him?

There was a great magazine out called Fear and I never missed an issue - it was published by Newsfield Publications who were big in the computer gaming magazine market. The magazine was edited by John Gilbert, a huge and knowledgeable horror fan, and featured as much coverage of books as it did of films. For a genre magazine it was very intelligent and I was gutted when it eventually folded.

It was this magazine that encouraged me to try the old masters - Poe, Lovecraft and co. And although I moved onto other genres I still hold a lot of these old macabre classics in high esteem. The Monkey's Paw, for instance, I still rate as one of the best short stories I've ever read. And I was once so into Poe that I wrote a short story entitled, A Continuation of the facts concerning M. Valdermar.

These days the horror genre seems to be gore obsessed rather than concentrating on creating unease in the reader/viewer it goes for gross out which, in my opinion, isn't half as effective. The big names are still out there Stephen King especially and although James Herbert is still writing I find his recent books derivative and think his last classic was the elegiac Magic Cottage.

So has the horror genre lost it's bite?

I don't think so - like the western, the horror genre has been pronounced dead many times but it's still out there kicking about, refusing the remain in its mouldering grave. And this Halloween the Archive is going over to the dark side for many horror related posts.

Next up - HAMMER FILMS: The studio that dripped blood and boobs.

The festival of Samhain

It's that time of year again:

Coming up on the Archive:

The origins of Halloween
The Universal Creature Features
Dracula V Dracula V Dracula
The horror genre in literature

And more, including Wild West Monday preparations.

Thursday 29 October 2009


1 - Mountain Man by Vardis Fisher
2-The Virginian by Owen Wister
3-Telegraph Days by Larry McMurtry
4-Broken Trail by Alan Geoffrion
5-Brimstone by Robert Parker
6-Searcher by Bruce Boxleiter
7-Lucky Luke Vol 18 by Rene Goscinny
8-Sacket's Land by Louis L'Amour
9-The Western Trail by Ralph Compton
10-The Tarnished Star by Jack Martin


The Daily Telegraph reports that:

After years of library membership declining and fears that the public no longer wanted to borrow books, some institutions are reporting a spike in interest since they started to offer e-books.

Only a handful of libraries have started to offer the service, but many in the library world are hopeful that the revolution in digital reading can help transform libraries' fortunes, and that the majority of libraries will soon offer downloads as a matter of course, alongside the latest Dan Brown paperback.

She said there had been a sharp increase in members, as a result, with more than 250 new users signing up, even though only local residents could join the service. Other librarians agreed more people had become members since e-books became available, though no official figures are yet available.

So far Essex, Luton and Windsor & Maidenhead libraries offer the service, but others including Hampshire, Liverpool and Norfolk are planning to start the scheme.

It works by members of libraries logging onto a website, either at the library or at home, typing in their library membership number and downloading the books to their computer. They can then transfer those books onto their e-book devices such as Sony's Reader, iRex Techologies' iLiad or the Cool-er. The only device you can't use is Amazon's Kindle, because the device only works with Kindle proprietary software.

Readers do not need to remember to take their books back on time – a perennial problem for many consumers, because the digital book automatically deletes itself from their machine after 14 days.

Tony Durcan, former president of The Society of Chief Librarians, said: "Book issues have seriously declined in recent years.

"This is an exciting development. These are not going to replace the paper book, they are as well as."

He pointed out that e-books were not only cheaper, because of the lack of wear and tear and thefts, but they also offered great opportunities for older housebound readers. That is because with most devices you can enlarge the font size to as large as you like, which will help people with failing eyesight.

Newcastle, where he is chief librarian, is considering buying some e-book reading devices to lend to older, housebound residents.

According to the department of Culture, Media and Sport, annual visits to the library have declined from 302 million a decade ago to 280 million, with the decline in book loans far sharper.


This Monday is Wild West Monday - do your bit, folks.

This is also your last chance to sign our petition in support of the western - so get to it HERE

Buffalo Bill congressional medal owner

Yep, it’s true. He is by every definition of the word, a civilian contractor and he is a Medal of Honor recipient. Matter of fact, he, along with several other famous wild west legends were contractors as well. Men like Robert Denbow, David L. Payne, and Wild Bill Hickok were all civilian Scouts hired by the US Army to hunt and kill Indians during that long war for the west. Not to mention the hundreds of Indians hired by the US Army to be Scouts. What they paid these guys back then was interesting too. Cody was getting paid I believe 5 dollars a day, versus 12 dollars a month for the enlisted man in the Army. (sound familiar?) FULL STORY


UPDATE 2012 - Arkansas Smith will be available as an eBook on April 30th - pre-order at Amazon now

There's a ultra early advance review of Arkansas Smith HERE.

Ms. Powers reviews an early draft of the novel and she seemed to like it.

"There is a sadness about Arkansas Smith that I found unsettling and yet compelling. He has a "void deep inside himself that felt on times like a cavity in his soul. It was a need for identity that would always be there and would never be fulfilled." He's a man of few words and when he smiles, it's a grim smile that hints at a lot of tragedies played out in the past. He is an enigma who keeps his personal history to himself and who doesn't offer up too many explanations. While we are caught up in the dilemma at hand, we are never allowed to forget that we are dealing with a mysterious man here who has a few bones to pick with the world. In the post-modern world, he would be diagnosed as clinically depressed. In the 19th century western, though, he's simply trying to deal with the hand that's been dealt him." Laurie's Wild West

It's out next March from Black Horse Westerns and can be pre-ordered now. Pre-ordering is always a good option as the size of the print run is often dictated by the pre-orders and no monies will be deducted from bank accounts until the book is on the way to you.

Pre-order Arkansas Smith HERE

Wednesday 28 October 2009


The Best of Battle
Titan Books

I didn't think I'd get this book in my grubby hands - it originally appeared on publisher's listings back last year and then had it's publication pushed back several times. Well it's here now and was it worth the wait?

Well yes I believe it was.

It's bound in a limp card cover - in the same style as last year's Roy of the Rovers. There are eighteen favourite strips from the war comic collected here .

D Day Dawson, Day of the Eagle, The Bootneck Boy, Rat Pack, Major Easy, Fighter from the sky, Hold Hill 109, Darkie's Mob, Panzer G Man, Joe Two Beans, Johnny Red, The Sarge, Hellman of Hammer Force, Crazy Keller, The General Dies at Dawn, Charley's War, Fighting Man and Death Squad.

This collection features several strips from each story so that, unlike other best of collections, you are getting mostly a full story for each strip. Even if Day of the Eagle leaves us with the impression that Hitler was assassinated by Mike Nelson.

The strips are wonderfully reproduced, often clearer than the original comics and it's a nice touch to leave the original advertisements on the strips. Each strip features a brief introductory essay which gives you the facts of the story in question These essays are, where possible written by the original creators and add a nice dimension to their relevant strips.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I think anyone who is interested in vintage British comics will do so too - there's also great news in the back of the book with the announcement that further collections, this time story specific are to come. The collections listed are Johnny Red, Darkie's Mob, Rat Pack and Major Easy. No date is given for these titles only the enticing - COMING SOON.

I've written previously about my admiration for the Battle Picture Weekly comic and obviously there is a nostalgic kick for me to be reading this graphic novel collection. But that aside this is a great example of boy's adventure comics. And the thing is they still stand up well today. The strip pictured above, Hellman of Hammer Force told of the war from a German perspective which was unusual for comics in those days since most of them treated the Germans as stereotypical Nazies.But not Battle and Hellman wasn't the only strip Battle produced with the protagonist being from the other side, so to speak. Panzer G-man, also featured in this collection, was another. As was Fighter from the Sky which is also featured. It all helped to give the comic more depth than was usual for the time. Charley's War for instance was an anti-war story set during the First World War that sought to realistically portray trench warfare and the senseless waste of the conflict.

There was still plenty of gung ho action - Rat Pack, were a more sleazy version of The Dirty Dozen and Major Easy was a James Coburn lookalike who was the most undisciplined soldier in the entire army. And that's not to mention the tough as nails, Sarge and the mysterious Joe Darkie.

In short a superb collection - well done Titan Books and hurry up and bring out those other collections.

Do I look like a bloody terrorist????

I was challenged by the police today and told my activities could have terrorist implications - what was I doing, you ask. Well I was merely taking photographs of this interesting old building, a disused flour mill in fact, in Avonmouth near Bristol.

The conversation went like this:

Police: What are you doing, sir?

Me: I'm taking pictures of this interesting old building.

Police: Well you'll have to leave as your actions have terrorist implications. I won't make you delete the photographs but you'll have to leave.

Me: No you won't make me to delete the pictures. They are private property.

Police: If you refuse to move on I shall have no option but arrest you.

I then thought up some rude insults but decided against giving them voice. I tucked my camera under my arm and jumped back in the car. And this is not the first time I've been stopped when out and about with my camera. Talk about a free country - well you could but not in the same sentence as the words United Kingdom.

And just so you can see I was not in any way in a sensitive area this webpage shows the building and gives its grid reference HERE


I was reading about old Queen Vic. Well, maybe she outlived her time. Maybe she was a museum piece but she never lost her dignity or sold her guns. She always kept her pride and went out in style. Now that's the kind of old bird I'd like to meet - John Wayne, The Shootist.

I myself never surrendered but they got my horse and it surrendered - Chief Dan George, The Outlaw Josie Wales

A gun is as good or as bad as the person using it - Alan Ladd, Shane

Honey we all got to go sometime, reason or no reason. Dying's as natural as living - man who's afraid to die is afraid to live - Clark Gable, The Misfits


It's Wednesday which means it's time for another trawl around the wild west web in search of the best western content - THE STORY WITH NO NAME is over on Broken Trails. This is part 13 and is penned by none other than western favourite Jack Giles. There are also links to the previous instalments. The Archive is saddened to learn that the Louis L'Amour project is no more - Chris just doesn't have to time to maintain the blog but we do hope he comes back one day. Jeff Smith of Soapy Smith's soapbox has been out and about promoting his new bookie - check it out HERE.

James Reasoner's blog Rough Edges has been taken over by a guest blogger - Norman German tells us about his latest historical crime novel which will be of interest to western fans. There's also a chance to get one of the book in a giveaway draw. What are you waiting for - get over there! There's always some interesting information on the old western pulps over on Laurie Powers' blog.

The always excellent Meridian Bridge has just published a great post which is essential reading for tech savvy western fans - the piece looks at the western fiction currently available as Ebooks and provides some great links. This takes my vote for most useful post of the week.

Go to Black Horse Express for all you Black Horse Western news - the blog maintained by Ian Parnham is the place that collects together links to all of the Black Horse information on the wild west web. Head over to Ed Gorman's blog for his unique marketing campaign - buy this book, I need the money. Click on the image left to go to the Book Depository where you can get the book at a great price which includes free worldwide delivery.

And finally for this week Davy Crockett's Almanac is worth visiting daily - scrub that, visit several times a day. This guy is such a prolific poster that we've got him lined up for a feature as part of the Archive's Sherlock Holmes weekend coming on 7th November 2009. Like The Archive, the Almanac is varied in the subjects its covers with a large percentage having a western interest.

That's it for now - another round up next week.

Happy trails.

Tuesday 27 October 2009


I've never seen this hilarious skit before - it's the Beatles doing Shakespeare


The West is a free online western based RPG - that's role playing game for unhip cats like me. I'm lost in the game but I think it's fun - check it out HERE


Ray Foster AKA western author Jack Giles reports of a new addition to the family over on his blog, Broken Trails.

"Our little granddaughter weighed in at 7lb 11oz and she is doing well. "

Congratulations to Ray and his family from the Archive and all its readers


Charts courtesy of Black Horse express - these are Amazon's current bestselling Black Horse westerns.

1. Arkansas Smith by Jack Martin (Hardcover - 31 Mar 2010)

2. Kinsella's Revenge by Mark Falcon (Hardcover - 30 Sep 2004)

3. Comanche Country by Greg Mitchell (Hardcover - 30 April 2009)

4. The Mexican Bandit: A Zococa Novel by Roy Patterson (Hardcover - 30 Jan 2001)

5. Hangtown by Logan Winters (Hardcover - 30 Oct 2009)

6. Bushwhacker by Bill Morrison (Hardcover - Oct 2004)

7. Shannon by Dempsey Clay (Hardcover - Nov 2003)

8. This Man Kills by Ben Nicholas (Hardcover - 31 Oct 2005)

9. The Frontiersmen by Elliot Conway (Hardcover - 29 Oct 2004)

10. Hell-ride by Vic J. Hanson (Hardcover - Nov 1992)


Any list such as this is bound to be contentious and this is my list of what I consider to be the ten best Wayne western. It will be interesting to know what other Duke fans think.

1 The Searchers - 1956 - Maybe the best western ever made and to my mind Wayne's best movie and director John Ford's masterpiece. It was the third most successful western of the Fifties, taking $4.9 million.

2 Red River - 1948- perhaps Wayne's most complex performance. Gary Cooper was originally lined up for the lead role but now it is difficult to think of anyone buy Wayne in the role. The film took $3 million and catapulted Wayne into top ten list of cinema stars.

3 Rio Bravo 1959 was a massively successful western, so good in fact that director Howard Hawks remade it not once but twice. It was released in March 1959 and has remained a fan favourite ever since.

4 The Man who shot Liberty Valance -1962 - The Duke teams up with James Stewart and Lee Marvin for this wonderfully melodramatic western which is full of iconic moments.

5 Stagecoach-1939- The film that dragged Wayne out of B-movie hell and made him a box office favourite, a position he would maintain until his death in 1979. The film was a critical and commercial success. From now on Wayne was the screen cowboy.

6 The Shootist -1976 - Wayne's last film is a beautiful meditation on growing old and the last days of the West. Wayne plays J. B. Books, an ageing gun slinger dying of cancer. James Stewart, in his last western, is the Duke's doc and even at this advanced age the chemistry between the two starts lights up the screen. And Lauren Bacall is excellent as Wayne's landlady. A brilliant and fitting swansong for a screen legend.

7 True Grit - 1969 - Henry Hathaway and John Wayne are reunited for this western classic that saw Wayne take his one and only Oscar. It was massive at the box office and is a delight from start to finish. Fill your hand you son-of-a-bitch.

8 Hondo - 1953 -based on a Louis L'amour novel and originally filmed in 3D which perhaps explains why it is not shown as much as the Duke's other westerns. It's a great movie though and one which has been given a packed DVD release as part of the John Wayne collection.

9 El Dorado is basically a remake of Rio Bravo but with Robert Mitchum in the Dean Martin role. There is much debate over which is actually the better film but has Rio Bravo came first I would have to plump for that movie. This though is a stunning movie with Mitchum dominating every scene he appears in.

10 She Wore a Yellow Ribbon 1949 is the middle film in John Ford's cavalry trilogy. Wayne, under heavy make up, plays an ageing character who is serving out his last days on the American frontier. It took an impressive $2.7 million on its first release and has become an evergreen classic. Simply wonderful.

The sons of Katie Elder (1965)

A great cast headed up by The Duke and Dean Martin and directed by Henry Hathaway, The Son's of Katie Elder is a great middle period Wayne western. Wayne had been diagnosed with cancer the year before shooting on this film began and underwent successful surgery. He was expected to take a year or so to recuperate but like the characters he played The Duke was so much larger than life and by January of 1965 he was filming this movie.

John Sturges was originally slated the direct the movie but when he became unavailable Henry Hathaway, a one time actor who had switched to directing in 1932 and cut his teeth on several B-westerns based on Zane Grey books.

The film had success written all over it and the producers were delighted when they managed to bring Wayne and Dean, who had worked together so wonderfully in Rio Bravo, back together. It was filmed in Durango which would become a favourite filming location for Wayne and had a rousing score from Elmer Bernstein which evoked the high drama of films like The Magnificent Seven - both share the same brassy backing.

The film was released in July 1965 and was so successful that Johnny Cash recorded a tie-in single that wasn't featured in the film. It initially grossed $6 million at the US box office putting it in the top ten westerns of the 60's just behind The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

Following Katie Elder, Wayne would continue playing veteran characters, often wearing the same costume, for the rest of his filming days - El Dorado followed in 1966 and the much underrated War Wagon came about in 1967 and director, Hathaway was later reunited with Wayne for the Oscar winning, True Grit in 1970 which took a then massive $14 million at the box office.

The Sons of Katie Elder is an all time western classic which all the correct ingredients - whilst is isn't quite in the same league as The Searchers or Red River it would certainly rank in the top ten Wayne westerns. If you haven't see it then you'd better remedy that straight away and if you have seen it then maybe a repeat viewing is warranted.

RELATED: There is a great John Wayne fan site HERE

Johnny Cash Son's of Katie Elder



After several postponements the long awaited collection, Best of Battle Vol 1 is finally available. Amazon insists that I'll get my copy tomorrow so expect a review here soon.

I'm really looking forward to this one.

Monday 26 October 2009

Jack Martin News

I am pleased to tell you that my Western short story, A Man called Masters is to be included in a new Ebook - details will follow soon. But I'm especially pleased about this because it is widely predicted that Ebook readers will be the must have gadget over the Christmas period.

Tarnished Star Available now
Arkansas Smith Pre order now

"Mr Dobbs makes intelligent use of the established conventions of the Western, and has produced a brisk, slick, and hard-hitting slice of entertainment. The action sequences are plentiful and competent, and a tense finale is served with a twist as Masters and Sam face off in their inevitable duel. This is fine genre fiction and a sterling first effort from a new author. I have no doubt that we’ll be hearing a lot more from Mr Dobbs in years to come, and that The Tarnished Star will delight all Western fans." - Rafe Mcgregor author of Architect of Murder


Morse has gone, so has Rebus and now in her latest novel Ruth Rendell says goodbye to Inspector Wexford.

One of the best-written detective series in the genre's history is ending. With "The Monster in the Box," Ruth Rendell says farewell to Reginald Wexford, her popular chief inspector of Kingsmarkham, a small Sussex town south of London. The author talking to the Daily Telegraph said : "I don't want to do any more Wexfords. I have other interests now."

Rendell turned 79 this year. Her tone in the 22nd Wexford novel is elegiac, as she looks back over his career and, implicitly, her own. Author and character debuted in 1964 in "From Doon With Death." Ever since, she has been misleading readers and critiquing social change in England. She writes sly, literate prose and spins intricate plots; several Wexfords stand among the finest detective stories ever written, especially "A Sleeping Life," "Simisola" and "Harm Done." Rendell has also published two dozen non-series crime novels and more than a dozen others under the name Barbara Vine. Her list of honors is longer than most authors' bibliographies.

Whatever Rendell does with her writing in the future, one thing is certain - it'll be something to look forward to.

DIGITAL Books the saga continues

Even as the public begins to warm to the idea of electronic reading devices - the days if the dedicated e-book reader may well be numbered. While e-readers do meet the basic reading needs of many people, these devices don't offer much flexibility when it comes to allowing publishers to be truly creative with content and extend the possibilities of storytelling.

Take, for example, the pictorial coffee table book. I love the bright sharp pictures in those sorts of titles, and the role they play in telling a story. Unfortunately, today's e-readers can't deliver color or even sharp images—they're really just digital text readers. There is interesting work being done in the screen space, but even if manufacturers do design a color digital ink screen, it will drive costs up immensely. In fact, at present, the most expensive part of the Kindle is its display. It's the main reason that the Kindle costs as much as it does. FULL STORY


Weekly Stats Report: 19 Oct - 25 Oct 2009

Unique Visitors1381791931782171731651,243178
First Time Visitors107133152148165135140980140
Returning Visitors3146413052382526338

Sunday 25 October 2009

Here we go again

I'm on a film set all day but expect fresh posts on the Archive this evening - It's a week to go to Wild West Monday folks so we gotta get you in the mood.

In the meantime (shameless self promotion warning) I leave you with another Arkansas Smith advert:

PRE-ORDER the book now from Amazon UK - no monies will be deducted from your account until the book is ready to ship.

Product Description
Arkansas Smith: the name was legend. Once he had been a Texas Ranger, but now he was something else entirely. Some said he was an outlaw, a killer of men and a fast draw. Others claimed he was a kind of special lawman, dispensing frontier justice across the West and bringing law to the lawless. Arkansas Smith arrives in Red Rock looking for those who shot and left his friend for dead. He vows to leave no stone unturned in his quest to bring the gunmen to justice and, soon, those who go against him must face the legendary fast draw that helped tame the West. THE FOLLOW UP TO THE BESTSELLING TARNISHED STAR - ARKANSAS SMITH BY JACK MARTIN.

Good news

Keith Chapman, AKA Chap O'Keefe wrote to the Archive to inform us that:


As you know, Yahoo's withdrawal of its GeoCities sites from October 26 has meant the book excerpts/samples I had for free reading online had to be relocated.

Last week, I shifted the lot to and got off to a good start when the Tainted Archive and Ian Parnham's Black Horse Express blog gave links to the chapter from the latest book, Faith and a Fast Gun.

Today I received an email from hosting service,, beginning:

Congrats - Your site with username chapokeefe is in the Top 1% of all sites created this week!
My thanks to everyone who has visited, and to yourself, Ian and anyone else who may have included a link at their blog.


The Archive says: That's the power of the wild west web!

You can't keep the Black Horse down

My recent post on Black Horse Westerns has been re-posted over on Laurie's Wild West site.


I've been following the E-book development with interest. Unlike some I do believe that digital books are the future and that they can happily co-exist with regular books but market analysts don't think so and are predicting a rise on Ebooks sales year on year until regular books all but vanish

Amazon reported that 5% of its book sold are ebooks but market analysts are predicting double sales next year in 2010, as well as predicting the eventual death of the brick and mortar book store.
Analysts say that as sales of digital formats rise, sales of regular books will decline, meaning that book stores will begin to see fewer and fewer sales, making them non-viable in a fast growing market sector.

I do hope that is now the case and that the advent of the Ebook is positive, that it will encourage people to take up reading again for pleasure and enjoyment. I can't wait to see the availability of long out of print genre fiction - westerns, mysteries, whatever. At the moment the emphasis is firmly on the battle of the Ereaders with Amazon's Kindle so far the market leader but its dominance looks shaky. I for instance love my Elonex but given its lack of flashy additions, its simply a reader, it looks like it will vanish from the market. Still it can take most formats including PDF and Epub so I'll always have something to read on it. NOTE - I've added this in 2016 and my current eReader of choice is the excellent Amazon Paperwhite

In fact the lack of commercially available reading material has benefited me - I've been downloading scores of Public Domain books from Gutenberg and the excellent Planet Ebook and I've been reading those classics that I'd always intended to read - in the last couple of months I've read and enjoyed Tom Sawyer, the entire Sherlock Holmes canon, Moonstone, 1984 and Riders of the Purple Sage as well as the Edge Ebook series. And a quick look around the Internet comes up with scores of pulp classics that I can enjoy at sometime in the future. All you need to do is convert them to PDF files and the Elonex can handle it.

I don't know what will happen in the future and I would hate to see regular books vanish but it is certain that The Archive will keep reporting on the digital book revolution.


Butch and Sundance, directed by George Roy Hill sees the western invent the buddy movie. It is also the western that non western fans can most enjoy.

Made in 1969 it is as much counterculture chic as western adventure and the pairing of Newman and Redford defines screen chemistry between male leading men. It is far more contemporary than any western has the right to be - with its hippie values, catchy soundtrack and humour it is very much a 60's West Coast Western.

The film starts with the caption: Most of what you are about to see is true.

But it's not - screenwriter William Goldman spent years researching his subject and then threw that research out of the window in favour of a comedy adventure with the bad guys as good guys. It's still a brilliant film and one of the most mainstream westerns in history. Sure the story and characters have hardly any relation to historical fact but that's not the point. And this is probably a far better movie than it would have been had the makers been concerned with making a realistic biopic.

It was filmed on a budget of $400,000 and on its initial release grossed $46 million in the US alone. The film was highly influential on the genre films that followed- on TV the comedy western Alias Smith and Jones even went as far as using the aliases Butch and Sundance used while in Bolivia - Pete Duel was Joshua Smith and Ben Murphy was Thaddus Jones. And the long running Starskey and Hutch owed much to Butch and Sundance.

There was a prequel made - Butch and Sundance: The Early Days but the film suffered without Newman and Redford to carry off the roles. And an interesting TV movie spin-off was Wanted: The Sundance Woman in which Katherine Ross reprised her role of Etta Place for a look at the characters adventures after her time with Butch and Sundance. Elizabeth Montgomery (best known for TV's Bewitched) also played Etta in 1973's Mrs Sundance.

This is the western to try if you're not a particular fan of the genre - the comedy action buddy movies of today have this film buried deep within their DNA - an excellent movie.

Saturday 24 October 2009


At the same time this eBook reader war has been capturing media attention, a price war has been brewing over paper books. Walmart has cut best-selling hardcover prices to $10 from their normal $24 price tags. Amazon (the same place that sells $9.99 eBooks and the $259 Kindle) has matched Walmart’s prices. Target, not to be outdone, has started pitching selected $9 hardcovers. Add to this the fact that most consumers cherish the flexibility of paper books—the ability to write in them, paste sticky notes in them, lend them to friends, and resell them when they are done with them—and the traditional book market is looking like it could make a comeback with consumers as well.

These two trends are combining into big concerns for both eBook reader makers and book sellers. Cash-strapped consumers may very well bypass eBook readers when paper books sell for the same prices as eBooks. Meanwhile, book publishers and sellers are worried that these price wars will kill off their businesses, ensuring no one makes any money in the book business. Oddly, eBook reader innovations have the potential to kill both the book and eBook reader businesses. full story

It's great to be Welsh

The following story is true and I wanted to bring it to Archive readers. Thanks to Tony for bringing this to my attention.

The following sign was displayed in the store window of a business in Glamorgan, South Wales


An absolute outrage, you would rightly think. That is until I tell you that the business was a funeral parlour. Who said undertaker's have no sense of humour - God bless the Welsh

Wishful thinking

Meme time again - this one was conjured up by Charles over at Razored Zen and I thought I'd have a go -

What five novels (other than your own) do you wish you had written?
1. Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry
2. Shane by Jack Schaefer
3. The Hunter by Richard Stark
4. Any of the Edge novels
5. Farewell my Lovely by Raymond Chandler

What five short stories (other than your own) do you wish you had written?
1. The Monkey's Paw
2. Survivor Type
3. The tell tale heart
4. Eric the Pie
5. Son of Celluloid

What five songs (other than your own) do you wish you had written?
1. Yesterday
2. Hey Jude
3. Half the world away
4. Anarchy in the UK
5. I'm only sleeping

What five movies do you wish you had written/directed?
1. Once Upon a Time in the West
2. Goldfinger
3. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
4. The Searchers
5. The Unforgiven

What five science/nonfiction books do you wish you’d written?
1. The Joy of Sex
2. ?
3. ?
4. ?
5. Gardening on a budget

What five games do you wish you had invented?
1. Chess
2. Scrabble
3. Adult Twister
4.Grand Theft Auto
5. Trivial Pursuit

What five movie lines do you wish you’d written?
1. A horse just ran over my head
2. Do you feel lucky, punk? Well, do you? Punk?
3. A man's gotta do what a man's gotta do
4. You were only supposed to blow the doors off
5. Nobody's perfect

Have a go - it's fun doing these lists.


Gary: Looks like no one needs that prize loot, Lil.

Lil: Maybe Tainted Archive readers are all too rich, Gary! If it isn't claimed, I'll give it to charity.

The Misfit Lil £100 prize competition -- with its announcement of a winner planned for Wild West Monday -- needs your entries NOW! Send them to with the subject header "Competition". The contest is open to everyone who has bought or is buying the new paperback Misfit Lil Cheats the Hangrope, but you don't have to have read the story yet to win the hundred quid or its equivalent in your currency of choice.

This was the question:

What is the link between Misfit Lil and Boris Karloff?

You can find the answer on the Net. To recap, there are five clues to date:

First clue: Education is a paramount trail to follow.

Second clue: When casting around for sign, google a name and a keyword, and explore the links you find at the search results.

Third clue: Online tracking is a breeze because everyone has access to the world's largest encyclopedia.

Fourth clue: When considering ties, the "old school" option is a good one.

Fifth clue: Savvy trackers are moving in on a place called Enfield.

Competition apart, you can read an excerpt from Misfit Lil Cheats the Hangrope here. ( )

Friday 23 October 2009


eBook Market Slow to Grow in Germany

For now, the eBook market in Germany is lagging far behind the US and other countries where eBook readers are being sold. In fact, according to numbers cited in the article, 10,000 readers have been sold in Germany. Recent projections have the Kindle selling 1.2M units in the US in the 4th quarter of 2009 alone (and that's just one manufacturer). German readers bought just 65,000 eBooks in the first six months of this year compared with some estimates that have Kindle owners buying 600,000 ebooks per *week*.

This is partly due to the way that Germany regulates its publishing industry keeping book prices artificially high in an effort to protect authors, publishers and small book sellers in a highly competitive marketplace, and partly because German publishers want to keep the prices of eBooks high.

To that end, eBooks are only made available only after the paper back version of book has hit stores, and then, unlike the US where the eBook is sold for a fraction of the cost of the hard cover version, German eBooks are sold at the cost of the cheapest printed version, not exactly making it an attractive buy to the average German consumer. FULL STORY

western snippets

I was an actor and I knew the West. The opportunity that I had been waiting for years was knocking on my door. Rise or fall, sink or swim I had to make western pictures - William S. Hart

I ride into a place owing my own horse, saddle and bridle - Tom Mix

High Noon - is the most un-American thing I've ever seen in my life. The last thing in the picture is old Coop putting the Marshall's badge under his foot and stepping on it. I'll never regret having helped run Carl Foreman out of the country - John Wayne

God created men but Colonel Colt made them equal - Unknown

Cowboys are romantics, extreme romantics, and ninety nine out of a hundred of them are sentimental to the core. They are orientated to the past and face the present only under duress and even then with extreme reluctance - Larry McMurtry

Western fiction news - Stephen Bly


By Stephen Bly


In the Old West, a person’s reputation often meant the difference between survival and death. So, it was a guarded commodity. For many cowboys, his reputation was the only thing of value he could rightly call his own. Lots of terms sprang up that described a man of good character. One of the more meaningful became the phrase “he’ll do to ride the river with,” the highest compliment paid to a cowman.

Back in the days of trail drives, cowboys had to swim thousands of heads of cattle across swollen and dangerous rivers. To make it across required riders of exceptional skill, courage, and level-headed thinking. You quickly learned who you could trust to ride those rivers with you.

We still look for that sort of companion. A good decision maker. Someone who seeks God’s wisdom. Keeps commitments. A friend who stays cool in a crisis. One who helps you cross the river of trials and troubles that intersect all our lives.

It’s not a bad goal for which to aim: become a person who’ll do to ride the river with.

On the trail,

Newest Release -- October 2009 -- Creede of Old Montana (hardback)*

Avery John Creede rides into Fort Benton, Montana, for a reunion with old army pals. He discovers a running gunfight with a notorious outlaw and two women determined to distract him, however they can.

Doctor Who and the Flux

  The BBC's Dr Who, soon to be  Disneyfied, is now sixty years old and much loved around the world - it has a legion of committed fans -...