Sunday, 31 July 2011
I asked Tony about his novels The Rifleman and Jake Rains.
So was it difficult after a lifetime spent with the brush to pick up the pen?
So then will there be more from Tony Masero the writer?
Indeed there is and Tony's next commission is to produce a cover image for my forthcoming novel, The Dead Walked which will see me switching to horror and the pen name Vincent Stark, but it's my bet that very soon the name Tony Masero will be as much associated with his writing as it is with his stunning artwork.
Find some of Tony's creations below:
International best-selling author John Locke (Saving Rachel, Wish List, Now & Then, Lethal People, Lethal Experiment) tackles a new genre, with hilarious results.
Follow the Stone (An Irreverent Western Adventure) is a good-hearted, rollicking story about a former gunslinger and his crablike scout, who journey West with a mail order bride, a witch, and a wagon full of prostitutes!
Our main strip, The Train Robbers was written by Keith Chapman in 1966 and published late summer 1967 in Boys' World Annual 1968. Keith (best known to us today as western novelist Chap O'Keefe) says, "It has nothing to do with the 1973 John Wayne movie written and directed by Burt Kennedy – except that the movie picked up the same title."
The simple, four-page comic-strip was very much a late entry in a tradition of UK-produced, boys' western comics that had been dominant in the 1950s before they were all but swept away by the growing popularity of World War II comics.
British kids and their parents in the late '40s and early '50s probably were not ready to see war as something to read about for fun. At worst, the revived memories of war could involve the loss of loved ones, homes, and property. At best, war was associated with shortages and rationing, which continued for luxuries like "sweets" (chocolate and candy) years after the war was over. Even story papers, comics and books had been affected by multiple closures and limitations on new periodicals; all print-and-paper production had been shaped by "authorized war economy standards".
The Wild West was a safer, mythical world of action and derring-do; a removed and different kind of "bang and he's dead." Among the new, post-war comics were the photogravure Sun and Comet, originally published in 1946 by J. B. Allen in provincial Cheshire but soon taken over by the London-based Amalgamated Press. In their early years, they published serial strips printed in distinctive green and red inks and sometimes based on Hollywood movies. Examples we show here from 1950 were based on the now-classic westerns A Ticket to Tomahawk and She Wore a Yellow Ribbon.
Elsewhere at the AP's Fleetway House in Farringdon Street, other staff turned their attention to a new format: monthly pocket-book comics of 64 pages containing complete stories, often featuring heroes who also starred in serials in the Fleetway weeklies. The digest size was probably chosen instead of US standard measurements for monthly comics because the company's presses had produced for years text-story "libraries" in the more compact, saddle-stitched format.
Cowboy Comics was launched in April 1950 and its initial stars were Buck Jones and Kit Carson. In mid-life, in 1957, the series title was changed to Cowboy Picture Library. By 1962, with many readers lost to War Picture Library and its like, the line was struggling. It folded in September of that year after 468 issues.
Meanwhile, midget rival publisher Micron Publications was launching a Western Adventure Library to fill the gap left by CPL. Its storylines didn't feature stock heroes but reflected the general run of adult western fiction. Under the editorship of Keith Chapman, who joined Micron from Fleetway, the scriptwriters for these new 64-page comic books included Vic J. Hanson (later a prolific Black Horse Western author) and Jacques Pendower, a veteran author of all kinds of genre novels, including westerns as Penn Dower and T.C.H. Jacobs. Western Adventure Library was quickly joined by a companion Cowboy Adventure Library, doubling the publisher's westerns to four books a month, thus matching output of its Combat Picture Library war series. Though the artwork was commissioned from the beginning through Spanish agencies, Micron's financial difficulties eventually led to its sourcing, translating and reprinting Spanish-language western comics produced by Barcelona publisher Editoral Ferma.
By late 1964, the ownership of Micron had changed, too, to its comics' overall detriment, and Keith Chapman was working for Odhams Books ... which brings our story back neatly to that company's Boys' World and The Train Robbers.
And because the Archive is the place where you always get more please enjoy these two pages that are sure to delight western fans, and then scroll down to read The Train Robbers. Don't forget you can click each image for a larger version.
And now The Train Robbers
"The fact that nothing ever needs to be out of print is, as far as I’m concerned, a big plus to digital publishing. It means that in theory everything ever written can be easily available. I also think that genres such as the western can reach a bigger audience as eBooks. I don’t really think there is a downside other to eBooks themselves since traditional books should be able to co-exist with this new technology. The ease of self publishing means that at the moment there is a lot of swill about and that could be seen as a downside, but quality will out and in time the bad writing will simply vanish. So long live the eBook."
We've already posted one other image and there'll be another three - that's five in all. All you have to do is take a long hard look at the image that accompanies this post. Study it and then look out for the other four severely cropped images over the weekend and then tell us which book these images come from. To make it all nice and easy each image used will have come from a book that will be featured during the weekend. You'll see the complete cover during the weekend and all you have to do is identify which cover the images were cropped from.
We will post all five images together on Wild West eMonday
After more than twenty years of living a life on the road, Delta Rose returns to the ranch he once owned with his fiancee, Etta James. A bullet wedged close to his heart has dealt Delta the dead man's hand. He soon discovers Etta has a secret: they have a son who, by now a young man, is in trouble. He is charged with both robbery and murder. Can Delta redeem himself for a past ill spent and save the life of the son he never knew he had?
The latest from Jack Martin, this was a literal page turner. I pulled it from my mail box Monday morning and finished it in one setting. I was easily pulled into these characters’ lives, always a good thing. FULL REVIEW
Once again Jack Martin takes his ingredients and turns them into a tasty treat. Incident piles upon incident that gathers speed until justice is seen to be done.
If you haven't read Jack Martin then you have missed a treat. Broken Trails Full Review
The movie that came from this book is, to my mind, the best western movie ever made and the book is just as good, if anything the book is far more powerful in dealing with the racist aspects of the lead character. Ethan Edwards becomes Amos Edwards in this great American masterpiece, which served as the basis for the classic John Wayne film, two men with very different agendas push their endurance beyond all faith and hope to find a little girl captured by the Comanche.
It's a brutal read but it doesn't pull any punches in dealing with attitudes that were common in frontier America. A true work of art.
Born on the wild frontier of East London, David Whitehead always wanted to write. As a child his father would pass on his old western books and also record stories he'd invented himself onto a tape for his young son to listen to.
And now that boy has become a man but that boyhood love of storytelling, and specifically westerns is still with him. To date he has penned almost fifty westerns under a handful of names as well as venturing from time to time into other genres. And now David is making many of his backlist titles available electronically which should excite any western fan. Just goes to show what we've been saying around here for ages now - if you're a western fan there's never been a better time to get a Kindle, Sony, Nook or other eReader.
David has used many names over the course of his career - Ben Bridges, Carter West to name but two of a wild bunch - but what's in a name? Is there any difference between a David Whitehead and a Ben Bridges for instance?
"Yes, there are subtle differences between the styles I use for the different pseudonyms.", David told the Archive. "Ben Bridges, for example, was always a tougher style with action as the main driving force, whereas my westerns as Glenn Lockwood (which have yet to appear in ebook format) were far more character-driven. Overall, however, I would say there are more similarities than differences. I hope always to tell a good, original story the old-fashioned way, with a beginning, a middle and an end."
"We need to be at the top of our game so that we can produce original westerns aimed at a more modern market." David Whitehead
The new electronic editions are sporting stunning new artwork, with a uniform look. The Archive liked the design, told David so and then wondered who the artist was.
David smiles, "Many thanks for your kind words regarding the covers," he said. " I like them, too! I buy the illustrations from various agencies and then design the cover text around them. I think it's important to have a recognisable 'house style'. I don't use photographic covers, for example, always illustrations. The text is always bright and eye-catching."
Eye catching indeed and the cover images evoke memories of the golden days of the westerns.
"I suppose I've been influenced by the good old days of Richard Clifton-Dey," David continued. "And Tony Masero and David McAllister. Anything I can do to recreate that feel of the old Piccadilly Cowboy days is all to the good."
"I was born wanting to write. And since my Dad took me to see all the western movies that were still being made during my childhood (the 1960s) and we were forever watching westerns on TV, and since he used to make up western stories for me and then read them into a reel-to-reel tape recorder so that I could listen to them while he was working evening shifts as a security man, the western seemed a natural genre for me." David Whitehead.
Bringing these modern western classics back into print via the digital medium must have presented more than a few problems. I have bought several eBooks over recent months in which the formatting is abysmal, with text running across the page as if set by an epileptic on cocaine, and yet the formatting in these editions is spot on. How much of a challenge was this?
"It was difficult to format the books for Kindle, David admits. "But only at the outset. It was very much a case of the blind leading the blind. But I had the great good fortune to have a wonderful friend in the shape of Malcolm Elliott-Davey, who writes westerns as Cody Wells and whose first BHW, SIX WAYS OF DYIN', is now awaiting publication. He educated me as to the right way to do this thing, and I will always be grateful to him for that."
And western fans should also be grateful to Malcolm Davey AKA Cody Wells because the books are now out there. There are some great titles in David's backlist and western fans should give one of these books a try, but prepare to dig deep and buy the rest. David's writing, like that of all great western writers, has an addictive quality. The books he wrote with Steve Hayes for instance are among the best I've read in many years.
"If there was no such thing as Kindle I would have started issuing them in paperback via a site like www.lulu.com. I would have probably issued them as uniform sets, say with blue spines for the O'Briens, yellow spines for The Wilde Boys, grey spines for the Judge and Durys etc., so that when you had the lot they would look really beautiful set out on your shelf. But that would have been an expensive proposition for the reader, especially when you think that we're talking about seventy books here. Kindle enables the reader to buy the book at a bargain price and receive it instantly as a download. It's more convenient all round."
Check out the new eBooks HERE
Steve M runs Western Fiction Review
Misfit Lil Cleans Up
A senseless killing stopped Jackson Farraday from investigating an odd situation in the raw mining settlement called Black Dog. For answers he tricked Lilian Goodnight into spying at the High Meadows cattle ranch.
Lil was dismayed to find range boss Liam O’Grady running a hatwire outfit crewed by deeper-dyed misfits than herself. Then she was obliged to save ex-British Army major Albert Fitzcuthbert – sent to investigating High Meadows by its owners – from renegade Indians.
Everybody had secrets: Lil’s childhood friend Liam; his spouse Mary, and Fitzcuthbert’s cruelly humiliated young wife, Cecilia. Lil was facing problems only her savvy, daring and guns could settle!
Chap O’Keefe definitely knows how to tell a good yarn, he immediately hooks the reader by introducing a number of questions, the answers to which Misfit Lil will have to struggle to find.
There is plenty of action in this fast moving tale and Misfit Lil makes for an engaging lead character. O’Keefe also includes brief mention of her past adventures – this being the fifth Misfit Lil book – that makes me want to find those books and discover just how she and the other characters, already known to her, came to like or dislike each other.
It is also unusual to find the main character, in a Black Horse Western, being female and, for me, this made a pleasant change.
Mention must also be made of the excellent cover painting – the artist sure knows how to use light, shadow, and hints of colour to great effect. This scene ties up nicely with an exciting chase of a stagecoach by Indians within the story.
When the book was originally released it sold out in twelve days! This must be some indication to how popular Chap O’Keefe’s westerns are.
I always like to follow bad news with good so I’ll remind you that Black Horse Westerns are first and foremost produced for libraries so there’s nothing to stop you going there and requesting a copy. I’m sure you’ll find it worthwhile.
Revenge by Fire
Steve Ross has been forced to give up the struggle to keep his small ranch going during Arizona’s worst drought in living memory. He intends to leave town in the morning, but events result in him being given an unusual ultimatum.
He must face the prospect of hanging for killing a man, or becoming the Deputy Marshal of Craigy Plains. Ross has never owed or fired a pistol, but following his appointment as a lawman he is taught how to handle a weapon by an old gunfighter. His prowess with a gun is soon given a severe test.
He is drawn into tragic events that put his own life in the greatest danger.
Although Steve Ross is the person who this story revolves around, Bill Williams spends as much time fleshing out the many other characters that fill this book. Although you don’t realise at first all these people will play important parts in bringing the many, seemingly, unrelated threads together by the end.
Bill Williams writes well and is very readable. He drops little hints as to what is going on and cleverly uses misdirection a couple of time to make you wonder as to just who has been killed. There is plenty of action but it’s Bill William’s character studies, their motives, the guessing of who is double-crossing whom and why, will Ross get back with Stephanie, and will any of them be alive at the end, kept me reading.
The final major showdown takes place a few chapters before the end, everyone’s true identities and fates resolved; or so you think, for Bill Williams continues the stories of those left alive, telling what happens to them, ties up the few remain loose threads, and has a few more tragic surprises waiting for his readers.
From what I can tell this is Bill Williams’ ninth BHW and having now read my first book by him I am keen to try more of his work.
Author Chap O'Keefe is a good friend of mine, but that didn't guarantee his inclusion among the Magnificent eSeven - far from it, each of the seven titles chosen for promotion during the Wild West eMonday are fully deserving of their place on the list. Indeed the problem I had was that there are several O'Keefe books now available as eBooks and being a big Misfit Lil fan I was torn as to which title to include amongst the seven eBooks. I had originally intended to feature Misfit Lil Cheats the Hangrope, but In the end I opted for The Sandhills Shootings, simply because it is Chap's newest eBook release. It may not be a Misfit Lil title but protagonist Joshua Dillard is no slouch.
Ex-Pinkerton detective Joshua Dillard was a gun for hire. He was also a man given to doing only what he had a mind to do. So he refused the presumptuous Omaha financier Fergus O'Callaghan's money, but rode the trouble-busting trail to the Sandhills region of Nebraska anyhow. In that country were his dead wife's brother Tom Holley, a tenderfoot deputy unversed in frontier life's wicked ways, and beautiful Ruth Swain, gutsy widow of a murdered homesteader. Both were up against the odds. Their obvious enemy was salty rancher Stella Tinwald, who cracked the whip for the cattlemen's association -- when she wasn't corraling likely young studs of the two-legged kind. Joshua was set to take on Tom's and Ruth's fights. The odds were stacked against Joshua and a drygulcher's bullet pushed him to death's brink ... but he was a mighty hard man to kill.
James Reasoner: "Joshua Dillard is a very likable hero, tough and competent
enough to handle just about any situation, despite his occasional self-doubts, but not a superman by any means. I’m ready to read more about him right now."
David Whitehead aka Ben Bridges: "Joshua Dillard once again emerges as a wholly credible and eminently likable protagonist."
Read a sample of the novel HERE
Saturday, 30 July 2011
However as the Seventies turned into the Eighties something strange happened - apparently all book buyers started to demand books which were 500 pages plus and in which each story was basically a retelling of the one before. And the gems - the quick reads that were purchased by teenagers and young adults started to disappear. A new phenomenon started to appear - the mega- seller - Stephen King, Jeffrey Archer, James Herbert and in latter days J K Rowling and Martina Cole.
Now don't get me wrong I love some of these writers but even the great Stephen King ( a man who in my opinion has written at least a dozen all time classics) took a dip in quality after Misery as he tried to pad each book out to a size dictated by the market place. What no-one seemed to notice is that writing is a creative process and creation cannot be set by market forces. Not every story needs a billion willion squillion words to be at its most effective. Nevertheless books of this size started to dominate which was why we often got to learn, as well as the major plot, what kind of shirts our hero favoured or where he went to school. Irrelevances often ruined a story and dare I say it - "reading got boring"
So that's what Wild West eMonday is all about - OK the emphasis is on westerns but it's about more than that. It's about telling the publishers what we want, about bringing back quick exciting reads that can compete with the latest DVD or Video Game in the thrills and spills department.
So take part this Wild West eMonday - buy an eBook and show your support for the genre. It's all as simple as that - if folk take part in large numbers then shops, libraries will be getting similar requests all over the globe.
Below is a list of Wild West nicknames followed by given birth names.
Annie Oakley was actually Phoebe Ann Mozee
Billy the Kid was actually William Bonney (or Henry Antrim depending on which story you believe)
Apache Kid was actually Sergeant Joe Kid
The Baron of Arizona was actually conman Jim Addison Reavis
Bat Masterson was actually Bartholomew Masterson
Big Foot Wallace (pictured) was actually William Wallace, Texas Ranger.
Often the non-de-plume attached to a person would be descriptive of their appearance or manner. Thus the cold hearted bandit Charles E. Bolton became known as Black Bart and Frank Lelsie, a Tombstone gunman became known as Buckskin Frank.
Some more aliases were:
Theodore Roosevelt was wildly known as Bullmoose because of his hunting skills.
Ella Watson who was lynched for rustling in Wyoming was known as Cattle Kate
Crawford Goldsby was known as Cherokee Bill
Nat Love (pictured), an African American cowboy was known widely as Deadwood Dick
O. C. Hanks, a member of Butch Cassidy's wild bunch was known as Deaf Charley
Mountain man, James Capen Adams was known as Grizzly Adams
Texas outlaw, William Martin was known as Hurricane Bill.
Alice Tubbs, a mining town gambler was more commonly known as Poker Alice
Conman and saloon owner Jefferson Smith who was eventually lynched in Alaska was Soapy Smith. Be sure to check out Jeff Smith's Blog - he a descendant of the famous conman and writes much about the old scoundrel.
General George Armstrong Custer was known as Longhair.
Sam Bass, outlaw, had the rather romantic title of, The Robin Hood of Texas and fellow outlaw, Charles Fallon was known as Rattlesnake Jake.
These are just a few of the colourful nicknames that abounded in the Old West - it has been an hobby of mine to document as many of these as possible over the last few years and I have a list running into two hundred names..
I feel better - Brigham Young 1877
Cowboys, there are no more Cowboys - Frederick Remington 1909
Bury me next to Bill - Calamity Jane 1903
Hanging is my favourite way of dying - Bill Longley 1878
Texas, Texas Margerat - Sam Houston 1863
This is the last game of pool I'll ever play - Virgil Earp 1882
Morgan Clay had tried his hand at almost everything. When he stumbled on a rich gold vein he thought all his troubles were over, but for him trouble was just beginning. . .
. . . A Kiowa brave and two boys eager to earn their man-names cut Morgan's trail and saw the opportunity to do more than steal his horses. . .
. . . Shuck Alison, a two-bit gunslinger and card sharp, had been drifting ever since he killed his stepfather back in the hill country. His woman, Anne Marie, was a whore with the face of an angel. Together, they worked the frontier towns, an eye on the main chance.
But when they found Morgan Clay, they all found more than they bargained for.
There are quite a few unfinished stories documented at http://www.louislamourslosttreasures.com/
but none of which did I feel comfortable finishing because the end of the story trajectory was indicated ... probably why Louis never finished them. The site also contains finished work, notes, and correspondence. The site will have three sections, one is already finished and one partly done.”