Wednesday 30 November 2011

Something to get excited about

Full review soon but we reckon you'll love Tony Masero's first Black Horse Western, Jake Reins -  I read this in manuscript for many months ago and I'll be revisiting the book for a review later this month.

The book is available now and is something all western fans will love and I'm not just saying that because Tony Masero is a friend of mine and also the artist who provided the cover for my forthcoming The Dead Walked..

The fastest knitting needle in the West

Ahh, those publishing lead times - October 2012 will see the publication of the new Jack Martin western from Robert Hale LTD.

Wild Bill Williams is the fastest stitch in the West.

For anyone interested here's a rough cut of the blurb:

Like many other nationalities, the Welsh made a unique contribution to the time and place we these days call, The Wild West. Official records show that some 80,000 Welshmen made their home on the American frontier, though the true figure is likely much higher.

This is the story of one of those men.

William Williams, otherwise known as Wild Bill Williams was no stranger to trouble. It seemed to follow him, sticking to him like a shadow. A survivor of the Little Big Horn, or so he claims, he has never had to face trouble like that which he found in the town of Stanton. When the bullets start to fly and the blood begins to run, Wild Bill is never far behind.

And you won't be either when you join in the adventure with WILD BILL WILLIAMS .

My previous bestselling westerns, The Tarnished Star, Arkansas Smith and The Ballad of Delta Rose are still available - check out your favorite bookseller or request the books at your local library.

Splatterpunk Radio

The Scary Motherfucker Radio Show is proving to be  a great success and I’m pleased to confirm that we will be talking to Craig Spector in the new year – back in the day I read a novel called, The Light at the End which was written by Spector along with fellow New York Times bestseller John Skipp. At the time of the book’s original publication there was a new movement happening within the horror genre – called Splatterpunk, a term coined by David J Schrow, the movement contained many young authors with a visceral style – among them were such well known names as Clive Barker, Jack Ketchum, Joe Lansdale and of course Skipp and Spector.

I’m very much looking forward to recording the interview and know it will make for another great episode of Scary Motherfucker Radio – if anyone missed the first two episodes then find them HERE – episode one features and interview with Guy N. Smith while the second is with Jack Ketchum. So get on over to the Scary Motherfucker Radio website and don’t forget to be back to chew the fat with Craig Spector. The aim of the show is to eventually cover pretty much anyone who is anyone in the horror and dark fantasy field and it’ll be great to have as many of you as possible along for the ride.

The Self Publisher and the tsumani of swill

"We have bad publishing by way of the mainstream publishers.  Our response shouldn’t be just to point that out.  We have a golden opportunity here!  We should be trying to rise above that standard, not meeting it.  Wouldn’t it be nice if people thought, “Wow, an indie author!  I love reading indie authors because they consistently publish works that are better by far than what I get from the mainstream publishers!”  But this isn’t the case.  In my opinion, you have tons of bad stuff out there – it far exceeds the occasional gem.  And that’s unfortunate because:"

The above comes from an article I feel anyone interested in the new self publishing craze, and that includes myself, should read. Find it HERE

Tuesday 29 November 2011

11.22.63 Stephen King - Book Review

This new novel from Stephen King is another door stop of a book, but it doesn’t drag in the slightest and each of its seven hundred odd pages propels the story forward – it took me a little over a week to get through it but I found myself picking up the book whenever I got the chance and instantly I was dragged into the world of yesteryear, or Land of Ago as Jake Epping, the protagonist of this story, calls it. And that is King’s most enviable ability, the way he can grab anyone from this Land of Ahead and drag us back to the Land of Ago.

It’s a magic spell that King weaves on the reader and after only a few pages we are hooked – the story contains some of the gore so beloved of vintage King but for the most part it is suspense and character that propels this story forward.

King doesn’t waste no time in setting up the time travel premise and he hurls Jake Epping, and his readers, through the wormhole to 1958. There are some references for constant readers to King’s previous works, most notably It where characters from that novel put in an appearance and there is also the matter of a red Plymouth Fury - Christine, anyone. The main meat of this meal is our heroes attempts to stop the assassination of President Kennedy but King spends as much time in building characters as he does on the main plot, which results in a powerful and satisfying novel. We feel great anguish at the fate of certain characters in the story and experience both joy and then sadness and the love Jake finds and then loses along the way to the nailbiting showdown. And in truth this story is as much a love story as anything else – a love for both humanity and a period now lost to the history books.

The past is obdurate – it is indeed and King reminds us of this several million squillion times.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and felt that for something so weighty it contained very little padding -it’s a full and rounded story with characters that become real to the reader which is something King has always had the ability to do. With Stephen King we don’t so much as read his books as live through them.  Quite often I find King’s endings weak but that is not the case here and the final line brings both a smile to the lips and a warm feeling to the heart.
An excellent adventure.

Hell on Wheels: The small screen goes West

There was a time when we Brits produced the best English language TV drama in the world, but those days are long gone and now it is the American TV makers with their greater resources that rule the roost and it's been that way for some considerable time. And we're currently in a glowing period for US drama with some great shows airing at the moment and AMC, home of, among others,  the mega successful The Walking Dead, have come up with the best western series in many a year. That series is Hell on Wheels and fills a void in my TV viewing since HBO's Deadwood died a premature death.

For Hell on Wheels think grim, dark, adult storytelling within a western framework. It doesn't match the profanity level of Deadwood but it does aim for the same kind of realism. Set in 1865, the series centers on the settlement that accompanied the construction of the first transcontinental railroad, referred to as "Hell on Wheels" by the company men, surveyors, support workers, laborers, prostitutes, mercenaries and others who make the mobile encampment their home. It's Deadwood on wheels minus the word, "co**suckers" in every other sentence.

I've just seen the first two episodes and I don't think my Deadwood comparison is far wrong, though from what I've seen the series looks to be far more linear in the storytelling than HBO's western classic. Anson Mount does a great Clint Eastwood impression for his role as Cullen Bohannon, a former Confederate soldier who works as a foreman on the railroad as he tries to track down the Union soldiers who murdered his wife.He finds two of these killers in the first episode, one in the pre-credits teaser and also discovers that there is another man involved in his wife's murder and that he is working on the railroad. The problem is that Cullen is not quite sure who that man is.

Colm Meany also shines as the ruthless man in charge of building the railroad and I am expecting great things on the strengths of these first two episodes. The show has been a success Stateside with it gaining the second highest ratings AMC have ever experienced for a pilot episode. Close on five million I understand. However it is reported that there have been a drop in ratings for subsequent episodes but that the series is holding up well, particularly considering that in the US it is going up against strong offerings from rival networks.

I do hope the show does well and that it is renewed for a second season - the first season runs to ten episodes and whether the identity of the man Cullen is searching for will be revealed this season is unknown. My guess is no or at least if he is revealed it will be the cliffhanger to end the first season and will only be made clear should a second season be made. Well fingers crossed that the series does do well and that it returns for several more seasons, because TV westerns are thin on the ground and especially those with such high production values as this.

Time's twisty ways

Archive readers are aware of Beat to a Pulp - the ezine has published some great fiction over the years. And now editor, David Cranmer has another Beat to a Pulp collection available in the new shiny eBook format -

Dr. Robert Berlin has created The Baryon Core, a powerful device with the ability to predict the future and retrodict the past by tracking the position and vector of every particle in the universe. Berlin swipes his own creation from The Company and disappears into history. The Company's time-cop Simon Rip and the sexy, brilliant Dr. Serena Ludwig join together to track Berlin and return the device. Their pursuit will take them back to the ice age and forward to the end of time.

Check it out HERE

The Radio Show

Missed any of our episodes - find them in the player below. The first episode features an interview with Guy N. Smith and the second, Jack Ketchum Visit the Radio homepage HERE

Monday 28 November 2011

Walking Dead - Mid season climax

If you’re not up to speed with AMC’s Walking Dead then you’d best not read this review as it contains big SPOILERS.

Well the mid season climax turned out be one of the best episodes this season’s yet offered  and  although the big secret was given away by an AMC employee who has since been sacked, it was still a brilliant reveal to see Sophia, now a walker, emerge from Hershel’s barn. And the entire episode that carried us towards this climax was expertly paced and allowed us to see just how fragmented our group of survivors have become. Shane continued to dominate proceedings as one by one all of the major characters came to realise that whilst Rik may be the better man, it is Shane who is better equipped to help them survive in this brutal new world. We got the inevitable soap operatics with Shane confronting Lori, now that Rik has told him she is pregnant, and telling her that the baby is his. When Lori dismisses him and tells him that even if he is the father, the baby will be Rik’s he goes off in a black mood. He goes for the guns, intending on destroying the walkers in Hershal’s barn but finds that Dale expected this move and has gone off to hide the guns,so that Shane can not act before Rik returns from wherever he’s gone. This seems an odd move for Dale, he did after all try to make Hershel realize that the walkers are dangerous and can no longer be considered people,  to make which is perhaps the only weak point in this otherwise excellent episode.

And where is Rik? Out in the swamps that’s where aiding Hershal to capture two walkers who have been trapped in the swam. The plan is to take the walkers back to the farm  for storage in the barn, but by the time he and the old man, not the mention the two new walkers return, Shane has already found Dale, retrieved the guns and is preparing to destroy every single walker in the barn. Cue an action scene that really delivered – it becomes a turkey shoot as Shane and several of the survivors stand there and put each and every walker down while Hershal looks on horrified, but just as the dust settles Sophia shambles out of the barn and it is left to Rik, rather than a stunned Shane, to put her down. Perhaps it is Rik after all, who is the best man for this brutal new world.

A great episode then that displayed much of the action that has thus far been  missing from this season. There were some great character moments but it wasn’t at the expense of the all important zombie apocalyspe elements that have been missing from this season. It certainly did it’s job and it’s going to be a long wait until the season resumes in January.

The second season has been disappointing thus far and has constantly failed to live up to the excellence of the first season – the search for Sophia has gone on too long and has tended to make things a little too draggy, but now that this plot line has been played out  maybe the next section of this season will see some all out zombie action, and that the sense of doom so prevalent in the first season will return. AMC have already announced that there will be a third season, and if the remainder of this second season lives up to the brilliance of this episode then I, for one, will be glad to see it.

Bestselling Black Horse western Amazon chart

Charts supplied by Black Horse Express

1. Comanchero Trail by Jack Dakota (30 Sep 2011)
From £8.98

2. Arkansas Smith by Jack Martin (31 Mar 2010)
From £4.26

3. The Black Horse Westerns: Collection No. 1 by Abe Dancer, Dean Edwards, Tyler Hatch and Scott Connor (1 Jan 2011) - Kindle eBook
Buy £6.86

4. The Kansas Fast Gun by Arthur Kent (31 Oct 2011) - Kindle eBook
Buy £3.19

5. Dead Man's Range by Paul Durst (31 Oct 2011) - Kindle eBook
Buy £3.19

6. Rough Justice by Jackson Davis (31 Mar 2010)
From £7.07

7. The Ballad of Delta Rose by Jack Martin (29 Jul 2011)
From £8.83

8. Robbery in Savage Pass by D.M. Harrison (1 Sep 2009)
From £8.99

9. Guns of Wrath by Colin Bainbridge (30 Nov 2011)
From £13.25

10. The Shadow of Iron Eyes by Rory Black (31 Oct 2011)
From £10.43

Ashes to ashes: Health concerns over author, James Herbert

“What’s happening with horror author, James Herbert’s long awaited new novel, Ash? First it was listed for 2010, then 2011 and finally a publication date of Sept 2012 was set.” we asked in a previous post HERE, and whilst nothing has been confirmed one way or the other we have heard third hand that the official stance from the author’s publisher is that James Herbert is hard at work on his new novel.

However rumours that Mr Herbert is too ill to complete the book persist. James Herbert is a particular favourite of mine and is a true gentleman who personally answered each and every item of fan mail I’ve sent him over the years. Questions are being asked on Internet forums with 2000AD having a particularly active thread wondering what has happened to the new novel. One fan asked - Just been in Waterstones to ask when Ash will be in and they tell me the release date has been put back to Sept 2012!!! What is going on and why all the delays, does anyone have a proper answer? I bought the Ash sampler last year and the story sounds like it could be his best yet, government conspiracy theory, death of princess Diana etc, haunted mansion/secret government location. Or has he had to re-write the whole book and what I have will be no reflection of the released novel? Why haven’t the publishers put out a press release to advise what is going on?! ??? 

Whatever the reason for this it is deeply troubling. Herbert’s publisher are unable to offer any explanation and all I have to go on are the words of a writer friend who saw Herbert in London some time back – this writer, who once shared a publisher with Herbert, told me that Herbert looked terrible and needed help to walk. I do hope this turns out to be a case of writer’s block and nothing more serious.

Tainted Stats

Weekly Stats Report: 21 Nov - 27 Nov 2011 Project: THE TAINTED ARCHIVE URL: Summary Mon Tues Wed Thur Fri Sat Sun Total Avg Pageloads 599 650 521 494 518 563 663 4,008 573 Unique Visits 435 484 410 367 388 417 464 2,965 424 First Time Visits 415 461 388 352 372 391 445 2,824 403 Returning Visits 20 23 22 15 16 26 19 141 20

Sunday 27 November 2011

America's Most Scary

The new episode of Chillerthriller Radio, subtitled America's Most Scary will be live mid week but Archive readers can listen to the new episode, which features and interview with Jack Ketchum now:

Archive's Sunday Comics - The Gay Cavalier

The Spanish comic artist Matías Alonso is best known to British readers for his contributions to the D. C. Thomson weekly The Victor. The blog of Illustration Art Gallery has an excellent backgrounder about him in which comics bibliographer Steve Holland explains, among much else, that Alonso drew for the comic for 23 years, beginning in 1967.

Alonso began working as a teenager for comic books in his native Spain in the 1950s. A Spanish commentator noted that he quickly gained a fine reputation for his historical strips with "ships and military uniforms drawn with an eye for detail, and the exotic settings showing the influence of Hollywood movies. To counter this rather thankless attention to realism, Alonso tried to make the pages stylistically interesting, although the results could be somewhat mannered."

Steve Holland continues, "By the mid-1960s he was firmly established in the UK market, drawing for Commando, Battle Picture Library, Air Ace Picture Library and War Picture Library, sometimes working in collaboration with Luis Bermejo and with Eustaquio Segrelles. A fine example of his collaborative work with Bermejo can be seen in the Heros strip that appeared in Eagle Annual 1967, although his contributions to Boys' World Annual 1968 and especially the 1969 volume, show what he was capable of working solo."

Both the fine Boys' World strips Steve mentions were scripted by Keith Chapman, best known today as western novelist Chap O'Keefe. They gave Alonso full rein to showcase his skills with historical material.

Steve tells us, "Alonso later established himself in Spain as a painter – noted for his landscapes of northern Spain and of Spanish ports with boats jostling in the water– and has had his work exhibited in Barcelona and Madrid."

Here are the complete eight pages of the Boys' World strip The Fighting Cavalier, excerpted from the 1969 annual published in 1968 by Odhams Books Ltd.  Gay Martin Crosby ("gay" had a different meaning then, remember?) confronts the evil Dr Goar and his frightening henchman, the Hairy Giant. The story is an imaginative take on the English Civil War of the seventeenth century when the puritanical Oliver Cromwell overthrew the English monarchy and temporarily turned the country into a republic, which he ruled as "Lord Protector" for almost five years.

Click the pages to enlarge the artwork and enjoy the detail. Look, too, for hints of what fan Peter Richardson describes at the Cloud 109 blog as Alonso's "distinctly weirdly torrid and idiosyncratic take on comic strip art"!



Friday 25 November 2011

Confused??? - You will be

I’m enjoying American Horror Story, even if the myriad twists and turns are leaving me confused. I can only describe the show as a little bit Twin Peaks, mixed with Ghost Story and a sprinkling of an LSD trip I once experienced at the tail end of the Seventies. We’ve had four episodes thus far here in the UK and I’m frantically avoiding spoilers on the net since I think the US is now somewhere around episode eight or nine. The show started off with nothing we hadn’t seen before – a couple and their teenage daughter leave their big city life after the hubbie has an affair and the momma suffers a miscarriage, and move into a restored mansion but the house holds more than its fair share of secrets and ghosts -imagine the Amityville House on steriods.
To kick off there were the twin ginger kids who died in the basement back in 1978 . Then there are the gay couple, the most recent owners, who died in a murder suicide, and then there’s the maid who appears as both a sexy vixen and an old hag, and that’s not to mention the strange lady next door and her Downs Syndrome daughter. Addy. The bad vibes seems to stem from the “doctor to the stars” who owned the house in the 20’s and tried to bring his own dead child back to life Frankenstein style. Or at least that’s what I think has happened – I’m not really sure. Remember that tag line at the end (or was it the beginning) of each episode of cult comedy, Soap – Confused, you will be. Well I most certainly am.

Regardless of how all this eventually turns out it has to be said that the show offers a fun ride and many genuinely scary moments – the acting is mostly superb and the writing cleverly done – little tidbits that build on the story are drip fed to the viewer making for some truly compelling television.

There are moments that are absolutely horrific, but the overall feel of the show is one of an all pervading creepiness. The news is that this strange show has been renewed for a second season so maybe we won’t get all the answers with episode twelve, but all the same I’m hooked. I only hope that this all makes sense in the end, that the various plot threads can be brought together as a satisfying whole and that the writers don’t dilute what is looking like a remarkable TV series by stretching things out to deliver more episode to a network who now find they have a major hit on their hands.

Thursday 24 November 2011

Archive's Book Biz News

First Penguin denied Amazon the lending rights on their title and then they compromised while security problems are sored out -  The Penguin Group said Wednesday that it will restore library lending access to older e-books while it negotiates with Amazon and e-book provider OverDrive on security issues.
As a result, customers will continue to have access to Penguin titles via the Amazon Kindle library lending program at least until the end of the year, though new titles will not be added.

Are eBooks too expensive? Take a look at the chart below which compares prices between physical and electronic books.

eBooks may be wiping out the mass market paperback market, but the opposite is true with Children's books with print constantly performing better than the electronic versions. However the situation my change with tablets such as the iPad and the Android tablets expected to be big sellers this Christmas period. At the moment the biggest percentage of eReaders are middle aged but as the young adopt the new technology it is a certain bet that young fingers will be fumbling with the controls rather than turning the pages.

Writers are invited to submit unpublished manuscripts to Monsoon Publications - they are a Signapore based publisher of English language fiction who are looking to extend their list of writers. Find Monsoon HERE

QUERCUS have launched a new imprint - Jo Fletcher Books will be a specialised SF, Fantasy and horror imprint. The first four titles from he imprint will be The Vampire Sink by Lynda Hilburn, The Book of Horrors edited by Stephen Jones, The Demi Monde Winter by Rod Rees and The Emperor's Knife by Mazarkis Williams.

Radio Times

"First I had Bob (Robert Bloch) saying all these nice things about me and then Stephen King calls me the scariest guy in America. It was great, but I tell you who was really the scariest guy in America - George Bush."

So said horror author Jack Ketchum in an interview for Chillerthriller's Scary Radio which will be available both as a download and to be streamed online this coming weekend.

I caught up with Jack at 8pm EST which meant it was 1am over here in the UK - Ahh, the wonders of Skype which I still find incredible. We touched upon many subjects during out chat and Jack was witty and very forthcoming with his answers.

Jack's one of one of the big names in horror fiction at the moment and as well as most of his books remaining in print, many are available electronically. So check them out folks.

Although the podcast/internet radio show is devoted largely to horror and dark fantasy I see no reason why I can't have some future guests among the western writing community. That would be so cool since the western will always be my first love. Maybe I'll go after Howard Hopkins who writes both horror fiction and westerns, sharing a publisher with myself for the latter.

As they say - watch this space

Wednesday 23 November 2011

We ketchup with Ketchum

I’m really pleased with the way scarymotherfucker radio turned out and you can still listen to our first episode which includes an interview with Guy N. Smith HERE, or you can simply subscribe in iTunes or any other podast provider by clicking on this FEED. Tonight I’ll be recording an interview with horror master, Jack Ketchum for the next show which will go live this weekend. Those of you familiar with Ketchum’s books will know that he has a grim, unrelenting style that totally grips the reader. Not for nothing did Stephen King call him, “The scariest guy in America.”

 Bursting onto the scene in 1980 with his highly controversial debut novel OFF SEASON, Ketchum has been awarded four Bram Stoker Awards and nominated for three others.

So I hope you all support the podcast by subscribing and if you could leave a review on iTunes that would be so cool and enable us to reach a bigger audience. I plan to make Scarymotherfucker Radio an essential show for horror and dark fantasy fans and have many more interviews in the pipeline, so tune in and if you haven’t yet listened to the first show then follow the link above and remedy that right now.

The show can also be listened to via the player embedded at the top of the right hand sidebar of this very site.

R I P Anne McCaffrey

Anne McCaffrey, the first woman to win the Nebula Award has passed away.

Tor. com reports: Anne McCaffrey, legendary SF and fantasy author best known for her Dragonriders of Pern series, has passed away. Random House has confirmed that McCaffrey died of a stroke at her home in Ireland on Monday, November 21. The initial word arrived through author Alan Baxter reporting on behalf of Trent Zelazny.

McCaffrey leaves behind a tremendous legacy. She was active in the science fiction and fantasy fields right up to her passing and will be greatly missed.
Tributes to Anne McCaffrey are starting to appear in the online SFF community.

"I think the best story I ever wrote was 'The Ship Who Sang'. It still causes people to cry, including me. When Todd and I were reading it at Brighton, they had a BBC crew filming it. So there were these BBC cameramen hunkered down filming us, and comes the end of the story (which Todd always reads, because I can't go through it without weeping), I saw that these cameramen had tears rolling down their faces. That's such a thrill — a story I wrote at the beginning of my career, and it's still packin' the house. I wrote that story because I couldn't tell my father, he died in 1953. I remember reading a story — I can't remember the name or that of the author — about a woman searching for her son's brain, it had been used for an autopilot on an ore ship and she wanted to find it and give it surcease. And I thought what if severely disabled people were given a chance to become starships? What if they wanted to do that? I thought, 'Hey, that would be a gorgeous idea.' So that's how 'The Ship Who Sang' was born." Anne McCaffrey

Tuesday 22 November 2011

It's coming - the eBook sensation that'll rattle yer' bones


Stephen King, not the writer but the plumber from Gateshead, said that, 'the walking dead was - 'er, dead shitty! Most terrifying.'

Very soon from Amazon, Smashwords, W H Smith and anywhere else eBooks are sold.

September was her favourite time of the year, and late September, when the autumn was just preparing to hand over to winter, when there was still a residue of the late summer warmth in the air, as well as the crisp promise of the iciness to come, had always been, as far as Missy was concerned, the finest chunk of that particular month.

Not for her was the spectacle of high summer, nor the morose beauty of mid winter. Of course they both had their fineries but these paled next to the season when the leaves glittered with reflected sunlight. It was the autumn, with September being the highlight of that season, which she loved – a time when nature put on its finest display as the lush summer growth was magically transformed as if by a sepia wand spewing gold dust into the air.

The sky itself seemed to glow at this time of year.

            September was a time of promise.

            A time of rebirth.

            Not this September, though.

            This September, Missy would remember as, the time the dead walked.

The Bailey Daily

Anyone interested in writing needs to read the new, Morgen Bailey Daily

It's a free writing magazine - what more recommendation do you lot need?

The Deadly Dentist of the West

HBO are looking at a series based around the adventures of Doc Holliday, and more specifically the Doc presented in Mary Doria Russel's novel. Ron Howard is already attached to the project and is looking to direct the pilot. This is good news for western fans since HBO have a good record with the genre - Deadwood, anyone.

Book Synopsis:

The year is 1878, peak of the Texas cattle trade. The place is Dodge City, Kansas, a saloon-filled cow town jammed with liquored-up adolescent cowboys and young Irish hookers. Violence is random and routine, but when the burned body of a mixed-blood boy named Johnnie Sanders is discovered, his death shocks a part-time policeman named Wyatt Earp. And it is a matter of strangely personal importance to Doc Holliday, the frail twenty-six-year-old dentist who has just opened an office at No. 24, Dodge House.

Beautifully educated, born to the life of a Southern gentleman, Dr. John Henry Holliday is given an awful choice at the age of twenty-two: die within months in Atlanta or leave everyone and everything he loves in the hope that the dry air and sunshine of the West will restore him to health. Young, scared, lonely, and sick, he arrives on the rawest edge of the Texas frontier just as an economic crash wrecks the dreams of a nation. Soon, with few alternatives open to him, Doc Holliday is gambling professionally; he is also living with Mária Katarina Harony, a high-strung Hungarian whore with dazzling turquoise eyes, who can quote Latin classics right back at him. Kate makes it her business to find Doc the high-stakes poker games that will support them both in high style. It is Kate who insists that the couple travel to Dodge City, because “that’s where the money is.”

And that is where the unlikely friendship of Doc Holliday and Wyatt Earp really begins—before Wyatt Earp is the prototype of the square-jawed, fearless lawman; before Doc Holliday is the quintessential frontier gambler; before the gunfight at the O.K. Corral links their names forever in American frontier mythology—when neither man wanted fame or deserved notoriety.

Monday 21 November 2011

UK Bestselling Amazon westerns

 Great to see my own Delta Rose sitting at no 2, while Arkansas Smith is just outside the top ten at number eleven
1 Robbery in Savage Pass (Black Horse Western) by D.M. Harrison (1 Sep 2009)

The Ballad of Delta Rose (Black Horse Western) by Jack Martin (29 Jul 2011)

Guns of Wrath (Black Horse Western) by Colin Bainbridge (30 Nov 2011)

The Shadow of Iron Eyes (Black Horse Western) by Rory Black (31 Oct 2011)

Flint's Bounty (Black Horse Western) by Ben Coady (Feb 2004)

Panhandle Drifter (Black Horse Western) by Alan Irwin (30 Nov 2001)

The Spirit of Iron Eyes (Black Horse Western) by Rory Black (Sep 2004)

Silver Express (Black Horse Western) by Gillian F. Taylor (30 Sep 2009)

Outlaw Ranger (Black Horse Western) by George J. Prescott (31 Jan 2002)

Shoot to Live (Black Horse Western) by Dan Claymaker (30 Sep 2000)

US Black Horse Western Charts

Supplied by Black Horse Express:

Bestsellers on - 21 November

This week takes a look at what's selling on the U.S. amazon site where Kindle titles dominate the chart.

1. Dead Man's Range by Paul Durst (Oct 31, 2011) - Kindle eBook
Buy $5.13

2. The Kansas Fast Gun by Arthur Kent (Oct 31, 2011) - Kindle eBook
Buy $5.13

3. A Colt for the Kid by John Saunders (Oct 31, 2011) - Kindle eBook
Buy $10.27

4. Arizona Pay-Off by Duke Patterson (Oct 31, 2011) - Kindle eBook
Buy $5.13

5. Gunhawk by John Long (Oct 31, 2011) - Kindle eBook
Buy $5.13

6. Soft Soap for a Hard Case by Billy Hall (Apr 2011)
From $22.38

7. The Black Horse Westerns: Collection No. 1 by Abe Dancer, Dean Edwards, Tyler Hatch and Scott Connor (Jan 1, 2011) - Kindle eBook
Buy $11.03

8. Showdown at Snakebite Creek by Thomas McNulty (Jul 29, 2011)
From $22.34

9. Trail of the Burned Man by Thomas McNulty (Feb 1, 2010)
From $2.19

10. Wind Rider by Thomas McNulty (May 6, 2010)
Deom $3.96

Tainted Stats

Weekly Stats Report: 14 Nov - 20 Nov 2011


  Mon Tues Wed Thur Fri Sat Sun Total Avg
Unique Visits4164113904254004334292,904415
First Time Visits3873983694023844104112,761394
Returning Visits2913212316231814320

Sunday 20 November 2011

Archive Sunday Comics - Whoopie

A slight change of format for this week's Sunday Comics, but have no fear we will be back next week with  more full length strips for your enjoyment. However I wanted to talk a little about a humour title that was popular when I was a kid, a title that I read regularly and was reminded of this past week when I found several back issues on the time capsule that is Pontypridd Market's secondhand book stall.

The image at the top of this article came from a Google search and the issues I picked up came from 1977 - February and December 1977 to be exact - man, I was eleven and then twelve years old then.

The lead story in the earlier issue which continues on the inside page is the Bumpkin Millionaires - a family based on TV's Beverly Hillbillies who were always trying to get rid of their money, but would end each story by amassing more of the filthy lucre. All they really had to do was invest in Northern Rock and all that lolly would have vanished soon enough but alas back then, we still trusted banks. This was before that days when the word banker was often spelt with a, "W".

The December issue finds the bumkins sent to the middle pages while tiny terror, Sweeny Toddler gets the front page. The comic was published by IPC Magazines and during this period the artists and writers were not credited, so I'm not sure who did what in the comics. Though I do know that Sweeny Toddler first appeared in Shiver and Shake comic and was created by the legendary Leo Baxendale. As was the case when comics merged the most popular characters would survive the transition and Sweeny Toddler survived several title mergers.

"Originally drawn by Leo Baxendale, Sweeny was a two-year-old 'toddler from hell'. With his pet dog Henry, he caused sheer havoc around town, the outcome of which would usually involve being caught by his parents and punished with the slipper. Tom Paterson took over from Baxendale quite early on, Paterson becoming easily the most famous and longest running artist to draw the strip.Always a popular character, Sweeny survived Shiver and Shake's merger with Whoopee! in 1974. The early 1980s saw Graham Exton become the writer, and in 1984 (issue dated 7 April) Sweeny became the cover star of Whoopee! for a second time (after being replaced by Snack-Man for a short period). When Whoopee merged with Whizzer and Chips in 1985, the first merged issue featured Sweeny hijacking several of the pages asking when his strip was going to appear. When it finally appeared on the back page, he said that "Rotten ol' Ed will pay for this", managing to work his way back onto the cover from the next issue, and becoming a Whizz-Kid Before the demise of Whizzer and Chips, Tom Paterson left Fleetway in favour of DC Thomson. Graham Exton would take over artistic duties as well as writing.Sweeny also managed to survive the merger with Buster in 1990. It was drawn by Jimmy Hansen and Tom Paterson. As with all strips by the end, around this time it became a reprint, and continued being so until the comic's last issue at the beginning of 2000. As with several other Buster strips, it was included on the last page of the final issue (How It All Ends), drawn by Jack Edward Oliver. Explaining what eventually happened to all these characters, Sweeny was seen saying that he now likes everyone, and that "me going to be nice to everyone from now on"." THE WIKI

It is always the letters page that I turn to first when discovering old comics. For it is these pages that best provide a snapshot of what mattered at the time, least to us per-pubescent kids who had yet to discover girls and preferred skateboards to loose birds. In the February issue Joanne Durrell from Dagenham informs the editor that a mouse that lived under her garden shed had taken to wandering into the house and watching TV, Kojak being a particular favourite, and Timothy Wallace of Stevenage tells of an accident at school when a window fell out in the gym and landed upon his head. It smashed and he had 6 stitches - no mention of  a law suit here and the reader seemed to be happy with the £1 postal order he received for having his letter published. Now jump forward to December and reader, Sharon Hovell of Colcester told how she had received a letter from Buck House after sending the Queen a copy of Whoopie as a gift to celebrate her Jubilee year.
 Whoopie ran from 1974 to 1985 but by then I had long given up the comic and my skateboard and was shacked up with a loose bird. Still it was great to discover these old comics and doubly so to read through them and reaquant myself with characters such as Smiler, Scared Stiff Sam, Lolly Pop, Willy Worry and others...Made me feel like a kid again. Now the only problem, where did I put that skateboard?

Saturday 19 November 2011

Scream Queen Guest Post - Jane Smith

 We've got out very own Scream Queen in Jane Smith, so please enjoy this guest post from Jane Smith,a freelance writer and blogger with free online checks

Masters of atmosphere: Revisit horror classics
Horror buffs will doubtlessly name authors like Stephen King and Dean Koontz when asked to list classic authors of the genre. But what would they say if asked to name the influences on these “classic” writers? There were a host of horror authors writing harrowing tales—stories that still incite fear in the contemporary reader—decades before Stephen King was even born. I encourage all horror fans to take a look at some of these vintage authors in order to gain a deeper appreciation for the themes that shape current horror fiction.

Edgar Allan Poe
A champion of gothic fiction in early to mid nineteenth century America, Edgar Allan Poe has been immortalized for his foundational contributions to the horror genre. Everyone has hear of Poe’s classic poem “The Raven,” a work playing on self-induced madness, but the real meat of his work is in his short fiction. Stories like “The Pit and the Pendulum,” “The Tell-Tale Heart,” and “The Oval Portrait” revolutionized the way future writers captured gloom and doom in fiction.  Idle curiosity over mortality and the specters of life that lurk in the darkness occupy much of Poe’s work. Most horror authors to this day cite Poe’s macabre writing as a major influence on their own work.

Robert Bloch
Robert Bloch was an American science fiction and horror author whose work spanned the greater part of the twentieth century. His work is often classified as cerebral horror, with fictional works describing characters’ disassociation with reality and descent into madness. He had a fascination with real life stories of people losing their minds and committing inexplicable, eerie crimes. His 1959 novel “Psycho,” about the mentally disturbed Norman Bates who terrorized occupants of his family motel was, adapted into the classic horror film directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

Shirley Jackson
Shirley Jackson’s writing had a profound impact on controversial horror fiction. She wrote the type of stories that frightened readers not just because of their content, but because of how that content reflected contemporary culture. Her infamous short story “The Lottery,” for example, scandalized readers by its violent satire of modern day culture (if you haven’t read the story I won’t ruin the ending for you. Go read it now!). Her novel “The Haunting of Hill House” set the bar for modern day haunted house fictions and films alike, writing the titular house with the characterization as if it were a character unto itself. Her work can easily be ranked among the best in American horror.

H.P. Lovecraft
Horror enthusiasts will often debate between Edgar Allan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft as the undisputed classic masters of the horror genre. Writing in the early twentieth century, H.P. Lovecraft wrote horror and alternate reality fiction that depicted other planes of existence from a detached and clinical prospective. He’s perhaps best known for writing an alternate Cthulhu universe inhabited by people completely unaware of calamities and horrors just beyond their perspective. His worlds are inhabited by a mythology of demonic demigods, such as the Cthulhu (a bat-like human with the head of an octopus) or the Ithaqua (a zombie-like human with glowing red eyes and webbed feet). To be sure, his stories are unlike any other. Check out his novella “At the Mountains of Madness” for a thrilling introduction to this god among horror authors.

Jane Smith is a freelance writer and blogger. She writes about free background checks for Questions and comments can be sent to: janesmth161 @

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