Saturday 29 September 2012

Is 3D Dredd?

Dredd, starring Karl Urban, has underperformed at the box office and the likely reason seems to be that the film is only shown in 3D - Last weekend, Dredd, brought in just $6.3 million in US domestic ticket sales. Not only was that well off the $50 million Lions Gate Entertainment  paid to produce the film, Box Office Mojo reports, but it was also about half the $12.3 million the original brought in during its opening weekend. We've seen this pattern throughout the summer. Big-name comic book films continue to win, but 3-D, as a group, has lost its luster. Animated 3-D winners Brave, from Disney's Pixar, and Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted, each barely managed to get a third of viewers to pony up for 3-D showings, trade journal The Hollywood Reporter noted last July.

I was eager to see Dredd but I don't like 3D - not only do we lose almost 30% light but the process also gives me a headache and according to a recent report I am not alone, with 20% of people reporting that 3D leaves them with a headache. It is also a fact that  a typical 3D system can lose as much as 80 percent or more of the light from a 2D system on the same screen,

The Dredd 3D story is the same in the UK where Dredd haD a strong opening but ticket sales have tailed off dramatically for its second week.

I guess I'll wait for the 2D version of Dredd on DVD as I really do find 3D painful to watch.

It's a strange world

A Pennsylvania man has been charged with a crime after publishing an obituary for his living mother in a ploy to get paid bereavement time off from work. Scott Bennett, a 45-year-old factory worker in Brookville, sent the following obit notice for Pat Bennett, his own mother, to The Jeffersonian Democrat.
Il publie une fausse nécrologie de sa mère pour obtenir 3 jours de congé
The Jeffersonian Democrat
Bennett was fired from his job and charged with disorderly conduct, Police Chief Ken Dworek said. Relatives called newspaper after the obit appeared to report Bennett’s mother was alive and well and the woman herself then visited the news office. A correction for the woman will be running in Wednesday’s paper.

Well I had to buy this....

Elvis at the Welsh seaside

It's that time again - today is the Porthcawl Elvis Festival - and once again the small Welsh seaside town will be taken over by hundreds upon hundreds of Elvis Presley's. There will be Elvis events in most of the clubs and pubs and the promenade will be invisible beneath the quiffs and spangled jumpsuits.

The Porthcawl Elvis Festival sees the town swamped with fans, lookalikes and tribute acts all enjoying the atmosphere and the various concerts and events throughout the area.

The festival is centred on the historic Grand Pavilion, a traditional sea front theatre which is host to the main concerts but the whole town gets in on the act with various events happening throughout the resort all weekend.

The highlight of the weekend is the big Elvies award ceremony where the best Elvis impersonators are rewarded for their work. Porthcawl is only a twenty minute or so drive from the Archive's throbbing nerve centre so I hope to pop down and get some snaps of the events for your enjoyment.

And so in tribute we leave you with some essential Elvis.

Friday 28 September 2012

Countdown to Skyfall - Alternative themes and leaked Skyfall theme

The James Bond themes songs have often become as famous as the movies themselves, and over the years there have been many song rejected at the eleventh hour by the producers. Quite often these song have been better than the chosen titles, and finally we have (we think) a leaked version of the forthcoming Skyfall that some naughty poster stuck on You Tube

Here are several rejected Bond themes.

Franchise Fallout - The Lonesome Dove Saga Part two

Chronologically the second story in the Lonesome Dove series, but actually filmed and broadcast last - the first thing I would like to say about Comanche Moon is that the casting of Steve Zahn in the role of Gus is absolutely spot on, and you can really believe this is a younger version of the Gus that Robert Duvall played in the much loved original mini-series, Lonesome Dove. Not so much with Karl (Judge Dredd) Urban's version of Woodrow McCall I think and I much preferred Jonny Lee Miller's take on the character in Dead Man's Walk. I'm not saying Urban is bad because he isn't - he's a fine actor and plays the role well - it's just that Jonny Lee Miller's take on the character was close to definitive; perhaps second only to Tommy Lee Jones' depiction of the character in the original Lonesome Dove mini-series.

It was nice to see Ray McKinnon back as Long Bill - and although his story arc is smaller than that in Dead Man's Walk it is incredibly powerful - I won't go into this in too much detail as it would be a major spoiler but it's a heart rendering story arc that effectively realizes the thinking and attitudes of the time and place. Other quality turns include Val Kilmer's Captain Scull who shamelessly chews the scenery with his turn as the borderline insane Texas Ranger.

The story itself gives us our first look at Lonesome Dove - described here as a half town it is nothing more than a few half constructed buildings in the wilderness. We also see the birth of Newt, Cal's maybe son. Everyone else is convinced that the baby is indeed Cal's son but given that the mother Maggie is a whore, Cal refuses to fully recognize the boy as his blood.

This time around the mini-series is not so much plot dependent as driven by the characters and it is Gus and Call that we care about the most. Steve Zahn is, as I've said, exceptional and he truly does come across as a younger Robert Duvall - hell, he even gets the voice spit on. There are some oddities in this one because towards the end  Maggie dies in Austin,Texas and yet in Lonesome Dove which is set some sixteen years later it is clearly stated that she died in the town of Lonesome Dove itself, but this and the odd historical mistake does not detract from what is another quality entry in an excellent western series.

If you ain't seen it, then go get it.

Next up Lonesome Dove

Thursday 27 September 2012

Countdown to Skyfall - Skyfall theme lyrics

According to the world wide web a section of the Skyfall theme song sung by Adele goes - “Let the sky fall/Let it crumble/We will stand tall/And face it all/together. This is the end/Hold your breath and count to ten/Feel the Earth move and then/Hear my heart burst again."

Apparantly the song is piano led and in the style of classic Bond themes

Wednesday 26 September 2012

Franchise Fallout - The Lonesome Dove Saga part one

Chronologically, Dead Man's Walk is actually the first story in the Lonesome Dove saga - though it was filmed after Lonesome Dove and its sequel Streets of Laredo. Originally Lonesome Dove had been a screenplay for John Wayne and James Stewart. It was very nearly filmed too in 1972 with Stewart as Gus, John Wayne as Call and Henry Fonda as Jakes Spoon. However when Wayne quit the project the movie was shelved and so author McMurtry later turned his screenplay into the Pulitzer prize winning novel, Lonesome Dove.

 It did eventually find its way to the screen as the excellent Lonesome Dove mini series and was followed by Return to Lonesome Dove, Streets of Laredo, Dead Man's Walk and Comanche Moon. However the correct chronological order of the stories would be Dead Man's Walk, Comanche Moon, Lonesome Dove, Return to Lonesome Dove and finally, Streets of Laredo, and this is the order in which we will talk about them.

There was also two TV series - Lonesome Dove: The Series and Lonesome Dove: The Outlaw Years but I've so far been unable to see these shows and so they are not including in this Lonesome Dove retrospective.

Now like most people, I guess, I saw Lonesome Dove first so when watching any of these series it is difficult to get over the powerhouse performances of Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones as Gus and Call, and all of the other films are thus compared, often unfavorably to our first cinematic view of the characters - and yes I know cinematic may not be the correct term since all of these shows started out as a TV mini-series but they really are as expansive as anything the big screen can offer, so cinematic it is.

The two characters who carry the entire saga are Woodrow (Call) and Augustus (Gus) and this time they are played by Jonny Lee Miller  and David Arquette and both actors do a great job with their roles - Miller is excellent and even although Arquette's Gus often seems a little lightweight he does manage to channel some of the character Duvall created in Lonesome Dove. So no real complaints on the casting of our two central characters. Likewise the secondary characters with Harry Dean Stanton, Keith Carradine and Edward James Olmos being particularly good.

The storyline is loosely based on the historical Santa Fe Expedition of 1841.It opens up with Call and Gus having newly joined the Texas Rangers and after a skirmish with commanche, Buffalo Hump they return to civilisation, before soon setting off on an expedition to capture and annex Santa Fe, part of New Mexico (the part east of the Rio Grande) for Texas. The expedition, led by pirate and soldier of fortune, Caleb Cobb, is ultimately a failure; of the large troop only about 40 survive, falling to starvation, bears, and Indians , only to be swiftly arrested by the Mexican authorities. That's where the Dead Man's Walk of the title comes in as the survivors are forced to march the Jornada del Muerto ("Dead Man's Walk") to El Paso, and many, Mexican and Texan alike, die along the journey.

The production standards are of the highest quality and even although this was made for the small screen it is best watched on a HD larges screen TV if you are to get the full effect of the great photography. One memorable scene in which the rangers have to hang over a cliff after the Comanche's set the prairie grasses on fire is seriously  spectacular. As are the many and varied battle scenes, but the most effective moments are all character driven. Each and every character here is fully flushed out and realized fully by the cast. On times the characters suffer incredible hardships which can be difficult to watch, but at all times there is a feeling of humanity running through the entire production. There are some great scenes between Tim Blake Nelson as the gormless Johnny and Ray McKinnon as Long Bill, and these are only two stand outs among a string of great turns.

Dead Man's Walk then is an epic western adventure that although coming from the small screen is as visually effective as any big screen oater.

Next up Comanche Moon.

Tuesday 25 September 2012

Wild Bill's page

My fourth novel from Black Horse Westerns will be published this October and you can like the Facebook Page HERE

Official records show that some 80,000 Welshmen made their home in the place now known as the Wild West, though the true figure is likely to have been much higher. This is the story of one of those men. William Williams, otherwise known as Wild Bill Williams, is no stranger to trouble. It seems to follow him like a shadow. But even as a survivor of the Little Big Horn, as he claims, he has never before had to face the kind of trouble that he finds in the town of Stanton. When the bullets start to fly and the blood begins to run, Wild Bill is never far behind

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The top 10 British comic book characters

This is a personal list and is not intended to be an indication of the best characters ever created in British comics, although many of those in my selection undoubtedly are.Hence you will only find classic characters in this list and I make no apologies for this. My greatest period of reading comic books was as a teenager and although I love some of the modern stuff, my greatest times spent between the comic book covers belong to yesteryear.
I started reading comics in the 1970’s and stopped sometime during the mid 80’s. 
Of course I would return to comic book reading and these days regularly read several titles. 
However the top ten (in no particular order)  that follows is heavily influenced by that first burst of 
comic book reading and as such reflects the style of comics 
that were my personal preference.

10- Dennis the Menace – the American Dennis the Menace was a slightly mischievous cute kid, the British one was a true hard bastard. I was only an occasional reader of the Beano but whenever I picked up a copy,  this and the Bash Street Kids were my favourite stories. I can still read Dennis the Menace strips now, though the current version lacks the bite of the 1970’s version. Our Dennis used to kick softy arse and terrorise anyone over the age of twenty.

9 – Lord Peter Flint AKA Warlord. Of course Peter Flint was basically James Bond in a World War II setting, but the strip was always exciting. Of course the fact that Peter Flint was the president of the Warlord Secret Agent club of which you could join via a cut out coupon in the comic, made him seem all the more real. Lord Peter Flint was a dashing, tea drinking, English super spy with a penchant for the finer things in life.

8 – Walter the Wobot. The robot with a speech impediment was a favourite of mine. He initially provided comic relief in the brutal Judge Dredd Robot Wars storyline, but he spun off into occasional humorous solo strips in 2000AD. Walter was blindly loyal to Judge Dredd and as I stopped reading 2000AD many years ago, I don’t know what really happened to the character. He doesn’t seem to be around these days.

 7 - Bill Savage - Easily my favourite character from classic 2000AD. Bill was a lorry driver who turned into a one man army when his family were killed during the Volgan invasion of Britain which occurred in 1999. Created by Pat Mills the first run of Invasion ran for 51 issues. I was devastated when Bill Savage vanished from the comic book and when he did return in a prequel set during a period where London was flooded by polar ice caps it just wasn't the same. Bill did return to form in the Savage storyline which started in 2004, though and has returned several times since.

6- Roy Race - When I was reading the character he was the player/manager of Melchester Rovers and had his own comic, Roy of the Rovers. He was devastatingly handsome in a 1970's rock star kind of way and he had awesome skills on the footie pitch. I didn't know then that the character had a long history and had originally appeared in Tiger in the 1950's before getting his own comic. It was a toss up between Roy Race and Billy Dane who appeared in Billy's Boots for the sporting character I would include here, but Race won out on goal difference.

 5 - Dan Dare - each generation has their own hero and my Dan Dare was not the classic character but the revamp which appeared in 2000AD. In fact when 2000AD launched I don't think I was even aware of the original Dan Dare and the Eagle comic in which he appeared. I would only discover these later through reprints and the odd Eagle annual I picked up in secondhand shops.  The first instalment of 2000AD's new Dan Dare was scripted by Ken Armstrong and Pat Mills, and saw the character revived from suspended animation after two hundred years to find himself in a different world. The Mekon had also survived but otherwise the cast was different, as was the tone of the strip (heavily influenced by the punk movement, as was much of 2000 AD) and the personality of the title character. Written by Kelvin Gosnell and then Steve Moore, the strip was initially illustrated by Massimo Bellardinelli, whose Dare owed nothing to the original apart from the wavy eyebrows.
4 - D Day Dawson - this character as his strip which appeared in Battle Picture Weekly was one of my all time favourites - indeed the central premise of the story  influenced my forthcoming Black Horse release, The Ballad of Delta Rose. The story told of Sgt. Steve Dawson who was shot on the Beaches of Normandy during the D-Day landings. However he survived but has a bullet lodged close to his heart, that will eventually kill him. With nothing to lose Dawson vows to fight on. It was re-reading the old Dawson strips that gave me the idea for my 2011 novel, The Ballad of Delta Rose.

3-Dredger- I loved the Dredger strip which first appeared in the controversial, Action until the comic's demise and then made it's way over to Battle. The later creation of Judge Dredd owes a lot to Dredger - even their names were similar, not to mention their chins.

2 - Judge Dredd - You've got to love Judge Dredd, even if he is the biggest fascist in a fascist state, and the way the UK is heading at the moment we could soon see the likes of Dredd on the street- what you mean that wasn't him at the G20! The character is perhaps the UK's only comic book character able to challenge the dominance of the American's hold on comic book action heroes. He's something of a mystery - we've never seen what he looks like beneath that helmet - well as long as you ignore the dreadful Stallone movie version. Created in the mid 1970's, during a period of great unrest between the British populace and the government, a time when there was the very real feeling of revolution in the air, a time when Britain was sliding towards total anarchy, the strip was a clever satire on state control. Set initially in a future New York which eventually morphed into Mega City One- a sprawling metropolis that covered most of the Eastern United States, Dredd has gone on to become a true institution - So great is the character's name recognition that his name is sometimes invoked over similar issues to those explored by the comic series, such as the police state, authoritarianism and the rule of law.
1-Charley Bourne - created by Pat Mills and drawn by Joe Calquhoun, Charley's War is far more than a comic strip. It can hold its place amongst all of the great literature and films dealing with the first world war. Charley's War tells the story of an underage British soldier called Charley Bourne. Charley joins the British Army during World War I at the age of 16 (having lied about his age and told the recruiting officers that he was 18, and is quickly thrust into the Battle of the Somme.Everything about this strip was different to the usual war strips - it didn't rely on square jawed heroics, but rather presented the conflict in a realistic way and tackled subjects that were never previously covered in comic strips. So important is the strip in the evolution of  British comics that is has often been called, the greatest comic strip of all time.

The strip is currently available in a series of deluxe hardback graphic novels from Titan Books.

Wild West eMonday returns - the genre too tough to die

It's on it's way - the next Wild West eMonday.

"One of the most vapid and infantile forms of art ever conceived by the brain of a Hollywood film producer." ...Dwight Macdonald, The Miscellany 1929

"The western remains, I suppose, America's distinctive contribution to the film."...Arthur Schlesinger Jr, Show April 1963

Geographically and historically the concept of "The West" is very loosely defined, when associated with the literary and film genre of the western. With the possible exception of the Eastern Seaboard almost every part of the USA had been called "The West" at some stage in the country's history.

The federal government defines "The West" as including the following states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada,New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. But from the movies and books both Kansas and Nebraska can be added. And maybe Hawaii and Washington should be removed. The West of popular imagination usually contains those areas associated with the final frontiers of American settlement - anything West of the Mississippi River. An area associated with cowboys, Indians, outlaws and lone lawmen.

Amongst the earliest western literature with artistic merit were the works of James Fennimore Cooper, his most famous works being 1826's Last of the Mohicans - though by the true definition of the genre none of the author's works are strictly westerns. The books were set in colonial America and featured the British rule but true westerns are set in independent America.

EZC Judson, writing under the pen name Ned Buntline was an early writer of traditional westerns. He earned himself the nickname of, 'Father of the Dime Novel' and turned Buffalo Bill into a figure of mythic proportions. However the first western with the classic ingredients was Owen Wister's The Virginian in 1902, which largely invented the guidelines that western writers still follow today.

The names Louis L'amour and Zane Grey have dominated the genre for many years and still do to some extent. But an early European champion of the genre was Karl May with his popular Shatterhand books. He wrote over 60 books but Shatterhand remains his most famous character. Indeed Shatterhand was revived by B.J. Holmes in a series of books for the successful UK western house, Black Horse Westerns.

The cinema has always had a love affair with the western and during the silent era there were many hundreds of westerns made. Most of these have been lost but there are still some prime examples of early westerns to be sought out by fans.

Some of the most important silent westerns that still exist and can be found on DVD or in many cases for free download from include:

The Iron Horse (1924) directed by John Ford
The Covered Wagon (1923) directed by James Cruze
Battle of Elderbush Gulch (1914) directed by D W Griffith

In cinematic terms there is little doubt that the Golden Age of the western took place between the years 1940 - 1970. There were many classics before and since but during these years there was never a time when most major studios didn't have at least one western in production.

During the Fifties and Sixties in particular the western also dominated the small screen with many western TV series being aired. Among the most well known are:
The Big Country
The Virginian
The Rifleman
Have Gun will Travel
Wyatt Earp
Wanted Dead or Alive

The modern era has also seen many classics of the genre, both on the screen and between the covers - Lonesome Dove, Sons of Texas, Blood Meridian, Tombstone, The Unforgiven to name but a few. And of course in recent years we've seen the Coen's re-make of True Grit and next year will bring us Quentin Tarantino's long awaited take on the genre with Django Unchained. And that's not to mention my own LawMaster which is in the early stages of production with Burnhand Films.

The Western truly is THE GENRE TOO TOUGH TO DIE. Kevin Costner is working on a new western and there is a remake of Butch and Sundance in the works. American greats like Dusty Richards and  Larry McMurtry continue to write quality western works. And British western house, Black Horse Westerns are continuing to bring out new western fiction written by writers from all over the world. Among these you will find such loved writers as B. J. Holmes, Ben Bridges, Jack Giles,Nik Morton,  Ian Parnham, Mathew P. Mayo, Chap O'Keefe, Jim Lawless and myself, Jack Martin. And this is just a small selection of the writers producing all new traditional westerns under The Black Horse banner. And of course there is the story of John Locke who became the worlds' first self published writer to sell a million eBooks on Amazon, and several of his titles are westerns. Mind you Locke was recently discredited when it emerged that he had paid for many positive reviews which helped sell his books.

Westerns have also made the transition to eBooks and the excellent publishing house, Piccadilly Publishing is reissuing western classics in the new electronic format, and of course the popular Edge series is also available in eBook. The Edge books, for instance, are a particular favorite of mine and I am proud to say that I was instrumental in initially bring the series to eBooks, but the reissue program is now in the industrious hands of Malcolm Davy.

So if you've never tried  a western then maybe now is the time to do - they've never been so easily available and online giant Amazon has many titles at good prices.

Come on saddle up and let's ride.

Take a look at my Jack Martin page at Amazon - click HERE

The Archive will soon be running another of it's popular Wild West eMonday initiatives with guest posts from many modern luminaries of the genre, so make sure you stick with the Archive for our forthcoming western onslaught, which will take place the first Monday in November 2012.


The deal with Wild West eMonday is that we'll give you a solid weekend of western related posts from various hands, maybe as many as a hundred posts over the three day period, and hopefully by the big day itself you will be inspired to buy a western  or two.

Monday 24 September 2012

The western and I

I love movies. During my formative years going to the cinema was the highlight of the week. I grew up in the seventies and was twelve when Star Wars came out so I suppose I'm of that generation - the sci-fi kids, the blockbuster bunch. And yet my favourite movies have always been westerns, a genre that was in the final stages of its golden age by the time I was born.
I have an extensive DVD collection and most of my films are stored by genre - pictured left is part of my western collection. Click on image for a bigger view.There are some classic westerns in my collection - from the acknowledged classics to curious B-westerns that are often far better than they have the right to be.

Look at the top shelf and there is a box set called 50 great westerns and there really are 50 films there - from early Roy Rogers to Italian Westerns. I got this off Ebay a few years back and I've watched every film even if the transfer is not of the finest quality with none of the films remastered. But it contains the unusual White Comanche which features a very young Captain Kirk as a half breed Comanche. This is actually a very strong B WESTERN.

There are several Wyatt Earp movies in my collection - Tombstone, My Darling Clementine, Gunfight at the Ok Corral, Hour of the Gun and Wyatt Earp - I'll have to be contrary on this but Wyatt Earp is my favourite simply because it covers so much of Earp's life when most others concentrate on the infamous gunfight . Probably Tombstone features the best filmed version of the gunfight, though but the best film for a cinematic experience is John Ford's Clementine which features a brilliant performance by Henry Fonda even if it does play loose and fast with historical fact.

I've actually got an original wanted poster for Wyatt Earp framed above my desk - this is one of my proudest possessions. Well when I say original - it is actually a reproduction but it's from the 1920's so it's original enough for me and I paid a small fortune for it.

There are both 3:10's to Yuma - and the original is my favourite. And there's a large selection of John Wayne westerns - I've even got his debut as Singing Sandy - yep, the Duke was the first singing cowboy. My favourite Wayne would be The Searchers, Red River or the elegiac The Shootist. I'm not one of those who thinks Wayne couldn't act and every time someone says he always played himself I point them to Red River, The Searchers, True Grit,The Shootist- all very different performances, all technically brilliant. Wayne was an excellent actor. A recent addition was the Coen's version of True Grit which whilst excellent will never eclipse the Wayne original.

It goes without saying that all of the Eastwood westerns are there -from Leone to The Unforgiven. In fact I recently bought a great Eastwood box set that contains thirty five  movies, that's all his Warner Brothers films up to his recent Edgar Hoover biopic I've got all of Eastwood's movies though, including the ones he did with Universal,Paramount and MGM.

I've got the full three seasons of Deadwood - I'm still furious this was canceled and left so open ended. This really was a brilliant series. And on a more lighthearted but nonetheless entertaining note there's also a box set of Alias Smith and Jones and the complete run of McCloud. The latter of course was the modern day, fish out of water western series that starred Dennis Weaver.

On a lower shelf - not visible in the pic - is Ken Burn's eleven and a half hour documentary masterpiece , The West. This covers the West from 1500 - 1914 and was hailed by The New York Times upon its first release. This may be the definitive documentary on The West and I plan to cover each part in separate postings on this blog. I paid £80 for this set which is the most I've ever spent on a DVD but it's well worth it. I've watched it several times and as someone who writes, Western novels, I tend to dip into it from time to time.

The days where I step into a store and find a western movie I don't already own are rare, which is something of a pain because I'm always on the lookout for a new western fix. Ahh well at least I've got Tarantino's take on the genre to look forward to when Django hits UK cinema screens early next year.

What they say about the good old western

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

Everyone wants to pronounce genres dead and then someone comes along with something new and changes everything - Clint Eastwood, L.A Times 1991

All who ever knew Billy will confess his cordial, polite and gentlemanly bearing invited confidence and promised protection. He ate, drank and laughed, rode and laughed, talked and laughed, fought and laughed and killed and laughed - Pat F. Garrett - The Authentic Life of Billy the Kid

Custer died for your sins - Indian bumper sticker

The western is one of the most vapid, infantile forms of art ever conceived by the brain of a Hollywood movie producer - Dwight Macdonald, The Miscellany

When in doubt make a western - John Ford

While literary men seem to have neglected their epic duties, the epic has been saved for us by the westerns (and) by of all places, Hollywood - Jorgie Luis Borges

I yam what I yam and that's all that I yam - Tom Mix

Wild Bill Williams, out next month so pre-order now - Jack Martin

Black Horse Western Charts

Charts supplied by Black Horse Express

Bestselling BHWs on

1. The Comanches Revenge (Black Horse Western) by D.M. Harrison (30 Mar 2012)

Hardcover £2.75

2. Hour of the Black Wolf (Black Horse Western) by Mark P. Lynch (31 Jul 2012)

Hardcover £12.38

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

Hardcover  £9.13

4. Drive to Redemption (Black Horse Western) by Mike Deane (31 May 2011)

Hardcover  £9.13

5. All Guns Blazing by Doug Thorne (30 Dec 2011)

Available for download now £3.43

6. High Gun at Surlock by Terrell Bowers (29 Feb 2012)

Available for download now £2.74

7. Raven's Feud (Black Horse Western) by Corba Sunman (31 Jul 2012)

Available for download now £2.74

8. Blood Gold (Black Horse Western) by Scott Connor (31 Jul 2012)

Available for download now £2.74

9. Saddle Tramps by Owen G Irons (30 Dec 2011)

Available for download now £2.74

10. Arkansas Smith (Black Horse Western) by Jack Martin (30 Apr 2012)

Available for download now £2.74

Food for western nerds - Stranger on the Run

This 1967 TV movie was directed by Don Siegal and first shown by NBC on Halloween night of the same year - it boasts an impressive cast - Henry Fonda, Dan Duryea, Sol Mineo and Ann Baxter, but despite such a strong cast and seasoned director it comes across as a Bad Day at Black Rock wannabe.

Still it's not exactly a bad movie, but more a mediocre one. Still I was pleased to see it released as part of Optimum's Western Classics. I'd never seen the film before, indeed I'd never heard of it, and being a western nerd of long standing, I found it an enjoyable ninety minutes.

In the film, alcoholic Chamberlain (Henry Fonda) comes into a railroad town enquiring about a woman. When she is found dead Sheriff McKay (Michael Parks) at the suggestion of his friend Hotchkiss (Dan Duryea) organises a human hunting party giving the stranger one hour head start to reach the border before setting his men after him. Chamberlain comes across a homesteader (Anne Baxter) and they start to develop a connection but this is quickly cut short when the posse catch up.

The film doesn't really get away from it's TV movie status, and is tame by the standards of most westerns of the period. Fonda gives a good enough performance but comes nowhere near his best work in the genre - the following year he would make Once upon a time in the West for Sergio Leone - but he still provides enough gravitas as the alcoholic drifter who strikes up a relationship with Ann Baxter's character. The film does come alive for the climax which is excellently done and quite exciting.

I picked up this movie for less than three pounds, and at such a price I would consider it to be great value for money. After all it's a western and stars Henry Fonda so that's enough to be going along with.

Sunday 23 September 2012


Weekly Stats Report: 17 Sep - 23 Sep 2012


  Mon Tues Wed Thur Fri Sat Sun Total Avg
Unique Visits4025375735655575145603,708530
First Time Visits3745105495395374845393,532505
Returning Visits2827242620302117625

Old age comes to us all

The Geriatric Crimefighter Granny Smith complete with pipe , what a vision... proves where there is a way she will take it...enjoyed this book easy reading . Amazon review

Just in time for Summer! Granny Smith seems less like Miss Marple and more like a mash-up of Stephanie Plum & Ma Kettle. Amazon Review

 I thoroughly enjoyed the book. Granny is a wonderful character, refreshingly different and politically incorrect. I loved that she still smokes in a time when it is frowned upon; that she is an unrepentant hippie and even that she is blind to her son's faults. She is astute and not scared to speak her mind. She is also very human and that is a large part of her charm. I think most of us can identify with her. Amazon Review

Granny Smith -- a pipe-smoking senior citizen who listens to heavy metal and can't keep her nose out of other peoples' affairs. I fell in love with this character within the first couple of pages. The story never drags and the secondary characters, such as Granny's quirky son and submissive husband, are just as lovable as Granny herself. Amazon Review

 Granny Smith is going down a storm and the first of her adventures can be purchased on Amazon worldwide. Go check it out and see for yourselves - her wild oats may have changed to All Bran but Granny still packs a punch!

Countdown to Skyfall - Coke Zero Campaign

Saturday 22 September 2012

Planet of the Apes: the TV series

I saw this DVD box set of the Planet of the Apes TV series and I was instantly transported back to the days of my youth. When this show came on the TV, the UK was starved of genre television and I remember it being a reasonable hit. Well everyone in school seemed to be watching it in any case. The franchise was huge in those days - we had the movies, the TV series, a comic book, a cartoon series and I remember my Planet of the Apes belt buckle was the height of fashion. Well that and my patch pocket trousers, mullet hairstyle, home-made skateboard and tartan scarf - worn tied around the left wrist of course.

I had to pick the DVD up as I had such fond memories of the show - the summers were always warmer and longer back then, the winters filled with snow and TV was super cool. Or at least it seemed so. And besides the DVD box set only cost a tenner.

Nostalgia however, can be a dangerous thing and revisiting the shows of your youth never lives up to the rose coloured memories. After all this show only ran the one season - how good could it have been?

The DVD, of course contains all of the episodes, including the Liberator which was never shown as part of the original series. In the UK the show received high ratings but it underperformed in the US - aired on Friday evenings at 8:00 PM Eastern/7:00 PM Central it had to compete with ratings giants Sanford and Son (which was the US version of the UK powerhouse, Steptoe and Son) and Chico and the Man(the first US sitcom set in an American/Mexican neighbourhood). If memory serves me correct it was first shown in the UK on Sunday evening, at about 7PM.

"The series begins on March 21, 3085 with the crash of an Earth NASA spaceship, launched on August 19, 1980. The spaceship is manned by three NASA astronauts, one of whom has died in the crash. The other two astronauts are unconscious but are rescued by a human who carries them to an old bomb shelter. After the human opens a book containing historical text and pictures of Earth circa 2500, the two astronauts are convinced that they are indeed on a future Earth."

The show was cancelled after only half a season but in 1981, several episodes of the series were edited into five made-for-television movies. Though I was older then and not really interested in the Apes and I'm not sure if these telemovies were ever aired in the UK. Perhaps some Archive reader knows otherwise.

Watching the show now I found it reasonably entertaining and its best episodes are comparable to the best TV sci-fi of the time. The ape make-up is carried over from the films and is just as good. The pilot episode which follows the plot of the original movie, as well as the source novel, is especially good. And the pecking order of the apes, the structure of their society is identical to that set up in the book and movies. The one thing the TV series gave us that the movies didn't was the military leader, Urko, a gorilla with attitude who was always on the search for the two intelligent humans.

The DVD box set is disappointing in that it contains nothing but the original TV episodes, no documentaries, not even an episode of the cartoon series. Still if you're on a nostalgia kick and remember the original TV series then you may get a kick out of this one. It's certainly more entertaining that Tim Burton's 2001 movies based on the franchise.

Friday 21 September 2012

Food for Western nerds: Cahill United States Marshal

Neville Brand, America's second most decorated serviceman next to Audrie Murphy,  played the Indian character, Lightfoot who is drafted in by John Wayne's Cahill US Marshall to track down a band of bank robbers in this lightweight but enjoyable western from director Andrew V Mclaglen and Wayne's own Batjac company. The veteran actor was joining a cast made up of many screen-vets, most notably Harry Carey Jnr and John Wayne himself.

It was the fifth time that the director had worked with Wayne, and in his entertaining commentary that accompanies the DVD of this movie, he provides a lot of interesting snippets of information. The famous opening scene for instance, where Wayne rides in and guns down several badman, was actually filmed on a sound stage which is something you'd never noticed. I've seen this film several times over the years and not once had I ever suspected the great opening was stage set.

He also points out that Wayne was drawn to the script, because of its modern themes. All action western it is but at its heart it is a story of children craving the attention of their far too busy lawman father, played of course by the aging Wayne who appreciated the depth this gave his character. He hoped it would make the movie attractive to modern audiences. This was 1973 and good parenting in a chaotic world was very much an issue of the day. At least it was according to the commentary on this disc. And although I'd never considered the movie from this angle before, but I could see it on this viewing. I watched the film twice - once without the commentary and once with.

The DVD, in the UK released as part of The Ultimate Western Collection, boasts a strong transfer with both sound and visuals which are up to the usual high standards of the medium. However it still looks and feels like a TV western to me, as do a lot of Wayne's late 60's/ 70's output. I started this piece by calling the movie lightweight and it is indeed that and must have seemed very old fashioned against the grim and gritty cinema of the 70's.

It's still a good film, though - maybe not exceptional but good all the same. George Kennedy plays the type of badman he so often excelled at, and although he often seems to be operating on auto-pilot, he is sinister when it is needed, but never quite reaches the levels of evil that his character so needs. Other weaknesses include the fact that Wayne is simply too old to have two such young sons and even the throwaway line that he had kids late in life doesn't make this premise any less likely.

I guess the biggest problem is that the movie doesn't seem to know if it should go for being a conventional Western or a children-in-peril movie. Still it's a John Wayne movie and John Wayne is John Wayne so I can still go with it and for the most part ignore the flaws. Wayne provided so many cinema high points that as a viewer I feel I owe him that much respect. He was 66 years old when this picture was made and yet he still comes across as pure bad-ass - a walking, talking definition of machismo.

Wal-Mart Fires the Kindle - all the eNews

WAL-MART have decided to stop selling the Kindle, a decision which will affect the UK's third largest supermarket chain, ASDA which is owned by WAL-MART. Wal-Mart's decision comes after a similar decision by Target in May. Amazon has been selling lower-priced tablets at thin - if any - profit margins to boost sales of digital media like books and music from its online store. That makes it less attractive for major retailers to carry Kindles in their stores.

Sony and Amazon are having fun with an eBook price war, slashing some bestselling titles to just 20p. The retailers are taking the hit on these loss leaders, however, paying the publishers as if the titles were selling at their normal price.Price wars aren’t new to publishing, yet, predictably, various people are up in arms about what’s really just a publicity stunt. One athour Peter James whose latest bestseller is selling for 20p spoke to the Guardian newspaper and said -
“I’m still getting royalties as if it were full price … so I’m a really happy bunny,” said James.
But the author feels that while the offer is attractive in the short term, “it has a lot of long term dangers”. “What’s worrying is that the 20p price point sets a precedent. The public starts getting used to paying even less,” he said. And unable to compete on price, the sector of the market that will “lose out in the long term is the independent bookshop,” believes the novelist. “That’s my biggest worry.”

Sales of children’s e-books nearly tripled over the first six months of this year compared with the same period in 2011, figures from the Publishers Association (PA) showed yesterday.
Richard Mollet, chief executive of the PA, said that 2.6 million children’s e-books were sold over the first half of this year, compared to 1 million the previous year.

The recent reports that actor Bruce Willis and Apple have clashed over who owns digital content that he bought,  has opened up a can of worms. Bruce Willis apparently wanted to leave his vast iTunes library to relatives when he Dies Hard but Apple were quick to point out that the licence to use the music is not transferable. Do we own any of the digital content we buy? It seems that when someone dies then all the digital content they have bought such as MP3's and eBooks dies with them and can not be transferred, or willed to relatives. Bruce Willis was heard to comment on the situation - 'Yippee kai yay Applefuckers!"  Check out the story in more depth HERE.

Read more here:

Thursday 20 September 2012

Blood Kin alert

There's a terrific short story from Richard Prosch at Beat to a Pulp

New Stephen King from the Hard Cases


JOYLAND to be published in June 2013
New York, NY; London, UK—Hard Case Crime, the award-winning line of pulp-styled crime novels published by Titan Books, announced it will publish JOYLAND, a new novel by Stephen King, in June 2013. Set in a small-town North Carolina amusement park in 1973, JOYLAND tells the story of the summer in which college student Devin Jones comes to work as a carny and confronts the legacy of a vicious murder, the fate of a dying child, and the ways both will change his life forever. JOYLAND is a brand-new book and has never previously been published. One of the most beloved storytellers of all time, Stephen King is the world’s best-selling novelist, with more than 300 million books in print.
Called "the best new American publisher to appear in the last decade" by Neal Pollack in The Stranger, Hard Case Crime revives the storytelling and visual style of the pulp paperbacks of the 1940s, 50s, and 60s. The line features an exciting mix of lost pulp masterpieces from some of the most acclaimed crime writers of all time and gripping new novels from the next generation of great hardboiled authors, all with new painted covers in the grand pulp style. Authors range from modern-day bestsellers such as Pete Hamill, Donald E. Westlake, Lawrence Block and Ed McBain to Golden Age stars like Mickey Spillane (creator of "Mike Hammer"), Erle Stanley Gardner (creator of "Perry Mason"), Wade Miller (author of Touch of Evil), and Cornell Woolrich (author of Rear Window).
Stephen King commented, "I love crime, I love mysteries, and I love ghosts. That combo made Hard Case Crime the perfect venue for this book, which is one of my favorites. I also loved the paperbacks I grew up with as a kid, and for that reason, we’re going to hold off on e-publishing this one for the time being. Joyland will be coming out in paperback, and folks who want to read it will have to buy the actual book."
King’s previous Hard Case Crime novel, The Colorado Kid, became a national bestseller and inspired the television series "Haven," now going into its third season on SyFy.
"Joyland is a breathtaking, beautiful, heartbreaking book," said Charles Ardai, Edgar- and Shamus Award-winning editor of Hard Case Crime. "It’s a whodunit, it’s a carny novel, it’s a story about growing up and growing old, and about those who don’t get to do either because death comes for them before their time. Even the most hardboiled readers will find themselves moved. When I finished it, I sent a note saying, ‘Goddamn it, Steve, you made me cry.’ "
Nick Landau, Titan Publisher, added: "Stephen King is one of the fiction greats, and I am tremendously proud and excited to be publishing a brand-new book of his under the Hard Case Crime imprint."
JOYLAND will feature new painted cover art by the legendary Robert McGinnis, the artist behind the posters for the original Sean Connery James Bond movies and "Breakfast At Tiffany’s," and by Glen Orbik, the painter of more than a dozen of Hard Case Crime’s most popular covers, including the cover for The Colorado Kid.
Since its debut in 2004, Hard Case Crime has been the subject of enthusiastic coverage by a wide range of publications including The New York Times, USA Today, Time, Playboy, U.S. News & World Report, BusinessWeek, The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Houston Chronicle, New York magazine, the New York Post and Daily News, Salon, Reader’s Digest, Parade and USA Weekend, as well as numerous other magazines, newspapers, and online media outlets. The Chicago Sun-Times wrote, "Hard Case Crime is doing a wonderful job publishing both classic and contemporary ‘pulp’ novels in a crisp new format with beautiful, period-style covers. These modern ‘penny dreadfuls’ are worth every dime." Playboy praised Hard Case Crime’s "lost masterpieces," writing "They put to shame the work of modern mystery writers whose plots rely on cell phones and terrorists." And the Philadelphia City Paper wrote, "Tired of overblown, doorstop-sized thrillers...? You’ve come to the right place. Hard Case novels are as spare and as honest as a sock in the jaw."
Other recent Hard Case Crime titles include THE COCKTAIL WAITRESS, a never-before-published novel by James M. Cain, author of THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE, MILDRED PIERCE, and DOUBLE INDEMNITY, and an epic first novel called THE TWENTY-YEAR DEATH by Ariel S. Winter that won advance raves from authors such as Peter Straub, James Frey, Alice Sebold, John Banville, David Morrell and Stephen King.
About Hard Case Crime
Founded in 2004 by award-winning novelists Charles Ardai and Max Phillips, Hard Case Crime has been nominated for or won numerous honors since its inception including the Edgar, the Shamus, the Anthony, the Barry, and the Spinetingler Award. The series’ books have been adapted for television and film, with two features currently in development at Universal Pictures and the TV series “Haven” going into its third season this week on SyFy. Hard Case Crime is published through a collaboration between Winterfall LLC and Titan Publishing Group.
About Titan Publishing Group
Titan Publishing Group is an independently owned publishing company, established in 1981, comprising three divisions: Titan Books, Titan Magazines/Comics and Titan Merchandise. Titan Books, recently nominated as Independent Publisher of the Year 2011, has a rapidly growing fiction list encompassing original fiction and reissues, primarily in the areas of science fiction, fantasy, horror, steampunk and crime. Recent crime and thriller acquisitions include Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins’ all-new Mike Hammer novels, the Matt Helm series by Donald Hamilton and the entire backlist of the Queen of Spy Writers, Helen MacInnes. Titan Books also has an extensive line of media and pop culture-related non-fiction, graphic novels, art and music books. The company is based at offices in London, but operates worldwide, with sales and distribution in the US and Canada being handled by Random House.

Sample from Wild Bill Williams

Pre-order Wild Bill Williams now CLICK HERE


Like many other nationalities, the Welsh made a unique contribution to the time and place we 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.

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.

  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Robert Hale Ltd (31 Oct 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 070909633X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0709096337

Visit Amazon's Jack Martin page HERE

Under the name Jack Martin I am well known in the western community and have written several highly popular westerns. My debut was The Tarnished Star which was followed by Arkansas Smith and 2011 saw my most hardboiled western, The Ballad of Delta Rose. I also write under my actual name Gary Dobbs and my historical crime thriller, The Rhondda Ripper is available for the Kindle with a print edition to follow. Arkansas Smith II the sequel to my popular hardcover Arkansas Smith is now available as a Kindle only book, as is Savage Slaughter. October of 2012 will see the publication of a new hardcover from Robert Hale Ltd entitled, Wild Bill Williams. 


There was nary a frown when Wild Bill Williams was in town. He had a way about his manner that enabled most folks to forget all their troubles and become positively festive. It was said that Bill could start off a dance at a funeral and carve a grin out of the most granite of faces.

He had been born a Welshman; in a village called Gilfach Goch, a name that was unpronounceable to all but himself. But as a young man of fifteen summers, with no compulsion to go and work in the coalmines, those same mines that had aged his father beyond his years, he had had set out in search of adventure and found himself stowed away on a ship making the Atlantic crossing to the United States. He’d landed in New York and after a few aimless years had started out West in search of the future he had in mind for himself.
Go West, Young Man, and grow up with the country”, The New York Tribune had advised in striking headlines that had filled men such as Bill Williams with optimism for a future on the rugged frontier. It had seemed Bill’s destiny to follow the westward trail. What that destiny was no one, Bill included, knew.
Indeed if Bill had ever known what he had intended to do with his life then he’d long forgotten. And these days he just walked through life happy-go-lucky and faced whatever fate threw at him.
Fate sure did like to interfere with Wild Bill Williams.
Take today for instance; one moment Bill was enjoying a poker game after drifting into the town of Stanton, and the next he was in the jailhouse nursing a split head.
It had happened thus:
Bill, face totally expressionless, peered over his cards at the men seated around the table. He was holding, “Aces Up”, a strong enough hand but he would have preferred better. There were three men, four counting himself, at the game and Bill looked at each of them in turn. Dutch Carter had a sweat on, Sam Jessup looked to be almost asleep and Cleveland Ohio, lovely name that, sat trying to suck life into a massive cigar.
‘You know,’ Bill said, about to make his move when the batwings suddenly swung open and a young man of maybe seventeen summers stood in the doorway, his face furious, his hands hanging, gunfighter style, at his side. Whatever Bill had intended to say then was lost, even to himself as the actions of the armed man had stolen Bill’s train of thought.
‘Caleb Stanton,’ the young man said. ‘I’ve come to kill you.’
The saloon fell silent and at the far end of the counter, a big man of about thirty, Caleb Stanton, Bill guessed, stepped forward. The big man was dressed completely in black - black pants, black shirt, black boots, with a black Stetson sat upon his head. He even wore a matching gun-belt and save for the glow of the Schofield pistol, the only colour about the man was his thick red hair, which was a trait of the Stanton clan.
‘Come back when you grow up,’ the man spoke directly to the kid. He seemed completely at ease but Bill noticed the way the man held his body, coiled, ready to act at any moment.
‘I’m plenty growed up,’ the young man said and pulled a Colt. He pointed it directly at the man named Stanton. ‘Make a fight then,’ he prompted.
‘I’m not going to draw on you,’ Stanton said, calmly.
‘Then I’ll shoot you down like the dog you are,’ the young man snarled. ‘Now defend yourself.’
‘In front of all these people, I don’t think so,’ Stanton said and Bill had to admire his coolness. ‘For the last time, boy. I’m not going to fight you.’
‘You’ve got no guts less it’s for disrespecting women?’ the young man sneered.

Australia empowers Big Tobacco with its new draconian and simply barking mad vape restrictions

 From July 1st 2024 it will be illegal to own or buy any vaping device other than from pharmacies, and flavours will be limited to mint, men...