Saturday, May 26, 2018

A.Leslie Scott- Jackson Cole-Pulps

  Pulp magazines were extremely popular in the days before TV. Pulp was the name given to low cost publications of the 20's, 30's, 40's and partially int to 1950's because they were printed on cheap paper. The quality of this paper was so low that the life of these publications was extremely limited. Time has turned many of them into dry, crumbling, rubble. Fortunately, what is left of these pubs is now being saved and in some cases digitized to a new life.
  Action, Adventure, Mystery, Crime, Sci-Fi, and Fantasy were the staples of these magazines. My favorites, of course, were the westerns.
  Among the many western magazine titles was Texas Rangers. This was a long running series that started in the 30's and ended in 1957. The stories were about Jim Hatfield and his horse Goldy.  They were written almost exclusively by A. Leslie Scott under the house name Jackson Cole. Theses were outstanding stories of action and adventure. The earlier stories contained much faux cowboy language and periods of long talks with the hero's horse as a way of moving the story forward. I found theses things annoying. Nonetheless the adventures were full of action and I enjoyed them. Late in the series Scott no longer wrote the series. A stable of ghost writers continued under the Jackson Cole name. Among these writers was Walker A. Tompkins, who was my favorite. The language became more readable. The stories were shorter but still retained rapid fire pacing.
  Scott went on to pen another Texas ranger series for Thrilling Western Magazine under the pen name Bradford Scott. This time the ranger was named Walt Slade. He was almost a clone of Jim Hatfield except he rode a black horse instead of a gold one. Also, he was a singing cowboy which would have worked in the movies, but i didn't think it did in print. In the earlier episodes, he rode into action with a guitar strapped across his back. Oh well, nonetheless these were action filled adventures. Unfortunately, in later years Scott's stories slipped into a sameness and all stories were essentially the same.
  Nonetheless, A. Leslie Scott was still a great talent that produced a huge volume of westerns.
  One of the all time greats.

The above pictured title Apache Guns is restored andavailable in kindle Ebook and Amazon paperback. Note only the Apache Guns title is here. The rest of the magazine is not.

Free pdfs of Texas Rangers are available at

Thanks for riding the trail

Friday, May 11, 2018

Texas Lawman--Ray Hogan

Texas Lawman is one of the Ray Hogan westerns currently republished by Prologue Books. This is a typical exciting yarn by this prolific writer. Again his hero is stalwart, honest, and courageous.
  Hogan does not tell us much about Dan Ricker and his past. He is just a typical wandering hero, much like Cheyenne of the 1950's. I am sure Hogan was very much influenced by the standard TV oaters of the time.
  Ricker is neither a Texan or Lawman as the title suggests, but he demonstrates that essence in the progression of this action adventure.
  Running from Comanches, he meets up with marshal Ben Burke who is transporting a prisoner to Canyon City for hanging before the prisoner's family can catch up with the marshal and free their kin.
  Ricker, the marshal and prisoner are once again attacked by Comanches. They are captured and taken to the Indian stronghold to be sold to Comancheros.
  Here they meet up with a young girl, Marfa Talbot who is also a prisoner and slated for sale to the Comancheros.
  They all escape and are pursued by both Comanches and Comancheros. They meet up with friends of the prisoner, who kill the marshal and let the prisoner get away.
  Ricker pins the marshal's badge on, taking on the duties of a Lawman and continues with the girl in pursuit with the outlaws friends and family on their trail.
  Comanches and Comancheros are not to be forgotten here, as they are still in pursuit of their previously escaped inventory.
  The rest of the story is full of exciting  scenes and adventures that results in a thrilling climax.
  Once again Ray Hogan delivers his usual fare of an outstanding western tale.

Thanks for riding the trail,
The Rangewriter

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Ray Hogan and the traditional western

  Ray Hogan was born in 1908 but he didn't publish his first western until 1956. Fortunately, he lived to be 90 years old and published many thrilling western yarns in his lifetime. I never considered him a great writer, but he never failed to deliver a fast paced, satisfying western. He was a craftsman and his books were constructed in a methodical building block manner. Each chapter was lean and spare. The story moved along at a natural progression. Each chapter built solidly into achieving a satisfying ending to the book.
  His heroes and bad guys were of traditional nature. Black and white. Good and bad. His heroes held values of truth, justice, integrity, honor and responsibility. These are values held in high esteem and seemed to have lost their luster in our current modern day society. It is refreshing to read these older works and relive the values of a simpler time.
  Ray Hogan's Shawn Starbuck series, which was originally a paperback original series, is currently being re released by Piccadilly Publishing: an outstanding endeavor to bring back western classics from the past. I will discuss more about this fine publisher in future posts.
Shawn Starbuck is a hero in the classic western mold. He is honest, noble, and his integrity is beyond reproach. He is the prime example of Ray Hogan's stalwart heroes. The books were short. The plots were straightforward and right won out against the bad guys. The stories were very much like the tv western in the 50's. A lone hero drifting from town to town, becoming involved in other people's problems, helping them out, bringing bad guys to justice in a tale that would have easily fitted in the TV hour long show, much like Cheyenne or Bronco. The difference was that instead of wandering aimlessly throughout the west, Starbuck has a purpose. He is looking for his long lost brother. This is a familiar vehicle for moving a story that has been used over and over as in The Guns of Will Sonnett, Desperado, and The Fugitive.
  It is good to see these books back in print. As i said, the Starbucks are being published by Piccadilly Publishing. Some of Ray Hogan's stand alone books are currently being published by Prologue Books. I will highlight this publisher in another post also.
  Hogan's other most notable series was about John Rye known as The Doomsday Marshal. There were only a few installments and were published in hard cover by Doubleday as their Double D Western series. These were short hardcover books of about 150 pages. Included in this series were authors such as Lewis B. Patten and Lauren Paine. I will discuss this series in another post.
  Hopefully these books will be issued again soon.

Thanks for riding the Trail
The Rangewriter

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Dickie Jones Range Rider's Pal

Dickie Jones was a famous child actor. He was the voice of Pinnochio in the Disney movie in 1940. He performed with most of the notable screen actors of the day.
He was an accomplished trick rider and trick roper at the  age of 4 AS he grew to manhood he was hired by Gene Autry to star in many of his movies. After television came along, Gene Autry formed his own television company, Flying A Productions. Dickie appeared in several Gene Autry TV shows before being cast as Dick West in The Range Rider TV series as reviewed in a previous blog.
   He was extremely athletic and he did his own stunts and horsework. With Jock Mahoney, they made a fantastic duo with their outstanding action performances.
  After The Range Rider Series, he starred in his own series, Buffalo Bill,Jr. This was another outstanding action series that highlighted his athletic and horsemanship abilities. This was also produced by Gene Autry. 
  He retired from acting in the late 1950's. In later years, he became a banker.
  During my time with the Buck Jones Rangers, we approached Dickie for a possible appearance at our annual Buck Jones Film Festival. He was very gracious, but he very tactfully informed us that he was DICK JONES, not Dickie. So Noted. He deserved the dignity.
  Dick passed away in 2014 from a fall at the age of 87.
  A man of great talent and class. He is sorely missed.

Thanks for riding the trail.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Luke Short Again

  I always appreciate it when a reader takes the time to respond to this blog.  Here is what one reader had to add about Luke Short. 
 Western writer Frederick Dilley Glidden(1908-1975), was better known as Luke Short.  He was a good storyteller and he developed his characters so they weren't one dimensional, but were complex, which makes for better reading.  Yes, his women characters were more realistic frontier types, probably because he had a good role model in his mother, who after her husband's death raised her sons as a single working mother.  She was an English teacher who became the dean of women at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois.                                            

     Luke Short's stories were outstanding and his plots contained great characters. Often the stories were much closer to noir. His novel Ramrod was very much so.It was made into a movie in 1947 Starring Joel McRea and Veronica lake.  The movie followed the book very closely and was a big success in its day. It is still popular on classic movie channels today. Many of Short's other other works were made into movies as well. Vengeance Valley is a good example of the adult themes that permeated his works.

  As for Joel McCrea, he was the epitome of the western man. He fitted the role perfectly as he almost always did in all his other roles. He was so much entrenched in westerns that later on in his career, he decided he would only perform in westerns.
  In real life, Joel was really a cowboy. He had a ranch and he worked it as such. He never claimed to be an actor.  When ever asked his occupation, he would say rancher. His tax returns always displayed rancher as occupation.
  He retired from movies in 1962 with a final western movie Ride the High Country in which he starred with Randolph Scott. This was a classic western and served as a retirement vehicle for both outstanding western stars.

Thanks for riding the trail.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Hostiles- A Big Screen Western Treat

There was a time when western movies was the usual fare at the local movie theater.These days with so few western movies coming of Hollywood it is a rare treat to see a new one on the big screen in a movie theater. The other day I had the rare treat of seeing "Hostiles". This is a revisionist western, much different from the usual shoot-em-ups that we used to thrill too. But, it is a western  and it is a good one.
  Westerns were made for color, though most westerns of the past were in black and white because of the technology of the time, both in movies and black and white TV. Excellent cinematography makes "Hostiles" a visual delight.
  Christian Bale delivers an excellent performance as Joe Blocker, an Army Captain detailed to escorting a dying Indian chief to Montana, where he could die and be buried in tribal holy land. Blocker is haunted by the savage past of Indians wars and loss of life of former friends and soldiers. The task assigned to him is not of his liking and he only wants revenge, but he is a stalwart individual and above dealing it out himself.
  "Hostiles" is a one word title which i believe the producers wanted a one word title to be austere and as a remembrance of Clint Eastwood's "Unforgiven." I do not believe the title here was that appropriate. Granted it is a word that conjures up some semblance of indicating this a western. I have know suggestion for what it could have been titled. Could have been "Maybe Forgiven" but that would have been awful, if perhaps appropriate.
  The direction of this film was fine in a poetic way. There were a few scenes that I felt were extraneous and reminiscent of those inserted in silent movies to evoke a moment of emotion. Often times the pace was slow and lumbering. This seems to be the understanding of what a western is these days as a direct result of the slow but dramatic Sergeone Leone films that spawned the era of spaghetti westerns. The story here, though slow paced,  progressed nicely. Action scenes, though quick and intermittent were well done and the violence was realistic and brutal.The ambush scene as the cavalry officers and their charges rode on steadfastly, was quick and surprising. The initial shot stirred me in my seat with a jolt. Very effective.
  Hopefully, "Hostiles" will do well in the theaters and will prompt Hollywood to make more good westerns. I have little hope though, that younger generations find this type of western appealing. It is too slow and too thought provoking. Younger audiences need action and constant visual attraction.
  Just as westerns evolved from the early day action packed oaters to the slow moving pace and cinematic landscapes, perhaps it is time for westerns to evolve again into an exciting and perhaps not so brutal and realistic form. I do do miss the mythic western, although I recognize that the more realistic versions are also mythic, but in a more subtle way.

  Until next time,
Thanks for riding the trail


Monday, January 22, 2018

Buck Jones Rangers- Festivals and Dominick Marifioti

  For many years, I was privileged to be part of The Buck Jones Rangers organization which was founded to honor Buck Jones. He was a famous cowboy star that came from silent movies and transitioned sucessfuly to sound. He died prematurely in a fire at the Coconut Grove in Boston in 1942 while he was on a war bond drive. Because people crowded into the stationery doors until they couldn't get out, revolving doors are now reqired next to stationary door in all hotels.
  Dominick Marafiotifi resurrected The Buck Jones Rangers and established an annual western festival in Rochester NY. He is pictured above with Scott Shepherd, who was at the time the official Lone Ranger for Golden Books ; the then current owner of the Lone Ranger rights. Scott was removed when Classic Media, the new rights rights owner took over.
  Dominick hosted this festival for many years with guest stars appearing. Among those stars was SunsetCarson, Iron Eyes Cody, Richard Martin, Victor French, Peter Breck, Charles Starrett, Peggy Stewart, Claude Akins, and Kay Linaker. There were many more before my time with the organization.
  Dominick Passed away in 2004, and the festival came to an end. By this time there were few old time western stars left and it was difficult to find and attract guest stars. Robert Horton and Hugh O'brien were very gracious, but declined to appear because of personal restrictions. Membership was declining and attendance at the festivals declined as participants aged or/and passed on; just another sign of the waning western.
                                                                                                                          Buck Jones
    Dominick did not provide for a successor to carry on the festival. Since he had not asked me, I did not think I should take it upon myself to continue the organization.
  He had turned his house into a museum in Buck Jones honor and had a treasure house of memorabilia. Unfortunately these items were sold in an ordinary garage sale. I did not attend for I would feel like a vulture. I sometimes regret that decision. I often think about Sunset Carson's hat that he had given to Dom. Oh Well.
  I include this in my blog now for I may reference it in the future. I am thinking specifically of Dickie Jones who starred with Jock Mahoney as I featured in an earlier article.                                                                     
     Thanks, for riding the trail.