Monthly Archives: September 2016

House Dick by Dashiell Hammett

Black Mask Dec. 1, 1923

Black Mask Dec. 1, 1923

The December 1st, 1923 edition of Black Mask carried an adventure of Dashiell Hammett’s Continental Op called “Bodies Piled Up.” The story was retitled “House Dick” for presentation in Jonathan Press Mystery J29 (January 1947) aka Dead Yellow Women.

The opening lines: “The Montgomery Hotel’s regular detective had taken his last week’s rake-off from the hotel bootlegger in merchandise instead of cash, had drunk it down, had fallen asleep in the lobby, and had been fired. I happened to be the only idle operative in the Continental Detective Agency’s San Francisco branch at the time, and thus it came about that I had three days of hotel-coppering while a man was being found to take the job permanently.”

Cover from Galactic Central.

Jack Vance: Worlds of Origin

vance3The lead story, a novelette, in the eighth issue of Super-Science Fiction (Vol. 2 #2, February 1958), is “Worlds of Origin” by Jack Vance (1916–2013). Here’s how it begins:

“The Hub, a cluster of bubbles in a web of metal, hung in empty space, in that region known to Earthmen as Hither Sagittarius. The owner was Pan Pascoglu, a man short, dark and energetic, almost bald, with restless brown eyes and a thick mustache. A man of ambition, Pascoglu hoped to develop the Hub into a fashionable resort, a glamor island among the stars—something more than a mere stopover depot and junction point. Working to this end, he added two dozen bright new bubbles—‘cottages,’ as he called them—around the outer meshes of the Hub, which already resembled the model of an extremely complex molecule.”

The tale is a whodunit set in outer space. It’s illustrated by Ed Emschwiller and runs 25 pages. Vance literally wrote volumes of stories over his career and is perhaps best remembered for his “Dying Earth” series.

Roy Carroll aka Robert Turner and The Gunny

The Tobacco Auction Murders (Ace 1954)

The Tobacco Auction Murders (Ace 1954)

Opening of “The Gunny” by Robert Turner from Gunsmoke #1 (June 1953):

“After it was over, Maurer didn’t look at Blackburn sprawled in the dust over the rutted, hard-packed dirt of Main Street. He stood there for a wild moment, feeling terribly tall, as though he were standing in the middle of a toy town, the clumps of wooden buildings around him only ankle-high and he all alone there like that. Then the feeling faded as fast as it had come.”

The deadly past of a hired gun begins to haunt him. In his overview of Gunsmoke for The Digest Enthusiast #3, Peter Enfantino provides a biographical sketch of the author.

Robert Turner (aka Roy Carroll) sold hundreds of mystery tales to the pulps and over 60 stories to crime digests such as Manhunt, Pursuit, Hunted, and Guilty, including my favorite Turner title, “Frogtown Vengeance,” in Hunted #2 (February 1955). Manhunt’s bio on Turner states that he was an agent and an editor before turning to full-time writing because it ‘made less ulcers.’ Eleven of the eighteen stories collected in Shroud 9 (Powell, 1970) originally appeared in Manhunt. Novels included The Tobacco Auction Murders (Ace, 1954), Woman Chaser and Strange Sisters (both Beacon, 1962), and The Night is For Screaming (Pyramid, 1960). Turner wrote a short piece on ‘The Not-So-Literary Digests’ for Xenophile #38 (1978), wherein he opined that Gunsmoke died a quick death ‘probably because the typical western story fan didn’t go for off-trail stories.’”

Masters of Sword & Sorcery

Sword & Sorcery Annual 1975

Sword & Sorcery Annual 1975

In the summer of 1975 Ultimate Publishing put out this Fantastic Stories Special, a Sword & Sorcery Annual, featuring an all-star lineup of writers and illustrators.

It opens with a cover painting and inside front cover illustration by Stephen Fabian. The editorial info inside is sparse, just four lines of indicia, but the digest magazine is packed with content:

“Queen of the Black Coast” by Robert E. Howard featuring Conan, a tale that originally appeared as the cover story of Weird Tales May 1934. It also headlined the Avon Fantasy Reader No. 8 in November 1948. Here, each chapter is illustrated by a series of beautiful, round character portraits by Fabian.

Sam Moskowitz profiles the author in “L. Sprague de Camp: Sword and Satire”

“The Pillars of Chambalor” by John Jakes, features Brak the Barbarian, who debuted in Fantastic Stories of Imagination May 1963. “Pillars” was first printed as the cover story in the March 1965 issue of the magazine. Here, it appears with an illustration by Gil Kane.

“Master of Chaos” by Michael Moorcock, originally appeared in Fantastic May 1964. Featuring Aubec of Malador, it’s illustrated by Virgil Finlay.

“The Mirror of Cagliastro” by Robert Arthur first appeared in Fantastic Stories of Imagination June 1963, an adaptation of his script “The Prisoner in the Mirror” for TV’s Thriller, first broadcast on May 23, 1961. The story is illustrated with several drawings by Dan Adkins.

As mentioned, the May 1963 issue of Fantastic saw the debut of the barbarian Brak. The same issue also included the first publication of “The Cloud of Hate” by Fritz Leiber, featuring Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser. For the story’s representation in Sword & Sorcery the tale includes an illustration signed “LRS.”

“The Masters” by Ursula K. Leguin, illustrated by Dan Adkins, originally appeared in Fantastic Feb. 1963.

The Special’s final entry is “Horseman!” by Roger Zelazny, a tale pulled from Fantastic August 1962, illustrated by Summers.

Dept. of Not a Digest


The American Bystander #2

A couple/three things I wanted to highlight this morning.

If you haven’t heard of The American Bystander, check out their latest Kickstarter campaign. TAB is a beautifully produced, full-size humor magazine under the leadership of Michael Gerber, Brian McConnachie and Alan Goldberg. Shown here is issue No. 2. They are funding issue 3 (and 4) in their current campaign. Their list of contributors is dazzling.

Jim Main’s latest issue of Western Tales (number four), sports a cover and portfolio of cover paintings from the old Dime Western pulp magazine by Walter Baumhofer—gorgeous. The balance of the issue consists of comics and prose westerns by Roger Keel, Tony Lorenz, Neil Riehle, Link Hullar, John Lambert, Jamie Chase, and Kevin Duncan. $6 postage paid, inquire here.

Western Tales #4

Western Tales #4

Bill Crider highlighted this interview with James Reasoner on Ryan Fowler’s Faded Trails, Reasoner got his start in Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine.

Ellery Queen Selects: The Golden Horseshoe by Dashiell Hammett

Black Mask November 1924

Black Mask November 1924

Opening lines from Dashiell Hammett’s “The Golden Horseshoe” featuring his Continental Op:

“‘I haven’t anything very exciting to offer you this time,’ Vance Richmond said as we shook hands. ‘I want you to find a man for me—a man who is not a criminal.’”

The story appears in the Ellery Queen Selects issue of A Jonathan Press Mystery No. J29, reprinted from its debut in Black Mask November 1924.

Cover image from Cladrite Radio, which includes anther excerpt from the story.

Fate: December 1974

Fate December 1974

Fate December 1974

Cover contents pages—yuck. I suppose they have their efficiencies, but they’re so generic and utilitarian they have minimal appeal. Yet some digests, Fate, The Saint and Reader’s Digests come to mind, had long, long runs with this approach.

At least this cover of Fate (December 1974) granted some of its real estate to a compelling headline, set in decorative type, and an intriguing lead-in to the article that continues inside.

I’m highlighting this particular cover because it includes Timothy Green Beckley’s report on “Allan Jones Believes in Fate.” Beckley has reported on “True Stories of the Strange and Unknown” for decades. Today, “Mr. UFO” produces The Conspiracy Journal, the CJ Bookshop and Exploring the Bizarre with co-host Tim Swartz. As readers of The Digest Enthusiast already know, Mr. UFO profiled in TDE3 by Tom Brinkmann.

Kelly Freas 10, Emsh 8

Super-Science Fiction Vol.2 #2 (February 1958)

Super-Science Fiction Vol.2 #2 (February 1958)

Frank Kelly Freas (1922–2005), known as the “Dean of Science Fiction Artists,” painted hundreds of covers over his 50+ years as an artist and illustrator. He sold his first cover to Weird Tales for the November 1950 issue.

Eight years (and many other covers) later he painted this one for the eighth issue of Super-Science Fiction Vol.2 #2 (February 1958). In fact, between them Kelly Freas and Ed Emshwiller painted all the covers for SSF over its 18 issue run, with Freas contributing 10 and Emsh 8.

Freas was awarded 10 Hugo Awards over his career, along with three Chesley Awards. He was cover artist for Mad Magazine from 1958–1962.

Freas books include Frank Kelly Freas: The Art Of Science Fiction (1977), A Separate Star (1985) and Kelly Freas: As He Sees It (2000).

Richard R. Smith’s Get Rich Quick

siriLong before Siri asked, “What can I help you with?” Richard R. Smith featured a talking wrist watch in his story “Get Rich Quick,” for Super-Science Fiction (Dec. 1957). Here’s the opening:

“‘Eight o’clock.’

“Brik jumped and almost dropped the ice cube container. The two of them were the only ones in his apartment and the voice had been distinctly a woman’s”

Richard R. Smith also wrote as Richard E. Smith, Richard Reinsmith, Damon Castle and Ann Taylor. He sold two dozen short stories during the 1950s to Galaxy, Fantastic Universe, Infinity, SSF, Planet Stories, Amazing, etc. His novels include The Savage Stars (1981) as Reinsmith, and Starbright (1983) as Castle.

Thanks to Robert Lopresti—author of the Leopold Longshanks series for AHMM, and other works—for his invitation to contribute a guest post today at the crime fiction collective SleuthSayers.

Manhunt distribution, 1964

Manhunt July 1965

Manhunt July 1965

The statement of management, ownership and circulation, filed on October 1, 1964, appears in Manhunt July 1965:

Average number of copies each issue during preceding 12 months with listing of single issue nearest to filing date (Nov. issue).

152,785 Total number copies printed (153,100 Nov.1964 )
800 Subscribers (850 Nov. 1964)
151,960 Agents, newsdealers (152,230 Nov. 1964)
25 Free distribution (20 Nov. 1964)
152,785 Total number of copies distributed (153,100 Nov. 1964)

The returns are not listed. I recall actual circulation reported in other magazines, but unfortunately this issue of Manhunt doesn’t give us that important detail.

In 1993, Dierdre Carmondy reporting for the New York TImes wrote “Last year [1992], almost half of all magazines placed on newsstands were eventually shredded. . .” There’s no telling how this relates to Manhunt in 1964, but I think it’s fair to assume the returns cut into 153K substantially.