Classic B-western stars ride again

Alien BansheeSeveral almost-forgotten B-western stars of the past have found work in a new series of historical fiction westerns.

Ken Maynard, Hoot Gibson, Crash Corrigan, William S. Hart, Tom Mix and other film-cowboy heroes from the 20s through the 50s have returned to battle Nazis, saboteurs and old-fashioned bad guys in the Hollywood Cowboy Detectives (HCD) series published by Page Turner’s Buckskin Editions in both Kindle and paperback versions.

Darryle Purcell, a long-time Mohave County, Ariz., resident known for his topical newspaper columns and political cartoons, has reset his editorial sights on historical western fiction.

“I grew up enjoying the B-western movies and serials made during the 1930s through the ’50s,” the former Mohave Valley Daily News managing editor said. “Many of those films were contemporary to the years they were produced. Western heroes such as Col. Tim McCoy would board a train in the metropolitan east of, say, 1936 and arrive in the old west (quite often Arizona) to battle evil doers. We all remember films where the Three Mesquiteers fought the Nazis in the early 1940s.”

Purcell is writing and illustrating the 1930s-contemporary western series, which embraces the adventurous world of pulp publishing while also saluting the great western movie serials of that era. The first publication, Mystery at Movie Ranch, is comprised of 12 cliffhanger chapters set in the San Fernando Valley area of southern California during the filming of the 1934 Mascot Pictures serial, Mystery Mountain, starring Ken Maynard.

“I do a lot of research on what was being filmed, where, by which studio within a specific time frame,” he said. “I then carve a window in the time period where certain people could have joined together to deal with an adventure.”

Sean “Curly” Woods, former Los Angeles Examiner crime beat reporter and current studio flack, is Purcell’s main fictional character who appears in all HCD publications. In Movie Ranch, Woods’ assignment is to write fluff public relations articles about the serial and its stars and keep Maynard out of trouble while looking into the possible sabotage of the Mascot production.

“From a variety of sources, Ken Maynard was a temperamental alcoholic,” Purcell said. “Nobody’s perfect. He was still a skilled rodeo, circus and film cowboy idolized by youth from the 1920s through the ’50s.”

While helping Maynard battle his personal demons, Woods discovers real enemies are not only targeting the western production, but the American way of life. Joined by western movie star and World Champion Rodeo Cowboy Hoot Gibson, Maynard and Woods engage in a series of deadly encounters with an army of anti-American terrorists ruled by a sinister mastermind known only as the Viper. The Hollywood Cowboy Detectives deal with organized crime, a sniper attack, aerial combat against an experimental German flying machine, interrogation by a sadistic enemy scientist in an underground stronghold, an ungodly creature who is the product of evil experiments, and a variety of battles with those who would eliminate all who believe in freedom and justice.

“With this series, I hope to revive the lessons of the straight shooters while introducing a new generation to some of the great cowboy heroes of the past. Besides having served in the First World War, most of them had been working cowboys on ranches, rodeos and wild-west shows before joining the motion picture studio system. Often, their movie careers began as stuntmen for other, less-talented, film stars. The HCD series honors the hard work, amazing action talents and ethical lessons of the B-western film stars of the past,” Purcell said.

The illustrated book series can be found at by searching Books for Hollywood Cowboy Detectives.

Doodletopia Cartoons by Christopher Hart


This latest book from cartoonist Christopher Hart begins with the basics of drawing a cartoon – be it a penguin, horse, teen, panda, angry waitress, pretty woman or college freshman. Then he concentrates on various expressions and clothing. There’s even a chapter on cartoon calligraphy.

Completing cartoons is a constant theme throughout the book. Hart provides the basic scene and the reader is asked to complete the pages. These are both challenging and fun exercises for the budding cartoonist. The interactive format is one of the main strengths of the book. You learn by doing and by doing show your understanding of the art of cartooning and learn a few tricks of the trade at the same time. It’s an enjoyable way to spend a winter afternoon or evening.

160pgs, softcover. Available from all online booksellers and Watson-Guptill Publications.

Reprinted with permission from Doodletopia: cartoons by Christopher hart. Copyright 2015. Published by WATSON-GUPTILL PUBLICATIONS, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

Review copyright Paul Green (Weird Westerns) 2015.

MYTHIC COLORING BOOK – Michael Kaluta & Charles Vess

cvnf2 (1)Faerie Magazine presents MYTHIC COLORING BOOK (November 19, 2015), a 128-page coloring book from two legendary artists—two books in one, filled with giants, dragons, mermaids, talking crows, faeries, fairy tales, enchanted forests, and midsummer nights’ dreams …

Charles Vess is an award-winning artist whose work has graced the covers and interior pages of many publications include two New-York-Times-bestselling picture books penned by Neil Gaiman, Blueberry Girl and Instructions. Most recently, he collaborated with Charles de Lint on The Cats of Tanglewood Forest and Seven Wild Sisters. “I’ve always been happiest,” he says, “drawing scenes set deep within that elemental greenwood where fairies, giants, mermaids, and dragons all became my best friends and have remained so to this day.”

Artist Michael Kaluta is best known for his acclaimed 1970s adaptation of the pulp magazine hero The Shadow with writer Dennis O’Neil. He worked with Elaine Lee on the space opera Starstruck, and has done covers for Danzig, worked on video games, illustrated numerous books, and done countless private commissions—all in his detailed, elegant, art-nouveau-influenced, ultra-romantic style. “I’ve not been able to figure out why a mermaid on a rock pleases me so much more than a seagull on a rock,” he says, “but it does… it makes me feel more alive inside to think that clouds hide castles in the air, that dragons live in sea caves, that the land is alive with wonder.

MythsMYTHIC COLORING BOOK presents 120 black-and-white drawings, 60 from each artist, with two covers and two opening letters. Readers flip the book halfway through to get two books in one.

Published: November 19, 2015 • $16.95
ISBN 978 0 9838556 9 9

“Wonder Woman the War Years 1941-1945” by Roy Thomas – book review

wwAmazon Princess Diana left her all-female Paradise Island for the love of a man – Captain Steve Trevor. “And so Diana, the Wonder Woman gives up her heritage…to take the man she loves to America – the land she learns to love and protect, and adopts as her own.”

Soon Wonder Woman was fighting the Japanese with the aid of her invisible plane, truth compelling lasso and metal bracelets that repelled bullets. She helped American forces secure the Philippines and was inducted into the Justice Battalion of America with fellow Justice Society members. Wonder Woman #2 (Fall 1942) saw her fight the Roman god of war, Mars and the real-life figures of Hitler, Mussolini, Goebbels, Goring and Emperor Hirohito. Sensation Comics #37 featured the Nazis planning to conquer Paradise Island.

This volume features Wonder Woman stories from All-Star Comics, Sensation Comics, Wonder Woman and Justice Society of America plus a sample newspaper strip from 1944. Dr. William Moulton Marston’s stories and H.G. Peters’ unique art style are well served in this book that is a treat for fans of the Amazon warrior princess.

This full-color 302 page hardback (8.25″ x 12.25″) collection includes an introduction and a four-part commentary by Roy Thomas on the evolution of Wonder Woman through the war years. The three volumes in this “War Years” series are highly recommended for their impressive presentation and fascinating content. Published October, 2015 by Chartwell Books.

Review copyright Paul Green (Weird Westerns).

“Batman the War Years 1939-1945” by Roy Thomas – book review

ubatBatman and Robin the Boy Wonder entered World War II gradually with stories concentrating on fifth columnist enemy agents and spies. They would be best utilized on the Home Front defending America from the Axis agents.

In December 1942 Batman officially declared war on the “Japs” in Detective Comics #69. That same month Batman #14 featured “Swastika over the White House.” Between the war bond stories on the home front Batman also ventured into total fantasy with stories such as “Atlantis Goes to War” in Batman #19. Nazis and the lost civilization of Atlantis make for strange allies until Batman sets the Atlanteans straight. Meanwhile Robin falls in love in the underwater kingdom.

As WWII reached its conclusion the dynamic duo traveled to Metropolis where they addressed the U.S. Senate giving various criminals a chance to contribute to the war effort.

This second volume in “The War Years” series features the work of Bob Kane, Bill Finger, Jerry Robinson, Dick Sprang, Jack and Ray Burnley, George Roussos and Don Cameron among others.

This full-color 299 page hardback (8.25″ x 12.25″) collection is a perfect companion volume to Superman the War Years and Wonder Woman the War Years. Insightful commentary by Roy Thomas adds to the pleasure of this nostalgic book of vintage Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder strips and covers – which also feature their wartime appearances in World’s Finest Comics. Published October, 2015 by Chartwell Books.

Review copyright Paul Green (Weird Westerns).

“Superman – The War Years 1938-1945” by Roy Thomas – Book Review

untitledSuperman was born into an era where the real world was about to go to war. It took writer ad co-creator Jerry Siegel some years to involve his creation in adventures where he fought Nazis and “Japs” as they were called back in the day. Superman first ventured into fictional territory fighting substitute Nazis and the amalgamated “Japanazis” on the covers of Action Comics and Superman. As the war in Europe continued and America entered the war Superman finally fought Hitler face-to-face and helped the British allies across the Atlantic. Superman personified American values in WWII and captured the fighting spirit of real-life soldiers and marines who fought so valiantly.

This new book features over 20 full-color comic book adventures and original covers from Action Comics and Superman. We see the evolution of Superman through the war years and his gradual increase in super-powers as the war reached its climax. Jack Burnley’s cover art was often a highlight of each issue and helped define the image of Superman in the 1940s. The early sketchy interior art by Joe Schuster had a certain charm but by the end of the war a new roster of artists had been introduced, including the effective Ed Dobrotka and Fred Ray. Artists such as Wayne Boring offered a more dynamic approach in the examples of the syndicated newspaper strip featured in the book. Early Superman stories were simplistic but they offered more depth and an increasingly feisty Lois Lane as the war years progressed.

Reading the strips in sequence it becomes obvious that the more jingoistic and preachy stories are far less effective than the entertaining strips that offer comedy relief or amusing personality clashes between Clark Kent and Lois Lane. Superman #22 (May-June 1943) “Meet the Squiffles” – sees the Gremlins battling with the the Squiffles (mischievous leprechaun-like creatures working for Hitler intent on sabotaging aircraft.) The Gremlins win the day and Hitler’s plans are foiled again – with the intervention of Superman.

This beautiful 304 page hardback (8.25″ x 12.25″) collection makes for a fascinating read. Framed with new commentary by comic book legend Roy Thomas this book is a must for any comic book fan who has a liking for vintage Superman. Published October, 2015 by Chartwell Books.

Review copyright Paul Green (Weird Westerns).

Encyclopedia of Weird Westerns Second Edition – Publication March 2016

61ZZRfsZkGLI recently completed work on the Second Edition of my “Encyclopedia of Weird Westerns.” The updated book includes hundreds of new entries and over 50,000 extra words – plus approx. 85 images in total and a new Introduction by Cynthia J. Miller (editor of “Undead in the West” Volumes 1 & 2). Publication by McFarland & Co. is scheduled for March 2016.

Reviews of the First Edition:

“in the extraordinarily useful and detailed Encyclopedia of Weird Westerns, Green identifies horrific and supernatural departures and twists over the last 150 years of the Western. A delightful, breezy volume one might read cover to cover. Green’s Encyclopedia covers considerable ground…certainly deserving of recognition”–Ray Merlock, University of South Carolina Upstate, The Journal of American Culture

“all-encompassing coverage…a stunning amount of research…Green has done the Western genre a great service”–True West

“a useful and entertaining guide to the mind-bending and genre-blending world that resides outside the mainstream…a handy sourcebook”–Wild West History Journal

“an eye-opener for fans of the typical all-American, John Wayne western”–ARBA

“thorough…it is very easy to get lost in the Encyclopedia of Weird Westerns, so make sure to set aside a good deal of time when you pick it up to ’just look something up.’ There are plenty of discoveries awaiting, and some old favorites to revisit”–Green Man Review

“his coverage is quite inclusive; few media are omitted”–Communication Booknotes Quarterly

“a rich vein for prospectors mining those dusty hills of the Wild Weird West. It’s the kind of book I like to dog-ear and write in, and carry along with me, in my urban saddle bag, to refer to often”–Zombos’ Closet of Horror

“highly recommended”–Operaphile

“this unique volume covers ground that has generally eluded researchers”–Starlog.