Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thanksgiving Leftovers - Wild West Weekly Style

I went to my aunt's on Saturday with one goal in mind: to help her reorganize her collection of WILD WEST WEEKLY's. I was thinking it would take me maybe an hour tops. Oh, how wrong I was.

When my aunt and I reunited in 1999 and we discovered the unpublished manuscript for Pulp Writer, she did not own one WILD WEST WEEKLY copy. When she and her brothers (one being my father) were growing up, my grandfather wouldn't let them read them. Read the classics! he would roar at them. So they grew up without collecting any of the 440 stories he wrote for the magazine.

But since 1999, Pat and her husband Ted have been on a mission: to collect all of her father's stories that were published in any form.

About a year ago we got together and finished a quasi-organization of the magazines. So it's not like they were in a huge pile. Still, on Saturday, it took us three hours just to put all the magazines in chronological order and check them off the list to determine which issues they were still missing. Three hours.

Sure enough, I found two more issues with Thanksgiving themes. Here they are, with Kid Wolf in one (sans the turkey) and Sonny Tabor in the very next year.

We still are checking to see if we have all of the WWW issues we need; I have probably close to a hundred at my house as well and they need to be inventoried too. That's for another day.

So when you read about all this work, are you SURE you want to become a collector? I can only say that even with all the work, it's still a great feeling when you see a copy of an issue that you've been dying to get a hold of for years, like these two for me:

Or when you fall on something that is a complete surprise, like this one that is the March 10, 1928 issue, one of the oldest issues of WILD WEST WEEKLY after it had been acquired by Street & Smith. This was even before my grandfather's first story was published in the magazine. And my aunt didn't even know that she had it. That's what happens when you start collecting these by the hundreds.

The thing that troubles me about this copy is that it was severely cut off at the right side, and the edges aren't the rough cut that other pulps were at the time. At first I was suspicious, thinking that it was a facsimile, but other than those two factors, it does appear to be an original.

At this point, we have decided that the next project is to inventory all of the post-Wild West Weekly stories that my grandfather wrote. We have collected some of the magazines, but there is no actual list that has been compiled of the stories, the magazine they appeared in and the dates. I really don't think that there should be more than twenty, but researching my grandfather's career has been full of surprises, so you never know.

Over the next few weeks, I share more of the issues that I brought home. There are some really spectacular covers. Plus I'm going to write a bit more about the history of the magazine. That, along with everything else I've got on the burner. December is going to be plenty busy.


Richard Prosch said...

Wow, what fun! And hard work. 'Course I'm weird that way, thinking the best fun is productive work and the best productive work is the kind that's fun. Did that make sense?

Barry Traylor said...

Cataloging one's pulp collection is one of the fun things for a collector to do on a rainy day.
As far as that WWW with the trimmed edges, at some point in the past someone trimmed it themselves. I do not think WWW was trimmed in the 20's, I do have some from 1941 that are trimmed and they look to me to have been done when they were first printed. They did not trim pulps when first published to save money on production costs. Many Street and Smith pulps had trimmed edges to begin with. Oops, perhaps I should not have said many S&S pulps were trimmed. Maybe some were would be a better choice of words. Hopefully Pulp Expert Walker Martin can tell us the correct number of titles that did this.

Laurie said...

Richard, that made total sense to me. But then I'm left-handed.

I did know about the WWWs from the 40s being trimmed. I believe they did that just about at the same time they decided to "mature" the magazine to make it less juvenile. But trimming the ones from the 20s - I'm stumped. Plus the trimming on this one was a bad job - they cut off half of the date.

Walker Martin said...

Laurie has stumbled across the crazy practice that some old time collectors used to do. They would trim their own pulps by hand, using a regular paper cutter or even sissors. Needless to say, the end result looked like garbage and ruined the value of the magazine.

Over the years, I've seen many horrible examples of this practice, the worst being about a hundred Shadows I bought several years ago for a very cheap price. The price was cheap because of the silly and sad looking amateur trumming job done on all the issues.

Another thing old time collectors liked to do was to excerpt their favorite stories and make little booklets, all of which looked like crap. I do know one current collector who still likes to do this and he swears he only does it with coverless pulps. But I'm against the practice even with coverless magazines.

Laurie said...

The only thing I can say, Walker, is Grrrrr........

sheldonhillyer said...