Monday, February 28, 2011

We Have a Winner!

Very exciting news to share today: We have a winner in the Paul Powers Book Title Contest. It was tough going in picking just one. There were a total of 41 entries, and they were all very good.

But after a lot of thought and discussions with Matthew Moring of Altus Press, it was decided that Gary Dobbs' entry, RIDING THE PULP TRAIL, fit the bill exactly.

As many of you know, Gary is an established writer of Westerns himself, having written the best-selling Black Horse Western, THE TARNISHED STAR, which now is apparently on its way to becoming a movie. Gary gets a free copy of the new book, a pdf of one of the original manuscripts, and an original WILD WEST WEEKLY.

Congratulations to Gary and a big THANK YOU to all of you who sent in entries!

So keep an eye out for news on the upcoming release of RIDING THE PULP TRAIL: A NEW PAUL POWERS COLLECTION in the next few months!


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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Pulp Artists: Sam Savitt

When I was growing up, I was obsessed with horses. I daydreamed about them, drew them, collected plastic versions, pretended to ride them in the back yard, and most of all, read about them. I devoured books about horses. Fiction and non-fiction both. I studied and memorized books about the care and upkeep of horses, and memorized the drawings that showed proper equitation.


Sam Savitt was a big part of that world. His drawings were everywhere: in the books on how to take care of your horse, how to ride. Books on famous horses and those not so famous. Charts on the confirmation of the horse. Horse magazine illustrations. He was as big a part of my world and my dreams as famous pulp writers may have been to those who were devoted to their work, or as Stan Lee was to comic book aficionados.

So I now write with tremendous pleasure about San Savitt's career illustrating for the pulp magazines. He did do a few covers, but the majority of his work was interior.

Sam Savitt was born Sam Savitz on March 22, 1917 in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, a coalmine town. He didn't have a lot of close exposure to horses while he was growing up - his father was a timekeeper at an iron foundry and so the family was probably very poor - but apparently he was fascinated by the horses and mules he saw in town.

Savitt (who started his career under his original name Savitz but eventually changed it to Savitt) started as a cartoonist and moved to New York city after school to find work as a cartoonist. It wasn't long before he was able to get work doing interior work for ACTION PACKED WESTERN, and later for FIGHTING WESTERN, SPEED WESTERN, THRILLING RANCH STORIES, RANCH ROMANCES, FIGHT STORIES, THE RIO KID WESTERN, POPULAR WESTERN, MASKED RIDER, EXCITING WESTERN, and others.


In the 1950s Sam Savitt worked for Dell comic books, painting covers for many of their titles, including Hi-Yo Silver. Finally, in the 1950s, Savitt was finally able to buy his own horse ranch.



In the 1960s he worked for several men's adventure magazines such as Outdoor Life, Real, See For Men, Sports Afield, and True. It was also during this time that his career as a book illustrator truly took off and he became probably the most sought after illustrator for horse books. He was the official artist of the U.S. Olympic Equestrian Training Team. In 1998 he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the North American Horsemen's Association.


Sam Savitt died in 2000, but his legacy lives on. As for me, he'll always be the artist who brought joy and dreams to a little girl who only wanted to ride horses.

Special thanks to David Saunders' web site www.pulpartists.com.


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Friday, February 25, 2011

One Hour Left....

...to submit your entry for naming the new Paul Powers Collection. Go here for the rules.

I have to tell you that I recently started reading the stories again - the scans that Altus Press sent me - and I'm getting very excited about this collection. I've read all these stories a few times now, but it's been a few months since I looked at them. Last night I read one, called "Hang Noose for a Prodigal," and I was stunned by how well it reads, even now after 60 years. I'm not just saying that because Paul Powers is my grandfather.

Just goes to show you that it always helps to take a break when you're working on something, whether you're writing it or editing it, because it helps when you go back to finish working on it. You'll come back with fresh eyes, as I like to say, and perhaps a new appreciation for what you're reading.



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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

An Interesting Decision to Make

I've got a decision to make and I'm stumped. No, it doesn't have to do with the title contest for the new Powers collection(although that's going to be tough too, because there are a lot of good entries so far). My dilemma is that I have to decide on the order that the stories in the book will appear.

My first reaction was to make it simple: have the first half of the book the published stories, and then the second half the unpublished ones. Or visa versa. But then I wonder whether this is a good idea. Will people tend to think that the unpublished stories won't have 'merit' because they weren't published and use that preconceived notion when they're reading them?

Another is to do chronological, but that's a problem because some of the unpublished stories don't have any records as to when they were written.

Another idea is to just make it random. Or alphabetical order.

I'm still leaning towards the first idea (half/half), but I'd appreciate any comments on this. What have some of you done that have published anthologies? What kind of guidelines did you follow, if any?

I know it's a problem that many people would kill to have. But that doesn't help me decide!

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Two More Days in the Paul Powers Book Title Contest

There's only two more days left to submit your entries for naming the next Paul Powers collection of Western stories. This is your chance to become famous! Really!

Here are the rules:

The winner will win 1) a FREE copy of the new collection; 2) a PDF copy of one of the manuscripts of the new stories and 3) an original WILD WEST WEEKLY magazine with a Paul Powers story included. And finally, the winner gets to brag to everyone that he/she got to name the title for this book.

Here are some basic rules:

1. You have until FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 25, 2011, 5:00 PM Pacific Time, to submit your entry.
2. Submit your entry to the following email address: Powerspulpwriter@gmail.com. Please supply your full name and mailing address when you submit them.
3. DO NOT submit your entry via as a comment to this post. They will not be submitted as entries.
4. You can submit as many entries as you want.
5. Entries will be judged by me and Matt Moring (founder of Altus Press).
6. It does not have to have the name Paul Powers in the title. However, we may decide to add a subtitle along the lines of "A New Paul Powers Collection" to your title.

Here are some guidelines for deciding on a good title:

1. These are ALL western stories. There are no other genres, although some have romantic subplots.
2. There are fifteen stories, so it's going to be a big book.
3. The font for the new cover will be similar to that on the cover of PULP WRITER.

So come on, be brave - submit your entry before it's too late!

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Monday, February 21, 2011

William Hart Park: Where the Buffalo Roam and the Deer and the German Shepherds Play

Some of you have become familiar with the William Hart House here in Newhall through my earlier posts.

But actually the house is just part of a very large park, the William Hart Park, that William Hart left to the city on his death. Most people know of the house, but many don't know about all of the other spots in the park that might be worth visiting.

There's a large grassy area at the bottom of the park for picnicing or just wandering around. Don't do what I did a few months ago, though, and take your dogs off the leash. The security people will be barking at you through a megaphone quicker than you can say 'dog poop.'

There's a barnyard with all kinds of farm animals to visit. You can feed the animals, but only with food bought at the Trading Post on the premises. Here, Annie found a new friend. (Again, something I shouldn't have done - taken the dogs through the barnyard.)

Back in the 1920s when Hart was at the height of his career, his pinto pony Fritz was about as famous as he was.

Fritz is now buried on the premises and you can visit the grave - it's behind the barnyard in a lovely little fenced area.

Walking up to the house, there are all kinds of trails.

One of the things I love about William Hart is that he was so devoted to his animals, especially his dogs. There is a dog cemetary on the grounds - Xena, Annie and I always stop by to pay our respects.

Close to the top of the hill, almost at the house, is where the bison are located. There are also spectactular views as well.

Xena wanted to chase about every single animal in the barnyard (you don't want to know what she did when she saw the turkeys), and the bison were no different. Good thing they were far enough away from the pen that she couldn't go face to face with them - she probably would have gone ape-shit. As it was, she tried to climb down this little hill to get a closer look before I stopped her.

All in all, a wonderful little excursion out on a holiday afternoon. Now you can all see why this is one of my favorite places to go in the area. There are tales that the park is haunted with the ghost of William Hart, but something tells me that if he is around, he'd be a friendly ghost.

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Saturday, February 19, 2011

Excellent Article on The Western in USA Today

For your reading pleasure on this rainy afternoon, I highly recommend this article over at USA Today, The Western genre gets back in the saddle. It's an excellent essay with quotes from Jeff Bridges, the Coen brothers, Jennings Brown of Cowboys & Indians magazine, and Elmore Leonard.

To quote from Jennings Brown:

"For some Western fans, just tinkering with Wayne's True Grit is almost sacrilegious. Our core audience definitely was concerned. But with the critical acclaim and box-office success of the movie, I think die-hard Western fans are hoping this means an end to a slump," one that started not long after Clint Eastwood won two Oscars for 1992's Unforgiven.

"I am still a little concerned, though, about this attempt to rejuvenate the Western through movies that appeal to young and old, particularly the efforts made through comic books," says Brown. "Jonah Hex just did not work. Maybe Cowboys & Aliens can do better."

Whether or not True Grit wins best picture at the Academy Awards, I am thrilled that it has generated so much interest and box office. Whether or not it's better than the original is now a moot point in my opinion. Right now, at this moment, it's a great movie that's bringing in both older and younger audiences, thanks to a story line centered around a young girl. For the Western genre, which has been on life support for the past few decades, it's a shot in the arm it desperately needs.

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Friday, February 18, 2011

Don't Forget the Paul Powers Book Title Contest

Don't forget about the New Powers Book Title Contest - you have until next Friday to submit your ideas for the title of the new collection of Paul Powers stories.

The winner will win 1) a FREE copy of the new collection; 2) a PDF copy of one of the manuscripts of the new stories and 3) an original WILD WEST WEEKLY magazine with a Paul Powers story included. And finally, the winner gets to brag to everyone that he/she got to name the title for this book.

And here are the rules again:


1. You have until FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 25, 2011, 5:00 PM Pacific Time, to submit your entry.
2. Submit your entry to the following email address: Powerspulpwriter@gmail.com. Please supply your full name and mailing address when you submit them.
3. Do not submit your entry via as a comment to this post. They will not be submitted as entries.
4. You can submit as many entries as you want.
5. Entries will be judged by me and Matt Moring (founder of Altus Press).
6. It does not have to have the name Paul Powers in the title. However, we may decide to add a subtitle along the lines of "A New Paul Powers Collection" to your title.

If you're not a Western writer, don't think that you couldn't possibly come up with something winnable. As with many things in life, the best ideas sometimes come from those new to the field. All you Western fans out there, this is your chance!

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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Fantastic Film Documentary on James Dean's Last Hours

A little over a year ago, I ran a post as part of my Movies in Santa Clarita series, on James Dean and how his last meal may have been at Tip's Coffee Shop in Castaic, just north of Santa Clarita. The Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society has posted a video called "The Stuff of Legend: James Dean's Final Ride." It's a 23 minute documentary on the last few hours of Dean's life and is hosted by film historian E.J. Stephens.

This documentary has earned a lot of praise: it won a 2010 Star Award for Best Documentary and was one of the most watched shows nationwide in 2009. Any one who is a James Dean fan should watch it, as it's a very detailed account of Dean's accident with lengthy interviews with the Highway Patrolmen who responded to the scene. A lot of urban legends about the accident are discussed and dismissed.

Whatever you do, watch the first few minutes: the interview between Gig Young and Dean is horribly prophetic.

Ernie Tripke, one of the two Highway Patrolmen who responded to the crash, died just last December. His obituary in the Los Angeles Times can be found here.

E.J. Stephens has a fantastic blog over at Deadwrite's Dailies and is an well-known Santa Clarita Valley historian. He runs a film class that starts in March - you can find information about it on the SCV Historical Society web site.



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The Great Covers of ALL STORY

I was doing some browing on Galactic Central the other day and discovered these great ALL STORY covers from the early 1900s. Most people think of ADVENTURE when they think of great covers on the mixed-genre magazines, but I think ALL STORY certainly gave them a run for their money, at least until the mid 1910s. After that they began running a lot of covers of pretty women; don't know what the strategy behind that was, but the covers weren't the same after that.

For those of you who are new to the pulp fiction world, one of these covers is on an issue that is considered the most highly collectible pulp magazine of all. Which one is it? (Ed, Walker, and Barry: don't spoil it!)

May 1906

June 1906

August 1906

November 1906

May 1907

February 1908

March 1909

May 1909

March 1910

May 1910

October 1910

December 1910

June 1911

October 1912

June 1913

January 1914



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