Thursday, May 31, 2012
Until recently I knew D'Achille's work as a fantasy artist, primarily because of his covers for Edgar Rice Burroughs' Barsoom series published during the 1970s, before the cover art was turned over to Michael Whelan. D'Achille's Barsoom covers were stark, with little flash of the sort I was used to seeing on Robert E. Howard's books or others by ERB, such as the Krenkel or Frazetta covers used by Ace for the Pellucidar and Venus series. D'Achille's nearly monochromatic paintings appeared blah on the bookshelves next to those over-the-top representations of heroic men and nubile princesses.
And when Michael Whelan's covers started to appear on the Barsoom books, it was like seeing 3-D HD TV after watching nothing but black-and-white on a tube cabinet set.
Looking back now, those covers have an appeal.
But this blog is about westerns.
Exploring the artist's Web site, turns out he has executed quite a few western covers -- including the Piccadilly Western series Hart written by John B. Harvey.
Monday, May 28, 2012
Saturday, May 19, 2012
The Brothers O'Brien by William W. Johnstone Shadow of the Hangman by William W. Johnstone Published by Pinnacle Books, February and April 2012, respectively. Sackett saga may be the top contender for expansive version of this sub-genre. Author William W. Johnstone — and the folks now behind the WWJ brand — certainly understood and understand the appeal of the family saga. One can easily argue that every one of the various WWJ series is in some way or other a family saga. One of the two newest WWJ series has its feet firmly planted in the family saga mold, that of The Brothers O'Brien. The opening book of the series describes the establishing of the O'Brien clan's ranch, Dromore, by Shamus, his wife Saraid, and his segundo Luther Ironside. Four boys are born to the O'Briens before the death of the missus, and this band of gritty men face off any threats to their independence or the well-being of Dromore.
Saturday, May 12, 2012
A Ralph Compton novel by Matthew P. Mayo. Published by Signet Books, 2012. Dead Man's Ranch, a stranger — Bryan — comes to town, but everyone recognizes him as the spitting image of his father, who died recently and left one of the finest ranches in the territory to this son, who was sent East to be raised by his mother's parents after she died. There are complications to Bryan's taking over the ranch, of course: he's an Eastern dandy and doesn't have a clue to his family's story (his grandfather, who raised the boy, had disinherited Bryan's mother when she married the rough-and-tumble western rancher, and subsequently kept Bryan in the dark about his beginnings as he raised the boy, even returning unopened any letters and gifts from Bryan's father when they came to the house); his dead father left behind the kindly Esperanza, unmarried, but with a grown bastard son, good-hearted Brandon, who has spent most of his time in a bottle since his father's death. There's also the owner of the neighboring ranch—also a widower—who wants Bryan's new property; his reckless, hot-headed, and frequently drunken son, who will perform any violent act necessary to get hold of the dead man's ranch to gain favor from his hard-nosed father; and the rancher's daughter, who frequently mediates between the two hot-headed men of her family. Throw in a psychopathic serial killer who has heard about the complicated mess about settling the dead man's property from a lawyer who was in his cups at a poker table (and who later ends up dead in an alley—guess who does him in?), and you've got all the ingredients for a western stew that is muy caliente. Black Horse Western imprint. (You can learn more about Black Horse Westerns at The Black Horse Extra blog.) It's a pleasure to see his work now made available to a wider mass-market audience. Mayo has recently released the first novel about his series character, Roamer, titled Wrong Town. It is available as a paperbound book or as an ebook for the Kindle. Readers who try Dead Man's Ranch will soon find themselves searching for his other books.