Monday, December 26, 2011

Criminous Haiku on The 5-2

The week of December 26, the crime poetry site The 5-2 is featuring a haiku I wrote. Besides being a haiku about crime, it has a seasonal/holiday slant.

Gerald So, who edits The 5-2 site, posts a new crime-associated poem each week. Gerald is a member of the Academy of American Poets, his poems have appeared in Nerve Cowboy, Barbaric Yawp, Defenestration, Cherry Bleeds, Yellow Mama, Gutter Eloquence Magazine and other provocatively-named venues. He broadcast an invitation for holiday-themed submissions, and I responded. I'm not sure how many weeks he has set aside for the holiday poetry, but I was pleased to receive his acceptance. Gerald also posted his reading of the poem. It's haiku, so don't worry -- it's short.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Have Gun, Will Travel by Noel Loomis

I found this TV-show tie-in novel at PulpFest this summer. It seemed a happy coincidence: Our family has been watching, off and on, seasons' worth of episodes of the show for the past three years thanks to through-the-mail rentals of DVDs and streaming video online. I had no idea a tie-in novel existed for Have Gun, Will Travel, so I was pleased to delve in to see how the prose Paladin compared to the phosphor-dot Paladin; and the book gave me the opportunity to finally read a western by Noel Loomis.

Just as most of the episodes begin in San Francisco, so does this novel. The first several chapters, in fact, take place there as Paladin encounters a flamboyant actress and some menacing gents who seem to follow Paladin and the actress around but demonstrate no clear association with the woman. This bit of mystery stirs Paladin's attention, of course, as does the seeming connection between the actress' recent visit to Santa Fe and a request for Paladin's help that originates from that same town.

A foiled stage coach robbery, a run-in with attacking Indians and a chase by Mexican bandits all seem somehow connected to Paladin when he learns that the woman who has requested his help—Mrs. Marsh—wants him to find her husband. The husband, Joe, runs a newspaper in Santa Fe, but has stirred up suspicion against a local rancher, Whipple, by accusing him of gun running to Mexican revolutionaries. Joe has disappeared in Mexico, supposedly joining the revolutionaries there. Paladin finds all this somewhat confusing, since Mrs. March apparently loves her husband, but allows Whipple to court her.

A trip into Mexico turns deadly as Paladin joins a revolutionary camp and finds Joe Marsh. The latter is an idealist who imagines the revolutionaries will bring freedom to Mexico, but he is blind to the ugly banditry demonstrated by his fellows.

Paladin ties up all the loose ends by the last page, of course.

Loomis captures the onscreen persona of Paladin very well. I could easily imagine some of the dialog as spoken by Richard Boone in his black attire. There are, of course, the spot-on moments of Paladin demonstrating his higher learning and his sardonic commentary on the activities of his companions—both the apparent good guys and and obvious bad guys.

Whether this is a good sample of Loomis' work is hard to say: work-for-hire tie-ins don't necessarily show off a writer's typical style or concerns, but one can easily argue that a given writer would be chosen for a project because his style and concerns closely match those of the property for which he would be writing a novel. I suppose I'll have to read more by Loomis to find out whether that's true.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Noel Loomis, Paladin, and San Francisco

Certain writers are consistent (at least in what I've read by them) in touching, at some point in a story, on the noble work of settling the land and expanding the nation from shore to shore. Some writers in whose works I've noticed this theme are Tom Blackburn, Norman Fox, and Thomas Thompson.

I started reading a book by Noel Loomis today -- I haven't read anything by Loomis before, so I don't know if this is a consistent note in his work or just apparent within this book, which is a TV show tie-in novel. It's a paperback I picked up at PulpFest a few months ago, Dell R156: Have Gun Will Travel.

Loomis has a great way with description.

The book's second paragraph runs like this, talking about Paladin's home, San Francisco:

In this wild, wicked city on the bay, the mornings were cool as the fog blanketed the hills and human sounds were quiet and subdued; the afternoons were sunny, and the city came awake, and the sound of human voices arose as the fog rolled back down the precipitous streets; then the city was taken over by the nights that never seemed to end. For in the mud of the hilly streets, in the yellow gaslight of the saloons, in the plush and elegant parlors of the love palaces, there was spawned a violence that lives yet today in the littered and windswept streets, in the sharp and suspicious glances toward a stranger, in the dark feelings that flow over a man when he passes a narrow alley, in the strident clang of the cable cars as they hurtle down Powell Street to the turn-around.

There's a bit of Raymond Chandler there, a foreshadowing of dark violence with hints of noir, and as Loomis phrases that last, long sentence, the reader feels like the San Francisco of the past and that of the present are sharing a common space and time, that the old and new are really the same and unchanged. It's a neat bit of writing.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Showcase Presents: Jonah Hex Volume 1

Jonah Hex volume 1, DC Comics: 2005

Jonah Hex may be the most resilient of western comic book characters. He certainly isn’t the longest-lived — Hopalong Cassidy and the Lone Ranger have been around a lot longer — but Jonah has suffered some indignities that perhaps even those stalwart heroes may not have been able to survive. Perhaps that may be too damning a statement — Hoppy’s original Mulford novels and Louis L’Amour’s stories continue to appear in print, despite the watered-down Bill Boyd version that most people may have recalled from late-night films and cable TV; and new incarnations of the Lone Ranger continue to ride despite the lackluster 1981 film. But neither Hoppy or the Ranger were inexplicably sent to the future to battle aliens, as Jonah’s publisher allowed in a remarkable display of creative shark-jumping. (Whoever okayed that goofy plot for the recent Jonah Hex movie also should get a good talking to.)

Okay, back to the book at hand.

This Showcase Presents volume collects the stories that launched Jonah Hex for DC Comics. John Albano’s scripts and Tony de Zuniga’s art captured an appropriately gritty Spaghetti Western look and feel for this western comic series, imparting a hard-boiled, somewhat noirish, somewhat existentialist tone for Jonah’s wild west. It’s a world that the Lone Ranger could never have ridden in safely. It’s a world that works very well for this character: the newest continuing Jonah Hex series published by DC captures well this type of setting and story. Returning Jonah to his roots was an excellent creative move.

When Michael Fleisher takes over the scripting reins in the 12th story, he starts providing some backstory to the character by adding a running subplot tied to Jonah's years in the Confederate Army during the Civil War. He also softens Jonah’s gruff character (around the edges, at least), and the pages get filled with a lot more word balloons — the growing wordiness of the stories is a detriment. Still, Fleisher told a lively tale, and Jonah remained a colorful character.

The art styles in this volume run from the evocative grittiness of de Zuniga to the heavier hand of Noly Panaligan, to the remarkable fine-linework of George Moliterni, to the slick superhero-style work of Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez. Garcia-Lopez would eventually become THE Jonah Hex artist, but these early outings on the character don’t show his work at its best.

I was pleased to see one story illustrated by the inestimable Doug Wildey, but his work on this episode was a bit disappointing and far from his best, which probably is found in his series of stories about his western character Rio.

Altogether, this is a nice introduction to the character of Jonah Hex, and offers a good sampling of some fine storytelling by John Albano and Tony de Zuniga. The stories hold up well (the first appeared in 1972) and set up a strong foundation for the lightning-fast gunfighter with the mangled face. Now I’ll be looking to read Volume 2.

Friday, August 19, 2011

"Trail of the Golden Horseshoe" by W. Ryerson Johnson

Street & Smith Western Story Magazine for November 8, 1941

Ryerson Johnson wrote engaging genre fiction for the pulps. For proof, if you haven’t yet encountered Johnson’s work, just read any of his tales that are available for download at PulpGen: “River Round-up,” “The Avalanche Maker,” and “Killer Canyon.” By 1941 he had several years of fictioneering under his belt, starting with his ghosting at least three Doc Savage novels for Lester Dent in Land of Always-Night, Fantastic Island, and Motion Menace.

Maybe that's why "Trail of the Golden Horseshoe" is a bit of a let-down for me. It features lively incident, but the characters don’t seem as distinctively drawn and as memorable as in other Johnson stories I’ve read. Characters here are two-dimensional stereotypical B-Western roles. The hero – James “Gun-Cat” Bodman – is drawn and characterized more by his “tags,” as Lester Dent might call them: his physical traits that mark him as distinctive, such as his flashing green eyes and his unusual posture when drawing and firing his gun. The story feels like an entry in a series, but I’m not aware of a Gun-Cat series by Johnson. If someone knows more, please let me know.

The overall effect is that of a story intended for a juvenile audience – imagine a Lone Ranger or Roy Rogers story in one of those laminated hardbacks Whitman published in the 1950s and ‘60s and sold through dime stores – that, while well written, is still juvenile. This story doesn’t quite meet the level of adult western storytelling typical for the fare within the pages of Western Story Magazine in the 1920s and ‘30s. It seems better suited for Street & Smith’s Wild West Weekly (which ended its run in 1943).

Granted, the western market had changed between the 1920s and the early 1940s. The hero pulps had influenced mightily the types of stories that appeared in other pulp genres. Simply the title -- "Trail of the Golden Horseshoe" -- reflects the influence of the hero pulps. Writers of more literary or adult westerns would be aiming at different markets, perhaps, than WSM: Frontier Stories, Adventure, Argosy, Blue Book, or the slicks, such as Saturday Evening Post, Colliers, Liberty, or Country Gentleman. As pulp researcher Tom Krabacher said of another pulp-era author who faced the industry changes in the 1930s and ‘40s, “Increasingly, characters are delineated just enough to carry the action forward.”

These quibbles aside, for this tale Johnson hangs his plot on a clever little mystery and two murders. The puzzle and its associated threats are tied to a gold-smuggling scheme conducted to thwart the plotting of a gang leader to take control of a mining camp. His gang has the camp and its owner under siege, and his extortion attempts will keep the miner from using his gold to pay off his debts – the paper for which is held by the bad guy.

Of course, a pretty girl – the miner’s daughter – plays a part.

The Gun-Cat is heroic, plays an undercover role to learn more from the bad guy, and demonstrates his expertise with his guns and fists.

Overall, this story is entertaining as light reading. I’ve seen better stories from Ryerson Johnson, and I expect I will again.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

New Western graphic novel

Cinebook has published a new western graphic novel with an appropriate title: Western. The work is by Rosinski, scripter, who has written a European SF series of albums, Thorgal, and by Van Hamme, illustrator for the Largo Winch series and best known in the U.S. for his art on the action-adventure series XIII.

You can take a look at some sample pages at the Cinebook site by clicking here.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Man from Laramie

In 2009, when I first saw the titles and the distinctive cover design for Leisure Books’ Classic Film Collection series, I thought the imprint had tackled a smart marketing campaign: release novels that tie in to classic western movies — typically the sort that appear on cable channels like American Movie Classics, Turner Classic Movies, and so forth — and woo film fans who might not usually read a western to try the genre.

Well, by October 2010 — when Leisure ceased publishing print books and the company’s financial future was looking less than rosy — it was clear what I considered smart was no better than what Dorchester Books had thought.

Still, I thought this was a nice packaging gimmick, and it lead me to some stories I hadn’t read before.

Like this one: The Man from Laramie, by T.T. Flynn, basis for an Anthony Mann film starring James Stewart.

I’m a fan of the Mann-Stewart westerns. Their dark and noirish tones are startling on first viewing, if you’re more familiar with John Wayne westerns from the period or haven’t seen Stewart in Hitchcock’s Vertigo.

I’m a bit surprised that I haven’t seen this film, because I made a special effort to seek out those Mann-Stewart collaborations a few years ago. Somehow this one slipped past me.

The novel is well-suited for the type of hard-boiled films that Mann and Stewart made together. There’s lots of tough, no-holds-barred violence and characters with no moral compass—which prefigures the rise of the Sam Peckinpah-Spaghetti Western antihero-focused films. The novel’s hero, Will Lockhart, is a hard man on a vengeance quest, so he’s not a lily-pure fellow in a white hat, either.

I've read a number of Flynn's short stories, and this novel carries the strengths he demonstrates in the shorter form: compact storytelling, dynamic interactions among the characters, lively, well-developed characters, taut action scenes, excellent plotting.

I recommend The Man from Laramie as a good introduction to Flynn's western novels. Leisure's western imprint (and Jon Tuska's Golden West agency) did a fine job rescuing Flynn and many other pulp-era authors from limbo. I wonder if we'll see any more Flynn novels resurface?

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Updates on new Wyatt Earp film

. . . can be found over at Henry's Western Round-up. It includes interviews with a number of cast and crew. Check it out here.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Redemption, Kansas by James Reasoner

Redemption, Kansas by James Reasoner delivers just what I expect from any book by James: a well-told story, likable characters who are a pleasure to meet, vicious characters who are a joy to despise, action, and humor.

James has written more than 400 stories in a variety of genres, and the easy flow of this narrative demonstrates his storytelling mastery. This tale of a Texas drover injured during a trail drive and left in the small Kansas town of the title to recover provides a nice mix of the elements that mark a solid traditional western: a strong hero who can’t ignore the difference in right and wrong simply because that would be the easy thing to do; a town cowed by a tyrannical lawman; truly evil outlaws; a pretty heroine to win; a conflict between cultures (the cow-driving Texans and the settled Kansas townies); gunfights.

Bill Harvey is still a boy when he’s injured during a cattle drive stampede, caused by a rustler’s nighttime attack on the herd. But he finds his way as a man during his recuperation in Redemption, as he bucks the locals’ biases against wild-and-woolly Texans.

That there’s also a mystery about back-shot citizens hanging a pall over the town simply adds to the drama that brings together Bill with Eden Monroe. James performs marvelously as he builds the relationship between these two characters, not rushing, forcing or artificially combining the details about their growing respect and love for one another.

There’s also the well-constructed villain — one of several who appear in this book — who sets off the chain of events leading to Bill’s injury: Dock Rakestraw has a great name to go along with his mean spirit and evil ways.

I’ve yet to be let down by a Reasoner novel. I’m already looking forward to reading the next one.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Sonora Noose by Jackson Lowry

The Sonora Noose by Jackson Lowry is a recent (February 2011) western novel published by Berkley. If the author’s name doesn’t sound familiar, it is a pseudonym of well-established writer Robert Vardeman, a name I’m more familiar with in the mystery and science fiction fields. But Vardeman is well at home in the western genre, having written a number of books with western settings under the name Karl Lassiter.

I actually like the name Jackson Lowry — it has a pulp-western author sound to it, a ring of authenticity. (That’s just my ears. Your ears may ring differently.)

Deputy Marshal Mason Barker is a worn out lawman — his body is starting to become a bit unreliable, but his passion for justice remains strong. He also is a loyal family man, and he knows that his feet are solidly planted on the right side of most moral arguments.

But like every other human being, he has weaknesses and faults.

To fight the pain continually aggravating and increasing in his back, Barker begins to rely on the comforts of laudanum. He also remains overly optimistic about bringing into line his son, a rebellious and mean-natured young man who refuses to conform to his parents’ expectations.

Barker’s real troubles begin with the eruption of a minor reign of terror instigated by a band of outlaws led by a vicious badman who calls himself the Sonora Kid. What begins as a series of robberies quickly escalates into a series of murders and massacres. Each event ends with the gang escaping into the twisty mazes of the canyons in the New Mexico mountain ranges.

Barker takes his work seriously, but he also sees the humor in situations. In some ways he reminds me of R.C. House’s fictional lawman, Cole Ryerson. (Unfortunately, House doesn't even rate an entry at Wikipedia.) Lowry does a fine job depicting Barker’s interactions with the townspeople of Mesilla, which Barker calls home, including the newly appointed sheriff, Dravecky. Particularly fine is Lowry’s handling of the relationship between Barker and the non-com for a company of Buffalo Soldiers, Sergeant Sturgeon.

All together, Lowry does a great job combining action, humor, pathos, pacing, and character into a nicely entertaining mix. The Sonora Noose is certainly worth checking out. And you can find a short western story by Lowry posted online at the Jackson Lowry site. It's titled "Fifteen Dollars." Just click here.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Scorpion Trail by Larry D. Sweazy

The Scorpion Trail, by Larry D. Sweazy, is the second in a series of westerns featuring Texas Ranger Josiah Wolfe. It fills in any gaps about the character for readers who missed the first novel in the series, and it whets the appetite for subsequent Josiah Wolfe adventures.

The novel opens with Wolfe at his new home in Austin, where he runs into a murder and the beginning of a mystery that haunts him the rest of the story. It ties in with events from The Rattlesnake Season, the first Josiah Wolfe novel, and will probably have ramifications that are explored in the third, The Badger’s Revenge. Author Sweazy does a fine job of creating a sense of continuity and the roll of life for his characters. Even secondary characters have a depth that makes them memorable after the reader turns the last page.

Although I’m a fan of the compact, 40-thousand-word westerns of the 1960s paperback era, this longer tale — which I estimate to be around 70-thousand words — doesn’t lag. It’s filled with action and incidents, as well as quiet scenes of discussion between characters. Sweazy performs well that tricky feat of building a relationship between the jaded Wolfe and the callow, hot-headed Scrap Elliott, who’s working hard to be a stalwart Ranger but still has a ways to go to fully mature.

The dynamics of Josiah Wolfe’s other relationships drive much of the plot. His regard for Austin's tenderloin district madam, Suzanne del Toro, and the mysterious Juan Carlos are nicely developed by Sweazy, who handles particularly well Carlos’ shadowy characteristics. The mysteries behind this fellow’s comings and goings certainly leaves the reader wanting more.

An actual Indian battle is incorporated into the plot: the Lost Valley fight between Texas Ranger Company B and Comanche and Kiowa in 1874. It’s a dramatic part of the book that doesn’t overshadow the rest of the story, but lends a good sense of what Ranger life was like for the Frontier Battalion.

Sweazy puts together all the parts of his narrative very well — characters, pacing, incidents. As a result, I look forward to reading the next book in the series and to seeing more from Larry Sweazy in the future.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Val Kilmer in new Wyatt Earp movie

I know I said in my last post that upcoming posts would be about Berkley westerns. Well, I'm writing the first of those. While that's getting done, I want to be sure all you western fans are aware of a new movie that's been shot, The First Ride of Wyatt Earp. Anyone who loved Val Kilmer's portrayal of Doc Holliday in Tombstone will want to know more.

And you can learn more at Henry's Western Round-Up blog. Just click here to zoom over there and read his interview with the director, Michael Feifer.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Berkley's westerns

When Dorchester announced it would cease publishing printed books, I was really
surprised. A genre publisher with a big footprint—at least in the stores and I
libraries I frequent—was going to cease business as usual and go the eBook route

For me, that meant I wasn’t going to see a lot—or any—of the pulp authors back
in print that Dorchester—under its Leisure Books imprint—had published the past
few years, Max Brand (Frederick Faust) in particular. While Brand had never
gone completely out of print, Leisure was instrumental—greatly by the work of
Jon Tuska—in returning names like T.T. Flynn, Robert Horton, Dan Cushman, Dane
Coolidge, and others to the bookshelves.

Sure enough, as I write this, six months after Dorchester ended its print runs,
none of their products are to be found on the retail shelves in my community.
What I find are westerns from Pinnacle/Kensington (primarily the William
Johnstone series), Bantam (really, only Louis L’Amour), and Signet (a number of
authors). I’m not sure if HarperCollins is still publishing westerns—I don’t
recall seeing any recently.

The local WalMarts carry very few westerns, only the Johnstone titles. Kroger
carries Johnstone and the Signets (mostly Ralph Cotton and the ghosted Ralph
Comptons), and a handful of L’Amour titles. The local chain bookstores carry
these same authors, for the most part, although the selection seems to end with
author names starting with L (for L’Amour), because there aren’t any other
titles on the shelves after the string of Bantam L’Amours, unless the store
carries the Trailsman series.

But I noticed recently that I rarely if ever saw any westerns from Berkley on
the shelves—and I know they’re publishing westerns, because James Reasoner just
had a new book published by that house.

So I went searching. Apparently no one in town is selling Berkley westerns. I
have to order them online. (Okay, I take that back--the stores are selling the westerns written by Robert B. Parker and published by Berkley. But he's the only Berkley western writer I saw.)

The local lack of availability seems odd to me, because Berkley is part of a big
combine, Penguin Books.

So I decided to hunt down some Berkley westerns and read a few. Upcoming posts
will take a look at those books.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Bill Crider reviews Pretty Polly

Another Texas gentleman, Bill Crider, has posted a positive review of Pretty Polly at his blog, Bill Crider's Pop Culture Magazine.

Bill is an accomplished author in the crime and western genres. He writes the Sheriff Dan Rhodes mystery series. He's written some excellent westerns: Two of my favorites are Outrage at Blanco and Texas Vigilante, both about a female gun-for-hire--the story is tough and action-filled, and the prose thrums with that masculine energy that marked the best Gold Medal westerns of the 1950s and '60s.

Bill also is one member of the triumvirate of authors behind the new Rancho Diablo series of novels. The other two writers are James Reasoner and Mel Odom, and the three are penning these western tales under the shared pseudonymn of Colby Jackson. An interview with Bill about the series is available at the Pulp Serenade blog.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Review of Pretty Polly

Texas gentleman James Reasoner has posted a positive review of Pretty Polly over at his blog, Rough Edges.

James is a fine writer with more than 200 books to his credit, and more to come. Everything I've read by him has been entertaining. One of my favorites is Under Outlaw Flags, which combines the western with World War I action.

He has two recent releases:

One is a western, Rancho Diablo #2: Hangrope Law, under the pseudonym Colby Jackson. Jackson is a name shared by three writers--Mel Odom, Bill Crider, and James--who are writing a western series they've created under a single nom de sixshooter. They are releasing the Rancho Diablo series as eBooks for the Kindle and the Nook.

His second new release is from Berkley, Redemption, Kansas. It's available both as a paperback and an eBook. Troy D. Smith has a nice review of Redemption, Kansas, over at the Western Fictioneers blog.

James' review of Pretty Polly suggests that the villain, Griswold Bear (aka Grizzly or Grisly, depending on whom your talking to), should make a return appearance. I have to admit I hadn't thought about that. I fully expect Sheriff Shoat to show up in another story, but maybe Griswold also deserves another fictional outing. I'll have to let that percolate in the brain pan. It's worth considering.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Pretty Polly now available for the Kindle

Now available as a Kindle eBook from Amazon!

Great entertainment value!

About Pretty Polly: Griswold Bear--a.k.a. Grizzly (or Grisly, depending on who's talking) Bear--a vicious outlaw, enters the town of Wicket with the intention of terrorizing the inhabitants and filling his saddlebags with money and whiskey. However, his plans take a sharp turn into unexpected territory when he meets the Sheriff of Wicket, who offers the marauder a deal. You can get it by clicking here.

Praise for Pretty Polly in its print edition (Pretty Polly first appeared in Where Legends Ride):
"For outright horsey humor there is Hard Times For The Pecos Kid by Les Pierce and Pretty Polly by Duane Spurlock. Both could have been made into movies with James Garner, they have the same light, hilarious flare to them." -- Ron Fortier, Pulp Fiction Reviews

Many thanks to Anthony Schiavino for his critiques of my cover designs as they were in progress. Anthony is the creator and scripter for the Sgt. Zero comic. He's a professional designer--he's the brains behind Episodes from the Zero Hour, for which I provided interior illustrations for Volume 3, Mac Samson: Secrets of the Lost City--and spent some time at Tor Books designing covers.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Long Haul

The Long Haul, by Antony Johnston (script) and Eduardo Barreto (art),
brings together the caper story with the western in a nice addition to
the small world of western comics. I say small world, because once
upon a time — I’m thinking the 1940s and ‘50s here — there were probably
as many different western comic book titles as there were superhero,
adventure, and other genre titles published by a variety of companies,
all vying for space on the newsstands. Nowadays, only two continuing
western title comes to mind — DC Comics’ Jonah Hex and Dynamite’s Lone
— although there may be a handful of others that may be currently
appearing of which I’m unaware, because I rarely venture into comic
shops these days.

The Long Haul is a one-shot graphic novel published by independent Oni
Press in 2005. Its 174 pages are smaller in format than the typical
comic book, but it looks like it was created specifically for the
graphic novel format instead of being compiled from a series of issues
published separately, as most graphic novels from DC and Marvel are
typically collections, not novels.

The Long Haul is set in 1871. It tells us about the efforts of bank
robber and roguish ladies man Cody Plummer to recruit a gang to rob a
train carrying $1.9 million in government bonds from Chicago to San
Francisco. Plummer also is hounded by a Pinkerton agent, Bob Harding,
who is sure the robber is up to no good.

Antony Johnston is a British writer of comic books, novels, video
games, and more for a variety of publishers, and he handles what is
traditionally considered a U.S. genre very convincingly. (The Brits
have given the world lots of renown western work, including the Edge
and Steele series among other Piccadilly Cowboy series; and Hale
Publishing continues its Black Horse Western imprint with six or more
novels released each month.)

Artist Eduardo Barreto hails from Uraguay, but his work has appeared
for many years in a variety of DC Comics. He seems to have adapted his
style a bit for this black-and-white presentation by employing solid
blacks and dropping outlines for dramatic effects in ways that remind
me of how Alex Toth — a master of the black-and-white narrative
arts — would employ black shadows in a composition. He also uses
judicious placement of cross-hatching for a scrumbling effect or to
suggest textures, which recalls some of John Severin’s stylistic
touches in his western- and war-comics work.

The story has a nice flow and pacing, and the script and artwork
complement each other nicely. Thumbs up to both men for this diverting