~ WELCOME ~
PLEASE MAKE YOURSELF AT HOME
AND SCROLL THROUGH MY ECLECTIC MIX OF
PULPS, FILM NOIR, SIXTIES SPY SHOWS,
AND OTHER TOPICS – PLUS THE
REQUIRED BOOK NEWS, ARTICLES, AND
PROMOTION

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE VERY BAD ~ PART THREE

THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE VERY BAD ~ PART THREE
 
Two of my recent columns have focused on the western men’s action adventure series Fargo and Sundance. Both were created and written by revered western writer Ben Haas under his John Benteen pseudonym. With the success of both series, publisher Harry Shorten asked Haas to create a third Benteen series—Cutler
 
For various reasons, however, the lightning strikes of the Fargo and Sundance series never zapped Cutler in the same way—possibly because Cutler was not a very nice character to be around. Both Fargo and Sundance are hard, violent men, but there is something honorable about them, which didn’t rub off on Cutler despite his righteous quest. Despite this lack of traction, the concept of a hardened hunter taking on rogue animals with a bounty on them is unusual enough to warrant reading.  
 
Physically, Cutler is a traditional Benteen hero—A taciturn, leathery, hunter of men and animals in his early thirties, John Cutler stands better than six feet tall, with broad, sloping shoulders, and a barrel-chest tapering to lean waist and slim hips. Shaggy raven’s wing black hair—faintly threaded with gray—spills from beneath a dusty, flat-crowned sombrero. His brows are great black marks above deep-set eyes the color of gunmetal, the planes of his big-nosed face rough and angular, his skin burnt to the color of rawhide by a life in the sun. His wardrobe consists of a filthy blue work shirt, a calfskin vest, jeans, fringed shotgun chaps, and flat-heeled boots made for walking as much as for riding. A holstered .44 Colt with a strap to hold it in its scabbard for rough riding swings from a cartridge belt around his waist, and on his other hip is a Case sheath knife.
 
Cutler had been an experienced Federal Marshal in Indian Territory before retiring with his new bride to a ranch in Arizona. All was as he had imagined it until a rogue grizzly changes Cutler’s life forever. The bear—a huge monster with a silver blaze—had been killing cattle. Cutler sets traps to capture or kill the beast. When he returns to check them, however, he finds the rouge bear has escaped by chewing off the paw caught in the hunting traps vicious jaws. 
 
Cutler races home, but he is too late. Driven insane with pain, the giant animal has gone on a berserk rampage through Cutler’s ranch—where it savages Cutler’s pregnant wife. Cutler rides in just in time to catch her dying breath about the bear. Cutler immediately starts to hunt down the beast until a blizzard causes him to lose the trail. 
 
Five years pass. Cutler I now a nasty drunk who makes his living hunting and killing rogue animals with bounties on them—but the biggest rogue still eludes him. Unlike most bears, this monster stays on the move, killing anything in his path, with Cutler always a step behind…But Cutler will not give up. 
 

Haas/Benteen wrote the first two Cutler novels before dropping the series to concentrate on his far more popular Fargo and Sundance novels. The Cutler series was turned over to Vernon Hinkle—using the pseudonym H. V. Elkin—for four more titles before the series was shot down (possibly by rogue animal lovers or PETA)…
 
In a more positive vein, Haas had much more success with another western series, Rancho Bravo, written for Fawcett’s Gold Medal line under the name Thorne Douglas. Alternating points of view in each book, The Rancho Bravo series would have made a terrific ‘70s western TV series. The first four books in the series span a one year time frame after the end of the Civil War. Ex-Confederate rebel Lucius Calhoon, Texan trail boss Henry Gannon, Yankee officer Philip Killraine, and ex-slave Elias Whitton each tell their own story of coming together to build a Texas cattle empire. 
 
Calhoon is a bitter, one-handed, ex-plantation owner who has lost everything in the war. Gannon is a Texan trying to start a new ranch with wild cattle. Black cowboy, ex-slave, Elias Whitton is Gannon’s partner in the enterprise. When Killraine, quits his commission as a captain in the Northern Army to join them, Rancho Bravo is born.  
 
The Mustang Men, the fifth book in the series switches point of view again to tell the story of Shan Tyree, who comes to work at Rancho Bravo. Clearly, Haas had a vision of having visitors or employees of Rancho Bravo tell their own stories in each successive book. Unfortunately, Ben Haas died in 1977 (prior to book five being published) before he could expand Rancho Bravo stories further. While I’m still partial to the short, sharp, brutal Fargo tales, Ranch Bravo—in my opinion—is Haas’ crowning achievement. This series is not to be missed...  
 
THE RANCH BRAVO SERIES
Calhoon (1972)
The Big Drive (1973)
Killraine (1975)
Night Riders (1975)
The Mustang Men (1977)
 
FOR MORE ON RANCHO BRAVO CLICK HERE
 
RANCHO BRAVO E-BOOKS FROM PICCADILLY PUBLISHING CLICK HERE
 
THE CUTLER SERIES
The Wolf-Pack (Benteen—1972)
The Gunhawks (Benteen—1972)
Eagle Man (H. V. Elkin—1978)
Tiger’s Chance (H. V. Elkin—1980)
Mustang (H. V. Elkin—1980)
Yellowstone (H. V. Elkin—1980)
 
FOR MORE ON CUTLER CLICK HERE
 
CUTLER E-BOOKS FROM PICCADILLY PUBLISHING CLICK HERE

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE VERY BAD ~ PART TWO

THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE VERY BAD ~ PART TWO
 
They called him Sundance. A big man with the bronzed face of a Cheyenne and a mane of yellow hair. He had ranged from Canada to Mexico, from the Mississippi to the Shining Mountains and west to the Pacific. He could take any man apart with rifle, pistol, knife—or Indian-style with bow, arrows, lance and tomahawk. He was a professional fighting man and no job was too tough if the price was right. So when a rich banker met his price of $10,000 to rescue his daughter from the Cheyenne—Sundance bought it. He didn’t know that before it was over he would have to take on a gang of vicious renegades, part of Custer’s Seventh Cavalry and a hot-blooded eastern woman...
FROM SUNDANCE: OVERKILL
 
In the late ‘60s and early ‘70s under the pseudonym John Benteen, respected western author Ben Haas gunned out a series of paperback originals featuring the adventures of Fargo—a globetrotting soldier-of-fortune who is a dead ringer for Lee Marvin’s Faradan character in the 1966 movie The Professionals. The 23 Fargo novels remain below the radar of the wider readership, despite accolades from the gurus of the men’s action/adventure series genre. 
 
However, the Fargo series sold well enough for publisher HARRY SHORTEN (king of the low end mass market paperback houses in the ‘60s and ‘70s) to commission another western series from Haas under the John Benteen byline. Haas responded with the action filled adventures of the half-white, half-Cheyenne gun-for-hire known as Sundance.
 
Writer and men’s action adventure series buff JACK BADELAIRE summarized the Sundance series for the current e-book releases from PICCADILLY PUBLISHING
 
Jim Sundance, is a half-white, half-Cheyenne adventurer. In his 30's, he’s a man who has roamed and fought across the length and breadth of the U.S. moving between the worlds of the white man and the Indian. Sundance is a typical Benteen hero—Tall, broad-shouldered, with a slim waist and a lean, powerful build. He has the complexion and features of a Cheyenne Indian, but his hair is a bright golden blond, a gift from his English father. Sundance received his Indian name after participating in the Cheyenne Sun Dance ritual…
 
On top of his unusual heritage, Sundance carries an unusual arsenal. In typical Benteen fashion, his main character is very deliberately armed with an assortment of weapons from both cultures. Sundance carries a Navy Colt and a Henry repeating rifle, as well as a Bowie knife with a fourteen-inch blade and a hand guard for knife-fighting. In addition, he carries a steel-bladed tomahawk, as well as a Cheyenne dog soldier's war shield and a bow, along with a quiver of thirty flint-headed arrows. Benteen goes to great length to note Sundance prefers flint tips to steel, claiming they deliver a more grievous wound—Sundance can kill a man at four hundred yards with the bow, or put an arrow through a buffalo.
 
Over the course of the almost every novel, Sundance puts every weapon in his arsenal to use—another Benteen trait—and it is interesting to see how Sundance typically uses the white man's weapons for every day carry, but when he really means business, he tends to favor his more traditional arsenal. 
 
Sundance is a fascinating character, and the series is a mix of standard Western themes with Benteen's own unique style laid over. The action is fast and violent, the level of detail extraordinary...
 
The Fargo and Sundance series were both extremely popular. To keep up with demand, several Sundance novels were published under the house name Jack Slade—For #11 Norman Rubington, #12 and #13 Thomas Curry, and #24 and #25 Dudley Dean McGaughy were the writers behind the Jack Slade pseudonym.

When Haas passed away in 1977, Ballard wrote two more Sundance adventures in 1979, after which the series was taken over by long time editor Peter McCurtin for another eighteen novels. Haas/Benteen’s voice in the original Fargo and Sundance tales is golden. Entries from other wordslingers are hit and miss, so be aware your mileage may vary…
 
 
 

THE SUNDANCE SERIES 
Sundance #01: Overkill (John Benteen—1972)
Sundance #02: Dead Man's Canyon (John Benteen—1972)
Sundance #03: Dakota Territory (John Benteen—1972)
Sundance #04: Death in the Lava (John Benteen—1972)
Sundance #05: The Pistoleros (John Benteen—1972)
Sundance #06: Wild Stallions (John Benteen—1973)
Sundance #07: Taps at Little Big Horn (John Benteen—1973)
Sundance #08: The Ghost Dancers (John Benteen—1973)
Sundance #09: Bring Me His Scalp (John Benteen—1973)
Sundance #10: The Bronco Trail (John Benteen—1973)
Sundance #11: The Comancheros (Norman Rubington/Jack Slade—1973)
Sundance #12: Renegade (Thomas Curry/Jack Slade—1974)
Sundance #13: Honcho (Thomas Curry/Jack Slade—1974)
Sundance #14: War Party (John Benteen—1975)
Sundance #15: Bounty Killer (George H. Smith—1975)
Sundance #16: Run for Cover (John Benteen—1976)
Sundance #17: Manhunt (Peter McCurtin—1976)
Sundance #18: Blood On the Prairie (John Benteen—1976)
Sundance #19: War Trail (John 'Jay' Flynn—1976)
Sundance #20: Riding Shotgun (John Benteen—1977)
Sundance #21: Silent Enemy (John Benteen—1977)
Sundance #22: Ride the Man Down (John Benteen—1973)
Sundance #23: Gunbelt (John Benteen—1977)
Sundance #24: Canyon Kill (Dudley Dean McGaughy/Jack Slade—1979)
Sundance #25: Blood Knife (Dudley Dean McGaughy/Jack Slade—1979)
Sundance #26: Nightriders (Peter McCurtin—1979)
Sundance #27: Death Dance (Peter McCurtin—1979)
Sundance #28: The Savage (Peter McCurtin—1979)
Sundance #29: Day of the Halfbreeds (Peter McCurtin—1979)
Sundance #30: Los Olvidados (Peter McCurtin—1980)
Sundance #31: The Marauders (Peter McCurtin—1980)
Sundance #32: Scorpion (Peter McCurtin—1980)
Sundance #33: Hangman's Knot (Peter McCurtin—1980)
Sundance #34: Apache War (Peter McCurtin—1980)
Sundance #35: Gold Strike (Peter McCurtin—1980)
Sundance #36: Trail Drive (Peter McCurtin—1981)
Sundance #37: Iron Men (Peter McCurtin—1981) 
Sundance #38: Drumfire (Peter McCurtin—1981) 
Sundance #39: Buffalo War (Peter McCurtin—1981)
Sundance #40: The Hunters (Peter McCurtin—1981)
Sundance #41: The Cage (Peter McCurtin—1981)
Sundance #42: The Choctaw County War (Peter McCurtin—1982)
Sundance #43: Texas Empire (Peter McCurtin—1982)
*It should be noted book seller and fiction scholar Lynn Munroe is the excellent source for the list of Sundance titles and authors behind the Jack Slade pseudonym. For Munroe's extensive rundown of Sundance titles CLICK HERE
 
 
 



FOR MORE ON THE SUNDANCE E-BOOKS FROM PICCADILLY PUBLISHING CLICK HERE