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Tuesday, August 7, 2018

THE GUNSMITH AND THE LADY

 
 THE GUNSMITH AND THE LADY

Recently, I’ve been pulling together information for an article on the history of the Adult Western genre.

I reached out to a number of sources for material, one of whom was my friend Robert (Bob) Randisi who provided me with a wealth of information on his series The Gunsmith, the longest running (and continuing to run) Adult Western series of all time. What follows below are a few of the questions Bob answered gathered in the form of a quick interview…

HOW MANY TITLES ARE CURRENTLY IN THE GUNSMITH SERIES?

439 regulars, 16 Giants.

 
HOW MANY ARE YOU CONTRACTED THROUGH?

The contract is open ended.

 
HOW DID THE GUNSMITH COME INTO EXISTENCE?

I was asked by my editor if I could write westerns with sex in them. I didn’t think twice. I said yes, even though I had never even thought about writing Westerns—sex or no.

 
IS THE GUNSMITH CURRENTLY THE LONGEST RUNNING ADULT WESTERN SERIES?

Yes, we just passed Longarm and Slocum.

 
TO WHAT DO YOU ATTRIBUTE THE GUNSMITH'S LONGEVITY...BEYOND YOUR OWN DETERMINATION TO CONTINUE TO FIND NEW PUBLISHERS?

The loyalty of the Gunsmith readership who don’t want it to end.  As long as they’re out there buying, I’ll be in here writing. But also the loyalty and dedication of ONE author writing the series, and not a stable of writers who are doing it only for the payday.

 
IS THE GUNSMITH THE ONLY REMAINING ADULT WESTERN SERIES OUT OF THE ORIGINAL ENTRIES

Yes, everyone else is gone. Longarm, Slocum and Trailsman were hanging on, but now they’re all gone.

 
WAS THE GUNSMITH THE FIRST ADULT WESTERN SERIES OR WAS SLOCUM SLIGHTLY EARLIER?

Slocum came first with Playboy Press, then Longarm (Jove Books) and then Gunsmith (Charter Books).

 
DID YOU REALIZE GOING IN THE GUNSMITH WOULD BE MARKETED AS AN AS SERIES, OR DID THE LABEL EVOLVE AS THE GENRE EXPANDED?

They approached me about writing an Adult Western, so that’s what it was from the start.

 
IN YOUR OPINION HOW DID THE ADULT WESTERN GENRE START AND WHY DO YOU THINK IT WAS IT SO POPULAR...WAS IT REALLY ALL ABOUT THE SEX?

It started at Playboy Press, so I think the sex was a natural when they created Slocum. I’m not sure who first came up with the label Adult Western Playboy or Berkley, but it stuck. I don’t think it was ever only about the sex, because I think the writers—Lou Cameron, Mel Marshall, Jory Sherman, James Reason, Frank Roderus, etc.—were better storytellers than to write Westerns only about sex. I think the readership recognized all the aspect of the series. i.e., the sex, the history, the heroic journey.

BECAUSE OF THE CONSTANT DEMAND FOR MATERIAL, WERE PLOTS RECYCLED FROM SERIES TO SERIES DELIBERATELY OR SIMPLY BECAUSE THERE WERE NOT ENOUGH PLOTS TO GO AROUND?

I can tell you I never reused a Gunsmith plot in another one of MY six other adult western series. I’m going to guess other plots may have been revolved from Longarm to Slocum to Lone Star to Trailsman to Canyon O’Grady  only because so many of the writers were doing more than one series. 

 
OUTSIDE OF THE GUNSMITH, WHAT ADULT WESTERN SERIES DO YOU THINK WERE AT THE TOP OF THE GENRE?

Well, naturally, Longarm was near the top. There were so many top writers in that stable.  And Jory Sherman’s Gunn series at Zebra was at the top, because he was writing all of them and he was so good.  I’d say Longarm, Gunn and a guy named Gunsmith were the top series.  Edge, while not labeled an Adult Western, belongs at the top, as well. And if we go beyond the AWs, I think Ben Haas’ Fargo was the best of all.

 
WHICH ADULT WESTERN SERIES WERE UNDERRATED AND DESERVED A LONGER RUN?

I think the Tracker and Angel Eyes series, which I created and wrote, deserved to run longer.  Lou Cameron’s Renegade probably should’ve kept going, and Jory’s Gunn.

 
WHAT WAS/IS THE KEY TO KEEPING A LONG RUNNING ADULT WESTERN SERIES GOING

If the author can keep himself interested, then he’ll keep the readers interested.  Once he starts to do it just for the money, all is lost.

IS LADY GUNSMITH AN EXCEPTION AS A RELATIVELY NEW AW SERIES? IS IT A LABOR OF LOVE FOR YOU OR A VIABLE COMMERCIAL VEHICLE?

Back in the early 80’s, just before Berkley bought Charter, my publisher agreed to let me do a Lady Gunsmith series. The idea fell by the wayside when Berkley bought the series.  I think other than The Gunsmith—which was owned by me—Berkley only wanted to do series owned by them. I think they saw the quality of The Gunsmith and decided to keep it going with me.

The idea for Lady Gunsmith stayed in the back of my brain. A couple of years ago at the behest of my better half—Christine Matthews—who always thought it was viable, I brought the series up again to my agent while we were having lunch in New Orleans. He mentioned it to Speaking Volumes, the current publisher of The Gunsmith, and they flipped for it.  I always thought it was a natural progression—and it only took 36 years to make it happen. How could you NOT call that a labor of love.  However, I do think it’s a viable commercial vehicle.

Thx to Bob and a number of other friends and Adult Western writers and aficionados who are always ready with a quip and an answer…Look for my full article on Adult Westerns, Sex and Six-Guns, in the upcoming Hot Lead Issue #3…

1 comment:

  1. R.J.R. has written so many good books,it's incredible. One of my favorite authors.

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