Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Saturday, July 21, 2018


Tales of Wells Fargo was one of three television western series created by mystery/western author Frank Gruber.  It ran for sis seasons, from 1957 to 1962 (201 episodes!) and Starred Dale Robertson as Wells Fargo Agent Jim Hardie.

If there was a successful television series at that time, there had to be a comic book -- usually from Dell Publishing.

So here we are.


Friday, July 20, 2018


The Spencer Davis Group.


The Green Eyes of Bast by Sax Rohmer (1920)

Arthur Henry Ward (or, perhaps, Arthur Henry Sarsfield Ward; I'm unclear on the details) was born in Birmingham, England, in 1883.  Somewhere along the line he styled himself as Arthur Sarsfield Ward, and later as the much better known "Sax Rohmer."  After trying his hand at civil service, banking, jouralism, and gas industries, he published his first short story in 1903.  He then went on to a fairly successful career writing songs, monologues, and sketches for the musical theater Some under the Rohmer by-line).  His first book, Pause (1910), was published anonymously and contained various comic sketches.  His second was a ghost-written biography of music hall performer Harry Relph, known as "Little Tich."  Then, in 1912, he began publishing stories about the character who would make Rohmer a household name about an evil scientific genius known as Docior Fu-Manchu (the hyphen was soon eliminated).

Rohmer was all about his image and it is hard to differentiate between the man and his image.  He was interested in foreign lands and many of his tales took place in Egypt or in China.  He was a student of the occult, writing one nonfiction book about it -- The Romance of Sorcery (1914) -- and was a member of The Hermetic Oder of the Golden Dawn and claimed (perhaps spuriously) to be a Rosicrucian.  Yet, he was buried in a Catholic cemetery.  Rohmer may not have been the first to write luirid tales of the "yellow menace," but he certainly popularized the theme.

His writing career spanned until the late 1950s.  He went from writing for popular Victorian magazines to publishing paperback originals for Gold Medal  Along the way he created many characters from Fu Manchu and Sir Denis Nayland-Smith to Fu's female counterpart Sumuru, as well as detectives Red Kerry, Paul Hartley, Gaston Max, and Moris Klaw.

The Green Eyes of Bast is one of Rohmer's standalone thrillers.  Supposedly talented (though he seems a bit dim-witted) reporter Addison is walking in London one night when he meets up with a policeman who has been asked to check if the garage at a certain house has been locked.  Since Addison knows where the house is located and is fairly certain that the house has been empty for a year, he agrees to show the policeman where it is.  The home is indeed unoccupied and the garage is empty, except for a large packing case.  When Addison goes home, he thinks he sees a figure with glowing green eyes outside his house.

The next, his editor sends him to the docks where the body of Sir Marcus Cloverly has been found in a crate.  The crate in which Marcus Cloverly's body was found was the same crate Addison had seen the night before in the garage.  Found with the body was an ancient green Egyptian carving of a cat.

Detective-Inspector Gatton enlists Addison's aid.  First,because Addison was somewhat knowledgeable about Egypt and also because Addison knew the Coverly family. He and Sir Marcus's son Eric had been vying for the affections of beautiful  Isabel Merlin, who had just recently became engaged to Eric Cloverly.

Addison soon finds himself rebuffed in his attempt to speak to Sir Marcus's estranged widow.  A mysterious Egyptian doctor, Damar Greefe, refuses Addison, claiming that Mrs. Coverly is too ill to see anyone.  The plot begins to gain speed.  Addison meets a strange woman with strange green eyes.  Figures and drawings of cat begin to appear.  Eric Coverly is found dead.  Dr. Greefe's large Nubian assistant begins to trail Addison.  The Coverly estate, where the widow was supposed to be, is found to be long unoccupied.  A rocket with poison gas is fired into Addison's room at the local tavern.  A huge fire destroys the Coverly estate as Greefe and the Nubian escape.  The one remaining Coverly, a nephew, is murdered.

Spoiler Alert!  The mysterious woman with the cat-like green eyes is the daughter of Sir Marcus, a hybrid of sorts, part human and part cat, who one month in every year reverts to her feral cat-like nature -- complete with claws and fangs.  Sir Marcus thought the child died at birth, by she was secreted away and raised by Dr. Greefe, who was doing a study on hybrids.  Greefe also invented a virulent poison gas used to kill Sir Marcus and Eric and in the attempt to kill Addison.  In order to keep the cat-woman's existence a secret, the Coverly family had to be eliminated.  In the end, all is solved except the cat-woman escapes, leaving the door open for a sequel that was never written.  End Spoiler Alert.

Ludicrous, yes.  But the story is well-paced and well-presented, ranking it among some of the better novels by Rohmer.  If you like Fu Manchu or any of Rohmer's other characters, this one is for you.

I fear reading this book may have started a Sax Rohmer reading binge.  I have over a dozen of his books hanging around somewhere.

Thursday, July 19, 2018


The Stones.


Mention Red Ryder and most people (my age anyway) will think about the Daisy Red Ryder Air Rifle -- the one that was featured in Jean Shepherd's A Christmas Story.  But there is much more to Red Ryder.  You betchum.

Red Ryder was created by Fred Harman, first in a series of short stories.  (I have no idea what the stories were titled, nor where or when they were published -- if they were published at all.  There is no listing on Fiction Mags Index for instance.)  In 1938, Harman and Stephen Slesinger brought Red Ryder to the comic strips, lasting until 1965.  A series of 28 movie serials and films featuring the character appeared from 1940 through 1950 from two studios.  The Red Ryder radio show began in 1942, initially airing three nights a week (Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, at 7:30 p.m.)  The show lasted until 1951, when radio began to give way to television.  Alas for Red Ryder, the two pilots produced did not lead to a series.

He fared much better in comic books.  Beginning in 1940, Red Ryder appeared in various comics books, as well as his own title through 1957.  Since then he has been reprinted in 7 languages and unauthorized translations have appeared in 30 languages.  From 1954 to 1984, Red Ryder Enterprises authorized  474 editions of Red Ryder comics in 21 countries.

Then there were all the tie-ins...the Daisy rifles already mentioned, "toys, novelties, gifts, accesories, sporting goods, and rugged outdoor, work, and play clothing," as well as school supplies, lunch kits, and Red Ryder character hardware.  The Red Ryder marketing machine expanded throughout North America to Europe, Latin America, Egypt, India, and Japan.  J. C. Penney stores had a special section called the Red Ryder Corral, which not only sold the products, but also held educational and sportsmanship contests, personal; appearances, and special events.

At one time Red Ryder was more popular than the Lone Ranger.  It should be noted that neither western hero ever shot anyone; when a gun was fired to was to knock the neer-do-well's weapon out of his hand.

The radio episode linked below aired on April 26, 1942.  Reed Hadley played the title role and Horace Murphy and Arthur Q. Bryan played Red's sidekicks.  Red Ryder's Indian companion/ward Little Beaver was played by either Tommy Cook or Frank Breser (They alternated the role during 1942).


Wednesday, July 18, 2018