Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Saturday, April 9, 2016


Luke Short's Six Gun Ranch is a full-length comic book adaptaion of Short's story "Gunsmoke Graze," serialized in 1940 in Street & Smith's Western Story and published in book form as Raw Land that same year.*  This was the first of at least seven of Short's stories to be adapted into single-issue comic books by Dell Publishing.

Luke Short (this version, anyway) was the pen name of Frederick D. Glidden (1908-1975), a former journalist who began publishing western stories in 1935 and went on to become one of the most popular authors in that genre.  (The earlier Luke Short, 1854-1893, was a famous western gambler, gunfighter, saloon owner, and sports promoter.  For more information on him, check out William R. Cox's Luke Short and His Era:  A Biography of One of the Old West's Most Famous Gamblers, Doubleday, 1961.  I assume Glidden knew of Short when he adopteed the pen name but, as far as I know, this has not been confirmed.)  Glidden's older brother Jonathan was also a popular western author under the pen name "Peter Dawson."

Will Danning returns after ten years to the town of Yellow Knife to buy the old Harkins ranch where Will had worked as a teenager.  Harkins had been accused of rustling by Case, a neighboring rancher and had been killed.  Since then, the ranch has been deserted.  Poor grass and scarce water made the place a poor investment, so why would Danning want it?  And who is the mysterious foreman that Danning had hired?

Shortly after arriving in town, Danning has a run-in with Pres Milo, Case's shifty assistant.  For reasons of his own, Milo wants the old Harkins property and threatens to burn  down the bunkhouse.  Case's beautiful daughter Becky tells Danning she doesn't know why her father keeps Milo on -- it's almost as is he was afraid of the unlikable man.

Six Gun Ranch is a fast-moving tale of greed, secrets, treachery, and gun play.  I don't know who adapted Short's story for this comic book (perhaps Short himself) but the tale is well-told and holds up well.


* The others:  "King Colt" (comic book published in 1955; from the 1937 novel), "Brand of Empire" (1956, from the 1937 novel,), "Bounty Guns" (1956, from the 1939 novel), "Savage Range" (1957, from the 1938 novel), "Trumpets West" (1957, from the 1959 novel Trumpets West!), "Top Gun" (1958, from the story "Test Pit").  (There may have been an eighth comic book adaptation, but I have never the time nor inclination to look it up.)

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