Tuesday 28 March 2023


British Edition Vol 3, No. 4

The four tales to be found in this British edition of Western Adventure were all originally published in the American pulp Western Story, Vol. 196, No. 5, January 1942. The cover art was done by H.W. Scott but whether he redid it or someone else copied it for the British edition I don’t know. If you study both covers, you’ll see many subtle changes. You can view the American cover at the end of this post.

The first yarn, and featured novelette is Wolf of the Toltecs by Philip Ketchum. This is the much-used landgrab story, with one man, Ben Broadman seeking vengeance on those who killed his friends. It’s a tough tale that sees Broadman become a wanted man and he soon seems to care for nothing other than getting his revenge, no matter who gets hurt along the way. It also seems the story can only end with Broadman’s death. I enjoyed reading this tale, although the ending was a bit of a let down for my tastes – I’d have preferred a much harder hitting conclusion. I will, however, be seeking out another of Ketchum’s tales to try soon.

H.A. DeRosso was the author of short story Death Stacks the Deck. This has a wonderfully dark atmosphere, and was the second entry in this pulp that seemed to be heading for a downbeat ending. Ex-gambler Harvey Howell sees the only way to payoff his ranch is to play one last game and loses his home in a crooked game. Howell is then offered a chance to reclaim his ranch by playing another game to cheat the biggest rancher in the area out of his ranch. What doesn’t sit well is the fact that this rancher’s daughter is Howell’s wife. Cheating also goes against all of Howell’s beliefs. With all hope gone Howell plays the game and wins. After this the author includes a small twist that, like in the Ketchum novelette, turned things around in a way that gave the tale a happy ending that didn’t seem to fit the rest of the tone of the story to me. Having said that, the ending won’t stop me reading more of DeRosso’s work.

Rodeo Reckoning by Seth Ranger – which is a pseudonym used by Frank Richardson Pierce – came next. This short story is about a rodeo champion who wants to retire and run a horse ranch, but finds himself back competing to prove he’s still the greatest. That is about the entire plot and it worked out exactly as you’d expect. In fact, I got bored with it half-way through and decided to speed-read it to the end. If it had been longer than ten pages, I’d have probably not finished it.

The last short story was Hep Meets the New Year by Glenn H. Wichman. Wichman wrote 65 tales featuring Hep and this was the first time I’d read one. Hep decides to make some new year resolutions and gets four other people to do so too. The question is will any of them stick to these decisions? This is a comedy western, its light-hearted tone was fine, and it contained a couple of slap-stick situations at the end. Covering twelve pages was enough for me though as it didn’t have enough plot to hold my attention and I’m not sure I’ll be reading the other Hep Gallegher stories I have in my collection any time soon. 

There are also two factual features by Jim West, that I didn’t bother reading.

I’m hoping to try and read pulps more often as there are certainly some gems to be found within them. 

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