Saturday, September 24, 2011

Talk about old business: Gunslick Territory

Ed here: A western reader wrote to ask me to clarify this story. I could have consulted my old web page if the webmaster had informed me that I owed money to the web service, something he was "going to take care of." I d searched and came up with this from a very good Thrilling Detective (what a great website) bit on the matter. This is real inside baseball stuff for western writers (and fans of Brian Garfield like me) but I love stories about pulp publishing and this certainly qualifies.

Comment: Brian Wynne was the pen name that Brian Garfield used to write a series of eight highly regarded western novels about Marshal Jeremy Six of Spanish Flat, Arizona. According to a posting by Fred Blosser on Ed Gorman’s blog, when Garfield said good-bye to the series, Ace attempted to continue it with another writer, whom Fred does not name, but who was Dean Owen. Gunslick Territory was packaged as the ninth in the series, but according to Fred, it is “notably inferior to Garfield’s novels.” [Reference: April 24, 2004, but the blog is no longer online. A Google search for a cache of the original webpage can be used to locate it. Fred’s source is a telephone interview he taped with Brian Garfield in 1997. ]

Update: Here is the complete story, as far as the truth will ever be known, as related by Brian Garfield in an email to Steve on April 11, 2006:
I don’t know if there’s ever been a primary published source for the fact that Dudley Dean [Owen] McGaughey wrote Gunslick Territory. If Donald A. Wollheim were still alive, he’d be the truly primary source. Even as (an unwilling) participant in the events, I wasn’t an actual witness to McGaughey’s employment to write the novel. It was Don Wollheim who told me he’d hired McGaughey to write the book.

After exchanges between my lawyers and Ace’s lawyers, Don Wollheim said he’d been under the mistaken apprehension that Ace Books owned the Jeremy Six series and characters – that the books were a “house” series. They weren’t. By terms of the settlement, Ace allegedly dropped Gunslick Territory from its list after its first round of distribution. I say “allegedly” because I know Ace reprinted it at least once AFTER the settlement. I didn’t take them to task for it because our mutual friend Bill Cox told me that McGaughey was getting old, needed the money, and had written the book in good faith. I couldn’t ask him to suffer for something that wasn’t his fault.

There was no malicious conspiracy. The thing was a matter of silly mistakes. I’ve never claimed authorship of Gunslick Territory. They’re my characters, but the story properly belongs in the Dudley Dean bibliography.


Anonymous said...

I'm guessing that the Bill Cox here is William Cox, who wrote the vivid and engaging Cemetery Jones series. He was an acquaintance of mine in WWA. Western writers look after one another with great affection and minimum rivalry. That's been true for as long as I've been involved.

Kenneth Mark Hoover said...

This was some real inside baseball, thanks for providing it. I love stuff about process and behind the scenes in writing. :)

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