(Gat — Prohibition Era term for a gun. Shortened version of Gatling Gun)
Last week, fellow Robert E Howard Foundation Award-winner John Bullard wrote about Breckenridge Elkins. At the end of his life, it wasn’t Conan and fantasy that REH was earning a living with – it was Westerns with humor. So, here’s Part II, covering more funny Westerns. Next week, another Pulp (and Sherlock Holmes) buddy, William Patrick Murray, will delve into REH’s Weird Westerns. Read on!
Rough and Ready Clowns of the West: Robert E. Howard’s Humorous Western Characters Part II
Last week, we looked at Robert E. Howard’s attempts to break into other pulps besides his humorous boxing tales, and fantasy, and horror stories. His creation in the summer of 1933, of Breckinridge Elkins, a recurring funny Western character series for the Action Stories pulp, became very popular and lucrative. His success with it had Howard try to create more funny Western characters to sell to increase his earnings, just as he had done with his funny boxing characters. He created three characters that were each based off Breckinridge Elkins to varying degrees. He was able to sell all three to the pulps, with two starting on the road to becoming recurring characters that only ended with Howard’s death.
Bearfield Elston, the Psychotic Breckinridge Elkins
There was one rejected Breckinridge Elkins story, “A Elkins Never Surrenders”, that Howard rewrote to star his new character of Bearfield Elston. Under its “newish” title, “A Elston Never Surrenders”, Howard sent it to his agent, Otis Kline. Kline eventually sold it to the Star Western pulp in May, 1936, where it was published in the September 1936 issue under its new title of “The Curly Wolf of Sawtooth”. In comparing the two stories, Howard generally just changed the name of Breckinridge to Bearfield Elston.