Bold Venture Press: The Unsung Hero of Pulp Publishing

Wednesday, September 9th, 2020 | Posted by William Patrick Maynard

51WvS1lFaXL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_PulpNoir_1280__06197.1518283264Black Gate: Bold Venture Press is, in many ways, the unsung hero of the pulp world of the 21st Century. You’ve an impressive catalog of new titles and classic reprints, but let’s start at the beginning and tell readers about Bold Venture Press’ history and accomplishments.

Bold Venture Press: Rich Harvey was working in the newspaper field, and founded Pulp Adventures Press in 1992, which eventually became Bold Venture Press. The Bold Venture imprint published The Spider and Pulp Adventures magazine, went on hiatus for a few years, then returned in 2014, reviving Pulp Adventures.

Audrey Parente was an investigative reporter and pulp historian who put her pulp connections on hiatus as her reporting career went into high gear. She rejoined the pulp fold after taking early retirement by attending Rich’s Pulp AdventureCon in New Jersey in 2012. Meeting at other pulp conventions, Rich and Audrey became reacquainted.

A fictionalized version of their romance, Pulp Noir was published by Bold Venture Press. They joined forces in Florida in 2014. Bold Venture has been cranking out several books every month, first focusing on pulp reprints and then adding new pulp and mainstream authors. Rich’s connections with Zorro Productions has led to the biggest and most exciting projects they have tackled.

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A (Black) Gat in the Hand: Norbert Davis’ ‘Have One on the House’

Monday, August 17th, 2020 | Posted by Bob Byrne

DimeDetective_March1942EDITED“You’re the second guy I’ve met within hours who seems to think a gat in the hand means a world by the tail.” – Phillip Marlowe in Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep

(Gat — Prohibition Era termsp for a gun. Shortened version of Gatling Gun)

I’ve said many times that Norbert Davis is on my Hardboiled Mt. Rushmore. He’s not the first face carved in hardboiled stone, but he’s one of only four that are. Max Latin is my favorite Davis character, and he appeared in five issues of Dime Detective. There were five Benjamin Martin stories – all in Detective Tales. It was William (Bail Bond) Dodd that was Davis’ frequently recurring character. There were eight stories in Dime Detective between February, 1940 through December, 1943.

Dodd is a physically unprepossessing bail bondsman. He doesn’t actively seek out trouble. You can’t even call his adventures cases. “Have one on the House” was in the March, 1942 issue of Dime Detective. That issue also included a Steve Midnight story from John K. Butler. Midnight was a broke former playboy who found adventures as a night shift cabbie. There was also a Bookie Barnes story from Robert Reeves. Reeves broke into Black Mask in 1940 at the age of 28. He was serving with a bomber unit in the Philippines when he died in 1945, only one month before the war ended. He had continued to write while in the service. His budding career was cut tragically short.

Back to Dodd! Norbert Davis is remembered as perhaps the best at screwball hardboiled. However, then and now, that carries a stigma and he is generally dismissed because of it. And it’s both inaccurate and unfair. He could write straight hardboiled, like “The Red Goose,” which Raymond Chandler praised as influencing him when he decided to become a writer. But what Davis did so well was inject humor into his hardboiled stories, without overwhelming them with it. That’s the case with the Bail-Bond Dodd stories. It’s not that the characters are funny – it’s the situations that Dodd (and his assistant, Meekins) find themselves in.

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A (Black) Gat in the Hand: Norbert Davis’ Don’t You Cry for Me’

Monday, August 3rd, 2020 | Posted by Bob Byrne

Davis_Don'tCry“You’re the second guy I’ve met within hours who seems to think a gat in the hand means a world by the tail.” – Phillip Marlowe in Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep

(Gat — Prohibition Era term for a gun. Shortened version of Gatling Gun)

On my Hardboiled Mount Rushmore, it’s Dashiell Hammett, Frederick Nebel, and then Norbert Davis. The fourth spot is a bit fluid, though the Jo Gar series often has Raoul Whitfield in that fourth spot. But today, we’re going to look at a Davis short story.

Davis was in law school at Stanford when he wrote his first story and sent it to Joe ‘Cap’ Shaw, the legendary editor of Black Mask. It was accepted, and by the time he graduated law school, he was successfully writing for the pulps. In fact, he was doing so well, he never sat for the bar, and spent the rest of his life as a writer, moving from the pulps to the higher-paying slicks. Sadly, took his own life at only the age of 40.

I’ve already written an essay on his Ben Shaley stories, which constituted two of the five Davis tales Shaw printed in Black Mask under his watch. After Shaw left, Davis appeared in Black Mask eight more times. I’m working on what I hope will be THE definitive essay on his Max Latin stories. I absolutely love that five-story series. They’re fantastic.

Between May 1942 and May 1943, Black Mask ran three stories featuring John Collins. Collins was a piano player who had done some investigation work on the side in Europe before World War II. “Don’t You Cry for Me” was the first of the three stories.
Picking Iron (trivia) – In May, 1942, Give the Devil His Due” ran in Dime Detective.

Of course, America was drawn into World War II on December 7, 1941.The story blurb for this one reads, “The brawny piano-player had had his run-ins with the ghoulish Gestapo in the beer halls of Europe, but when he promised Myra Martin’s mother to find the girl in the Mecca of the movie-struck, he ran foul of a plot as fantastic as any Hitler pipe-dream.” Pulp magazines used bombast long before Donald Trump did.

“John Collins was playing the Beale Street Blues and playing it soft and sad because that was the way he felt. The notes dripped through the dimness of the room like molasses and provided an appropriate accompaniment to his thoughts. He had a hangover.”

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A (Black) Gat in the Hand: Dick Powell as ‘Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar’

Monday, July 6th, 2020 | Posted by Bob Byrne

Dollar_Powell

Powell as Phlip Marlowe

“You’re the second guy I’ve met within hours who seems to think a gat in the hand means a world by the tail.” – Phillip Marlowe in Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep

(Gat — Prohibition Era term for a gun. Shortened version of Gatling Gun)

Dick Powell was Johnny Dollar? Well, no, not exactly. Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar, was a very successful radio show, which ran for over 800 episodes, covering thirteen years. It easily outlasted many competing programs, such as The Adventures of Sam Spade, and The (New) Adventures of Philip Marlowe. Dollar was “the insurance investigator with the action-packed expense account,” though he started out as more of a typical private eye. Which can also be said of Erle Stanley Gardner’s lawyer, Perry Mason.

In December of 1948, Dick Powell auditioned for the new show, recording the episode Milford Brooks III. With movies such as 1944’s Murder My Sweet, and 1947’s Johnny O’Clock, the popular song-and-dance man had carved out a niche as an unlikely hardboiled star. He’s actually my favorite movie Marlowe, and I wrote about Johnny O’Clock here at Black Gate. Here’s the episode, for your listening pleasure.

He had also spent the previous two years as Richard Rogue in the rather unusual PI radio show, Rogue’s Gallery. Like many shows of the time, Rogue’s Gallery had a lack of stability in network, time slot and even renewal, and Powell left after 1947, replaced by Barry Sullivan. This left him available to try out for Johnny Dollar. The original title was Yours Truly, Lloyd London, but was presumably changed to avoid trouble with the well-known insurance company.

However, it appears that Powell decided to pass on the part to pursue a different radio opportunity; Richard Diamond, Private Eye (another of my favorites). So, actor Charles Russell was given the part. This essay is going to talk mostly about Powell’s audition, but will go beyond that focus.

In this earliest incarnation, Powell plays a somewhat light-hearted version of Dollar, though he’s still more of a typical private eye than a distinctive insurance investigator. His witty patter is consistent throughout, and he even hums ‘Slow Boat to China;’ a tip of the fedora to his Hollywood musical background. In fact, Powell comes across as pretty similar to his next part, Richard Diamond.

Early on, a young man he’s dealing with bites him, which later lets Dollar make a cryptic comment that “Let’s just say, he put the bite on me.” That comes just after saying, “That kid’s liquor sure can hold him.” Very much like Diamond, Powell’s Dollar is quick with a quip. Which is fine. But it’s more prevalent here than it would be with other actors in the role.

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A (Black) Gat in the Hand: Johnny O’Clock (Powell)

Monday, June 1st, 2020 | Posted by Bob Byrne

Powell_OClockPoster1“You’re the second guy I’ve met within hours who seems to think a gat in the hand means a world by the tail.” – Phillip Marlowe in Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep

(Gat — Prohibition Era term for a gun. Shortened version of Gatling Gun)

And for the third year in a row, A (Black) Gat in the Hand makes a hardboiled reservation for Monday mornings. It’s a limited run, but for the month of June, I’ll look at some hardboiled/noir on screen efforts: Ones that you might not be quite as familiar with. Not totally off the beaten path, but not the big names, either. And we kick things off with Dick Powell’s follow up to Murder My Sweet, Johnny, O’Clock.

When you think of the hardboiled movie, or book, it’s usually a private eye that comes to mind. There’s Sam Spade, and Philip Marlowe, and Mike Hammer. Of course, there were also cops in movies, like Glenn Ford’s Dave Bannion in The Big Heat; and Frederick Nebel’s MacBride in print. Those stories were changed into seven Torchy Blaine movies, and quite different from Nebel’s hardboiled stories about MacBride, unfortunately.

Other occupations were covered, including reporters, and lawyers. Ex-soldiers of various stripes, like Alan Ladd in The Blue Dahlia, were popular. A movie that I really like in this genre starred a gambler. Like Humphrey Bogart’s Dead Reckoning, this film doesn’t appear on any top ten lists, but it doesn’t feature a private eye, and it’s a ‘could have been really good’ film.

Like James Cagney and George Raft, Dick Powell was a successful song and dance man in Hollywood. Then, he was surprisingly cast as Raymond Chandler’s world-weary Phililp Marlowe in Murder My Sweet, and he nailed the part. That 1944 effort was the first of four hardboiled films he made in a five-movie span, of which Johnny O’Clock was the third.

Picking Iron (trivia) – This new side of Powell made him perfect for the singing, funny, tough radio PI, Richard Diamond (I love that series).

Powell plays the title character, and he’s manager of a fancy (and legal) gambling joint in NYC. He dresses well, knows lots of people, and lives in a fancy apartment with an ex-con named Charlie, who is his jack of all trades assistant.

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A (Black) Gat in the Hand: Some Hardboiled Streaming Options

Monday, May 18th, 2020 | Posted by Bob Byrne

“You’re the second guy I’ve met within hours who seems to think a gat in the hand means a world by the tail.” – Phillip Marlowe in Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep

(Gat — Prohibition Era term for a gun. Shortened version of Gatling Gun)

Today, I’m going to talk about two streaming sites for your hardboiled/noir lock down needs. And then, a third site with a show I really dig. First, up:

WATCH TCM

BrotherOrchid_LobbyCardI have recently spent a lot of time on Watch TCM. It can be streamed free on your PC and Smart TV, and you can download the app for mobile devices.

Most movies running on TCM (Turner Classic Movies), are posted on Watch TCM within several hours of airing. Some which they sell, like Casablanca and Key Largo, are not posted, and movies generally drop off after a week. You can watch any movie listed, as many times as you want, free. If you have TCM through your cable provider, you can watch the east coast and west coast feeds live. So, if you miss something on the east coast, you can still catch it later on the west coast. This is good for the ones that don’t end up posted.

I’m obviously a hardboiled/noir fan, and May’s Star of the Month is Edward G. Robinson. Which has resulted in a plethora of movies in that genre, plus other non-genre movies from stars like Robinson, Bogart, and Ida Lupino.

Thursday is Star of the Month day, and in less than 24 hour period from last Thursday afternoon, the following movies were posted:

All Through the Night (Bogart), The Hard Way (Lupino), The Return of Doctor X (Bogart), The Whole Town’s Talking (Edward G. Robinson), A Slight Case of Murder (Robinson), Larceny, Inc (Robinson), The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse (Robinson, Bogart), and Brother Orchid (Robinson, Bogart).

And the previous Thursday’s haul remained up until Friday, and it had some VERY good stuff as well. Last Monday’s post was about a bunch of the movies showing through the rest of May. Check it out.

Of course, there’s far more than hardboiled/noir, which is my favorite area. As I type this, there are two Marx Brothers movies, and one from The Bowery Boys. They had a musical day, so Yankee Doodle Dandy and several others are up. I will always watch Mister Roberts when I can. There are relatively ‘newer’ classics, such as Network, and Coma, as well. It’s not just all old black and white movies.

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Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone: 2020 Stay at Home – Days 11, 12, and 13

Thursday, May 14th, 2020 | Posted by Bob Byrne

ArchieFritzHopefully by now, you know what this series is all about. Over at The Wolfe Pack Facebook Group page, I am doing daily entries from Archie’s notebooks, as he endures Stay at Home with Nero Wolfe in these pandemic days. Over the weekend, I hit forty-three straight days, and over 41,000 words. You can check out the group for all of the posts. And there are links to to the first ten days down at the bottom of this post – plus all my other Nero Wolfe writings here at Black Gate.

 

DAY ELEVEN – 2020 Stay at Home (SaH)

Saul Panzer called today. Del Bascom was always scrambling to make payroll and turn a profit, and he was still finding jobs related to essential services. Saul had agreed to help him track down some money that had gone missing from a bank. He said that seemed healthier than trying to track down some masks taken from a hospital. I was surprised he was doing any work at all out in the danger zone. He didn’t need the money. Maybe he was tired of practicing the piano.

“Bascom told me that Bill Gore is in the hospital. It looks bad.”

Oh. “Covid 19?”

“Yeah. He was working for Bascom and called off sick one morning. Then, a couple days later, he called him from the hospital.”

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Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone: 2020 Stay at Home – Days 8, 9, and 10

Monday, May 4th, 2020 | Posted by Bob Byrne

Nero Wolfe TrainHopefully you read posts one , two, and three this series. Over at The Wolfe Pack Facebook Group page, I am doing daily entries from Archie’s notebooks, as he endures Stay at Home with Nero Wolfe in these pandemic days. I’m well over thirty thousand words so far.

DAY EIGHT – 2020 Stay at Home

Sunday is the day things have changed the most here at the brownstone. Normally, Theodore would go to visit his sister, and Wolfe would putter around in the plant rooms, but not the usual nine to eleven and four to six. Fritz would sometimes run errands, including shopping for food. When he stayed in, he usually spent time in his room in the basement, listening to music and reading cookbooks. He had more of those than anyone I’ve ever met. We were all at loose ends on Sunday. But I couldn’t go to a game at the Garden or at the ballpark now, of course, which would have taken care of several hours. In other words, except for Wolfe, the day changed for the rest of us. Which meant all four of us were home together, without our normal routines. That’s a recipe for tension.

Wolfe and I didn’t even make it to lunch. I’ve decided to type up a couple cases from my notes. People seem to like reading them, and they’ve got some spare time at home, so I figured, ‘Why not’? I’ve mentioned before, that when he’s reading, Wolfe doesn’t like what he deems to be unnecessary typing. Granted, it’s not as bad as when I excessively sharpen my pencils, but he prefers quiet. Knowing we don’t have any clients, he would prefer me to do my typing when he’s not in the office. Well, since I’m stuck at home, and he isn’t giving me any work to do, I feel I can be a little more ‘comfortable’ during this lock down. And that includes typing when I want to.

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Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone: 2020 Stay at Home – Days 5, 6, and 7

Friday, April 24th, 2020 | Posted by Bob Byrne

Wolfe_Drawing1Hopefully you read posts one and two in this series. Over at The Wolfe Pack Facebook Group page, I am doing daily entries from Archie’s notebooks, as he endures Stay at Home with Nero Wolfe in these pandemic days. As I prepare this, I have done a daily post for 28 straight days, totaling 27,067 words. At just under 1,000 words a day, it’s been quite an effort! I expanded today’s post to three days, since I’ll never catch up, doing one Black Gate post a week.

DAY FIVE – 2020 Stay at Home (SaH)

Did you know that the Latin ‘mortuus’ is the root of mortuary? And that mortuary replaced deadhouse as the name of the place where they kept the dead? I do, because I heard all about it at the evening meal. Wolfe’s dinner table conversation is stuck in morbid.

Archie’s Thought of the Day – You might think that in a household of four males, I would organize a card game to help pass the time. In This household, you would think wrong.

Only one near-battle today. At lunch, Wolfe suggested we let Theodore start joining us for dinner. I flat-out refused. I told him I would eat at my desk first. Writing about it now, I will admit, it was not my finest hour. But there is no way I could enjoy supper, even it being Fritz’s incredible cooking, with Horstmann sitting there with me. I don’t hate him in a Rowcliffe-sort of way, but there’s just something about him that I don’t like. Never have. Sort of like a teammate you don’t like. You tolerate him, but you spend as little time around him as you can. Wolfe saw that I was serious, and he knew trading me for Theodore wasn’t a good deal, so he dropped it.

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Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone: 2020 Stay at Home – Days Three and Four

Monday, April 13th, 2020 | Posted by Bob Byrne

Wolfe_ChaykinHutton2As I explained in the last post, I am channeling my inner Archie Goodwin and writing his notebook entries as he and Nero Wolfe are bunkered down during New York City’s ‘Stay at Home’ order. I’m putting these up over The Wolfe Pack’s Facebook page – highly recommended for Wolfe fans. And I’m taking them two at a time and running them here at Black Gate. Hopefully you’ll enjoy them.

DAY THREE – 2020 Stay at Home (SaH)

It was a day of pure excitement at the old brownstone. Rain cancelled my early morning walk. Fritz vacuumed the second floor. I spent some time with the orchids when Wolfe wasn’t there. I have to admit, he has put together one impressive flower garden up there.

I gave the office a good cleaning. It would make more sense to do that when we had traffic in and out, but now is now. I figured it couldn’t hurt anything, and I certainly didn’t have anything mentally taxing to work on. Of course, the weekly cleaning and oiling of the two guns I kept in my desk went on as scheduled.

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