Monday, November 16, 2009

W. L. Martin

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I was thinking about writing some posts relating to mysteries my research into old paperbacks has yet to resolve. Most are niggling bibliographical problems, some relate to authors that I simply can't find any information on, yet others concern authors relatively well known—and by relatively I mean authors known within certain circles, usually SF collectors or collectors of the more pulpy end of the British paperback market, both of which categories I fall into.

Here's an example: W. L. Martin was the author of The Shooting of Wild Bill Hickok, a paperback original published by Digit Books in 1960. Here's the blurb:
Many books, both fact and fiction, have been written about the hectic life of the famous Western lawman and gunfighter, Wild Bill Hickok. Little, however, has ever been written about the infamous murder of this bizarre figure of the West by a drifter and penny-ante gun rannie by the name of Jack McCall.
     That killing, like the cowardly murder of Jesse James, touched off a series of startling and historical events.
     This Digit Original factual Western presents for the first time the true story behind the murder, and the consequences. As may be expected, murder abduction, rape, love and hate resulted.
Most Western originals published by Digit were published in their Longloop Westerns or Wagon Wheel Westerns series. The Shooting of Wild Bill Hickok just happened to be published after the former folded and before the latter was launched; a handful of Westerns appeared under the Digit imprint in 1960 but only one or two were originals.

The oddity here is that the book lists a number of other titles "by the same author"...
  • Night Riders of Tonopah by Bill Martin. London: T.V. Boardman, 1951.
  • Guns Along the Columbia by Bill Martin. Sydney: Invincible Press (Invincible Westerns #37), Dec 1949.
  • Indian Agent.
  • Silverado by Bill Martin. Sydney: Invincible Press (Invincible Westerns #28), Jul 1949.
  • Arrowhead Justice by Bill Martin. Sydney: Invincible Press (Invincible Westerns #23), May 1949.
  • Johnny LasherGunman.
  • Red-River Riders. — actually Raiders of Red River by Bill Martin. Sydney: Invincible Press (Invincible Westerns #45), Mar 1950.
Of these, the British Library records Night Riders of Tonopah by Bill Martin as being published by T. V. Boardman in 1951. Curiously, Bill Martin is also given a year of birth, 1919. But none of the other titles have been traced. All, presumably, published between 1951 and 1960... but where? Are they short stories included to bulk up Martin's literary CV? Comic strips?

What of William L. Martin? Apart from the fact that he was born in 1919, nothing else is known. The Shooting of Wild Bill Hickok contains a brief dedication "to Jane and Vic Rose" but no other clues.

One final mystery. The cover is by American artist Harry J. Schaare and, presumably, originally appeared on an American paperback. Can anyone identify the original book?

More "mysteries that continue to mystify" soon...


  1. WorldCat has

    Martin, W. L. The Shooting of Wild Bill Hickok. Sabre books. Brown Watson, 1968.

    Lots of W. L. Martins listed many are scientists.

  2. Hi Tony,

    Sabre Books was a later Brown Watson imprint that reprinted a number of 1960s Digit titles. The Shooting of Wild Bill Hickok was ISBN 085175-131-8 (the first Sabre Book, following a series of Sabre Westerns), published, as you say, in 1968, following the sale of Brown Watson's chief asset, J. T. Edson.

  3. William Leon Martin (1919-2006) is my dad, he lived in Newport Beach CA and was a great man!!!



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