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Monday, June 18, 2018

Hot Lead #2 (June 2018)

Justin Marriott runs a number of different magazines based around the collecting of old paperbacks, amongst them Paperback Fanatic, The Sleazy Reader, Men of Violence, Pulp Horror and now, Hot Lead, the first issue of which came out in March.

Here he celebrates the western in a 68-page colour paperback format, the latest issue containing five diverse features written by Steve Myall, Jim O'Brien, Andreas Decker and two from "ghost editor" Paul Bishop, who bookends the issue with articles on Charro!, Harry Whittington's novelisation of the financially successful but critically mauled Elvis Presley movie, and a high-speed look at the history of westerns in comic books in the 1930s to 1950s.

The main meat of the issue is an interview with artist Tony Masero, who painted most of the covers for the Edge and Steele books in the 1970s and 1980s and who continues his association with the Piccadilly Cowboys to this day, still producing covers for reprints of novels that originally appeared forty years ago. He discusses working for New English Library, taking over from Dick Clifton Dey who had set a high standard for the design of these best-selling, post-Spaghetti Western/Clint Eastwood titles, noted for their violence.

It was interesting to learn that Masero is still also writing... I knew he had penned a couple of westerns for Black Horse (Robert Hale) some years ago but had no idea he had also written a couple of thrillers under a pen-name (Michael D'Asti).

"Hombre in Suede Skin" is a lengthy look at the western strips drawn by Frank Bellamy. Bellamy's love of the western is well known to Bellamy fans – he loved Spaghetti Westerns and wanted to draw strip versions of the Dollar movies, he told Dez Skinn in 1973 – and his best work in the genre is probably the trio of western-based strips he drew for 'Garth', a couple of which were reprinted in the Daily Mirror Book of Garth 1975. The article also covers a number of other Bellamy's more personal strips, ranging from 'A Cowboy Story' (1974) to 'Swade' (1976).

The delight of Marriott's various magazines is to discover something new that you wouldn't otherwise come across. In this issue it's a look at the German western series Ronco the Outlaw, which was a western from the publishers of Perry Rhodan, written by a rotating cast of authors for weekly publication. Launched in April 1972, the series went through various alterations and changes over the years but eventually came to an end in 1981 after 493 issues (plus 253 issues of a companion series, Lobo the Loner).

For western fans, this will be a must-have.

Hot Lead #2, June 2018, 68pp, £6.50. Available via Amazon.

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