Thursday, 21 January 2010

Western Wednesday: Something In The Water?

I got to thinking the other day about the Western writers who lived north of the Thames in London and most of them share common ground.
All were born just before, during or at the end of the Second World War. We played at being cowboys, although there is photographic evidence that I did, once, dress up as an Indian.
Saturday mornings were spent at the local cinema where we enjoyed the adventures of Zorro and Hopalong Cassidy and the like.
Two East End kids even filmed themselves which, on a technicality, makes David Whitehead and Mike Stotter the first Black Horse Western writers to have their early ideas turned into movies.
David Whitehead writes under various names including his own. Ben Bridges, Glen Lockwood, Matt Logan, Carter West and half the writing team under the name Doug Thorne.
Under his own name David Whitehead has written the Judge and Dury series and two Heller novels. While as Ben Bridges he has produced the Carter O'Brien series.
Mike Stotter has written four BHWs plus one under the name Jim A. Nelson. The rumour mill has it that Mike Stotter will be back with a third McKinney novel.
Both these writers were very involved with the Western by forming a fan club for Essex born Terry Harknett better known as George G. Gilman the creator of Edge, Adam Steele and Barnaby Gold aka The Undertaker.
Together they became consultants for the short lived 'Western Magazine' that ran for four issues before a strike saw the end of the venture.
George G. Gilman belonged to that group of writers known as The Piccadilly Cowboys amongst whom was a writer called John B. Harvey.
John B. Harvey was born in Kentish Town in North London. He was one half of the writing team for the series 'Herne The Hunter' and wrote all the even numbers bar No 24 'The Last Hurrah'. The one series of books that he wrote under his own name was 'Hart The Regulator'. John B Harvey writes crime and detective fiction these days though he has dropped the 'B'.
I make no secret that I was born in North London and a couple of pence, on the bus, was Enfield birthplace of Keith Chapman better known as Chap O'Keefe the creator of Joshua Dillard and that wildcat Misfit Lil.
Keith has been involved with Westerns one way or another throughout his life. One of his comic strips will form part of The Tainted Archive's blog during the Black Horse Western weekend at the end of this month.
One other person who comes to mind and pre-dates all of the above was born in Worcestershire but was living in Kensington, London when he wrote his first western. That was the creator of 'Sudden' Oliver Strange.
Like the title says - it must be something in the water.


Evan Lewis said...

Let's see that evidence, Ray!

Laurie Powers said...

A lot of you had the luck of growing up with matinee idols and later, the golden age of television westerns. Those must have had a lasting impression. Great post, Ray. I learned a lot about some writers that I admire but know little about.

Mike Stotter said...

the rumours are true. I am working on McKinney's Rangers along with a collection of short stories under the working title: SIX TRAILS WEST.
Those years that Dave and I made our films are golden. More than likely laid the foundation for our writing in the years that followed.

Steve M said...

Great post Ray :)