On the Procrastination Trail; or, From the Wild Western Collection

Beside my desk is a tall rack of westerns, part of my 350+ collection (a sign of an obsessed mind, yes). It’s perfect for procrastination purposes…

Trail of the Macaw, by Eugene Cunningham Popular Library, 1950 from the collection of es

…such as when I admired this beaut, from 1950. It has the colors a lurid novel needs: scarlet, bright blue ,and black as accent. It has a manly man, and a woman whose clothes are slipping off although she is about to lift a saddle. It has a horse and wooden house and mountains, It has popular words and phrases that signify romantic adventure: cowboy, trail, renegade, he fought, killers, save a girl. The illustrator isn’t mentioned, but it’s a Robert Stanley-ish piece. Stanley used himself and his wife as models often–a fine example of where viewing self as hero can get you.

The cover art follows the basics of the western cover art commandments:

  • Thou shalt place elements of westness (horse, saddle, mountains, etc.) wherever they fit. Fret not about perspective or sense.
  • Thou shalt show the men with guns.
  • The heroic men shalt not have beards. How else mayest thou tell heroes and villains apart? Hmmm, unless thou thinkest of Charlton Heston in The Ten Commandments…never mind. Just don’t put beards on them.
  • These men shalt show expressions of rage, steely-eyed resolve, or other manly looks.
  • Thou shalt limit images of women. OK, OK. If thou MUST show a woman, she shalt have bare shoulders.

The back cover of the Popular Library Books is also gorgeous. Hard-edged  bright yellow and red and black, it screams “So unapologetically not literature!” The unfortunate back copy on this is a little stilted, but it bandies about the catchphrases that readers of westerns want: rawhide, vengeance, hell-cat, bushwhack. And yes, what a miserable life it would be to “live on trouble and gunsmoke” but that, apparently, is what readers fantasized about.

Truly a book of proven merit! Just the gloriosity of the epic phrase “hard hombre from Texas” makes me feel that my procrastination was worth it.

So I’ll get right back to the novel…hold on…after I Google ranny and gun-slick

2 comments to On the Procrastination Trail; or, From the Wild Western Collection

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